Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Moving, School, and Baby...oh my!

I have been completely MIA from my blog over the last few weeks.  We have been super busy at the Tanner house!  So I wanted to update you on our lives, then sadly I need to take a break from my blog until September.  I just need to focus on what's going on right now and hopefully get ahead on some blog posts so I can be consistent in posting.

They say (whoever they is...) you should never move, change jobs, and have a baby all at once.  Well, we are doing just that my friends!  This is actually the second time all three of those have happened at once so we're used to it now.  :-)


I have lived in the great state of Utah for the last 10 years and my husband grew up in Utah.  We have moved a lot since we've been married, but it's all been in Utah.  We are venturing out to Wisconsin in just a few short weeks.  Neither of us have ever been there.  But we found a great place to live, our daughter is set for preschool, and things are moving along.  So we're really excited!  It's going to be a lot different than Utah, but we're excited to try something new.

Second: SCHOOL

The reason we are moving to Wisconsin is because Alan is starting his MBA in Marketing at the University or Wisconsin.  Go Badgers!  So we are going back to living super frugally during the next 2 years and his schedule is going to be a little crazy.  It's going to be a big change.  Wish us luck!

Third: BABY

Yes, Baby Tanner #4 is coming in December!  We just found out last week that it's a little BOY!  We are excited to have 2 girls and 2 boys and for Nate to get a buddy.  Kami was a little disappointed for about a minute that it wasn't a girl, but she got over it really quickly.  My girls love talking about the baby in my tummy and having another baby in the family.  This baby is due the day Alan's classes end and a week before Christmas so it's going to be a little chaotic, but a sweet Christmas gift.  And Alan will get 5 weeks off of school at Christmas which will be a huge help in adjusting to a family of 6.

I have to honest guys...I'm really excited to have another baby, but 4 kids is a huge jump for me.  There are only 3 kids in my family so I feel like 4 is...a lot!  I'm a little nervous about 4 kids.  But I keep reading that 3 is the hardest and I recently read a mom say that 4 was easier than 3.  So I'm just hoping that's all true.

Fourth: BREAK

Well, I'm going to take a little break from blogging over the next month and plan on coming back in September.  I just need some time to move, unpack, adjust to a new place, and get into a routine again.  I have a huge list of blog posts that I want to write, so I'm not out of ideas just yet.  Just time.  I hope you come back to see my new posts in September and I will keep you updated on how our family adjusts to Wisconsin.

See you in September!

Monday, July 13, 2015

How to Save Money on Food This Summer

This post is sponsored by Valley Food Storage.  I was compensated for the post, but all opinions are 100% my own. 

I love all the fresh fruits in the summer.  BBQs and family events.  Food is a part of summer and it can sure wrack up the grocery bill.  Our grocery bill has gotten bigger over the years as we've had more kids, but I still try to keep it as low as possible without crazy couponing.  I have read a lot of tips and tricks about keeping your grocery bill low and have done most of these myself.

Here are 8 tips to keeping your grocery bill low this summer.

groceries, food, summer

1. Grow a garden - When we had a garden (we're now in an apartment that doesn't have one), I loved getting all the fresh veggies every few days.  We had lots of squash, zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers which means I didn't need to buy them from the store.  There are also a lot of great recipes on Pinterest to use these delicious veggies!  I love this zucchini bread recipe and this super simple zucchini and chicken pasta salad is one of my husband's favorites.

frugal living

2. Shop sales - When you're planning your meals for the week (which you should always be doing to help save money on groceries) make sure to plan meals around what's on sale.  Meats especially!  There are some great websites that help you know what the sales are.  Coupons 4 Utah and Freebies 2 Deals are two of my favorites.

3. Buy fruits in season - There are a lot of great fruits in season in the summer, but they come at different times throughout the summer.  And when they're in season, they're usually cheaper and they taste better.  So even though they're selling peaches now, peaches are usually best in August.  You can find when fruits are in season in your area!

4. Bulk up on good deals - When you see a really good deal, buy a few and save it for later!  Apple juice was on sale the other day for only $.99 so I bought 3 instead of my weekly one.  Whenever chicken is a good price I'll buy 2 fresh packages and freeze one.  I always try to keep a stock of chicken in my freezer so I never have to pay full price.  At one point I had 10 jars of peanut butter because I kept getting them at amazing deals!  It's worth it in the long run.  I hate paying full price when I know I could have gotten it much cheaper.

5. Go meatless once a week - We usually do breakfast for dinner once a week - it's a meal I know all my kids will eat.  Meat is the most expensive thing I buy, so cutting back a bit will help.

6. Use your food storage - Do you have food storage sitting around?  You don't want to let it expire and go to waste!  I think it's good to use some and then replenish it.  If you're looking for food storage where you don't have to grind your own wheat or figure out how you're going to use 10 lbs of broccoli, check out Valley Food Storage!

Their food comes in meals!  So you can actually eat your food storage.  The packaging is pretty small and 1 package fed my family of 5 for dinner.  We tried the Pasta Primavera.  I just added a little chicken to it to make it more filling and my kids ate it up!  Which is saying something, because my kids can be picky eaters.  But pasta always seems to do pretty well in my family.  :-)

food storage

Valley Food Storage

You can buy individual packets or buy in bulk.  They'll even send you a free sample!  Now, I have to be honest.  I also tried the Irish Pub Cheddar Potato Soup and the Southern Style Chicken and Rice Soup and they were not great.  My family wouldn't eat it and neither would I.  I think the hard thing with food storage that are meals is getting diverse flavors so it doesn't just taste like one thing in every bite.  So I would definitely stick with the pasta dishes.  It would be easy to add canned chicken or even shrimp or eat it as is if you really needed to use your food storage for survival purposes.

They also sell camping food and emergency kits if you're needing those!  I do think this is a much better option than just buying bulk freeze dried veggies.  And they're not super heavy when you need to move them!  Food storage is super important especially with all the natural disasters happening around the world.  If you haven't thought about food storage, it's a good time to start.  Start a little at a time and build up your stash!  You can start with Valley Food Storage.  :-)

7. School Lunch - I'm not sure if they have this in other states, but in Utah they provide school lunch free for kids ages 0-18.  It's usually at a local elementary school and kids can grab a school lunch and eat in the cafeteria.  Parents are welcome too and pay $3.50 if they want a lunch.  My kids love this!  It's really fun for them to eat at school especially where they aren't in elementary school yet.  Ours goes from about June 13th to July 23rd Mondays through Thursdays from 11:45am to 1pm.

8. Don't eat out! - We hardly ever eat out.  Sure it's fun and I don't have to cook, but it's so much money!  Especially when you bring your kids.  Don't plan on eating out, plan meals for every day of the week.  If you don't want to cook, make a bigger meal and do leftovers the next night (that's what I do).  This includes lunches.  All the time I see moms at the park with fast food for their kids.  Just make some sandwiches, grab some fruit and crackers and do a picnic.  My kids love eating at the park and they don't care what it is, as long as we get to eat outside.  Yes it takes more time, but it saves lots of money!

saving money, frugal tips

Hopefully you find these tips helpful this summer.  We like being frugal and if you want to be frugal too, try some of these things!  I'm sure you'll see a difference in your budget.

Monday, June 29, 2015

15 Tips to Help You Take Better Photos of Your Family This Summer

Author: Alyssa Craig

Summertime means the kids are home, family reunions are coming and there will be plenty of opportunities for the family to spend time together and create memories. This is a great time to get out that camera and capture these moments so you can preserve them for years to come. These memories are important, so you want these pictures to come out clean, crisp, and freeze the emotions in time.

photography, summer

Whether you are a seasoned photographer or an amateur trying to become a little better, here are some things to keep in mind to improve your photography skills this summer:

1. Practice Every Day: Always have a camera with you, even if it is just the one on your phone. Make an effort to take pictures every day and pay attention to what works better and what techniques/settings you should stop using.

2. Hold Camera Properly: Support the lens by cupping your hand underneath it. With the other hand, grip the body of the camera. This will help to stabilize the camera and decrease the number of blurry pictures you produce.

3. Use Light to Your Advantage: Pay attention to where light is coming from. This means natural light, artificial light, and watch where shadows are being cast.

4. Read Your Camera’s Manual: This might seem silly or tedious, but it will go a long way if you take the time to learn how to use all the different settings and capabilities on your camera.

learning to take good pictures

6. Framing: Frame a scene or subject to lead the viewer’s eye to whatever you want the primary focus to be.

7. Shutter Speed: Fast action shots (think kids running around and playing) use speeds of at least 1/500th of a second and even 1/1000th to 1/2000th. The slower your shutter speed, the better you can capture still moments.

8. Golden Hour: This is the best time of day to take pictures if you want to do portraits or take family pictures outside. This takes place shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to midday when the sun is high.

9. Keep it Simple: Choose just one or two points of interest in your picture. Don’t try and focus on too much or else it will just look messy and distracting. This also applies to backgrounds. Try to avoid taking pictures with busy or messy backgrounds.

10. Perspective: Change it up. Learn how taking pictures from different angles and heights changes the outcome of the picture and how the subject is presented. Crouching leads to more dynamic subjects while height will minimize their presence. So kneel, climb, lie down, or twist to get that perfect shot.

11. Shade: When lighting is not working in your favor, using even shade will give you better exposure for your picture.

12. Rule of Thirds: Divide your frame into thirds with vertical and horizontal lines. Place subjects at the cross-sections for the best points of interest.

13. Exposure: Change the exposure to account for the effects of the sun (or other light source) being too much or too little. For less sunlight, increase the exposure and vice versa.

14. Create Your Own Home Studio: If you want to take more official portraits of your family, consider creating a home studio like this one. It will help you to control the background, lighting, and other elements that are out of your control in nature.

15. Get Closer: Oftentimes a picture can go from good to great if you just take a few steps forward. Do not be afraid to get closer than you might think is necessary. This can create a great shot.

amateur photographer, summer

15. Posing: When taking pictures of your family, focus on their eyes and don’t take the picture straight on for the best angle. Make sure everyone is comfortable and consider taking natural, candid shots. You may come away with a really sweet moment captured forever.
Now that you know some of the rules a little bit better, make sure you still keep a sense of fun and adventure. Take risks with your photography and take many pictures, as sometimes it can take quite a few shots to get that one perfect image. When you upload your albums this summer, all your friends and family will rave about your talented photography.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

15 Tips That Will Help Make Any Summer Vacation a Success

Author: Alyssa Craig

With the children out of school, summer is a classic time of year to take a family vacation. Whether you are planning a road trip, a camping trip or you want to take a flight to another part of the country, traveling can be a stressful time as well. In order to make sure your summer vacation is more enjoyable than not, find ways to incorporate the following suggestions into your plans as they pertain to your family.

summer vacation, family vacation

  1. Involve Everyone: From the planning beforehand, to activities while you are out and about, allow family members to have some input in what you do on your vacation (though of course as the parent, you have final veto power).

  1. Start Rested: Get all your packing, planning, and last minute organizing done ahead of time and get a good night’s rest. This will relieve a lot of stress and make everyone much more reasonable come travel time.

  1. Hire a House-Sitter: You can pay someone or have a friend or neighbor come check on the house, water plants, move trash bins, collect mail and fliers, and turn lights on and off to make it appear like someone is home. Check out this article for more tips on keeping your home safe while you are gone.

summer, family

  1. Have an Itinerary: Plan ahead and have a basic layout of what you want to see or do each day you are on vacation. This is especially good for attractions that may not be open all days of the week or only open for specific hours.

  1. Know Your Destination: Prepare in advance by doing research on the area if it is new to you. Print out maps or information on attractions in order to avoid data usage, if that is a concern. Ask friends and family who have traveled there for suggestions on the best way to use your time.

  1. Pack Lightly: Many of us have a habit of overpacking. An old saying tells us “pack half the clothes and twice the money”. Lay out everything you want to pack and then find ways to eliminate items that are not necessary.

  1. Pack Day-to-Day: For small children, create entire outfits for each day of vacation and place them in zipper bags to keep them together. This bag can then be used to store the dirty clothes after they are worn.

  1. Take Pictures: Not only of scenery but of the family! Capture candid moments, be sure to get into the pictures too. But don’t be so obsessed with pictures that you miss participating in the moment.

summer vacation, family trips

  1. Go with the Flow: It is good to have plans and know what you want to see, but many times, trips do not go exactly as planned. Add a little flexibility to your schedule and be ok if a detour needs to be made or you decide to change plans.

  1. Create Travel Kits: Allow your children to help you create travel kits for each of them including healthy treats, a small water bottle, a toy and a small game or a book. This way everyone has ownership over what will entertain them while traveling.

  1. Prepare for Emergencies: If you are flying, have a carry-on with extra food, clothing, and diapers in case luggage gets lost or you are stranded for any reason. You can even take a small first aid kit in your luggage.

  1. Protect from the Sun: No matter where you are going, summer vacations usually equate to time spent in the sun. Pack the sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. For car rides, bring blankets to cover the windows. If you are going to the beach, bring a tent or umbrella.

  1. Dress in Bright Colors: If you have small children and will be going somewhere crowded, consider dressing them in bright clothing so they will be easier to spot if they wander.

  1. Souvenir Budget: Help each member of the family create a souvenir budget, allowing them to decide how they will spend to avoid being asked a million times if the can “have that”. You can even create chores they can do in the week or two before the trip to earn extra cash.

  1. Trip Diary: Encourage members of your family to keep a small diary of the trip. Not only will it be good for them to remember the trip and memories that took place, but it will also be entertaining to see how activities and occurrences are perceived differently by each family member.

Remember the main reasons to go on a family vacation are to see new things together, experience quality time as a family, and build memories together. Just follow the tips above and your family will come back from these summer retreats with lasting positive memories.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Love is a Choice

I was really excited to get the book Love is a Choice by Lynn G Robbins because the title is something I really believe in.  Quick story about me before I tell you about the book. :-)

When Alan and I started dating and talking about marriage I knew that I loved him, but I didn't have that "head over heels" feeling that everyone talks about.  I just knew we were right for each other and that he had everything I was looking for in a husband.  We just fit and it felt right.  It wasn't until after we were engaged that I got that "head over heels" giddy honeymoon love.  And I'm really glad it worked out that way.  Because eventually that feeling goes away, but I always know that we are right for each other no matter what.

Lynn G. Robbins talks about this very thing at the beginning of his book.  He says, "Those who have confused infatuation for love may unwisely believe they are falling out of love when problems arise.  The resulting doubt might cause them to wonder if they made a mistake and if their real soul mate might still be out there somewhere."

marriage, love, family

Robbins talks about our responsibility and agency in our marriages.  I love the story he tells about a mom and daughter.  The daughter is frustrated with her marriage so the mom asks her daughter to make a list and on one side to write the things about her husband that bothered her.  On the other side of the list she was to write how she responded to each thing that he did.  Then she tells her daughter to cut the paper in half and to throw away the things about her husband and to work on her own behavior and actions if she wanted to have a happy marriage.  We can't change our spouses, but we can change ourselves.

He also does a great job explaining how to use the Atonement, repentance, forgiveness, and developing Christlike characteristics to help and strengthen our marriage.

I love the section in the book where he talks about raising children and to remember who they really are - children of God.  With little children running around in my own home, this is not always the easiest thing to remember.  A good thing to remember is when Robbins says, "Inappropriate behavior should not define a child's character - treat the behavior as temporary, as an act and not an identity."  I need to write this down and keep it on my mirror.  Such great advice!

In the rest of the book you will find advice on finances, unity, and Christlike virtues.  Using quotes from General Authorities, scriptures references, and LDS literature, Robbins supports his writing and helps you recognize the truth in his words.

This is a must read for anyone - married or not.  It prepares you if you aren't married and helps you think about your own marriage if you are.  There's so much great advice and truth that everyone needs in order to strengthen their marriage.

You can find Love is a Choice on Amazon.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker Giveaway!

ice cream, ice cream maker, father's day, dad, summer

Hello my friends!  Sorry I have been MIA for the past few weeks.  Life has gotten way more busier than I could imagine right now.  I often feel like I'm drowning in my to do list and blogging has sadly been neglected.  But I have a few family updates that you are going to want to hear!  Plus a few fun posts over the next few weeks.

So to kick off the summer, I have an awesome giveaway for you! A Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker!  Believe me, you want this.  We have an ice cream maker (it isn't cuisinart though...I wish!) and we love making homemade ice cream all summer.  You just can't beat it!

Here are the bloggers that are involved in the giveaway.  Make sure to check out each of their blogs!  And enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win!  Good luck!

Ali | Home Crafts By Ali   Denise | Comfy Abode   Sydney | Tastefully Frugal

Alexandra | Mom's Bag of Tricks   Adrian | Adrian's Crazy Life

Thursday, May 21, 2015

How to Tackle Some of Your Summer Goals

Author: Whitney Hollingshead

summer, swimming

Are you ready for summer? As spring draws to a close, your mind may be racing about all of your summer hopes and goals. Odds are that your summer to do list includes at least one of the five activities listed below. Just follow these helpful hints and get ready to kick back and enjoy the coming season:

I want to plant a vegetable garden.

  • Survey your plot and determine how much space you have and figure out how much of that area gets direct sun. This will help you determine what will grow best in your garden.
  • Practice watering the plot before you start planting. You can easily pinpoint areas that are not getting enough water and adjust your setup before planting.
  • Utilize your local gardening center. Ask the experts about which plants grow best in your area and find out how soon you need to get each vegetable planted.
  • Buy your seeds early. You may need to plant earlier than expected and popular varieties may sell out quickly.
  • Only plant what your family is going to eat. This applies to not only what to plant, but also how much to plant.

I want to fix up my home/yard.

  • Carefully survey your home and yard. What areas need the most attention? Focus on any potential safety hazards first.
  • Plan a budget for your projects. Fixing things up always costs more than you expect. Make sure you have more than enough money set aside to see the project through.
  • Start watching for sales on tools and supplies you will need. You can also scope out yard sales and secondhand stores. Ask family members, friends, and neighbors if you can borrow a needed tool for a weekend.
  • If you are hiring someone to help with your hard or home projects make sure you hire someone reputable. These important tips will help you determine if the person or company you are considering is a safe bet.

I want to have some fun in the sun.

gardening, yard work

  • Stock up now on sunscreen. Make sure you have sweat-proof/waterproof sunscreen available for every member of the family. Put a bottle in the trunk or glove compartment of each car and put a smaller bottle in your purse or diaper bag.
  • Review water safety with each family member. Contact your local pool now to enroll children in age appropriate swim lessons. The earlier lessons are completed in the season, the better.
  • Make a list of fun outdoor summer activities now. Put your list in a place where you can see it often and start crossing things off.
  • Ask family members and friends to share their favorite summer activities and places to visit for additional ideas to add to your list.
  • Start planning simple summer meals now. After a day in the sun, the last thing you will want to think about is making dinner. Compile shopping lists to stock up on items for delicious sandwiches, salads, and smoothies.

I want to explore the great outdoors.

camping, summer vacation, goals

  • Plan a camping trip that suits your style. Whether it’s a long backpacking trip, a weekend in the mountains, a night at a nearby campground, or sleeping under the stars in your own backyard, put camping on your summer calendar now.
  • Research the best local hikes. Choose a few you’d like to complete and add them to your summer calendar.
  • Put some scenic drives on your calendar for Sunday afternoons.
  • Create a nature photo scavenger hunt for your family to complete. Compile a list of items found in nature in your area and award family members points for taking a picture with each item. This activity can last all summer and the points can be used toward a fun activity at the end of the summer.

I want to go on a summer vacation.

  • Book your vacation now. Hotels, flights, and campgrounds can fill up quickly.
  • Research your destination and the surrounding areas well ahead of time. This will help you prioritize your itinerary. You can also search for tips and deals that relate specifically to where you are headed.  
  • Ask a neighbor in advance to keep an eye on your home while you are gone.
  • Start setting aside a small amount of spending money for each family member. When you leave on your trip, give each family member spending cash and tell them they can spend it as they wish. This will help cut down on family members asking for souvenirs or extra treats along the way and can even help children learn how to budget their funds. Ice cream now may mean no t-shirt later.
  • Do not post anything on social media about the trip before or during your trip. Wait until you are home to post pictures and updates. This will help keep your family, home, and belongings safe.

Whatever you have your heart set on for this summer, make sure you start getting ready now so you can more fully enjoy this summer season!