gallamore west

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Seven Ways to Save Money on Almost Everything

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my Disclosure Policy



Lately I've discovered how to save money on almost everything that I buy, without clipping a single coupon.  I'm pretty sure it's because I've picked up some great bargaining skills by watching American Pickers, but whatever it is,  I realize now more than ever that every single dollar saved is a dollar that we can put towards something else {like putting our four boys through braces and college someday}.

Here's the #1 thing I have learned to save money lately... ASK!  While I would never try to bargain with a handmade boutique shop or something similar, with a big business, it's totally worth it to just ask.

For example, we recently had our carpets cleaned.  The guy quoted me $100, which was more than I wanted to pay.  So I asked, "Can you do it for $75?"  He said he'd do it for $100, but throw in some free Scotch-Guard.  So I told him that I didn't want anything extra, just that I wanted to pay less.  He said, "I'll do it for $80."  Bam, just like that... $20 saved!

#2- I shop at Kohl's when they have a good sale.  Since my husband and I both have separate Kohl's charge accounts, we both get separate coupons mailed.  You know those ones where you peel off the sticker to reveal your savings?  It's either %15 off, 20% off, or 30% off.  One of us always gets a 30% off so we toss the other one & shop 30% off.  And did you know that Kohl's isn't supposed to take Kohl's cash after the expiration date?  But I had one 5 days expired the other day, asked politely, and the girl said yes.  And just like that... another $20 saved!  And even if I go to Kohl's without a coupon, I ask for a discount if I tell them I'm using my Kohl's card, and every time, I have been given a 15% discount.

#3- When we moved here one year ago, we got free internet for a year when we signed up for our cable service.  After a year, it jumped to $60 a month.  I told my husband that I was going to call and cancel our service if they didn't lower it.  Sweet guy called for me and got it down to $15 a month, just by asking.  Another $45 saved... just by asking!

#4- I do a quick google search for a coupon to that store, and 99% off the time, I find one.  More savings, just by clicking around for about 2 minutes!

#5- I shop online using Amazon Prime. With FREE two-day shipping, I save money by not going into a store where I have a hard time sticking to just the items on my list. Now I buy many everyday items, like dog food and my favorite cleaning spray, from Amazon. Even my favorite new kickboxing DVD is from Amazon (I LOVE this 10 minute workout!) 

#6- I stock up on things that I use when they're on sale.  For example, my boys recently discovered that they love Annie's Organic Macaroni & Cheese.  When I saw them on sale for $1 a box, I bought 10 boxes.  It was cheaper than the "blue box" brand and healthier too.

#7- Put yourself on a "Shopping Time-Out" for a month. I'm doing it right now and it's actually kind of fun. I'm not buying ANYTHING extra besides the essentials and I've even banned myself from one of my favorite stores for the entire month of April so I don't spend extra money. I'm finding so much more time for myself by not running to the store for every little thing. 

What are your favorite ways to save money when shopping? 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring Must Have Items

Spring is in full bloom here in San Diego, and hopefully you're enjoying some sunnier weather and blooming flowers too. I'm feeling inspired this Spring by florals (both in my yard and in my closet), sunny days, outdoor activities.  Here are some Spring Must Have Items on my list... what's on your list of things you've had your eye on lately?



 1) The Magic Art of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organization I've been on a decluttering mission for about 3 years now. It's a constant focus with a home full of people. I've heard so many great things about this book. Have you read it? 



2) This adorable Spring dress from Modcloth. I think it would be perfect to wear to our son's 5th Grade Promotion coming up in June. Yes or no? 



3) This cute camping sign! We just got a camping trailer, and we're currently planning a summer camping trip. I want to keep everything really simple in our trailer, but this one sign would be perfect. 


4) This AWESOME pillow from Zulily. Do you ever shop at zulily.com? I absolutely LOVE Zulily!

5) This chicken coop! Am I crazy? We live in the outskirts of San Diego, where we're lucky enough to have a big yard (well, big for Southern California!) and we have the perfect spot for this. I would love to be able to gather fresh eggs from our chickens instead of overpaying at the store. 


6) This pineapple pool float is calling my name. Is it calling yours too? 

7) Or what about this giant donut pool float


8) I've had skin cancer a few times (boo), so to keep my skin out of the sun while I'm lounging in my new pool floats, this hat would be perfect. 




9) I've been seeing SO many cute little fairy gardens on Pinterest lately! This little hedgehog would be the sweetest little garden accessory, right? 


10)  We bought one of these butterfly gardens a couple years ago and my kids loved watching the butterflies develop and then we released them. So much fun- I'd love to do this again this year. 


I hope you're having a great Spring so far, and hopefully something on my list inspires you to enjoy some time outside! :) 

xoxo,
Laurie 

p.s. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on any of them and purchase something from that website, Gallamore West earns a very small commission from that sale. I truly appreciate you supporting Gallamore West. See more info here


















Tuesday, March 15, 2016

5 Simple Ways to get kids to LOVE reading!

As a 1st Grade Teacher, I'm up to my ears in teaching kids to read. And it is very clear to me that THE single most important factor in my students' success in reading is whether or not that have a strong foundation for reading AT HOME. That's right... as much as teachers are doing all that they can to teach reading skills, phonics, word-chunking, rhyming, blending, sounding out, etc. the most important factor for success in my opinion is whether children are being Read, Talked to and Sang to (and with) at home.  In fact, 80% of a child's brain develops before the age of three! So if a student comes to school without that solid background in reading, talking and singing, they will have a lot of catching up to do. I see this firsthand on a daily basis.

The good news is that you as a parent can do SO much at home to prepare your child with a solid foundation for developing reading skills and it is easy AND fun! Here are four easy ways that you can start your child on the path for reading success...

1) Read to them. Pick up books at thrift stores, book fairs, borrow book from the library for free... anywhere. Just get your hands on some good books, open them up and read. Daily! We read every single day in our home, especially at bedtime. When my little guys were younger and way too active to hold still for a whole story, I would read to them while they were in the bathtub. Listening to stories being read aloud is key to developing reading skills, as it teaches kids concepts of print. Even at a very young age long before they can actually read themselves, kids who are read to will know which way to hold the book, which way the words are read, how to use the pictures for context clues to "tell the story" themselves and more. Find a cozy corner, fill it with pillows and a basket of books, and your little ones will love it.


2) Talk to them. I remember hearing this when I was first pregnant, and honestly, I felt so silly talking to my baby while we were alone in our house. But I talked to my babies about everything as we went through our days. When we went grocery shopping I would talk about what was on our list that day, and what we were going to have for dinner. When we went on walks in the stroller, I talked to our babies about the trees, birds, cars, anything I could think of. Isn't it amazing when your little ones start talking and they sound like you?! My little guys use the same expressions that I do and I love it. It's proof that they really have been listening all along! 

3) Sing to them. We are constantly making up silly songs here- changing the words to familiar tunes, practicing our rhyming, and laughing, laughing, laughing. Our youngest is three years old and I have hearing him get involved with the songs his older brothers make up. It stretches their imagination to come up with rhyming words and they have so much fun. If your little one isn't old enough to make up their own songs, just sing any kid-friendly song to them. I promise, they are listening (so make sure it's kid-friendly!) Turn up the music, sing and dance with your kids! 

4) Let them use their imagination. There are SO many ways for kids to use their imagination and have fun. I let them keep all of their Halloween costumes and they are always dressing up and playing with each other. 




5) Let them be little. Childhood goes by so quickly. I am trying to soak up every minute with my boys while they're young. But I definitely don't want to waste away their childhood by drilling them with flashcards. I make it a point to interact with them a lot every day, and also to let them loose and be silly kids! 








Talk, Read, Sing is a program through First 5 California that encourages parents to get involved with our children during the First 5 years of their life. Interacting through Talking, Reading, and Singing is so, so important to their development. Honestly, it's my favorite way of spending my days! If you need more ideas on how, visit the First 5 California website. It doesn't have to be elaborate, expensive or ridiculously time-consuming. Weaving talking, reading, and singing into your daily lives with your little ones will ensure them a positive, successful path towards becoming lifelong readers! 



Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Making Life Fun Again with a Breakfast Party!



It's confession time here at Gallamore West. Things haven't been very fun here lately- on my blog and in my real life. I know, I know... life isn't all rainbows and unicorns. But dang it, for a while there it started to feel like nothing but bills and laundry and dishes and crumbs and chaos. Okay, that's motherhood. I get it, but my life used to be FUN! I know it might sound crazy but I loved all of those things that most people think are horrible parts of adulthood because I loved being able balance all the monotonous stuff of adulthood with fun. I loved Mondays and all of the other days, and I loved being able to add little details to our life at home that made ordinary daily life FUN.

Guess what?! Life doesn't have to be boring. And breakfast doesn't have to be boring either... Batman and Superman are here to save the day, one bowl of cereal at a time!


 DC Comics has teamed up with General Mills and created two delicious, fun new cereals so that you can choose your Super Hero Alliance. Fans of Superman will love the new Superman Caramel Crunch cereal. Click here for a $1 off coupon for your Super Hero cereal! 


And fans of Batman will love the new Batman Chocolate Strawberry Cereal.



In celebration of one of the most anticipated movies of 2016, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, General Mills is also giving away four (4) limited edition collectible comic books in specially marked boxes of regular General Mills cereal including Honey Nut Cheerios and Lucky Charms. 



My boys had so much fun choosing their favorite Super Hero cereal. We had a tie with two boys choosing Batman as their favorite and two boys choosing Superman as their favorite! 


Which side will you take 
at the breakfast table? 

Either way, it's guaranteed to be a FUN way to have breakfast with your family. Click here for a $1 off coupon for your Super Hero cereal! And believe me, I'm ready to bring the fun back into my blog, into my life, and into the lives of the ones I love. I have many fun changes and announcements coming up on this little blog of mine in the next few months and I'm so excited to share all of my news with you! xoxo 


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Family Movie Night: Hotel Transylvania 2

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MakeItaMovieNight #CollectiveBias



One of my favorite things to do as a family is stay home, get cozy and have a Family Movie Night. It truly is one thing that we ALL love to do, and every once in a while I love to go all out for a movie that I just know my family will love. A lot of times it ends up being a sequel because I already know a bit about the movie and its characters, so I can plan some themed, special treats to go along with the movie. That's just what we did here this past weekend and I'm so excited to share our Family Movie Night with you! 


We all loved the first Hotel Transylvania movie so I knew the kids would love Hotel Transylvania 2. To make it a special Family Movie Night, I set up a table full of movie night goodies to snack on during the movie. I set up containers of popcorn (Orville Redenbacher, of course!), 


canisters of M&M’S® Chocolate Candies (Milk Chocolate for the kids, and Peanut for the adults), 


and a very special treat... Coca-Cola in bottles. 




I love finding fun ways to serve popcorn, so since it was a "monster" movie I made Monster Popcorn. 



Here's the recipe to make your own Monster Popcorn.

-1 bag Orville Redenbacher Movie Theatre Butter Popcorn, popped and cooled
-4 ounces green melting chocolate
-1 cup Milk Chocolate M&M’S® Chocolate Candies
-12 candy eyes


In a large glass casserole dish, spread popcorn evenly then drizzle with melted green chocolate. Immediately sprinkle with M&M’S® Chocolate Candies and top with candy eyes. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, until chocolate is firm and then serve immediately. 



I also made these little "Scream Cheesecakes" using a store bought cheesecake that I cut into circles using a cookie cutter, then added faces with candy eyes and black gel icing for the mouths. I sprinkled Milk Chocolate M&M’S® Chocolate Candies round the platter to brighten it up.  These were a hit! 


Hotel Transylvania 2 is such a fun movie and we all loved our Family Movie Night! 



Right now you can get a $10 VUDU credit for a movie night at your house too when you buy these 4 participating products in a single transaction at Walmart between 12/22/15 and 2/9/16: Orville Redenbacher, Coca-Cola, M&M’S® Chocolate Candies and Sony. Snap a picture of your receipt and upload your picture here and get a $10 VUDU credit emailed to you for a future movie night. Limit 1 per person, while supplies last. And find great ideas for a movie night here


Find all of your goodies for to #MakeItaMovieNight at Walmart. 

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