About Ashley

Ashley is very happily married and the mother to a beautiful little girl and handsome little boy. She is the main voice behind Embracing Homemaking.

Live With Less Challenge 2020

Declutter Live With Less Challenge

Are you feeling overwhelmed with stuff?  It seems that no matter how much I donate and purge beforehand, my home feels overstuffed after each Christmas.  I need this challenge for myself as much as I want to help encourage others!

Here are the Live With Less Challenge details:

Our first Live With Less Challenge of 2020 is going to be a fun one!  Each day you remove the number of items that corresponds with the date.  1st day, you remove one item, 2nd day, you remove two items, and so on and so forth.  By the end of the month you’ll have removed almost 500 items from your home!! 496 to be exact…if I did my math right. 🙂  Some days will be easier than other but as those of you who have participated in past challenges can attest, it’s surprising how much stuff we have that we don’t really need.  This is a great way to start a new year and I hope you’ll join us in our Live With Less Facebook group to share pictures of your progress and/or the items you’re getting rid of.  Click here to join.

In years past we’ve had a cash giveaway and I’ve kept up with everyone’s pictures but with our group now pushing 7,000 members it’s just not feasible anymore.  Even without the cash prize, I still hope you’ll join in the decluttering and in sharing your photos to help motivate others.  I can’t tell you how the pictures shared have motivated me.  Knowing you’re not alone swimming in clutter, seeing the progress others have made, hearing ideas for organizing, finding places to donate to, and so much more.  Truly, that group is an amazing group of people and I’m thankful to be apart of it.

FAQ

Q: Do I have to throw the things away.
A: Absolutely not!  You can gift, donate, recycle, repurpose, or throw away.  Try to let throwing away be your last option if possible.  Be careful not to get stuck on wanting to repurpose or repair things though.  It’s easy to save things for “one day” and that day never comes.

Q: Are you sure there won’t be a cash prize this year?
A: Yes, there won’t be this year but maybe I’ll giveaway a smaller gift card to an active participant in our Facebook group.

Q: Is it okay if I post in the group daily?
A: Absolutely!  To keep your progress organized you can post all of your pictures in the comments of your first post….or not.  It could be fun to see all of the progress you’ve made this month in one place but you’re not obligated to.  Just share away.

Q: Do you have a list of easy things to start with?
A: As it turns out, we do!  Here’s our list of 200 Things to Let Go Of.

If you have any other questions please feel free to comment below and ask.  I hope you’ll join us and invite a friend to join you too!

If you’re looking for some more Live With Less encouragement check out these resources (and don’t forget our Facebook group). 🙂

 

 

 

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Buying a new car entails so much more than I previously thought. From figuring out how much “car” you can afford, to determining what type of car will work best for you, the list of proactive steps to take before you sign on the dotted line seems endless. While yes, many steps come into play when buying your new car, the biggest step I want to help you with today is setting a budget for your new car purchase. If you’re heading to the local dealership and want some tips for how much you can spend on that new car purchase, then continue reading for some tips to help you set a new car budget with ease.  This post is brought to you by Butlerchryslerdodgejeep.com.

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Easy Ways to Calculate Your New Car Budget

Consider Total Price

The total price of your new car goes beyond what the selling price is for your new car. You’ll want to take into consideration the total price that includes the sticker price, the title, insurance, and other fees involved with buying a new car. You can easily estimate some of those costs beforehand to get a general idea of what a new car may end up costing to use to calculate your new car budget.

Review Expenses

Take a moment to review your income and expenses in the house. This is an important step in calculating your new car budget because you can’t spend money on a new car if you don’t have any money. Take a moment to figure out what you can remove from your current household expense list to make room for a new car payment and what amount is left over after all other household expenses have been deducted from your household income.

Calculate Monthly Payment

Remember that your new car is probably going to carry a hefty monthly payment, so be sure you know how much the monthly payment will be on a new car. You can easily estimate a monthly car payment by talking to your local dealership about their current rates and pricing options. Consider getting a list of approximate monthly payment options to help you calculate your new car budget.

Down Payment or Trade-In

When you work to calculate your new car budget, you’ll want to take into consideration whether or not you’re putting a down payment on the new car or trading in an older vehicle. Each of these things will be taken off the total price of your new car purchase. Have a discussion with the sales rep at your local dealership to see what types of down payment options or trade-in options they have to help get your new car budget calculated.

At the end of the day, buying a new car can be stressful. This is a new expense that you’ll be adding into your already packed full household expense list. That’s why I highly recommend you follow the simple steps I shared today to calculate your new car budget. This will ensure you can get a new car without breaking the bank or added more stress into your life.

How to Create a Car Travel Journal With Your Kids

Many parents enjoy traveling with their kids to make memories (road trips can be amazing!! Check out our list of Great American Road Trips), but what are you doing to capture those moments? I think that we often feel our kids will hang onto these memories that we’re making as we travel around with them to see new places, but the reality is sometimes you need a journal to truly capture those traveling moments as a family. If you’re looking for a new journaling idea for homeschool or perhaps you simply want to create an awesome travel journal with your kids, then here are some tips to help you make this happen!  This post is brought to you by Pearsontoyotascion.com.

How to Create a Travel Journal With Your Kids

How to Create a Travel Journal With Your Kids

– Let Your Kids Make A Journal

While you can purchase a travel journal for kids online, it’s always more memorable to have your kids make their own journal. Gather up the three-ring binder and lined notebook paper. Put together a binder of journaling printables with lined notepad paper to provide many options for travel journaling.

– Bring The Tools

Using a small flexible pencil case bring along scissors, markers, crayons, pencils and any other journaling tools that your kids may need to document their memories in this travel journey during your family road trips.  You could store this in the glove compartment or have a special bin in the car that holds all of their supplies.

– Lead by Example

Keep a car travel journal of your own.  We love to document how many cars from different states we see on trips, how traffic was, and all the fun or extraordinary events that take place.

– Encourage Writing

While most adults enjoy reflecting about their day at the end of the night, many kids aren’t quite in that mindset. Encourage your kids to write in their journal during the day when their memories are close to their heart, so that they can truly journal the most from their traveling day.

– Don’t Micro-Manage

While you may want to micro-manage the process of journaling, this is not the time nor place to do so. Allowing your kids to journal during your travel adventures is a great way to let your kids show you their best grammar and vocabulary knowledge, but you can review that later on after your vacation.  It’s so hard to not do this, it’s a struggle with every. single. journal entry but it has to be done.  They need the freedom to express themselves without worrying about spelling every last word correctly…besides, it would be pretty annoying for you to spell every other word to them. 🙂

– Offer Prompts

Some kids aren’t equipped with the skills to come up with creative things to journal about during your time traveling, so consider giving your kids prompts each day during your time on the road. Don’t force your kids to use the prompts, simply have them written down each day to help them think deeper.

Having your kids create a travel journal will be a wonderful way to help them improve their grammar, vocabulary and handwriting skills all the while capturing their favorite family moments of your family travel events.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

Have you recently bought a new family car? Maybe you already have a family car that’s treated your family well over the years but now you want to figure out what some of your routine maintenance should be for your car. Knowing what routine maintenance you should have performed on your car will help you extend your car’s lifespan, thus saving you thousands of dollars in repair fees.  This post is brought to you by Reedmantollnissanofdrexelhill.com.

What is routine maintenance on a car?

What is routine maintenance on a car?

– Peek at your Owner’s Manual

The owner’s manual for your car will lay out all of the routine maintenance for your car. This includes when is the right time to get an oil change as well as any additional maintenance recommendations for your car. It’s always good to become familiar with your owner’s manual so that you’re car savvy.

– Change Oil and Filter

It used to be recommended that you get an oil and oil filter change every three months or 3,000 miles, but times have changed and cars have advanced. Some newer cars can go 5,000 up to 10,000 miles before they need an oil change, so check your owner’s manual or ask the dealership where you purchased your car.

– Check Your Tires

Every month you should check your tires to make sure that there’s no major wear and tear, the tire pressure is up to par with what your tires say to have the air pressure at, and the tread is still where it should be. Properly inflated tires help with gas mileage as well as to reduce the chance of a blowout. (Check out our post on how to Save Money on Tires)

– Check Your Fluids

There are so many different fluids a car needs to function properly. From your windshield wiper fluid to your brake fluid, power steering fluid and oil as well as transmission fluid. Check your owner’s manual to see what fluids you have and check them regularly.

– Examine Belts and Hoses

If you feel comfortable with this step, you should examine all belts and hoses under the hood. This is to make sure you don’t have any leaks or loose connections that could cause a future leak. If you’re not comfortable, your local car dealership would be more than happy to assist.

These are just some of the most routine maintenance recommendations for most cars. If you’re not sure how to proceed with any of these routine maintenance tips you could also have your car dealership’s service department handle these small tasks to ensure your car stays running smoothly for the long term.

Top 5 Survival Tips for Holiday Road Trips

Are you planning a holiday road trip with your family? Going on a road trip during the holiday season will honestly bring more precautions to take and things to think about. The holiday season is one of the busiest travel seasons of the year and that’s why I wanted to feature a few of the top survival tips for holiday road trips today. I want your family to enjoy your next road trip during the holiday season and stay safe at the same time.  This post is brought to you by ZeiglerChryslerDodge.com.

Tips for Holiday Road Trips

Top 5 Survival Tips for Holiday Road Trips

Get a First Aid and Emergency Kit

Step one to surviving holiday road trips is to have a first aid kit and car emergency kit on hand. You can easily purchase these two items online and have them delivered or go to your local retailer that sells items like this. You’ll want to have band-aids, ointment, and hand warmers as well as road flares and flashlights with batters to say safe during your holiday road trip.

Bring Entertainment

Remember to pack up enough entertainment options for those kids! Having kids in tow during your holiday road trip can get rather distracting if you don’t bring enough items to keep your kids entertained. I highly recommend you print coloring pages, bring crayons, download songs and movies along with a tablet or smartphone that the kids can use during your holiday road trip. You could even bring some lessons for homeschooling your kids on the road.

Plan Your Route

Listen, it may sound fun to be spontaneous during your holiday road trip with kids, but let’s face it, traveling with kids can get a little overwhelming. That’s why I highly recommend you plan your route well in advance. This ensures you have time for rest stops to use the restrooms and stretch breaks along your route during holiday road trip travel with kids. Don’t forget about some must-see locations that your kids are interested in, let them pick a couple of spots on the route.

Pack Snacks

Kids can get really cranky when they haven’t eaten enough food. That’s why it’s a must to pack some snacks and drinks for the entire family. This will help you and the kids survive a long holiday road trip together without having to deal with the grumpy moods that can come when you’re hungry. Snacks will also help the younger kids take a nap, as they will feel sleepy when their bellies are full. Be sure to pack healthier snack options, not sugar treats, or you may have some restless kids in the backseat.

Be Prepared to Sit in Traffic

Lastly, remember that this is a busy travel season for families. That means you’re apt to end up in long lines of traffic on the more popular routes. Try to plan your route around any major travel portions of the road so that you won’t have to sit in traffic as often, but always prepare to sit in traffic. Talk to your kids before you venture out on a long holiday road trip so that they know there may be some downtime during heavy traffic moments.

These are just my top 5 survival tips for holiday road trips with kids. Each of these survival tips will help you enjoy a long road trip with kids during one of the busiest travel seasons of the year.

How to Choose the Right Family Car

Choosing a family car can be somewhat difficult. There are more options than ever before at your local car dealership. From a van to an SUV and a full-size car, these are just some of the ideas that will work for your new family car. When it comes to buying the right family car though, you’ll want some ideas on how to make the right choice. That’s why I’m featuring some tips to help you choose your next family car purchase and choose right.  This post is brought to you by BarkauAutomotive.net.

How to Choose the Right Family Car

How to Choose the Right Family Car

Seating and Storage

Any parent out there knows that when it comes to having a large family, as in a family with more than one child, seating and storage is a must! That’s why it’s important to think about how many seats you’ll need, remember to think about those friends that come over, and how much storage space will be feasible for your family. Make a note of this data so that you can share these details with your local car salesmen before buying your next family car.

Simple Features

Some of the cars on the market today may be too much for the average family. If you have younger children then you’ll want to make sure that your family car has features that help you stay safe on the road, even during those little kid distractions. You’ll also want to make sure the features in your new family car easy to figure out, that last thing you want to do is have some complicated procedure to turn the blinker on during your time driving the family around in the new family car.

Consider Your Budget

Lastly, remember that buying a new family car means that you’re bringing a new expense into the household. That’s why you’ll want to follow some easy tips for setting a new car budget. You’ll need to review what expenses you already have and how much income is flowing into the home before determining the best price range for your new family car.

When it comes to choosing the right family car, there are many different things that each family must take into consideration. You may find these tips helpful and have more ideas to add to my list, but at the end of the day, each of these tips I’ve shared today will inspire you to be financially smart and careful when it comes to choosing the right family car.

5 Car Hacks Every Mom Needs to Know

Whether you’re planning a long road trip or traveling frequently in your car, there are some car hacks that every mom needs to know. Traveling with kids is not an easy feat, that’s why you have to make sure your car is in tip-top shape and you’re traveling equipped with the best car hacks for moms everywhere.

Today, I’m going to share some of the top hacks I feel every mom needs to know. These hacks will help you get through life without too much of a headache during high travel seasons. Whether you’re traveling for the holidays or simply find yourself in the car frequently with kids, these car hacks that every mom needs to know will help you survive and keep your sanity during car time with kids.  This post is brought to you by www.newarkcjd.com and contains an affiliate link.

5 Car Hacks Every Mom Needs to Know

5 Car Hacks Every Mom Needs to Know

Entertain Kids

Give your kids dry erase markers and a winter glove. This will keep your kids entertained for hours during long road trips. Kids can easily draw on the car windows and erase them easily using their winter gloves. This car hack is best suited for older kids who won’t draw on the car’s interior.

Use Organizers

Let’s face it, traveling in a car with kids makes for a messy car! There’s a meme that features a funny depiction of mom’s car versus dad’s car, it shows mom’s car being the messiest one. I think this holds true, so use organizers like fabric collapsible bins to keep kids stuff organized and off your car floor.  There are some great ones here on Amazon to choose from.

Use Cupcake Liners

Gather up some reusable cupcake liners to place inside your car cup holders. This will keep from having spills seep into those small areas and keep the kids’ drinks held more securely during long-distance traveling in the car with kids.

Make your Own Car Fresheners

Kids are messy and sometimes pretty stinky! So if you’re going to be driving with kids in tow it’s always cheaper and best to make your own car air fresheners. There are many DIY car air freshener recipes online that will work using Essential Oils and last much longer than store-bought options.

Get an Emergency Kit

Lastly, make sure you and your kids are always safe by investing in a car emergency kit. This kit should have jumper cables, a first aid kit, road flares, hand warmers and everything that one would need in case your car breaks down on the side of the road while traveling with kids.

There you have it, my top car hacks every mom needs to know. These simple car hacks will keep your car organized, clean, smelling fresh, and staying safe every time you travel with kids.

Tips to Care for a Used Car

If you make the choice to purchase used, these tips for keeping your used car in top shape are going to keep things running for years to come. Any vehicle investment is something you want to have last for many years. Being able to keep your car or truck running smoothly will make your investment even better in the long run.  This post is brought to you by Waynesborocdjr.com.

Tips to Care for a Used Car

  • Have regular tune ups.

This is key for any vehicle but is definitely a must do tip for keeping your used car in top shape. Regular tune ups will alert you to underlying problems, as well as keep things running smoothly. At least once per year have your mechanic take the time to do a thorough check of your car You should also regularly take it in for oil changes and basic maintenance needs.

Things to have your mechanic check or change regularly:
-Oil and oil filter changes
-Air filter
-Fluids
-Belts checked or replaced
-Spark plugs
-Brakes and tires
-Air conditioning and heater upkeep

  • Repair things before they break.

There are many things that may not need to be replaced regularly, but if they do go bad can lead to other costly expenses. Checking things like your brakes, timing belt, radiator, transmission and even simple electrical needs on a regular basis and replacing at signs of wear is important. A routine replacement can prevent you from having multiple other problems associated with a break later down the road.

  • Check for potential recalls on your car model.

One thing you should always do when you have a used car is to regularly check for recalls on your car. From ignition switches, to computers, filters or braking systems you may be eligible for a free upgrade on parts if your model has had a recall in recent years. This is a very important part of keeping your used car in good shape. Don’t miss out on any covered recall item replacements. This will keep you safe, as well as keep your resell value higher.

  • Get to know common issues with your car model.

Just like you can check for past recalls, you can also look into what are common issues with your specific make and model of car. This will help you to know what to look for in terms of potential issues later, as well as knowing what areas you need to be more diligent with for upkeep.

These tips for keeping your used car in top shape are sure to make your initial investment a great long lasting one. Purchasing a used car is a great choice for many families with limited budgets.

How to Start Identifying Birds By Their Songs

Going bird watching can be a very fun experience for anyone. People of all ages really enjoy watching what birds land in their backyard or sing from the trees up above. While this is a fun way to get in touch with nature and the world around us, I often wonder how to identify birds by their songs. This idea really had me thinking and so I did some research to figure out a way to help my kids learn this concept of identifying birds by their songs. I wanted to share some of the information with you today so that you can start naming that bird by their song, a concept that’s called “birding by ear”.

How to Start Identifying Birds By Their Songs

How to Start Identifying Birds By Their Songs

Focus and Analyze

Since there may be many birds singing at once, it may be difficult to hone in on one bird song over the rest. That’s why it’s important to really open your ears when you’re “birding by ear”. Learning the various songs of the most common birds that frequent your backyard will take a lot of focus at first as you figured out which bird is singing which song.

Figured Out the Syllables

One of the more common birds to identify is the Barrel Owl as their song sounds much like “who cooks for you”. The syllables of the bird songs will help you to identify birds by their songs. Take a moment to listen to the number of notes, also referred to as syllables, and the tone of each note to help you identify your backyard birds by their songs.

Make a Memory Hook

Once you’ve figured out the syllables of each bird song you can easily make some sort of memory hook, such as the Barrel Owl’s “who cooks for you” as a means to remember which bird song is related to the specific bird breed. The Common Yellowthroat bird has a note that sounds like “witchity-witchity-witchity” but you may find another memory hook helps you remember this bird breed when identifying this bird by its song.

Download Song Sleuth

This app is available for both Apple and Android devices here. Song Sleuth will help you learn the bird songs so that you can better identify your backyard birds by their song. You simply use Song Sleuth to listen to the birds around you and the app will use your recording to help tell you what bird species you’re hearing so that you can save this identifier to help get used to what bird songs belong to which bird breed.

Being able to identify birds by their songs is a fun way to spend quality time with family outside. Not only does this “birding by ear” concept help you enjoy more of your backyard together, but it’s a fun way to help teach your kids about the bird species that frequent your local region. Using my tips to help you start identifying birds by their songs will surely help you and your kids appreciate the birds on a deeper level as you learn their songs and more about their singing habits.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

With the holiday season approaching many parents are wondering how to keep kids busy in the backseat. This is such a challenging concept for parents with kids of all ages. While you’d think preteens and teens can self-entertain, just take them on a long road trip to visit family and see how well that truly entertain themselves. Since kids of all ages may need some entertainment options during a long holiday travel road trip, I wanted to share some of the best ways you can keep these kids busy in the backseat.  This post is brought to you by Easterns.com.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

5 Ways to Keep Kids Busy in the Backseat

Printable Games

There are so many printable games that kids of all ages can enjoy in the backseat. Car bingo and i-Spy come to mind as two childhood favorites that kids can enjoy playing while they’re patiently waiting to arrive at your next family holiday gathering.

Portable DVD Player

Whether you love or hate electronics, the sad reality is that our kids are growing up with technology all around them. A two-hour movie or two will keep your kids busy in the backseat. Have the kids take a vote before leaving what DVDs will be played in the backseat to avoid sibling rivalry on the road.

MP3 Player

Grab an MP3 player or a smartphone with a music app downloaded for use in the car. Have your kids create their own holiday travel playlist that they can listen to during the long haul to visit family. If you don’t have a device for each kid, consider playing each list over the car radio during your travels.

Paper and Drawing Utensils

Get a little holiday travel tote bag that’s full of drawing utensils like crayons, markers, and pencils as well as pads of paper. This will give your kids plenty of supplies to draw on and enjoy playing games like Hangman or Tic Tac Toe together in the backseat during long road trips.

Bring Audiobooks

Take this time to give your kids a little homeschooling on the road. Download audiobooks that will help your kids learn about your current topics you’ve been studying. This allows you to do some homeschooling on the road during the heavy holiday travel season.  Check out our Family Audiobooks.

There you have it, my top 5 ways to keep kids busy in the backseat. As you can see my ideas will work for most any age group and will help your kids remain calm so that you can arrive at your destination in one piece.