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Find tutorials, recipes, and budgeting videos from me on my Youtube Channel!

Monday, December 22, 2014

How We DON'T Do Santa...

How We DON'T Do Santa...

Originally posted December 2012

Today I wanted to share what we do to make the Christmas season special and how we share the gospel principles behind it. For those of you who are of a differing faith or belief, I ask that you be kind. I try to keep things light and fluffy here on Blissful and Domestic, but today I want to share something close to my heart. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know my Savior lives and loves me. This post is for those Moms who were once like me, wanting to find a way to make their Christmas holiday more Christ filled, but not knowing how to go about doing it. This post is for my 20 year old self. 

Read on lovelies......

Santa Claus....That big, jolly man with his white beard and rosy cheeks. He is everywhere this time of year. We see him in commercials, in store advertisements, in Christmas TV specials, and even on food packaging. Santa Claus and Christmas go hand in hand every holiday season. As adults we can remember being a child and waiting to hear Santa and his reindeer on our roof tops. I can remember sneaking into my parents room and snuggling up to my Mom. I had to be around 5 or 6. I swear I heard hoof steps on the roof. I nudged my mom to tell her, but she grumbled for me to go to sleep and rolled over. I listened for more steps. My six year old self was just beaming with excitement. I knew I had heard Santa. He had come and brought presents for my brother and I. Santa is a part of all of us. He is a part of our youth. Eventually we get older and either learn for ourselves or from our friends that the jolly St. Nick is not real. I was dropped the “Santa Bomb” by my friend Stevie. Yes Stevie you crushed my Santa dreams with one phone call...haha :) Eventually I got over my No-Santa shock and moved on with my life. I still always loved Christmas, even though no more hoof steps would be heard on my roof. This is true today as well. Christmas holds a magic for me. It is like a big ball of glittery fun, which just has to be shared. I LOVE Christmas. The wrapping of presents, the jingle bell carols, the treats, and of course all the family gatherings. It just puts my heart in overdrive, happy mode.
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When I had children I knew I wanted to pass this love for the holiday on to them, but how would I do it? I wanted them to know the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Christ is the reason for the season.

After having my son, I talked to mother after mother. I wanted to know what they did to make the Christmas holiday special for their little ones. How did they teach them the true meaning? One sweet mother told me that they didn't do Santa. I was astounded. What? You can NOT do Santa? I didn't even know that was allowed. How does that even work? Well she enlightened me. Her children were hardcore Santa fans, until they decided one day to pray to him. Their little selves understood that they had been told that Santa could see them when they were sleeping and when they were awake, so he must be like God....Right? Well this Mother knew she had to do something fast. She sat those children down and dropped the “Santa Bomb”. You know the “He isn't real” bomb. The thinking of her little ones made sense. We teach our children the gospel everyday, and the holidays should be no different.

After hearing her story I decided what I would do. I would not discourage Santa, but I wouldn't encourage it either. Hubby was on board with my plan. We would do fun holiday things, string Christmas lights, give presents, but we would teach the gospel principles behind everything we did.

Anytime I discipline my children, I do it through the gospel. When they have made a wrong choice, I remind them that those are things that make their Heavenly Father sad. By learning how little things can be unpleasing to the Lord, they are able to understand how bigger, poor choices can be just as bad. They begin from toddlerhood to realize that everything has an eternal, spiritual consequence. We continue this teaching at Christmas time.
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Every year we do a countdown. When my kids were toddlers we used the Alphabet to help us countdown to Christmas. For 26 days we crafted, created, baked, sang, and skipped our way to Christmas. This was such a fun way to get my then 3 and 18 month old into the spirit of the season. We started off slow with the gospel principles we taught. We mainly focused on a cliff notes version of the Christmas story. We wanted to make sure they knew who Christmas was for.

As it gets closer to Christmas we start The Twelve Prayers of Christmas. We get out our book and the nativity. We read a poem each night and add one piece to the nativity. On Christmas Eve is when we read the whole Christmas story again and add Christ. I love this book because it breaks down the nativity so simply for us. We are able to talk about why we give presents. We do this when we add the wise men. We give presents to remember how the wise men brought Christmas gifts after he was born. We bake star cookies when we talk about the new star that shone in the sky. We make every moment count. 
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We still have fun with Santa. We make Santa crafts, Santa treats, and watch The Santa Clause Movies. We do this because it is a fun, magical part of Christmas. I get to have fun with my kids and be one myself for the whole month of December. I look forward to it. By not “doing Santa”, you're really just taking the focus off the man in the red suit and putting it back on the Savior. Because after all, you can't have Christmas without out Christ.

Thank you all for always being such amazing supportive readers. I would love to hear what you do to make the season brighter for your family. How do you focus on Christ during this season?

XO Danielle

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

This post was originally published on November 25, 2012

Many of you have been filling my in box with one simple request, a post on how the Hubbs and I do Christmas on a budget. Well here we go. One nicely packaged post, explaining how we do Christmas on a budget.

Hubby and I have been married for 10 years, so we have had a lot of Christmases together. Just like with everything in our budgeting life, we didn't start off doing the holidays with a plan. We started out as many of you probably have. We would make a list of who we had to buy for. Then we would go shopping, probably spending way to much on toys and such. We didn't have a game plan, a budget, or any clue at what we were doing. We would justify that it was Christmas and you had to spend money at that time of year. We stayed in this practice for many years.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Then that wonderful day happened when we decided to change our financial situation. You can read about that HERE. I knew that doing a budget needed to apply to everything in our life, including Christmas. I have been following this thrifty way of life for many Christmases now and I have to tell you that our holidays are so much better because of it. Below are a few tips broken down for you. These are all the tips and tricks we follow to stay out of debt and on budget during the holidays.

Set a Budget
This is the MOST important thing you can do this Christmas. Sit down, with your spouse, and actually talk about what you are going to spend on Christmas. Be specific. So many people forget to do this. They shop and spend, then after Christmas they are shocked at how much they spent. Everyone's budget will be different. Pick one that fits into your current financial situation. When hubby and I do this, we decide how much we will spend on our children first. Stocking stuffers are included in this budget. We then decide how much we will spend on each other and our other family members. When money has been extra tight at the holidays we forego the presents for each other. Sometimes we will wait till we get our tax returns and shop then for each other. We always make sure that we have money for the littles first.

 When buying presents for other family members there are a few things you can do. Set a price limit for each person. We usually have a $10 limit. This limit is the same when birthdays come around as well. This is a reasonable amount for us, since we come from a pretty large family. We also do secret Santa with my hubby's family. This helps a ton! Each of the adults pick a name out of a hat and so do the kids. We set a $10 limit and then exchange presents at a family Christmas Eve brunch. This is such an amazing help to our family. Instead of spending say $150 on presents for my inlaws, we only spend $40. It also takes less stress off of the shopper. This year I am able to spend more time relaxing this Christmas, then figuring out what to by for my sweet family. I love them to pieces, but sometimes all that shopping and spending can wear a person out, and my checkbook.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Remember that budgeting at Christmas does not mean you love your family less. Money does not equate to love. Never forget this.

Pay Cash
Such a basic concept right? Do this at Christmas time as well. If we have to charge it, then we don't need it. Yes there are exceptions, but this is a good one to follow as a general rule. Credit cards are for emergencies only. This is our thrifting philosophy. Where Christmas is concerned, we only use cash. I go through the store with a calculator and make sure I am only spending what we budget. I try to remember that if I go over budget, it means money taken away from our bills being paid or groceries being bought.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Go Homemade/Thrifted
Whenever I can, I go homemade. This is a great way to save money as well. I always try to find projects where I have most of the items already in my craft stash. If I have to purchase anything to make a present, I always go to thrift stores first. One year I made rag tie wreaths. I bought sheets at a thrift store to make them. This saved me tons in the fabric department. Another year I made my little miss a beauty salon set with faux make-up. I just took old curling irons and stuff I wasn't using. I then cut off the cords. I made a beautician apron and a hair salon cape for her doll out of fabric I already had. This is was such a simple present, which she still plays with today.

I also love to look for gifts at the thrift stores. There are so many wonderful things donated to thrift stores. Most stores save all their Christmas decor and stuff for December. This is great, since you can always give Christmas decorations as a gift or incorporate it into planned crafts you have. Look at the toys/clothes section too. You never know what gems you may find.The Goodwillista is always finding great stuff for holiday dressing/gifts.

I also check out ebay. I have been able to find some amazing deals via Ebay and Amazon on those video games and electronics our littles are always asking for.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

When making presents for grandparents, I try to go the sentimental/homemade route. My parents love pictures of their grand kids. Every year I make a calendar from Shutterfly.com. My Mom looks forward to this present each year. Since I order from Shutterfly often, I look for their sales. I am signed up to receive emails with their coupon codes. On black Friday I was able to buy 2 calendars at such a great price! My total should have been well over $50, but I had some pretty sweet coupon codes. I ended up only paying $25. SCORE!

Shop Around
Shopping smart will save you money. Just because you budget say $10 a person, does not mean you have to spend it. If you find a great deal, then you can end up saving that extra money. This money can then be used for other things.
Sites like Style Lately, Paparazzi Accessories, and GroopDealz are all great places to find gifts. I purchased presents for my sisinlaws, who all have birthdays in December and January. I was able to buy gifts for three people and only spend $16. I budgeted $30, but I was able to find some great deals. All of these sites send me emails when they have deals. I wait for a really good one and plan ahead. My Sisinlaw Holly has a birthday in January, but I already purchased her gift. I found a great deal and now I won't have to buy her a present come January. It is another item I can check off my to do list.


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

Where toys are concerned, money can be wasted on toys our kids won't even play with. Kids are bombarded with toy commercials and ads. They are lead to believe that every toy will be A-MAZING. This is not always the case. I can't even believe how much money we wasted when we first had my son. He would think everything was cool and that he HAD to have it. We would buy it and then find out that it wasn't really something he wold play with, it was just something that looked cool on TV. Now we only buy things we KNOW our children will play with. Before Birthdays and Christmas we take them to Wal-Mart or Target. We let me them go up and down the toy aisles to check out all the goodies. We watch what they gravitate towards. We then think about how our children play. My son is not into dress up, but my daughter is. He will see Spider-man masks and light sabers and swear he will play with them everyday, if he can just get it. We know from experience now that we won't. He hates costumes, even at Halloween. This would be one of those things we would not buy, even if he asked for it. Shopping smart is a great way to only buy what your children will actually use. We have a limited budget. I want to get as much bang for my buck, so I want to make sure they will truly enjoy everything they get.

Another way to shop smart is to price match at Wal-Mart. They don't just price match food, they will honor store ads where toys and household items are concerned as well. If you see a toy advertised for less than Wal-Mart sales it for, price match it. You bring in your ad and show them the cheaper price. They then will honor that price. I love that Wal-Mart does this. They rock! Wal-Mart also has a great layaway program. This is a great way to get presents and not charge them to a credit card. You pick out your items and then bring them to customer service. They then put them all on hold for you. You make payments throughout the month of December. This is great for people who get paid by the week or who are shopping with maybe a Christmas bonus. You can check out Wal-Mart's coupon policy, price match policy, and layaway terms on their website.

Quality Not Quantity
This is the last tip we always try to follow. My children may not have a truck load of toys under the tree, but what they do have I know will last. It is very easy to see toys in catalogs and think what a great price. I am weary of this, since we have done this before and the toys have not lasted. My son is pretty hard on toys, so we always look for something that will last. It is not worth it to buy a lot of cheaply made items, just so you have a huge quantity under the tree. Buy items for your family that will last and stand up to the wear and tear that the item will under go. Be conscious of all purchases. Whether you are buying thrifted items or brand new items, think of each purchase as an investment. Make sure you get the most bang for your buck, where quality is concerned .


How We Do Christmas on a Budget...

These are the tips and tricks we follow each year. It is just another part of our thrifty lifestyle. Christmas is a time for family togetherness. Enjoy this holiday season with your loved ones.


Merry Shopping Lovelies! 

XO Danielle

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ruby Claire Boutique Giveaway Winners

Evening Lovelies!! I wanted to hop on here and let you know who the fabulous winners of the Ruby Claire Boutique giveaway are:

Ruby Claire Boutique Giveaway Winner

Ruby Claire Boutique Giveaway Winner



Congrats ladies! I will be emailing you shortly! 

XO Danielle

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

The days are counting down and there's only so much time left for crafting. With that in mind I have put together a quick list of fun crafts you can do, that little to no time to complete. These would all make great additions to your current decor or they would make great gifts!

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


Last Minute DIY Holiday Decor Ideas


What last minute crafts are you making?

XO Danielle




Giving Back with UPS #WishesDelivered

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


Today I wanted to hop on the ole' blog here and share a really cool way that UPS is giving back this holiday season. You may have seen me post the picture below a few weeks ago on instagram. Today I am going to share a little bit more about that post and how you to can make a wish via instagram or twitter to help raise money for charity! You can also load your wish straight to the #WishesDelivered site.



Right now UPS is running an awesome campaign. When you post to twitter or instagram with the hashtag #WishesDelivered, UPS will donate $1 to one of their partner charities. They will be donating up to 100 thousand dollars total! Who knew our instagram posts would be able to do so much good?  

When I made my wish on instagram and twitter, I had been thinking about how thankful I was to get to be warm and toasty in my home. I know that there are many who are not able to experience this comfort. I made a wish that everyone would be able to be warm this holiday season. We all deserve a safe, warm place to lay our weary heads.

When you make your own wish, make sure that it is a selfless wish.....no asking for a new iPhone 6 or those earrings you saw down at the store. All wishes should be selfless and meaningful, made on behalf of another person.

I hope you will all have a chance to share your holiday wishes this month. By sharing your wish, you'll easily be doing your part to help raise money for charity! Leave the links in the comments below or tag me, so I can see your wishes too. Let's inspire and encourage one another to do good and bring cheer to those we are around. This campaign ends December 31, 2014, so get your wishes in! :)

XO Danielle
Your_wishes_delivered

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Friday, December 19, 2014

How to Earn Money From Blogging With IZEA.com

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

How to Earn Money From Blogging With IZEA.com
Hi there Lovelies! Today I am really excited to share a little behind the scenes action of the blog. I get asked often about how to earn money from a blog. I've answered this a lot individually, but have teamed up with IZEA.com to share with you how I am able to earn a little bit of money from this little piece of the web I call my blog.

Izea-logo
When I first started out my blog, it was never with the intention to earn money. It was something I did for me. I was going through lot of changes in my life. We were learning how to live on a budget and I was beginning to focus my life in a completely different direction. Writing a blog allowed me to journal that process and have a creative outlet at the same time. Over time I realized that people were actually reading my blog. What! People actually cared what I had to say. It was strange and exiting all at the same time. This gave me the motivation to continue stretching myself and learning new things, so I could then share it with you. As my blog grew, I realized that this little hobby of mine, could actually become a job. I love frugal living and I feel so lucky to be able to share that with other people. I remember my parents always saying you should find a job you love and do it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be a writer, blogger, and youtube maker, but I am and I absolutely love it!

About a year ago, I decided to get serious about this blog thing. I wanted to make this my part-time job, in addition to the other job I love - wife/mother-. I even wrote about it here. This blog takes up a lot of my time. I spend about four hours a day working behind the scenes on this blog. Because it requires a bit of time, I wanted to be able to find a way to earn money for all the time I was putting into this love of mine. This is where IZEA came into play. I found IZEA through a blog search and decided to try it out. IZEA connects creators who blog, tweet and post with leading brands who sponsor them. Those brands receive influential content and engaging, shareable stories that drive awareness. Creators are compensated for their participation and partnership. Compensation varies, depending on your stats for social media and your blog. 

Over the past year that I have been using IZEA.com, I have been able to monetize various posts on my blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. With IZEA you can bid or decline on various brands, so you are only working with the companies that fit with your blog. Because I am always in the frugal mind set, I am thankful I am able to work with companies, who have similar interests. There are always things to share with you and new topics to be discussed. The people at IZEA are great to work with as well. They help you through each campaign and are there for tips when ever you need them. I love how personable they all are. Can you tell I have nothing but good things to say? I've had a great experience working with them. 

  Get Sponsored by Big Brands


Their site is easy to navigate as well. I write in blogger and am easily able to write up my posts in IZEA for approval and then copy and paste them into blogger. I am a busy stay at home Mom, so simple is the only language I speak :)

No matter the size of your blog, you can sign up with IZEA and earn some money for the content that you share. Check out IZEA.com to see how you can start earning, for what you post on your blog and social media. This year my blog money was able to completely pay for Christmas gifts for that family of mine. What a blessing that was to our little brood! 


Check out IZEA.com to see how you can start earning money for you own little piece of the web!

XO Danielle

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Five Ways to Stretch Your Dollar When Holiday Shopping #ChaseHolidays

Five Ways to Stretch Your Dollar When Holiday Shopping #ChaseHolidays

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Chase Ultimate Rewards
All opinions are 100% mine.

Today I have the opportunity to team up with Chase Ultimate Rewards, to share another tip on stretching your dollar this holiday season. I am all about sharing different ways we can all save and stretch our budgets. We are all at different places in life, with different income levels and budgets. I want to be able to give you many tips and tricks to help you in whatever season you are in. I haven't talked a lot about credit cards here on the blog, but I am excited to share a bit today. We all know there was a time when I had to stay clear of credit cards. Now I am in a better place. I have acquired that self-control and have since learned how to make the credit cards work for me, instead of the debt owning me. We use credit cards for emergencies only, or when I know I have the cash to cover them. For example, we have a few bills that are paid with our credit cards, but are paid off at the end of each month. We do this to allow our credit to continually build. This Christmas, we had saved $300 for Christmas shopping for the littles. I had my money set aside and decided to get our shopping done with time to spare. We were able to combine sales and our points that we accrued with our credit card that has Chase Ultimate Rewards to maximize our Christmas shopping budget.

Ultimate Rewards, which is available to  - Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire and Ink from Chase cardholders, is a program that lets you earn points whenever you spend. You can earn points to redeem for your choice of rewards including travel, merchandise, gift cards, and even cash back. You can also receive other perks like VIP access at concerts and travel on any flight (without blackout dates or restrictions)

Ultimate Rewards allows your credit card to work for you. You can stretch your dollars during the holiday shopping season by either redeeming rewards for holiday gifts for loved ones or using your rewards credit card, so you earn points while shopping. We were able to take advantage of these benefits this holiday season. We have a Chase credit card with Ultimate Rewards and were able to do all of our Christmas shopping online, using our card. We were able to shop for sales, accumulate rewards, and stretch our holiday budget this season. We also made sure that we had cash to cover our purchases, so we could pay off our spending at the end of the month. Being smart with our shopping and spending, allowed us to make our budget work. I have compiled five quick tips to help you stretch your dollars this holiday season.

1) Set a Budget- It is the foundation of all spending. We must know how much we can spend, so we don't go overboard. Decide as a family how much you will spend. If you are going to use your credit card's rewards program, make sure you will have enough cash to cover whatever you spend. Set a budget and stick to it! 

2) Shop the Sales- By shopping sales and comparing prices, you can find the best possible deal for whatever item you are looking for. We did the majority of our Christmas shopping online. Some stores offer discounted prices for shopping online. 

3) Use Coupons- There are so many coupons and money saving apps out there, which can help you stretch your dollars. Combining coupons with a sale will maximize your savings!

4) Know the Rewards- Know what rewards you are eligible for, if you are using a credit card to purchase items. For example, if you travel a lot, take advantage of accumulating points for travel. You can buy the stuff you would normally buy, while racking up points at the same time.

5) Be Smart With Your Spending- When you are using a credit card to purchase your gifts this season, make sure that you have the cash to cover it. You do not want to rack up a hefty credit card bill, just to reap the rewards. That wouldn't be saving you in the long run. Having the cash to cover your purchases, means you can take advantage of your credit card's perks, while staying out of debt as well! Win! Win! We did this exact thing this year and it was great! We shopped, racked up some rewards, and paid it all off within a few weeks time.

Check out UltimateRewards.com - to see what benefits you can start taking advantage of this month. Be smart and make sure that everything you buy fits within your budget. Shopping responsibly will allow you to save money and stay out of  debt this holiday season, allowing you to start the year off right!

XO Danielle

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DIY Southern Christmas Mantel



Hello to all you wonderful "Blissful And Domestic readers! I am so excited to be here with y'all today sharing my Southern Christmas Mantel. This fall, I brought lots of natural elements in from the outside to decorate and I really wanted to continue that theme through the Christmas season too.


Lately, I've been crushing on antlers like crazy, and my husband being the sweetheart that he is, has been collecting them and surprising me with new ones. Then while on Pinterest, it gets me every time, I saw a photo of a deer mounted over the fireplace, and I knew that we really needed one of those! Sweet hubby to the rescue, he found one of those too! Boy, I was smiling BIG time!


Now because I'm not a totally rustic kind of girl, I had to decorate him up a little, so I made him a pom pom garland to warm him up a bit, saw that on Pinterest too-ha! Check out my pom pom tutorial here and you can make your own, easy-peasy. Threw in a handmade book page tree , a lantern, a pine cone garland, another pom pom garland, hand-made burlap stockings from last year and LOTS of fresh greenery and, ta-da, all done.



Thank y'all so much today for joining me here at Danielle's place. It's always so much fun to come and hang out with y'all for a while. Happy December Everyone and Merry Christmas from The Little Farm Diary!

XO Amy - Find more from me on my blog!


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