Valentine’s Heart Cupcakes

Do you have a favorite Valentine’s treat that you make for your family and friends?  These Valentine’s Hearts Cupcakes are one of our favorites to make and they are always a hit.

I like to present them to family and friends, but they would also be a great classroom treat if your child’s school allows homemade treats.

 

Valentine's Heart Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Suprise your loved ones with these fun and pretty Valentine's Hearts Cupcakes.
Servings Prep Time
24 Cupcakes 30 Minutes
Cook Time
15-20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 Cupcakes 30 Minutes
Cook Time
15-20 Minutes
Valentine's Heart Cupcakes
Print Recipe
Suprise your loved ones with these fun and pretty Valentine's Hearts Cupcakes.
Servings Prep Time
24 Cupcakes 30 Minutes
Cook Time
15-20 Minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 Cupcakes 30 Minutes
Cook Time
15-20 Minutes
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix your cake mix with your eggs, oil and water as directed on the box.
  2. Once your batter is mixed fill your cupcake liners a little over halfway full and bake according to package directions.
  3. Let your cupcakes cool, fill a decorating bag with your cherry frosting and cut a small tip off the end of the bag.
  4. Frost your cupcakes with your decorating bag.
  5. Press your candy hearts onto the frosted cupcakes starting at the outside and working your way in.
Recipe Notes

I love making these cupcake treats with my kids!  They are easy to decorate and the kids have a blast.

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How to Step Away from “Work Mode” When You Work from Home

Do you work from home?  Do you find it hard to stop being in “work mode” while you are at home?  I started working as a Blogger and Virtual Assistant way back in 2012 and for a long time worked all the time, without ever stepping out of work mode.  I would wake up early and work, I would work on road trips, I would work while sitting down watching a movie with my family.  While it is handy to have the ability to work like that, it really is unfair to your family to never really be there with them.  Additionally, you need to be able to create time for yourself in order to be your most productive self.  It took me a long time, but it eventually clicked that I needed to do differently and I am much happier (and more successful) now!

If you want to learn how to step away from “work mode” when you work from home, check out these tips and see how much they can help you!

  • Schedule it.  Honestly, if I don’t put something on my schedule to make it happen, it simply won’t happen.  This goes for everything I do, so that means I schedule my working hours and my non-working hours.  This is beneficial for productivity as well.  Schedule your day as though were driving into a regular job and you are likely to accomplish more.
  • Have a dedicated workspace.  Even if you work on your laptop, make an effort to create a workspace within your home for workspace.  If you make a habit of plopping down on the sofa to work, you are never really out of your workspace, so it becomes harder to step away from work mode.
  • Put your phone down.  This day in age, we are so lucky to have the technical advantages that we do.  We can get an order notification right on our phone via email, phone call or text message.  But in order to be out of work mode, you can’t have your phone going off all the time.  Choose several time blocks throughout the day that you set your phone down.
  • Remember your reasons.  I am willing to bet that one of the reasons you wanted to work from home, to begin with, was because of the flexibility and freedom that comes from being your own boss.  Never allow yourself to forget this, because if you are too focused on work, that freedom really isn’t there, is it?

Do you work from home?  I would love to hear any tips and tricks that you have found useful in your work/life balance.

 

Do you want to learn how to make money from home?  Check out this post I did a while back to get some ideas:

Online Side Hustles, Surveys and Other Money Making Ideas!

 

 

 

FREE Funny Breakfast Themed Printable Valentines!

Good morning and happy Groundhog’s Day!  How do you feel about the Groundhog’s prediction?

Enough about Groundhog’s Day (okay, I may be a little upset with ol’ Punxsutawney Phil right now…I want Spring dangit!).  Valentine’s day will be here in less than 2 weeks!  Print out these cute, funny and free Printable Valentine’s for your kids to give out at school!

FREE PRINTABLE VALENTINES

 

Easy Ways to Workout When You are Short on Time & Money

Alright fellow moms, I know what it is like to be short on time and on a budget, it is hard to do anything, let alone work on your fitness.  Even though we know it is important to take care of ourselves, we all know that self-care is one of the first things to go when we are crunched for time and cash. You still need to focus on yourself though, because when mom doesn’t take care of herself, it is hard for her to take care of everyone else (and what would everyone do if mom couldn’t take care of them?).

So, if you are like me and you are finally taking time for yourself and your health, you don’t need a lot of time or money to get a good workout in.  Check out these easy ways to workout when you are short on time and money:

  • Daily Burn – Groupon is currently offering 60 days of Daily Burn for free!  You can make a huge difference in your body and your health in 60 days.  There are lots of levels of workouts starting from easy to difficult and some are just 15 minutes long.  You can spare 15 minutes, right? Once your trial is up, you can cancel it or, you can continue on if your budget is looking better.
  • Workout DVDs.  Workout DVDs can be done in the comfort of your home and they are very cost effective.  Plus, you can buy workouts according to what you want to do and how much time you can spare each day.  This DVD, for example, features 10-minute workouts.  Be sure and scroll down to the middle of the page to see other similar DVDs.
  • Walk around the block.  Grab your kiddos and take a quick stroll around your neighborhood.  As we mentioned, even a few minutes of exercise each day will help you move toward your goal and it’s free to do!
  • Join a gym.  Most gyms offer a free 7 or 14 day trial, why not head in to a couple of your local gyms and sign up for those free trials (one at a time of course)?  Depending on your location, you can likely get several months of working out for free, while figuring out which one you want to to actually sign up for.  Additionally, Groupon has lately been offering significantly reduced gym memberships, so be sure to check that out too!  If you have little kids, many gyms offer daycare for a reasonable price.
  • Local B/S/T or Buy Nothing Challenge groups.  If you are on Facebook, join your local FB For Sale, B/S/T groups as well as Buy Nothing Challenge Groups.  I have joined all of my local groups such as these and I often see workout equipment being given away for free or super cheap.

What has been your favorite budget-friendly workout?

Gluten Free Review: The Essential Baking Company Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten Free bread

Since I am fairly new to the gluten-free world, I have decided to go ahead and review some of the GF products on the market.  For the most part, I am trying to go gluten-free by simply taking those types of foods out of my diet, however sometimes you really want a sandwich, am I right?  Since I have little to no room in my kitchen I have no desire to try baking my own gluten-free bread at this point.  So when the family requested sandwich night for dinner the other night, I decided to join them.  I knew that I would need to make sure that I had gluten free bread, so I headed out to my local Safeway store and found this The Essential Baking Company Super Seeded Multi-Grain Gluten Free bread and decided to give it a try.

It was a quite expensive as are most Gluten Free products, but I figured since I rarely eat bread these days, I was willing to spring for the $5.99 loaf.  I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of this bread.  It’s almost like regular bread, the only difference being that it tastes a little dry, but your condiments can make up for that.  I also tried it as toast the next day during breakfast and discovered that one cycle through the toaster was not enough.  It needs to be almost to the burnt level and then you cannot tell that you are eating GF bread at all.

Overall, I am a fan and will buy it again for those sandwich cravings and splurges.  I’m not a fan of the price, but it’s not so bad if it is an occasional treat.

*This is my own personal view, I was not paid or compensated in any way.  I simply wanted to share with others who are learning their own gluten-free ways.

DIY All Natural Relaxing, Lavendar Massage Oil

 

Are you looking for a nice, DIY gift to get for your significant other for Valentine’s day? How about a massage?  Massages are hands down my favorite gifts to receive, whether it’s a massage from my loved ones or if they buy me a gift certificate, I am equally thankful.  Let’s not kid ourselves either, massages can also be quite romantic which makes them perfect for Valentine’s Day.  The romantic part only comes when you provide the massage though…a gift card just isn’t the same. 🙂

There is no need though to go out and spend a bunch of money on massage oils that have God-knows-what chemicals in them. All you have to do is create this 2 ingredient massage oil to save money and not have to guess what ingredients you will find in the oil.

 

Here’s how I created this All Natural Massage Oil:

I mix them together into a paste and that’s it.  It’s time to massage.

My husband had a muscle injury last year that I like to massage for him so I figured who better to check out the new massage oil on.  The verdict?  It’s a hit.  Because it is oil based, it helps make it easier to massage.  Plus, it is all organic so I don’t have to worry about the chemicals that are seeping into our bodies.   Lavender is known for its relaxation qualities so we used that to help relax the muscles and ourselves (I find it useful for sleep).

I have also given this massage oil as gifts as part of a spa gift basket to my family members and it was a hit!  If you want to present it as a gift, I used these containers to put them in.

 

 

While it does depend on personal experience, I always end up with 2-3 uses with this amount.

 

A Mom’s Take on Fortnite

Do you ever play video games with your kids?  I have a 10-year-old son that loves to play video games and while I don’t mind that he plays them, I am not a big fan myself.  I just don’t enjoy sitting down and playing a game and my preference was that my son play them in his room or when I was busy with other things and didn’t need to be in the living room.  But I’ve got to be honest with you, I have changed my stance a little bit when it comes to Fornite.  Epic’s wildly popular Battle Royale game.

Until very recently, my son was all about playing Minecraft and Roblox.  Yes, he has plenty of other games, but those were the ones he loved.  I have been relatively strict on the games he plays. Here were my rules for his games:

  • No sexual content whatsoever
  • No bloody violence or gore
  • Shooting games may be allowed depending on the game (I let him play hunting games, for instead and he could play a Navy Seals game, but only with my husband present)

Fortnite is a Battle Royale game where you hop online with 100 other people on a server and battle your way toward number 1.  You sneak through landscapes and into houses, barns and businesses hoping to find “loot” (guns, ammo, med kits, shield juice, wood for building and more).

I am totally and 100% ok with him playing Fornite even though the game does involve shooting people.  The game itself is very animated, there is no blood and the people you shoot disappear instantly, so it’s not as though you see dead bodies.

My husband and my teenaged daughter have gotten in on the fun too and they all take turns playing it.  I will fess up and acknowledge that I have played it a couple of times too.  It’s a lot of fun and the excitement of getting into the top 10 (I’ve done so twice if I may add) or winning the game is incredibly exciting.  My son won his first battle the other day and I could’ve sworn I saw tears of joy.  It’s a huge feat, especially since so many people are playing it right now (last estimate was 45 million players have signed up for it).

I have found this to be a fun, family-friendly game that I am more than happy to have my kids play.  We have had several nights of Fornite battles and it is so much fun!  We look forward to it.

5 Things to Do Before You Go Car Shopping

Sponsored Post: This post is sponsored by Cars.com, but the opinions expressed are my own.

 

Have you bought a new (or new to you) car recently?  What was your experience like?  Let’s face it, buying a car is a big deal!  For most of us, buying a car is the only time (outside of buying a home or getting student loans) that we sign on to spend thousands of dollars at once.  I don’t know about you, but when I spend that kind of money, I want to be prepared and I want the experience to be a pleasant one.

My husband and I bought a car last spring and it was our first time buying from a dealership, getting a car loan, etc.  Always before we would buy decent cars, but ones that would cost just a few thousand dollars that we could pay cash for.  We have reached a point in life though, where we wanted to be able to hop into a car and drive it across the country if we wanted to without worry about its reliability.  Anyway, I have always heard nightmares stories about car shopping and it taking full days and the negotiation process being overwhelming.  I really had no intention of having this kind of experience so I planned in advance.  I took care of several things before we even headed out shopping for a car and that made all the difference in the world and I can honestly say that our car buying experience was a pleasant one.

If you want to have the same kind of experience, here are 5 Things to Do Before You Go Car Shopping:

  1. Determine what kind of car you want.  Honestly, we had no intention of wandering through car lots looking at different cars for days on end.  We have children and frankly, that just doesn’t sound fun to me.  We decided in advance what kind of car we wanted by doing research on reliability, space, fuel economy and whether or not we liked the look of it.  We decided to go with a Camry.
  2. Get pre-approved.  Whether you go through your bank or credit union or another finance company, I cannot tell you enough how important it is to get pre-approved for your vehicle before you even shop for one.  First of all, you want to know you can afford it.  Second, the finance part is a breeze if you walk in with your financing paperwork in hand rather than having the dealership do it for you.  *Always tell the dealership that you have pre-approval and you DO NOT want them to run your credit.  (Car dealers are notorious for putting several hard inquiry hits on your credit report.)
  3. Shop online. Cars.com is an awesome website for car shopping online.  You can search for the year, make and model of the vehicle you are looking for and you can also dictate price and mileage caps.   We ended up finding the car we were going to buy this way.
  4. Negotiate over the phone or email.  Before we ever went to the dealership, I spent a little bit of time on the phone with the salesperson negotiating our price.  I then moved the conversation to text messages so that I had our final number in writing.
  5. Test Drive.  Although we were confident we were going to buy the car we had been negotiating on (2016 Camry), we had still never driven one, so my husband and I both spent time behind the wheel during a test drive so that we knew we liked it before we signed on the dotted line.

 

I really did follow these tips to a T and we were in and out of that dealership within 35 minutes.  The car buying process wasn’t so bad after all.

 

How I Got Rid of My Migraines for Good!

I have been a migraine sufferer for 20+ years.  I was a teenager the first time I experienced the excruciating pain that is a migraine headache and man did it hurt.  It never got better either, as I got older I got them more and more often and more painful all the time.  I have ended up in the ER several times just so I could get through the pain.

Over the years I have had quite a few migraine prescriptions, including all of the common ones.  I used them in nasal spray form and in pills and none of them really helped me.  Yeah, the dulled the pain a little bit, but beyond that, they did not make the pain go away.  I was dealing with 2-3 debilitating migraines weekly.  That meant 3 out of 7 days per week I was stuck laying in bed, not being a good mom or wife. Living with migraines is an awful, awful thing and I honestly would never wish it on my worst enemy.

I tried the pills, I tried chiropractic care, I tried massage, I tried herbs and oils, nothing worked and I began to think that I was never going to find a way to live without the constant migraines.  Then last summer, my husband was at work and having a conversation with a co-worker about the fact that I was sick with a migraine again.  This particular co-worker was an M.D. and suggested that I go gluten-free.  He said he thought that going gluten-free was a fad thing and he didn’t really fall for it until his wife did it and she became migraine-free after several months.  My husband casually mentioned this conversation to me, but I didn’t put much stock in it because I eat healthy (lots of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grain) and I have never had any other celiac disease type symptoms, so I figured no way could I be having an allergy to gluten.

After several more months of non-stop migraines, I decided “what the hell” and I went for it.  What did I have to lose, other than migraines (and maybe a couple of pounds), right?  As crazy as it seems, I chose the week before Thanksgiving to make the switch and while it is taking some getting used to, I am happy to say IT IS WORKING!! Since the week before Thankgiving, I have had 2 Migraines.

  • One migraine was two days after Thanksgiving and I will admit that I slipped up a bit and had a piece of pie, thinking that just a little bit of crust wouldn’t hurt.
  • The second migraine was the morning after my husband had brought me lunch from our favorite hamburger joint.  I happily scarfed the whole thing down without even thinking about the fact that I was eating the bun.  He and I both just chatted away while we were eating.

Other than that, I have had no migraine headaches at all.  For real, I am now 2 months into my gluten-free journey and I can officially call it a success.  I am sure that this will be a lifetime change for me and I am okay with that.  Other than my incessant craving for a brownie, it really isn’t that hard.  Knowing that I will get a migraine from choosing the wrong food keeps me from doing it.

Since this lifestyle is new to me, I am still learning new tricks, new products and new recipes that I will be sure to share with you!

Online Side Hustles, Surveys and Other Money Making Ideas!

A long, long time ago when I very first started this little blog, I wrote an article on how to make money online.  Well, my life and experiences have changed drastically since then and I have a lot more to say on the subject!

Have you ever wondered if there are legitimate ways to earn money online?  I know that there are countless “make money now” scams online, but did you know that there are legit and honest ways to earn extra cash online.  Some of us even make a full time living doing it!  I know from personal experience because for the last 4 years I have made a full time living while working online.

My first experience earning any money online was with survey companies.  Yes, there really are ways to get paid for surveys!  Here are just a few of the legitimate companies that I have done work for:

Surveys are a great way to earn a couple of dollars here or there and even get free products!

While staying busy with surveys I decided I wanted to help my family out even more so I began looking for ways to earn real income and I stumbled onto Textbroker.  Textbroker is a great place to get a start on an online copywriting career.  They pay anywhere from $0.01 to $0.05 per word depending on your writing skill.  You will not get rich from this, but the more you work and the better you perform, the more you can earn.

There are other freelancing sites similar to Textbroker that offer great, higher paid work, but it will involve higher quality, so be prepared to work for real!

  • Freelancer.com
  • Odesk.com
  • Fiverr (You may think that Fiverr is a no-go because it only pays $5 per job, but the truth is, you can easily raise the price of these jobs by adding in extras.  I have met several people who have made $30k+ per year selling on fiverr, plus you can do almost anything on that website.  Awesome for creative minds.)

 

Swagbucks is a great place to go to earn “swagbucks” which can then be converted to gift cards.  I have used Swagbucks to pay for all of Christmas before.  So, no, you won’t make a full time living here, but you can easily make $10-$50 per month that can be used on household necessities, Christmas and Birthday funds, etc.

If you have lots of stuff to get rid of, or if you are an expert at snagging a good deal, you can sell your goods on Amazon or eBay.  Selling isn’t my favorite thing to do, but I have made several hundred dollars selling my old clothes on Ebay before.

Here are some books that will help if you want to be an online seller:

The Big Book of eBay: How Start an eBay Business, and Make Money Selling Online

eBay For Dummies

If you are handy or creative, Etsy is the place to go to sell those types of items.  Here are some books that will help you get started:

Okay, here are the big ones though.  For the last several years I have earned a full-time income online by being a blogger and Virtual Assistant.  I personally do most of my VA work, creating content for other, bigger bloggers.  I got started in an unconventional way as I started a small coupon blog and got noticed from some bigger bloggers who then offered me work helping them.  It has grown from there so now I create content (articles, printables, roundups) and I offer social media management to companies and bloggers alike.  In order to grow my business though, I read several books and have taken several trainings.

Here are a couple books that I highly recommend:

The Bootstrap VA (Seriously the BEST book I read regarding becoming a VA)

Becoming a VA: The Key to Unlocking the Virtual Assistance Industry

Virtual Assistant: Take a Leap of Faith And Start a Virtual Assistant Business (Your Guide to Establishing a Successful Business As a Virtual Assistant)

Here are a couple of courses that I have taken:

Rocking VA Course (Sadie and David are experts at this….I know Sadie has acknowledged making six figures last year and she knows what she is talking about)  I highly recommend this course.  It does cost just shy of $300, but once you have the extra money, it is worth it.

Rock Your Pinterest Course.  This one is free and offered by the same people that offer the Rocking VA Course.  It helps you become a Pinterest Pro which gives you the ability to offer it as a service.

I haven’t taken this one yet, but I have heard good things and I just signed up myself.  It’s free!

Work at Home School

 

Also, there is always money in starting your own blog.  That being said, too many people though start a blog thinking it’s easy money, it is not.  You can make a lot of money, but it requires a lot of work and time.  But boy can it pay off!

First, you need to get yourself a domain name and hosting.  Here are a couple of companies that you can go through…

Domains:

GoDaddy

Hosting:

GoDaddy

BlueHost