5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don’t Want To!}

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

While cooking dinner the other day, I was thinking about how many modern conveniences I enjoy when it comes to my kitchen appliances and gadgets.  I like cooking and baking, but sometimes I wonder if I’d like it as much if I had to put as much work into it.  There are definitely a handful of items that I use frequently that are totally worth the splurge (big or small).

*Disclaimer: I’m not receiving any compensation for posting about these items, however, if you click on the link and choose to purchase it, I will receive a small commission.

Pineapple Corer/Slicer  I’ll be honest.  I love pineapple, but the thought of cutting it up is just about enough to make me not want to buy them–ever.  Enter the pineapple corer/slicer.  This nifty little tool will core and slice an entire pineapple in less than a minute.  No more worrying about whether or not I’ll be biting into a hard piece of core or a pokey leftover piece of the outside that got missed.  I paid $6 for mine off of Amazon and I love it.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Apple Peeler/Corer  If you have kids who don’t like the skin of an apple or if you like bottling or dehydrating apples, you know how much of a pain it is to peel it off with a knife.  My kids eat an apple almost every day and I can’t imagine not having one of these little gadgets.  It saves so much time and frustration, let me tell you.  And when my husband and I started bottling apple pie filling a few years ago, there is no way we would have actually tried if we hadn’t had one of these.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Cupcake/Muffin Carrier  About five years ago, my mother-in-law gave us a cupcake/muffin carrier, complete with a 12-cup muffin pan, an insert for carrying 12 more cupcakes/muffins and a lid with a handle.  I already had a couple cupcake/muffin tins and I remember thinking, “What in the world am I going to use this for?”  Today I am eating my words because I use it on a regular basis.  I’ve used it when I needed to store cupcakes overnight before frosting them (to keep them moist) and to transport decorated cupcakes/muffins to a party or dinner.  I’ve had more people than I can count comment on what a great little carrier it is and I couldn’t agree more.  (Check out my Applesauce Muffins here.)

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Crock Pot  The Christmas before I got married, I asked my mom for a crock pot.  She got me one, although I think she was a little skeptical that I’d actually use it since we didn’t use one growing up.  When I got married, I got two more crock pots: one large and one small.  My husband wanted to return one of them but I had a feeling we’d get use out of all of them considering family dinner at his parent’s house includes more than 20 people.  In the years since, we’ve had occasion to use all of them and sometimes even at the same time.  Crock pots are such a time saver and simplify my life.  (Check out my Crock Pot Minestrone Soup here.)

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

Blendtec  Ever since I’ve known my husband, he’s had a thing with making slushes (we’re coming up on our 8 year anniversary in May).  He’s been making them since he was a teenager and all his friends ask him to make them even now.  But crushing ice is hard on blenders and he’s burned out the motors on at least a couple of ours.  Finally we decided to look into a better blender and settled on a Blendtec.  I cannot say enough good about our Blendtec and we use it every day for everything from slushes (of course) to smoothies to batters to soups.  Worth every penny.

5 Kitchen Gadgets I Could Live Without {But I Don't Want To!}

So there you have it!  If you’ve been wondering if any of these items are worth purchasing, take my word for it that they are.

What are your favorite “I-could-live-without-it-but-don’t-want-to” kitchen gadgets?

New Years Resolutions Check Up

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Can you believe we are already three months into the new year?  Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter have all come and gone.  Spring is here.  Time seems to go by more quickly every year and sometimes I just want to yell for it to STOP !  Do you feel the same?

At the end of last year, I shared some of the goals I had set for myself for this coming year.  Then, at the beginning of the year, I gave some tips for improving success in reaching those goals.  Now that we are 3 months into the new year, I wanted to do a little check up on how those goals are going for me.  Maybe it will help you reflect on your own goals as well.

Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: This goal isn’t as easy to show progress on.  I feel like I’ve had situations or even days where I’m able to view people with more love and charity.  But I also know there are times when charity hasn’t been a part of my reaction to someone or something.
Room for Improvement: In my original post, I shared a quote that inspired me to make this a more consistent part of my life.  The very end says, “Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  To improve on this goal, I need to remember this overarching statement and not get too caught up in specifics.  If you are expecting the best of someone, your perspective will change too.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: Starting in the fall of last year, I started going to a weekly dance class.  I’ve continued going to this class on a weekly basis, but haven’t increased my exercise.
Room for Improvement: So technically, I am exercising regularly, but I feel like I could increase my exercise to at least a couple of times a week.  This should be a little easier to do now that the weather is improving and I can go on more walks with my kids around the neighborhood.

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: I don’t feel much progress has been made on this goal.  I do get one-on-one time with each member of my family, but it’s usually doing things that have to be done, such as reading lessons with my daughter, running errands with my son or folding laundry with my husband.  They aren’t things that necessarily build our relationship.
Room for Improvement: When I originally made this goal, it was with the intent to set up specific activities with each person that would help us grow closer.  I think in order to make this work better, I need to plan out a time each week to do something with each person, even if it’s just painting fingernails and toenails with my daughter.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: I didn’t start working on this goal until recently.  I’ve been trying to be realistic about how often I can actually write in my journal.  I found a cute, new journal and set it next to my bed so that I can write a summary of how the day went.
Room for Improvement: I started out strong, but have slowly tapered off.  I think to make this work better, I will need to create an evening routine that allows enough time to reflect on the day and write about it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: This is another hard one to qualify, but I think it’s safe to say that there is always room for improvement in this area.
Room for Improvement: In order to incorporate this more into my life and way of being, I need to be specific about what I love and appreciate about a person.  I can tell my daughter thank you for putting away her clothes without being asked.  I can tell my son that I love when he shares his toys.  I can tell my husband thank you for doing the dishes every night.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: Due to some difficult things I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, this particular goal has been a real challenge for me.  I’ve had some very sad days.  The kind of days that finding the desire to be happy can only be reached with real effort.
Room for Improvement: Because of some of the things I’ve been facing, I almost feel afraid to be too happy sometimes.  However, I am going to renew my goal to choose happiness because there is always something good to be seen.

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

Guest Post: Smart Credit University: How to Create a Monthly Budget

I’m so excited to introduce the guest poster for today’s blog post!  Kevin and I met almost 9 years ago, when we lived in the same apartment complex while I was going to college at BYU.  We didn’t interact too much until I started dating one of his best friends.  Even after that relationship ended, Kevin and I still stayed friends and have kept in touch over the years since graduating, getting married and starting our families.  Kevin is truly one of the most honest and genuine people I know.  You can count on him to follow through and he really cares about people.

When Kevin contacted me about doing a blog post for Sunshine and Munchkins, I was thrilled because I love having people share their knowledge on subjects they are passionate about.  Today, Kevin is sharing some tips for how to create a monthly budget.  Check it out below!

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How to Create A Monthly Budget--5 tips on how to create a budget that works for you

With all the demands of running a family, we sometimes push aside the task of creating a monthly budget – especially when we feel that not looking at our financial situation removes the fears of having the tough conversation of where we stand financially. Creating a budget can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you have never created one, or you are a bit rusty due to pushing it off for so long.

When my wife and I were first getting out of debt, I was terrible at including her in the process of creating our budget. I would sometimes lose my cool when I would see that she spent some money that I had allocated for something else. But how did she know? I didn’t even tell her where the money was supposed to go. Once we were out of debt and I had repaired my credit, my wife took over doing the budget. Unfortunately, the tables only turned as she prepared the budget and I would blow it.

It isn’t uncommon for every couple to experience the same thing we had. But in most situations, the budget just doesn’t get created in the first place. You may see that you haven’t created a budget and think “We’re doing fine” without one. But in the long run, if you don’t tell your money what to do, you won’t ever know where your money went. I know that creating a budget can sometimes be frustrating, especially if you working with a spouse or partner to create one. So to help you get started, here are a few things you can do to make the process simpler.

5 Basic Tips to Create Your Budget

Choose Your Budget Style Are you going to use paper or software?  Using a pen and paper can be just as effective as using an electronic budgeting solution.  Of course, a financial software makes the job easier and can reduce errors.

Don’t Wait Until the Month Has Started  Pick a time towards the end of the month to set up your budget.  If you have a spouse or partner, be sure to include them in the process.  If both parties aren’t on board, it is likely your budget will fail.  Try setting up a date night, have some treats and prepare the budget together.

Shine Some Light On Your Spending Habits  The best way to start making a budget is to determine what you and your family spend your money on.  Start with setting up your categories, regular necessities (rent, food, utilities, etc.), bills and loans (credit cards, mortgages, cars, student loans), long-term savings (savings, emergency funds, investments) and fun/recreation (date nights, holidays, vacations, fun money).  Take your income and subtract the expenses. Don’t worry if you get a negative number, this is why you are making a budget.

How to Create A Monthly Budget--5 tips on how to create a budget that works for you

Record Every Single Dollar and How It Will Be Used  When I first started setting up a budget, I wasn’t exactly sure how much money I was taking home after taxes.  If this is you, grab your pay stubs and write down next month’s income into your budget worksheet or software.  Be sure to include all income that comes into your pocket.  If you donate plasma, do side jobs, get a bonus or make extra commissions, include it all.  This will show you how much money you have to spend on bills, clothes, entertainment and how much money will be put into savings.

Having categories set up allows you to determine how much money you will be spending in each category.  Make sure that every dollar is spent in each of your categories.  If you have some extra money left when you have allocated money for each category, you shouldn’t think this is extra money to go and spend and not have to account for it.  If you want to blow it, then create a category for blowing it.  At least things way, you are accountable for where the money went.

Track Your Expenses to Know Where Your Money Went  Just because it is called a monthly budget doesn’t mean that you should only review it once a month.  Keep tabs on your spending so you know how you are doing.  If you had to spend $150 extra on car maintenance, call an emergency budget meeting and discuss where that $150 is going to come from.  Remember the coined phrase “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”?  That is exactly what needs to be done.

One of the most important things to do is be honest with yourself when it comes to your finances. Don’t pretend that everything is OK if it isn’t. A little secret to keep in mind; for the first couple of months you’re going to be off on your budget. It is OK. Don’t lose it and say I am done with this. The more often you sit down and work on your budget together as a family, the easier it will become and you will nail it going forward.

Kevin is the creator behind Smart Credit University, where he coaches individuals and families on how they can repair their financial past and take control of their financial future. Kevin is the husband to a beautiful wife, and father to two girls and is expecting his first son. You can read more about Kevin and what he is doing at his blog Smart Credit University.

On Vacation

Hello everyone!  There will not be a regular blog post today, as I am taking a little break off to enjoy some time with my family.  (I’m enjoying both the ‘sunshine’ and ‘munchkins’ part of my blog name. *wink*)  But not to worry.  I’ve got a great guest post coming up on Friday that you’ll want to be sure and check out!  Have a wonderful day!

A Personal Lesson on Forgiveness

Maybe it was the time change.  Maybe it was the lack of sleep.  Maybe I hadn’t had enough to eat.  Whatever it was, I was having a bad day.  Everything my kids did annoyed me to no end.  My patience was practically nonexistent.  I was trying to make some muffins to go with dinner, while simultaneously trying to prevent my son from climbing onto the counter again, when I felt a whack on my behind.  Something in me snapped and I turned around and yelled at my daughter, “Go to time out!”  She immediately started crying as she ran to time out and I kept angrily measuring ingredients into my mixing bowl.
Between her cries to get out of time out and trying to keep my son away from his sister, I got the muffins in the oven.  Something that should have taken me five minutes to whip up had taken three times that long and I was in serious need of a time out myself.  But I pulled myself together, took a few deep breaths and called for my daughter to come out of time out and talk with me.  Head down, she walked over to where I was standing in the kitchen.

Me: “Makadie, why did you hit me in the bum?”

Kadie: “I don’t know.”

Me: “No, I need you to think for a minute.  Why did you hit me in the bum?”

Kadie: “It was an accident.”

Me: (sigh) “No, you came up to me and hit me, which means it was on purpose.”

Kadie: “Yeah, I did.  But daddy tells me sometimes to do it.”

Me: “Yes, but that’s just when he’s trying to be funny.”

(pause)

Kadie: “I did it because I was trying to make you happy.”

For a split second, time stopped as what my daughter said sunk in.  What she said was the last thing I had expected to hear.  She was trying to be playful and do something to make me happy because clearly, she could tell that I wasn’t.  And what did I do?  Turn around and yell at her to go to time out. I felt awful.

Any remaining frustration I had drained out of me as I knelt down to give my daughter a hug.  And she gave me one back.  And she didn’t pull away or ask to get down when I picked her up and carried her around with me for a few minutes, putting ingredients away.  She’d forgiven me.  Just like that.

Later that night, while at a leadership meeting, I got an audio text from my daughter right around her bedtime.  I couldn’t listen to it at the time, but I did when I got home: “Mommy, I love you.  And when you leave, it makes me sad, because I want you to come back, because I love you.  And when you get home tonight after I’m asleep, you can come in and give me a kiss.  I love you.”

Before I lay down at night, I often reflect on the day, thinking of the things that went well, the things that didn’t, the funny moments, the sweet moments, the laughs, the tears and everything in between.

I love that tomorrow is a new day where I can try again to be a better mother to my children.  More patient, more kind.  Less quick to anger.  As my kids grow up, I want them to remember that there were more good days than bad.  More happiness and less sadness.

Having kids has been one of the hardest things that has ever happened to me and my husband.  They try your patience and push buttons you didn’t know existed.  They whine, nag, complain, fight and argue.

Having kids is also one of the very best things that has ever happened to us.  Our kids are kind, patient, forgiving, thoughtful and happy.  They teach us that it’s ok to make mistakes and they love us, and forgive us so quickly, when we make them too.

I wonder sometimes if I would be the person I am today without my kids.  Granted, some days that person is not very fun to be around.  But then there are the days when my kids do something sweet for someone or put into practice a life lesson we’ve been working on and I’m on cloud nine.  The good days and the bad days are both making me into a better person, mom, wife, sister, aunt, daughter and friend.  And when I really think about it, I feel like I couldn’t do it without my kids.

Sometimes it just takes a little whack on the bum to remember that.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

Every once in a while you find the perfect little piece for your house.  It’s not necessarily big or fancy, but it’s just what you’ve been looking for.  I was browsing through the store the other day and found just a piece: a small, wall-mountable coat rack.  I knew the second I saw it where I wanted it to go: on the wall behind our front door so people would have somewhere to put their coats and jackets.  The only problem: it was the wrong color.  A brownish-gray and the metal hooks were almost the same color.  Kind of blah.  But color is a fairly easy thing to change, especially when you’re dealing with smaller pieces. So I bought it and brought it home for a little DIY action.

Here is a picture of what the wood looked like before I did anything to it.  I unscrewed the hooks and set them and the screws aside.  There was a very thin coat of varnish and it was matte so I didn’t worry about sanding it.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

The next step is to get some petroleum jelly (vaseline).  This is what you will use to distress your wood, or make it look weathered.  The reason this works is because the paint will not stick to the jelly.

The keys to distressing are:

  1. Look at the direction of the wood grain and think about where the paint would naturally rub or peel off.
  2. Apply the petroleum jelly in the same direction as the grain.
  3. Apply it on the edges, corners or raised areas of the wood.
  4. Be random about where you put it.

You can see in the picture some of the places where I applied the jelly.  You don’t need to use very much.  Just get a little on your finger and start spreading it around in a few places.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

I applied two coats of paint because I wanted a little bit of the grain and some color to come through, but it’s really a matter of personal preference.

After your paint has dried, you’ll be able to see the places where you applied the jelly because they will be lighter and look more shiny and wet.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

Next, get a paper towel or napkin and fold it up so it is 2-3 layers thick.  Rub the spots where the jelly is and the paint will start to flake off.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

And…voila!  You’ve distressed your wood without having to use any stain or sandpaper.  Much less time consuming and messy.  You can even use this technique on multiple layers of paint.  Just make sure you let each layer dry completely before applying the petroleum jelly.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

How to Distress Wood {using Petroleum Jelly}--the easy, fast and no-mess way to distress wood.

I hope you find something to distress soon!  Let me know how you liked using this technique!

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

So I’ve had my spring/Easter “mantle” up for a couple of weeks, but I’ve added a couple of pieces to it that I love and I didn’t want to show it to you until I was happy with how it looks.  You’ll notice I put “mantle” in quotes because I don’t actually have a real mantle to decorate.  Instead, we have a “credenza” which is basically a narrow table with storage cabinets.  But I couldn’t very well title this post “Spring/Easter Credenza Inspiration”.  So mantle it is.  And I hope you’ll forgive me if you think the title is misleading and look at all the cute things I have to show you instead. *wink*
When I think of springtime, bright happy colors come to mind.  So that’s what I did when deciding how to decorate.  I’ve mentioned before that I like using classic pieces to decorate with, no matter what holiday or season I’m decorating for, which is what I did for spring/Easter.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The wreath is one I’ve had for a few years.  (Usually it’s hanging on my front door during the spring and summer, but I’ve currently got a cute shamrock wreath there right now.)  I made it using a grapevine wreath and wrapped a couple of 6-ft lengths of the yellow flowers around it and secured the ends by poking them into the wreath.  I think it cost me about $15 to make.  The wreath stand came from Rod Works.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The ‘tulip’ blocks were purchased from a cute website called Thoughts in Vinyl.  They have a huge selection of wood craft kits at awesome prices.  On the other side, it has the letters to make the word ‘Easter’.  I opted for a more natural look and didn’t bother with painting the blocks.  I just cut out the scrapbook paper and mod podged it on, then applied the vinyl.  Total cost was about $12.

I recently picked up a ‘mini post’ (far left in main picture) from a local wood craft store called The Wood Connection.  It has cute little wood cutouts that you can paint and mod podge and swap out for each month/season/holiday.  The post was $10 and the cutouts range from $2-3.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The small white lantern came from Tai Pan and the white crate, burlap carrots and chick came from Hobby Lobby and each cost between $2-$10.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

Another one of my classic pieces are the hurricane vases.  I made these a few months ago and they are perfect for swapping out various holiday items.  (See the tutorial here.)  For Easter/spring, I bought some of the crinkle grass from the dollar store and I already had the plastic Easter eggs.  I just put a little grass in, then an egg and so on until it looked the way I wanted.  You could also use the mini plastic eggs.

Spring/Easter Mantle Inspiration--some fun ideas for decorating around the home in the springtime/Easter time that won't break the bank.

The burlap table runner is another one of my DIY crafts you can find here on the blog.  It is so easy to make and doesn’t cost much at all.  I’ve been using it since October as the base for all my holiday/season “mantles” and I love that it adds just a little bit of rustic charm to everything.  (See the tutorial here.)

And there you have it!  I hope my mantle gave you a few ideas for your own spring/Easter mantle decorations!

Do you like to decorate for the holidays or do you keep the same decor up year round?