Life Love Larson: December 2011


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: The Money Saving Mom’s Budget

A few months ago I submitted my name to read and review Money Saving Mom’s new book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget.  I was one of many chosen (excitedly) and a few days later a pre-release copy was at my doorstep!  With the out-of-state move and the holidays behind me, I was finally able to sneak a few quiet hours to read, take notes, and highlight my way through this book. 

I must preface this review by saying that I have been an avid (daily) follower of Money Saving Mom's (Crystal Paine) blog for over 2 years.  The deals, coupons, recipes, craft ideas, DIY, tips, freebies she posts about all appeal to me as a stay at home mom of two toddlers.  I use coupons, I love a good deal, and I will always do everything in my power to pass good financial management on to our children.  Money Saving Mom’s genuine and positive attitude regarding life, managing your finances, setting goals, and giving will speak to you too.  Go get yourself a copy!

“The best way to jump-start yourself toward financial success is to commit to buy only what you can afford.” ~Crystal Paine


I decided to break this down into a few categories.  You can get all the real goodness and small details when you read the book! 

*When I refer to MSM, I am referring to Money Saving Mom and author, Crystal Paine.*

1.  Easy Read:  This book has good information, without it being too wordy or full of fancy financial jargon.  MSM provides strategies, real-life stories, easy tips, and resources in a very relatable way.  I think financial planning or strategy books can steer people away if they come across to serious and overwhelming.  This book is positive with an easy to understand message for everyday people needing a little boost with their finances.  I would suggest reading front to back, and then going back through each chapter with a fine tooth comb and highlighting ideas and strategies that speak to you.

2.  Relatable Examples:  This book provides several real-life examples of how implementing different financial strategies and making small changes helped MSM’s blog readers.  The book credits different resources including websites, books, stores, etc.  I think it is easier to get motivated and to set yourself up for financial success if you can relate to real people and real examples.  MSM also provides her own real-life experience going from beans and rice meals to paying 100% down on their first home.  It can be done!

3.  You Don’t Have to Do Everything, Just Try Something:  You will find all over this book that MSM stresses not to try everything all at the same time.  You might feel really motivated after reading this book, but if you try to do too many things all at once, you will get burned out.  I think it is wise of her to suggest that you must start slow to get where you want to be.  Once you start doing a little something to move your finances in the right direction, you will feel good about it, and do a little something more to build on this success.  If you try something you learned from this book, you will start to see small results that will be rewarding! 

4.  There is Something for Everyone:  My husband and I were both blessed to grow up in homes where we were taught the value of a dollar and how to manage our money.  It is a top priority of ours to continue to have good money management skills and to pass this along to our children.  That being said, I do not think that this book is only for people who need to turn around their finances.  Of course, this book is for people who need step by step instruction and assistance with how to get back and track, but this is also for those of us who want to learn how to get the best deals when grocery shopping, how to coupon without it taking up a lot of your time, how to give more, how to keep a decluttered home, and how to be grateful for what you have.  Everyone (even if you have a lot) has to deal with money in an uncertain economy , so this book is essentially for everyone!

5.  Get Talking:  I think this is the perfect book for all family members who are involved in the family finances to read together.  It is an easy read and there are small things that can be done immediately.  I think it is a good way to jumpstart a money conversation in a family where finances are not discussed.  Why not be on the same page, help each other out, and pass along good habits to your kids?!

This book provides information on:  not spending what you don’t have, tips for saving money, goal setting, what to do about those credit cards, budgeting, using cash, couponing, how to shop for deals, giving, and much more.  This book is motivational and realistic about how to get things done.  MSM is a mom, wife, business woman, and real person just like everyone who will be reading her book, which makes it so refreshing!

Click the link below to pre-order your copy!  The book will be released on January 10th, 2012. 

All proceeds from the sales of this book are being donated to Compassion.  How amazing is that??!!

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, and all opinions are my own.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a safe, happy, and joyous holiday! From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

Here is our 2011 Christmas Card, and a few outtakes from my attempt at a photo shoot!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Texas Shaped Sugar Cookies

One last project to share from before we moved…

I wanted to make a little something for the each of the kids to give their preschool classmates on their last day.  I came across a TX cookie cutter in my stash and thought it would be cute to make TX shaped sugar cookies!


I used this recipe to make the dough (credit to my Mom):
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar

*blend on medium speed


1 egg
1/4 t baking powder
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/8 t. salt

*stir in:

2 1/3 c. flour

Divide the dough in half.  Roll in ball and wrap in wax paper.  Refrigerate until cold.  Roll out of floured surface.  Bake 350 for 6 - 9 min.

I used a little help from store bought icing (my mom is gasping right now!) and added a little heart over San Antonio with red icing.


While those were baking, I made up some little notes to add to the cookie bag.




A cute little memory from our adventures in Texas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Yarn Letters

I made Kate’s teachers personalized chalkboard doors as a gift before we moved, and I decided to make Drew’s teachers personalized yarn letters – a holiday version.  These are my favorite yarn letters to date!  Festive, without being too over the top.  The possibilities are endless on what you could embellish these letters with!


I purchased everything at Hobby Lobby – yarn, felt, white sticks, and letters.  I choose heather grey yarn as it looks like a cozy sweater.  I used every last inch of this yarn to complete the K & F (teacher’s last names).


One of these days I will get around to making a tutorial on how to wrap the letters.  I have not tried every letter, and some letters are certainly harder than others.  If your last name starts with an “O”, this shouldn’t take you very long!  If you have an “M” or “H”, it will take you a bit longer.  I first tried one about a year ago and basically taught myself.  You will get better and better with practice.  Just go for it!  If you mess it up, just unravel and start again!

It really does not take that long once you get started.  I do not cut the yarn until I am finished with the letter.  Just continue to wrap and wrap and wrap until all edges look the same and put a dab of hot glue to finish it off at the end.


Once the letter was wrapped, I made a few felt flowers.  Cut a circle in the felt, cut a spiral shape, wrap the spiral back together, and secure with hot glue.


I then cut the stems off the white embellishments and hot glued them to the letter, placed the flowers on top, again securing with hot glue.  I felt that it still needed a little something so I cut a few green leaves that I slid underneath the flowers. 


Here is how the “F” turned out…


What a great homemade gift for someone who likes to decorate for the holidays.  I made both letters for under $10!

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