#spon: I’m required to disclose a relationship between our site and Save-A-Lot. This could include Save-A-Lot providing us w/content, product, access or other forms of payment.

Brought to you in part by my husband Clifford! The recipe is from me!

I hate salads.
I mean, they are not bad when I make them with real bacon, grilled chicken and maybe some chopped steak on top. But real salads, the kind that make you feel like a rabbit when you eat them — I hate them. Really it’s all vegetables except asparagus and the non-vegetables of potatoes and corn.
Without my wife to keep me in line, I would eat like most 12-year-olds wish they could. The coffee is the only clue most days that I’m an actual adult. I still choose a hamburger and fries over anything actually good for me, and a nightly routine that includes ice cream and Netflix binging (House of Cards is entertaining and disturbing at the same time) have lead me to new heights in body weight.
I should get a medal.
So I found myself in the aisle of Save-A-Lot grocery store recently.

With a head of lettuce for my first salad in probably two years, I was pondering choices for dressings. I know, dressings are no friend to the would-be weight-loss effort. But I have a plan. I soak my first salad with ranch or a creamy Caesar.  It’s a tactic I’ve followed in the past when I needed to lose weight. I slowly eliminate the dressing, until I’m eating a dry salad with maybe some Chinese noodles on top.
I’d planned on buying honey mustard, it is my go-to salad dressing, but it seems to be considered more of a dip for chicken wings than a dressing for salad, and it can be hard to find. This day, I chose the Portmann’s Creamy Caesar and, since it was inexpensive, I got the Ranch and Italian too.  Italian is good on fish too. Tilapia is another food that helps me eat without adding to my growing waistline.
Salads, despite that initial feeling that I’m eating hay, really are a good way to cut calories while getting iron and other vitamins. I brought all this home to wife and turned it over to her for inspiration.  Knowing my penchant for meat, she suggested Meatless Taco Salad. Um, say what?

Meatless Taco Salad #SavealotInsiders #ad

Here is her recipe:
1 head of lettuce

2 cups of mixed greens

1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1 can corn (drained and rinsed)

1 diced red onion

Crunchy tortilla strips

Shredded Cheddar Jack

Dressing

Her recipe was simple enough for me to follow.  I prepped all the ingredients from Save-A-Lot and made up a Meatless Taco Salad.  It was enough for 4-6 people.  It was amazingly delicious!  I mean, obviously, I missed the meat, but I felt less guilty eating this.  As a bonus it was healthy and filling too.

Meatless Taco Salad #SavealotInsiders #ad

 

If you are like me and trying to get healthy and get ready for an active summer try out my wife’s recipe! While you’re at, head to your Save-a-lot and get all your ingredients there and save money while you shop!  You will be amazed at the deals you can find there!

 

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I received a giftcard in order to share this post.  All opinions are my own.

Just when I thought a visit to Chuck E. Cheese could not get any better….they went an proved me wrong.  First, they have always been a fun destination for families.  Then they recently upgraded their menu to include awesome new snacks and food.  Now they have added a great Summer Reading Program for kids to the mix!

Looking for a great way to reward your kids? Download and print out Chuck E.’s Rewards Calendars. Bring in a completed calendar on your next trip to Chuck E. Cheese’s and get free tokens as a reward.

They have several different rewards calendars you and print off and let your child(ren) complete!  Once they have completed them, you simply take them to your local Chuck E. Cheese and turn them in for FREE TOKENS!

 

Chuck E. Cheese new menu #cecgrandrapids #ad

How is this a Summer Reading Program?  During the months of May and June you can visit your local Chuck E. Cheese on Tuesdays at 11 am and 6 pm.  Go during those exact times and a cast member from Chuck E. Cheese will read a book out loud to the kids!  During May, they will be reading Danny and the Dinosaur.  In June they will be reading A Green Garden.  PLUS if you print off one of the reward calendars and keep track of your child’s reading they will get more FREE TOKENS!  Such a fun idea and it’s all free, free, free! A total win-win!  Chuck E. Cheese always has great deals and coupons that truly make them an affordable place to take your family.  I would strongly encourage you to sign up for their emails.  They really don’t send out very many and they have great deals in them!  PLUS Chuck E. Cheese is giving away 2 free books from their partners at Harper Collins.  Enter below for your chance to win!  There will be 2 winners who each win 2 books!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

You may remember that we moved in to our new home last summer.  I was so excited to unpack and decorate.  Of course the first rooms I did were the kids’.  A few of the boys had had a rough time with the move and I wanted to make their rooms special so they would feel at home.  I was also excited to do a new girly room for Little Miss.  Once those rooms were done, we focused on the great room.  We redid all the trim and doors and painted.  I’ll share more on that later.  Finally, 11 months after moving in, I finally decided to focus on our master bedroom.  We had painted the room a light gray the weekend we moved in but that was about it.  I really wanted a pretty, relaxing room for my hubby and I. However, we didn’t really have much extra money to spend. I turned to Pinterest for ideas on transforming a room for little to no money.  Here are some before pics.

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I actually really liked out bedding but it was starting to look pretty worn and the throw pillows were covering a pink stain from juice one of the kids spilled :/  We have had the same headboard for 9 years and I was ready for a change.  I have always wanted an old fashioned metal bed so I also got to searching for an affordable one.

We also really needed better bedside lighting.  The wall mounted ones were pretty but not very functional.  They were battery operated and gave off more of a night lite glow than a true light.

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I felt like the white dresser with the tv on it kind of made that section of the room feel cramped.  I also wanted to update the space above our long dresser.

I had looked and looked and finally found a beautiful black metal bed for only $239 on Overstock (it’s now up to $343).  I decided to sell our old headboard and frame along with some other things in a yard sale to help pay for the bed.  While browsing Pinterest, I came across many awesome projects made from old pallets. I knew immediately that I wanted to do a feature wall behind our new bed.  I thought the contrast of the black metal against the wood panels would look really neat.  Hubby really liked the idea so I called up my brother and asked him to save some pallets from his business for us.  Can’t beat free!  We naively drove over with our mini van only to find that we could only fit 7 pallets in the back. Thankfully, my dad agreed to take his trailer by a few days later to get us more.  All in all, we used 19 pallets for the wall.  I had read that separating the pallets was not fun and they were right.  It was by far the most tedious part of the process.  We spent hours and hours pulling them apart.  Some we ended up cutting apart.  Once we had all the boards off, we went through and lightly sanded them and I stained some of the light, newer looking boards.  We then separated them by length and carried the piled inside.  Placing them on the wall was a bit like doing a puzzle.  We tried to stagger the different lengths and widths.  After weighing our options, we decided to just nail each board into a stud.  Some heavier ones required 2 or 3 nails while others only one.  Here is a pic when we were about half way through.

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It took us about 4 hours to do the majority of the wall and then about an hour and a half to finish cutting and finishing off the end pieces.  It looked even better than I had hoped!  Here are the after pics that also show the other changes I made.

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I LOVE our new bed and I think it looks fantastic against the pallet wall.  I had an Amazon gift card that I used to get our new comforter, which was only $39.  I already had the gray blanket and I used money we made from our yard sale to get some new sheets.

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I whitewashed one of the left over pallet boards and then applied an applique my brother made for me.  The “It was in the script” phrase is kind of an inside joke/special quote that goes back to the day my hubby and I met :)

Here are a couple of close ups of the wall.  As you can see, some of the boards are different thicknesses.  I like it that way and feel it gives it dimension.

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I decided to make new lamps for the nightstand using large mason jars.

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I used coupons and got the jars for only $3.75 a piece at Hobby Lobby.  I got the shades at Target and the light kits at Lowes.  They were SO easy to make.  We just cut 2 holes into the tin lids (one for the fixture and one for the cord to loop back up through) and then put the socket down into the lid.

I also made some new curtains to help brighten up the room.  I bought 2 white twin sized flat sheets for $5 a piece and attached them to clip rings.  I originally bought them at WalMart but then found then $6 cheaper at Target so I returned the first set.

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I really like how they puddle on the floor.  It softens the room and gives it a slightly romantic feel.

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I moved the white dresser/tv stand into Little Miss’s room and had hubby drill a new cable hole on the other side of the room.  I know the tv is kind of an eyesore but what can I say?  We like to watch tv at night after the kids have gone to bed.  I took down the old shelves and hung this awesome old window panel I found at an antique store for $12.  I’m now considering painting the brown dresser white and distressing/antiqing it.  Would it fit in better or be too much white?  Opinions??

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Our next project if for hubby to make a sliding barn type door to replace the white bi-fold door on the closet.  I think it would look really neat and balance out the feature wall.  On a side note, the unevenness of the bed is due to the fact that I wanted more softness and hubby didn’t so I bought a twin size foam topper for my side.  Now hubby has decided he actually likes my side better so he’ll be getting one for his side for Father’s Day :)

So there you have it.  We spent a total of about $360.  However, we made $215 from selling our old bed and from our yard sale and I had a $50 Amazon gift card so the whole makeover only cost us about $95.  Not bad for a feature wall, new bed, bedding, curtains, lamps and accessories. I am super happy with how it turned out and it now feels like our cozy oasis!  Thanks for letting me share it with you!

 

Belinda is a wife, mom, blogger, and Brand Ambassador. She has six children including 5 boys and 1 girl. Belinda enjoys reading, photography, crafts and DIY projects, and watching her boys play soccer. You may contact Belinda at mudpiesand tiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Belinda

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

Brought to you by…my husband Clifford!

Tuesday was supposed to be a picnic in the park with the kids.

We had the fixings for sandwiches a blanket and a Frisbee. My wife had a bag full of deli meat, cheese from Applegate.

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The Applegate Naturals meats are our choice because they are antibiotic free. They come from humanely raised turkeys, pigs and whatever animal produces Genoa salami — more pigs I think. Their tagline for beef products is, “Our cows are on grass.”

Despite the lack of nitrates that make other deli meat moist, the smoked turkey and roasted turkey breast were both moist and delicious. The sodium in both turkey choices were 360 mg — not extremely low, but not bad for meat with no added nitrates. The uncured Black Forest ham contains only the nitrates naturally occurring in sea salt and celery powder.

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Applegate’s website (applegate.com) is worth checking out just for the deli counter video. You have to watch it to understand. Imagine if Chick-fil-A cows talked. It’s sort of like that.

I watched the video on the Applegate website while we waited for the rain to stop. I also cleaned the kitchen and took the dog for a walk. Coming in with wet shoes and a drenched dog, I decided a picnic was out. Thankfully, I had everything I needed for lunch, because by this point, the kids were all starving.

I did take the time to put the sandwich stuff on Wilton Armetale. We have a couple collections of the dishes that shine like silver, but can be abused by a family without losing a family heirloom. So today, the bread went in the Flutes and Pearls oblong bowl.

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The healthy choice always seems to be unpopular among the juice-box crowd. Grace likes strawberries — but not local ones — just those from Costco. The Kayla loves green grapes. But for her, they start going bad seconds after they are removed from the vine, whether they originated from an organic vineyard outside Traverse City, or came to Michigan via train from Argentina.  Despite their pickiness, all four kids enjoyed something from the Applegate deli. The boys liked the meat, while both girls enjoyed sandwiches with the cheddar. I’m the only one who would touch the Sir Kensington’s Spicy Brown Mustard. It’s made with Maple Syrup, which maybe all brown mustard is, but Sir Kensington uses only Vermont Maple Syrup. Suddenly, I’m thinking waffles sound good for dinner.

I wonder how brown mustard would taste on waffles?

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Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I purchased the product at a discount for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

Now that we are having warmer weather, my kids are spending a lot of time outdoors.  I love that they are getting some fresh air and burning off some energy at the same time.  So, when I received the Big Ol Bouncer Inflatable Moonwalk, I knew it would be the perfect addition to our backyard fun!

We couldn’t wait to get it out of the box!  Along with the bounce house, the air pump, stakes, instructional dvd, and storage bag were also included.

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We paid it out on the flattest part of the yard and hooked it up to the blower.

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We turned it on and watched it inflate.  It took less than 1 minute!

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We then secured the jumper with the included safety stakes.

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My youngest son was extra excited because the bounce house arrived on his fifth birthday so he got the honors of being the first to try it out.

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Little Miss joined him as we waited for some friends to come jump with them.  With 12×12 feet of jumping area, this bounce house is big enough for several kids at once.  The specs recommend up to 6 users at a time with a maximum weight of 100 lbs per user.  This means all of my kiddos can use it at the same time :)

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As you can see, they had a blast on the bouncer!

I was really impressed by the quality of the bouncer.  It has commercial vinyl impact surfaces and double and quadruple Stitching.  It has held up really well to all the boys jumping and rolling around in it.  And I love that they are landing on a nice, cushioned surface!  The kids also really liked the entrance ramp that allowed them to easily climb into the house and slide back out.

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When the kids were finished jumping, we turned the blower off and let the bouncer deflate.  There were some storm clouds rolling in so we helped the process along by letting the kids roll on the bouncer once it was mostly deflated.  I have to admit, when we looked at the storage bag, we were skeptical.  My hubby actually said, “There’s no way that’s going to fit in there”.

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We folded it as the directions showed and prepared for the moment of truth.  I am happy to say, both the bouncer and the blower actually fit into the bag really well!  Plus it takes up way less room to store than we had anticipated.

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We are so happy with our bounce house!  Not only is it great for outdoor play, but we can also set it up in the basement on cold or rainy days.

A friend of mine recently rented a bouncer for her kids’ birthday party and she paid $200 for just one day!  Blast Zone has a big selection of quality inflatable bouncers starting at only $169.99!  They also have a line of inflatable water parks which can be seen at http://www.blastzone.com/shop/pc/Inflatable-Water-Parks-c3.htm.  Any of these would be perfect for the hot summer months!

Blast Zone has agreed to give all of our readers a 10% discount off all bounce houses now through May 2015.  Just use the code BOUNCEBLOG,when ordering. At this time, BlastZone.com does not have coupon functionality, so you will need to call in your order to receive the discount.

Now, just in time for summer vacation, Blast Zone is giving away a Magic Castle Bounce House to one of our very lucky readers!

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Belinda is a wife, mom, blogger, and Brand Ambassador. She has six children including 5 boys and 1 girl. Belinda enjoys reading, photography, crafts and DIY projects, and watching her boys play soccer. You may contact Belinda at mudpiesand tiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Belinda