Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Happy Birthday G!

My little G turned 12 on Sunday!
That's the Lil' Coconut on the right when she was just a few weeks old!
Why must they do that?

It seems like just yesterday she was that adorable baby who screamed 23 hours a day.
No, really. She did.

The new big sister!

Life with G has never been dull.
She is disturbingly gifted in many areas of life.
Both the good and the bad.

Yes, I do.

She likes burning things. Marshmallows included.
A hugger.

Fan of good music. (Blues Brothers, for those of you who are NOT fans of good music)
Emotional. Crafty. Usually the ring leader.

The life of every party.
So here's to the girl who keeps my life interesting. May your creativity and your energy bring you many blessings, baby girl!

P.S. You really must try these Hot Cocoa Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting 
from The Cake Blog! They are divine!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas House Tour 2013

Hey there! 

Welcome to The Beazhive's 1st Christmas House Tour!

I am so excited to be joining Jennifer Rizzo's Holiday House Walk Linky Party this year! If you haven't already checked out all the amazing houses on the virtual holiday housewalk yet, you really must. They are simply gorgeous!

Jennifer Rizzo's holiday housewalk link party. Link up your home for a chance to be in next years house walk.

If you're visiting from Holiday House Linky Party, thank you! I can't wait to see all the gorgeous houses YOU have decorated for the season!

Now, there are a few things you must know 
before we get started:

1. I am NOT an interior decorator. In fact, I pretty much fail at decorating my home, but I am getting better. At Christmas time I feel as though I do a bit better. Maybe it's because it's not permanent? At any rate, please do not expect Macy's worth displays!

2. I am NOT a photographer. I really, really, really love taking photographs, and I really, really, really want a DSLR. That is probably not ever going to be in my budget, though, so for now I take pictures on my phone. Mediocre pictures. I probably should read all those posts about taking better pictures on your phone that I have pinned.

So, please be kind! :)

3. I went BIG this year! Why? Well, last year we moved the day after Christmas. The year before we moved right around Christmas. The year before that we were living in a hotel until December 23rd. I feel like we were cheated out of three beautiful, peaceful Christmases in a row! I know that Christmas is not about the decorations and the presents & we try very hard to keep our family's focus on Jesus during the season. I just really love all the other aspects of Christmas that make it so lovely and magical. So this year, I'm going BIG.

Without further ado:
 We moved to Florida last year & rented this beautiful house. Doesn't that entryway look beautiful with all the icicle lights? How about the 3 palm trees decked out in their holiday best?
My hubby did a great job!

Shall we go in?

We have named this the "Grand" tree because,'s grand. LOL
It's 7 1/2 feet tall with a base of 60 inches.
It sits in our foyer that for 11 months out of the year is basically 150 square feet of wasted space.
In my opinion.
I think the idea is the "wow" factor of opening that front door and being able to look across the entire house through the back WALL of sliding glass doors onto the patio & out onto the yard. It is very dramatic.
It may have suckered us in, too.
We didn't consider the cost of air conditioning that much square footage with up to twenty foot high ceilings in the main living areas. YIKES!

But now, the foyer is home to my beautiful blue & silver tree!

My husband and I are having a debate on where & when we bought this tree, which is weird because in the 10 or 11 years we've owned this tree, we've never even discussed it!
He thinks we bought it in Watertown, NY when Ames was going out of business.
However, our last Christmas at Ft. Drum we had a big beautiful live tree that really resembled this one. It was perfect, and the model for our "Grand" tree. We moved just over a month later.

I think we bought it the next year when we were in Hawaii and getting a real tree was bad option.
Not that it matters. It's still a gorgeous tree & we love it.

This simple yet stunning paper star was acquired at the swap meet in Hawaii.
I am smitten with it. 
The tree would not be complete without it.

This year, I used a couple of cans of spray snow to lighten the green of the tree and adorned it with varying shades of blue, silver & white.

The dining room is off the left of the foyer. All of the walls in living areas are an interesting of yellowish, orangish, peach that I'm not a fan of. It took awhile to decide on a color that complimented it, but we finally decided on purple. Purple is not exactly a Christmas color, so this took some creativity. Luckily, the Advent candles matched nicely.
Hanging those ornaments was harder than I imagined. I love how it turned out, though.

Normally, three mirrors live on this wall.
Two of them had an accident, so we finally replaced them & put a wreath in lieu of the center one.
The wreath was one that I got at a yard sale this year. It was horribly ugly with old fake flowers hot glued to it. It's my first attempt at styling a wreath from scratch. 
Not too shabby.

My china cabinet is still a work in progress, so check back next week for the update!

Did I mention there are no overhead lights in this room?

To the right of the foyer is our school room. It's the room we spend the most time in.
I have a yellow, grey & black theme in this room because of our "bee" theme at the Busy Beaz Academy.
However, this is where the "Family" tree is located.

I let the kids decorate this one!

This baby is loaded with decades of special ornaments that we've all received over the years.
I really felt like a momma when I received that first gold spray painted macaroni Christmas ornament!

Here is our favorite ornament. It's a peek-a-boo Tigger!

PEEK-A-BOO! I have a thing for Tigger & have had this ornament for a LONG time.

Here is the gigantic built-in entertainment center in our living room. The living room is right behind the foyer. When we moved in we had a 32 inch tv in the spot. It was teeny looking! We scored that giant flat screen for $200 bucks off Craigslist! Of course, it's not currently working, so...
There will be 5 other family members joining us for Christmas this year! We are so excited.
We put up stockings for everyone from our extensive stocking collection.
For some reason, we seem to buy more every year.
It's getting a bit out of control. Kind of like the trees. 
Maybe you should start keeping count of how many stockings and how many trees there are!

Our glitter silver nativity cut-out.
Sadly, this is the only nativity in our house. It's very had to find one that is both affordable and not breakable.
But that adorable baby in the manger is THE REASON FOR THE SEASON and we should never forget that!

(may-lay kuh-leaky-mah-kuh)

For those of you who don't speak Hawaiian, that means Merry Christmas!

This is the "Romantic" tree. So dubbed by J because it's in the master bedroom
Ahem. Moving on.

I'm not really a fan of skinny trees, but when I was working at Hobby Lobby last year, this tree was returned because the "lights didn't work". Mmm hmm. I rescued it from the trash chute for $5. Yes, five dollars.

This may be a good time to mention that most of the Christmas items you see here were all bought at after Christmas clearance sales. A great deal of them were 80% off (or more) plus my employee discount. I rarely pay full price for any Christmas item.

Back when we only had one tree, I used to rotate between my blue & silver ornaments and my maroon & gold ornaments and the family ornaments usually got mixed in too.
I always felt a little selfish wanting a "family" tree AND a "pretty" tree.
Now I don't have to feel guilty!

I did reserve that maroon ornament from some very dear friends of ours from our ARMY days in Hawaii for this tree, though. That Mrs. Bradley had a house straight from the pages of Southern Living & I loved it. Her tree had more lights and decorations on it than I thought possible!

Do you remember when I said we rent this house? Yeah, I didn't pick any of the paint colors. I'm very thankful that my master bathroom is not still the mauve color hiding underneath this color! However, I found some great ornaments in the Dollar Spot at Target (plus an extra 10% Cartwheel!) that compliment the lime green.

What? You don't have a tree in your bathroom?

A little more color for the bathroom.

My "Candy Land" tree! Love this one! It is so fun & whimsical.
This is the tree we bought last year when we celebrated Christmas in an empty house because the movers had already taken all our furniture. It was a bright, fun spot in that trying time.
I really need to take some daytime pictures because it's so cute!
 One of the neighbor kids said they wanted to eat it up!

My kids love the "snow" in the jars.

I was going to hang red and white pot holders from the cupboards but J came up with this free solution of putting wrapping paper on them after how well my china cabinet turned out. Smart, frugal kid!
Yes, I already owned all those different red wrapping papers.
I'm pretty sure only one of them cost more than .25 a roll.

This post is so long & I've only just begun! I will leave you with this fantastically adorable snowman that is hanging in the hallway between the kids rooms,
but I really hope you'll come back to view the rest of my decorations!

Mr. Snowy wants you to come back too!

*Please feel free to ask any questions or leave a comment!*
*I love visitors!*

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bad Links

It has come to my attention that some of my recent posts with links are bad. I am going through & fixing those. Sorry for any inconvenience! Also, I have set up an Amazon store that most of my product links will go to. If you purchase anything through TheBeazHive Amazon Store you will be supporting our homeschool, and for that, I thank you!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Book Review: "Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey"

Do you think you know everything about couponing? Do you find couponing too confusing, too much work, boring? Do you fall anywhere in between those extremes? Then, “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey” is the book for you! Joanie Demer & Heather Wheeler have debunked the myths about couponing and taken it to superstar heights, while talking to you like your best friend. They teach you to make the grocery aisles your catwalk!

There’s a lot I know (or think I know) about couponing. I’ve been doing it off and on for nearly 5 years, but “Pick Another Checkout Lane,Honey” has taught me a few more things. It’s a very in-depth look at couponing with some great ideas for what to do with all the money you save as well!

If you’re a newbie, they cover all the basics. From building your coupon binder, to building your stockpile, to building your savings account, these ladies have it covered. Both Joanie & Heather give their personal stories about how and why they started couponing and how it has changed their lives. The entire book is conversational in tone and makes you wish you knew these girls in person.

If you’re seasoned you might learn something you didn’t already know, and you’re likely to find the humorous drawings spot on! For me, it was nice to have the monthly sales cycles and the price list laid out. I’ve made a copy of the price list to use as a guide and then adjust to the best prices I can get. I plan on making a copy of the sales cycles to keep in my binder as well.

The biggest thing I learned is that I need to obtain official coupon policies on company letterhead for every store I shop at, as well as talk to the general manager of each store. This sounds downright terrifying to me, but makes complete sense. My husband said he would go with me, so that makes me feel more confident! It’s true that as the couponer, I probably know more about the store’s coupon policy than my cashier and maybe even the manager. Being able to prove that I’m playing by the rules may come in handy one day!

These fabulous ladies also run this fantastic website called It’s where I go to find all my coupon match-ups. I probably check everyday because I’m a little obsessed, but I definitely look before I head out to the stores to make sure there aren’t any great new deals that have popped up. They list the weekly sales with the corresponding coupons for all the major super centers and drugstores, plus many large grocery stores around the country. They recently started doing the match-ups for Winn-Dixie, so they are my go-to site for all my major stores (Publix, Winn-Dixie, CVS, Walgreens, Target & Wal-Mart) now. I occasionally shop at BJ’s and Save-A-Lot, and infrequently at Whole Foods & Aldi because they are so far away. Oh, how I miss Aldi…

I highly recommend “Pick Another Checkout Lane, Honey” to ANYONE! Young, old, spender, saver, you can learn something from this book and be entertained at the same time. I’m sure you can find something to relate to. Everybody likes saving money, right?

P.S. I made this coupon sorting mat a couple years ago that makes organizing all those little pieces of paper so much easier! Sadly, over the last 3 moves in a 12-month period I’ve lost track of it. If I don’t find it soon, I will need to make another one so the kids can help more too!

*All opinions expressed are my own! I was not compensated in any way for this review.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Vacation on the Cheap: Orlando 2013 - Meal & Snack Ideas

Welcome back to my Vacation on the Cheap Series! I hope that you have been following along and gathering some ideas that you can use on your next vacation.

Today’s topic is food! Yummy! Food can be one of the biggest, if not the biggest cost when vacationing. A family can spend anywhere from $30 for some mediocre chicken strips that have been sitting under warming lights for 5 hours, all the way up to several HUNDRED dollars for a sit-down meal with a certain princess in her castle. That’s just per meal! Over the course of several days one could easily go bankrupt.

This is not to say that you should skip on food and dining experiences that you believe to be worth the money. Like I’ve mentioned before, we do NOT skip on the Dole Whips. (If you’ve had one, you know why I keep mentioning this!) We have several character meals that we really want to do, but have yet to save the money for. When it becomes a priority, I’m sure we’ll figure out a way to save that money.

Figure out what your food priorities are and save for those. Get creative in areas where you know you could save money. We’ve already discussed finding a hotel with a kitchen, free breakfast, a mini-fridge and/or a microwave. Now we’re going to talk about specific ideas for each of those situations, and a few ideas for when you can’t find a hotel with any of those things.

No matter where you stay, do as much as you can before leaving home. If you are striving for a “real food” diet, make snacks such as homemade goldfish crackers rather than buying them. Homemade baked goods will add a special touch to your brown bag lunch. Strive to include treats that will set your lunch apart from run-of-the-mill kids meals so that no one feels deprived. Don’t forget lots of fruits & vegetables to keep it healthy!

*Please note that these are suggestions, and I have not personally tried every recipe*

The No-Frills Hotel
*Many items will need to be kept cold. Use discretion when choosing items to bring based on how much space your cooler has, number of days items will remain in cooler, and if they must be kept very cold or only cool*
Oatmeal (packets)– use hot water from the coffee maker or the tap
Muffins - these are really yummy & what we took with us; I also added blueberries to some of them
Cereal – keep milk in the cooler
*Don’t forget the fruit!

Lunch & Dinner
Homemade lunchables -meat, cheese, crackers
Pasta salad (recipe coming soon!)
Sandwiches or Wraps: meat, pb&j, cream cheese & jelly, cream cheese & ham, Nutella & banana, egg salad, tuna salad (could be made with avocado, it's yummy!) - could also be served on bagel or with crackers
*I would highly recommend wraps because of their portability. No squished bread!*
Layered salads - in plastic jars because glass may not be permitted
California Taco Salad (recipe coming soon!)
Tortellini salad (recipe coming soon!)

Snacks & Desserts
Granola bars
Hard-boiled eggs
Hummus & veggies
Peanut butter in bottom of jar with celery - could add raisins
Rice crispy bars/brown rice bars (recipe coming soon!)
Banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread (one or more recipes coming soon!)
Fruit cups (could make your own!)
Trail mix
Fruit with Nutella or other dip
Cheese wedges or sticks
Mixed nuts

Hotel with a Mini-Fridge and Microwave
(Including all of the above suggestions)

Sausage Pancake Bites – made at home, kept in fridge & reheated
Waffles - made at home with maple syrup in mix & reheated
Mini sausages in biscuits – made at home & reheated

*If you can find these really cool slow cooker liners, you can use your crock-pot to make delicious food for you while you are sleeping or out enjoying the sites!


Lunch & Dinner
Buffalo or BBQ chicken wraps – keep sauce on side until eating time
Pasties – a tasty hand-held meat pie, referred to as a hand pie or empanada in other parts of the country (recipe coming soon!)
Chicken, pork, or steak skewers with microwavable rice
Biscuit meatballs with marinara dipping sauce
Black & Blue Salad - mixed greens with thinly sliced steak, blue cheese & blue cheese dressing

Again, you can use your slow cooker for these meals:
Crock pot Meatballs – party (recipe coming soon!), buffalo chicken, meatball subs (recipe coming soon!)

Snacks & Desserts
Popcorn – take advantage of the microwave; try the paper bag method of popping to avoid nasty chemicals!
Fruit salad


Hotel with Kitchen
(Including all of the above suggestions)

Whatever you like to eat at home! (Okay, so I've never made those yummy looking caramel pecan cinnamon rolls, but they're on my short list! Anybody else try these yet?)

Lunch & Dinner
Taco salad to go – layered seasoned beef, beans, olives, chopped  veggies, cheese, lettuce in a lidded bowl (or plastic jars) pack sour cream, salsa & chips on the side
Chicken taco salad – mixed greens diced chicken, shredded cheese, beans, and tomatoes with yogurt/salsa mix on side
Sesame noodles- I double the sauce for these noodles!
Quesadilla strips with yogurt/sour cream, guacamole & salsa on side
Hamburgers & Hot Dogs
Snacks & Desserts
Smoothies (freeze in freezer jam jars, or those cool reusable smoothie pop thingies)
Jell-o cubes or jell-o w/ fruit (can pour right into lunch containers to set up overnight)
Deviled eggs
Fruit salad

This is just a sampling of ideas that I’ve culled from my own recipes, recipes from family and friends, and that wealth of information known as Pinterest! I’m sure that you probably have recipes in your repertoire that could be used to save you money on vacation as well. If you’re serious about saving money on vacation food, take the time to make lists of meals that you think your family would enjoy, which will be easy to transport & prepare. Make sure you share your ideas here with the rest of us!

Miss a "Vacation on the Cheap" Post? Find them here:
Part 1 - Itinerary & Menu
Part 2 - Tips & FREE Things to Do at Disney
Part 3 - Tips for Saving on Food

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase anything through one of the links, you will be supporting our home school! Thank you!


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