engineer prints: decorate on a budget

Engineer prints: decorate on a budgetI’ve lived in my home for six years and have already changed the living room decor SIX times! I’ve painted twice, changed the curtains twice, wall hangings four different times, furniture three times, and the area rugs twice.

Is this even normal?

According to “Staging for Dummies” people on average redecorate every 5 years. I guess I like change a little more than others but I think my reason for this is largely due to my impulsivity. I’ll find some amazing piece for the house at a ridiculous cheap price only to bring it home and realize it goes with nothing. Instead of placing the item in the closet or give it away, I redecorate the room to go with the great piece I found. Crazy, right?

 

I love to shop and decorate…..on the cheap!

So for all you crazy people that change your house decor on the regular, I found the best, most affordable way to change your wall art. It’s called engineer prints and you can get them at Staples. Engineer prints can print up to   36″x 48″, that’s huge and you can get them for less than $10! You can print in black and white or color. It’s recommended that you print in black and white if you are printing a photo. The resolution is not amazing but overall for the price, I am impressed.

Engineer Prints are great for a budget.

After the dogs decided to shred the foam from our couch and there was no way to salvage it, I decided it was time for new furniture. I shopped around and found some items that I liked but my tight purse strings would not budge. With the new edition of two young children, I new that a new piece of furniture would not last in my house. I decided to go on Craigslist. A young family from the city was expecting a baby and needed to sell their barely used furniture from their study to make a nursery. I got an amazing deal on a loveseat. $75 for a loveseat that costs over $500 in store. Awesome!

Engineer prints: decorate on a budget

I would just like to add here that I am thankful for buying used on Craigslist because my two year old smeared Hershey kisses on this loveseat…

THE VERY NEXT DAY!

Of course my wall art did not match the new couch so I went on the search for new wall art. I was Pinteresting for inspiration when I came across this free printable for feathers. I decided to make engineer prints of them and bought two large poster frames from Amazon. You can buy MCS Original Poster 24×36 Inch Frame(2pk), Black (65594) at an affordable price but I personally like thicker frames like this one, Craig Frames 1WB3BK 24 by 36-Inch Picture Frame, Smooth Wrap Finish, 1-Inch Wide, Black. I chose a frame in blue to go with my curtains.

Engineer prints: redecorate on a budget

The hardest part of this project was mounting the pictures. Engineer prints are printed on thin paper and if you don’t mount them, they will not lay flat in the frame. If you mount them incorrectly, then you face the chance of ripping the paper when you try to remount. Best advice, TAKE YOUR TIME! I used spray adhesive and a credit card to smooth out the bubbles.

Here is a picture of the end result.

Engineer prints: decorate on a budget

Sorry the picture is so dark but I had to cover the bay window because of all the shadows it was causing. Overall, I am happy about the project and look forward to switching it up in the future. I definitely see this as a cost efficient way to redecorate without breaking the bank.

Do you have any inexpensive ideas to redecorate? Please share and comment below.

Parenting Fails: July Round up of the best parenting fails on the internet

parenting failsParenting is full of highs and lows; we laugh, we cry, and we grow. There was no manual sent home with our baby and with everything new, there is a learning curve. I’m sharing my journey with you and with every new adventure, there are epic fails along the way. Please share with us some of your parenting fails so we can laugh, cry, and grow together.

Parenting fails, we all have them. Here is some of the funniest parenting fails for the month of July.

 

 

Fellow Mommy Bloggers share their #parentingfails:

#1. Adultingmama: I was driving to the local fair with my two boys in tow when I started to feel overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with using my GPS, watching out for pedestrians, searching for free parking, coordinating a meeting place with dad, and answering the 353rd “why?” question my toddler asked me on the way to the fair.

via GIPHY

I took a deep breath and quietly breathed the words, “oh crap”. My two year old instantly picked up on my frustrations and informed that I shouldn’t say “oh, crap” but to say “Jesus Christ”

“Mama, you want to say, Jesus Christ!”

#2. Jayne at thisconnecticutmom.comI recently taught my three year old his first joke. “Guess what?” …. “CHICKEN BUTT”. It was funny the first couple dozen times. Then he started saying it in public and to his grammie. And it became not so funny. My husband was like, good job there mom. … We’ve since got him answering the joke with PIZZA HUT! It’s not as funny but it’s also not something I’ll have to worry about when he goes to preschool in a month. Not my smartest moment

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#3. Becky from diapersanddogfood.com:  My daughter loves to paint, we do it all the time. She knows the rules and never makes a mess. So one day she was painting I decided to take a shower, she comes in and asks if she can do a handprint. We’ve done this before so I said ‘sure just be careful!’. Few minutes later she comes back, decided to paint not only her hand but her entire arm. Both of them. Legit fingertips to shoulders covered in paint. She’s like ‘I need to wash my hands!’. That’s an understatement. She looked like Crayola threw up on her. No more unsupervised painting…

#4. The wordy mom from thewordymom.com: A parenting fail so big that she wrote a post on it. Here’s an excerpt, ‘I greeted him with a smile and a kiss, instead of the tears he had come to expect. Right then, he knew something was up. He walked over to Lucy and said hello. She didn’t respond. He snapped his fingers in front of her eyes. Still no response. “There’s something wrong with her,” he said. “How long has she been like this?” Sheepishly, I said, “she’s been quiet all afternoon.” Five minutes later, we were on our way to emerg.’ read more at thewordymom.com

#5. Emma from meandbmaketea.com wrote a post this month about her adventures of eating out with a toddler,  Here’s an except, ‘So our food arrived and this is where it started to go downhill. B decided he wasn’t hungry at all. Instead he thought it would be hilarious to do the following, all within quick succession: Blow bubbles in his drink. Stick his fork in his drink. Eat ketchup and mayo from the little square packets. Squidge his fork in to his veggies. Flick them across the table…and the list goes on.’ Read more at Eating out with a toddler…Why do we bother??!

Best of Twitter: #parentingfail

Want to shop for free? I’ll show you how!

Want to learn how to shop for free? I’ll show you how!

Yesterday I found a really good deal on diapers. In fact, it was such a great deal, I bought a year’s worth of diapers! Do you want to know how much it cost me?

NOTHING!

I GOT A YEARS WORTH OF DIAPERS FOR FREE!!!

Well, technically the diapers cost me $100 but I used my rebate apps to pay for it. There are dozens of rebate apps out there but I want to share with you my top 4 rebate apps that take minutes to use and save me a ton of money every year! Don’t miss out on your opportunity to shop for FREE!

1. Ebates

Ebates is an app that gives you money back to shop online! You can make money shopping over 2,000 online stores! I frequently buy online at Target, Amazon, and Macy’s, all stores that offer money back on Ebates. Get paid to buy items you were already going to buy. How great is that?! If you are interested in saving money, sign up, here and earn your first $10 for just signing up!

2. Ibotta

Ibotta is an app that offers rebates for shopping online and in store. I often use Ibotta for grocery shopping. Simply find your store in the app, view the items that offer rebates, purchase, and take a picture of the receipt. It’s that easy! I save about a $1-2 a week using Ibotta for my groceries. How do I buy gifts with $1-2 savings? Well it adds up! I save all year and then by Christmas, I have about $100 saved to spend on gifts. What are you waiting for?! Sign up here and earn your first $20 within the first month with all of their extra bonuses for new users!

3. Check Out 51

Check out 51 is similar to Ibotta, where you chose the items you want to redeem, upload the receipt and GET PAID!

4. Saving Star

Sign up and enter your local loyalty card. Pick the items that you plan on buying and the app. does the rest! Wait and watch the money accumulate!

These are the four apps that I use weekly to save money on items I already buy. Last year I saved over $200 from these apps. Can you believe it?! $200 for shopping!

What apps do you use to save money?

 

The life changing decisions you make as an IVF parent

My IVF baby just turned three yesterday. It was an amazing birthday spent with Thomas the train, family and friends. I would like to share my infertility journey and the decision to do IVF, but I can’t; not yet. Despite having a happy ending to years of infertility, I’m just not ready to revisit that dark time period of my life. They say time heals all wounds but this wound still needs a little more time.

This post is about the life changing decisions you make as an IVF parent.

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is when you extract an egg from a women, inseminate it in a lab and then implant the fertilized egg into the women’s womb. Simple, right? Wrong! What if something is wrong with the egg? The sperm? Or the egg doesn’t attach to the womb? This is why when you decide to do IVF, you, as the mother will inject yourself with medication that will stimulate your ovaries to make multiple eggs. You are monitored weekly to see how well your eggs are developing and then you go in for a day procedure to remove the eggs and inseminate them. You see, it’s not just one fertilized egg.

We had THREE perfect fertilized eggs as a result of the IVF procedure.

But what do you do with these fertilized eggs. Do you implant all three? Maybe. Most doctors recommend implanting two eggs in the womb for successful IVF. Why two? Two is a safe number because you increase your chances to have one of the fertile eggs to successfully implant and if by chance they both implant, the result is twins.

Wait.

What?

TWINS?

Yes, twins.

If you decide to implant two embryos, you are also taking a risk of having twins.  A life changing decision needed to be made; implant one and take the chance of having to go through the procedure again or implant two and take the chance of having twins. All I could think about was the overwhelming responsibility to care for  two children’s needs simultaneously. We decided to take a chance and only have one fertilized egg transferred and we lucked out because he attached to the uterine wall and we celebrated his third birthday yesterday!

So what about the other fertilized eggs?

This is the difficult, life changing decision that this post is about. What happens to the other fertilized eggs? We decided to freeze our other two eggs just in case we wanted to have another baby. And two years later, we did have another baby, but he was not IVF. We were blessed to become pregnant naturally. We are a happy family of four.

So once again, what about the other fertilized eggs?

My husband and I needed to make a decision about our fertilized eggs. We had the option to dispose of them or donate them. I am pro-choice, so my decision to donate them was not based on being condemned to hell for the rest of my life. No, I decided to donate my two fertilized eggs because I wanted to pay it forward. I wanted some other couple who could not do IVF due to same sex marriage, illness, heredity or some other factors that lead you to infertility to be able to experience parenthood. I wanted another couple to be able to see the first ultrasound, hear the first heartbeat, feel the first kick, and live out the rest of their lives with new purpose; being a parent.

Some argue that this was an irresponsible choice; to give my fertilized eggs away, not knowing who their parents will be or how they will be treated. That my decision was reckless because it’s ultimately my responsibility to ensure that they are safe. I hear the counter argument but I can’t live my life thinking the worst of humanity. I want to be the person that changes someones life for the better and I think giving my fertilized eggs to someone in need was one of the most selfless decisions I have ever made in my entire life.

What would you do if you were in my position? Please comment and share your thoughts with us.

 

SUMMER READING LIST: 10 novels that are sure to entice any reader!

10 Novels that are Sure to Entice any Reader

 

Red Rising:

I never considered myself a science fiction fan until I started reading dystopian young adult novels. If you liked the Hunger Games or the Divergent series, then you are going to love the Red Rising trilogy. I was crying after the first chapter and couldn’t put the book down afterwards. Here’s a blurb of Red Rising from Amazon;
“I live for the dream that my children will be born free,” she says. “That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them.”

“I live for you,” I say sadly.

Eo kisses my cheek. “Then you must live for more.”

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and lush wilds spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

The Luckiest Girl Alive

My sister lent me this book. At first glance, I was a bit skeptical how much I would enjoy the novel due to the protagonist being such a snob but the book quickly developed into a page turner. The controversial themes and plot twists took me by surprise. I couldn’t put the book down! Here’s a blurb for Luckiest Girl Alive: A Novel from Amazon;

HER PERFECT LIFE IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

 

I Know this Much is True

If you have some time on your hands then I highly recommend this 928 page novel. I know 928 pages seems like a daunting task but trust me, this thought provoking book will leave you pondering the human psyche and the different roles we play in our lives. A blurb from Amazon for I Know This Much Is True: A Novel (P.S.);

In the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

One of the most acclaimed novels of our time, Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True is a story of alienation and connection, devastation and renewal, at once joyous, heartbreaking, poignant, mystical, and powerfully, profoundly human.

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A young adult novel that takes a twist on the classic Beauty and the Beast. An easy, enjoyable read to escape reality and pass the time. A blurb for A Court of Thorns and Roses from Amazon;

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

Me Before You

I’m reading this novel right now and I CAN’T PUT IT DOWN! I’m not one for mushy love stories but this book is different. This book is about the things we take for granted and the assumptions we make as humans. This novel is  way more than just a love story. It’s also a movie! Amazon blurb for Me Before You: A Novel (Movie Tie-In);

They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Orphan Train

Is historical fiction your thing? As an alternative education teacher, I have many students in the foster care system and I was blown away by the beginnings of the system; religious charities auctioning off orphans for labor in return for housing. This novel dives deep into this little known fact in American history.

Orphan Train Amazon blurb;

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

 

Into the Water

Did you like Girl on a Train? Yep, so did I. Paula Hawkin’s second novel is now out and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!  Amazon blurb for Into the Water: A Novel;

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

 

Not a Sound

I’ve been a big fan of Heather Gudenkauf since I read her 2009 novel, The Weight of Silence. I love her writing style and I can’t wait to read her newest novel, Not a Sound.

Amazon blurb for Not a Sound: A Thriller;

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

 

Since we Fell

Shutter Island, Mystic River, need I say more? Suspense at it’s finest!

Amazon blurb for Since We Fell: A Novel;

Since We Fell follows Rachel Childs, a former journalist who, after an on-air mental breakdown, now lives as a virtual shut-in. In all other respects, however, she enjoys an ideal life with an ideal husband. Until a chance encounter on a rainy afternoon causes that ideal life to fray. As does Rachel’s marriage. As does Rachel herself. Sucked into a conspiracy thick with deception, violence, and possibly madness, Rachel must find the strength within herself to conquer unimaginable fears and mind-altering truths. By turns heart- breaking, suspenseful, romantic, and sophisticated, Since We Fell is a novel of profound psychological insight and tension. It is Dennis Lehane at his very best.

 

Carve the Mark

I have some sick obsession with Young Adult trilogies ever since the Twilight series. Veronica Roth, the author of the Divergent series came out with a new novel, Carve the Mark and I’m dying to read it!

Amazon blurb for Carve the Mark;

Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.

When Akos and Cyra are caught in the middle of a raging rebellion, everything they’ve been led to believe about their world and themselves must be called into question. But fighting for what’s right might mean betraying their countries, their families, and each other.

When the time comes, will they choose loyalty or love?

 

There you have it, six books that I absolutely recommend you read this summer and four books that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Do you have any books you already plan on reading this summer? Please share! I always enjoy adding to my list of books to read. Even if I can’t get to it this summer, I’ll find time eventually!

 

 

Grocery Shopping: 10 Tips to save over 50% on your next grocery bill

You spend how much on your groceries?

I was visiting a friend when the topic of grocery shopping came up. We compared bills and I was startled to hear the difference in out bills; she pays $225 a week for a family of four while I pay $80. Granted her family consists of a college student and a teenager, but still, does that warrant a $145 difference in our shopping bills? Maybe, but I doubt it. If you feel your grocery bill is out of control, keep reading and I will share with you my tips and tricks to save a penny at the grocery store.

 10 ways I save over 50% on my grocery bill each week

 

    1. Shop at the grocery store where you feel most comfortable. A new, less expensive grocery store recently opened near me but it’s always crowded, the aisles are small, and the costumer service is sub par. I would rather shop my regular grocery store where I know the layout, the employees and when they have their “specials”.
    2. Use their reward system. My grocery store has an app where I can download store coupons, manufacturer coupons, and collect gas points!
    3. Shop the flyer and only buy what is on sale. Everything goes on sale at least once a month. Chicken, for example goes on sale every other week. Be patient and buy in bulk when it does go on sale so your not missing out on those non-sale weeks. I recently bought 6 cartons of almond milk because they were on sale for only $2 when they are usually over $3.50 a carton. We go through 3 cartons a week so I knew it would not go to waste and saved myself $10.
    4. Buy the day old bread. I get great deals from the reduced bakery section including bread, rolls, bagels, muffins, and pastries. I can usually get breakfast for the week for less than a $1! I can also make some sort of pizza, whether its english muffin pizza, flat bread pizza, french bread pizza. Give me a carb and I can make a pizza out of it!
    5. Buy dented cans, out of season, and discontinued items. My store has a couple shelves in the back of the store where you can find these items or sometimes you can find them in the aisles with clearance tags. You can score some great items for real cheap here. I recently bought 5 cases of organic juice boxes for half off because they changed the company changed their logo.
    6. Use coupons! I’d like to be an extreme couponer but I just don’t have the time or energy to invest in such an endeavor to make it worth my wild. However, I do use coupons.com, a free website to print out coupons from home on items I know I’m going to purchase.
    7. Join a Facebook group for your grocery store. They will often post match-ups between sale items and coupons to save you even more money!
    8. Use Catalinas.  Catalinas are coupons that you receive checkout when you purchase a promotional item. You can receive a coupon for a certain item or money off your next order.  For example I bought 6 Gerber meals that were 20% off at my grocery with a $1 off 3 meals manufacture coupon and received a catalina for $2 off my next order coupon for buying 6 of them.
    9. Manager Specials. My store will often hold manager specials when they order too much of a product and they know it will go bad. For example, my store will have corned beef cabbage on manager special the day after St. Patrick’s Day. These are great opportunities to stock up the freezer.
    10. Search for a local wholesale. I recently discovered a local wholesale  fruit and produce company that holds a farmer’s market every weekend to sell off what they couldn’t sell wholesale to restaurants. I save between $10-$15 on produce every week and buy way more fruits and vegetables.
      This is how I am able to save over 50% on my grocery bill every week! Follow these tips and see how much you can save on your next shopping trip. Already save a ton on groceries? Feel free to comment and let me know ways that you save.

OMG! I’m that coworker

I work at a small alternative school and last night was prom. I love chaperoning prom. It’s such a great time to watch the kids enjoy themselves and mingle with coworkers. On the ride home I was thinking about a conversation I had with one of my coworkers, the subject was about being tired. She talked about going out to Boston and how she was too tired to watch a concert and I talked about my kids, how exhausting motherhood was and shared photos of my children with her. I didn’t think much of the conversation until I was driving home and realized that only one other coworker has children and they are much older. The rest of them are free to do whatever they want, when they want. Every morning before the students get off the bus, we engage in small talk, whether that’s going to the gym, second jobs, movies, sports, date nights with our significant others or for me, parenting. I’m so busy feigning for adult conversation that I never realized that the parenting subject only pertains to me. So while they discuss the latest movie or the news or sports or whatever they have in common, I’m over here having a one sided conversation.
“Yesterday, my toddler nature pooped on the rhododendron.”
“My baby went to his 9 month check up, he’s in the 100 percentile.”
“My toddler told me that I have to share. Can you believe his sass!”
“My 9 month old is already in 18 month clothes. He’s a chunka!”
I am that obnoxious coworker that won’t stop talking about her children. I can’t believe that it’s May, one month from graduation and I’m just realizing this. Do I regret it? No.
Sorry coworkers but it’s for my sanity that I get adult conversation in and although I do have adult interests, I just can’t partake in them at this time. So I guess you’re stuck listening to my day to day task of parenting.
“My toddler used the potty today, instead of the rhododendron.
My baby pulled himself up. He’s getting so big….