Love, Juliebug
Everyone loves a great Christmas party and the best part about it is gathering together with your friends, family and even co-workers. So, when there is a gift exchange involved it is much less stressful and a lot more fun when you can do something like White Elephant, Dirty Santa, or whatever your party-hosts call the gift exchange.
The first place I hit up when looking for a great budget-friendly gift exchange item is my local Goodwill store. By doing this you are lowering your carbon footprint, supporting your local economy, saving money, and giving to charity all at the same time! Plus – Goodwill’s mission is to maximize the value of our donations and purchases to support and grow programs that result in significant social impact for your community members in need of work.
And if you’re in a place that doesn’t have a local Goodwill (I think that is few and far between)  they have an auction site that features a well-curated collection of designer handbags, jewelry, musical instrument, vintage housewares, etc. 
It is not uncommon for people to share slightly used, unique and fun gifts for this type of gift-exchange. Get creative – and if you can’t find the perfect gift at your local Goodwill store, find a variety of items you can use to DIY a fun gift!
Tips to start you on your way:
Go early and go often – If you know you have a gift exchange coming up and it isn’t a last minute shopping trip, going early and often will give you the pick of the best items on the shelves.
Shop the whole store – don’t go in with one thing and mind and skip the rest of the store. You never know what gems might be in another section.
Make your own wrapping paper – while you are out shopping, look for some great scraps or different types of paper that you could use to have a fun and creatively wrapped gift.
Here are some budget-friendly ideas for the gift giving season:
Costume Jewelry – this can be a lot of fun. Usually you can find a literal “mixed bag” of great random jewelry pieces. Pick out the best or gift the whole bag!
Books and Records – contrary to popular belief, lots of people still love paper and vinyl. You can find a treasure trove of these at Goodwill.
Gift baskets – you can not only find a really fun variety of baskets, bins, or other items that would be fun to put gifts in, you can find other nifty stuff to fill that basket up while you’re there.
Framed or Canvas art and picture frames– listen, Goodwill is one of my favorite places to find unique items to hang on my wall. But not only that, you can find picture frames that are still in the packaging and use them as they are or find a fun DIY to mix and match.
Matching hostess sets – if you think that you won’t find matching kitchen items at Goodwill, you’re sadly mistaken. You can find all kinds of great trays, serving platers, punch bowl sets and other items that would be a fun hostess gift. If you can’t find something that matches, use a little chalkboard paint to really make it unique.
Collectively, over 313,000 people in the United States and Canada connected with jobs or earned employment using Goodwill organizations’ career services programs this past year. And more than that - tens of millions access the Goodwill education, training, and online learning services that Goodwill offers to strengthen their job training skills. As a non-profit, they are dedicated to helping create jobs and providing on-the-job training for many who would find employment opportunities scarce without Goodwill’s help.
When I’m able to find a steal and save money, check off my holiday shopping list, and know I’m supporting a good cause, it’s a total win/win/win situation. Find a Goodwill store near you at http://www.goodwill.org/locator/ and help create new jobs in your local community while saving this holiday season. You can share your great holiday finds with the hashtag #ShopGoodwill!


Being Keto I find my sweet tooth has all but disappeared. It's a miracle! However, I've come to see that being prepared to overcome possible temptation is extremely important. So, today I'm sharing some Keto Christmas treats for you all. I hope you enjoy them!


Keto Snickerdoodle Cookie Dough Balls from Keto Size Me


Low Carb Classic Gingerbread Men from All Day I Dream About Food



Pecan Pie Cheesecake Bars from Briana Thomas


Keto Peanut Butter Cheesecake Bites by Hey Keto Mama


Low Carb Thin Mint Truffles from All Day I Dream About Food


Walnut Cookies from Keto Connect


Cookie Cutouts from Keto Adapted


2 Ingredient Fudge from My Montana Kitchen


Pecan Snowball Cookies from Sugar Free Mom


Speculoos (Biscoff Cookies) from Gnom Gnom

Now, tell me, if you had these in tow would you eat non-Keto sweet treats that would make you feel horrible? I think not. They all look amazing, right? Which ones look most scrumptious to you?

Below are some very easy ways to make sure your menu is healthy and humane. Which tip do you think would be easiest to integrate into your family?


Five Simple Ways to Eat a More Humane and Healthy Menu

I’ve had animals for as long as I can remember. They are family to me. Maybe you can relate to that. The message about animal cruelty and adopting a #ShelterPet is one that has gained ground in recent years, but the ASPCA is concerned with the welfare of farm animals as well.

Here are five simple ways to become a more aware and welfare-conscious consumer when shopping for your family’s groceries.

  1. Eat Seasonally - Eating foods in season means that you’re able to buy from a more local economy and avoid having your food ship from other countries. This means fresher foods picked at peak ripeness too!
  2. Shop Locally - CSA’s and local farmers’ markets help support local, often smaller scale, farmers and ranchers who are producing outside of the traditional factory-farm system. If you aren’t sure where to start, visit your local farmers’ market and start asking some question - this guide will get you started. https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources/how-shop-farmers-market  
  3. Conquer Labeling Confusion - Marketers create confusion with their flashy labels and clever catch-phrases. But unfortunately, sometimes they care more about finances than transparency. Words like “natural” or “humane” often don’t have any oversight to actually tell you as a consumer anything concrete. However, some phrases and labels do have regulations associated with their use, and that’s what you can start to look for as a savvy shopper. Here’s a guide to labeling to get you started. https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources/meat-eggs-and-dairy-label-guide
  4. Be Careful to Minimize Waste - One of the ways we can treat the animals used for food respectfully and humanely is by making the most of the food we purchase. Purchase only what you know you’ll use and serve the right sized portions to avoid wasting what your family buys. https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/the_good_groceries_guide_final_version.pdf
  5. Look for Certifications That Mean Something - Unlike marketing gimmicks there are certain certifications and awards that have true meaning. For example the USDA  Organic label shows that the produce grown (or fed to the animal) didn’t use banned pesticides. Others include Animal Welfare Approved or Certified Humane



See The Good Groceries Guide for more information about how our shopping habits impact the lives of those around us - animals included. https://www.aspca.org/sites/default/files/the_good_groceries_guide_final_version.pdf

Find more resources for savvy shoppers at the ASCPA Shop With Your Heart website! https://www.aspca.org/shopwithyourheart/consumer-resources

And don’t forget to enter to win some fun items from the ASPCA!



I am one of those moms who love doing crafts with their kids. Okay, glitter and I are not exactly friends but there's something I find fun about being creative with her. First rule of crafting with kids? Relax. Haha. Trust me, I really have to put my OCD on the back burner. I've gathered together some fun crafts to do together this time of year. Have fun!


Easy Paper Snowman Art by Fireflies and Mudpies


Pinecone Christmas Trees by The Wool Acorn



Beaded Candy Cane Ornaments by Fountain Avenue Kitchen


Paper Plate Reindeer by Easy Peasy and Fun


Glass Stained Window Ornaments by Simply Today Life


Christmas Tree Slime by The Best Ideas for Kids


Snowman Hat Ornament by Fireflies and Mudpies


Scrap Ribbon Tree Ornaments by Fireflies and Mudpies


Yarn Wrapped Christmas Tree Ornament by Easy Peasy and Fun


Beaded Christmas Ornaments by Crystal & Co.


















Do you remember awhile back I told you that our 9 year old no longer believes in Santa? She asked point blank and I felt compelled to be honest. It was a tough, spur of the moment decision. Initially, she handled it well but over time I fear she has really struggled with the truth.

I think she feels the magic is slipping away and it makes me sad. I would love to go back in time just to see her little face light up at the thought that Santa had been there. Part of me wishes that we could freeze time a bit. Anyone else? So, I thought it would be helpful to make a list of things we can do to help keep the magic in Christmas.

1. Give. When you give gifts to those in need you are automatically in the right frame of mind for Christmas. It's so important to let others know we are here and that we care. 

2. Decorate. There's something innately magical about the glow of Christmas lights and the bright cheery decor this season brings. I often wish we could leave everything up year round and sometimes I try but unfortunately this season is fleeting. So, I try to enjoy it while it's here. 

3. Traditions. The things we do year in and year out are the memories we will carry on as the years pass. I will admit I am not always great about being consistent with things but I try and that's all that matters.

4. Volunteer. Giving our money and gifts are one thing, but giving our time is even more special. We are typically running around like crazed elves this time of year. When we deliberately set aside time to be a blessing to others, it means something.

5. Create your own gifts. I realize we aren't all crafty. However, I truly think there are crafts and gifts to be made by anyone. If you aren't the craftiest person in the world I would venture a guess that you know someone who is quite the crafter. Ask them for ideas or help. It would be fun in the process.

6. Spend time with each other. Make time to enjoy each other's company. Go look at Christmas lights. Watch a Christmas movie. Have a fun games night with friends and family. Decorate Gingerbread houses together. There are so many options!

I hope you and your family have a wonderful and magical Christmas!


If you're anything like me, you love picking out the perfect gifts for your loved ones. But, that joy ends when I need to wrap said gifts. In fact, I've been known to put it off and then be hastily wrapping presents on Christmas Eve. Not my finest moment. I've put together some ideas for you (and me) to make wrapping presents a cinch!

1. Begin wrapping earlier than usual. That procrastination will only end up biting you later. 

2. Use double-sided tape. This is one tip I love. It makes your gifts look much more professional.

3. If you struggle with making straight lines, use a rotary cutter and a ruler. I cannot cut a straight line to save my life. A rotary cutter is a perfect solution!

4. Consider using kraft paper. I find it is usually more forgiving than a patterned paper. It doesn't look wonky if you wrap it slightly askew. 

5. Get up off the floor or couch and find a table to wrap on. I know. You're comfy. It's easier than cleaning off the table but trust me, it's necessary.

6. Use decorative washi tape. Especially if you take tip #4 this will be adorable. There are many, many different washi tapes available with adorable designs. It's a simple way to add pizzaz to your gifts.

7. Put everything in a box. Trust me here. Boxes automatically make your gifts look more polished.

8. Wrap as you buy your presents. This way you never end up with a huge pile to wrap at once. This goes along with tip #1 of course.

9. Spend a little extra to get thicker wrapping paper. It's so easy to buy the cheapest paper. I get it. Who wants to spend more money on something that gets crumpled up in five seconds flat? But, here me out. If you want your presents to look pretty, thicker paper will help you. I particularly like the paper at Hobby Lobby.

10. Don't forget a gift tag! You can use store-bought or easily make them yourself. Check out the list of free printable Christmas gift tags I compiled *HERE*.


After finding the perfect presents and wrapping them up, you need tags to finish them off. I've compiled a list of free printable Christmas tags that are so cute and fun! Feel free to save to Pinterest as a collection but make sure you click on the link to find and save the original Christmas tags. It's amazing how many talented artists there are out there! 




























Do you have a favorite? I don't know that I could dare to pick one! By the way, if you are looking for helpful tips for wrapping presents, check out my post on it!






Listening :: I've been listening to a whole lot of Taylor Swift lately. Really trying to wrap my brain around her new album. Typically I fall in love with every song. I don't think that's going to happen this time.

Eating :: Lots of delicious low carb foods. Honestly, I've never felt this satiated while losing weight. LCHF is amazing!

Drinking :: Water. Mostly water. I did discover sparkling water with a touch of MIO added to it is quite delicious!

Wearing :: Clothes that are much looser. Also, it is starting to cool down into the 70s here so I'm wearing some long sleeve shirts and jeans lately. Ahh, fall.

Feeling :: A bit moody but so much better than I used to feel. My anxiety is at an all-time low.

Weather :: Well, as I said above, it is starting to cool down a bit. Arizona fall is much different than Wyoming fall. We are expecting our first highs in the 60s next week!

Wanting :: I'm finding myself wanting a vacation. It would be so lovely but not in the cards right now.

Needing :: Honestly, I'm needing to start going to bed earlier. Midnight and beyond is not good for me. I wake up at 7:30 or so no matter what I do.

Thinking :: Of all my friends in Wyoming. I miss them all so much.

Enjoying :: The Christmas season. I love the decorations, the music, the joy...
This is a sponsored post.

Did you know that, when installed and used correctly, child safety seats decrease the risk of a fatal injury by 71 percent among infants, 54 percent among toddlers and 45 percent among children ages 4 to 8? Those are amazing statistics and beg the question, are your kiddos buckled in as safely as they could be? There have been times when I really struggled getting our daughters car seat in. I would have been so thankful to have a resource like Cars.com when she was smaller.

Cars.com does car seat checks on various different vehicles and shares their reviews on their site. They also talk about the latch system. It became standard in 2002 and I love how it helps parents make sure their car seats are not budging. Parents should also remember that they can use the Latch system or a seat belt to install a car seat, and that Latch anchors have a weight limit of 65 pounds, including the weight of the child and the weight of the seat itself.

I'm so thankful for the plethora of information at our fingertips now. I mean, honestly, parenthood can be stressful enough. Who needs to worry that their children's car seats aren't secure enough.




Quick Tips for Parents


Car seats can be confusing, so start by reading your manuals. When you get a new car seat, make sure to read its manual as well as the section on car seats in your car's owner's manual.

Next, register your car seat. This allows the car-seat maker to alert you when there's a recall.

Finally, ask for help. If you're at all unsure whether you've installed your child's car seat correctly, schedule a car seat check in your area.

The good news is most Fire Stations are part of the free car seat checks!

I've partnered with Bloggin' Mamas for this social good campaign. I may receive movie-related promotional items or experiences, but all opinions expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

  
In support of the home entertainment release of the heartwarming animated family adventure, Leap!, Lionsgate has partnered with the non-profit organization, FOOTLOOSE, to gather donations of new and gently used dance shoes to help aspiring dancers in need.

On November 16th, from 6p-8p PST, Lionsgate will be hosting an event in which they will be presenting FOOTLOOSE with the shoe donations. I wanted to help support this social good project, by encouraging donations from my readers. If you have new or gently used dance shoes you are willing to donate, you'll find the address to send them to below.

You can also follow along the donation event on social media via #LeapMovie and #LeapForFootloose

This movie touched the heart of my daughter and myself. It has such a great message about following your dreams and sticking to them. I'm so excited to be sharing about this organization as well.

Donations to FOOTLOOSE can be sent prior to November 16 to the address below: Address For Donations Leap Donations c/o Lionsgate 5055 Wilshire Blvd Suite 840 Los Angeles, CA 90036

About Leap!

Featuring all-star voice talent led by Elle Fanning (Maleficent), alongside Nat Wolff (The Fault in Our Stars) and Maddie Ziegler (The Book of Henry), with Mel Brooks (Spaceballs), featuring Carly Rae Jepsen (singer-songwriter of the hit song “Call Me Maybe”) and Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”), Leap! is a colorful and imaginative story about an orphan girl who is determined to follow her dream of becoming a ballerina. Filled with irresistible original music, Leap! features the hit track “Cut to the Feeling.” Eleven-year-old orphan Félicie (Fanning) has one dream — to go to Paris and become a dancer. Her best friend, Victor (Wolff), an imaginative, exuberant boy with a passion for creating, has a dream of his own — to become a famous inventor. In a leap of faith, Victor and Félicie leave their orphanage in pursuit of their passions. But there’s a catch: Félicie must pretend to be the child of a wealthy family in order to gain admittance to the prestigious and competitive Opera Ballet School in Paris. And with no professional dance training, she quickly learns that talent alone is not enough to overcome the ruthless, conniving attitudes of her fellow classmates, led by the devious Camille Le Haut (Ziegler). Determined to succeed, Félicie finds her mentor in the tough and mysterious school custodian, Odette (Jepsen), who, along with Victor’s encouraging friendship, help her reach for the stars. Leap! will be available on Digital November 7 and on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand November 21.

Get Social with Leap!

Facebook- facebook.com/LeapMovieOfficial/; Twitter- twitter.com/LeapTheMovie; Website- lionsgateathome.com/leap;

About FOOTLOOSE

FOOTLOOSE is a non-profit charitable organization that collects new and gently used dance shoes to donate to less fortunate aspiring dancers. FOOTLOOSE donates shoes to a variety of organizations. For more information to donate or receive shoes, visit http://www.footloosemission.com/;. FOOTLOOSE was founded by Becca Duberman, a dancer and philanthropist, in 2010. Becca’s passion for dance and her compassion for children led to the creation of FOOTLOOSE. Like its movie namesake, FOOTLOOSE, the story of overcoming restrictions to dance, connects donors to needy recipients.

Get Social with FOOTLOOSE

Facebook- facebook.com/FootlooseMssn/; Twitter- twitter.com/FootlooseMssn; Instagram- instagram.com/footloosemssn/;   Donate soon, so the shoes arrive in time for the event and don't forget to check out Leap! on Digital November 7 and on Blu-ray, DVD and On Demand November 21.

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White Elephant, Dirty Santa, and Other Budget Friendly Gift Giving Ideas

Everyone loves a great Christmas party and the best part about it is gathering together with your friends, family and even co-workers. So, ...