Friday, October 24, 2014

Halloween Costume Deals

I purchase five costumes every Halloween, okay, I purchase three but can buy up to five. I don't mind it, but wow are they pricy. Plus, they are usually pretty basic fits. Costume quality is pretty low leaving not much of an outfit after the "big show" on Oct. 31st.

Because costumes can feel like a huge investment, I've taken to shopping around for the best Halloween deals. If you're still shopping for the right costume (and price) this year, there's still time to snag a good deal. Check out these money-saving tips:

• Buy Secondhand: kids costumes are usually the easiest thing to come by secondhand. Consignment stores usually set out a huge gently-used selection around early September and options are plentiful up until just before Halloween. Yelp: consignment to find a spot near you with costumes 40%-50% off regualr price.

• Order online: be wary here of high shipping costs. Give yourself at least a week to find the best online deal. For folks using you can buy secondhand costumes and if you have a Prime membership (which I love) you get free two-day shopping on a ton of inventory, new and used. Prime is an investment of $100 annually but it's well worth it. Before Prime I'd spend too much every Halloween season. This year I purchased three costumes my kids had their hearts set on and none cost more than $15 bucks. With free shipping, this was a great deal with mega convenience. I dodged scouring busy store aisles with highly overpriced outfits.

• Do-It-Yourself: this area isn't for everyone but if you're the crafty and creative kind then you already know how low-cost this route can me. My sister was just out shopping for one basic piece: a Tu-Tu and couldn't believe what a simple piece of bunched up tulle was going to actually cost. She went the DIY route and only spent $4 dollars. With Pinterest, do it yourself is easier than ever. 

These are three simple tips to not breaking the break this Halloween! 
Please share you money saving ideas with our readers. Comment below...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tiny Houses

I recently watched the documentary "Tiny: A Story About Living Small". This documentary followed a man named Chris and his year long journey of building his very own tiny house. There is this new movement that is fueled by environmental concerns, the want to live with less stuff, mixed with the decline of the housing market that has people building and living in these mini-homes.

So how small are we talking here? Well most of these tiny houses are between 100-200 square feet. That's it! Many are built from scratch on a trailer. To give you an idea of how small this is, the average three bedroom home in California is about 1500-1800 square feet. These tiny homes cost about $150 per square foot to build. This means that a 150 square foot tiny house would cost about $22,500 to build. This seems like a lot for such a small place, but after your initial investment the cost to live in them is minimal. Most of these homes run off solar panels and usually are set up in someone's backyard so things like property taxes do not exist.

Inside a Tiny House
The idea is very interesting and seems to be sprouting up over the western states. The people interviewed in the documentary seemed to be really excited and happy to be living in such a small space. One thing I noticed was that with the exception of one family, most people living the tiny house lifestyle were either singles or couples.

I know that I could never live in a 200 square-foot house with my husband and 2 kids. Really that sounds like torture to me. But the idea of living with less stuff is very enticing.

Could you live in a tiny house?

Kids in the Kitchen

Lately my children have been all about helping. Our four year old is especially engaged with household chores. If I don't find her "dusting" or propped on a chair "washing dishes", she's usually off making someone's bed or simply pretending to be everyone's mommy. This idea of helping has made for some interesting play and even more interesting meal times. 

Our three kiddos love helping out in the kitchen! Like many kids mine enjoy baking homemade cookies with mom or creating oddly shaped pancakes with dad. I love when our children get a thrill out of helping in the kitchen and my husband loves it even more than I do. He's very good about engaging our children in fun kitchen projects.

Just check out their latest creation:

Nailed it! 

Of course, the above photo is meant to be funny. This meal was a complete success. Most egg rolls turned out much "prettier" than the one pictured and all were delicious. 

My husband arranged a simple assembly line and laid out the basics: egg roll wrapping sheets, cheese, pepperoni and sausage. I added some flare with goat cheese filling while my hubby added sliced jalapeƱos to his egg roll. After each of the kiddos stuffed and rolled their pizza egg rolls, I added a small tooth pick to keep rolls in tact. Then as a safety measure, my husband took over all frying duties. The end result were delicious cheesy egg rolls and a discussion about everything a person could put inside an egg roll...

1. Bananas with Nutella (with a sprinkle of powered sugar on top)
2. Veggies (sliced carrots and cabbage) and seasoned ground beef
3. Diced peaches with blueberry goat cheese 
4. Diced Strawberries with cream cheese 
5. More pizza toppings (i.e. Mushrooms, peppers, pineapple chunks).

We really had such a fun time with this kitchen creation and look forward to more. Not only did we all enjoy the quality time, but while in the kitchen our youngins' become engaged in basic life skills, used their creativity and worked as a team. 

Are your kids fans of helping out in the kitchen, too? Please share your kid-friendly recipes below!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Book of Life- Movie Review

Since I heard that there was going to be a animation movie about Dia De Los Muertos I was so excited. My girls and I painted up our faces like calaveras and we headed out to watch The Book of Life.  I went in with my hopes high for this film. I think that when you have a single movie representing an entire cultural tradition pressure mounts. Imagine having just one movie to represent Christmas?

The movie was absolutely fantastic. First of all it is visually stunning. I mean check it out...

Every single scene and setting was packed with gorgeous details from the hearts on the fences to the skulls on the matador outfits.

The story itself did such a great job of incorporating the traditions of Dia De Los Muertos as the backdrop to a story with a very familiar love triangle storyline: 2 best friends in love with the same girl with good and evil forces meddling in the middle of it all. This really is a movie about love and friendship.

I thought the casting of this movie was brilliant. From Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, Danny Trejo, Ice Cube, Placido Domingo and a handful of Mexican-American comedians like Cheech Marin, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes and even Gabriel Iglesias. I was a little concerned with Channing Tatum as one of the leads but he really did a great job as Joaquin.

As if the visual eye candy, touching story and outstanding cast wasn't enough, the music made me fall in love with this movie. There is plenty of music sprinkled throughout the movie and it is an eclectic blend of traditional Mexican music, current Chicano super stars like La Santa Cecilia, as well as many songs sung by Diego Luna himself. But what really did me in was how the blended current rock hits with mariachi music. Ever wondered what Mumford and Sons would sound like if they were a mariachi band? Well then go see this film. This musical mash-up gets me everytime. I feel like if I could capture my soul in a song a rock/mariachi song would be it.

I cannot say enough great things about this movie. I plan on seeing it again very soon. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

When Married People Flirt

Flirting is a true skill. It's been a long time since I've dated, but I remember a thing or two about flirtatious behavior. Very recently I ended up in a long airplane line while in front of two adorable gentlemen who awkwardly flirted for several minutes. I tried not to listen to their seductive tones, incessant giggling and the sexual tension in their one-liners. I failed miserably and felt like a complete third wheel; but, when it was all said and done, I was truly amused by their flirting.

Flirting often changes when you're married. It almost becomes an underutilized skill. Once you've nabbed your match flirting fades. It is somehow replaced with routine and the instances of careless and connected flirtation can become few and far between.

But it really doesn't have to!

Married couples DON'T have to fit some societal mode. The dating game though scary at times has it's adrenaline & confidence-boosting benefits brought on by flirtation. It is both good for you and ultimately an ingredient for happy marriages.

It's those marriages that remember to keep the spark of young love alive that have a good chance of prosperity. Married couples should keep a fun flirtatious tone at the forefront. Plus, it's a great way to kick-start a long overdue night of passion!

Do you agree?!?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Creepy Clowns

Earlier this week we  shared some of our favorite kid-friendly Halloween movies. Of course there are the less family-freindly nightmare type of scary movies. For many, horror movies are a fun way to get the adreneline going. I am not one of those people. The few horror films I have seen still haunt me to this day.

Some people have fears of spiders, heights, or even driving over brides. The most terrifying movie I can remember seeing was Stephen King's "It". Holy Moly! It gave me a life-long uneasy feeling around clowns. This is not an uncommon fear. Coulrophobia is real. This season of "American Horror Story: Freak Show" has a very freaky clown character named Twisty. After just one episode and this crazy clown my dreams are being haunting.

Believe it or not something even more freaky than a TV character has been happening in Bakersfield and Wasco, California. It is like every single one of your nightmares are coming true. Imagine running errands at night and running into this....

I don't know if I would scream or wet myself, or both. In different towns there have been multiple sightings of someone dressed up as a creepy clown and usually carrying some sort of weapon. And with all things these days, this "prank" has been linked to an Instagram account.

You can rest a little because a 14 year old kid was arrested in connection with this horrible prank.

So tell us!
What are your biggest fears? 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

No Shame in the Labor and Delivery Game

This beautiful angel marks grandchild number 18 for my mother. Such a sweet little thing who was long overdue in more ways than one. When she was finally ready for her big entrance we all awaited with open arms. No one's arms stretched greater with love than that of her two doting parents.

Once I heard of her arrival I rushed to the maternity ward to meet this sweet pea. There I faced the all too familiar yet distant memory of giving birth. As I entered the delivery room I was flooded with more than just love for this child but with comments from both of her parents about how hard labor really was. Her mother immediately expressed how she wishes she would have been stronger.


She had nothing to feel bad about or short of accomplishing. Yet, I've seen this before. I had three children naturally. Hardest thing I've ever done. I get it moms, I really do. However, many times I've felt mothers who experience c-section births say less than ideal things about themselves after childbirth. Somehow there's guilt associated with having a non-natural birth especially around those of us known to have gone the rare epidural-free route and delivered naturally.

To me, there's no shame in the labor and delivery game. The end result is ALL that ever really MATTERS. We all get to the grand finale differently and some moms' processes are much harder than others, of course. What's certain for every birth and mother who deliveries naturally or not is that they're all bonafide champions. Our bodies endure an unthinkable pain. Our mind is in a state of disarray. This process is inexplicably HARD to understand or fathom unless you've been there personally. Don't let movies, magazines or cocky birth accountants convince you otherwise. 

Whatever the journey of childbirth every woman who experiences it has earned her stripes. There's no chart to map one delivery type more significantly accomplished than another. There is no tally and surely no score sheet. We all went through our unique journey and we should be proud of how the story unfolds. 

After my niece's mother talked about wishing she had more strength, I simply leaned into her painfully weary and excruciatingly tired space to reassure her of the victory she'd accomplished. Her daughter's entry into this world was just as it was meant to be and no one's preconceived notions should alter that truth. Every birth resulting in a healthy mother and child, no matter the birthing process, is a victorious feat worth honoring. 

Have you experienced post c-section guilt or know a mom who has?