Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Five Tips to Help You Save $$$ on Produce....



Morning lovelies! Today we are talking about produce. It is something we all buy. Every time we go grocery shopping we usually have some type of produce on our shopping list, so today I am sharing 5 of my top tips for saving money on produce. These are the very same tips and tricks I use to save my family money and keep us eating healthy all month long. 

Here we go....

1) Shop Your Store Flyers- Look specifically at the first two pages of your store sale flyer. That is where grocery stores lists what produce is on sale. It is also where their top sale items are usually listed. They do this to entice us. They real us in with those grapes on sale and hope that we will continue turning the pages and find more items we have to bring home. Use produce as a base for most of your meals. By making produce the foundation you will save money because you are not so focused on the meat part of the meal, which usually costs twice as much. Some favorites of ours are eggplant Parmesan, stuffed mushrooms, and baked potatoes. In these meals produce is the hero and that helps keep food costs down. It's good for you too! 


2) Do The Math- Anytime you are shopping, you need to do the math to see if you are getting a good deal or not. A lot of times you can find produce in bags or sold individually. Do not assume that just because you are buying something in bulk, you are saving money. Compare the difference between the price per pound and the price per bag. It really makes a difference. 

3) Frozen is Not Always Cheaper- I know that a lot of times we may feel like the frozen option is always cheaper when it comes to our fruits and veggies. Frozen fruits and veggies are great time savers and can also allow us to create a stock pile of fruits and veggies to use when we are going through leaner times. The one thing to remember is that it is not always cheaper to buy frozen produce. I always compare the prices. I try to keep a price book, with the prices I like to pay for certain items. This allows me to know the rock bottom prices I want to pay. When I see fresh strawberries on sale for less than $1.50, I know I can stock up and freeze these. Buying them fresh and freezing them is much cheaper than buying a big bag of frozen fruit. When I find produce at these low prices I try to buy enough to last us for a few weeks or a month or so...depending on the room I have in the freezer.

Be smart when you are shoping and always compare the prices. When veggies go on sale for less than I could buy fresh, I stock up. Also frozen produce is flash frozen, meaning it keeps it's nutrients. I love having a freeze stocked of produce. It makes this mama happy :)



4) Don't Let Food Go To Waste- One of the biggest ways money is wasted on groceries is through food waste. When produce is bought, shoved into the fridge, and not eaten..it ends up going wasted and thrown out. You wouldn't throw $20 in the trash right? We just wouldn't! That would be crazy. Well, don't do it in food form either. When you bring produce home, chop and wash any produce you have. You have to make the healthy option the most convenient one. Making it easy to grab, will allow you to not only cut down on food waste, but your family will be eating better too! 

5) Join a Produce Co-Op- One way that we REALLY save on produce is by participating in Bountiful Baskets. It is a great way to get a lot of produce without spending a lot of money. Here is a sample haul from my archives to give you an idea of the amount you can get. Once I get my basket, I meal plan off of whatever came in my basket. I make produce the hero and pull items form my pantry staple list to make healthy, yummy meals for my family.  Check out what food co-ops are available in your area. Ask around. I know that their are similar things to Bountiful Baskets in different areas of the country. If you know of some, leave it in the comments below. You could also check out your local farmer's market, but make sure to compare prices, so you get the best possible deal. 


So there you have it lovelies....five simple ways we are stretching our grocery budget by making sure that we are not spending a fortune on produce. You can eat a healthy diet, without blowing your grocery budget. Get creative and stay on budget. 

You got this!

XO Danielle

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Confidence From Within....


Good morning lovelies! Today I am talking about confidence. It is something that has been on my heart lately and a message I have been wanting to share. If you follow me on instagram, then you know I have been going on my own little fitness journey. Over the past few months I have lost 34 lbs and gone down a few dress sizes. It has been quite a fun experience and one that has been full of many lessons this mama needed to learn. It is so interesting when we begin a journey, whether it be a fitness journey or a frugal living journey...when we try something new...something we thought we wouldn't be very good at...something happens....something changes within us as we learn the ins and outs of our daily challenges....we learn to love our selves and our abilities...we learn that we can do hard things. I know I mention a lot about moving mountains in our lives. It is something I feel really passionate about. We all have mountains in our lives we are trying to push past. These mountains will look different for each and every one of us. If you get anything from this post today, know that you are not alone in your struggle to push past the hard things...know that you are a part of a brotherhood...a sisterhood...of like minded individuals who are trying to do the very same thing. We all want to be better...we all want to be our best selves...it should be something we are striving for each and every single day. Don't compare yourself to others. Don't track your progress by basing it off what someone else is doing. Know that you are amazing and you can do this. You must believe in yourself. Ok ok I know I sound like a self help book, but I wish that someone would have told my 20 year old self this. I wish I had been ready to listen when I needed to make a change back then.



You all know I strive to share goodness, whether it be here on the blog, on youtube, or on social media. I want to encourage and uplift others in all realms of life. Well this past month I have been able to partner up with GLP Fitness. Know this is NOT a paid partnership. It is just a blogger and a company, who both share a love for encouraging others to be their best self, getting together to do just that. It has been a really cool journey teaming up with them. They inspire me. They are not about portraying a cookie cutter image of what fitness is...of what healthy is....they are about encouraging us to be us....to be the best version of ourselves. Healthy looks different on all of us..because we are all different people. Healthy is not a number on the scale or a pant size you buy in the store. Being healthy is putting good food into your body and getting active. It is enjoying life and enjoying a bit of chocolate cake every once in a while....you all know I can't resist that yummy cake now and again :) Healthy living is finding that confidence from within and knowing that you can do amazingly hard things. It is knowing that no one else can make the change for you, you must be your own cheerleader and show up each and everyday to work hard.


You can learn more about GLP Fitness HERE. You can read about their amazing story and about some of their amazing models who they have teamed up with on their blog

They not only encourage people through their words, but through inspiring shirts as well. You can see I am wearing one of them in my instagram picture above. I am currently drooling over this "Strong Not Skinny" one. It is on my must have list this summer!


I hope today you get a little bit closer to having that #confidencefromwithin . Know that you can do amazing things. You have  been placed on this earth for a reason. Share some goodness today and be amazing!

XO Danielle

Sunday, June 28, 2015

8 Tips to Tackle Spring Cleaning...


Even though spring is drawing to a close, it’s not too late to spruce up your home in preparation for the long, hot summer months. Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a monstrous task as long as you pace yourself and follow a few simple cleaning tips.
  1. Start fresh: Make your way around the house clearing off surfaces and only putting back what you really love.
  2. Budget your time: Be realistic about the time you have available and choose a space to clean that you can fully complete within that time frame.
  3. Clean from top to bottom: Save time by cleaning from the top of the room to the bottom and from one side to the other to avoid cleaning the same area twice.
  4. Make a ‘Cleaning Caddy’: Put together a bucket or caddy containing all of your essential spring cleaning tools. Simply grab and go when you have a couple minutes or more to clean.
  5. Use the right tools: We recommend having an extendable duster, all-purpose cleaner, squeegee, scrub brushes, a lint roller, garbage bags, and a caddy to store your supplies in.
  6. Checklists are key: Map out a plan ahead of time – checklists are a great tool to keep you focused and help you work quickly.
  7. Let the fresh air in!: At the first sign of a warm sunny day, open all the windows for a few hours and let as much of that wonderful fresh air indoors as possible to clear out the stuffiness.
  8. Record your progress: Take a picture, set a timer for 5 minutes and work on a small, visible area of your home. When the timer goes off, take another picture. You’ll be amazed at the difference five minutes can make!
Follow these 8 easy tips and spring cleaning will be a breeze! If you think these tips are helpful, share this infographic with your friends too!


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Chewy Brownie Mix...

Save $$$ by making your own Brownie Mix at Home

Morning lovelies!! How are you loving the new blog layout and all the goodies I have been adding? I hope you guys are finding it easy to navigate, as I continue to work out the kinks. My goal is to have it all fixed, updated, and ready to go by the end of the month. I am keeping both fingers crossed on that one. At the same time I am working on an Ecookbook for you guys.....think quick meals for everyday cooking. I can't wait to get it finished and ready for you guys to use. I think you are really going to like it. It is chock full of our family's favorite quick meals. Just what all us mamas need right? Yummy and quick is my food language :)

Over the weekend I worked on another yummy ready-made mix. Today we are talking brownies. We all love them right? Chewy, chocolate goodness...oh yeah baby! I can't get enough of them! I love to sprinkle a bit of powdered sugar on top. Yum! This mix is simple to throw together. I do this one in a very large bowl. My kitchen-aid mixer bowl is not big enough for this mix. I use a wire whisk and mix it by hand. I then store it in an air-tight container. Don't forget to label and date it as well.

Save $$$ by making your own Brownie Mix at Home

Save $$$ by making your own Brownie Mix at Home

I love knowing that I have brownie mix ready to go whenever the need to bake some yummy goodness arises (brownies are totally a need haha). I also like to do a double batch when I make the brownies...it keeps those hungry tummies at bay for a bit longer. A double batch of this recipe will make one 9x13 pan. If you only make one batch, then you will be using an 8x8 pan.

This brownie mix will last 10-12 weeks in your pantry. Don't be afraid to add some goodies to the brownies when you bake them (but not to the mix). You can add chocolate chips, peanut-butter chips, nuts, fruit (in place of eggs), etc. Get creative and have fun!

Brownie Mix

6 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp salt
8 cups sugar
1 (8oz can) unsweetened cocoa powder

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until evenly distributed. Store in a large air-tight container. Don't forget to label and date your container! This mix will last 10-12 weeks on your pantry shelf. Store in a cool, dry place.

Save $$$ by making your own Brownie Mix at Home

Save $$$ by making your own Brownie Mix at Home

Our Favorite Brownies

1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter)
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
2 1/4 cups brownie mix
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350'. Grease a 8inch square pan. Combine oil or butter, eggs, vanilla, water, and brownie mix in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in nuts, if using. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, until edges separate from pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or top with my favorite butter cream frosting or my chocolate frosting. Yum!

Have you tried my other mixes yet? Let me know :)

XO Danielle

Friday, June 26, 2015

4 Delicious Pastas to Enjoy This Summer...


Pasta is a go to comfort food for most of us in the fall and winter. Pasta often makes for a heavy meal, which is rarely appealing in the heat of summer; however, with the right preparation, pasta can be light enough for summer eating. In order to create the perfect summer meal, the dish needs to be quick, easy, require little to no cooking, allow you to use fresh ingredients, and pair well with other summer foods. With these requirements in mind, check out these four delicious summer pastas.


Southwest Pasta Salad


This is not your ordinary pasta salad. Bring this salad along to your next summer barbecue, or add your favorite meat right off the grill to turn this salad into an easy summer meal.


What You Need
1 box bowtie pasta (prepared according to package directions)
1 can black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can kidney beans (drained & rinsed)
1 can sweet corn (drained)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 bottle of Italian salad dressing
2 fresh tomatoes
taco seasoning (optional)
1 avocado (optional)
sliced olives (optional)
grilled meat strips (optional)


Combine beans, corn, cheese, and dressing in large bowl. Add cooked pasta and mix together. Add taco seasoning if desired. Chill to serve as salad, or heat through to serve as a meal. Top with tomatoes, avocado, olives, and grilled meat (as desired) when ready to serve.


Preparation Tip: For the best flavor, combine pasta, salad dressing, and taco seasoning in ziploc bag. Refrigerate overnight. Add all other ingredients when ready to serve.


Strawberry Kiwi Lasagna


This fresh fruit lasagna can be served at nearly any summer occasion! You can serve this simple and delicious dish at breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert, a picnic, or a barbecue.


What You Need
12 lasagna noodles (cooked & cooled)
1 large carton of vanilla yogurt*
1 small carton of ricotta cheese
Fresh strawberries* (sliced)
Fresh kiwis* (sliced)
Mint leaves (optional)


Place 3 lasagna noodles in the bottom of 9x13 glass pan. Cover with vanilla yogurt and spread to all edges. Top yogurt with sliced strawberries. Repeat noodle layer. Cover with ricotta cheese. Follow with sliced kiwi. Repeat noodle layer. Follow with vanilla yogurt and sliced strawberries. Repeat noodle layer. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with additional sliced strawberries and mint leaves to garnish (if desired).


*Feel free to experiment with other fresh fruits and even yogurt flavors. The possibilities for this lasagna are nearly endless.


Preparation Tip: If you want to reduce the cost of ingredients, purchase cottage cheese instead of ricotta cheese. You can use your blender to get a ricotta like consistency.


Quick & Easy Pesto Pasta


Any grilled meat or seafood will pair well with this pasta; however, if you are looking for a quick and easy summer dinner, this is also delicious without meat.


What You Need
1 package of pasta any variety (cooked & drained)
1 jar of prepared pesto sauce* (find it near the spaghetti sauce)
sliced fresh tomatoes (any variety)
grilled meat or seafood (optional)
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)


Mix warm pasta with pesto sauce and sliced tomatoes. Top with grated Parmesan cheese. If desired, top with grilled meat or seafood.


*You can also use fresh avocado in place of the prepared pesto sauce. Simply mash up soft avocado and mix it with the warm pasta and tomatoes.


Preparation Tip: When preparing any pasta, keep all stray pieces out of the garbage disposal in your sink. As explained by the pros, pasta can expand and cause problems for your pipes. So always toss pasta in the trash instead!


Raspberry Ravioli Salad


Cheese and fruit provide a classic flavor pairing that is simple and yet so delicious. Try serving this salad at any summer occasion. If you are obsessed with fresh raspberries, you may want to keep this salad home for yourself.


What You Need
1 package of frozen cheese filled ravioli
fresh raspberries (or thawed from frozen)
1 bottle of raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing
cinnamon


Prepared pasta according to package directions. Place ravioli pieces in single layer on wax paper to cool. Sprinkle with cinnamon while still warm. Once cooled completely, gently mix pasta in bowl with salad dressing. Refrigerate for two to three hours. Gently mix in raspberries when ready to serve.


Preparation Tip: Don’t add the raspberries to the salad bowl. Instead, serve this salad on individual plates and place raspberries on top of the salad on each plate when ready to serve.

XO Whitney Hollingshead

Thursday, June 25, 2015

3 Quick Meals You Can Make Tonight....

Today I am sharing three videos of super quick meals or snacks you could make your family tonight. Try to look at what is in your pantry and how maybe you could either use what I did or substitute for things you already have in your pantry. One thing I have found is that the more I can figure out how to substitute things, the more I am able to prevent food waste and not spend so much money at the grocery store. We are all about keeping more dollars in our wallets right?

Check out the videos and let me how what quick meals you keep in your back pocket for busy nights. I love hearing all the great stuff you do to feed those families of yours. So encouraging!






XO Danielle 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Get Your Car Ready For Summer and Save...

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cooper Tires. All opinions are 100% mine.

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Summer travel is upon us and before we pack those bags and head out for some fun in the sun, we need to make sure all is right on the car front. No one wants to head out on a family vacation without knowing your car's tires will last all those miles on the road. Having your tires in top notch shapes also helps improve gas mileage and improved traction. Tires that are in good shape will give you peace of mind and allow you to focus on what's important...spending time with that family of yours. 
 
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Cooper Tires is the company that can help you do that and do it all on a budget. They are an American company that specializes in the design, manufacture, marketing, and sales of replacement automobile and truck tires. Cooper Tires are quality tires that fit in your budget! This summer, Cooper Tires is giving consumers the opportunity to roll into the season with great offers on select Cooper Tires during their Cooper Tire Summer Drive Event. June 1st through July 15th, consumers are eligible to receive a prepaid Visa card worth up to $70 when purchasing a new set of four qualifying Cooper Tires through participating dealers. 

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Cooper Tires pride and joy of tires is the Discoverer SRX. It's a best-in-class product and a dedicated SUV and CUV tire. Next they have the Discoverer STT Pro is Cooper’s latest high performance mud tire and the Discoverer A/Ttire that provides quality performance in nearly every terrain. They all feature a wear square to help us know when our tires are needing to replaced. I love this feature! Throughout the tires lifetime, the square changes shape beginning with a full square and ending with an exclamation mark when the tire tread is low, allowing you to quickly and easily assess the approximate tread remaining on the tires. No guessing, which this mama loves!

So check out your local Cooper Tires, using the 
Dealer Locator, and gear your car up for summer traveling, without breaking the bank!


-Danielle

Visit Sponsors Site

How to Clean Your Floors Without Chemicals and on the Cheap....


It's 8:20 pm and the kids are all nestled in bed. Hubby just ran to the store for some sunflower seeds...he's pretty addicted right now and I am in front of my laptop...ready for a bit of me time. Blogging is my me time. It is my time to get all these thoughts out of my head. I need a little creative released each day and blogging does that for me. The house is quiet. I love this hour after the kids go to bed...now don't get me wrong...I love when my red heads are awake and running a muck, but the calm that occurs after everyone is tucked in is something to be enjoyed. It is a time to sit back and reflect on the day. It is a time to give yourself a pat on the back for making it another day without pulling your hair out. Mommyhood is tough business......good things those precious littles we get to call our own are so very worth it.

Today before bedtime, I was tackling the floors. Oh those floors. We have plywood flooring....I wish we had hardwood flooring but gaw we do not...someday Danielle...someday......we also live in the desert, so our floors get dusty really fast....like REALLY fast...oh and throw in our cute little Watson and all his hair....I am sure you are seeing the picture I am painting. Our floors need a little TLC and today I am going to share what I do to keep them clean and not spend a fortune. I am also showing you how we do it completely chemical free. This will work whether you have plywood floors, tiled floor, hardwood floors, or anything in between. You only need a few things and then you will be ready to go.

A mop, a bucket, vinegar, hot water, and some essential oils. The oils are completely optional. I just really like to use them because they cover the vinegar smell and they smell wonderful. My favorite right now is Lemongrass. It smells like lemon-heads. Remember that delicious candy from when you were a kid? It was a favorite. I love my floors smelling like that sweet memory. Make this mama smile :)

I start by prepping my floors. Give them a good sweep or vacuum. I do a mix of both. I make sure that I use the wand attachment if I am vacuuming, so I can get into those tight corners. Nothing sucks worst then when you go to mop and notice a little section of crumbs you forgot to clean up.

Once those floors are ready for mopping, I fill a 5 gallon bucket with about 4 cups of vinegar. I then fill the bucket up to about the half way point with hot water. I just use hot water from the tab. Once that bucket is full, you get to do the fun part....adding the essential oils. I usually do about 20 drops of oil. I really like to smell that goodness, but do what works for you.

Once your bucket is ready to go you can mop. I don't have a fancy mop...it is just a simple plastic mop from Target. I believe it was $7.99. I buy a new mop sponge for it about every month. Those sponges are about $2.99. Super inexpensive. I buy my vinegar at Costco so I can buy a gallon of vinegar for only a few dollars. My essential oils are the NOW brand and I buy them on Amazon for less than $10 a bottle.

By keeping it simple, I am able to save my family money and not have to bring a lot of nasty chemicals into the home. My house also smells wonderful when I am done mopping. I usually do my whole house once a week....but realistically it only happens every other week. I really shoot for once a week though. My kitchen I do more often. It is probably the one part of my house I am super vigilant in keeping tidy. No one wants to cook in a yuck kitchen. Am I right?

So there you have it. A few simple tricks for keeping those floors clean and not breaking the bank.

Here are a few more green cleaning ideas :)






Thank you for letting me share this graphic Chadwicks :)

Now I know we all have our own little techniques, so share in the comments how you all keep those floors clean and save money. I love hearing your idea. So inspiring!!


Check out this week's menu plan over here. This one includes a recipe list and grocery list :)

XO Danielle 
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