Recipe: My Favorite Pasta Salad!

In my recent post about hosting a mermaid-themed party, I mentioned that we will be serving pasta salad.

One of the things that I love about pasta salad is that it’s so flexible.

Basically, all you need is a pound of pasta (your choice) cooked per package directions, drained, and rinsed. After that, whatever you add is up to you.

  • I use 1 cup of dressing to start. Usually, I use zesty Italian-type dressing, but if you are a pesto lover, 1 jar/can of pesto and a few tablespoons of your favorite oil (I like avocado oil) is excellent. Red or green pesto, whatever your preference is. If you are serving vegetarians, avoid red pesto because it contains anchovies.
  • 1 cup of diced cheese- Mozzarella, or mozzarella pearls, or cut up a couple string cheese sticks.
  • 2 cups vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces.  Bell peppers, broccoli, black olives, tomatoes (either grape or cherry), and fresh, shelled peas are some of my favorites.
  • Optional, but tasty: a bunch of fresh basil, cut into ribbons (chiffonade).

Mix all ingredients together, and store in a tightly closed container for at least 4-6 hours prior to serving.

This recipe serves about 8-10 as a side dish, less as a main dish. If you need to add meat to this, as a can or 2 pouches of chunk tuna, drained and rinsed.

Planning a Mermaid/Under the Sea Themed Party? Dollar Tree To The Rescue!

I’m working on planning a mermaid-themed party for a certain little girl in my house. Thankfully, Dollar Tree has some great supplies on the cheap! These are available in-store and online.

First off, check out these cool iridescent shell-shaped eggs. Perfect for hiding candy or tiny gifts like bracelets or rings. In the store, there are a lot of beaded necklaces, like there.

There are mermaid-themed party paper goods too. Plates, cups, and napkins. One thing I love about Dollar Tree is that with the rising costs of everything, I’m able to host cute themed parties and stay on budget.

I’m loving these cute mermaid buckets, they would be great for goodie baskets. If you aren’t sure what to put in them, I’d suggest mermaid facial masks, nail polish in “mermaid” colors- there are tons of colors in stores, mermaid tail shaped hand soaps,  Nail art sets, nail files (there are ocean/mermaid themed ones in the stores, and bath bombs- some stores have mermaid tail-shaped bath bombs. All locations have bath bombs in various scents and sizes.

Don’t forget to hit up the home decor area to look for beach, ocean, and mermaid themed signs.

As for snacks and menu, we’ll be serving:

  • Strawberry lemonade, complete with frozen strawberries (available in the stores) as our beverage.
  • Cold Pasta Salad using shell pasta (recipe is forthcoming)
  • Goldfish crackers
  • Fresh Fruit cut into star shapes- Watermelon, pineapple, apple (with a hole cut in the middle where I remove the apple core)

I love using the plastic “crystal” serving ware from Dollar Tree too. It makes the party look fancy, without worrying about little hands breaking anything special or vintage.

And for those wondering, we only invite 4-6 of Bitty’s good friends to parties. I can’t have a house full of 20+ kiddos. My neighbors would never forgive me. We may have a viewing of The Little Mermaid while we eat.

And of course, I’ll be making invitations on Canva for free, saving the image as a PDF, and either printing them out to hand out or emailing them to friends parents/guardians.

Select Southern California Museums FREE ADMISSION 2/5/2023!

Here in San Diego, February is Museum month, and that means 50% off admission to selected museums. Digital passes good for 50% off of up to four passes can be printed here, or visit your local City of San Diego or County of San Diego Library branch location.

Don’t forget that there is also Free Museum Tuesdays all year long for San Diego Residents and military families.

If you have an EBT/SNAP card, you can access over 1000 museums nationwide for FREE. Check out Museums4All here for more details and search for your local museums.

If you are looking for a fun road trip, or live outside San Diego County, there is a collection of 30+ museums in the LA/OC/Santa Barbara area with free admission offers next Sunday, 2/5/23.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
American Museum of Ceramic Art (Advance tickets required. Visit www.amoca.org to make a reservation.)
Armory Center for the Arts
Bowers Museum
Catalina Museum for Art & History
Cayton’s Children’s Museum (Advance tickets required. Visit www.caytonmuseum.org to make a reservation.)
Craft Contemporary
Descanso Gardens (Advance tickets required. Visit www.descansogardens.org to make a reservation.)
Fowler Museum at UCLA
Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University
Hammer Museum
The Getty Center
The Getty Villa (Timed tickets are required for the Getty Villa. Visit www.getty.edu to make a reservation.)
Japanese American National Museum
La Brea Tar Pits & Museum (Advance tickets required. Visit www.tarpits.org to make a reservation.)
Laguna Art Museum
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Lincoln Memorial Shrine
Long Beach Museum of Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) (Advance tickets strongly recommended. Visit www.moca.org to make a reservation.)
Muckenthaler Cultural Center
Museum of Latin America Art (MOLAA)
Museum of Tolerance
Museum of Ventura County
Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
Santa Monica History Museum
Santa Paula Art Museum
Skirball Cultural Center (Advance tickets strongly recommended. Visit www.skirball.org to make a reservation.)
The Wende Museum
The Zimmerman Automobile Driving Museum
USC Asia Pacific Museum

For more information and details, check out the website.

 

 

January 2023: New Healthy Freebies From Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is right up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

Social Nature has rounded up products that are available to try at a local grocery store or mass merchandiser near you.  Apply to Try the products that interest you to see if you’re a match here.

Here are some of the new sampling opportunities:

Parmesan Crisps by Joyfull Bakery
Cruelty-Free Body Wash by The Seaweed Bath Co.
Premium Sparkling Tea by Sparkling Botanicals
Kids Juice Drink by PLEZI
Plant-Based Milk by Koita Foods
Meatless Nuggets by Quorn Foods
Plant-based Chicken Alternative by Sweet Earth Foods

And More!

And one of the things I love about Social Nature is that they don’t leave our friends with food allergies out.

There are sampling offers for Gluten-free, nut-free, and meat-free foods frequently.

Canadian Friends- You are in luck, there are sampling opportunities for you too! So if you love trying new products, check out Social Nature!

Tea Collection MegaSale! Up to 65% off Sale & Clearance prices!

Now through Tuesday, January 31, 2023, you can save an extra 25% off sales and clearance styles at Tea Collection! That means savings of up to 65% off regular prices.

Tea Collection is one of my favorite brands for littles. The clothes are well made and the fabric is high quality. Tea Collection lasts and lasts- It’s one of the few brands our local kids’ resale shop buys year-round.

Remember to use coupon code: JAN25OFFSALE at checkout!

 

2023 Moms Meet WOW Summit is BACK!

I am so freaking excited about this event! I am requesting time off and going.

The Moms Meet Wow Summit is coming to Orange County, CA on November 10-11th!

It’s two days of learning and fun. Connect with other parents, and brands, and have some much-needed adult time on Friday night for the cocktail party.

Early Bird tickets start at only $29, and Content Creator tickets start at $99.00. All the information including speakers, sponsors, and hotel accommodations can be found here. The website will be updated as more information (speakers, etc.) become available.

1/14/2023 Weekend Freebies and Deals!

I started this post last night, but then I had to scurry to prep for all the rain we are getting over the next few days. For some reason, all of the umbrellas are in the detached garage? Who knows.

This week has been busy with work, appointments, and applying for some big campaigns for the blog, including several that will feature giveaways!

Don’t forget all of the 2022 Birthday Freebies! Make sure to check this article out and sign up for birthday freebies at least 2-3 weeks before your birthday. I am currently on the hunt for new 2023 birthday freebies!

Freebies:

Free Koita Foods Plant-based Milk
Free Neora Health, Skincare or Hair Care Samples
Teachers – Free Panda Express Awards & Coupons
Free Coffee at Royal Farms Every Monday
10 Free Chuck E. Cheese’s Tokens
Free Item at Taco Bell
Free Stevia In The Raw Sample
Free Set of CWPPRA Postcards
Free You Are Here Bookmarks
Free Subscription to Elle Decor Magazine
Free Lane Bryant Gift Card Giveaway
Free 2-Year Subscription to Sports Illustrated
Free Sample of Hartz Delectables Licking Cat Treats
Free Natru Care Skincare Sample
Free Sunwink Sparkling Tonic
Free CanDo Keto Krisp Protein-Rich Snack Bars at Walmart
Free ZENB Gluten Free Pasta Recipes
Free Sample of CeraVe AM Moisturizing Lotion with Sunscreen
Free Sour Patch Kids at Select Stores
Free Hanalei Lip Balms
Free Sample of Bio-Kult Probiotic
Free belVita Blueberry Breakfast Biscuits at Sam’s
Free HOP WTR After Rebate
Free Sandwich with the Potbelly App
Free Pretzel with Ben’s Pretzels App
Free Decoupage Mason Jar at Michaels
Free Box of Cure Hydration at Walmart After Rebate
Free Stitch Your Own Penguin Pillow at JCPenney
Free Iced Coffee Maker
Free 2023 Our Lady Calendar
Free Free2b Foods Allergy Friendly Chocolate Cups
Free Skinny Pop Jalapeno Popcorn at Sam’s
Free Mekhala Organic Cooking Pastes
Free Quorn Foods Meatless Nuggets
Free Kerasal Multi-Purpose Nail Repair + Electric File Kit
Free Pepsi Zero Sugar After Rebate
Free Self-Serve Drink at QuikTrip

How I’m Saving Time and Money in 2023 and Beyond!

I’m posting a lot less these days because I now have a full-time job outside the house, and y’all- I’m freaking exhausted at the end of the day. weekends are spent doing family stuff (mostly playing with legos and drawing), and doing kid activities like martial arts and girl scouts.

I wanted to share with you some ways you can save money, score freebies, and even earn some money each month without running all over town, spending hours of time doing little penny surveys, or scanning your entire grocery order to earn points for junk (looking at you Neilson panel).

This is how I’ve been doing it for years, and now that I have even less time, I’m leaning on these more.

Automate

  •  Use the calendar in your phone to remind you of appointments, neighborhood free food distributions, sales, and even coupon events: I seriously put the Bath and Body Works coupon dates in my calendar so I remembered to use them.
  • I bought a subscription to  Yasukochi Family Farms CSA boxes. This way my fresh fruit and veggies are delivered to my door each week.
  • Set up auto-shipments for most needed household items. Vitamins/supplements, specialized food, and even pet food. There are all sorts of companies that offer this service including Amazon, Chewy, and Vitacost are just a few.
  • I order from Dream Dinners once or twice a quarter. Now that they have lower minimum orders, I can grab a few favorites and try a new meal with greater ease. I order online, and pickup is so easy- I drive up and they deliver to my car!

Organize

  • I reorganized the kitchen over Winter Break. I have printables available for free. If you are interested, please drop me an email and I can send them to you. They print in color or black and white.
  • I meal plan weekly. I may not have time to post them on the blog each week, but I’ll still have pics up on Instagram each week- it helps keep me accountable. I spend about an hour on Monday evenings meal prepping fruit and veggies that come in our weekly CSA box.
  • For more organization tips that work in our home, check out my post about managing a household with neurodivergencies here.

Disconnect

  • This one is hard, but I am trying to consume only meaningful media. Don’t be afraid to disconnect from Social Media Platforms, people, or advertising that does not serve you or your life. Unfollow people and brands, delete or pause apps as you see fit. Engage with media in a manner that serves you and fulfills you. Do what feeds your soul and makes you a better person.
  • Unsubscribe from emails that don’t serve you. It will make your inbox smaller and you won’t miss information and freebies that you actually want. In my case, it’s freebies from Social Nature, PinchMe, and research study invitations.
  • In the same vein, I am trying to consume less physical media, specifically, mail and advertisements. If I don’t see sales, I won’t be tempted to shop. Junk mail and sale fliers go directly into the recycling can next to our group mailbox.

Saving Money

This is the big one, the reason you wanted to read this post. All of the above will help you save money, but here are a few specific ways that I use to save money on top of all of the above.

  • Use the notes section on my phone to keep a running list of our stockpiles: Toiletries, laundry soap, canned goods, and paper products.
  • Use the notes section of my phone to keep a running grocery list for the week. As we run low on items, I add them to my list. Right now I shop at three stores: Food4less, Grocery Outlet, and Dollar Tree (for specific items that are cheaper there). Unless I have coupons or freebie offers for other stores-usually from Social Nature, I stick to those three. At this point with inflation, we eat meat once or twice a week.
  • Use money saving/rebate apps. My list is here, and it’s pretty up-to-date. Fetch, Ibotta, and Shopkick are my go-to apps, and they yield me the biggest payouts.

 

12/24/2022 Weekend Freebies and Deals!

Howdy friends! I hope your week went well. I had yesterday off and I tie-dyed some shirts and spent the day playing with legos with the kids.

The freebies and deals are late this week- but there are some pretty cool offers this week.

Don’t forget all of the 2022 Birthday Freebies! Make sure to check this article out and sign up for birthday freebies at least 2-3 weeks before your birthday. I will be updating for 2023 mid- January.

Freebies:

Free $5 for QDOBA
Free 5-Pack of Saved by the Bell Air Fresheners
5 Free L’Oreal Samples
Free 8×10 Photo Print at Walgreens
Free Ocean’s Halo Organic Wakame & Kombu Snacks
McDonald’s SZN of Sharing Daily Deals, Free Food & Merch
Free Subscription to HGTV Magazine
Free Key at a MinuteKEY Kiosk
Free AIR WICK Essential Mist Diffuser Starter Kit
Earn Extra Money for the Holidays from Home
Free L’Oreal Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum Sample
Free NatureMary Face Oil Sample – Back Again

Deals:

Vaseline Lotion ONLY $1.61 (Reg. $4.49)
Dyson Vacuums up to 40% Off
Target Last Chance for Gifts – Order by 6pm for Store Pickup
Lauren Conrad Jewelry Sets Only $7.99 + Free Store Pickup
Macy’s Gifts Under $15 + Free Store Pickup, Order by 3pm
Kohl’s Under $15 Last Minute Gifts + Store Pickup, Order by 1pm

December 2022: New Healthy Freebies From Social Nature!

 If you are into Organic/Natural/Healthy products, then Social Nature is right up your alley. Sign up and apply to sample products that you are interested in. I get probably 1-2 products to sample each month. And most of the time it’s full-size products, not just a tiny sample.

Social Nature has rounded up products that are available to try at a local grocery store or mass merchandiser near you.  Apply to Try the products that interest you to see if you’re a match here.

Here are some of the new sampling opportunities:

      • Lactose-Free Sour Cream by Green Valley Creamery
      • Specialty Nut Butters by Wild Friends
      • Sustainable Dog Treats by Shameless Pets
      • Veggie Pasta by Veggiecraft Farms
      • Dips & Spreads by Litehouse
      • Fresh Frozen Dog Food by Nom Nom

And More!

And one of the things I love about Social Nature is that they don’t leave our friends with food allergies out.

There are sampling offers for Gluten-free, nut-free, and meat-free foods frequently.

Canadian Friends- You are in luck, there are sampling opportunities for you too! So if you love trying new products, check out Social Nature!