Monday, July 17, 2017

How to Throw an Epic Birthday Party for Less Than $50

In this day and age of Pinterest, it can be difficult and downright daunting to throw your child a birthday party.

While inspiration from incredible party planners and bloggers can be found with a few easy clicks, you may find yourself feeling discouraged once you discover that their themes (complete with food, decor, entertainment, etc.) costs HUNDREDS of dollars to complete! When my oldest turned 3 in December, I knew we wanted to celebrate him and invite over a few of his friends, but I also knew we needed to find a theme he would enjoy that wouldn’t require buku bucks to accomplish.

Ladies and gentlemen: I give you Jackson’s (home) movie theater birthday party:
Money saving hack: Forgo the expensive birthday cake by stacking donuts... it's both pretty and costs a fraction of the price! 
The curio cabinet in our dining room doubled as our concession stand, which we stocked full of boxes of popcorn, various candy (all from Dollar Tree), pretty straws (Dollar Trees), and bottles of water (Target). 
These boxes were super cheap on Amazon and added so much to the party!

For Jackson’s movie theater party, we invited several of his best friends (and their families!), stocked up on all kinds of treats from Dollar Tree (and bags of pre-popped popcorn from Costco), dimmed the lights in the basement, turned on Finding Dory, and voila — we had a simple, yet fun birthday party for around $50 that both the parents and kids enjoyed.

I’m not necessarily saying you HAVE to have a movie theater birthday party in order to stay under $50 (though it is a theme I highly recommend and will probably use again), so I will share a few tips that I have picked up along the way in order to keep the party cost low and the entertainment factor high:

Opt for FREE invites
While I love snail mail and enjoy receiving paper invitations in the mail, it is completely unnecessary for a child’s birthday party (as — let’s face it — the invite will maybe hang on the refrigerator for a week or two before being tossed), which is why I use Evite. If you aren’t familiar with Evite, it is super easy to navigate, easy to customize, and FREE to use, which are all wins in my book!

Use what you have
Yes, bounce houses and balloon-animal-making clowns can be fun, but they can also be extremely costly and — quite frankly — unnecessary (since most kids are happy with just playing with their friends and eating snacks). If you are on a budget, work with what you have! Do you own a TV? Take my advice and host a movie theater party! Do you live by a park? Let the younger kids run and play on the playground or plan a fun scavenger hunt for the older kids (which my dad did for my 9th birthday and was enjoyed by all!). Summer baby? Water balloons and sprinklers in the backyard! Do you see where I’m going with this?

Remember: you don’t have to serve an entire meal
An easy way to keep party costs low is by planning around meal times. Remember: you do NOT have to serve your guests an entire meal (which I can almost guarantee the kid’s parents are not expecting); cake and ice cream is perfectly acceptable!

Don’t get sucked in by expensive party store decor
While colorful decor can be fun and can add value to a theme party, it is not necessary… However, if you do decide to add a little more pizzazz to your party with streamers, pastel-colored plates and cups, or balloons, do NOT buy them from a flashy and over-priced party store. Instead, I recommend checking out Oriental Trading (for cute bulk items), Dollar Tree, or even a big box store (a la Target or Walmart) for any decor or party ware.

Favors are OPTIONAL
Okay, so I will admit that I did small favors for Jackson’s party (which consisted of Finding Dory gummies and graham crackers, plus a bag of microwave popcorn), but they honestly wouldn’t have been missed had we not given them out. That being said, don’t think that you need to spend extra money on parting gifts for the kids — their memories will last WAY longer than any candy bar or small bottle of bubbles ever will.

How do you save money on your child’s birthday party? Share your tips in the comments!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Passion Project

via

Annnnnnnnd... I'm back! Long time no hear, right?

Actually, I think about this blog pretty much every day... this website is something that I feel super passionate about and am constantly brainstorming. Life just keeps getting in the way.

Anyway, to make a long(ish) story short(ish), I have had this calling to return to this blog and do something HUGE with it, but I kept pushing it to the side because of other commitments... well, lo and behold, out of nowhere, one of my previous commitments went away (in the form of a blog I worked for being shut down by its owner), which to me was a divine sign that it was time to get back to work on Living Like Martha!

I am constantly reading articles and listening to podcasts by entrepreneurs, and am getting so many ideas about this website's mission and just where I want to take it... after reading articles before bed for MONTHS and thinking about everything I was wanting to do but thinking I didn't have the time to do it, I ran across an article (I think by maybe Brit & Co.?) that said that you only need 15 minutes a day to launch your passion project.

Now that I can do!

Stay tuned, friends... we have LOTS of good stuff coming your way that deal with not only simplified living, but living your BEST life through faith, family, and food!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Making Our House a Home


Last July, we sold our House Hunters home... it was very bittersweet, but also something that needed to be done with a new baby on the way and not enough space in our little 1,000 sq. ft. duplex. Fortunately, we found our perfect home almost immediately, had our offer accepted the next day, our duplex under contract two days later, and then moved in our new beautiful forever home!


The big moving day was August 1st (which is a story for another time -- our buyer was a nightmare, cleaners never showed, I was 7 months pregnant and just couldn't deal, etc.) and we are still working on making it our own. Things are slowly coming along and we have a few of our rooms completely finished, but there is still so much that needs to be done (especially our master bedroom, which has yet to be touched).


It's a daunting thing, isn't it -- having a family and wanting to create that perfect space for them to grow up in? I have nothing but warm and wonderful memories of my childhood home... it was such a safe and fun place, which is the exact kind of home I want for our boys. 


Over the next few months, I will be sharing the progress of our home with you: the completed rooms (living, play, theatre, and boys rooms) and the complete overhauls. To follow along, click the "House" button on the navigation bar or simply follow me on Facebook or Instagram. We look forward to sharing our home with you, our friends -- and hope that you can even give us tips and pointers along the way!

July 29th, 2016 -- the day we closed on our forever home (a 5 bedroom, 3 bath ranch with a beautiful backyard in the suburbs). 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake

As you may have noticed, I have been extra silent lately... sorry about that! I have so many ideas for this blog and can't wait to implement them, but other projects (and life in general) keep taking the driver's seat. I will share all about some of these exciting new life changes soon, but in the meantime I wanted to share the recipe for this light and airy Lemon Blueberry Bundt Cake that I whipped up the other day!

Jackson (3) and I share a love of cooking shows and recently stumbled upon Food Network's Spring Baking Championship. All of the spring-themed baked goods got us both hungry and feeling creative (or so I convinced Jax), and inspired us to whip up something fruity and delicious.

Enter this cake.

Last year, my sweet friend Ashley introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils and I have recently had the urge to play around with them more and actually used Lemon Vitality in this cake! It is seriously the easiest thing ever to bake and would be the perfect dessert to serve this Mother's Day.

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup margarine 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 drops Young Living Lemon Vitality Oil (If you don't have oil, substitute with 2 tablespoons lemon juice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Powdered sugar (for garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Mix until combined. Add flour mixture and lemon oil, and mix on low until combined. Stir in blueberries.
  4. Pour batter into greased bundt pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
  5. Let cool and sprinkle with desired amount of powdered sugar. 

(Note: This cake pairs well with coffee and can even be served for breakfast!)
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