Ask Away...: October 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

My Week in Meals





If you missed any of my meals lately on social media - here ya go!
A photo posted by Ellen Ross (@ellenr886) on






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Thursday, October 29, 2015

5 Tips to Better Care for Your Wardrobe

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Every fashionista out there understands how important it is to make their wardrobe last as long as possible.  We all have pieces that we just absolutely adore and will wear until the threads litterally come apart.  Many of those pieces may have cost us a pretty penny so why not take extra good care of them?    Here are 5 tips to help you save money by getting the most of your wardrobe.



|1| Hang, Don't Fold
With the exception of T-shirts and tank tops I hang all of my clothing on velvet hangers.   This allows them to rest nicely without getting stretched out and without being bunched up and wrinkled in a drawer.   If you do have to fold some of your shirts make sure you do it in the neatest way possible.  Check out how I fold mine with the KonMari Method.   It's also easier to see what you have when everything is hanging straight in front of you and it helps when you are trying to put outfit pieces together because you can hold two items up against each other.

|2| Wash Only When Needed
It may be tempting to stay in the habit of taking your clothes off at the end of the day and tossing them in the hamper but not everything needs washed every time you wear it.  I usually let my jeans go for 5 wears at least.   And my shirts usually go for 2-3 wears. Of course if you do get super sweaty or dirty in a specific outfit it's okay to wash it.

|3| Use Quality Detergent
When it comes to washing your clothes make sure you use a quality detergent.  I use Persil ProClean Power-Liquid 2-in 1 from Walmart. It does a great job with my whites and my colors!  It's great for all washing machine types including high efficiency washers and it has this Pro-Life Technology thing that really gets the stains out!  It's one of the most powerful stain-fighting Persil detergents available. 

|4| Hang to Dry
Always hang your clothing when you can.  Drying it in the actual dryer can wear it out quickly and even make certain items shrink.   I hang pretty much everything except underwear, socks, and baggy sweatpants.   Hey look at it this way - you can save money on your electricity bill too.   Just make sure you give your clothing time to dry before you put it away again.  

|5| Be Mindful
When you are out and about be mindful of what you are wearing. Avoid getting snags by staying away from sharp edges or rolling up your sleeves when you can.  If you know it's going to be a messy dirty day for you wear something you don't mind getting dirty. I can't stand when I wear something white to dinner and I get a stain on it, or when I wear an open knit sweater when I'm running errands and it gets snagged on the corner of my shopping cart.

How long do you make your favorite pieces last?



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How To Celebrate the Real Purpose of the Holiday Season

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Walmart Family Mobile.  All opinions are mine alone.  #TreatYourFamily #CollectiveBias









The holiday season is a busy time of year where everyone is trying to get ready for the big day, finish their shopping, and attend parties all while trying to enjoy it.   The real reason for the season should never be forgotten.  The holidays are a time to come together with your family and spend quality time together making memories.   The problem with that is that many family members are from out of town and it's just not humanly possible to get everybody in one place on the same day.  Let's face it, life is busy - work, school, kids, home, yard work, cleaning, working, cooking.   That doesn't mean you still can't embrace the gift of staying in better touch with your family over the holidays. 

Here are a few ways to celebrate with your family this Holiday season!


|1| A Phone Call Away
Even if your aunt lives across the country, you can still dial her at a moment's notice - after all this is 2015 and everyone is just a phone call away right?   And with the LG Leon LTE phone which is $69.82 and the Walmart Family Mobile service of just $39.88/month (for the first line) you have no excuse not to call her!  You can get Unlimited Talk, Text & Data service for just $39.88 a month from Walmart Family Mobile and you can use that to talk as long as you'd like! Sometimes a phone call can lift someone's spirits.  There's plenty to discuss like how your life is going or what you are planning to do for the holidays. 



|2| Spread Some Photo Cheer
There are plenty of apps out there nowadays that allow you to add a festive border and fun text to any photo so why not stage a little Holiday photo and decorate it before sending it off to some family members?  And with the Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data Service Plan you get up to 5GB of 4G LTE data so you don't have to worry about not being able to send tons of fun texts and pictures to everyone.  



|3| A Video is Worth A Thousand Words
Sometimes there are moments that need capturing. Whether it's your child's first time on Santa's lap, or some fun in the snow, you can easily send a video using the 4G LTE data from the Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data Service Plan from Walmart Family Mobile.   If you have relatives that are overseas, a video can be emailed as a super sweet way to keep in touch or you can even video chat. 



|4| Plan Small Get Togethers
Send a mass text out to the family members closest to you and invite them over for some cooking baking fun or to go see a Seasonal Play.   These are experiences that sometimes make better gifts than anything you can buy and wrap.


Like I said before, the LG Leon LTE is $69.82 at Walmart in the mobile phone section and it makes a great gift for yourself but it's also the gift that keeps on giving.  That's because with the Unlimited Talk, Text, & Data Service Plan with 5 GB of 4G LTE Data, you can do all of the above!



Be sure to check out some of the fun things over at the Walmart Family Mobile Tumblr Page.

What family members will you be treating this year with the benefits of Walmart Family Mobile?   Let me know below!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cauliflower Mac & Cheese [Recipe]




One of my favorite dishes to make as a meal or even to bring as a covered dish to a party is Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.  Not only is it delicious but Cauliflower is a great vegetable so I consider this a healthier dish.   







Have you ever used Cauliflower in a dish like this? Did you like it?
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Our 2015 "Family" Photos




In case you are new to my blog, every year my dear friend comes over and takes photos of me and the pups.  It's something nice to look forward to and a great way to capture cute moments with my fur-children. This year I invited James to be part of the fun. Enjoy the photos!
























This is my fav!! ^^









We actually had a blast doing this even though it was exhausting. We were soaking wet by the end and there was hail all over the place outside so thank goodness we got done when we did!


Which is your favorite?
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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5 Reasons I Love Mums






Mums are my favorite flower ever.   I am not a big plant person because I tend to kill them without even trying.  I either over water or under water or don't give them enough light,  so the fact that I have any kind of plant that I am claiming I love is a miracle!!!!    There are several reasons I love Mums.

|1| Colors
Mums come in soooo many different colors and they all are Fall friendly colors which is not only my favorite time of year but I love earthy tones!   I love going to pick out Mums and seeing all the color options to choose from. It's so awesome to see people plant all different colors together and how the entire spread looks.

|2| They are Hardy
Mums are a very hardy flower.   They are tough and can withstand heat and cooler temperatures which is why they are great in the Fall and the Summer.  I don't even worry about watering my Mums, I just let the rain handle that. As long as you pinch them in the off seasons they will continue to grow nicely. 

|3| Great Decor
Mums look amazing as a decorative piece in a plantar near your front door alone or you can add them to a pumpkin display. I love Mums as a prop in seasonal photographs.  The colors are perfect for Fall so it's a nice way to get your yard festively decorated in a more discreet manner.




|4| Inexpensive
Mums aren't as expensive as most perrenials and you can often get a deal when you buy several at the same time.  I'm all for cheap flowers especially when it's a flower that comes back every year.   My Grandma even told me that she has literally planted stems from her mums and they ended up getting roots and growing into the ground. I mean, you could basically steal mums from people's yards and start your own! of course I'm not encouraging that haha!




|5| Easy Pruning
It's really easy to pinch off Mums in between blooming seasons and I consider them a very low maintenance flower.  No mess, no fuss, no replanting, no moving inside.






What's your favorite flower?  




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Monday, October 26, 2015

How to Settle into A New Home Quickly




We moved into our new home back in June.  It was great and one thing everyone says when they came over after the first month was "Wow, you are so settled in, it's as if you have been living here for years!".  That's because we did several things to make the moving in process go smoothly.

|The Packing and Moving Process|
Make sure you are organized.  Make lists of everything in each box, pack the like items together, and label every box by room and then priority.  I used little cards I found at the dollar store to keep track of everything.   I prioritized things like bathroom boxes, daily beauty routing things, and I pushed cookware and DVDs to the back.  

|Plan|
Plan how you want your rooms set up.  I made my own little blueprint so I knew what furniture would fit where.  The day of the move, it was super easy to put stuff in place.   I even had planned out what would be in each storage closet!  I also had a picture of the kitchen and I drew little lines from each drawer and decided what would go in each drawer and cupboard. Do you realize how easy this makes it?   I don't have to worry about having to redo something someday because it doesn't make sense. I ensured that it made sense BEFORE we even started.

|Do It All at Once|
Don't spread it out over months.  Take a week off work if you have to.  Plan what you are unpacking on what days and if you are ahead of schedule go ahead and work on the next day's items. It might be exhausting to think of but trust me it gets you on a roll the more progress you make.  Go a room at a time and only stop for bathroom breaks, meals, and keep a water bottle with you at all times.  I even turned my cell phone off so people wouldn't interrupt me. 



|Decorate Last|
Since most people don't know how to decorate as they unpack, just pack all decor items in the same box or boxes and then after everything else is unpacked, go ahead and arrange decor items.  I found this was easy for me because I could see my home as a blank canvas and I could just get to work.  



|Rearrange|
Once you are all settled you may notice something doesn't make sense.    Since everything is put away and placed where it should be, you will be able to see what extra space you have or what can be moved.  It's okay to have to rearrange a few times till you get it just right. Even though I do suggest making sure your kitchen is set up exactly how you want it as you move stuff in and unpack because it's a huge hassle to have to rearrange drawers and cupboards after the fact.

|SHOPPING SPREE!|
Think of every single little item you may need in a new house especially if it's your first time having your own place.  Bandaids, light bulbs, batteries, super glue, sponges, herbs and spices, etc.  These are all convenience things that suck to have to run out and by from the store last minute when you really need them the most.  Make a huge list and start shopping in the weeks before your move or shop during the first week that you live in your new place.  


Have any of these tips worked for you?







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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Downloadable Budgeting Spreadsheets



You may have already seen the blog posts I've done about budgeting and finances, including...

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In those posts I refer to my Budget Spreadsheet and Debt Snowball Tracker that I made up in Excel.  The Budget Spreadsheet is the way I see all of my income and where it all goes. I can play around with the amounts to see what I'd need to adjust for a more balanced budget.   I use this Budget Spreadsheet every couple of weeks and make adjustments all the time as bills go up or down and my paycheck increases.

The Debt Snowball Tracker was a great way to keep me motivated on how much debt I needed to pay down to be DEBT FREE!  I'm debt free now so I am proof that it IS possible.   I even filled out my spreadsheet for months in advance and altered the numbers to see how soon I'd be out of debt if I paid a certain amount each month.

Well I have great news! 



You can now purchase downloadable Excel Spreadsheets for my Budget Spreadsheet and Debt Snowball Tracker.  These are templates with the formulas already in them.  You can edit them as you please.


Budget Spreadsheet - $3:
Add to Cart




Debt Snowball Tracker - $5: 




















Add to Cart























Get the Bundle for $2 cheaper - $6:
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With your purchase you also get the ability to email me at any time if you have any questions or if you need changes made to your templates in the future.  I kept these pretty plain so that you can decorate them as you wish.  




And did you know I wrote a book? 





Enjoy! 

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Friday, October 23, 2015

I Sponsored a Child from World Vision + A Giveaway

This site has affiliate links and sponsored content. Read my Disclosure Policy.



So a few years back before things in my life got crazy I had sponsored a child through World Vision.   Life got very crazy and I had to cut back on every single expense when I moved back home with my parents. I actually had to end my sponsorship which devastated me.       But that's in the past.    Now - 3 years later I am ready to give it a go again and this time I'm fully committed.

I'm always careful with who I donate to but I really trust and stand by World Vision.  World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with kids and families as well as their communities all around the world to help them reach their full potential and tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.  They work in about 100 countries across the world and serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.  They believe in a full solution to poverty and injustice and they provide emergency assistance to kids and families affected by disasters and conflict. World Vision also partners with communities for long-term solutions to alleciate poverty and advocate for justice on behalf of the poor.   One of the services World Vision offers is the ability to sponsor a child.

When you sponsor a child, you get to choose a boy or girl in need for an ongoing commitment of just $39 a month.  You are the only sponsor for that child.  You get a packet with photos and more and your child can send you letters and you can send letters back. You can also send their community gifts and you can even send little trinkets to your child. It's amazing because you get the opportunity to watch the child and their community grow. You can send them emails, cards, photos, packages, and even visit them!

As socially responsible giving grows in popularity a lot of people wonder what products actually impact society or where they can find them.  Sadly, lack of knowledge is a major reason people don't shop in a socially responsible way.  So I'm helping you today by sharing the 2015 World Vision Gift Catalog.  it has more than 250 poverty-fighting gifts that range in price from $16 to $39,000.   These gifts improve the life of struggling kids and families in the US and around the world.  So when you are shopping for Christmas gifts this year, consider selecting something from the World Vision Catalog!




One of the items I'd like to showcase is this gorgeous Balinese Multi-Strand Necklace!  This necklace is 46" and it's handmade by an artisan from Bali who has overcome tremendous difficulties to help children get the education she never got herself.  Each necklace is unique.  It's cost is $85 but that makes a huge impact in Bali!


I love the beautiful colors and the careful craftsmanship.  This is a high quality piece of jewelry and I will surely treasure it for years to come.   It's always nice to make a fashion statement that has a great cause behind it.




But I have a special surprise for you guys - one of you will get this necklace as well!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
















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