Photo calendars are $7.99 at Vista Print right now

Unfortunately there is still a shipping charge, but if you have other things to order, it may be worth it.  I just ordered Christmas cards from Vista Print and without paying extra shipping it is supposed to arrive by 12/24, C.  I used code CARD50 for 50% off cards.  I’m betting it will arrive before then and planning to address them and get them back in the mail the same day they arrive if at all possible.  I hope it works out because I didn’t want to pay extra for shipping!  If you go through them, please use this referral link.  PS: After I ordered, a message popped up saying that I could add one for an extra 25% off in the next 10 minutes with no additional shipping charge.  In case you need two of something.  It ended up being cheaper for me to go with Vista Print instead of Shutterfly this time around.  One of these years, I’m just going to have the kids make all the Christmas cards for a fun Christmas project!  Getting Christmas mail, really does bring a smile to my face, so I’d like to do the same for others.

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My Fareway grocery plan for Friday, December 11

Large avocados, $0.59/each (Aldi’s price match)

Halos mandarins 3lb bag, $2.99 (Hy-vee match)

Blackberries 6oz, $1.29 (Aldi’s price match)

Skippy peanut butter 15 – 16.3oz $1.49, (limit 2)

Hunt’s pasta sauce 24oz, $0.77 (limit 4, Friday only)

Chocolate chips 10 – 12oz bag, $0.99 (limit 2)

Better Crocker brownie mix, $0.99 (Friday only)

Shredded cheese 6 – 8oz bags, $0.99 (limit 3, Friday only)

Cottage cheese 24oz, $1.38 (limit 2, Friday only)

80% lean ground beef, $1.79/lb (10 lb tube, price chopper price match)

Smithfield bacon 12oz, $1.88 (price chopper price match)

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Free ish stocking stuffers

I picked up these measuring tape keychains at Menards for $1.50 each.  They are free after mail in rebate and you can get 2 per mailing address.  The rebate is in the form a merchandise credit voucher. So get these, do the rebate and use the voucher to buy a gallon of milk or something you would have otherwise bought after you get your money back.

I could give these to the grown ups in the family, but I know my kids would love them, so I’m getting these for them this time to put in their stockings.  Measuring things = Educational!

 

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Owning an Electric Car in Iowa

I run into people often enough that ask me about having an electric car and inevitably I don’t tell them much because I am distracted by kids or the to-do list that is scrolling in my head.  Here are the pros and cons from my experience of owning an all electric 2011 Nissan Leaf for a year and a half.

I really love not spending money on gasoline.  The less my money goes to pay for foreign oil, the better.  According to the US Energy Information Administration, about 46% of the crude oil processed in U.S. refineries was imported in 2014.

I love reducing my carbon footprint.  I’ve experienced smog and want the best world for my children.

I love not going to the gas station and waiting for the tank to fill up in the dead of winter.

I love not having to change oil in my car.  I mean, I love that my husband doesn’t have to change the oil in the car.

I love that I can preheat my car to automatically be ready for me each day and set when I want it to heat up in the winter.  And all without the worry of carbon monoxide fumes killing me.  

I love the quick acceleration and it’s rapid response.  It responds more readily, like pushing a button.

I love having a smart key.  I know other cars have this too, but this is the first car I’ve had with that and it is awesome.  And I love that it prevents me from locking my keys in the car because it has saved me many times already.

I don’t love having to plan. If I’m not sure what exactly the plans will be, I feel like I may be limited by my cars range and charge time.  I am more aware of the actual mileage to places I frequent.

I don’t love that I’ve forgotten to plug my car in at night and couldn’t go somewhere in the morning because I already had plans in the afternoon.  I have an automated reminder that sends me a text when I don’t plug in and it still happened 3 times in this year and half.  I’m not the most responsible duck.

I don’t love having to drive slower if I pushed my mileage limits a little too close because I don’t want to risk being stranded with my kids.  I feel like if I drive slow enough, I can get anywhere.  The Leaf will drive fast of course, but it’ll use up power more quickly.  I only drive fast if I know I can.

I don’t love that my mileage is reduced to what feels like about half in the winter.  I adjust by staying in more or keeping my bigger trips to one a day.

I really don’t love, going to a charging station to find a CHEVY VOLT hogging the charging station.  Posers.

In conclusion, my loves are big and valuable to me and the drawbacks not as important.  It fulfills 90% of my driving needs, which are planned, closer range driving.   I have put around 30,000 miles on the car this year and half!  At some point, the current battery will die out.  I don’t think it is the car for everyone and it takes some getting used to, but it’s been an awesome car for our family. #ThanksLeafy

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Don’t go in debt this Christmas season

I truly enjoy thinking about and giving gifts.  I love thinking about a person and trying to get them something that will surprise them or be special to them.  My love language is “gifts” after all.  But it puts me in a predicament because I don’t really have the money to buy everyone, everything I’d like to buy them.   Sometimes I’d like to pretend, like the government does, that I have endless resources.  But the reality is, there is a limit.  And we are unwise to live otherwise.

It is all to easy to spend money we don’t have and pay for Christmas for way too long.  If your family and friends care anything about you, they would not want you to go into a debt over getting them a gift.  They probably don’t have the room for it in their home anyway.  I would not want someone getting me a present to cause them financial hardship and stress in their life, because it is so not worth it.  Your family loves you for you, not because you gave them a gift.  Realize you have limits and work within your limits.

My mother in law had the idea of doing a thrift store only Christmas gift exchange this year, and I am all in!  I can’t wait to see what I am able to find for our family members.  My parents have been into thrift store presents too in addition to other presents and I’m totally fine with that.  A couple years ago, we found a large firetruck that my son just loved at a second hand store.  I had seen the same firetruck at Menards for $30 and I’m sure they had sales so I may have been able to get it for less than that.  It was $3 at the second hand store.  They gave it to him for Christmas and it was just as much a hit as if it would have been the one from Menards.  Then this summer, we were cleaning out the play room, and I decided it was time for the giant firetruck to go.   It was not nearly as difficult for me to part with it knowing my parents did not pay a ton for it and now someone else can be enjoying it for awhile themselves!

“You can’t always get what you want” is not the easiest lesson to learn, but we all need to learn it at some point.  So when all else fails, know you are really just helping your kids learn this lesson.  Additionally, if you are really in a bind concerning presents, let other people buy for your kids whether family or not.  As hard as it may be for you, maybe you need to consider being on the receiving end of Toys for Tots.

Gift giving is a part of Christmas for our family.  But it is just that, a part.  We are celebrating that God sent his son as a Savior to the world, that he made a way for us to walk with God in our lives here on earth and after we die to be with Him in Heaven.  A hope inexpressible and joy incomparable to the best human efforts, a Divine miracle!  I wish your family and you a very Merry Christmas!  Enjoy every moment and know you are truly blessed.

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Jingle in the Junction

Last year at this time, we were visiting family in California.  We have great memories of visiting a candy shop, watching them make candy canes right in front of us and having an ice cream treat.  For one of the before Christmas things with the kids, I thought it’d be fun to visit the candy store in Valley Junction and let them pick something out.  I secretly hope they have candy canes!  But if not, I’m confident there will be something we all will enjoy.

Thursday nights are a great time to visit Valley Junction, especially during Jingle in the Junction.  This is shopping business district that will be decorated in tons of lights and has horse drawn carriage rides, among other activities for the kids.  The last two times this season are, December 3rd, 5 – 9pm and December 10, 5 – 9pm.

While I’m there, I’d also like to make a point to visit 9 Lives Thrift Shop because I have never been there.  And Zeus Stained Glass Studio, because I would love to take a stained glass class at some point in my life.  I’ll also stop at the gift & novelty stores in case something jumps out as a great present for someone I know.  Of course, I’ll visit the heart of Iowa store, because I love all things Iowa.  

Hope you are enjoying your December 2015!  It’s the only one we get.

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