I shop at Dollar Tree a lot – maybe not as often as I shop online, but when it comes to creating a Dr. Seuss birthday or frugal Halloween party, Dollar Tree is always my one-stop shop! So let me just tell you – when I found out they were going to soon be carrying greeting cards from Hallmark, I was ECSTATIC!!
Now I do want to mention that I am being compensated for this post and the links below may be affiliate links, but this in no way impacts my opinion of this awesome product release.
Dollar Tree Greeting Cards
Normally my thrifty self is all about having the kids create cards, but they’re not always in the mood to color when I want them to color (go figure, right?) So now that I can pick up adorable greeting cards from Dollar Tree, I never again have to force creativity when the kids are feeling anything but! It’s also great that I can pick up a greeting card when I want something a bit nicer (like sending a thank you note) and not have to feel guilty about spending $5 on something most people don’t actually hang onto.
There are over 6,500 Dollar Tree stores nationwide and starting today (August 30th) every store will have cards from Expressions From Hallmark ($1 each) as well as cards from Heartline, which is a Hallmark company, and those will actually be TWO for $1!
Personally I kept all the cards given to my children on their first birthdays and I still love pulling them out every once in a while to reminisce. It’s nice to think that I’ll be able to pick up quality cards so others can do the same and I can do it without breaking the bank. As I looked through the cards offered, I was blown away by how great they are given the price. Another great thing about Dollar Tree is that you can even shop online so you can pick up these amazing greeting cards without having to even leave the house! I very much recommend checking out all the different cards offered and maybe buy yourself a coffee with the extra money you’ll save. 😉
Do you shop at Dollar Tree often? What’s your favorite thing there? Comment below and let me know!
Struggling to limit your child’s screentime? We’ve all been there!
Chances are good you’ve heard the following at least once or twice…
“When I was growing up, we played outside from sunup to sundown.”
“I’m glad I grew up when kids still played instead of looking at a screen all day.”
“When I was a kid our neighborhood had 1 stick and some rocks and we had to share them and that was our fun!”
There’s no doubt that youngsters these days (I can feel myself aging as I type this) often have significantly more interaction with the light from a tablet than they do the light from the sun.
It’s a serious struggle as a parent to not just balance screen time with play time, but to make play time intuitive, fun, and creative. Luckily, there are companies out there still making analogue toys that prompt your children to partake in imaginative play while also encouraging exploration and learning.
Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases which may be linked below.
I’d seen these odd little wooden bikes with the chalkboard paint and no pedals and thought “how would that even work”?
You know what, though? My kid figured it out with essentially no prompting and was beyond excited to roll on down the road!
Kinderfeets makes bikes, trikes, and the like for kids from the age where they can start to totter around up to about 5 years old. Built from wood and metal, they’re sturdy, colorful, and best of all, they’re intuitive. They’re designed in a way that encourages a child to discover how to move them just by pushing with their feet. As they get older, the child can alternate pushing and putting their feet on the pedal-rests to coast. This creates a natural method for learning the balance needed to ride a bike as they get older.
We love them honestly because they’re really neat and they make a great transition tool to real “big kid” bikes without the pain that is training wheels.
Boy these things have come a long way since I was a kid, when they were essentially dowel rods and wooden wheels with holes in them. Now there’s a host of different pieces, connectors, patterns, and ideas. Our kids have a lot of different building-type toys, but they seem to be most interested in the Tinkertoys, I think mostly because the designs are so different than traditional interconnected blocks.
I’m not bashing Legos; they’re great (except when you step on them in the middle of the night and your screams wake up the neighborhood). The thing I find more appealing about Tinkertoys for a younger child is that the company gives you some designs to build, but they don’t lock you down into a single design initially. What I mean is that with Legos, you’re buying a Dragon Castle or a Millenium Falcon, and that’s awesome, but it takes away some of the imaginative fun that little kids crave.
Wooden blocks are great – they’re a chunky, fun way to learn some letters and also some gross motor skills. The problem with blocks, however, is that they kind of become relegated to the “baby toys” box not too long after your kids figure out how to play with nearly anything else.
But what if you could buy blocks that taught more than a few rudimentary letters and numbers? Uncle Goose specializes in wooden blocks that come in a wide variety of prints and subjects. Some of these include “Women who dared”, the periodic table of elements, and various ancient fossils. This opens up worlds of new play and longevity in a fairly simple product. They’re high-quality and just really, really cool, and the diversity of topics and versions is pretty extensive.
Melissa and Doug
Our kids have had Melissa and Doug toys since they were very young; our son got his first fishing pole puzzle when he was maybe 8 months old. I’ll never forget when he first learned to say “uh-oh” while playing with this toy, it was pretty much the cutest thing ever.
He couldn’t quite work the fishing pole to “catch” the fish with the magnetic tip, but he sure liked grabbing the thick, wooden, colorful pieces (and occasionally trying to eat them, but who can blame him…)
This well loved-on puzzle then went to our daughter, who added her own teeth marks and marker scribbles, and we’re still going to keep it. Melissa and Doug toys are predominately wooden and high-quality toys that are durable enough for the most discerning of toddler taste-buds. They also make storage tables, pretend-play centers (like this adorable lemonade stand), puppet theaters, and all manner of crafting supplies.
We love them because their products will stand up to the abuse that kids throw at them, but they stop short of constraining your children into a specific way of playing. We absolutely love them!
There’s a ton of toys made for bath time; what makes Boon any different? Well, they offer toys and innovative accessories for meal time and bath time, but they’ve taken it to an adorable level. From starfish and manta ray drain covers to the “frog pod”, a water bucket that doubles as a container for your kids’ endless amount of bath time toys, there’s some really great stuff here.
I think my favorite part of Boon toys are that they’re made with bath in mind, built to avoid some of the gross watery mold problems average bath toys fall victim to.
Unplugged toys are really great for challenging your kids to not be as passively entertained. When kids need to think, look, engage, and learn while they play – especially when they’re younger – they learn problem solving skills and imaginative thinking that will help them all throughout their life. While general wooden blocks can be great, it’s so important to find toys that your children will actually want to play with and that will stand up to test of time.
Now I’m curious – what was YOUR favorite toy as a child? Tell me about in the comments below!
As a busy business mom, I’m constantly on the go, working with clients, taking my kids all over, and everything else that’s expected of moms these days. I get to the gym when I can but most of my energy comes in the form of a delicious, brewed miracle bean drink called “coffee”.
So when the opportunity arose to try a supplement that supposedly reduces symptoms of aging and fatigue – and it wasn’t coffee – I was skeptical, but intrigued. GenF20 Plus is supposed to spur the body to create HGH through a mix of herbs, neurotransmitters, and amino acids.
Again, I was skeptical, but I thought it might be worth giving it a shot; my husband has been taking the male version of this product (TestRX) and seems to like it. The increase in HGH is supposed to give you a boost in energy, focus, help with weight loss, and increase your libido. If you follow me on the Thrifty Guardian Facebook page, you may have noticed my husband and I were featured in The Wall Street Journal about how Netflix impacts our love life, so that last benefit made me chuckle…but is also relevant to most married couples and parents.
All of that sounded good so I took the plunge and started my GenF20 Plus experiment.
What is HGH?
HGH stands for human growth hormone, and from the moment you’re born it drives everything in your body from organ development to height. As we age, there’s less and less of it to go around, and this creates tell-tale signs of aging like wrinkles, fatigue, and that sort of general laggy feeling. Weight lifting increases HGH, as does fasting, but this supplement claims to boost them in addition to all that other stuff.
Increases muscle mass, which will boost your metabolism
Helps burn fat
Reduces the signs of aging
Provides more energy
There are more supposed benefits but I was certainly interested in sleeping better, burning fat, and having more energy. I decided to try the supplement for 2 weeks and see how I felt.
How does GenF20 stimulate HGH production?
As I said before, it’s cocktail of various things, but essentially there are ingredients that boost metabolism, ones that are directly linked to HGH production, and ones that reduce stress and inflammation. Together these work to fight against some main causes of early aging (obesity, stress, and inflammation).
L-arginine, L-lysine, L-ornithine, and L-glutamine are all amino acids and they work in tandem to boost HGH levels, along with GTF chromium and deer velvet antler. They also throw in GABA, which is a neurotransmitter that helps calm you down and helps with clarity of thought along with colostrum. Finally astralgus root and l-tyrosine help relieve stress, reduce fatigue, and boost your metabolism for better energy and fat burning.
Apparently in addition to the benefits the supplement is directly intended for – increasing HGH basically – the ingredients are also useful for younger looking skin, lowering cholesterol, and improving hair and nails. As a mom I can definitely get behind literally all of that.
How Much to Take
So the pills are normal supplement pills, and the ideal dosage is 4 capsules a day, roughly 2 in the late morning and 2 in the afternoon (about an hour before dinner). That adds up to a whopping 120 pills a month which is kind of intense. There is also an oral spray bottle that you spray under your tongue and then don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes following.
Does GenF20 work?
I’ve been taking it for 3 weeks now, and I do feel like it’s giving me energy. The first few days when I took it I felt especially focused and energized. Now it seems more like a steady ability to stay focused on a project or task, and less mental fatigue. It’s especially nice after I take it in the afternoon as I find I’m less eager to zone out in the evening, so I’m getting more done.
I have seen some weight loss but I think that would be even better if I were dieting or exercising in a focused way. One thing at a time, eh?
My nails are growing better, and I can’t really tell if my hair is different. Heh if you’re new to who I am, my hair is incredibly long and luxurious. (*brag alert!*)
Overall, it does seem to provide better focus and energy, and the rest of the benefits, though potentially coincidental, do seem to be there.
Ah now here’s where I battle frugality vs productivity…
A 1-month supply of GenF20 is $82.99, which I feel is pretty steep given that’s about how much I spend on a week’s worth of groceries for my family of four. While it is possible that taking it for months on end with a super tight workout and dietary plan would reap better results, it’s certainly something I’d have to think about before permanently adding it into our budget.
Now I always go the blunt honesty route when reviewing products and GenF20 is no different. If you’re looking for a mental/physical boost, GenF20 (or TestRX for men) is the seemingly easier way to go, but intermittent fasting can provide nearly the same benefits and it’s free….soooo you can see my dilemma.
Does GenF20 work? For me, it certainly seems to deliver at least some of the results it claims to provide, and it’s probable that those results would compound if I took it longer.
At its $82.99/month price tag, however, it’s hard to justify and if the results didn’t continue to get more impressive, it would be an unfortunate waste of a lot of money.
In the end, this is something that I would really recommend you check out for yourself and (as always) talk to your doctor before starting any new regimen.
When it comes to our kids, we know that a bedtime routine is a must. While it may seem tedious at first, having a night time schedule really gives them the space to wind down, get ready, and (hopefully) get to sleep quickly.
So here’s my question…
WHY DON’T MORE OF US HAVE ONE FOR OURSELVES??
Now before I go too deep into this blog post, I do want to mention that this post is being sponsored by Tenzo Tea. Their compensation in no way impacts my opinion of their company (like seriously, don’t be surprised if you see glamour shots show up on my Instagram of me and the water bottle they sent me. I’m truly in love…)
Okay, now if you’re not too weirded out by my profession of love for a water bottle, let’s get back to it…
Night Time Routines for Parents
It can be hard to slow down at the end of a long day, yeah? And I don’t mean a fiery crash-n-burn come 9pm when the kids have finally all gone to bed. I mean, it’s dinner time, it’s family time, and instead of enjoying the moment you’re thinking about the lunches you have to make, the food that still needs to be put away, the laundry that’s been sitting in the dryer for four days…sound familiar?
So when it comes to finding that space to just take a breath, I truly believe it starts with making smarter choices during the day.
When Tenzo Tea approached me about working together, I had heard of the company before, mostly through internet buzz and word-of-mouth, but I don’t often do reviews like this on my site without first knowing I love ’em enough to share with you, my wonderful readers.
So Tenzo sent me one of their matcha kits and omgoodness, ya’ll, I was THRILLED.
The kit had a pouch of 30 grams of premium organic green tea powder, a bamboo whisk, a porcelain holder for said whisk, and a bamboo scoop. Also included was THE BEST water bottle I’ve ever had! Heh have I mentioned that yet?
Ok, well to be honest, it’s actually a shaker bottle with a little spherical wire whisk inside to make matcha on the go, but it’s really, really wonderful in general.
As for the matcha, I was floored at the taste difference between the Tenzo powder and the brand I had been drinking for the last few months. The color is so vibrant and the smell immediately brings about thoughts of spring – I can’t help but go to my happy place while I make it…even if said happy place is only a 30-second visit before my 3 year old starts trying to color on the walls.
The taste is what really got me, though – it’s light and grassy, as I would expect, but you can taste the life in it. I’ve been drinking it daily since I received the box and it’s slowly edging out my morning coffee for role of “caffeine delivery system of choice” in my life. No more peak and then crash! Or worse, peak-peak-peak-CRASH at 9pm but too wound to actually sleep. Ick.
I also really enjoyed using the bamboo whisk and scoop. I know it might seem silly but it adds to the entirety of the ritual, elevating it to really immerse me in the moments of creation and enjoyment of my matcha, and while I can experience that with a regular whisk, it’s somehow both more authentic and pleasurable to do it with the little bamboo fella they sent.
What does matcha have to do with a night time routine?
Going back to the original point of this post (finding peace at night!) I’ve truly found that by swapping out my usual coffee intake for matcha, it’s so much easy to remain steady and more focused during the day, so again come evening, I’m not swamped and thinking of the 1,000 things still on my to-do list. And as I mention above, with matcha there’s no peak and then crash. It’s all natural and a great way to find that energy you need to run an efficient household without losing your mind.
Along those lines, by eliminating that chaos at night – or at least cutting back on it – you can then enjoy another cup of tea (perhaps a sweet hot cup of Tulsi tea, my personal favorite!) and actually take that breath you so desperately need.
I know, I know, almost sounds like a fantasy, right? To have the energy to relax at night? Whaaa?
But if you find ways to focus more during the day and ban multitasking, you’ll certainly find yourself accomplishing more and you’ll have that moment at night to just let it all go.
My night time routine typically involves some work – though luckily I love my job – but then I usually grab a cup of tea, pick up my gratitude journal, and simply give myself ten minutes to just reflect and give thanks for another day…even if it was a rough one.
While I will always advocate for the consumption of matcha in general, just because personally it tastes great and makes me feel amazing throughout the day, I would specifically give my seal of approval to Tenzo. The value for the price is pretty terrific, particularly considering the quality of the matcha powder; the accessories just add to the fun.
I do plan on getting more, in the end. In addition, I think that some people in my life will be getting these bundles as gifts. I really enjoyed everything about the box they sent, and I have been talking about this shaker bottle to my husband for days!
Isn’t it beautiful?
Do you have a night time routine for your kids?
What about for yourself – how do you usually spend your evenings?
Jurassic Quest is the ultimate stop for the dinosaur lovers in your life.
Dinosaurs have been my son’s obsession since before he could talk. Even from a young age, he’s always been VERY into learning their names and identifying them. For example, here’s a video from when he was barely 3yrs old:
So last year when I heard about Jurassic Quest, an event filled with animatronic dinosaurs and lots of fun activities for kids, I knew we HAD to go. (Psst – you can check out my video from last year by clicking HERE!)
This year I’d been stalking their website when FINALLY they released the dates they’d be here in Springfield, IL. And this year I was lucky enough to work with their marketing team to have them sponsor this post, though their sponsorship in no way impacts my thoughts or feelings toward Jurassic Quest.
What is Jurassic Quest?
Jurassic Quest is as close to the dinos as you’ll ever get (barring time travel, but let’s be real – you probably wouldn’t want to see a T-Rex in the flesh…)
They have true-to-life size dinosaurs, ranging from the small Compsognathus – Remember Jurassic Park 2? They were the ones who attacked in the beginning… – to GIGANTIC dinosaurs that you’ll almost certainly see from the parking lot. They have over 100 dinosaurs that truly couldn’t look more real. Even as an adult who’s never really been all that into dinosaurs, Jurassic Quest is a thing of beauty.
Not only that, but they have so many fun interactive events, including BABY dinosaurs. I mean oh my goodness, these things are absolutely adorable (even when they try to steal your child’s paci!)
How Much Does Jurassic Quest Cost?
Okay, my thrifty friends, here’s where you might get a small bit of sticker shock…I know I did when I first saw the prices.
A child’s VIP ticket is $34, a regular one is $20 (which is also what the adult tickets cost). So for a family of four, you’re looking at spending around $110 + taxes and fees.
Now I know that seems like a lot of money, but trust me when I say it’s worth it. You need to just go ahead and invest the extra $14/child in the VIP because otherwise you’ll end up either A) missing out on a lot of fun or B) have to fork out the money for said fun at the event and end up spending more than you would have otherwise.
This is one of those events in which you have to evaluate the ROI in terms of family fun. Yes, $110+ is a lot of money, but you can spend an entire day there and goodness knows you can’t put a price on happy children in need of an earlier bedtime. Not to mention, you’d probably spend 6x that spending a day at Disney World or the like.
Jurassic Quest Review
What Activities Does Jurassic Quest Have?
The activities are what factor into deciding whether or not to invest in the VIP tickets. The regular tickets ($20/child) include the exhibit and the arts/craft station. The VIP include unlimited dinosaur rides, fossil digs, dino scooters, bounce houses, bungee pull, and basically anything and everything at Jurassic Park – save for face painting, souvenirs, and candy. Each of these things on their own without VIP is $5/each.
Allow me to show you in pictures all the fun things we had going on:
There was an egg behind him that was meant to be used as a photo op…but instead he pretended like the babies were going to eat him…
His first time with a motorized kid’s jeep! Fortunately these ones didn’t break down like they did in Jurassic Park…
Riding a dino!
Digging for fossils
Playing on the bounce house! They also have another one for kids under 3.
Jurassic Quest 2017 – arts and crafts table
Fun fossils and lots to learn here!
Free character drawing!
They could’ve spent the entire day just bouncing…
Different times to meet those baby dinos!
The Jurassic Quest Gift Shop
Now just like any other amusement park or the like, Jurassic Quest does have a gift shop….a HUGE gift shop that is pretty much impossible for your kids to miss. Luckily, most of the things are fairly priced…save for the Good Dinosaur DVDS, I kinda had to laugh at that one…
I wouldn’t pay $36 for ANY movie…
In 2017, we bought a huge dino playset that included a playmat that my child still uses well over a year later. This year, each child wanted another playset, but they were very reasonably priced at about $20 each.
One of those is *supposed* to be for his sister…
I really REALLY wanted to buy this one!!
Overall, while Jurassic Quest can seem a bit pricey, it truly is fun for the whole family and something I wholeheartedly recommend checking out the next time they’re in your area. Let’s face it, these days you can’t even go to the movie theater as a family without spending $60+, why not pay a bit more to have an experience that your children will remember for years to come?
Have you ever been to Jurassic Quest?
I’d love for you to comment below and let me know what you most enjoyed there!
While I considered writing some music to go along with this Disney Movie Club review, I felt that it was needlessly sadistic to subject you to my singing. Besides, if you’re reading a review of ANYTHING Disney, you likely already get more cutesy music in your life than you can handle.
I want to preface this post with a disclaimer: I LOVE Disney movies. Moana is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I own most of their catalog on VHS and DVD/Blu-Ray. Now that I have children, my love for Disney is even greater, as it works as a great babysitter when I need to get something done or when I need a nap.
(Totally joking, my kids won’t stay quiet for ANYTHING long enough to let me nap!)
That said, I have nothing exceptionally gracious to say about the Disney Movie Club. So if you’re ready, grab your fish hook and strap on your clam-shell bikini, because we’re diving deep into the world of Disney Movie Club.
What is Disney Movie Club?
I maybe should have lead with this. In short, if you’re not familiar, Disney Movie Club (DMC for short from this point forward) is a subscription service. You sign up, usually get 4 movies for $1, lock yourself into a 2-year contract for another 6 movies at $19.95/each (plus shipping + processing), and then you can “cancel anytime” after that.
If you were a teenager in the 90s, you might remember the Columbia House CD subscription service, where you got a bunch of sweet albums for free, but then had to buy another 10 or something, at triple-retail markup. Those were great until your mother came in, wondering why she owed $32.99 for a copy of a Bjork CD that your crush told you was awesome but it fully wasn’t.
Anyway, sans Bjork, the DMC is the same kind of deal. You get a handful of movies for “free” up-front, and then have to buy another specific amount. It’s not awful if you love Disney and have holes in your movie collection.
Just kidding; even in the above scenario, it’s pretty bad, and here’s why!
Your Disney Movie Club Commitment Requires a Monthly Check-In
Each month you get a mailer with the “Featured Title” for the following month. This isn’t totally unexpected – it’s part of the whole deal. My problem with it is based on several key points:
1. You have to respond within about 2 weeks of getting the mailer, indicating whether you want the item or not. If you don’t, you’re locked into buying whatever it is that month. This is why we now have several copies of Planes on at least 3 mediums (it’s not even a good movie!!)
2. These selections, if you didn’t catch it from the above bullet, are sometimes lesser-known movies, or ones that likely didn’t get the exposure or success of mainstream titles. We have Beauty and the Beast Do Christmas or whatever it’s called because of this, featuring super phone-in animation and voice acting from a group of people who I imagine run the copy office at Disney as their primary gig.
3. Even after your two-year commitment ends, you still have to either remember to cancel completely or respond to their mailers every. single. month. Otherwise (you guessed it!) you’ll be charged for that month’s movie, regardless of having already met your purchase requirement.
The only time we were even pleasantly surprised was when we got Doctor Strange in the mail. Confused for sure, but still pleasantly surprised. You can fulfill your obligation by selecting any four movies you want, but the monthly selection is still a thing, and if you forget, well that’s how you end up with Aladdin 4: Aladdin Does His Taxes.
Disney Movie Club Review
Disney Movie Club Prices
I may have exaggerated the price of a random Bjork CD from the 90s, but the movies you get in this subscription typically cost you around $35 once shipping/processing is factored in.
I don’t care if the location of Atlantis is etched into it, $35 is a LOT of money to spend on a movie when you can usually grab them from Amazon for less than $20. Consider that you need to buy another 5 movies to fulfill your contractual obligation, you’re looking at a conservative estimate of $175.
Divided out over 9 movies, this is about $19/movie, which isn’t all that bad, but after your 4 free movies, are there really another 5 movies you would personally go out and buy unless you had a contractual gun to your head? If I gave you $175 right now, would your first instinct be to go scoop up a handful of random Disney movies?
The persistent myth of “digital copies”
A lot of movies you get now come with a DVD, Blu-ray, and a “digital copy”. Digital copy implies ownership – that I can download this to my kids’ tablets and they’ll be quiet while we drive to grandma’s house.
That’s not how this works, at least with Disney movies. The digital copies go into an account online, like your own personal Disney vault, where you can stream them. So if you don’t have persistent data or internet access, you can’t watch *your* movies.
This is frustrating itself, but couple it with the fact that streaming from their site was pretty poor on our home Wi-Fi and it’s just downright infuriating.
Disney Movie Club – Scam or Good Deal?
As I said above, I truly love Disney and their movies. My daughter adores Minnie Mouse and my son is convinced he’s Simba. Do I think the Disney Movie Club is a smart thing to enroll in? No, not really, not even if you’re a diehard fan.
In an age where you can stream nearly anything you want all the time, the concept of a hard copy of media is less relevant than ever before (and it’ll almost certainly become less so in the next two years, which is how long you’d have to buy those five movies!)
The added bonus of getting a digital copy to save to multiple devices is tempting, but it’s smoke and mirrors. In addition, paying a $10 markup or more to get 3 copies of a movie is absurd, considering most people have either DVD or Blu-ray, or at least prefer one to the other.
Coupled with the price of the average selection and the automated, rapid-fire of unwanted movies each month, I think I can safely suggest you stay away from the Disney Movie Club. There are cheaper, easier, and simply better ways to get your Disney fix.
Have you tried out Disney Movie Club? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!