How the Frugal and Minimal Celebrate Birthdays

Frugal-Minimal Birthday

I consider myself a frugalist and minimalist, but let’s face it, frugal and minimal are relative terms. Frugal to me could be extravagant to you, and my minimal bedroom could look like a scene out of Hoarders to you!

It all boils down to what frugality and minimalism mean to us personally. For me, frugality is about spending with intention, getting the best deal, and focusing on needs rather than wants (most of the time). Minimalism to me is really a tool. Clutter stresses me out and I have trouble focusing and being productive unless I’m in a clear and organized space. Quite simply, I’m happier with less stuff!

So, how does one self-proclaimed frugal and minimal gal celebrate her 34th Birthday when the idea of spending oodles of money and accumulating more material items doesn’t really feel like a celebration at all?

Let’s discuss…

The Present

I didn’t want anything specific for my Birthday, but as the timing would have it, I needed a pair of new running shoes. I decided I would like my Birthday present to be a fancy new pair of Brooks. After hours of research and deal hunting I found a closeout pair that I combined with a 20% off coupon and free 2-day shipping.

The Cake

Who needs a fancy store-bought or bakery cake? And, actually have you noticed that some store-bought cakes are actually not fancy at all and rather really disappointing? Although, I have to give a shout out to the Costco sheet cake for children’s birthday parties and larger events. Great deal! But, I digress. This year I happily made my own cake while the kids napped. I made a double layer chocolate cake (from a box) and whipped up a batch of peanut butter frosting. And, then I basically ate the entire thing myself.

The Celebration

I briefly considered going out to dinner, but ultimately decided that what I wanted the most was really good takeout pizza and really great company. We invited the cousin crew over and it was perfect.

How do you like to celebrate your Birthday? How do you define frugality and minimalism?

August Goal Wrap Up

First of all, thank you for all of the Birthday wishes and for entering my giveaway! There is still time to enter! The giveaway closes Wednesday, September 2nd at midnight EST.

I had a beautiful Birthday weekend that included family, flowers, sunshine, and basically an entire chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

Remember at the beginning of August I was all bent out of shape about summer ending? Well, I’m still not fully ready to let go, but I needed to pull my head out of sand because preschool starts TODAY. This is Landon’s second year of preschool, so I’m not as likely to sob in the car again after drop off, but the new routine is enough that I’ve been slightly jolted out of summer mode.

I made three goals for the month of August and I bet you’re dying to know how I made out, right?

Goal #1: Post twice a week and comment more

I posted six times and my goal was eight, so not quite, but I did get to read and comment more which I’m very happy about.

Goal #2: Get 5 servings of fruit and vegetables per day

I didn’t hit five per day every day, but I did improve overall.

Goal #3: Declutter and organize our bedroom

Done! Here’s a sneak preview.

Bedroom1

Also, I wrote this fun article on celebrating Blueberry Season for the Burlington Vermont Mom’s Blog. Check it out if you’re so inclined.

As always feel free to connect with me via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram!

How was your August? Tell me about one highlight! 

 

Celebrating Gifts + A Giveaway!

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Today is my 34th Birthday, and I thought I would use this Birthday post to talk about gifts. There’s a gift in it for you too, so keep reading!

Gift #1: A Day Off

Call me a princess, but I don’t like working on my Birthday. In the past I have even taken my Birthday off, just so I wouldn’t have to spend the day doing work for other people. Charming, right? This year my Birthday falls on a Friday, which would normally be a work day for me, however since I now work a four day week I get to celebrate the day at home.

Gift #2: Four Day Work Weeks

The four day work week is, in a word, AWESOME! Having Fridays off to spend with my kids is a priceless gift. My four day work week schedule wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for Matt’s willingness to take on the morning kid duties so I can fly out the door to work bright and early.

Gift #3: A solo grocery shop

My Mom is visiting me and the kids today to celebrate my Birthday. No, actually she probably just wants to play with her grandkids, but it’s cool! Anyway, she suggested that I do my Friday grocery shop alone while she hangs out with the kids. Again, awesome! What will I do with all the extra cart space?!

Gift #4: A free quesadilla

I just signed up to get special deals and news from Moes. In return, they sent me a coupon for a free Birthday entree. Hello, John Coctostan! Moe’s is among the many restaurants and stores you can receive Birthday freebies. In fact, Coupons.com compiled an extensive list of over 285 Birthday freebies.

Gift #5: Giving is the best gift of all!

Let’s all get in on the celebration and have a little giveaway!

The winner will receive a $25 gift card of your choice (i.e. you choose from a list of 95 retailers including but not limited to: Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, JCPenney, Old Navy, Whole Foods, Sephora, Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee’s).

To enter (mandatory):

Check out Coupons.com list of 285 Birthday freebies. Then, tell me in a comment which Birthday freebie you would be most likely to use on your Birthday.

Gain a second entry by liking The Daily Whisk on Facebook and commenting that you did so.

I will pick a winner next Wednesday, September 2nd! Good Luck!

Sunshine Blogger Award

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Weren’t you just thinking…”gosh I wish Kara would talk about herself more?” Well, today is your lucky day!

My pal Sarah from Creative Bugger nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Thank you, Sarah! If you haven’t checked out Creative Bugger, you should! Sarah shares fun and creative sensory bin ideas as well as easy DIY Play Dough recipes.

The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer the questions from the person that nominated you
  • Nominate some other bloggers for this award
  • Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated
  • Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

My Questions:

1. What is your writing process like?

My best ideas usually pop up when I’m in no position to sit down and write, like when I’m running, cooking, or driving! I tend to read things over 100 times and edit, edit, edit.

2. If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

I’d like to plan a trip for my family to visit and volunteer in a developing country. I think it would be an invaluable experience for us as a family.

3. Who is one person (dead or alive) that you would like to meet?

Andy Cohen. I’d be a FUN guest on Watch What Happens Live. Andy, tweet me @thedailywhisk

4. What is your biggest challenge as a blogger?

I have the inspiration and ideas, and I can even find the time, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy (or maybe focus) to get as much done as I’d like.

5. What is your favorite food? 

I have so many favorite foods, but if I had to narrow it down to just one I’d say pizza (with a roasted broccoli on top).

My Nominees:

Crystal at Discovering Me in Them

Elise at Simply Scaled Down

Amy at Debt Gal

Liz at Because Mama Needs a Hobby

Your Questions:

  1. Which blogging accomplishment are you most proud of?
  2. Describe (or post a photo) of your favorite pair of shoes.
  3. What is one goal you would like to accomplish by the end of this year?
  4. What is your favorite bean?
  5. What are your favorite topics to write about?

Thanks again, Sarah for the nomination! This was a fun post to write!

Meal Plan Motivation #1

Meal planning has a myriad of benefits, but my favorite by far is the fact that meal planning always equates to less time spent inside the grocery store. I consider grocery shopping a chore, and I like to get that particular chore done and over with as quickly as possible? Anyone else?

Oh, did I mention that I grocery shop with two young children who insist on sitting in the large basket of the cart? Anyone else?

Anyway, I’ve found that meal planning allows me to create a detailed shopping list, which I write in accordance with the store’s layout. These methods in combination always result in a shorter trip to the store, or at least it feels that way.

Although I’ve been meal planning for years, I still get stuck from time to time and need inspiration. Often times I’ll scour Pinterest for ideas and inspirations, but one of my favorite ways to get new meal ideas is by asking my friends what type of meals they have had recently.

You didn’t ask, but since we’re all friends here I decided to start sharing photographs of some of my recent meals. Maybe it will inspire you in your meal planning. Maybe it will inspire me to eat vegetables

Pesto Tortellini Salad

(this version had chicken)

Chicken and Pesto Tortellini Salad

Spinach and Asiago Chicken Sausage

Chicken Sausage

Homemade Flat Bread

(with turkey pepperoni and yellow sweet peppers)

Best ever flatbread

Do you meal plan? Share one of your favorite recent meals in the comments!

4 Benefits of a Morning Run

4 Benefits of a Morning Run

The strangest thing has been happening this summer.

I’ve been waking up early, around 5:45 in the morning, to go running. Who am I? 

The running part isn’t all that strange. I’ve been running (albeit inconsistently) for years. However, the waking up early part is really strange considering I have been unsuccessful in waking up early for anything else…ever. Waking up early to do homework? Happened ONCE. Waking up early to clean? Fail. Waking up early to write. Ha! Waking up early to take care of newborns? More painful than labor. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get my point.

Sleep has always had a home at the top of my priority list, so the fact that I’m pulling myself out of bed to go for a run, is pretty shocking to me. My morning run, it seems, has become more beneficial to me than an extra 30 minutes of sleep. Let’s discuss.

Zero Scheduling Conflicts

Finding time to run, especially on a weekday can be challenging. Since I work a long day outside of the home, I want night time hours to be all about family time. In the past I would try to squeeze in a run while dinner cooked or during bath time, but it always felt inconvenient and rushed. At 6am, however, no one needs me. I get my run on while the rest of the family gets their snooze on. It’s guilt-free Mom exercise at it’s best.

Beating the Heat

I love summer and I love warm weather, but running with the sun beating down on me makes me question my sanity. By running in the early morning I avoid the hot temperatures and suffocating humidity. Lately it’s been between 60-65 degrees which is pretty perfect running weather for this time of year. Yesterday I noticed the sun was still rising as I ran, and the realization that I was running at sunrise was pretty neat.

Positivity Pump up

There is something about getting out of bed early and going for a run that makes me feel accomplished and productive. Maybe it’s endorphins or maybe it’s just plain pride. Either way, I’ll take it!

Healthy Start

A typical weekday run allots me an extra 300 calories or so. This matters because A. Eating is awesome and B. I’m perpetually trying to shed five pounds. You can see how A and B conflict, so I need all the help I can get. Also, I track my food and exercise in My Fitness Pal (anyone else? Let’s be friends!) and I like seeing my remaining calories soar further into the black by entering my morning exercise.

Do you workout in the morning? How do you find the time to exercise?

World’s Easiest Boston Cream Pie (Recipe)

Apparently I have found my calling in elevating boxed desserts. Not too long ago I was giving boxed brownies an upgrade, and here I am back at it again. This time, I’ve made possibly the World’s easiest Boston Cream pie.

Fun fact: A Boston Cream Pie is truly a cake, however historically “cake” and “pie” were terms used somewhat interchangeably. Also, pie tins were more common place that cake pans, so it’s likely that early versions of Boston Cream Pie were cakes baked in pie tins. You can see how this lovely confection developed an identity crisis!

Traditionally, a Boston Cream Pie is comprised of two layers of sponge cake filled with vanilla pastry cream, and topped with chocolate glaze. I mean, if that’s not poetry I don’t know what is!

Remember, though. I called this the World’s easiest Boston Cream Pie. Not the fanciest. Definitely not the most authentic! There were some shortcuts used in the process to help keep this a quick and easy recipe. However, it truly did not disappoint and we happily devoured it all within 24 hours.

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World’s Easiest Boston Cream Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 box of yellow cake mix (plus eggs, oil, water)
  • 2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding (plus milk)
  • 1 can of chocolate frosting

Directions

  1. Bake cake per directions on box and make pudding per directions on box.
  2. Once cake is done baking, pour pudding over cake and spread evenly. Place cake in refrigerator to cool (2-3 hours).
  3. Scoop frosting into microwave safe bowl and heat 10-15 seconds.
  4. Stir frosting with a spoon, pour over cake, and spread evenly.
  5. Place cake back in refrigerator to cool, or dig right in (that’s what we did!)

*Similar recipes call for poking holes in the cake with the round end of a wooden spoon first, then pouring the pudding directly into the holes.

Are you a Boston Cream Pie fan? What is your favorite type of cake or pie?

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Hanging On to Summer and Enjoying August

August Goals

I have a tendency to mourn things before they are even over. For instance, every Sunday morning I have this moment of sadness about the weekend being over. Then I have to give myself a little pep talk and reminder that I still have the entire day off to enjoy. Does anyone else do that, or is it just me? It probably comes as no surprise to you that I’m already feeling a little dejected about the end of summer even though we still have the whole month of August left. 

This has caused me to launch into August with no fewer than 50 goals and ambitions. Sounds like a recipe for success, right? As much as I’d like to operate under the delusion that I can accomplish everything under the sun in a single month, I have begrudgingly accepted that isn’t possible. So, I bargained with myself and decided to set three goals for the month.

1. Post twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and start commenting again! Blog friends, I’m so sorry I’ve been MIA lately!

2. Consume actual nutrients! Especially vegetables. I’m aiming for the good old “5 a day”.

3. Declutter and organize our bedroom. Our bedroom isn’t all that cluttered or disorganized, but it could really use a thorough examination and purge. We’re looking at nine drawers, a closet, a jewelry box, and some under-the-bed storage. Oh, and I’ll be sure to give you a tour once it’s done!

So, those are my main goals for the month. What are your goals for August? 

Pesto Tortellini Salad

Pesto Tortellini Salad

Celebrating love with this recipe! First, the love celebrated at the wedding (and ensuring after party) of my sister-in-law this past weekend. She is a pesto lover, and I wanted to make a dish that featured one of her favorite flavors.

Also, I’m celebrating my joyful return to the kitchen. For whatever reason I’ve been uninspired in the kitchen this summer, and even down right bored with food lately! Whipping up this simple summer salad spiked my comestible joy and rejuvenated my kitchen inspiration.

Pesto Tortellini Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 c. cheese tortellini (I always use frozen Seviroli brand tortellini from Costco)
  • 1/2 c. pesto
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1 sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper

Directions

  1. Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  2. Drain tortellini and place in large bowl.
  3. Add pesto and combine to coat tortellini.
  4. Mix in Parmesan, red pepper, and pepper.
  5. Refrigerate to cool, serve cold, and enjoy!

What’s your favorite summertime salad? Are you a pesto fan? 

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