8 Tips to Help You Throw an Awesome Summer BBQ

how to throw an awesome bbq, bbq tips

I don’t know about you, but Winter can not end soon enough for me!  I am so beyond ready for the sunshine and flowers of Spring and the warm nights of Summer.  We have big housework plans for this Spring and I fully intend to have some awesome Summer BBQs here at our humble abode.  Because we had project after project to complete and not enough time to do it, the last several years have not been filled with all of the friends and family gatherings that I prefer, but with a new job (yay hubby!) we now have more time and more money to accomplish those projects and throw some parties!

Do you like to throw parties and backyard bbqs?  Do you want to step up your party planning game?  If you are looking for some ideas on how to throw an awesome Summer BBQ, then you have come to the right place my friends!

Here are 8 tips to throw an awesome Summer BBQ:

Stick with the Staples

You want to throw a great summer BBQ, yes, but you want to enjoy it too right? Then stick with the staples.  Burgers, dogs, potato salad, etc.  That’s what people go to BBQs for anyway!  Don’t get too stressed out about making a special menu.

Make it a Pot Luck 

Invite your guests and let them know they are more than welcome to bring a side dish!  The more the merrier and the less work for you.  Most people like to contribute too. ūüôā

Keep Cold Drinks on Hand

When you are having a summer BBQ, it is imperative that you have to have drinks on hand to cool everyone down!  Cold, refreshing beverages can make or break your party!  Especially during the heat of Summer, you need cool drinks on hand.  Try out our favorite Refreshing Blackberry Iced tea, it always gets compliments!

Yard Games to the Rescue  

Break out the yard games to keep everyone having fun.  We like to do frisbee golf and horseshoes, but  you can always go with badminton or volleyball, depending on how much room you have.

Get Your Playlist Ready

Don’t you just love technology?  Instead of someone having to man the CD player, you can now create an awesome playlist (I do ours on Amazon Prime) and have the perfect playlist.  Hook up your phone or MP3 Player to a great bluetooth speaker and that’s it.  We use the UE Boom and we love it.  It’s waterproof, great for outdoors and it sounds fabulous!  I do recommend getting a darker color though, our white/blue one is pretty stained up from being outside so much.

Simple Decor 

I don’t go crazy decorating, but I do love some strategic yard string lights and Citronella torches.

Don’t forget Dessert

You can’t forget dessert!  Maybe go with a great fruit salad or, if you are anything like me…keep the grill out and start grilling those fruits! I love grilled peaches served with vanilla ice cream.  Yum!

We are going to have so much fun this Summer!  Do you have any tips that you would love to share on how to throw an awesome summer bbq?

Take a Budget-Friendly Vegas Vacation with These Tips

So, for the first time ever, my husband and I went on a vacation.  To clarify, we live in Oregon near the beach so we have taken lots of beach trips, camping trips, etc., but I am talking about a real vacation with just the two of us, out of state.  We have been married for over 20 years and we finally decided that enough was enough and it was time. So, with another couple, we booked a Vegas vacation.  A budget-friendly one at that!  I always thought that a vacation like this would cost us thousands of dollars, but let me tell you my friends, we took the entire 5 day trip for just under $1500!  Plus, I made some really costly errors that could have saved over $100.

We have actually already scheduled and booked Vegas vacation #2 and this one looks to be even cheaper!

Here are my favorite tips and tricks for how to book a budget-friendly Vegas vacation:

Use a travel site

I have found significant savings by using travel sites such as Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, etc.  Use the package feature to save money by grouping your flights and hotels together.

Book 90 days out

I have been researching and testing it out for a while and it is true that to save the most money, you should book 90 days out.  I have found savings of nearly 50% when I book at the 90-day mark.  See my screenshot example below of Travelocity deals.  I decided to stick with the Luxor for each trip, which is a great hotel and casino.  The lower price is 90 days out, while the higher price is 114 days out.  This price is per person and as you can see it is a $150 difference between the two dates!  That means $300 in savings per couple!

Fly out on Wednesday

Wednesday flights seem to be almost always less expensive than flights on any other day of the week, so do what you can to be sure that your vacation starts on a Wednesday.

Use the tram

There are 3 trams in Vegas, all of which are free.  These trams allow you to travel throughout the strip to various casinos.  The trams run every 5-10 minutes, which means you never have to wait long. We used the tram quite a few times during our stay and loved it.  Not only was it free, but it was convenient.  Plus, we met lots of fun people while on it, including an adorable Australian couple who had just gotten married and were enjoying all of the free drinks.  Here are the tram options:

  • Bellagio Hotel/City Center/Monte Carlo Hotel tram connects the center and South Strip. This tram runs every ten minutes from 8 a.m. to 4 a.m.
  • Mirage Hotel/Treasure Island Hotel tram runs every 10 minutes from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. (til 3 a.m. Fri & Sat) in the Center Strip.
  • Excalibur Hotel/Luxor Hotel/Mandalay Bay Hotel tram runs every 5 minutes from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (til 3:00 a.m. Fri to Sun) from stations in front of these hotels.

Buy a bus pass

If you are planning on staying on the strip throughout your visit but you want to travel beyond the casinos that the tram goes to, you can buy a 3-day full access bus pass for $20.  This will get you anywhere you need to go!

Use Uber or Lyft

If you are traveling somewhere beyond the strip, you may want to give Uber or Lyft a try.  Skip the taxi though, because they are spendy!  We took an Uber from Mandalay Bay to Fremont street and it cost us like $11.  Super cheap and we rode in a sweet car which was very comfortable for us all.  Plus, if you are new to Uber, you can get a credit toward your first ride. Our friends were Uber pros, but we had never used it before, so I signed up while there and got our ride to the airport for free.

Check out Groupon

Groupon is a great way to save money throughout the country, and Vegas is no exception.  We used Groupon to save on a couple of restaurant deals to cut down on our food costs while we were there.

Don’t forget your incidentals

Okay, this is what I was telling you about.¬† I completely forgot our bathroom bag at home.¬† So we went with no toothbrushes, no toothpaste, and no razors or shaving cream.¬† We simply cannot go 5 days without those things so I had to buy them in Vegas.¬† I don’t know if you realize this or not, but this type of stuff in Vegas is not cheap.¬† For 2 toothbrushes, 1 tiny toothpaste, 2 single blade razors and a tiny can of shaving cream we spent over $50, I’m not even kidding about this.¬† I was so angry with myself.¬† Also, I had bought a cheap luggage set at Walmart that broke on our flight over so we had to pay $40 on a new suitcase while there (I shopped at the 3-story Ross Dress for Less for this), but had I just had a better suitcase this wouldn’t have happened.¬† I have since bought a nice, sturdy set for our next trip.¬† These little mistakes cost me nearly $100!

Buy Snacks and Drinks at Convenience Stores or Drugstores

One thing I learned from vacationing in Las Vegas is that the drinks there are not cheap.¬† If you plan to drink while there, consider going to the drug store (there are several Walgreens stores on the strip) and buying any drinks or snacks that you may want while there.¬† Many drinks cost over $20 each so I assure you, you will save money doing it this way.¬† You can also shop at the discount liquor store that is on the South end of the strip.¬† I didn’t go in there, but I hear that the deals are pretty good.

Don’t Gamble

Okay, we went to Vegas knowing that we are just not gamblers, so this probably helped us with our budget, but for the 4 of us, we spent exactly $1 gambling the entire time in Vegas.¬† It was me and it was only so I could say that “I gambled in Vegas” silly, right?¬† But hey…I did it.¬† To each their own, we just don’t like to give our money away, so not gambling was a huge way that we were able to save money.¬† There is so much to do in Vegas besides gambling.

Well, my friends, these are some of the ways that I have found to save money on a Vegas vacation!  How about you?  Have you taken a trip to Las Vegas before?  Did you spend a lot?  What ways did you find to save?

 

 

Save Money with These New Year’s Resolutions

Are you looking to get your financial house in order so to speak?¬† Are you wanting to pay off debt or put some money away in savings?¬† C’mon folks, I know I can’t be the only one!

I was hesitating for a bit about setting New Year’s resolutions because I don’t want to disappoint myself and I don’t want to fail.¬† The truth is though, I really want to make some changes in my life and I am determined to make that happen now! So, while I know that we are still a day and some change away from actual New Year’s.¬† I am making changes now!¬† If you want to join me, you too can save money with these New Year’s resolutions!

  • Learn new skills – I hate paying money for stuff that I can do myself.¬† Let’s get real for a second here.¬† My husband is a kick-ass mechanic, but he is really busy in his professional career, so for simple¬†things like oil changes, I always pay to have them done instead of expecting him to do it on his weekends.¬† If I figured out how¬†to¬†change my oil though, I could be saving a lot of money, so I have decided to ask him for a lesson!
  • Skip the drive-through¬†– I desperately need to get healthy.¬† I really do, but I also don’t need to spend money eating out because I know how much cheaper it is to eat at home.¬† For those that don’t know this, I have a toddler and 2 very busy big kids and sometimes I simply don’t feel like going home to cook.¬† I have a slow cooker and an Instant Pot and there is no reason that I can’t just prepare my food in advance.¬† It is healthier, cheaper and most of the time tastes better.
  • Work more – No, I don’t want you to become a workaholic, but the truth is, working a little bit harder can be the difference between being broke and thriving. I don’t know about you, but I want to thrive!¬† I plan to make 2019 the year of me working harder and becoming more successful.¬† That also means that you will be seeing a lot more of me and my¬†posts here at Foothillsmama!
  • Use less – Is anyone else intrigued by the idea of minimalism?¬† I don’t have any interest in living in a tiny house, but I certainly enjoy the idea of using less stuff, my home being cleaner and clutter free and spending less money, don’t you?
  • Stop drinking – I used to party like many 20-somethings, but once I had kids in my mid-20s I cut back my drinking to very occasionally and I never over-imbibe.¬† Boy oh, boy did that save my budget!¬† Drinking is expensive!¬† It is certainly not a bad idea to cut back for health reasons and for money saving reasons.

How to Save Money on Halloween Candy

Okay, not trying to freak you out, but did you know that Halloween is literally only weeks away?!  That’s right y’all, WEEKS. That means that it’s time to start getting your act together and getting ready so that you aren’t doing a bunch of last minute shopping and spending way too much money. But how are you going to do that?!  Well, I’ve decided to make it easier for you and write down all of the ways that we have saved on Halloween throughout the year, so that you can take advantage of savings too!

Here are some tips on how to save big on Halloween candy:

  • Coupon. ¬†Couponing is not dead, folks. Quite the contrary. ¬†You can still print out coupons from your computer at home or clip them out of the Sunday paper. ¬†More often than not though, consumers are virtually clipping coupons and adding them to their membership account at their grocery store. ¬†All of these things can help you save big.
  • Stock up. ¬†Yeah, I know, that‚Äôs a given since you are giving it aways to droves of children, but seriously, stock up. ¬†Many stores offer Buy 2, Get 1 Free deals or a discount off of your total when you buy more, etc. Be sure to see if you can add these deals to any available coupons too!
  • Shop at drug stores. ¬†Seriously, drug stores such as Rite Aid and Walgreens have the best candy coupon deals that I have ever seen. ¬†I highly recommend shopping these stores for your halloween candy.
  • Avoid seasonal candy. ¬†The candy you give out to kids doesn‚Äôt have to have halloween pictures on it. ¬†Why not shop down the regular candy aisle and get the basic candy for less money?
  • Don‚Äôt give out candy. Hahaha, just kidding! I don‚Äôt want you to be the neighborhood grinch! ¬†No need to not give out candy, just be ready for Halloween and save on the candy you do give out!

What are your favorite ways to save on Halloween candy?  I love to hear all of your ideas!

12 Creepy Cocktails for Halloween

What is your favorite holiday to celebrate?¬† If I’m being honest, I actually think every holiday is my favorite.¬† I will say though, that even as an adult, I get giddy¬†and excited about upcoming holidays, especially Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.¬† I love the family togetherness that comes with Thanksgiving and Christmas and I love the fun and party like atmosphere that Halloween brings with it.

I am not really a big drinker typically, but like I said, I do enjoy the party environment that Halloween brings with it and I often imbibe on Halloween. Plus, the drinks at Halloween parties are seriously the best!  I mean, look at these cocktails, how fun are they?!

Vampire Kiss Cocktail by Sugar, Spice and Glitter
Green Goblin Cocktail by Plum Crazy
Shimmering Purple Bat Cocktail by Sugar, Spice and Glitter
Love Potion #9 by Big Bears Wife
The Raven Coffee Cocktail¬†by Amanda’s Cookin’
Hard Caramel Pumpkin Cider  by Fearless Dining
Eyeball Punch¬†by Olivia’s Cuisine
Specimen Jar Cocktail by Shrimp Salad Circus
Spooky Sangria by Kleinworth & Co
Spooky Skull Cocktails by Pizzazerie
Black Widow Cocktail by Happy Hour Projects
Spooky Sour Fuzzy Navel by Organized Island

 

If you end up making any of these, let me know, so I can decide which drinks I will be having this year!

Why You Should be Using an Auto Seat Protector

 

If you have a little one in a Booster Seat or other car seat, you know what kind of messes can be hiding underneath those seats.¬† This is especially true if you haven’t moved the car seat from its position in a while.¬† Seriously, you will find toys, food crumbs and honestly, terrifying stuff that you can no longer even identify.¬† It’s truly frightening and often disgusting what you will find.¬† That’s why an auto seat protector is so beneficial.

We all know I have a toddler, right?¬† He is an extremely messy toddler who loves fries and I am that mom who lets him eat in the car, which means I have a lot of messes to clean up often. A while back though, I got an offer to try this Daffadoot Auto Seat Protector and it is awesome.¬† It goes under the car seat and protects my upholstery from the ground up food and mystery stains that have always come with the car seats.¬† It fits perfectly underneath the seat, doesn’t affect the seating position¬†or the integrity of it since it doesn’t get in the way of the LATCH system.¬† Plus, it even has storage pockets on the lower part of it!¬† I use it to store a couple of diapers and a pack of wipes so I no longer need to have a diaper back in the car with me.¬† I have black upholstery so the black color of the protector doesn’t bother me at all.¬† Best of all though, when I recently took the car seat out to clean it, I didn’t have to clean the seat underneath it!¬† The auto seat protector kept it completely clean and free of yuck!

Overall I have really loved this thing and I am thinking about ordering a second one for my husband’s car (he tends to be a little more OCD than I am about the cleanliness of his vehicle, so I may give him this one and wait for a second for me now that I think about it).

If you are interested in getting an auto seat protector, Amazon currently has a 20% off coupon available, which makes it just $15!

 

Disclaimer: Okay, here’s the deal:  I was provided with this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion.  All opinions, thoughts and reviews located herein are mine and mine alone and were not influenced at all by the company or its affiliates.

Top Pumpkin Patches in Oregon

Fall is rapidly approaching my friends and you know what that means?!  ALL THINGS PUMPKIN! Pumpkin Spice, Pumpkin Lattes, Pumpkin scented candles and PUMPKIN PATCHES, so many pumpkin patches.  I may be biased since I live here, but I honestly think that Oregon has some of the best pumpkin patches in the entire country!

My family and I love pumpkin patches and have visited a lot of them, so I think we are kind of pros in making this list.  If you are ready to have some fall-filled fun? Here are some of the top pumpkin patches in Oregon, according to my kids and family.

  1. Roloff Farms – It’s a pumpkin patch meets Hollywood, y’all!¬† If you have ever watched Little People Big World on TLC, you are familiar with this family, but you might actually get a chance to see them in person if you visit Roloff Farms.¬† Plus, their awesome pumpkin patch features wagon tours, pony rides, Kiddy Train, Giant Sling Shots, Petting Zoo, Exotic Animals, Putt Putt¬†Golf, Maze, Hay Pyramid, Pumpkin Catapult and more!
  2. Bauman Farms РBauman farms is a family favorite of ours!  With a huge pumpkin picking field, several mazes (corn, straw and hay bale), tractor rides, face painting petting zoos and more this is a really fun pumpkin patch for the entire family.
  3. Heiser Farms – At Heiser Farms, you can shop for pumpkins in the field, at their farm stand or in their shop, they also offer several mazes (corn, hay bale and straw), tractor-pulled hay rides, haunted house and more!
  4. Smith Rock Ranch – If you are in Central Oregon, you just have to go to Smith Rock Ranch for your pumpkin patch experience.¬† Full disclosure, I have never been to this pumpkin patch, but I have a lot of friends in Central Oregon and every single one of them recommended I check it out.¬† They have a very elaborate Maize (see what they did there?) and each year their maize has a different theme, 2018’s theme is Cars!¬† It also features a pumpkin patch of course, and pumpkin cannons, harvest festivals, playground for the kids and more.
  5. Green Bridge Gardens –¬†Green bridge gardens is an adorably quaint little pumpkin patch.¬† Here you will find hay slides, a corn maze and a hay maze, a tractor-pulled hayride, play tunnel for the kiddos, petting zoo, duck races and more!
  6. Airlie Hills Pumpkin Patch РAirlie Hills Pumpkin Patch was the first pumpkin patch I ever took my kids to so we revisit this one almost every year.  They have a little pedal-car tractor race track, hay slides, a grain box, petting zoo, corn maze, hay maze, pumpkin patch, strawberry patch and more!
  7. Vince Woods Farm РOne of my favorite things about Vince Woods Farm is how affordable it all is.  Just $0.50 to enter the maze, $1 to enter the pumpkin forest and caboose and only $0.20 per pound for pumpkins!  In this day in age where everything costs an arm and a leg, sometimes a nice, simple, inexpensive activity can make all the difference.
  8. E.Z. Orchards РWhen you think of pumpkin patches, E.Z. Orchards is exactly the kind of place that you think of.  The entire place is cute.  Here you will find a petting zoo, pumpkin patch, horse-drawn hay rides, pony rides, live music, ring toss, steer roping, corn maze, hay slides and just about the best shortcake that money can buy.
  9. Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch РThe Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch is a classic in the Portland area.  Here you will find super fun typical pumpkin patch activities such as a huge corn maize, Hay Rides, an animal barn, giant pyramid and more.
  10. Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm РIf you tend to like guided fun than the Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm is the one for you!  You will get to take a tour of the entire farm, learning about the pumpkins and all of the farm animals.  Then you get to check out the pumpkin patch and the farm itself on your own.  While there you will find play structures for the kids, tube slides, mazes for adults and kids alike, hayrides, and you can even check out the Christmas tree farm while there!

Going to Vegas? Madame Tussauds Coupon Available!

Have you ever been to Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas?  My hubby and I are planning a Vegas trip this Fall and I think we are going to go!  I would love love love any tips and reviews that you have of your visit there because it looks so cool!  Or, if you have any other tips of places I should go see in Vegas, let me know.

My husband and I have both been to Vegas before, but for both of us we were not yet adults so we really haven’t experienced Vegas at all.¬† I NEED HELP, my friends. ūüôā¬† Tell me where to go!

Anyway…back to¬†¬†Madame Tussauds!¬† I found that we can score $5 off each ticket and you all know how much I love a good discount.

 

Dreaming of Becoming a Virtual Assistant? Snag this Deal Now!!!!

Who wants to start making a sweet side income?  Does the idea of being your own boss excite you?  Well, my friends, you may like the idea of becoming a Virtual Assistant!  I have been a Virtual Assistant since 2012 and have made a pretty decent income each year.  As a matter of fact, until having my baby last year, I was making more than a full time living while working not even close to full time.  Now that he has gotten a little bit older, I am planning on increasing my workload again and I am excited!  If you are interested in becoming a Virtual Assistant, or VA as we say in the biz, check out these great resources:

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.  Typically it costs just shy of $300, but right now, it is just $27!!  THIS IS A HOT DEAL FOLKS, SIGN UP NOW!!!!  And yes, I have taken this course and I loved it.

Here are my favorite books that are related to becoming a VA:

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)

20% Off Daffadoot Baby Products!

You all know I have a toddler at home right?¬† That often means I am busy cleaning up mess after mess.¬† Because of this, I have been looking for a protector for the seat of my car to go underneath the baby’s carseat.¬† I am tired of finding food ground into my seats everytime I go to clean it out.¬† While scrolling around Amazon I spotted this Auto Seat Protector from Daffadoot and I think I am going to try it out.¬† Have you ever tried anything similar?

While we are on the subject of Daffadoot, you can currently get 20% off of the following Daffadoot products when you use promo code HWBLFYLE:

Auto Seat Protector

Crystal Clear Rear Facing Baby Mirror

SecureLift Baby Crib Wedge Pillow

 

Have you used any of these items yet?  Let me know what you think!  I will keep you posted on my auto seat protector as soon as I get it.