2015 Holiday Cards

I am so excited to share our Christmas cards with you all today.   I know what you are thinking, it's only mid-November, but getting Christmas photos and Holiday cards made early is KEY in keeping my December as stress free as possible.

This year I used Minted for my cards, and I am blown away at how easy the site was to navigate and how stunning my cards turned out.  

To see more and to hear all my tips for taking photos for Holiday cards please watch the video below.  ALSO click {HERE} to enter my giveaway for a chance to win $125 credit to Minted!  

Lastly, I will leave you with some of my unedited "real life" photos from our shoot!  

They just have to get in at least 1 silly face photo!

The big kids convincing JD that he would get ice cream if he behaved.

If you are interested in seeing our DITL from the day we took photos, you can watch that below as well!

I would love to see your holiday card creations this year!  Let's all #housewifecardexchange on IG and Twitter to have a virtual Holiday Card Exchange!

{This is NOT a sponsored video.  I was not paid to share this content.  The links above are affiliate links.  Special Thank You to Minted for providing my family with our Holiday cards this year, and for hosting a giveaway for my viewers!}

Mini Van Organization

Keeping your car clean with small children is much like keeping your house clean with small children... not impossible, but a lot of constant work.  In the video below I show some of the items I keep in my car to make life easier, to keep it organized, and feel prepared.  I try not to keep too many unnecessary items in the car, as I have found this leads to more clutter.  

Here are my top 5 tips to KEEPING your car organized.

1.  Limit Toys - we live in a pretty suburban area, so any errand we have to do it 10-20 minutes away.  The kids can entertain themselves for that long without toys or electronics.  I used to keep a basket of toys, and while that still is in my garage, I don't feel like it has to be in the car.  I do keep a few books for reading.

2. The Minute Rule - It only takes a minute to gather up any trash when getting out of the car heading into your house.  Take the time to clean up the few wrappers, cups, clutter each time you get out of the car. 

3. Change With The Seasons - Each change of season I take the time to really clean out my entire van and take things out that you will not need.  In the winter I add in a warmer change of clothes, a blanket, gloves... however I don't need those things in the summer so I change it out for a light change of clothes, extra sunglasses, and playground essentials.

5. Necessities Only! - While I think it's great to keep commonly needed items in your car, I also think you can go overboard, thus creating more unnecessary clutter.  I took a small area of our garage to keep things that I need in my car from time to time, but don't want to leave in there taking up space.  Our stroller (this may be a necessary must have in your van if your children are younger), reusable shopping bags, sports gear.  All things I commonly need, but don't need to be in the car at all times.

So watch below to see how my car is organized, and all the items I think are necessary to keep in my mini van.

I have also done organizational videos in my previous mini van which was a Honda Odyssey.  The links to those videos are below.  

Also to purchase some products I mentioned in the video, they are linked below.

** Affiliate Links have been used in this post, This is NOT a sponsored video and all products were purchased by me**

Boys Bedroom Organization

Since we have moved into our home, almost a year ago now, we have been slowing working through getting the kids rooms painted, decorated and organized to their liking.   All of the rooms were in great condition, the paint colors were just not what we wanted, and they each had ideas about the decor to go on the walls.

Matthew wanted a baseball room from the moment we moved in.  

We started by taking items we already had to incorporate them into the decor.  Lucky for us, he already has a jersey, bat, game ball, and a growing trophy collection.  We purchased some shadow boxes and shelves from Michaels, and the baseball theme was started.  The other wall decor we found was from Hobby Lobby, they have a great selection of sports room decor.

The bedding we chose was from Target.  (Found Here)

The paint color on the walls is  Valspar 4006-3C Blue Skylights

To see Matthew's entire room and how I keep is all organized watch below!

First Week Of School Meal Plan

One of my last things to prep for back to school is my pantry and fridge.  I completed my Freezer Meals, but I also like to so a big stock up of groceries.  I went to Wegmans and Costco which are my favorite stores to shop, and stocked up.

I also like to keep a simple dinner plan for the first week of school.  Everyone is getting back into a new routine, and my kids are tired after those first few long days at school.  That mixed with meetings, activities, and practices means my meals need to be quick to prepare that are also family favorites.  My meal plan is listed below as well as a video showing my grocery haul.  There is also a peak at how my pantry/fridge/freezer look after all my food prep is done!

Monday -  Chicken Nuggets, Rice, and Fruit


Wednesday - Spaghetti with Meatballs from the CrockPot

Thursday - Beef Fried Rice

Friday - Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta

Saturday - Out With Friends?  Quick Grab and Go?

Sunday - Shrimp and Veggies with Pasta

What are your quick, easy dinners, that you know your family will love?

Meal Prep | Freezer Meals

Yesterday was by far the longest, most tiring day in a long time, but don't let that deter you.  While my back ached a bit and my feet were tired, I was also let with 14+ meals in my freezer to use throughout the fall months.  I also had a newly repaired dishwasher which felt equally as amazing, but that's another story!  

FOURTEEN Meals!  That doesn't even include the 3 batches of muffins and 6 breakfast bowls.  The muffins were simply from a box mix.  The Breakfast Bowls {shown below} are from a recipe found HERE.

Now onto the dinners.  Every dinner I made I doubled the recipe, so I would get AT LEAST 2 meals out of it.  

I made:

{I cannot find a recipe exactly like mine, but this one is close}

Italian Sausage
This is simply Sweet Italian Sausage in the crock pot with spaghetti sauce, peppers and onions.

{Not the same as mine, but looks fantastic!}

To see my whole process and how I pack the meals for the freezer please watch below!

Back To School Supply Haul

Shopping for school supplies is something I look forward to every year, but it is also the turning point for me, the feeling of summer being over really hits.  We have all but said goodbye to the days of summer, and are in full swing getting prepared to head back to school.  

This is our first time starting the school year in the kids school, as last year we moved mid-year.  I was so surprised at the difference in the supply lists from one district to another.  Below is the links to both supply hauls. 

Homework Command Center

While the amount of homework a child brings home with is something that differs so much from class to class / school to school / child to child, I think it is a great idea to have a homework command center set up at home.  Doing this allows for your child to be set up to have a successful homework experience.  All supplies are ready, distractions become limited, and if things are organized and orderly they will be ready to work.

Today I am going to share out homework command center.

This is a bottom cabinet in our kitchen, removed from our food prep area, but centrally located to the kitchen table where the kids complete homework.  Everything they need is in their reach, and organized in a kid friendly way.

Not only are our homework supplies here, but also crafting materials the kids use regularly.

Here is a look at the space as a whole, does it always look this perfect....um, no.... I occasionally have to go in and reorganize this space.  However, for the most part, since everything is contained in a bin, it really works.

In the Sterilite drawers is coloring books, paper and notebooks.  

Our homework caddy is a lifesaver.  It has anything that will be needed to complete a regular homework assignment.  Lots of sharpened pencils ready to go, crayons, markers, index cards, and glue.  I even add post it's in the event that I need to attach a quick note to an assignment for the teacher.  What's nice about this is all the compartments click together and it all gets moved together from the cabinet to the table!

Below is a list of storage items used in the space and supplies we can't live without!

Sterilite Shoe Boxes:(Click Here)

Sterilite Drawers:(Click Here)

Sterilite Stack and Carry:(Click Here)

Crayons:(Click Here)

Markers:(Click Here)

Sharpened Pencils:(Click Here)

Scissors:(Click Here)

Index Cards:(Click Here)

Glue:(Click Here)

Paper:(Click Here)

Notebooks:(Click Here)

For more info and to see inside the cabinet please watch the video below!

{Please Note:  Affiliate Links have been used in this post.  If you chose to use them for purchasing I really appreciate your support!}

Lunch Packing Made Easy

Lunch making time used to be one of my most stressful times of day.  Trying to find containers with lids that match, deciding foods.... it made mornings so hectic.  Over the years I have found ways to make lunch packing much easier and manageable. 

Starting with food storage.  Keeping items that we use daily in school lunches together, at the kids reach has helped so much.  Not only can they help during the packing process, but I can also at a glance tell if we are running low on items.

We keep yogurts, applesauce, and fruit cups in a bin in the fridge.  We do the same with any juice we may have and smoothies.

This is all at the kids reach.  It is not only great for lunches, but also them helping make breakfast as well.

In our pantry I keep a bin on the floor that holds snack sized items.  These normally come in awkward  boxes, that do not fit right.  The kids will eat through all of the same kind of snack and get sick of it.  With this bin I can mix chips with crackers, add in cookies, and they can have a large variety without the bags being all over the pantry.  

The bottom shelf of the pantry holds granola bars, snack bags I have portioned out from full size bagged items, and other miscellaneous snacks we have.

Aside from the food, I also think it is important to have all school lunch making containers together.
I take the cabinet that already contained a majority of our "kid" stuff.

In this cabinet I have our lunch containers (more info on those below), any thermos containers, water bottles, and the kids lunch boxes.

On the inside door of this cabinet I put any papers that come home from school regarding lunches.  Lunch menu, instructions from the teacher, etc.  I also found this great printable from Inkwell Press and added it there as well (Inkwell Printable)  In the past when I would plan out the kids lunches I would put that menu in as well.  Here is my printable calendar to meal plan lunches (HERE)

As far as the products I use and would recommend, the Lands End Lunchboxes.  I have used these for years for the kids and I just LOVE them.  Also Listed below are some of my favorite accessories for packing lunches.

Silicone Cups: (Click Here)

Popsicle Tubes:(Click Here)

Easy Lunchboxes:(Click Here)

Happy Lunchboxes:(Click Here)

Sistema Container:(Click Here)

Congo Water Bottle: (Click Here)

Thermos:(Click Here)

Thermos Water Bottle:(Click Here)

To see more please watch the video below!

{Please note: Affiliate links have been used in this post, I appreciate your support if you chose to use them!}

10 Tips To Prep For Back To School

When it comes to getting the kids ready to head back to school in the fall, I really try to not only prepare them, but also our home, schedules, and myself.  It is a big adjustment from the lazy carefree life we live during those glorious summer months.

The kids adjust much easier if our routines are set, our home is organized, and their mom isn't a frazzled mess!

As I looked back on my Back To School Series from last year, I found it so amazing that my tips this year were pretty much identical to past years (READ HERE) , and the preparations really haven't changed much!

So below are 10 of my tips to prepare, but I would also love to hear yours in the comments as well.

10.  Go through kids clothing and PURGE!  

Depending on where you live and the weather will change this, but the end of August/ beginning of September is a great time of year for us to clear out clothing.  Keeping a few warmer weather pieces, but mostly transition into cooler weather clothing.  I also use this time to clear out anything that doesn't fit, anything with stains, and clean out and organize drawers. 

9. Envision your schedule and anticipate any conflicts.

Nothing stresses me out more than having to be 2 places at the same time.  Since my husband works a bit far from home and has a long commute, most evening activities for the kids rely on me to get them there.  I cannot be more than one place at the same time, no matter how hard I try.  While conflicts cannot always be avoided, I to try to schedule things that won't overlap.

8.  Don't take on TOO much.

Not easy, but totally a necessity to keeping my sanity.  When asked to volunteer for things, I always say I have to check my schedule, so I can sit down outside of that moment of being asked and really determine if it is something I can commit my time to.  I started out when Matthew started school of saying YES to everything, and I got burnt out so quickly.  It wasn't fair to my family, or myself.  

7. Stock your fridge and freezer.

Not eases my stress level more than having a stocked fridge and freezer.  This helps in so many ways.  From not having to run to the store every night for items missing to make dinner, to being able to pull out an easy meal on a night when what was on my meal plan wasn't working.

6. Keep a simple meal plan.

Speaking on menu planning, the first week or so of school I like to keep meals easy and quick.  The less clean up and prep time the better!  I also like to make foods I know my kids won't fuss over.

5.  Have info all in one place.  (Emergency Contact / Addresses)

So many forms come home that first week of school.  I like to gather any information I know I will need before hand, so I have it ready to go.

4. All paperwork in and back out ASAP.

This is probably my favorite tip.  Anytime a paper comes home in the kids folders that needs my attention I do it right then.  I take the 5-10 minutes after school while the kids are putting shoes away, washing hands, and having snack to go through their backpacks.  I sign forms,  makes notes of dates, anything really.  My rule is, any form that comes home in the folder that needs sent back is done on the same day.  Occasionally this doesn't work if I need to confirm something, but for the most part it does.  This helps in not forgetting to send things back, loosing papers.....

3. Establish routines early.

Take the week before school to lock down the routine.  Going to bed early, waking up when you will need to.  Instead of lounging in the morning at a snails pace, we get up / get ready / eat and try to have all those things done by the time we would leave for school.

2.  Binder for all school info.

I simply take a binder, have a tab for each child, and inside you can find anything from sports schedules, class rules, teacher contact info, report cards, progress reports.  Anything that comes home, doesn't get returned, yet I need to keep for reference.  By the end of the year I have quite the pile of paperwork, but it is all things I needed, and it is all organized in a binder, not a pile on a counter or in a drawer.


While I really think getting organized and planning ahead will make things so much easier, just keep things simple, and try not to complicate it too much.  This is an adjustment time for your entire family with routines changing, so it will take some time to get into a groove.

To see my full video on 10 tips to Prep For Back To School Watch Below:

Lily Jade Diaper Bag Review

When looking for a diaper bag, I struggle with 2 things, finding a bag that efficiently utilizes the space and finding a bag that looks stylish.  

As a mom of 3, I have had multiple diaper bags in my 8 years as a mom.  And I promise you while I never had a bag with Winnie The Pooh on it, I did have my fair share of "What was I thinking" bags.  

I had bags that were functional, yet screamed MOMMMY, I tried using my nicer handbags only to end up with cheerios crushed in the bottom.  Especially now that I am out of the newborn phase, I want a bag that is more of a handbag, less of a mini suitcase for all things baby.

Lily Jade bags are just that.  The design with the Diaper Bag Organizer is amazing!  I love that it is removable, so you can just use this bag as a regular handbag, or pop in the organizer to efficiently use the bag for all those baby must haves.

I mean just look at how much stuff I fit into this bag with lots of pocket space to spare!

For More Information On Lily Jade visit:  www.lily-jade.com

Now Here is your chance to win!!!  Enter Below for your change to win a Lily Jade Diaper Bag.
This Giveaway is Open To the US and Canada Only.

Want to see how I pack my Lily Jade Caroline Bag for summer, WATCH BELOW!

** A BIG thanks to Lily Jade for sending me a Lily Jade Bag to review, and also for giving a bag away to one of you!  This video is not sponsored and my love for any product I share is truly my own opinion.  When I find something that works for me, I want to share it with you!

Summer Prep 2015

This week on my YouTube Channel I have been talking about how I am preparing for summer.  From Summer Routines, Learning At Home, Cleaning.... and most fun of all what's inside our pool bag.

We are hoping to spend a significant amount of time at our community pool this summer, and having a bag that is dedicated to just heading to the pool, will make it quick and easy to get out the door.  The actual bag is from Thirty-One and inside are the necessities, towels, snack, sunscreen and water.

If you want to see how I keep it all organized and every item inside, Watch below!

Inkwell Press Giveaway!

Inkwell Press is a planner company I have talked about before, I reviewed their 2015 live well planner in the flex layout.  They have a few new products that were released in the past month, so I ordered and thought I would share them. 

The newest product are the notepads, there are 2 available.  The Daily Docket is great to keep your time management in check each day.  Although I do have a traditional paper planner, I tend to use a notepad for my daily tasks and run down of how I want my day to go.

The Weekly Kickstart is sort of a starting point for my planning.  I have used mine to map out my week before putting it in my planner.  If you have a large, busy family, this is a great way to keep everyone on the same page.  If you aren't into paper planning it could be a great tool to get you started in paper planning.

April is typically a great time to get great discounts on yearly planners.  Most companies by this time of year are trying to discontinue and sell out of their stock in that years planners.  The Inkwell press planners are on deep discount.  the Flex layout which I reviewed {HERE} is no longer available, however the classic layout is still in stock, but going fast!

The only real difference in the classic layout are the weekly spreads.  If you are a planner who likes the days shown vertically, a simple layout, and include time slots, this would be your layout of choice.  The planner still includes the monthly mission boards (which are my favorite feature), extra notes pages, and all the other aspects as the flex planner.  

Another new and exciting product is the journal.  A small size than the planner, this is the cutest thing.  There are 3 cover options available.  I have a bit of an obsession with graph paper, so the inside pages of this journal make me smile.  

You can see me show the products mentioned, as well as explain more in the video below:

Now the fun part.  Since so many have used my {Referral Link} to purchase off the Inkwell Press website,  (By using the link for your first purchase you get 20% off your purchase) I was able to order additional products to give away to all of you!  4 winners will be chosen at random.  1 will receive the Livewell planner, 1 will receive the journal, 1 will receive the weekly kickstart, and the last will get the daily docket!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All Items shown and mentioned can be found at www.inkwellpress.com

**This post is in no way sponsored by Inkwell Press.  I purchased all items with referral credits to the website.  All Opinions are my own.