Granola Mom Failer

Welcome and thanks for visiting my blog!

By February 16, 2018 Uncategorized

I am so glad we found each other! I hope you find my blog as sarcastic and charming as I am. I’m Courtney G., aka Mama Failer. I enjoy raw honesty, the endless search for inner peace, and trying and failing at many things, including motherhood and things I find on Pinterest (those things all go hand in hand, right?!). The secret I want to share with everyone is that just because you’re a FAILER doesn’t mean you’re a FAILURE. Failing can be frustrating, or anxiety inducing, often expected, but sometimes it can actually be fun! So click around and join me as I celebrate and commiserate this crazy adventure we call motherhood & parenting.

Mama Failer

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My First Airplane Ride with a Toddler

By January 28, 2018 Uncategorized

In January I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Arizona to visit my parents. I love traveling in January for a number of reasons- 1) Because the holidays are over, it seems like less people travel in January. People are tired and broke from all the hustle and bustle of December, and spending less in the new year. 2) My birthday is in January, so its a nice treat. 3) I’d rather be anywhere but Illinois in January. For any of my locals, you know it can be brutal!

My husband on the other hand hates traveling in January. The new year marks the beginning of vacation time, and using that time up so early in the year is not something he likes to do. What’s a wife to do?? I normally would not hesitate to take a vacation without him, its not a huge deal for us, but now that we have a toddler, there are more facts to consider.

My husband and I always wanted to do a little traveling with our son, but I never thought about taking him on a trip by myself, let alone flying solo with him for his first ride in an airplane. To say I was nervous was an understatement. I tried to plan and pack for the worst case scenario, but the day of I was an absolute wreck, pacing back and forth, stomach churning.

“The Plan”

Planning the trip, I had an absolute fantasy in my head. I didn’t want to check a bag because once we landed I wanted to get settled in as soon as possible. I looked up ways to get my son and I through the airport and considered my options. 1) He could walk- no, 2) I could push him in a stroller and wheel a suitcase and juggling a purse- nope. 3) I could carry him- hell no, 4) I could cart him (but then I’d have to buy a cart), or 5) I could use an airport carseat strap.


I really researched and weighed this decision before buying. The cart was nice, but expensive. We don’t travel much, so how much would I really use this investment? The car seat strap was less expensive and straps to your luggage, turning your luggage into the cart. The reviews for both products were good. Considering I was by myself, I opted for the car seat strap so I didnt have to lug a suitcase and a cart. In the airport it worked great!

We went through the airport with no problems. Going through the security section we were directed to the wheelchair / stroller section, which I highly recommend. I had to untether the strap, put the suitcase through the machine along with my personal items, and his car seat went to the side to be checked by hand.

Everything went surprisingly smooth! I was moving slowly, putting our stuff back together, when someone asked me if these were my shoes in their hands. I just thought they were being nice because I was moving so slowly, but then I looked up and saw them motioning me to join them at the podium. I checked the TSA website before the trip and found out food and drinks were acceptable for traveling with a toddler. Still, that motion is a little unsettling. “Whatever you need, just take it,” I thought. My son’s sippy cup of milk was about 5 oz., and thus tested for explosives etc. No big deal. We got through and halfway to the gate I realized I didn’t have my ID in my hands anymore. Gulp. That was a big deal.

We hauled ass back to the security check point, and I talked to one of the officers, who had already turned my ID into another department. Apparently I left it in a bin that got scanned. We were quickly escorted to another type of security booth, and I got my ID back with plenty of time to make it to the gate. It’s definitely not something you want to have happen, but it turned out ok.

When we got to the gate I checked my car seat and the lady at the desk told me I would need to check my suitcase as well. I had not planned on the suitcase part, so I had to adjust my plans on the fly. They would send the suitcase to the baggage claim, so I had them send the car seat there as well.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Before we left I researched TSA restrictions, and boy have they changed over the years, in a good way! There are many perks they afford to child travelers, including allowing liquids over 3.4 oz.
  2. We booked through southwest, and didn’t pay for early check in- and our boarding number wasn’t that good, despite checking in right on time. Luckily they have family boarding betweem Group A & Group B. If getting the best choice of seating is important to you, spend the money! If budget is an issue and you don’t mind leaving seating options to chance, skip it.
  3. I planned a late flight to increase the odds of him napping. While he didn’t sleep the whole flight, he did get a decent nap in- mostly because:
  4. We sat in the front row- It seemed like a good idea and it was! There was a little more space for my toddler to move around. It was hard for him to get comfortable in my lap, but I packed a muslin blanket, put it on the floor and he stretched out for a decent nap.
  5. The bad part of sitting in the front row was that you can’t have a bag stowed under the seat in front of you. I had a swing pack purse I snuck under my jacket full of snacks and small toys. After the plane got up to altitude they allow you to have more personal items with you, but being by myself, I made do with what was in my swing pack.
  6. As always, plan for the worst, hope for the best!

Overall, the flight out to Arizona went better than expected. Flying by myself with a toddler was an experience, but I was fortunate to have no major melt downs in the air. My toddler fussed for maybe 10 minutes about a half hour into the flight because he didn’t get his way- it wasn’t even directly related to ear popping. After that did I bribe him to behave? Absolutely. I had a game plan of snacks and activities, including felt books from Target, playdough, figurine toys, and Melissa and Doug Water Wow books and luck was on our side.

Could I have done things differently? Yes. Because of my budget I opted to not do the early check in, and not book my toddler his own seat. Both things turned out ok on the way there, but on the way back could have been very helpful. To book an airplane ticket for a small child I recommend calling the airline and asking about reduced fairs, which is something I had not considered until it was too late on the flight coming back.


Click Here to Read Part 2- How I Joined the Mile High Mama Club



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Book Review & Giveaway: The House That Cleans Itself

By January 15, 2018 How To, inspiration, Uncategorized, Wins

Book Review: The House That Cleans Itself
Mindy Starns Clark
Harvest House Publishers, 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0736918800

It is no secret that I am not the best housekeeper. I love organizing and condensing household items, but I HATE CLEANING! One of my biggest anxiety triggers is cleaning. True story. Whenever I start to clean my house I get overwhelmed by the fact that cleaning just doesn’t come naturally to me, and I beat myself up over how my efforts never seem good enough. If someone is watching me clean- forget about it! I shut down and I become paralyzed by this anxiety.

For years I have been trying to overcome this hurdle in my life. From trying different cleaning schedules, hacks, and habits, to hiring housekeepers to come once a month to help out when I was working. I’ve gotten better at cleaning over the years, but I finally found an absolute game changer in the book, The House That Cleans Itself.

Finally I have found someone who gets me! In the first chapter the author admits that cleaning is a talent that not everyone possesses. Throughout the book she offers relatable stories from her own journey from messy to tidy, as well as sprinkling in “My most embarrassing messy house stories” from others. One thing that hooked me was the promise on the cover to show me, “how to keep your house twice as clean in half the time.” Digging in deeper (page 11), she spoke directly to my soul when she said her system will “take a person who feels like a failure in caring for his or her home and change that person into someone who is unburdened, unashamed, and successful in caring for their home.”



Awe struck at these sentiments, I couldn’t wait to turn the pages and reveal the secrets of the universe, and I was not disappointed! Her creative approach takes you through a step by step process that focuses on changing your environment instead of focusing on changing your habits. This was mind blowing to me! Her reasoning rings true though, if you could change your habits you would have done it already. What a game changer!

Skimming the table of contents, there are 2 parts to this book. The first part is her step by step process to start the journey to a tidier home, the planning and implementation, including two chapters on inviting God to your cleaning party. Trust me (or ask my husband), when it comes to keeping the house tidy, I definitely need God (laughing but serious). Its actually very refreshing that this is included in the book. Part 2 is about the CONVERT system that makes the cleaning process more manageable and includes tips on maintaining your new clean home.

Overall I loved this book! As a mother of a young child, there’s a constant struggle to keep an organized home. Toys can quickly add up, schedules can become overwhelming, and this book offers great solutions for those problems and so much more! The author’s tone is so relatable and down to Earth- there’s no judgement and it’s an easy read. I rate this book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5.


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2017 Recap & Top 3 Posts

By January 4, 2018 inspiration, Uncategorized, Wins

What a crazy year 2017 was! I started off the year working part time as a poker dealer at the casino for 6 months. I loved working there, but I was always stressing out about working weekends and finding babysitters around my husband’s shift work schedule. I kept trying to make shift switches with others and drove myself crazy trying to make it work while not forfeiting my entire paycheck to childcare costs.

The breaking point was when my husband and I decided we wanted to go on a 3 week Road Trip in September.  I rationalized that I wouldn’t possibly get the time off without losing my job, so I would put in my two weeks notice beforehand. We started planning this in May, and in June I decided to make June 29th my last day so I could enjoy being off for 4th of July.

Transitioning to being a stay at home mom terrified me completely! Growing up, I never considered being a stay at home mom. I’ve always had a strong work ethic and enjoyed the benefits of being financially independent. Working gave me a sense of accomplishment and contribution to the household that I could clearly define. Not having a job and depending completely on my husband was a completely foreign concept to me.

So there I was, trying to figure out what a stay at home mother does, trying to fill my calendar with playdates to fend off boredom, and trying to keep the house together when I felt like everything was falling apart. Luckily I had a great support system in my husband and parents and in-laws… until my parents and my in-laws both decided to move to Arizona. Eeep! There were several times I considered going back to work, but I couldn’t go back to the casino because of the hours, and starting over doesn’t really afford anyone the opportunity to start at the top and make their own rules like I wanted to.

Within 4 months of being at home with my son, I decided to look into Work At Home Mom jobs. My son was 18 months old at this point, and starting to be a busybody. With all that toddler energy and mayhem, WAHM jobs were not gonna happen.  At about this time, Facebook changed its algorithm and I kept seeing the same posts from the same people (my favorite pages) over and over again.  That’s when I decided, “I can do that!” When I was much younger I wanted to be a writer. That was 20 years ago, I was 12, and the internet was not what it is today.

Fast forward to today, and I am so excited to have my own website, a super supportive Facebook following, and over a dozen articles- which all came together in the last 6 to 8 weeks! I am so grateful to have this opportunity to write and connect with all of you!

In case you missed any of it, here are my top 3 articles of 2017:

5 Easy Tips to Smash the Hell Out of Your New Year’s Resolution!

The Best Gratitude Tip on The Internet

4 Creative Ways To Have The Ultimate Staycation

I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for all of us! Thanks for tuning in!


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5 Easy Tips to Smash the Hell Out of Your New Year’s Resolution!

By December 26, 2017 How To, inspiration, Wins

Now that Christmas is over and 2017 is coming to a close, it’s time to start looking to the future. Newsflash: “next year” is less than one week away. That fact can be terrifying for some people, and empowering for others, especially those who make New Year’s Resolutions. Statistically, about 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. Interestingly, 72.6% maintain their resolution for the first week. At two weeks the success rate drops to 68.4%, and at one month it dips to 58.4%. After six months 44.8% of people keep their resolutions, but alas, typically only 8% can keep their resolution for the entire year. I don’t mean to dishearten you with these stats. In fact, I want you to be part of the 8% success rate. So how do we make that happen?

First of all, let’s be a little more positive. Did you know that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10x more likely to succeed at their goals than people who don’t? Let’s talk about goals. You’ve probably heard that they should be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). Sure that’s a great acronym for a poster, but in real life often it’s not that black and white. Let’s look at history:

2017’s Top New Year’s Resolutions:

11. Find a better job
10. Find the love of my life
9. Do more good deeds for others
8. Learn something new
7. Work out more
6. Spend more time with friends and family
5. Do more exciting things
4. quit smoking
3. Better financial decisions
2. Life / Self Improvements
1. Lose weight / eat healthier

About half of those things can’t be quantified. Seriously, how do you measure progress on finding a better job? I guess you could graph how many applications you send out, and how many interviews you schedule, but that’s kind of depressing. In a perfect world the stats would be 1:1 with a perfect job becoming available to you at the perfect time, and you submit the perfect application and resume and ace the interview and take the better job with better pay and better opportunities… yeah, it sounds like a dream to me too.

So, here are my top 5, realistic tips for smashing the hell out of your New Year’s Resolution, no matter what it is. These 5 tips are a great action plan that is easy to understand and follow. Seriously, I don’t know why no one has laid it out like this before! Keep reading, I’m actually going to give you 4 of the 5 tips now, and if you like what I’m saying I will email you my #1 tip.

Here we go:

5. Plan your resolution like you are planning to run a marathon. Don’t just give yourself a black and white objective. You can’t be a couch potato one day who has never trained for a marathon, and the next day plan to run it perfectly, finish in a good time, and not throw up. It takes planning, hard work and persistence to be able to do something that big and succeed. Plan out your resolution the same way. Think of steps you need to be successful and plan them out intentionally.

4. Speaking of planning, schedule your resolution- use your favorite calendar, not a fake one you’re not used to looking at (been there!). If that’s an app, an organizer, or your iphone calendar, set appointments with yourself and put reminders in as much as you can. Want to read more? Schedule a weekly trip to the library. Actually schedule it, don’t just make a mental note. Heading to the gym more? Schedule that too. Eating healthier? Schedule a meal prep day at the beginning of each week and maybe a healthy themed day of the week like “Soup & Salad Saturday,” or “Fish Friday.” Make your schedule for at least 3 months, 6 if you can. It takes 6 months of doing a habit for it to become part of your personality.

3. The actual point of a New Year’s Resolution is not to do a habit for a year and revert back to your former self. It is to do a habit enough for a year to hopefully become part of your identity and personality. For this to happen, you should start the early stages (and late stages) talking about your resolution, to anyone who will listen. By talking about your New Year’s Resolution, you make yourself accountable. (No one wants to talk about goals and admit they gave up on them.) Additionally, when you talk about your goals, you invite other people to become your accountability partners. Sometimes you really do need to talk to someone else about your goals in order to keep motivation up. Whether it’s a cheerleader, a partner in crime, or a kick in the ass, it’s nice to have someone checking in on your goals and keeping you accountable.

2. Invest in yourself and your resolution. By spending money on your resolution you are more likely to keep it. Learning a new language? Buy a book or an online course and commit to using it. Feel like working out more? Buy a gym membership or clothes to wear to the gym. One catch though- make sure the stakes are high enough for you to care about them. $10 a month for a gym membership might be easy to disregard and blow off. Make sure the investment is a noticeable squeeze on your wallet; something painful to part with that guilts you into following through. For example: there are a few websites that place bets on your weight loss. If that seems too weird for you, try rewarding yourself by putting a dollar in a jar every time you go to the gym. When you reach $30 for 30 days, buy yourself a new gym outfit or treat yourself to a mani pedi, or save it and try to make $300 during the year. If you are trying to save money, pay yourself for good deeds. When you make your own lunch instead of grabbing fast food, put $3-$5 in a jar, and when you succeed 10x, you’ll have $30-$50 more in your pocket that wouldn’t have been there.

For my  #1 tip that will help you succeed at your New Year’s Resolution, sign up for my free emails, below. I promise it is an easy step that will help you be part of the 8% successful. I also promise not to spam you, and keep contact to once or twice a month. I can’t wait to share this tip with you! See you on the other side!

Click here to receive emails from me, including my #1 tip on how to succeed at your New Year’s Resolution!

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Advent Decluttering- Pt. 2

By December 14, 2017 Decluttering, Holidays

Welcome to weeks 3 and 4 of 25 Days of Giving! Thank you for joining me on this advent adventure! I can’t believe December is half over already. If you participated in Part 1 with me, congratulations and keep up the good work!! If you are just joining me, feel free to just jump in right where we’re at. If you want to check out  Part 1 follow the link to see what you missed!

My goal is to inspire generosity and simplicity through Advent Decluttering this holiday season. Please help me get the word out by sharing this article. If you like, you can do the daily challenges in order, or if you are like me, do them knock out style each week. This week we will be decluttering DVDs, Games & Video Games, Beverage Mix Packs, Linens & Towels, Cleaning & Laundry Supplies, Newspapers, & Dog Toys. Week 4 will be the week of Christmas, and even though I said 25 Days of Giving, I’m filling in the whole week with categories of giving. You can take a few days off and pick back up after the holiday, or you can power through the extended challenge. Week 4 we will be decluttering Food & Pantry Supplies (Food Storage Containers, Plastic Utensils, Paper Towels), Art & Craft Supplies, Books, Gift Cards, School & Office Supplies, Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses, And Utility Closet items- Garbage bags, Lightbulbs, Batteries. Feel free to comment with any questions, or just to share how you are doing. I look forward to seeing your responses!

Here is the master list for weeks 3 and 4. Below the list I will be providing in depth information and links regarding where to donate items besides Goodwill. Goodwill is okay for its convenience and ease of donating, but there are many other people and causes that could really use the items listed below, many in your local community!

Week 3
Day 15- DVDs
Day 16- Games & Video Games
Day 17- Beverage Mix Packs
Day 18- Linens & Towels
Day 19- Cleaning & Laundry Supplies
Day 20- Newspapers
Day 21- Dog Toys

Week 4
Day 22- Food & Pantry Supplies (Food Storage Containers, Plastic Utensils, Paper Towels)
Day 23- Art & Craft Supplies
Day 24- Books
Day 25- Gift Cards
Day 26- School & Office Supplies
Day 27- Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses
Day 28- Utility Closet- Garbage bags, TP, Lightbulbs, Batteries

Day 15- DVDs Etc.

DVDs and Blue Ray Discs are an interesting topic. I own both and have my husband’s PlayStation that we can watch them on. But today’s world is so digital, he prefers buying new releases on iTunes or watching movies on Netflix. Now is a great time to go through your stash and thin out any DVDs, Blue Rays, or VHS tapes that are taking up space. I know, before Netflix was available and Family Guy was cancelled, you thought your favorite show was never coming back to tv. I didn’t either and I bought a few seasons on DVD. Do you ever really watch them? Me neither. Time to go through all of your entertainment and donate it to someone who will appreciate it. Goodwill is an option, but you know who would really appreciate it? Soldiers overseas. Some camps have created DVD libraries because there is nothing to do in the waiting periods. You can easily Google “DVDs for troops” and find 184,000 results on where to donate, but Amvets has a program called Task Force DVDs you can check out at

By the way, if you still have VHS tapes, and have no idea what to do with them, you can ask around to nursing homes and other care facilities to see if they can use them, or recycle them (more info at

Day 16- Games & Video Games

Do you still have a game of Mall Madness in your basement? Have your kids outgrown the Eye Spy board game? Did you receive a duplicate game like LRC or Uno? Now is a great time to go through all of your games, board games, and video games and donate before you get more for Christmas! You can always take the easy route to Goodwill, or you can post them for free on Facebook Marketplace. The best way to donate video games or adult focused games is by sending a care package to the troops. There is so much down time for soldiers overseas, that receiving a package of UNO cards can really boost morale.

Day 17- Beverage Mix Packs

While you are rounding up donations for soldiers, add this often over looked category to your pile: Beverage Mix Packets. Don’t know what I mean? Think Kool Aid packs, Crystal Light, instant coffee or tea and Gatorade powder mixes. Water is the best thing on base to keep them hydrated, but a little flavor can go a long way to lift spirits.

Day 18- Linens & Towels

Oops, I was cleaning something and wiped up bleach with my navy blue towel! It’s ruined. I’d put it in my closet with my other cleaning rags, but that bin is overflowing with old t-shirts, microfiber cloths, and other towels and rags. You know who could use some extra towels and linens that won’t judge you for your bleach stain? Animal shelters! These items can be used for bedding or to clean up messes.

Day 19- Cleaning & Laundry Supplies

Speaking of cleaning up messes, animal shelters typically appreciate donations of cleaning supplies, since they go through a lot of them. Did you recently go green with all of your cleaning supplies, or switch to Norwex? I bet you still have all of your old cleaning supplies still sitting in your closet. Now is a great time to declutter those supplies and take them to your favorite animal shelter at the end of the week!

Special Note: Lysol and Pine-sol are sometimes banned at animal shelters because cats can walk through them and ingest them when grooming themselves which can be fatal. Save those cleaners and donate them to people shelters instead!


Day 20- Newspapers

Everyone knows pets can be messy, and newspapers are a great tool to have for easier clean up. While you are rounding up supplies to donate to an animal shelter this week, throw your newspapers in the donation pile. Ask your neighbors for theirs too!

Day 21- Dog Toys

Does your pet have more toys than he plays with? At one time my dog had 7 balls, 2 squeaky toys, and 2 different rope toys. As much as he tries, he can’t possibly play with all those toys at once. He actually is not into the rope toys because I am not into rope toys. Today is a great day to take inventory and do a toy round up! Take any extra toys to a local animal shelter to make some very happy pets this holiday season!

Day 22- Food & Pantry Supplies

Everyone knows a place where you can donate food this holiday season. Your local food banks, churches, homeless shelters and women’s shelters will gladly accept and distribute food that is not expired. Did you know that many of these places also have a need for other pantry supplies like napkins, paper towels, plastic utensils and food storage containers? This week when you are decluttering your pantry, check to see if you have any of these other items to donate as well.

Day 23- Art & Craft Supplies

Anyone who has kids probably has a miscellaneous bin of art supplies in case of a rainy day. My mom had a whole craft closet. Sometimes items were multifunctional and could be repurposed for different projects (think Velcro, puff paint, & jingle bells), but most of the time if we used an item for one project and had left over pieces (beads, sequins, and anything fringe!), those pieces would go untouched for years. Instead of letting those items sit in a closet, donate them to someone who will appreciate the art & craft supplies. Children’s hospitals, women’s shelters, community centers, schools, or churches are great places to donate these items.

Day 24- Books

I love books, but they take up room to store them, and at one point I did not have enough shelf space for the books I had. When books start taking over your space, its time to thin out your stash. The first place I look to donate is my local library. Not only will it help my community, but if I ever want to read the books I have donated, I can always check them out and read and return them. Other places to donate include,, and (great for used textbooks that are past buy back editions).

Day 25- Gift Cards

Have you ever received a gift card for something you had no idea what it was, or received one for something you didn’t really like, or maybe you bought something with a gift card and you have a weird balance left over that you don’t know what to do with? Instead of leaving the gift card in your wallet to collect dust, donate it to a good cause! Many homeless shelters and women’s shelters take gift card donations. Other places to donate gift cards include websites like CharityChoice, or where you can donate the value of the gift card to a nonprofit organization of your choice. Both websites resell gift cards.

Day 26- School & Office Supplies

At the end of every school year, while you are cleaning out desks, lockers, and backpacks, you may find unused or partially used school supplies. Instead of throwing them out, look into donating those items to places that would appreciate them. Many teachers will gladly take extra school supplies off your hands and pass them along to those in need (I know so many teachers who go above and beyond, and spend their own money to make sure that every kid in their class has the supplies they need to succeed, especially those in lower income families). If a kid forgets their notebook, or their colored pencils for a day, its nice to have a teacher’s set of supplies to let the kid borrow and sometimes keep. Other places to donate include almost any non-profit, because buying those office supplies adds up financially, and they would rather spend the money on their cause. A specific organization that asks for office supplies is Muscular Dystrophy Association (

Day 27- Medical & Dental Supplies & Eyeglasses

Many people know that the Lion’s Club takes donations for used eyeglasses, but what can you do with other medical supplies? Rehab centers and VA Hospitals will often take donations of crutches, wheel chairs, and support braces. What about everything else in your medicine cabinet? Excluding drugs, much of the other items can be donated to Advocates for World Health ( or The Medical Equipment Donation Agency ( Don’t overlook the dental products while you’re in a purging mood! The National Children’s Oral Health Foundation has a Smile Drive for Toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash & mouth guards. More information can be found at

Day 28- Utility Closet

Last Day of our advent! Thank you for sticking with me! Today we explore the depths of our utility closet. Don’t have one? You can find many of these items scattered in other closets, in the garage, in the basement, or under the kitchen sink. What we don’t realize when donating to local shelters is that the same things that keep our house running keeps their house running too. The light bulbs, the trash bags, the batteries, the extension cords, paper towels and toilet paper. I recently bought the wrong garbage bags… Of course I didn’t realize it until I opened the box, and by then I’m not returning them because it was my error. What’s a person to do? Use it as a great excuse to purge other items and donate to people who will appreciate these items. I’m not going to take just 1 box of trash bags to a shelter and say “Here you go.” Instead I am going to bundle up as many things as I can in order to make my trip worth it on so many levels. I bought some CFL light bulbs last year because they were on sale. I still have incandescent bulbs in my stash, but prefer CFL’s (and next year I’ll probably switch to LEDs). To the donation pile it goes! What else can I find? Batteries- Check! Don’t need those D’s now that we are out of the baby stage. And I am definitely going to go back through the other categories and see if there is anything I missed that can go with me.

Being a blessing to others is one of the best reasons to clear out things that have accumulated over time. By focusing on one small category at a time, you can give purposefully to many different causes that are local to you or you can find organizations that help donations reach across the world. It’s amazing how small our world had become with technology. I hope I have inspired you to look into your hearts, and look into your closets and donate what you can to help those in need.

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Christmas Simplified: The New 4 Gift Rules

By December 6, 2017 Holidays

As Christmas approaches, temperatures drop and credit card balances rise. “I just want my kids to have things I never had, growing up,” is an endearing sentiment from many parents and grandparents every year. But what once was a holiday known for family gatherings and goodwill toward men, has now become synonymous with keeping up with the Joneses.

Nowadays, getting a single Christmas present is unheard of. Not only do people focus on getting the hottest toy before it sells out (or be forced to pay triple the price online), but they also focus on getting the flashiest presents and / or the most presents they can get for their over the top budgets (if they even have budgets). It’s no wonder that Christmas has gotten out of control.

But not for Everyone…

Within the past 10 years some people have started simplifying their Christmas givings in an attempt to rein it in and be more intentional with their gifts. For years a trend has been circulating about doing category Christmas presents, which has also been referred to as the 4 Gift Rule.

The idea is that the receiver gets 4 presents- something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. While I think this is a nice idea, it is not as easy as it sounds.

The flaw in the plan is the need category. Basic human needs are food, water, shelter, and love. Chances are, if you are considering implementing the 4 Gift Rule, 1) You have the internet, and 2) Your basic needs are met. The problem with all other needs is that if they truly register as a need, you try to take care of the need as soon as possible and not wait until December 25th to fix it.

This year I am revamping the categories. I consider clothing a basic need, but it has its own category in the 4 Gift Rule. This is a problem because when I think of the “need category” I think of socks. They are practical and boring; no one wants to buy them. They are need, but you also wear them, so how do you categorize them? Henceforth I propose we combine the two categories. People need clothes. End of story.

Now, what category should we add to the rhyme? Many parents are shifting their mindset and wanting less “stuff” and more experience gifts, so why not make it a category? Let’s call it, “something to do,” instead of using the word “experience.” Many people are actually opposed to the word experience because they associate it with going to an event or taking a vacation, which are both difficult concepts to wrap and fit under a tree. By saying, “something to do,” it takes the pressure off of people who want to give gifts that can be unwrapped. Receivers can still unwrap board games, kitchen items, a science kit, etc. They are still experiences, but it’s an easier concept to explain to others.

So, as of 2017, the New Categories for the 4 Gift Rule are:

Something they Want,
Something they Need,
Something to DO,
And Something to Read

Please comment below with your thoughts!

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The Cutest Bird Dance- or So I Thought

By December 5, 2017 Fails

Earlier this week I was in the basement with my year and a half old son. He was playing with some toys on the floor, while I was sitting on the couch. His favorite show, Puppy Dog Pals, was on.

For those of you who are unaware, Puppy Dog Pals is a new series on the Disney Channel, and as such they play the same 20 episodes over and over… and over again. Though we have seen each episode more than 1,000 times, I was happy because my favorite one came on, titled, “Polly Wants a Pug.” I love this episode the most because of an annoyingly cute song, my new favorite song, “Bob’s Bird.”

So there I was, relaxing on the couch, half paying attention to Reece; half paying attention to the show; singing the silly song. Reece was playing independently with his toys, which makes me so happy and proud. To make things extra dreamy, I glance over, and Reece started to dance to the song. I love it when he dances; he hasn’t done it in a while. Lately he’s been clapping his hands instead of dancing, but tonight was different. He was flapping his arms which I thought was really cute considering it was a bird song.

All of a sudden, something snaps me out of my mushy mom moment… What’s that smell?? I looked up to discover that my sweet little toddler was not dancing adorably as I had thought. Instead, he was flapping his arms to fling poop off of his hands 🤦🏻‍♀️. Apparently I didn’t notice he had quietly pooped and he had been bum scratchin’. Ew… So low and behold, my dreamy mommy moment quickly turned into a MamaFailer moment. Proving once again, you should always be 100% present with your kids… otherwise you could be holding your nose and cleaning poop off the floor like me.

#FailerFriday #GranolaMomFailer #MamaFailer

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25 Days of Giving, Advent Decluttering- Pt 1

By November 30, 2017 Decluttering, Holidays

I’m so excited December is finally here! This month I invite you to join me in 25 days of giving, the advent way to declutter. Being a blessing to others is one of the best reasons to clear out things that have accumulated over time. By focusing on one small category at a time, you can give purposefully to many different causes. There is so much good information in this article that I had to break it into 2 parts. Part 1 will focus on weeks 1 and 2. To check out part 2 for weeks 3 and 4, follow the link here. My goal is to inspire generosity and simplicity through Advent Decluttering this holiday season. Please help me get the word out by sharing this article.

Welcome to weeks 1 and 2 of 25 Days of Giving! If you like, you can do the daily challenges in order, or if you are like me, do them knock out style each week. During week 1 we will be decluttering our Halloween Candy, our Christmas Decor, our Stationery and Christmas Cards, Wrapping Paper, our Sock Drawer, and our Coats, Hats, Gloves, and Scarves. During week 2 we will be decluttering Clothing, Shoes & Accessories, Beauty Products, Old Cell Phones & Chargers, Baby Items, Travel Shampoo & Soaps, and Toys. Feel free to comment with any questions, or just to share how you are doing. I look forward to seeing your responses!

Here is the master list for weeks 1 and 2. Below the list I will be providing in depth information and links regarding where to donate items besides Goodwill. Goodwill is okay for its convenience and ease of donating, but there are many other people and causes that could really use the items listed below.


Week 1

Day 1- Halloween Candy

Day 2- Christmas Décor

Day 3- Stationery & Christmas Cards

Day 4- Wrapping Paper

Day 5- Sock Drawer

Day 6- Coats

Day 7- Hats, Gloves & Accessories


Week 2

Day 8- Clothing

Day 9- Shoes & Accessories

Day 10- Beauty Products

Day 11- Baby Items

Day 12- Travel Shampoo & Soaps

Day 13- Toys

Day 14- Old Cell Phones & Chargers


Day 1, Halloween Candy

If you have any Halloween Candy left, you are like me, not a serious candy eater, perhaps more of an occasional partaker, or maybe you have eaten all of the really good candy and what remains is candy that is not your favorite. Either way, gather it up and give it away! There are many ways to do this ranging from finding a neighbor kid to finding a way to donate candy to soldiers overseas. Either way, you will be brightening someone else’s day and clearing some space from your counter or pantry. Win-Win!

Here is a quick link for help on where to donate:


Day 2 Holiday Décor

Changing out holiday decor is a great time to minimize clutter. If you’re like most people, you have more tchotchkes than you need to decorate with. For years I told myself I “needed” to keep these extra items because they are family heirlooms, or because someone gave them to me, or because I would rotate which decor I used each year. The fact is, all that extra stuff takes up space, time, and energy for you to go through each year. This year, be honest with yourself on what you actually love. If you come across items that are broken, worn, or outdated, either toss them or give yourself a deadline to fix them (2 days). If the items are nice, but not things you love, let go of the guilt associated with the item (the reason you’ve been keeping it for so long), and donate it. Where should you take it? There are several places to donate Christmas decorations besides a thrift shop (although that is the easiest choice). Other options include asking teachers if they would like any decorations for their classrooms, or aspiring photographers for photoshoots, or calling up nursing homes to see if they would want any. (Yes, the items should be in perfect condition for these options). You could also post on facebook or freecycle groups online. Next year you will have less items to go through, less to take down, and more time to spend with loved ones. Win-Win!


Day 3, Christmas cards and other stationery

When filling out your Christmas cards this year, you might have some extras. If you’re like me, you probably also have some extras from last year and the year before too. A great way to use up those old cards is by sending them to the troops. A few years ago my church had a service project that sent Christmas cards to the troops. Looking online, there are tons of different resources for this, including your local Red Cross. I was so inspired by this that I often buy extra cards to send to the troops (Dollar Tree often has 25/50 cards for $1).

Another tip: I save the Christmas cards I receive for 1 year because A) I feel bad just throwing them away when the season is over and I like to make sure I send the giver a Christmas card the next year (I don’t have a master list for this yet, I probably should). Also, its fun to reminisce at the beginning of the season instead of waiting for new cards to roll in. After I look at them, I save any with family pictures, but the rest can be donated to St. Judes to make new Christmas cards from, or they can be used for some fun holiday crafts like the ones linked below.


Day 4, 4 random items for a Decluttering Gift Exchange Game

I am so excited about this game!! It’s kind of a spin on a white elephant gift. Here’s how to play:

1) Find 4 random items around your house that other people might like. The catch is that because this is online with people who you may not know, the items should be small enough to fit in an envelope. (Great ideas for items include small toys or parts of toys, inexpensive jewelry, craft items, stickers, party favors, office supplies, anything useful and mailable!)

2) Post your items on your Facebook page along with the rules.

3) When other people start to participate everyone should comment on the pictures to claim a prize and PM their address to the person posting for where to mail the item. Note: No asking Questions about the items. Take it or leave it. That’s part of the surprise in getting something.

4) At the end of the month anything unclaimed goes in the donation pile.

Start looking in your junk drawers, in your toy bins, office drawers, your car, the bottom of your purses, your craft bins & party bins… everywhere!


Day 5, Sock Drawer

Not many people realize that you can donate socks to Goodwill (underwear too). The items should be in good condition and be clean and dry.

What about socks with holes in them? Or ones without a solemate? Those can actually be donated to H&M Stores to be recycled. Here’s a thought: While you’re going through your sock drawer, for every hole-y sock you find and/or every one off, put it in a donation bag AND add another garmet to donate. Good add on items include: Hole-y jeans, costumes that are wrecked, tops you haven’t worn in 16 years, and baby clothes that are clean, but have food stains you couldn’t get out of them (That one’s my favorite category).

For more information click below:


Days 6 & 7, Coats and Jackets, Hats, Gloves and Scarves

Baby its cold outside! Time to go through your closets and start thinking of others. While Goodwill is an easy place to donate, there are so many local women’s shelters, homeless shelters, and churches collecting these items this time of year. Kids coats are especially helpful since they are always growing and changing sizes so quickly! Just start making phone calls or asking around if anyone knows of groups collecting and you should have no trouble finding someone in your community that you can help.


Day 8 Clothing

There’s no better place to make an impact than your own community. Again, homeless shelters, women’s shelters and churches are great places to start asking around about donating clothing. If you have dresses or business clothing there are a few other places you can contact as well. is a great place to donate prom dresses for their annual special needs prom. There are also several places to donate your wedding dress (more info at If you have clothing that you are tempted to throw out because of holes or tough to remove stains, check out H&M Stores (


Day 9, Shoes & Accessories

While you are going through your closet, take a peek at your shoes and other accessories. and are two places to donate shoes. also accepts professional shoes, purses and jewelry to be distributed to low income women in over 75 cities worldwide. is another place to donate purses, handbags and clutches to benefit survivors of sex trafficking.


Day 10 Beauty Products

Have you ever received a gift of beauty products and didn’t like something you got? Maybe it’s a neon purple lipstick from Ipsy, maybe your new boyfriend didn’t realize you hate the smell of sunflowers, or maybe its yet another lotion or body spray from Bath and Body Works. While these products may not be your cup of tea, most women’s shelters would be glad to take pretty much any unopened beauty products you want to send their way. The rules on opened products varies, but it’s still worth calling and asking about if your products are in a pump (ie. Foundation), or are gently used. For more information on places to donate beauty products, follow the link below:


Day 11- Baby Items

Do you remember how blessed you felt after having your baby shower? Or maybe you didn’t have a shower, but still received one special gift from a friend or relative that made you feel like you and your baby to be would be loved. Sadly, not everyone has that. While not all baby products are meant to be reused (there are many regulations on carseats and mattresses etc.), your local women’s shelter would be happy to accept most baby items. Now is a great time to part with items your child has outgrown, whether it be clothes or extra diapers he didn’t get around to using, or even samples of formula that he or she never got around to using. For more information on what can be donated and other resources on where to donate, check out:


Day 12- Travel Shampoo & Soaps

In the past 10 years the hotel industry has been revolutionized by an organization called Clean the World. They encourage hotels to collect and donate partially used toiletries to be melted down and reformed to make new soap to donate to non-governmental organizations like the Salvation Army and Red Cross. While that program is for hotels, you can donate money to their cause, but if you have unopened toiletries, you can donate those locally. Homeless shelters and women’s shelters are great places to donate toiletries to, but also think about sending those items to the troops.


Day 13- Toys

This time of year there are so many charities asking for new, unwrapped toys to distribute, but what can you do with your gently used toys? Call up your local boys and girls clubs, homeless shelters, and women’s shelters, and you are bound to find someone who would love to have your gently used toys. Local daycares or church nurseries might also appreciate the gifts. If you’d like you can even post the toys for free on a Facebook garage sale site or Craigslist. For more information on places to donate toys to, follow the link below:


Day 14- Old Cell Phones & Chargers

For years I have heard about donating old cell phones and chargers to women’s shelters or local charities, and yet, I still hold on to at least 1 back up phone. I need to cut the safety net. Turn around time for getting a new phone is less than a week (often just days), and yes, we can survive without a phone for that long (gasp!). It actually has never been so easy to donate a used cell phone. Most of the major cell phone carriers (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T) all have cell phone donation programs if you don’t want to go the shelter route. Some donate locally and some donate funds from recycled cell phones send soldiers prepaid phone cards. No more excuses, it’s time to clear out our junk drawers and give to people that will actually value that overpriced paperweight! For more information on donating cell phones, click the link below:


So there you have it! The first 14 days and 14 categories of how you can declutter for a cause this holiday season. So many of these items just accumulate in our houses and would be much more appreciated in someone else’s possession. Join me for Part 2 of Advent Decluttering here. If you like this mini-series, be sure to share it with your friends and family, and sign up for my mailing list to be a part of future challenges!

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4 Creative Ways To Have The Ultimate Staycation

By November 12, 2017 Frugality, How To, Wins

Now that weather is turning colder, the holidays are approaching and everyone is making travel plans for the end of the year. Itineraries may include which relatives to visit (which to avoid!) or where to plan a relaxing vacation to (because you worked hard all year and you deserve it!). The truth is, not everyone can afford to travel during the holidays. Sometimes it’s a matter of savings, or time constraints, or some people just want to relax at home instead of bustling to go somewhere, and that’s understandable as well.

Personally I love traveling, but it’s not always in the cards for my family and I. Over the years I have had many amazing vacations to all-inclusive resorts, and I figured out how to enjoy similar experiences and indulgences at home on staycation. Never heard of a staycation? It’s a growing trend where you take time off of work and you stay home and relax instead of traveling and spending a lot of money. Think of it as the modern equivalent of a mental health day or mental health week, with advanced planning.

Speaking of planning, you have to do SOME planning for this to turn out extraordinary. Fabulousness rarely ever happens by accident. When I was working I used to dream up the most indulgent staycations that would rival the all-inclusive vacations I used to take. Itineraries would include excursions, themed dinner nights, plenty of R&R, and every staycation I would book a massage.

So, where should you start when planning your next splendid staycation? Below is my simple strategy for enjoying an ultimate luxurious staycation. Before you go crazy trying to do research and spend money I suggest you REIN it in!

R- Relax
E- Explore
I- Indulge
N- Try Something New

These 4 categories are the secret to having amazing vacations and staycations. Let’s take a closer look:

Relaxing– Who doesn’t want to relax on a vacation or staycation? There are two ways to go about relaxing though- active and passive relaxing. I suggest doing at least one of each. Passive relaxing is easy- unplug from the world and technology, lounge around, veg out, and / or catch up on sleep. Active Relaxing includes going to a spa for some pampering, smoking cigars, golfing, wine tasting, doing yoga, etc.

Exploring– On a vacation one of my favorite things to do is signing up for excursions off of the resort. I always try to experience a sightseeing tour or immerse myself in a local cultural activity. It’s a nice reminder that I’m not at home and I should take the opportunity to explore my current destination. If you are on staycation you can do the same thing by exploring a nearby city, getting out into nature, attending a local festival, or planning an adventure from Groupon.

Indulge– Who doesn’t love a good indulgence? Whether it be delighting in food or drink, shopping, or enjoying spa treatments, everyone deserves a treat when they are on staycation or vacation. I mentioned before that I book a massage every staycation that I plan; it’s a splurge. I love it because it is such a special luxury for me that I don’t experience very often. Some people like splurging on calories at an amazing restaurant or bar, others on mani-pedis. If you are on a budget you can still bask in a little extravagance by having a DIY spa night at your house, or plan a whisky tasting for you and your friends.

Try Something New– For me, this is usually home cooked food, though it could be something educational as well. In resorts, there may be themed restaurants or themed buffet nights. On staycation I like to replicate this by trying a new exotic recipe or going to a new restaurant (preferably with a cultural theme so its something different and special for you). You could also take the opportunity to learn something new, like how to play an instrument or speak a foreign language.

By doing some planning, and implementing these tips, you can completely upgrade your next staycation experience. Not only will you feel well rested, but you will be excited that you did something with your time off instead of just laying around the house the whole time. Here’s to making your next staycation absolutely incredible! Cheers!

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