From the category archives:

living on less

If you're still on the hunt for some adorable and inexpensive Easter basket stuffers, have I got a suggestion for you... Have you seen the itty bittys line of adorable, pint-sized plush characters?

Available exclusively at Hallmark stores, itty bittys are the perfect size for collecting -- and I have no doubt that my kids are going to want to collect them all! Featuring iconic characters from film, comics and television, you're sure to find an itty bitty (or two, or even three or more!) for everyone on your list.

My girls went wild for Frozen's Elsa and Anna, while my youngest son flipped for the Marvel characters. My personal favorite are the Wizard of Oz figures, but you should really check them all out for yourself!

By the way, Frozen fans will be thrilled to know that Olaf and Sven are scheduled to make an appearance in May. Can you hear my girls squealing?!? We'll be adding them to our collection for sure...


Hallmark Itty Bittys Coupon

Remember how I said "inexpensive"? Well, Hallmark itty bittys are only $6.95 -- so pretty inexpensive. But right now you can get them buy one get one 50% off! But you'll want to hurry -- this special B1G1 50% off offer is only valid through 4/5/15. Note that this offer is not valid on itty bittys sets or on jumbo itty bittys.

Tucked into an Easter basket filled with grass, along with a few packages of candy, itty bittys are definitely a budget-friendly treat! Now excuse me while I head to Hallmark to pick up a few more characters to round out our baskets -- Tinker Bell, Ariel and Iron Man have been requested...

Which ittys bittys will you be picking up for Easter?


This post is brought to you by Hallmark. Follow Hallmark on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest itty bittys news and more. All opinions are 100% mine.

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It's no secret that we keep things low key around here when it comes to Easter baskets... Longtime readers may recall that I took quite a bit of flak a few years ago when I shared the budget-friendly Easter basket that I built for my kids to share!

Yes, it still blows my mind that there were some readers who were appalled that I "forced" my five kids to SHARE a single Easter basket, but I can assure you that they were NOT scarred for life when they all came tumbling downstairs on Easter morning. In fact, as soon as they found all of the plastic eggs hidden throughout the house, they were beside themselves to get their shoes on and head outside to play with the bubbles, bouncy balls and sidewalk chalk. Not one. single. complaint...

Oreo Dirt Cups

Carrot Patch Oreo Dirt Cups

It's not just Easter, though -- we lean heavily toward gifts that spark creativity and imagination and family activities for all holidays that we celebrate. Example, just last week we made these cute "carrot" strawberries and turned them into Carrot Patch Oreo Dirt Cups. I'm pretty sure that the time we spent together creating and making messes, while talking and laughing, will stick with them for years to come.

Before we made them, my kids and I stopped by Walmart after soccer practice to pick up a few ingredients we needed. We ended up in the Easter section to pick up the Wilton Orange Candy Melts, so we took a look around. They really have some very cool items stocked right now!

Some of my favorite finds:

While I was drawn to the wide selection of willow, bamboo and woodchip baskets (starting at $7.98), my younger kids headed straight for the licensed character Easter baskets pictured above. I can't say that I'm surprised, since they feature some of their favorite characters, like Frozen, Transformers, and Disney Princess.

We contemplated picking up one of the Spraytastic! egg decorating kits, but we had so much fun making these Rubber Cement Dyed Easter Eggs, that we'll probably use that technique again.

I may sneak back to get a box of those cupcake candy-filled "eggs" for my girls, and I'll admit to tossing a package of the Sour Patch Bunnies in my basket. What can I say? I'm not really big on candy, but Sour Patch Kids are totally my weakness...

Peeps Taste Test Easter Basket

I also ended up tossing several packages of Peeps into my cart after my kids came up with this idea for a Peeps Taste Test Easter basket. Even though I *really* try to limit the amount of candy that we bring into our home (ahem, perhaps I should have left the Sour Patch Bunnies on the shelf), after seeing the large assortment of flavors, they started chatting about how much fun it would be to do a blind taste test and guess the flavors -- especially once they saw the Mystery Peeps (a Walmart exclusive)! Their enthusiasm was contagious, so I caved.

Since a package of Peeps is only a dollar, this is a really budget friendly idea. We had a sleep mask at home that we used as a blindfold, but you could also tuck an inexpensive color-coordinating bandana into the basket.

They set everything for the taste test up themselves and asked me to videotape it, so I got to witness the fun firsthand. I'll warn you it's a little long, but I thought I'd share the results with you:

I'm sure you're probably wondering just what flavor are the Mystery Peeps? And the truth is, we're not sure! Everyone in the family tried them, and we all agreed they're pretty fruity -- but the actual flavor varied from fruit punch to strawberry to cherry. Hopefully we won't have to wonder for long -- I have it on authority that Peeps will be revealing the flavor on national TV sometime before Easter. Let me know if you see the announcement!

Whether you want to build this Peeps basket or have your own ideas, Walmart has all of the hottest Easter offerings at everyday low prices!

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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March is Women's History month, so now is the perfect time to share with you an initiative that Walmart has been working on for the last three years. Aimed at improving the lives of women around the world, one piece of the global Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative is to source $20B from women owned companies by FY17!

I don't know about you, but this makes me one happy mama... I've talked before about how I intentionally chose somewhat gender neutral names for my two girls -- a choice that was not without some criticism when they were younger, although it seems to be less of an issue these days. I want my girls to grow up to be strong and confident women, without any arbitrary limitations based on their gender, and I'm grateful that Walmart has taken up this cause to assist in providing them with boundless opportunities when they're older.

In honor of Women’s History month, Walmart is featuring 6 different items in stores that are manufactured by women-owned companies:

  • Milo's Sweet Tea (Family business, all natural ingredients)
  • Budget Saver Popsicles
  • CLR Remover (chemicals safe for the environment)
  • Smart & Sexy Bra (CEO is mother of 7)
  • Carter's Infant Shoes
  • Hefty Trashcan

In addition to these six items, you can also find more than 10,000 additional items online and in stores that are women owned. Just look for the Women Owned badge to identify them.

I'm currently crushing on the gorgeous jewelry line from Miss Zoe by Calinana. Just take a look at some of my favorite pieces above -- I already ordered the teardrop necklace and bracelet! Not only is this stunning line owned and designed by Ainat Altarac, but each piece is 100% handcrafted in the USA.

Fun Facts About Women-Owned Businesses

  • A women-owned company is a company that is at least 51% owned by women and also ran by a woman!
  • Women-owned businesses contribute over $1.3 trillion dollars to the US economy.
  • Women are responsible for over 80 percent of the consumer decisions globally.
  • Creating awareness of these products can result in sales growth, increased consumer knowledge and loyalty.
  • The majority of Walmart's 250 billion customers globally are women.

I hope that next time you're shopping at Walmart (or on Walmart.com), you'll look for these women-owned items to support this initiative!

Walmart Moms Disclosure

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How To Make 33 Easy Bake Oven Refill Mixes for Under $4!

by Tara Kuczykowski on February 2, 2015 · 0 comments

How To Make Easy Bake Oven Refill Mixes -- learn how to make your own Easy Bake Oven refills from boxed cake mixes, yields 33 refills for under $4!!! If you have a little girl that loves to bake with her Easy Bake Oven, you NEED to read this now...

If you have an Easy Bake Ultimate Oven in your home, you already know that those refill mixes are ridiculously expensive! My daughter got an Easy Bake Oven for Christmas and quickly used the few mixes that came with it. In a desperate attempt to save my wallet, she and I figured out how to make Easy Bake Oven mixes from store bought cake mix.

Find out how you can make 33 Easy Bake Oven Mixes for under $4!!!

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Rice Krispies Treats for THE Big Game w/ FREE Printable!

by Tara Kuczykowski on January 30, 2015 · 0 comments

Whether you're celebrating THE Big Game, college playoffs or high school football on down, these adorable Rice Krispies Treats® goal posts, footballs and mini football field gridirons are the perfect treats for all ages! They’re super simple to make since they all start with Rice Krispies Treats® Original bars...

Check out the step-by-step instructions for all three of these treats on Snackpicks. And download the FREE printable football field wraparounds on Unsophisticook!

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