West Inn and Suites + Bistro West in Carlsbad, CA

It is rare to find a hotel that is perfect for both families and/or a romantic get-away.  I found that elusive unicorn of a place on our last trip to Southern California at West Inn and Suites in Carlsbad, CA.

Hotel near Legoland

The hotel was beautiful inside and out and when I checked in while my husband and antsy children waited in the car I had a moment of dread.  This place was far to pretty and sophisticated to understand by ‘crew’.  I had quick and scary visions of my children barreling into the lobby and up the stairs like wild animals disturbing everyone.  Here’s the truth, though, my kids are *usually* pretty good and the hotel, while beautiful, has activities and services geared towards those of us with little people who travel with us.  Need an example?  Milk and cookies offered (free) in the evening to guests.  If milk and cookies don’t scream child-friendly, I don’t know what does.  Also, while checking in, I was given a chance to borrow movies for our room.  Many of which were children’s titles.  Complementary breakfast may seem like a business men/women perk, but for me?  It screams load up and fill up before heading out to LEGOLAND California, which is just a 5 min drive for the property.

Kid Friendly Hotel near San Diego


West Inn and Suites, as I mentioned, is gorgeous.  The rooms are beautiful and classic while still being comfortable.  I could snuggle up all night with my husband watching borrowed movies under the warm comforters.  Our trip included a 3 year old nestled in between us, but without that blonde baby, it would have been extremely romantic.

Carlsbad, CA hotel


West Inn and Suites has a couple restaurants on the property (but separate from the hotel, which I appreciate.  I am not local, but know that a great restaurant that I have to go through a hotel that I am not a guest at feels kind of weird) and we were lucky enough to try West Bistro, we were told the more casual of the two spots, but it was nicer than our usual ‘casual’ meal, which I loved for our ‘date’.  West Bistro has a farm to table approach and the taste and quality is apparent.  The food was, no exaggeration, magical.  The staff knowledgeable and friendly (the chef even came over to chat for a bit).  We left googly eyes and full of amazing, fresh, delicious food.

Hotel and Food near Legoland

Carlsbad is a wonderful option for spring break, family trips or a romantic get away and West Inn and Suites is perfect for all occasions.  The ambiance, staff, location and services all make it idea for families, business persons or couples.

Ditch the Ick! #TRYDRY Antiperspirants Available at Walmart

This post has been compensated by Global Influence; as always, my opinions are my own.

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As a teenager I couldn’t control my perspiration.  My under arms sweat.  A lot.  I bought clothing that would hide sweat stains and thought about it regularly.  I over compensated by slathering on deodorant and antiperspirants.  Which created white smears on my clothing and clumps under my arms when I wore tank tops. Yuck.  Now that I am an adult I can talk about these kinda of embarrassing moments and I kind of have to, since I have a teenage daughter of my own.


I recently tried NEW Dry Spray Antiperspirants from Degree Men, Degree Women, Dove, Dove Men+Care and Axe, available at Walmart. I love these products for multiple reasons; first and foremost, no visible residue!  I can use the dry spray with any outfit.  Black tank tops, sundresses or, most recently, a bridesmaid dress.  Which leads me to another reason I love this stuff; I can share without feeling gross.  I took Degree Dry Spray  with me on my sister-in-laws big day.  The spray lasted far into the night and definitely did not leave residue on the dress.


I am a new convert and now use Degree Dry Spray regularly.  I absolutely encourage you to #TRYDRY!

Saving Time and Money with Pennzoil and Walmart

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.#DropShopAndOil #CollectiveBias

Pennzoil and My Van

Last year I bought something I swore I’d never own.  A minivan.  We needed a bigger car to hold all our own kids, plus our nephew who was placed with us (and since buying the minivan we added a nephew to the mix, too).  So now we are a family of 7 (yikes!).  The minivan has not been my descent into ‘uncool mom’ territory.  My kids couldn’t care less what I drive and actually love that the whole family can fit.  We bought it used but in great condition and I vowed to take care of this new addition to our family as though it held my families lives multiple times a day…wait, it does.  Taking care of my vehicle means I am taking care of my family.  And that is my #1 job (my kids will tell you my job is to ‘keep them safe and healthy’).


Pennzoil helps keep my car healthy (and in turn my kids safe) because all Pennzoil products help clean out sludge lesser oils leave behind. Plus, Pennzoil is designed for complete protection and will allow you to drive an extra of 550 miles per year vs. a dirty engine.  Getting my oil changed with Pennzoil at Walmart is easy, convenient and helps save me money.  All good things.  Simply #DropShopandOil- drop off your car at any Walmart Automotive Care Center (mine was really easy to find, just around the side of the regular entrance to Walmart), while you car is being taken care of you can shop (I used the time to grocery shop and pickup some donations for my son’s school fundraiser- two birds, one stone and all…or would that be THREE birds, one stone…) and pick up your vehicle (it was really quick).dropshopoil

Consider how much time and money I saved by utilizing Walmart and Pennzoil for errands that had to be done regardless!  I love to save money and I especially love to save time (did I mention family of 7?).

Pennzoil Richard Petty Driving School “Experience of a Lifetime” Giveaway



I’ve joined with a few fellow bloggers to bring you this awesome giveaway!



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6 Ways To Save Money On Your Food Shop


(Photo source)


With prices rising everywhere from the supermarket to the petrol station, it can seem almost impossible to make your money stretch as far as it needs to go. When you only have a certain budget for food shopping each month, it is vital to find ways to make your money go as far as you need it to.


To help you make your money go further, we have put together a handy guide to help you. For all the best tips on saving money when you shop, have a read below:


  1. Plan in advance


Before heading to the shops create a list of everything you need to buy. Don’t just randomly add bits on, go through your cupboards and fridge and only write down the things that you actually need.


When creating your weekly shopping list, make sure to take into account the meals you are cooking through the week. So, that you can get everything you need. Before planning out your menu for the week, have a look to see what is on sale in the supermarket and go from there. Use coupons to make your budget go further.


Before going shopping make sure to eat something – going shopping when hungry will make you want to buy more than you need to. Make sure that while you are at the supermarket you stick to your list. Don’t make the mistake of making impulse purchases.


  1. Make Healthy choices


Many people don’t realize it, but opting for healthier choices is actually cheaper than buying junk. When you buy unhealthy foods, like cakes, crisps and fizzy drinks you are spending money on products that have less nutritional value and don’t go as far as healthy foods.


By choosing foods and drinks with high nutritional values, you get more for your money. For example, cans of fizzy drink have empty calories and no nutritional value to them.  Cans of fizzy pop could be easily replaced with sparkling water for 1/8 of the price mixed with some fresh fruit juice.


It is a good idea to compare food prices based on the amount of servings you will get from a meal, along with its nutritional value. Remember that the best food is full of nutrients not calories.


  1. Choose fruit and vegetables that are in season


Before going shopping, have a look at your local newspaper or supermarket magazine to see what the best fruit and vegetable buys are. The cheapest fruits and vegetables tend to be the ones that are in season; this is because they are often priced at a rate that will sell them quicker.

For example, during the summer corn on the cob can cost a tenth of what it would cost during the winter months.


As well as going to your local supermarket, make sure also to go to your local farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets often have excellent deals on in-season produce.


  1. Take advantage of sales and coupons


(Photo credit)


Look through local magazines and newspapers to find all the best coupons and deal vouchers. Sunday newspapers always seem to have a lot of coupons in them, so they are always worth a look. Planning your weekly grocery shop around what is on sale can really lower your food bills. Especially with the added discount that comes with coupons.


Don’t make the mistake of buying something just because you have a coupon for it – if you wouldn’t usually buy it, then you don’t need it.


Don’t worry about buying too much food, as long as it’s within your budget then it doesn’t matter. Use your freezer to store any excess food, you don’t need to use right away.


  1. Opt for frozen, canned and dried


Instead of always buying fresh ingredients, next time you are shopping for a recipe, try using canned, dried or frozen foods instead. Although they may be a lot cheaper than fresh foods, it doesn’t mean that lack nutritional value. In fact, some frozen vegetables are more nutritious than their fresh counterparts. To lock nutrients and vitamins in, produce is frozen, dried or canned when it is at the perfect ripeness.


One of the best things about buying frozen or dried foods is that you are able to only use the amount you need. All you have to do is get what you need to use, reseal the box and place it back in the freezer or cupboard. Not only are frozen and dried foods long lasting, they’re also incredibly cost effective.


While canned foods are also cost effective, they are often sat in juice, syrup or salty water and so are not always as good for you. However, if you are willing to rinse them off, then they can be incredibly good for you.


To save money on milk, you can use dried or evaporated milk for cooking casseroles, desserts, mashed potatoes, or soups.


  1. Take advantage of free samples


When you go shopping lookout for free samples of new foods and products, you can try. For example, you could get samples from Walmart while you are doing your weekly shop.


As well as picking up samples in store, you can also apply for them online on specific sample sites. As well as giving away samples, these sites also give away full sized products now and then, so it is worth keeping an eye on them.


  1. Don’t buy foods you will waste


Before putting fresh foods into your shopping trolley, think about how you will use them. There is no point wasting good money on foods and then leaving them in your fridge to go off.


If you are planning on cooking with meat, for example, don’t just throw the leftovers away. Instead, you can use leftover meat to make stocks, soups, stews, salads, and many other things. If you are cooking a roast chicken for Sunday dinner, make sure to use the leftover meat to make dinner the following day. You could turn the leftover meat into soup, salad or anything else that takes you fancy.


Experimenting With Frugal Winter Crafts And Design


image from pixabay


Winter is a lovely time to start experimenting with frugal winter crafts and designing. You can find so many materials for free right at your feet!


When considering your frugal crafting adventures, first think about the type of things that you would like to make. One of the most popular is to create nature inspired home decor products. You can do these things at craft meetups, in your local hall or from the comfort of your own home.


Some people who are very into their crafting or working from home, have even been known to hire a McKinney general contractor or similar to build them a dedicated office space.


Below you will find a few things to try your hand at if you are a beginner at craft or design. You can then move on to other crafting ideas if you find that you enjoy them.


Winter flowers


You could take a long wintery walk and collect a selection of flowers, reeds and twigs along the way. Bring them home and spray paint them in white, gold or silver tones to add a wintery feel to your decor.


This is an activity that the kids will love to be involved with, so don’t forget to let them feel like they are part of the fun, by collecting their own bunches of flowers on your walk.


This could also double up as a great time to walk the family pet, or get some extra exercise in if you are trying to get fitter for the new year.


Decorate pine cones


By collecting fallen pinecones, you have some ready made decorations for your home. Place them around your house in pretty ceramic bowls, along with dried flowers and leaves to create a natural winter scene.


Attach sparkling string to them and hang them from the Christmas tree, or use glitter effect paints on them for that added festive sparkle!


Design your own Christmas cards


Use paints, buttons, dried flowers and all kinds of cheap accessories to design your own Christmas cards this year.


Your friends and family will love that you have given them something with a hand-made touch. This is also fantastic entertainment for a rainy family day indoors.

You can use stencils or Christmas stickers to make your designs look even more festive.

Christmas Eve boxes


There is nothing more warm and cozy than getting into your pyjamas on a cold winter evening. The only thing that makes this feeling even better is when they are brand new winter sleepwear bought especially for Christmas!


Some houses have a tradition in which they make a special box of goodies to use on Christmas Eve. This can include festive treats like drinking chocolate and marshmallows, a mince pie and some soft new sleepwear. Add a mini jar of homemade jam for a special sweet treat.


The idea behind this is that your kids get a good night sleep before Santa comes! These are cheap to produce and can be filled however you like. You could even put in a hand-made ‘letter from Santa’ himself for added cuteness factor.

A Guide to Starting a Crafty Business on the Side

If, like me, you love getting crafty; you might just be able to start a profitable business! Everybody would say that they’d like more money, so follow these steps if you fancy having a money making project on the side:

Decide on Your Niche

First, decide on the niche you’re going to target. Will you make furniture? Clothes? Cushions? You’ll need to know who your target market are, and your unique selling proposition. Why should they get their stuff from you and nobody else. For instance, you could say your stuff is handmade with more love than anywhere else they’d find. You could use only eco-friendly materials. There are limitless options.


Find Suppliers

Next, source your suppliers. Read reviews to make sure that they’re reliable. If you’re a loyal customer to a supplier, you might be able to build a good relationship and get discounts and other bonuses.


Gather Supplies

Have all of the supplies you need to start your business. This doesn’t stop at craft materials to create your product, but a computer, business plan, etc. If you need expensive supplies that you haven’t already got, like a computer, you could consider superfastfunding.


Create a Home Office

You’re going to need somewhere in your home where you can work in peace. Set aside a room or part of a room and make it your office. Have everything you need there. Store all of the things you might need to grab at a moment’s notice while you’re working.


Build a Website

All businesses need a website, no matter how small they might be. Even if you only plan on selling your products in person, a website can be something you refer people to when they want to know more about you. It will help you to build your brand and market your products. I recommend having it professionally done, but you can do it yourself and get even more crafty with a lot of research.


Come up With Some Marketing Techniques

What other marketing techniques will you use to make sure people know about your product and business? You could give a blogger a product for free in exchange for a blog post. You could write a blog yourself. Make social media pages. There are lots of ways you can market your business to suit your own individual needs.


Spread the Word


Tell people what you’re doing and ask them to spread the word too. Tell your family, friends, and get them to tell their family/friends. Word of mouth reviews are the best kind of reviews, so consider giving a few choice people something for free to show off.


Model Your Creations

Be proud of your own crafty creations and model them. Whether you make bracelets, sofa cushions, skirts, or something different; be an ambassador and show them off. You’ll more than likely get questions and compliments, which can help to get you more business.


picture from – chrissy farnan


If you love crafts, having a business on the side won’t feel like work at all. It’ll feel like a hobby that you’re getting paid for! You could stand to make a decent living to help you fund mini breaks, gifts for the kids, and meals out. Enjoy!

6 of the Best Winter Indoor Gardening Tips

Winter can be a troublesome time for the avid gardener. But, you don’t have to despair any longer! When it comes to gardening in the winter, it may be advisable to bring your favourite pots and plants indoors. There are some nifty tips that you can use to ensure that your indoor garden looks fabulous this winter.


Plan Your Indoor Garden


With the seasons changing at alarming speed, you need to ensure that you are planning your winter indoor garden. Take a look at where you are going to put your indoor pots and plants. Where can you maximise and encourage growth? Do you need to invest in grow lights if you don’t have sufficient lighting? Make sure that you maximise your plans effectively. One of the best ways to ensure that your winter indoor garden is a success is to take a look at what you intend on producing. Then, you can plan around the plants individual needs.


Lighting Matters


Light is vital when it comes to having a successful indoor garden. Many people think that they have to source natural sunlight for maximum success. Sunlight, of course, has many benefits. But, artificial lighting can be hugely beneficial to those that want a winter garden. A small herb garden can benefit from lights, natural and artificial. One of the best things about artificial light is that they are perfect sources of vegetative growth. With the advancement of lighting technology, you don’t have to worry that your bills will be costly. On the contrary, they consume relatively little power. A few key lights can ensure that your indoor winter garden looks stunning.


Clean Work Areas


Okay, so working with soil may be a little messy. But, think about it realistically, if you are willing to have an indoor garden you need to expect a little mess. Create a clean area to work with. A simple sheet or piece of tarpaulin will protect your home.




Keeping your home at a steady temperature is essential for your indoor garden. Massive changes to the heat within your home will have a detrimental impact on your produce. You need to ensure that you are regulating and monitoring the temperature in a more steadfast way. After all, you want your indoor garden to be a success.






All produce; whether you are growing fruit or plants, need to have ventilation. During the cold winter months, you may not want to open windows. With this in mind, you need to invest in a fan so that your plants can thrive throughout the long winter months. This ensures that your plants are hardened. But, it also keeps pesky critters at bay.




If you want your plants or vegetables to be the greenest of green, you need to consider the humidity levels in your home. Make sure that you have a small area filled with water. Once the water evaporates, the plants will grow much more quickly.


Having an indoor garden can be beneficial to your health. Now, with winter well and truly on the way, you and your family can benefit from the winter garden.

12 Ways To Be More Thrifty In The Kitchen

The kitchen is often the source of many of our household expenses. It holds our weekly shopping, it has many electrical appliances and often gas appliances too. It is also the hub of our homes; the place where we spend a considerable amount of our time. For these reasons, it makes sense to think about how we can reduce costs in this area of our homes. Here are 12 ways to be more thrifty in the kitchen.




1. Turn down the radiators


When you are using the oven or the stove this will help heat up the room. Therefore, you can reduce your energy bills every month by turning your kitchen radiators down, or off while you are cooking. Another thrifty tip is to leave your oven open after you have turned it off and let the residual heat fill the room.


2. Seal up your kitchen windows


It follows then that your windows should not have any gaps that could be letting this warm air escape. There are many easy ways that you can fix a draughty window if you need to, including self-adhesive stripping.


3. Use your oven to cook multiple meals


This will require a bit of planning. Whenever you use the oven to cook a meal, check to see what other items you can put in there with it that you will eat later in the week. Obviously, these should be things that can be either reheated in the microwave or eaten cold, so you don’t have to use the oven again. This trick could not only save you money on your bills; it could save you some cooking time.


4. Freeze leftovers


You’ll need to stock up on plenty of Tupperware containers for this one. Unless you are convinced you will be eating them over the following few days, always freeze leftovers. This way you will decrease the chances of throwing out food that goes bad in the fridge. However, items in the freezer don’t last forever either, so it is wise to write on the containers what the food is and when it should be eaten by. Again this will prevent unnecessary waste.




5. Buddy up on boiling


It is amazing how many people use a different pan for boiling different ingredients for the same meal. If you require boiling water for multiple ingredients, add them all into the same pan and save yourself money, and time on washing up! Remember that placing the lid on top of the saucer will make the water boil faster.


6. Make thrifty meal plans


At the beginning of your week, decide what you are going to eat for each meal. Look at websites that have advice on eating for less and tasty, thrifty recipes. Once you have done this, write a list of ingredients. Pay particular attention to what ingredients can be used for multiple meals to ensure you don’t buy too much of anything.


When you are choosing your ingredients, attempt to get the best deal. Supermarket’s own branded items tend to be the cheapest. Do be wary of buy one get one free deals as you might end up buying more than you need. Choose to cook with cheaper cuts of meat. These cuts tend to be tough and chewy, hence the reason they are less attractive and less expensive. However, cooking them on slowly and on a low heat will ensure they are tender and delicious.


If you use part of an ingredient, for example, half a jar of sauce, put a note on the front of your fridge reminding you that it is in there when it should be eaten by.




7. Portion control


Try to avoid serving massive amounts of food and ending up with lots of leftovers. Be realistic about what you and your family will eat. If you are not sure, the packaging of ingredients will usually instruct you on what a typical serving weight is. Try to have a higher ratio of cheaper items such as vegetables, rice and pasta on your plate to meat, which is more expensive.


8. Choose energy efficient appliances


When you need to purchase a new appliance for your kitchen, look for products that promise to be energy efficient, therefore saving you money. There are many kitchen appliances that can help speed up the cooking time. You may want to look at a turbo chicken roaster review to see how these products can reduce cooking time. Additionally, rice cookers tend to heat up rice quicker than using the hob.




9. Stock up on dry foods


Resist the temptation to get something extra from the supermarket to flesh out a meal mid-week and use something from your dry store instead. Foods that can be stored in the cupboard like pasta, rice and beans are all cheap to buy. It will come in handy to have plenty of these items in reserve.


10. Keep your refrigerator stocked


A refrigerator has to work harder to maintain a cool temperature when it has less items in it. When you see your fridge becoming sparse towards the end of the week, have some bottles of water in reserve to fill up the space. Also, in order to make energy efficient use of your fridge don’t leave the door open for too long while you are unpacking your shopping. This could affect the temperature, meaning the device needs to work harder to return the temperature to normal.




11. Fill your dishwasher before use


It is important to make sure that your dishwasher is packed fully before turning it on. Otherwise, you will be wasting energy, and consequently, money. Rinse dirty dishes in cold water before adding them to the dishwasher. Try to use the lowest temperature setting on your appliance (usually 30 degrees). Although this will not always remove stubborn stains, you can always give them a quick rinse after they come out to remove any residual dirt.


12. Treat yourself


Once you apply all these thrifty tips into the daily use of your kitchen you will begin to notice all the money you have saved. At this point give yourself a well deserved reward. Well done you!

A Guide To Creating A Child Friendly Living Room


If you have kids living in your house, you will know that children and mess go hand-in-hand. The more children you have, the more clutter your home will be filled with.

But, just because you have kids it doesn’t mean you have to live in a mess or sacrifice on style.


To create a family-friendly living room that the whole brood can enjoy, have a read of this:


Choose a child-friendly paint


Children have a habit of leaving mucky hand prints everywhere, so you may find using a washable paint rather handy. For a paint that can be easily cleaned, choose either a satin or semigloss style. For a matte style of paint, you can choose a washable make can be easily wiped over with a damp sponge to remove stains.

If your children are always drawing on the wall, why not embrace it? Invest in a chalkboard, magnetic style or dry erase type of paint, which will allow your kids to scribble safely on the walls. Best of all, any marks can be easily wiped off.


Opt for a kid-friendly sofa


Leather sofas are one of the best options for a child-friendly home. Not only does leather look good and feel comfortable, it is also easy to clean. Sofas made out of sunbrella materials are also excellent options for a child-friendly living room. Some furniture brands offer tougher materials that have stain resistant qualities, so are better choices for a family room.


Remember, choosing a darker coloured sofa will save you money in the long run, as they tend to wear longer than lighter coloured ones. If you opt for a darker sofa, you can always buy or make lighter coloured sofa covers to put over the top of it. Plus, couch covers can be easily cleaned or bleached if necessary.


Pick a child-friendly coffee table


Watching your little one fall onto the corner of the coffee table is a heart stopping moment. In order to prevent these kind of accidents occurring, opt for a more child-friendly alternative to a square coffee table.


Why not choose a round table or even a soft table – an upholstered ottoman or a couple of pouffes are great substitutes for a regular coffee table.


Think realistically


Whilst it might be nice to place your bookshelf at a low level, with small children around it is a recipe for disaster. Make sure to keep anything potentially dangerous or special out of the reach of little hands.


If you have young children, it might be a good idea to place your television on the wall instead of on a television cabinet. Kids have a habit of pulling things over, so it is a good idea to keep your child and television safe by keeping it out of reach. For added security, you could also protect your television with a protective case, for ideas have a look at TV Shields outdoor TV cover. Whilst these covers were created for outdoor use, they can also be effectively used indoors.


Choose child-friendly flooring


Spillages, sticky fingers and spilt sauces are all part of family life. Instead of worrying about them, keep things nice and simple by investing in easy-to-clean flooring.


Things like tiles, wooden flooring, laminate, and vinyl are all excellent choices. Try to steer clear of carpet as it can be tricky and expensive to clean.


Have ample storage


The key to keeping your home looking clutter-free is to provide lots of storage for toys and other bits and bobs. Things like wooden toy chests look great in most living rooms, are relatively cheap and offer excellent storage options.

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