I’m in the House and I’m Saving Astronauts!

May 25, 2020 at 7:53 pm (Family Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Me may be in the house, but we aren’t bored! We have been saving astronauts around here!

Yes, astronauts. We found a new family fun activity and had to share!

It’s interactive and had us all using our brains!

We recieved a packet with a map, puzzles, and clues. You get started by texting the abandoned astronaut lost in another dimension. She texts back and asks for you help. She gives you clues, helping your family work through the puzzles and brain teasers in order to find the information that will help to return her to Earth.

Through communicating with the astronaut via text, we were able to figure out the puzzles and find the clues to return her home safely! It was like we were really in this with her!

We all played together (while the 2 year old napped) and it definitely was fun for all ages! The puzzles even had the teen and adults wracking our brains. The 7 year old loved helping and setting up our clue station. He was super amused with how you figure out some of the clues!

Overall, we all had a blast! What a fun way to get in some family time and do something totally different during these times where we are cooped up a little too much! We highly recommend!

Right now you can use code jessimariel for 10% off at Adventurous.co. Also, go give them a follow on IG at @adventurousco

I hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think! 😉

Xx,

Jess

*I have been gifted the game and compensated for the post, but all opinions are my own!*

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The Landing Strip

April 20, 2020 at 1:29 pm (Projects) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

A landing strip, a command center, the drop spot. No matter what you call it, every house should have one. It’s a place for all the family “stuff”.

I call it a landing strip. In this house we actually have it split up a little, but it’s whatever works for you! When you come in our backdoor, we have hooks for each family member. Bag and coat go there. There’s a little hook station for car keys. And we have a small rack holding bug spray, sunscreen, sunglasses, wireless speaker, etc. But there’s still other “stuff” that accumulates. What do you do with it?! Enter our landing strip.

He we have a stash spot for everything else so that we stay organized and don’t lose important things! We use the chalk board for calendar notes and grocery lists. And each of the boys and mom and dad have a basket. We put bills in ours. The boys put homework and such in theirs. I keep a pen jar on the shelf. Here is stash stamps, a candle lighter, a marker, and pens. If you need more than that they you have to go upstairs to the office. 😆

The antique mirror got a metal insert painted with chalk paint. The little chalk marker tray below it is an antique door stop out of an old barn. The baskets are from Hobby Lobby. The shelf is a custom design I requested from Jason. He added and welded the flourish at the top of the brackets.

Here’s my tid bit of advice. Have a place for the “stuff”, whatever you may call it. I truly believe in “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Even if you don’t organize that far, at least set up a zone with a calendar and pens and notepad. Have a spot where you put mail and homework. Always put your keys in the same location. I promise you that these tricks will prevent you from losing important things or searching frantically for the lost items!

And just for fun, here’s a shot of what it looks like more often than not. 😉

Anything else you would add?

XX,

Jess

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Saving a Little Fun Money

March 5, 2020 at 5:53 am (travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Money is tight, I’m right there with you. But I want to show my kids things and have fun too. Here are a few simple ways that I have found to grow a little bit of a “fun money” fund and set aside to do some family things, or whatever your heart desires!

Ibotta– (referral code irrqbz) This app really is legit. When I shop, just as I normally would for everyday items and necessities, I search the app for deals on things I got. If I I some, I scan my receipt and get money back. They add it to your account and you can cash out via paypal or other gift cards once you hit $20. It’s a little slow, but free money! Sometimes I check the app before I shop to see if there’s a good deal going on for something we use anyway even if it wasn’t on my list, but in general just shop as normal then scan. If you use my code we can help each other as a team to earn bonuses. Score! See below for how much I’ve earned this way!

Ebates– Same idea, but use when shopping online. You start through the app and then search for the store you want to shop at. Money is added up and a check is sent out to you quarterly. I have cashed the checks and they are legit too! See below!

Receipt Hog– This one you just scan any receipts you get into the app. They give you points for each one. Once you add up to so many points you can cash out via PayPal or other methods. Super easy and I scan I receipts I’m already getting, gas, groceries, etc. I’ve made a little cash so far.

My big tip when doing this is to take the cash out directly and immediately add it to an envelope or jar and stash it away. Why? So that it doesn’t get spent on everyday stuff. This helps me to really keep it “extra” money and see it add up. I add money to this envelope that I get from anything extra, maybe selling some clothes or a furniture project I do.

A couple more to possibly try:

Door Dash- I’ve signed up to be a delivery driver just for some pocket cash, and since I’m always out and about anyway, but haven’t found any jobs in my area yet. Keep you posted!

Amazon Product testing- there are several sites you can do this through. But beware that you may eventually add up enough “income” that taxes may need to be filed. I’ve been told that the expenses would outweigh the income, so this may not be an issue. I’ve used PPOC before and made a little cash.

I also sell our clothes and items that we outgrow, especially baby things, through local resale shops or Stuff, Etc.

Good luck saving for something fun! What are you hoping to save up for?!

XX,

Jess

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Family Travel Tips

January 14, 2020 at 6:51 am (Family Stuff, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Traveling with kids is not for the faint of heart. But, it’s totally possible to have an awesome time and not lose your sanity! We are living proof. I have a few simple tricks to keep it all together when traveling with a crew. My family of 5, mom, dad, 17 year old, 6 year old, and 1.5 year old, recently traveled to Florida and not only survived, but also had an amazing time. (Read about Florida ideas is previous post!) Here are some things that worked really well for us that we recommend and will be doing again.

Packing Cases- We got each family member a different color set of packing cases this time. Especially helpful since plane tickets no longer come with a checked bag any longer, as we decided to pay the extra fee for only two large checked suitcases between the 5 of us. This set of packing cases, which we used, are decently priced, come with 6 pouches per set, and had plenty of color options. They are a bit cheaply made, but did a good job for us. Lots more options for these on Amazon too! I divided each person’s cases into groups, like one pouch for shirts, one for bottoms, one for undergarments, etc. I also think it may be helpful to divide by outfits rolled together. At least this way there were only 6 options for where your swim suit could be located on the chaos! 😉

Nacuwa Bottle- If you haven’t heard already, all airlines now only allow liquids in 3.4 oz bottles and these need to be in a quart sized ziplock baggie. To simplify things, use the Nacuwa bottle! All of our necessities can go in one bottle. It’s even TSA approved! Tip- add a ziplock to each bag. You might bring home a hotel lotion, or find that you had a little perfume in your purse without a baggie. Each person is allowed one, so make sure you are prepared to take advantage of this! We use the Nacuwa travel bottle for camping and cabining as well! So handy!

Bubble Bum Seat- Got kids in the booster seat age and size range? You need this. Its handy for all the things, travel, grandma’s car, carpool, etc. We loved having it for the rental car. I know rental cars can provide carseats, but they add an extra expense. And, I’ve heard rumor, that sometimes they don’t have the size seat you requested on hand, or it is outdated or dirty… Save yourself extra trouble and get this guy. He fits in this bag shown in my hand, then blows up to the seat B is holding below. It meets and exceeds all safety standards! Plus, B says it’s super comfy.

Spirit Airlines- Ok, hear me out. This may not be the airline of beat choice if you are taking a super long flight and need extra comfort… but they have their perks if you are ok with very basic and are hoping to save some money. Perk 1- they allow you to bring a diaper bag on free, in addition to the one personal item each traveler is allowed. Thank goodness! Perk 2- they also allow you to check a stroller and carseat for each child for free. We checked the toddler’s carseat (again with the rental car issue) and gate checked the stroller. This means we drove it all the way to the gate with kiddo in it, and it goes right in the door of the plane and off to meet us. Perfect! Perk 3- they combine weights for your suitcases, whereas other airlines don’t. Each checked suitcase is allowed to be 40lbs without extra charge. With Spirit, one could be 20lbs and one could be 60lbs then. Less stress worrying about how to split things up!! Perk 4- you can bring your own snacks and drinks! They do not serve anything for free on the flight, adding to your lower prices, but this also allows you the freedom to pack what and how much you want! Some airports will not allow you through safety checks with drinks. Chicago did, because Spirit’s checkpoint was separated. However, Jacksonville did not, as all airline were checked together. Snacks were fine. Exceptions are always made for breastmilk, formula, etc.

Carseats– I mentioned above that I believe in the perks of bringing your own carseat when renting a car. Here is something you should get. A strap to attach the carseat to your wheeled suitcase. So handy to not lug another parcel through the airport. We wheeled the carseat to baggage check. Then we packed it in it’s own travel bag to be checked. The second picture below is how the carseat bag rolls up into it’s own pouch to pack. Pack this in an outside pocket of your suitcase and you will know where it is before you check bags.

Last tips- stay organized, go with the flow, don’t see it all, and enjoy the little things. Dad says- pack lots of snacks. You will have a blast! Safe travels!

Anything you would add?

XX,

Jess

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Marineland, Family Florida Trip Ideas

January 9, 2020 at 7:12 am (Family Stuff, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Want to take the kids to Florida, but not quite ready to go all in on Disney just yet? We weren’t either. I have some ideas for you!

Must see in Florida? Marineland Dolphin Adventure!! Truly, this place is a must see and a pleaser for all ages.

Yes, we danced with the dolphins! 🤩 This dolphin is Dazzle and she was a sweetheart. We learned a lot about her and dolphins in general. You can choose tickets to swim with the dolphins or tickets to meet and greet with them (pet them!), like the youngest and dad did.

You can even get a package that includes painting with the dolphins! There are talks and training demonstrations…

There was a tour of the facility, which included learning the history here. They are the first facility of their kind! Movies have even been made here! You can see turtles and other sea life too. There was just so much to explore. Plus, who doesn’t love an adorable gift shop? They even had custom necklaces made with each dolphin’s fluke (tail fin). How neat?! There is also a photographer there to snap photos while you are in the water or focusing on the dolphin fun!

And the view over the ocean was divine, even on a cloudy day…

There is just so much to say about this place. Truly I can’t rave enough and highly recommend you visit there for yourself!

Want to make it a whole weekend and need more things to fill your time? Us too! I’ve got a few recommendations:

Tip- Fly into and stay in Jacksonville. It’s a big enough city to have plenty to do, but not a spring-breaker hot spot.

1. Check out the beaches! The whole family enjoyed the sand and water, even in the cooler winter time. We all love to hunt for shells and treasures. Best beach for shells, sea glass and shark teeth is Mickler’s Landing, a public beach at Ponte Verda. Jacksonville beach, Atlantic beach, and Neptune beaches are all public, close by and very nice. Public beach access in Marineland was also very nice!

2. Jacksonville Zoo! Also fun for the whole family.

3. See St. Augustine! The younger kids didn’t understand the significance and were not super interested, but did enjoy seeing the big stone “castle”. They had lots of lights up in the evening, the bridge is neat, and there is a huge light house. Plus shops and restaurants to please us bigger kids.

4. St. Augustine alligator park! We didn’t get to make it here, but this attraction looked so fun!

5. Catty Shack wildlife sanctuary! We also didn’t make it here, but it is on our list! You can see them feed the tigers!

6. Seafood! Need I say more? I’ll list a few of our tried and true favorites.

*Safe Harbor, Jacksonville

*Slider’s, Jacksonville

*Sonny’s BBQ, Jacksonville (not seafood, but totally a favorite worth checking out)

*South Beach Grill, Marineland

Tip- Hyatt Place, Jacksonville Airport is where we stayed. Casual yet nice, family friendly and spacious. Plus, you can sign up for Hyatt Club for free and get free breakfasts. Just one we would recommend!

I hope you enjoy visiting Florida too! Let me know how you like these spots!

XX,

Jess

Disclosure: we were hosted at Marineland only. All opinions of all locations listed here are fully our own. We want to be helpful for your family, with honest reviews!

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Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

October 22, 2019 at 5:27 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

If you know me at all, you know I’m no cook. It’s never been something I enjoy to do, so I have never gotten much better than “able to keep my kids alive” level. 🤣

But, I have a few recipes up my sleeve that make it seem like I know what I’m doing just a little. This is a family favorite. So easy, probably 10 minute prep time, inexpensive, and both adults and kids love it. It makes enough for the 5 of us for dinner plus leftovers. Leftovers are almost even better with this dish! 😉

Ingredients

2 c shredded chicken

1 box spaghetti

2 can cream of chicken soup

1 can original Rotel

1 8oz package sour cream

Large sprinkling of shredded cheese

Tips: use a broasted chicken from the store. Easiest to shred when its warm. Shred then refrigerate if making tomorrow. Shred an overly full 2 cups. There will be just enough left for a couple of legs for kids lunch or to put on a salad, etc.

Instructions: Boil the entire package of spaghetti. Mix with all other ingredients except cheese in a 9×13 casserole pan. Cover in foil. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and add a full sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Viola!

One more tip, a sprinkling of crumbled potato chips tops it excellently. Especially day 2 leftovers! Yumm!

Xx,

Jess

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Save That Money!

September 16, 2019 at 8:03 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m sure you all try to save money, especially if you are a parent! Kids are expensive, am I right?! So I love finding new ways to save and still be able to do the things we want and have the things we need. And I found a new, awesome way!

Kids on 45th! You’ve got kids? You like to keep them clothed but also like to keep your money? Yeah, you need to check them out! 😅

This is a mama-founded company that’s all about helping mamas like you save money (yay!) and time (yes!) on your kiddos’ everyday clothes. They ship “surprise” boxes of gently-used (and some new with tags) clothes to moms around the country for super-low prices (items start at $1.99 and max out at $12.99 for a winter coat!).

They were so kind and generous to gift my boys a box to try. We are definitely going back for more.

My favorite part? That they customized the items to my kiddos. I could specify what we do or do not want and even what types of things or colors my boys like or don’t. We said we like camo and animals. And look what they sent! Spot on!!

They even have a ‘Happiness Policy’! They build a surprise box of clothes tailored to your kiddo’s style, but if there is ever an item you are not in love with, two taps on your device will get you a credit for the item.

I love the low prices. You can get quality kids clothes for cheap! They have sizes newborn to 14/16 clothes, all in excellent condition. Prices start at $1.99 for baby items and max out at $12.99 for big kid jackets! You get free shipping when you spend $65 too. And, there is no subscription needed and no styling fees. You get what you need ans that’s it!

I love that this saves me time along with money! No trip to the mall needed. Two minutes for online shopping was all that I needed. I didn’t have to search and scour at retailers, thrift racks, or pages cans pages online. No coupon hunting. And no gas spent. You don’t even have to get dressed. 🤣

One more plus? This is green! We all want to reuse and reduce are footprint here. This is another way!

So, my verdict? We are Kids on 45th shoppers for life. Truly. We are so tickled about our experience and cannot wait to make more orders!

Xx

Jess

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We were gifted a box of clothes in exchange for a review of the service, but all opinions expreases are our own!

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What’s In My Planner (And How To Keep Busy Life Organized)

October 30, 2018 at 4:33 pm (Mom Stuff) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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Where Have You Been, Girl?!

September 24, 2018 at 1:03 pm (Our New House, Tid Bits) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hi all! Yes, yes. It’s been forever. BUT, I am back. And with lots to share.

One more kiddo and a new (to us) house have kept us very, very busy. But this new house has also given us a TON of new projects to show you while we go. So, I’m back and full of fun stuff to document.

The house. If you have been following along here for very long, you know I love me some old houses. And old projects. And old antiques. Everything with a story. Let me tell you, this house had lots of stories. Built in 1860, and sadly remodeled in the 70’s, we have our hands full, both with old stories and new ideas.

So, here she is. All potential and boring right now.

Pretty cool, right?! And a ton of work, a few headaches, blood, sweat, tears… and love. I’m excited to be getting all creative again. As the new little one allows, of course. 😂

As many of you know, this space was created years ago when I got my first house to document and share all of my remodeling and decorating ideas, trials, errors, and adventures. This is where a plan to keep most of my focus now that I am back with plenty to keep sharing. But, I also plan to share some family, kids, health, and even personal stuff. Let me know if there’s something you would like to see!

And finally, I haven’t shared about myself in a very long time. So, my name is Jessica. I am a social worker with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Forensic Psychology. I love to be outdoors, camp, and travel, decorate, refinish and repurpose furniture, and and hunt for bargains and hidden gems. I live in Iowa with my significant other, Jason, my 15 year old step-daughter, Jordin, my 5 year old son, Brantley, and my 4 month old son, Barrett. Oh, and our little growing crew of pets. Every farm needs chickens and goats, right? We not only love making our new old house a home, but we also love trying out new things along the way. I hope we can inspire you!

Glad you are here! It should be fun, and a little new, so stick around!

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Easter!

April 10, 2012 at 10:15 am (Seasonal Decor) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend! We sure did here. We had a small family dinner at our house and then did some yard work. Very festive, I know. I thought I would share with you our Easter table!

Notice anything different? How about that table? Yes, I finally tried the Restore on it! It worked so well, I think I’m in love! It did not removed the weird patterned spot, so the table is still not perfect, and probably never will be. But, it is so much better! The Restore really does a great job on scratches and scuffs. Anyways, how about the Easter setting? Jeremy even helped to decorate some eggs! I blew out real eggs so that we can save them for next year!

Here is one of Jeremy and I:

Here are the three generations of women in our family who came:

What did you all do for the holiday? 🙂

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