How To Host A Simple & Fun Wiener Roast Night

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On Tuesdays I share a picture from our week that inspired me to write a post.

Last week we spent camping at a near by state park. Each day I tried to have someone over to spend time with us either on the Kayaks or on the beach or to eat a meal with us and then sit around the campfire talking.

How to host a simple and fun wiener roast nightOne of my favorite evenings, was one of the simplest. I invited my friend and her three children over for a wiener roast. I had not had a wiener roast in years, in fact I don’t think I have ever had one with my children and my oldest is now 18.

When the evening was all said and done I couldn’t help but thank God for it in my gratitude journal and spend a few minutes thinking back on how simple, fun and relatively inexpensive the evening was to host.

Supplies Needed For a Wiener Roast

1. A fire pit

Every wiener roast begins of course with a fire pit. We had one at our campground but if your neighborhood allows backyard fires like ours does, you could buy your own backyard fire pit. We got ours on clearance in September. You could also make your own fire pit using ideas found on pinterest.

a wiener roast gathering

2. Chairs to sit around the fire in

Your can squat around the fire to roast your hotdog and marshmallows but that is not going to be comfortable for long, so I suggest gathering up all the camp chairs you own and asking your guests to bring theirs.

A wiener roast gathering table for food

3. A table near the fire to put all the food

It is a lot easier to place a table near the fire and fill it with all the makings for hotdogs and s’mores, plus drinks, cups, plates and sides, than to have to go inside to outside with them. If you have a picnic table you can drag up near the fire that will work too.

roasting marshmallows part of the wiener roast fun

4. Roasting Forks

We used inexpensive marshmallow roasting forks and they worked just fine for both hotdogs and marshmallows.

5. Hotdogs, buns and condiments

Make sure to have enough hotdogs, buns and condiments for everyone. I allowed for 2 hotdogs per person and we had plenty left over. Buy your hot dogs on sale and freeze them to keep the cost of the get together low. Buy no-name brand condiments to keep costs low too. I stuck to the standard hotdog toppings of  ketchup and mustard (I also wanted relish but it got left behind at the house).

s'more eating part of the wiener roast fun

6. S’more makings

Know where the best prices for marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate bars can be found by keeping a price book so that you can keep the cost of dessert low too. I suggest just like hotdogs you allow for 2  s’mores per person when buying your supplies, so that you have more than enough (or 3 per person if you happen to be friends with a bunch of sweet tooth people).

7. Ask your guests to bring the sides and drinks

I asked my friend to bring pop and chips and she didn’t mind at all. This keeps the cost of dinner lower for both host and guest. It also makes it easier on the host to set up the evening.

8. Watermelon is always a healthy and simple side

To make sure we ate something healthy I brought a watermelon to the campground with us and sliced it up to serve with the hotdogs, chips and s’mores.

9. Don’t forget fire safety

If you have little ones make sure you go over the rules of how to roast wieners and marshmallows safely. Make sure an adult is close by the fire at all times during the evening. Don’t forget to put the fire out when you are done.

10. Make clean up simple

We used paper plates and cups ( thrifty tip: we labeled the cups with a sharpie marker so each guest only used one for the whole evening). We placed a garbage pail right by the food table and pointed it out to all the children so that they had no excuse not to toss their garbage where it belonged.

What are your tips for a successful wiener roast? Share them in the comment section below.

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Looking for ideas for summer fun? Check out my post “10 Thrifty Summertime Friendship Gatherings”

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Picture From Our Week: 6 Ways We Saved Money On Our Teenage Bedroom Makeover

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Last week I gave you a bit of a peek at the room we finished for our 18 year old son. As I was sharing a few of the details I thought it might be fun to do a run down of all the ways we saved money in the room.

6 ways we saved money on our teenage bedroom makeover

First lets start with a room tour.

Loft bed room from enteranceThis is what the room looks like when you view it from the door way. It is a small room so we wanted to really maximize the space. Thankfully the room had a vaulted ceiling so we used this to our advantage and created a loft bed for our son 8 feet up in the air so that his over 6 foot high self can walk under it without any problems.

couch and tv areaUnder the loft sits the yard sale couch and dresser that I found at a community rummage a few weeks back. 

tv areaMy husband and I decided against making this corner into a closet area as our son doesn’t hang a single item of clothes anyways,  and although it seemed like the most logical area in the room for a closet it was needed for his TV and gaming console more. If we should put our house up for sale, we already have plans to create a closet so that this room can be considered a 4th bedroom and add value to our home.

loft areaAbove his media area is his bed. My husband cut the top off an old ladder of his and added a wooden railing to it to make the ladder for the loft bed.

loft bedOur son picked out the duvet cover a few months back when he and I went to Ikea together to get inspiration for how to make the best use of the space in the room. I had a clearance found down comforter to place inside. We reused his mattress and pillows from the room he shared with his brother.

study area of teen roomWe reused his desk that was a yard sale found sofa table my husband altered and a yard sale found book case from another room. His alarm clock was originally in this room and was also yard sale found. The chair was in this room originally and was target clearance.

 6 Ways We Saved  Money On Our Teenage Bedroom Makeover

1. Yard sales

All pieces of furniture in the room with the exception of the mattress and the desk chair were found at yard sales. The curtains were also from a yard sale. All together we spend less than $200 on all the pieces.

Here are my best tips for successfully shopping yard sales.

2. We used odds and ends leftover from other projects

We painted all the furniture the same shade of black using floor paint that we had leftover from a previous project.

3. We used clearance priced items

The down comforter I got at Aldi’s for $15 on clearance.

Here are my best tips for shopping the clearance racks.

4. We used discounted gift cards

My husband used discounted gift cards from Cardpool to pay for all the supplies he needed saving us 7% on  the cost of supplies.

Here is how our family has saved up to $50 a month by using discounted gift cards.

5. We used free labor

My husband did 100% of the work for this room saving us the cost of labor.

6. We repurposed items from around the house

The chair, desk and alarm clock were in this room when it was a school room. The book case was in another room where it wasn’t really fitting, so we swapped it out for this room.

Our biggest savings were found in the couch we got for $100 and the dresser for $35. We had budgeted significantly more for these two items thinking that we might not find items small enough to fit in the space in the second hand market and would therefore have to buy them new. When I found both a couch and dresser for significantly less than what we budgeted my husband and I decided to use the money saved to update our other 2 children’s rooms.

How do you save money renovating?

Looking for money saving tips? Follow my Saving Money Tips board on Pinterest.

Linked to One Project At A Time,

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Another way to bring down the cost of renovating that we didn’t use for this project is to cash in Swagbucks points for gift cards for stores that sell renovation and interior decorating supplies. Here is how you can earn $30 a month in Swagbucks with no need to fill out time consuming surveys.

 

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A Picture From Our Week: Board Games That Teach

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4 family board games that sneak in spelling and math workLast week both my boys were at church camp and my husband and I only had our daughter at home. One night she was looking very bored  so I suggested we play the board game Boggle that I had gotten at a yard sale for $2 a few weeks ago. She immediately ran for the game, which made me smile, you see my daughter struggles with spelling and she hasn’t seemed to realize yet that some of her favorite board games require her to use and polish her spelling skills.

Her second least favorite subject is math yet she would play Monopoly 24/7 if you let her and it uses math skills.

As I was giggling to myself about this I started a mental list in my head of other board games I play with her that use and improve her spelling and math skills, I came up with 4

4 Board Games That That Teach

Spelling

1. Boggle

I found a barely used Boggle board game at a yard sale for $2 just a few short weeks ago and it is now the go to game for the whole family. I even caught my middle son playing it one afternoon with my daughter and that child hates spelling more than his sister yet he played for a solid hour with her.

We bend the rules and count 2 letter words. We also keep the iPad with its dictionary App handy to look up words one player is stubbornly insisting is really a word. So not only are we working on spelling skills but also dictionary skills and corrections.

2. Scrabble Slam Card Game

Our Scrabble Slam deck was a free with coupon find a few years back and it is looking very well used. It has helped the children increase their vocabulary and spelling skills and again the iPad is always near by with  its dictionary App open so it works on dictionary skills as well. What I really love about Slam though is  it is like a rapid spelling drill. You have to think on your feet if you want to win which means you are working on your children’s recall skills as well.

Math

1. Monopoly

Our family has both a yard sale found Junior Monopoly board and a clearance found Monopoly game. We tend to play the junior version when we are pressed for time and the full Monopoly version when the evening is wide open. Monopoly works on money skills such as making change and adding and subtracting.

2. Yahtzee

Purchased on sale for a Christmas gift Yahtzee is a classic game that uses adding skills as well as number pattern recognition skills.

I know these are only 4 of many games out there that help squeeze a bit of hidden learning into your child’s day, and I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments below of games that are fun and teach or work on important skills below.

how to purchase board games for less (smallerl)You might have noticed I didn’t pay full price for any of our games, here are my tips for buying board games for less.

 

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Picture Of The Week: How I Saved $500 in One Hour

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Last Friday was an event that always seems to save my family $100′s of dollars year after year.

How I Saved $500 in One HourWhat was Friday? It was community town rummage days in a town near me, a town where I always seem to find just what I need and plenty of wants too.

I know there are a tonne of people out there with negative attitudes towards yard sales. Those that think it wastes gas, those that think it is a waste of time,  those that think it is all junk for sale,  and those that say they can never find what they need.

Well perhaps my finds from Friday will encourage you that yard sale shopping doesn’t have to waste gas, it doesn’t have to take long,  that there are items with lots of life left for sale and that you can find just what you do need.

couchAs you know we have been renovating a room for our eldest son. Our desire is to set it up as much like his very own mini apartment as possible. One thing we wanted to achieve that feel was a small couch. I had been looking at love seats that had come into Big Lots recently  (the most inexpensive source for new furniture in our small town) and the cheapest one I found was $350 plus tax . I found this one pictured above for $100 . My favorite part, the lady who sold it to me was raising money for her mission trip so my purchase helped her go help others.  Savings $250 plus tax

dresserAnother thing on our list for our son’s new room was a dresser. I wanted something solid and the cheapest I could find was a pine one from Ikea for $150 plus tax. I saw this one and feel in love with it. It has one sticky drawer but I knew my husband could fix it with little effort. Cost $30. Savings $120

cooler standThis purchase was more of a want than a need. My husband has been eying outdoor cooler stands for quite a while now. I kept pulling him away from them saying “we have a perfectly good cooler for the back porch we don’t need one that comes with a fancy table around it.  The fancy tables he has been eying cost $150 on average, this table I found today cost $2 and fits the cooler perfectly plus there is room to store  cups and other supplies in the shelves below. Savings $148

Total savings from the first hour of my Friday trip out yard sale shopping with my daughter $518 on just these three items alone and we found all of them in under one hour, within a 1/2 mile radius,  that is a pretty amazing hourly wage for very little time spent and very little gas used. The coolest part is that with the money we saved on the couch and the dresser we can now afford to give our other children’s rooms makeovers too.

In the second hour of the sale my daughter and I bought a skirt for me for $2, a zip up hoodie for me for .75, a sweater for her for .25 cents and a stack of books to add to my summer reading pile for $2.50.  These added bonus savings made the day even sweeter.

So the next time you think, yard sale shopping just isn’t worth the effort, you might want to give it another try.

Everything you need to know to have your best yard sale season yet (small)

 Do you want to have your best yard sale season yet? Check out Everything You Need To Know To Have Your Best Yard Sale Season Yet

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A Picture From Our Week: 6 Banana Boxes Paid For All 3 Of My Children To Go To Camp

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June is a very expensive month for our family, there are 3 birthdays, Father’s day, and all 3 children’s church summer camp fees are due.

June got even more expensive when a some what large dental bill arrived in the mail that was due the end of June.

How 6 banana boxes paid for all three of my children to go to summer camp in just 3 hours

By June 1st I realized that even though I had been saving my husband’s overtime for  months to pay for June’s expenses, our family was going to come up short of the large June budget goal especially with the added dental bill. I could have diverted money from our emergency fund but I really didn’t want to as I find once we dip into it, it is hard to build back up and soon a large true emergency will follow (like a car break down).

Instead, I began to pray to God, with one goal in mind selling enough books and educational materials at a homeschooling second hand curriculum sale to cover the cost of the camp fees for at least my two boys in full and perhaps even my daughter’s although I thought for sure covering 3 children’s camp fees with one sale was asking a bit much.

I spent most of Sunday and Monday preparing for the sale, gathering things from all over the house until I had enough to fill 6 banana boxes. To make that happen I put anything with educational value in those boxes, including 1/3 of our home library.

Tuesday morning my daughter and I set out our 6 banana boxes worth of homeschooling curriculum, books, DVD’s, games, CD’s, maps and more on our 3 card tables. Basically if it had any educational value at all and we were not using it on a weekly basis it was on those three tables and for sale.

I whispered to my daughter my goal for the sale, and seconds later the doors were open and the sale began. Three hours later we looked at our total and realized that every penny of the boys camp fees was raised and we still had 3 banana boxes of stuff leftover.

His provisions got even more amazing when later in the week, I realized I owed less than I thought for the boys camp and that there was one more job available for them through the church’s camp fundraiser plan  to earn money for their camp on their own.  These two things meant that my daughter’s camp fees were also taken care of by the sale. God had taken care of not just of the minimum I asked Him to do but the maximum.

Do you have a financial goal you want to see met? Perhaps the funds for it are sitting in your own home like mine were. Make sure to visit my reselling page to find ways to create cash from your items.

Want to see more pictures of our week? Join me on Instagram.

 Tips For Successfully Selling At Second Hand Curriculum Sales (small)If you have second hand homeschooling curriculum you want to sell at a local homeschooling sale check out my “Tips For A Successfully Selling At Second Hand Curriculum Sales.

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A Photo From Our Week: Saving Money On Children’s Art Supplies

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Encouraging my daughter to grow in her art work isn’t the hard part, keeping her in art supplies is. Thankfully over my 18+ years as a parent I have learned a few ways to save money on children’s art supplies.10 ways to save money on children's art supplies

Just this week I came downstairs and found these two drawings on my kitchen counter drying

Courtney's drawing May 2014I love the bright blues and greens in this one.

Courtney's tree May 2014I love how she has added color around the base of this tree to represent the leaves that have fallen off.

My thrifty self then noticed the paints she used to paint were clearance found and the paper that the art is drawn on was bought with a coupon, which then got my creative mind a whirling, “how many ways could I come up with to save money on children’s art supplies?”. The answer is 10

10 Ways To Save Money On Children’s Art Supplies

1. Big Lots

Art supplies didn’t make my 10 list of things to buy at Big Lots, but they are something I buy there. Big Lots often gets in sketch pads, stickers, yarn, and more for less.

2. Coupons To Major Craft Stores

Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Michael’s, all have email lists that send out coupons on a regular basis that you can use to get and item at a 40% to 50% discount.

3.  Manufactures Coupons

I have used coupons for Crayola products before, I usually hear about them from Moneysavingmom.com.

4. Clearance Sales

About a month after everyone is back to schools leftover school supplies go on sale and a lot of them are craft based. I also find great seasonal craft sets on clearance after the holiday has passed that can be stored until the next time that holiday roles around.

5. Dollar Tree

From the basics of glue sticks and construction paper to all supplies included craft kits my daughter loves a trip to Dollar Tree for art supplies.

6. Recycling Bins

Hardly a week goes by where my daughter isn’t raiding our recycling bin to create art. From plastic lids, to oat canister and cereal boxes, the family recycling bin is an artists treasure box.

7. Make It Yourself

When my children were younger I made play dough for them quite regularly. Last year my daughter and I made our own sidewalk paint and it was a big hit.

8. Yard Sales

Often at yard sales I will see ziploc bags full of odds and ends of craft supplies that were probably leftover from a project. I buy these for my daughter to add to her craft supply bin as she can always find something to make for them. Usually a whole bag full of odds and ends is 50 cents and lasts my daughter several projects.

9. Dollar Bins

Stores like Target, Jo-Anns, and Michael’s have dollar bins that often contain children’s art supplies. I have gotten my daughter some great detailed coloring books in these, as well as wood masks to color, and sun catchers to paint.

10. Educents

Educents offers more than just schooling curriculum it also offers art supplies from time to time. Just before Christmas they offered 50% off vouchers to The Happy Trunk. I grabbed two and spent them on a candle kit and one large soap making kit and one small soap making kit for my daughter for Christmas. She really enjoyed them. Since then I have seen Educents offer other similar kits at similar discounts.

Want to see more pictures of our week? Follow me on Instagram

Linked To List it Tuesdays, Saver Tips Tuesdays, One Project At A Time, The Mommy Club,

My children all had similar children’s art smocks to this one shown above when they were little. I can’t say enough good things about them . They protected their clothes from paint spills, sticky finger messes, and more. I feel they are worth the investment if you have little ones ( thrifty tip: buy big so your child can wear them for longer, as they don’t have sleeves and it doesn’t matter if they are long)

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A Picture From Our Week: A Book For All Newbie Gardeners

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)the book every newbie vegetable gardener needs

My husband  built me a raised garden last fall so that I could garden this spring. I was really excited about it, but then fall turned to winter which turned to a very cold spring and by the time warm days finally arrived and I dug out my Square Foot Gardener book that I had bought to follow step by step, I discovered I was already behind a few steps.

So I cheated. I bought seedlings, and I skipped the early crops. I also didn’t follow the books soil plan to the letter.

squarefoot gardening

So if I didn’t follow the plan why am I recommending Square Foot Gardening to all newbie gardeners?

Even though I cheated and I didn’t follow the books plan by the letter it has still been a great wealth of information to me. The book has helped me map out my garden, enrich my soil, properly space my plants and answered all the questions I have had (and I have had a tonne :) ) . In fact, I have referred to it so often that  several pages  have dirt on the corners, from me looking at the pages as I garden.

seed packetsOh, and all those empty spaces are not really empty, they are full of seeds that will hopefully by the end of summer become yummy vegetables for my family to enjoy.

My main goal for gardening is to share the taste of fresh garden vegetables that I enjoyed as a child with my children. Let me tell you I have been repeating that goal over and over to my thrifty self this week as I am quickly finding out vegetable gardening is not as thrifty as I thought it would be.

In fact, I would love to here your tips on saving money on vegetable gardening, please share them in the comments below.

Looking for more gardening tips? Follow my Gardening board on Pinterest.

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A Picture From Our Week: Grass Stains Be Gone

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My son had an amazing day with friends last Saturday. One of the activities they enjoyed was playing airsoft wars. Some time during the war my son managed to get a really large grass stain on one knee of his jeans.

how to get out set in grass stainsHe waited several days to show me the grass stain, and when he did it was already so late at night, I didn’t have the energy to do something about it right then, because frankly I thought at 48 hours old the stain was probably a lost cause anyways and not worth getting my nose out of my book after a long day to try and remove it.

grass stainBy morning I was full awake and ready to attack the stain. I remembered from my mustard stain experiment how well super washing soda had worked and decided to start soaking my son’s jeans in a basin of water with about 3/4 of a cup of super washing soda mixed in.

soaking jeansThey soaked for 48 hours. Why 48 hours of soaking? Well 12 hours  would have  been long enough, but things got hectic and I forgot about them for 2 days.

When I was about to throw them in the laundry I realized there was still a small amount of grass stain left.  I rubbed some Tide in the stain and tossed it in the laundry.

I could only see a faint trace of a stain when I took them out of the wash, so I tried one more trick. It was a beautiful sunny day and I had read that drying clothes in the sun will fade grass stains. Sure enough it worked and not a trace of the grass stain is left.

no grass stains

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A Photo From Our Week: My Great Idea Did Not Work

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Several months ago I shared a picture of a pink tool kit that I bought at Aldi, that I was so excited about because finally I would have tools that my husband would not steal and therefore would be always available to me.

pink tools stolenSo you can imagine my horror when I came downstairs to check on progress on the 4th bedroom we are building and found this; not one but two pink tools! Wait it gets worse….

pink measuring tape stolenLook very closely at what the arrow is pointing at, IT IS A PINK TAPE MEASURE clipped to my husband’s pants! His excuse, he has not had time to organize his tool shed yet and mine were right there and very convenient (I knew I should have hid the tool kit).

He assures me we will not have a repeat of what happened the last time I got a tool kit as a Christmas gift (it is okay I asked for one). That blue kit was found under a pile of wood rubble when we moved his tools to our new home.

Oh well, he does build really cool stuff. Every inch of our ten thousand dollar home was rebuilt by him, so truly I don’t have much to complain about. Lesson learned my husband is comfortable enough in his manhood to use pink tools.

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One more thing I wanted to tell you today: Crystal Paine’s Book is On Sale For $2.99

I am extremely excited that Crystal Paine’s book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is only $2.99 on Kindle right now (price could change at anytime). This is the book that inspired me to set a WOW goal this year and it is causing amazing things to happen in my life right now. If you feel at all stuck in a rut this is the book you need to climb on out and live with passion.

A Picture From Our Week: Time To Renovate Again

(post contains affiliate links see disclosure)t's new room started

Our oldest son starts his last year of high school this year, but my husband and I and even my son all  feel like he is going to be staying with us for a few more years yet. We want to give him a bit more independence as he launches into adulthood so we decided to change an area of our home that was getting underused into his  bedroom (right now he shares with his brother).

What happens if  he decides to launch out on his own earlier than we think?….well then I get a office. :)

The room has very high ceilings that you can’t see in this picture very well. We are going to take advantage of  them by giving him a loft bed that is high enough that his over 6 feet high self won’t have any problems walking under. This will leave the whole floor area available for him to have both a study area and his very own sitting area.

Those brown things, are pantry cabinets that once made up a built in study area. We plan to reuse them in our family room to make a cabinet that will hold my knitting and our homeschooling supplies.

We are of course incorporating all of our thrifty renovation practices including our favorite, purchasing Lowe’s gift cards at 7% off or more at Cardpool.

Want to see more pictures of our week? Follow me on Instagram

a step by step guide on how to use ibotta (smallest)Did you know the ibotta app has a Home Improvement section that includes Home Depot? Not familiar with ibotta, here is my step by step guide to using ibotta psst….you don’t need a smart phone to use it.