Black Friday Planning with Kohl’s

Black Friday Planning with Kohl’s

Camping out in a tent, watching people scramble for the last television – sounds like a typical Black Friday, doesn’t it? If you’ve never experienced the tradition of Black Friday planning and shopping, you might only have these examples on which to base your experience. For those of us who love the deals and the energy, however, Black Friday offers a yearly ritual that gifts us a head start on holiday shopping.

While a lot of commerce has turned to online stores, there’s nothing better than getting bundled up to go shopping in actual stores. With a perfect cup of coffee or hot chocolate in hand, you’re ready for anything. Any veteran of Black Friday knows, however, that the best shoppers have a strategy.

We’ve put together some tips that will make you into a Black Friday pro, even if you’ve never braved the craziness before.

Get in the right mindset

Bring your friends, pack some snacks and some tasty drinks; this is a long haul. If you go into Black Friday shopping with an aggressive mentality, you might think that will give you an edge. The reality is that it will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. It’s better to go in relaxed with backup and some treats to refuel. Some of the best holiday season memories are built around the strangeness and warmth of shopping at 3am, as weird as that sounds.

And speaking of – my one absolute “must visit” place on Black Friday is Kohl’s. I’ve mentioned this in past Black Friday posts, but seriously if you want the best of the best deals, Kohl’s is where they’re at!

Black Friday Planning with Kohl’s

Plan, plan, plan

You cannot go into Black Friday department store shopping without a strategy or coupons. Check your local paper the Sunday before Thanksgiving for all the best ads and coupons for Black Friday. If you don’t get the Sunday paper in your area, it’s worth buying one by itself, just for this season. In addition, check out sites like Slickdeals, which houses all of the coupons and hottest deals online in one convenient place. Slick Deals in particular lists the best buys, biggest discounts and strategies for each store. Finally, Slick Deals has a real-time forum where people can contribute information, like what deals are sold out and what prices are better elsewhere!

Make your money work twice

A lot of department stores have a rewards program; Kohl’s, Old Navy and JCP all give you store cash for each dollar you spend. This can be redeemed in increments for anything in the store. One of the best strategies I’ve ever used personally was buying as much of my gift list as I could from Kohl’s on Black Friday. This earned me about $500 in Kohl’s Cash, which I then redeemed during their Christmas sales, saving over $500 and finishing the majority of my list. If you can get some or all of your gifts from a place that offers this type of program, I highly recommend it.

Know what you’re getting for your effort

Those incredibly cheap televisions they have at the front of the store? Those are last year’s model, which if that sale doesn’t bother you then go ahead and fight for them. The same goes with toys during Black Friday; they’re often the hot toys of the holiday season past – the new hot toys will go on sale in December. Basically know when the discount isn’t worth the hassle!

Don’t forget to treat yourself

Last year, I scoured as many ads as I could to find places where the rewards program cash was huge. This lead me again to Kohl’s where I picked up a handful of kitchen appliances I had been wanting – an air fryer and a pressure cooker. In this case, however, these items also had rebates and discounts. After I got my Kohl’s Cash back and sent in the rebates, I got these items for free. In fact, I came out a little bit ahead on each one. The point is, don’t just pay attention to what’s on your list if you find a deal that is just beyond good!

Rethink Black Friday

If you’ve only got a negative impression of the Black Friday rush, I urge you to think twice. It can actually be fun if you let it, and the deals you can get are beyond compare. With a little planning, utilization of coupon codes and sites like Slick Deals, you’ll find that department stores are enjoyable no matter how late (or early!) you go.

Cold Season Cures from a Kitchen Witch

Cold Season Cures from a Kitchen Witch

Kitchen cures for colds and the like are a dime a dozen, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work! With sickness season upon us and will soon ramp up into the absolute worst that tiny microbes can throw at us. If you have kids in school – literally any school, even home-school somehow – they’re going to turn into walking, talking petri dishes. You can load them up on medicine, give them three scarves and an overcoat, but they’re going to be sneezing regardless.

If you’re like me, you love science – I think medicine, vaccines, and pizza bagels are all wonderful advances for humankind. Sometimes, however, you might not want to give your kids (or self) 3 different medicines, all filled with items you can’t pronounce. Luckily there are some simple-to-use, cheap and easy home remedies that absolutely work to fight off colds and other nasties.

Some of these you will buy at the store, some you’ll make yourself, but all of them are things I personally do and I very, very rarely get sick. Even when my kids are little germ tornadoes, I weather the storm with these witchy kitchen hacks, and you can, too!

Kitchen Cures for Colds

When I know I’m going to get sick, I feel it at the back of my throat. It starts not as a sore throat but as a tickle, usually, maybe scratchiness, but I still know. That’s when I start taking raw, whole garlic.

Garlic has anti-microbial properties, but it’s especially good for when you’re getting sick in the sinuses. For most people, eating a whole clove at once might be…difficult. Dicing it up, however, makes it easier to take, and has the bonus of being incredibly spicy, which often clears out sinuses.

For colds or influenza, I will mix 1-2 cloves of chopped garlic with a tablespoon of raw honey and take that. It helps with sore throats, coughing, and it shortens the duration of my colds. If I get ahead of getting sick by taking this mixture, I can often completely avoid a full-blown cold entirely.

Kombucha is another thing I’ll start chugging at the first sign of a cold. The probiotics in kombucha bolster the gut microbiome, which in turn makes your immune system more robust. Opt for kombucha with less sugar, however – sugar itself can damage your gut biome and we want to avoid that.

kitchen hacks cure colds

Bone Broth

Chicken soup is good for more than a light meal when you feel bad. Actual scientific research shows that hot drinks like soup or tea help thin out mucus, which makes it less gummy in your lungs and easier to get rid of. Chicken soup in particular (when made with bone broth) has anti-inflammatory effects which can reduce nasal swelling, helping you breathe. The collagen in chicken bone broth also boosts the health of your gut lining, which again makes your immune system stronger.

Get a whole chicken from the store and toss it in the crock pot on high for 3-4 hours with some veggies. Strip the meat off the bones and use it in whatever you’d like – we’re here for the skeleton (I told you this was witchy). Drop the crock to low, add 6 cups of water, some salt, 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar and let it cook for about 10 hours. This will draw out the collagen and give you a lovely bone broth. Just make sure you strain it before enjoying this kitchen cure.

Spice Kitchen Cures

Ginger is great for soothing a sore throat and it can suppress a cough as well. You take a few thin slices of fresh ginger and steep it like tea in hot water, adding actual tea bags if you like. The spicy ginger is soothing on your sore throat, and if you add some honey it can be a one-two punch against coughs. It definitely my go-to kitchen cure.

Echinacea root, taken as a tea (around 1-2 grams) a few times a day can help prevent the cold from getting a hold in your body. This is best done when I see my kids or husband’s eyes get that glassy, “I’m getting a cold” look. It’s like those over-the-counter cold preventatives but this actually works.

Turmeric mixed into your morning coffee – about a 1.5 tsps – has a potent anti-inflammatory effect. If coffee isn’t your thing, try turmeric tea instead, which you can make the same way as turmeric coffee with black tea bags, or you can buy turmeric tea bags already pre-made.

Cough remedies

Especially in fall as mold grows in the damp weather and fields are harvested, allergies are rampant. If not treated, allergies quickly turn into upper respiratory infections and we don’t want that.

Honey has been proven to be as useful if not better than dextromethorphan (cough syrup) at treating, well, coughs. This study showed that 2.5ml of honey at bed time was better at suppressing coughs than over-the-counter cough syrups, and that’s great because cough syrup has a taste that is staggeringly awful. Do remember that you cannot give honey to kids under 1 year old, due to the chances of botulism spores being present.

Black licorice – whether you love it or hate it – can be a powerful medicine. Now, it’s not the candy that people who don’t love you give you as a treat – this is flavored with anise and has no medicinal properties. You want actual licorice root which contains glycyrrhizin, which reduces inflammation in the lungs. With all that said, you should avoid the root in excess of 1 gram a day (you can make a tea with it), as it really is potent and can cause problems in high doses. Best to stick with a lozenge that has licorice root as an active ingredient and stick strictly to the usage limits.

Eucalyptus oil and vaporubs are the smell we might have grown up with, but for a very good reason. These vaporubs can improve cold symptoms in just a few hours of application, opening airways, fighting inflammation and improving coughs. While I like essential oils, I don’t rely on them to fix my family’s sickness BUT eucalyptus oil in a humidifier is great when your family is coughing their lungs out at nighttime.

Stomach problems

Nobody wants this but it’s there so let’s talk about it. Woof.

Ginger again, steeped in hot water with peppermint tea will do wonders for nausea. We often break up peppermints into hot water with a slice of ginger and give it to our kids, as sucking on a peppermint is great for tummy troubles but the choking risk of hard candy is a no-no.

While not a remedy exactly, if you’re nauseated, closing your fist around your thumb can suppress the urge to vomit. Massaging point where your thumb is anchored to your hand is another way to ease nausea.

Don’t believe me? Try closing your fist around your thumb (same hand, basically make a fist with your thumb tucked inside) and then test your gag reflex; pretty wild, eh?

Mint is an herb we grow quite a lot of around our house, especially since it’s perfect for gardening on a budget. Since it’s somewhat invasive, make sure you tend to it regularly or it will take over whatever bed it’s growing in. That said, a tea made with 4-5 bruised mint leaves helps reduce nausea and stomach pain when you’ve got gastroenteritis or food poisoning.

Chamomile is another herb we love, as it’s similar to turmeric with its anti-inflammatory benefits. If you don’t grow chamomile, you can buy dried flowers online (or if you have a holistic/health food store nearby, you can probably get them there). Steep 3 dried flowers in hot water for about 10 minutes and then add some honey. This mixture is good for cramping, diarrhea and nausea.

Home remedies for colds are legit

Again, I don’t want to suggest you be afraid of science, but there are traditional medicines that have real, absolute uses in the 21st century. Sometimes letting a fever run its course is better than taking ibuprofen unless it’s keeping you from sleeping. Inflammation is the cause of a lot of the nastiness with almost all illness, and dealing with that using medicine can sometimes hurt just as much as it helps.

For instance, if you’re dealing with stomach pain and cramps, taking aspirin or ibuprofen might make the pain much worse. Soothing herbal teas have scientific validity and real-world applications. Plus, you can grow the necessary herbs yourself!

Do you have any kitchen hacks for colds that you think are worth sharing?

We’d love to read about them in the comments – building up a repertoire of useful home remedies for sickness is essential for any kitchen witch (and even non-witchy moms or dads)!

Wundertots Review

Wundertots Review

When I had my first child in 2013, I had all sorts of delusional ideas about his childcare. Like many first time moms, I had serious plans to have it all – a small classroom, multiple teachers, video monitoring, organic meals, plenty of outdoor time…

Instead, despite over 50% of my paycheck going to said childcare, I got none of that.

Teacher to Parent Communication Failure

While there were many frustrating moments surrounding my son’s daycare, it all boiled down to a serious lack of communication between the teachers, the director, and the parents. Now I’m incredibly fortunate to no longer have to deal with such things, given that I now work from home as a blogger and business strategist, but the sting still remains.

The idea that there is such disconnect between families and those put in charge of watching their children just breaks my heart.

So when a lifelong friend of mine mentioned to me that he had created an app meant to bridge said disconnect, I couldn’t wait to hear more!

Enter: David Jones with Lite Injen Labs

lite injen labs story

David is the founder of Lite Injen Labs and a father of three, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to creating a brilliant app that meets the needs of parent and daycare alike. There are certainly quite a few apps now on the market that allow for streamlined communication between childcare center and parent, but David wanted to take things a step further.

Thus Wundertots was born.

Wundertots Review

Unlike the “one stop shop” apps that many childcare centers may use these days, Wundertots is a custom built solution that allows the user to craft a tool specific to their needs (and the needs/desires of the parents!)

For example, should a childcare center or preschool be special needs oriented, Lite Injen Labs can customize the app to allow for additional features that similar apps fall short on.

Just imagine how nice it would be to remove the fear that your child is still crying an hour after drop-off! Instead of spending the day filled with dread, you could open up an app and see in real time just how your child thrives, even when you’re not around.

Unique Features

While I’m obviously all about the parent-focused features, there’s also a number of great behind-the-scenes that are greatly beneficial to those working at our childcare institutions. Not only do you get 3 months of back-end support, but there’s a backoffice feature that instructors can use to build a profile on each student.

I love the idea of being able to quickly and easily look back on my child’s growth and milestone achievements with just a few swipes of the finger!

Another personal favorite feature of mine is that Wundertots includes a fingerprint scanner function that does away with needing to remember what forms are due to be signed and when. No more worrying about forgetting to turn in a field trip permission slip or crossing your fingers that it makes it from your child’s bag to the teacher!

Wundertots App Spec Sheet

Invest in Wundertots

This app is perfect for any childcare institution – preschools, daycares, Sunday schools, camps, the list could go on and on. Basically any institution that wants analytical monitoring plus a way to better communicate with their parents should be looking to Wundertots. Not only will it make lives easier all around, but it’ll provide parents with serious confidence in knowing their children have been left in the best of hands.

If you want to be the best, you have to have the best – and that’s Wundertots.

Should you be interested in learning more about Wundertots (or being part of a case study for it) I definitely encourage you to contact Lite Injen Labs at 855-464-6536 or shoot them an e-mail at Support@liteinjenlabs.com.

wundertots mock up image

Do you have experience with similar apps introduced to you via your childcare institution?

I’d love for you to comment below and share with me!

 

How To Avoid Black Friday Mistakes

How To Avoid Black Friday Mistakes

Black Friday brings with it some terrific deals but also terrifying mistakes to avoid. I’m not saying there will be pits to jump over or fire to avoid; rather, these hazards are of the shopping-mistake variety.

With some tips and tricks and a little planning, you can avoid these easy-to-fall-for mistakes people make every year on Black Friday, saving you valuable time and money. Here’s what not to buy, places to avoid, and alternatives to both.

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Decluttering With Kids: Helping Them Let Go of Stuff

Decluttering With Kids: Helping Them Let Go of Stuff

Every time you step on a minefield of Legos, you probably think “these kids have too many toys”. You’re also probably right, but telling a kid that they have too many toys is…well just try it. Our kids are the first to talk about what they’re going to get for Christmas while the birthday wrapping is still on the floor.

The point is, it’s hard to convince kids that they should maybe get rid of some of their stuff. Their frame of reference is far shorter than ours as adults, so to them, this is ALL their stuff. But as they get new toys and games, there’s got to be some compromise lest your entire house explode like a cartoon.

Going into the conversation in the right mindset, with the right tools and a solid plan will help you immensely. Your kids might be resistant at first, but if you follow these steps you should be victorious in the long run.

How to Get Kids to Help You Declutter

get kids to help declutter

Ask them how they feel about the idea

If you approach it with a “it’s time we give your toys away” attitude, they’re going to balk. Talk to your kids about how they would feel about giving some of their toys away. They’ll still probably be quite resistant, but a discussion is better than an ultimatum.

Address each of their concerns thoroughly and don’t dismiss them. Again, these are their things, and when you’re 5, ownership is a weird concept. Explain that there are some toys that they simply don’t play with anymore, that giving anything away would be their choice and that you’re not forcing anything. This will allow them to consider and come to their own conclusion at first, making it more likely they’ll be receptive to the idea.

Appeal to their sense of being “grown up”, and that letting go of old toys is a symbol of that.

Explain to them that if they DO give away toys, you will donate them to kids who don’t have any. Especially around the holidays when there are kids who won’t get much of any presents, your kids will feel good about helping other children.

Reiterate that it will still be their choice and that you won’t get rid of anything unless they say it’s okay.

Bust out the totes

Once your child agrees, the best thing to do is to get a handful of big storage totes and sit down in their room with them. You can go through their toys with them, sorting them into a “keep” and a “donate” tote. Once you’ve gone through everything, take the “donate” tote and put it up somewhere; your garage, attic or a closet are best. Leave it there for a few months just in case your child changes their mind about something. If they haven’t said anything about the toys after a few months, you can safely donate them.

Embrace sentimentality (to a point)

If you have a stuffed animal that was yours and you gave it to your child, then obviously that can stay. Their first blocks, or their favorite pacifier can still be used for any other kids you might have, so keep them, too.

If your kids are getting into the trenches about a Ninja Turtle they found in the back of the closet they haven’t seen in 3 years, that’s a different story. Additionally if they have a lot of baby toys that hold a lot of emotional weight but that won’t get used, store them in a safe place until your kids have kids of their own. I personally have multiple books that were owned by my mom when she was a kid that she read to me, that I now read to my babies.

Storing – not donating – of sentimental objects functions similarly to decluttering, but without the emotional loss of donating.

Make them into little entrepreneurs

If you are planning on having a garage sale, explain that they could make money on their old toys by selling them. Make sure they know that by selling a lot of old stuff they don’t use, they can pick up new stuff. While the ultimate goal of decluttering is to get rid of extra stuff, selling old toys to buy new ones has a distilling effect. Rather, the volume of stuff they get rid of will be much larger than any new stuff they buy. This also gives them some control over their domain which is always new and exciting.

Establish a “too big bin”

My daughter loves clothes – she changes outfits more than a Superbowl halftime singer. The problem comes when we go to dress her and every outfit I pull from her dresser is too small. The solution for us was a “too big bin”.

Essentially as your child goes to get dressed and finds that the clothes they’re putting on are too small, they take them off and into the bin they go. This can be a clothes hamper, box or (if you’re like me) a tote. The clothes can then be donated or sold. It keeps clothes that don’t fit from popping up when you’re 15 minutes late to dance.

Plus selling clothes is a great way to then re-invest in “new” ones, thereby getting kids’ clothes basically free!

Click for More Ways to Save on Clothes

Give them options for where to donate

The blanket concept of “donating” your old stuff is pretty broad, and it’s especially broad when you’re 5. Sit down and explain the many different places and people that can use their toys and clothes and why. For instance:

– Hospitals

– Preschools

– Family shelters

– Homeless shelters

– Resale stores that employ the homeless, disabled or other at-risk individuals

– Churches that have programs to serve the less financially stable in your community

You can also suggest they sell their stuff like we talked about above, but then show them charities to which they can donate the money. Programs for animals and kids are the ones our children are drawn to, but there are as many charities out there as there are causes to champion. You’ll find one that appeals to your kids.

Enable empathy

Your kids are little blank slates; if you show them that hoarding wealth and possessions is good, they’re going to grow up believing that. The same thing goes with showing them that they can help other people by donating their time, money and stuff.

We’re a family that’s big into volunteering with children, including making blessing bags for the homeless every year.

Most children look at their possessions as simply what they are, and they interact with them accordingly. If you show them that they can help other people, make money or contribute to the housework by donating or selling their stuff, suddenly they gain a new level of autonomy over their lives. You’d be surprised at how motivating a feeling of control and efficacy can be, especially for kids.

Have you decluttered your kids’ room? Did they help, were they resistant or did everything go better than expected? Let us know in the comments what worked for you!