From the category archives:

living on less

As you probably know, tomorrow is Veterans Day. I'm a firm believer that our military veterans deserve our appreciation all year long, but I'm grateful for the additional recognition that this day brings.

Every veteran has a story, and we make sure to share our family's stories with our kids regularly in the hopes that they will pass them down to their children. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War II, with one earning a purple heart after nearly being crushed by a tank in Germany. My husband's grandmother was in the Navy, and his father was in the Air Force. And I'm so proud of my cousin who was just accepted into the Navy's nuclear engineering officer program -- wow!!!

And these are just a few members from among the many branches of our family tree. I'm sure there are more uncles, aunts, and cousins that I'm not even aware of, you know? Because once they're no longer on active duty and put away their uniforms, they just start to blend in with the crowd...

GreenLight A Vet

Which kind of makes you start to wonder how many service members we see each day that just blend into the crowd. Right? So I love this program that Walmart is supporting called GreenLight A Vet. The program encourages Americans to establish visible daily support for our veterans by changing one light in a visible location to green, a color symbolizing hope, renewal and well-being.

Thousands of everyday Americans have already shared their support for the Greenlight A Vet movement on social media -- and you can, too! At the very least, you can simply use the hashtag #GreenlightAVet on your favorite platform. But if you have a chance to pick up a green light bulb at your local Walmart, please do so and share a photo, as well!

P.S. Be sure to share this BIG list of Veterans Day freebies with your favorite vet!

Walmart Moms Disclosure


DIY Harley Quinn Halloween Costume For Girls

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 9, 2015 · 0 comments

My youngest daughter is slightly obsessed with Harley Quinn... Mind you, I don't think she's ever seen a single movie featuring this character, but after daddy used up some of his GameStop Rewards points on a Harley Quinn-inspired juniors tank top for her (which she wears to sleep in and as her dress above), she's been hooked -- collecting Funko Pop figures, Bleacher Creatures, and any other fan gear she happens across.

So it really was no surprise when she asked to be Harley Quinn for Halloween. Unfortunately, finding a girls' costume in her size that isn't too racy has proven to be a challenge, to say the least...

We solved this easily enough by simply slipping her soccer cold gear shirt and leggings under the aforementioned tank top. But for other Harley Quinn wannabes, an oversize black tank top and a little red Duck Tape would be another simple solution!

Though Harley Quinn is typically shown with white face paint, I knew Addie wouldn't be comfortable with that amount of makeup on. So I kept things pretty simple by playing up her eyes with a kohl eyeliner followed by some matte black eyeshadow. I simply lined her eye all the way around heavily with the eyeliner, and then layered on the eyeshadow, blending it up to her eyebrows and down underneath her eyes. I finished her eyes off with a couple of coats of very black mascara.

Finally, I carefully applied a true red lipstick on her lips. I chose a long-wearing formula to prevent any smudging and smearing while sneaking a piece of candy while Trick-or-Treating when she thinks I'm not looking.

When it comes to Halloween makeup, I typically shop the regular cosmetics department, choosing from the bargain brands since they're not usually items that I'll use frequently. Here are some budget-friendly options I found:

The finishing touch was to pull her hair up into two pigtails, doubling up on the elastic bands so they were extra perky, and then sprayed one side with washable black hairspray and the other with red. She loves the way it turned out and can't wait for Halloween!

I'm pretty sure I have a budding fashionista on my hands, as getting her to remove the makeup after snapping some pics proved to be another challenge, lol. But here's a fun tip -- fragrance-free Equate Wipes double as a gentle and effective makeup cleansing towlettes at a fraction of the price of other brands! And trust me, you'll need them with this black eye makeup...

Do you have a great DIY Halloween costume idea that you're pretty proud of? Share a link in the comments -- I'd love to see them!

Walmart Moms Disclosure


10 Minutes to Good, Better or Greater Health #Just10

by Tara Kuczykowski on October 8, 2015 · 1 comment

Making a commitment to get healthier can seem a little overwhelming... Am I right? But what if you take a minute to break it down into small baby steps that you can tackle in just 10 minutes or less? Seems a whole lot more manageable then. Yes?!

This is exactly the premise behind the #Just10 campaign. Starting on Saturday, October 10th (10/10) at America's Biggest Health Fair, Walmart wants to help get you started on your journey to good, better or greater health!

In just 10 minutes at Walmart you can complete the following activities to make your life healthier:

  • Get your blood pressure taken and your blood glucose checked
  • Get a flu shot and a pneumonia shot.
  • Learn what are the best health insurance options for you.
  • Get a vision screening and your eyeglasses cleaned and adjusted for free.
  • Shopping at Walmart for just 10 minutes burns 35 calories.

Yogurt Substitute

The #Just10 challenge is bigger than just the health fair, though. It's an attempt to get us all to find ways to squeeze in short, 10-minutes or less activities daily with the goal of making your life healthier.

With that in mind, I thought I'd share 5 easy under 10-minutes ideas to get you started:

  • 10 minutes of exercise every day lowers your risk of heart disease. How about a brisk walk after dinner as a family?
  • In just 10 minutes, you can whirl up a batch of these easy freezer smoothies for a healthy breakfast or snack.
  • Gather up your kids and make your own on-the-go dried fruit and nut snack packs.
  • Learn how to substitute yogurt to cut fat and calories (while adding protein and calcium!) in your favorite recipes.
  • Treat yourself to a mini massage to soothe sore muscles with this homemade massage oil.

What are your favorite quick and healthy activities to squeeze in each day?

Visit to find an America's Biggest Health Fair event near you. The event will take place in more than 4,400 stores across the U.S. from noon to 4 p.m. Free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings, product samples and health insurance information will be available. In addition, more than 10,000 of Walmart’s licensed pharmacists will offer immunizations in select stores.

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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6 Delicious After-School Snack Ideas To Get You Out Of A Rut

by Tara Kuczykowski on September 30, 2015 · 0 comments

Homemade Tortilla Bowls

After-school snacks are super important around here. It's not often that we can squeeze in dinner before sports, so a healthy snack to fuel my kids' energy through their sports activities is essential. But this is about the time of year when we start looking for some new options to liven things up -- like these homemade tortilla bowls I made today!

We make the savory version of these often for salads and tacos, but today I sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar on them and filled them with fresh blueberries and raspberries that I picked up at Meijer. Fresh berries, being out of season right now, can be a little tart, so I drizzled them with just a touch of honey... My kids were thrilled with this fun treat, and they were gone in a flash!

Here are five more after school snacks that we rotate through -- all mom-tested and kid-approved!

No Bake Peanut Butter Bars

These yummy no bake peanut butter bars can be endlessly customized, so you can have a different variety every time you no bake them!

Healthy Fruit Pizza Recipe

This easy and healthy fruit pizza recipe gets a little more nutritious with a multigrain waffle crust!

Easy Smoothie Recipe

This simple and easy strawberry smoothie recipe is not only a fantastic way to start your day, it's perfect as an afternoon snack to tide kids over till dinner!

Homemade Granola Bars

These crunchy homemade granola bars are a tasty and healthy snack, and like the peanut butter bars, you can customize them to your heart's content!

Banana Bread

This delicious banana bread gets an additional boost of fiber from oatmeal and pecans!

Meijer has tons of healthy and simple after-school snack ideas on sale this week -- Michigan apples for $0.49/lb., California grapes for $0.88/lb., and Frigo String Cheese for $5.49 just to name a few. Plus you'll definitely want to check the fantastic B1G1 deals in the 2-day sale that starts on Friday!

I'm thrilled to be collaborating with Meijer on an ongoing monthly feature to help you save more! Follow them on Twitter and Instagram to see more of what you can expect to find in stores.


We all want to create a bright future for our children, and it's always nice to learn that big corporations want to support us in this!

This Back to School season, Dollar General and Unilever are teaming up to create a brighter future for our children by helping to nurture minds and bodies through affordable meal solutions and a literacy program -- two very important causes.

You can help too! Just head over to Dollar General’s Facebook page, and show your support by signing up to be updated on the projects and work being done. Plus, when you share how you plan to help create a brighter future with the hashtag #DGBrightFuture, Unilever will donate $1* to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, up to $20,000!

It’s a FREE, easy and quick way to invest in our children, so won't you participate today?

*Between 6/22-8/16/15, Unilever will donate $1 to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation for every person who supports the Unilever Bright Future Movement Maximum donation of $20,000. For information on the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, see For information on the Unilever brightFuture Movement, see

Disclosure: Sponsored by Lunchbox, all opinions are my own.