5 Important Things To Keep In Mind Before Purchasing Your First Home


Buying your first home can be both exciting and terrifying all at the same time! Unlike with renting, buying a home can open up tons of opportunities. You’ll be able to decorate how you wish, but at the same time you’ll also be the one responsible for all home repairs.

If you think you’re ready to take on home buying, here are 5 important things you’ll want to keep in mind before purchasing your first home:

1.  Figure Out How Much Home You Can Afford

Figuring out how much home you can afford should always, always, be the first step. As a rule of thumb, your monthly housing payment shouldn’t be more than 28 percent of your gross monthly income. An online mortgage calculator, such as the one offered by Capital One, will help you figure out what you can afford.


2. Check On Your Financial History

Your financial history is VERY important when it comes to getting a mortgage. Lenders look at income, assets, job history, credit score, total debt, and how much you’re willing to put down as a down payment. You’ll want to find out where you stand and fix anything if need be,


3. Start Saving For a Down Payment

A typical down payment is 20 percent of the purchase price of the home. Once you’ve completed step 1 and have figured out how much of a home you can afford, figuring out how much you’ll need for a down payment will be a cinch!


4. Research Closing Costs

When buying a home you’ll also be responsible for closing costs. Closing costs can add to the amount you need to close your loan and take possession of your new home. Closing costs vary from one lender to another so make sure to look them over very carefully.


5. Figure Out The Type Of Mortgage That Will Work Best For You

Mortgages come in all shapes and sizes, and which one you choose depends on a lot of variables, including your budget, the amount you can afford to put down, the interest you’ll pay and the term length. All mortgages have pros and cons, but starting with at least a top-line understanding of what’s available is important as you save for this major purchase.


Still feel a little lost? The Capital One Home Loans Online Neighborhood is a free online resource where you can learn all about home buying. They’ve gathered easy-to-understand articles and helpful videos, as well as information about Capital One’s Home Loans offerings. Their friendly online neighborhood covers all stages of the home buying process – from deciding whether now is even the right time to buy and how much home you can afford, to the documents you need to apply for a mortgage.

If you’re interested in learning more about Capital One Home Loans and how we they can help you get home, visit them here.


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Indiana, RFRA and Why It’s Partially My Fault


I have never written anything like this.  Normally it’s all rainbow pancakes, fashion tips for women and new recipes to try out at dinner.  But I’ve never felt like this.  

I’ve never felt ashamed of my home.  Embarrassed.  And sad.  Until this past week.

And I’m partially to blame.

Now, don’t think I have a crazy ego or that I have some sort of power over the government.  I don’t.

But I will admit that I didn’t vote.  I said that I didn’t know enough about the canidates to make a decision.

Baloney.  I could have found out.  I could have put in the effort.  And I didn’t.  And I now regret it.

For me, personally, the biggest problem of the RFRA has nothing to do with what is in it or what isn’t in it.  It’s over the fact that majority of people seem to be very much against it.  But yet, the leaders who we chose to represent us voted it saying that it is something we would want.

And perhaps the people in office voted just the way that the people who voted them into office wanted them to.  And if that’s the case, well, where was everyone else on election day?  Why weren’t we voting someone into office that adequately represented our views?

I’m embarrassed because I feel like this bill does not reflect not only myself, but so many Hoosiers.  I’m ashamed that it’s giving my home a reputation.  And I’m sad because I feel as though it is lying about my faith.

My God would never say no to anyone.  He wouldn’t turn someone away because of sin.  He gave up everything for us so that we could gain everything in Heaven.

If a company doesn’t want to do business with someone because they’re gay due to religious beliefs, then I am not worthy to do business there either.  I’m getting divorced.  I had my son when I was young and unmarried.  I’ve gotten angry and said things I don’t mean.  I’ve made mistakes.  I’ve done things that were wrong and not proud of.  The hardest part for me in growing in my faith has been accepting that even though I’m not perfect and even though I am in no way worthy of it, God loves me anyway.  He forgives me.  He understands.  He will never hold it against me.  And while I may not think I’m worthy of it, God finds me worthy enough.  I’ve been saved with the most amazing and compassionate grace.  My God loves.

One thing that God calls us to do is show others our faith through our actions and to help bring others to God.  I am so sad that I feel like this bill does the complete opposite.  For those people who haven’t had the chance to have a relationship with the Lord, I sadly believe that things like this push them further away.  They think that God doesn’t love all.  And it’s the furthest thing from the truth.

I really hope and pray that Indiana lawmakers make this right.  Our state has so much to be proud of.  So much good.  So many amazing people.

This RFRA doesn’t define our state.  It does not define the Hoosiers who live here.  And please know that it even though it is called a Religious Freedom bill, it doesn’t represent many people’s religion either.

You better believe that from here on out this woman will be educating herself on the candidates in office.  She will be in line to vote.  It’s time to take back our offices, get educated and put people in charge who will do their job correctly.  They aren’t (well, they shouldn’t be) there to serve their own personal agenda.  They should be able to say I made a mistake.  They should put the views of their district, state, and/or country ahead of their own.  They aren’t there to vote for themselves.  They are there to make decisions for the people.  Decisions that the people would make if they were able to be there themselves.  The people we elect into office are called representatives for a reason – they should be representing us, our ideas and our vision.

And while I’m so sad and disappointed with the leaders of Indiana,  I will still be here telling the world that I think Hoosiers are amazing people.  That Indiana is a great place to live with some of the coolest shops, businesses and attractions.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover and so I just ask you that you don’t judge a state by a group of officials.

Hopefully if one positive thing comes from this mess (and yes, it’s a mess!) is that people like me recognize the significance on why we need to be out there voting!

You can register to vote here.  


You Are Invited To The #MomKnowsBest Twitter Party!


Just wanted everyone to know that tomorrow I will be helping to host the #MomKnowsBest Twitter party!!  It will be from 3-4 and we will be covering everything cooking, home, fitness and fashion!

It’s super easy to ”attend”!  Just follow the #MomKnowsBest on Twitter and join in on the conversation!

Follow the hosts to make it easy!

It’s A Fabulous Life (that’s me!)


The Produce Mom


The City Moms

Frieda’s Produce

See Vanessa Craft

Tanimura & Antle

Mann’s Veggies Made Easy

Please Join Us!  Click here for official rules & prize description.
Comment now & let us know know if you will be coming to the party!

Hope to see you tomorrow at 3pmEDT / 12noonPDT on Twitter!

Shaklee Review & Giveaway – Clean Green!

Earth Day Shaklee

Spring is (finally) here and I’ve been a cleaning fool!  So when my friend Dani asked me if I wanted to try some Shaklee products I said sure!  Why not?  I’ll be honest, I’ve heard about Shaklee, but couldn’t tell you anything about them!  I really had no clue what to expect.


She was awesome enough to send me a Get Clean Household Mini Kit.  There isn’t really anything mini about it!  It was full of everything I need for a clean house (minus the housekeeper!)

I honestly thought that a clean home automatically meant a healthy home.  I never really paid much attention to the labels on my cleaning products.  I figured they said common sense things – you know –  don’t drink the laundry detergent, don’t spray the toilet cleaner in your eyes – that kind of stuff.


The bottle on the left is Shaklee’s Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate and the bottle on the right is my all time favorite glass cleaner.   So yes, obvious warnings.  And yes, some of my glass cleaner’s warnings were because of the bottle it was in.  But yes, Shaklee’s safety warning is much nicer than my cleaners!   But some of my cleaner’s warnings were a little scary!  Prolonged or repeated contact with skin may cause defatting (well, hey…no nevermind.  This is bad people!) or drying of the skin.  Then I saw phrases like “can be harmful or fatal”,  “Do not get this product in contact with skin” and “Use with adequate ventilation”.

Ok Shaklee you have my attention!

dogs favorite spot

So I thought I would put it to the test.  We have an awesome-ly dirty window that they dog just loves to lay next to (and drool on).  I thought this will be the ultimate Shaklee window cleaning test.  So I looked at the directions.

2 drops(Eyeroll).  Are these people serious?  Water and 2 drops of cleaner?? So I sent Dani a message to find out just how big a drop was.  At this point – I honestly think these people are crazy!  No wonder it’s not harmful!  It’s water!  (I’m a bit of a skeptic in case you can’t tell!)

2 drops2

But I make it and bring my trusty chemical filled cleaner along with us to go clean this dirty window.  Before I sprayed it I thought two things.
1.  There is no way this is going to get clean.
2. If the WATER takes off the drool then there are going to FOR SURE be streaks.  And LOTS of them.

its clean

Oh my gosh you guys.  It cleaned it!  And NO streaks. NOT EVEN ONE! NONE.

So here I am.  The world’s biggest 2 drop skeptic.  And I was wrong.  It cleaned our dirtiest window with ease.  And the next time that the dog licks the window at least he won’t be lapping up chemicals.  (I now feel a little guilty that our dog has been slurping up who knows what for the past 16 years!)

48 gallons

So it’s safer…it cleans just as well as my favorite cleaner…what about cost?  At a first glance this bottle of concentrate might seem a little steep – $12.15 (Or $10.35 if you are a member!) But this little bottle makes 48 gallons of cleaner!!  That means you can fill up your bottle 384 times.  Don’t worry – I did the math for you!  Each bottle costs only 3¢!  Plus, this concentrate doesn’t just work for windows!  Use it to make degreasers and all purpose cleaners too! (You seriously want a bottle of this stuff!  Get it here!)

Earth Day Polar Bear

So this Earth Day do something good for the environment and your family and ditch all the nasty chemicals and try Shaklee!

(PS!  If you are looking for a great way to make some extra money or even just to get a discount on awesome products – Shaklee has so much more than just cleaning products! – join Dani’s team!  You ca learn more here.)

And guess what?  We are giving some Shaklee away!! 6 people will win!  WOO HOO!

First place winner will receive:
1 Scour Off Paste & 1 Basic H2 Sample (This sample is big enough to make 1 bottle of All Purpose Cleaner and 1 bottle of Window Cleaner)

Five Runners Up will each receive:1 Basic H2 Sample (Again, this is big enough to make 1 bottle of All Purpose Cleaner and 1 bottle of Window Cleaner!)

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Today’s Top Deals

todays top deals

There are some great deals out there today!


This is my *FAVORITE* deal of the day!  Cheryl’s Cookies has the most adorable cookies and they are FREE (or even a money maker!)

Here is how to make $5.50 for purchasing a cookie (this offer is currently only available to new Top Cash Back members):
1. Click HERE to sign up for Top Cash Back.
2. Once you are signed up head up to the search bar and type in Cheryl’s.
3. Select “Get Cash Back” and it will take you to the Cheryl’s Cookies website.  About halfway down on the right hand side you will see the bunny cookies (as seen above).  Click them and add 1 to your cart.
4.  This is super important: Do NOT add anything else to you cart.  To be eligible to earn the cash back you can NOT add anything else to your cart.
5. Check out – shipping is free! Within 30-90 days you will see a credit for $5.50 come through on your Top Cash Back account!
6.  Your cookie will arrive in a few days!  Plus, there is a $5.00 gift card that will come with it! :)

Don’t want to sign up for Top Cash Back?  It’s still a great deal! $5 for a cookie shipped + a $5.00 gift card?  :) Get it here.

(Please note that you have to have a minimum of $10 in our Top Cash Back account to cash out.  This is a site like Ebates so use them when you shop online and your money will start adding up quickly!  And keep an eye out they often do ‘freebie’ deals like this one that are open to all members!)

teacher appreciation

Did you know teacher appreciation week is coming up?!  It is May 5-May 9th.  Get your child’s teacher this sweet necklace from Jane!  It’s only $12.99 (Reg. price $24!)

Get it here!

kate cutout

In the summer I LIVE in flip flops!  I love these Kate Cut Out flops that are on Jane.  And I love the fact that they are only $12.99 (Reg. $26) even more!

Get them here!


Hurley is on Zulily today!  If you need some cool boy’s clothes check them out! Get the deal here.
(Not a Zulily member?  Sign up here first!)

Easter movies

Don’t forget to order your Easter movies!  Find our favorite deals here.

free ebooks

Get today’s FREE Ebooks here.


How to Dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Easter is April 20th this year and if you are out looking for fun ways to decorate your Easter Eggs then you have to try our favorite method!  Now, if you’ve been around for a while you know this is how we decorate our Easter Eggs each year and it is by far the easiest way and makes the prettiest eggs!

How to Dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

First you will need a few supplies.

-Silk ties (make sure that they are 100% silk!)

-white fabric of some sort (we’ve used a flour sack, cotton fabric, and when we made these an old t-shirt that Josh has outgrown!)


-rubber bands

Caleb tie choice

I pick up my ties from the thrift store.  Honestly, the uglier the better!  :)

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Flip your ties over and cut down the center to open them up.  (Make sure you don’t cut all the way through to cut them in half!  You just want to open it to lay flat.)  There is a lining inside.  Go ahead and take that out and throw it away.    Also, at this point start your water!  Add 1 – 1/2 cup vinegar and fill up a pot with water and bring it to a boil.

Then, place your egg on the widest part.  You can go ahead and cut it – you don’t need the whole tie.  Just make sure you leave enough to fully wrap the egg up!

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

You want to lay your egg on the ‘color side’ so the colors can easily transfer to the egg.  Wrap the egg up tight and secure with a rubber band.

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Now I will say we used Silly Bands (anyone else have a bazillion of those around their house?!)  DO NOT USE THEM!! They do not hold up in the boiling water!  Our eggs still came out, but not as well. :( You want to make sure that the fabric is pulled tight and the rubber bands have it well secured!

How to Dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Wrap them up with the white fabric and again secure with a rubber band.

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Drop in the boiling water and just let it be!  I leave mine in for about 20 minutes.

How to dye Easter Eggs with silk ties

Time to pull your eggs out and unwrap them.  I would say that you should let them cool first (and you probably should…) but I’m not patient enough for that.  :)

How to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties

Here are some of our eggs.  You can tell which ones were done using regular rubber bands and NOT the Silly Bands!  It’s really important to get them nice and tight!  Don’t be scared to try ties that have lots of details!  Last year we did one with lots of men riding old fashioned bicycles and it looked awesome!

     how to dye Easter Eggs with Silk Ties collage

We aren’t hard boiled egg lovers in our home so our eggs are strictly for decoration.  :)

Easter Posts

Find all of our Easter posts here.

Linking up here.

P.F. Chang’s New Winter Seasonal Menu

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of P.F. Chang’s for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Many moons ago, I worked at P.F. Chang’s as a waitress.  I loved it!  It was fun and after I always brought home some pretty amazing food!  In fact, I was pretty much living of P.F. Chang’s food!  Flash forward many (many) years later and I still find myself craving their delicious meals and they are my favorite place to go for a date night dinner!

Did you know that P.F. Changs has great additions to their menu?  Their Winter Seasonal Menu is full of great options like Miso Salmon, Firecracker Chicken, Chili Shrimp Bao, Chocolate Raspberry Wontons and more!

I was reading over the new seasonal menu options and I was blown away!  Their menu was already amazing, but I have absolutely got to try some of their new additions!

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I would start off with the Red Goose Martini.  It’s made with Grey Goose Vodka shaken with POM Wonderful pomegranate juice, Thai basil leaves, fresh ginger and lime juice.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

 photo 077808fe-7205-4bec-a815-b8c68dd63345_zps2671c072.jpg

For dinner, I think I would have to go with the Firecracker Chicken.  It’s made with savory and spicy hoisin-glazed chicken breast, wok-fired with pineapple, Chinese broccoli, Asian mushrooms, Fresno peppers and dried chilies.  I think my taste buds will really be thanking me!

 photo 4dc78053-14cd-473e-bec7-153ad15e1e9b_zpscf80cced.jpg

And what date night isn’t complete without dinner?  I would choose the Sweet Vanilla Cream Wontons.  Handmade, warm and crispy wontons filled with vanilla cream cheese, dusted with powdered sugar, served with vanilla and raspberry sauces and fresh mint.  I’m pretty sure things don’t get better than this!

Toast to 2014 by dating your spouse!  A date night to P.F. Chang’s is just what everyone needs!  For a limited time you can visit P.F. Chang’s website to get $10 off a $40 purchase!

Keep up with P.F. Chang’s online!  Follow @pfchangs on Twitter and Follow P.F. Chang’s on Pinterest!

What 2 menu options are you most excited about trying?  Remember the items are seasonal, so hurry in to try them today!


Visit Sponsor's Site

2013 Best of Bloggers Gift Guide: Ninja Mega Kitchen System Review

The holidays are coming! Are you ready? Well, luckily for you, we’ve got a HUGE gift guide to give you ideas for everyone on your list. And even better, we are giving it all away!! That’s right!! You can win TONS of holiday gifts right here!! Here is just one of this year’s must have gifts!

ninja logo

Oh my gosh.  I have the best gift idea out there for anyone who loves to cook, is into health and fitness, people who love to host parties, newly weds….anyone with a kitchen!  The Ninja Mega Kitchen System is really, really cool.  I honestly didn’t think I could get this excited over a blender, but surprise!! I am!!


This isn’t your everyday blender!! Let’s get that straight first! :) This is a super powerful 1500 watt piece of kitchen equipment.  That’s as much as power as a Vitamix! Lots of power means that it can do whole fruit/veggie juicing and easily chop through ice for smoothies (um, or margaritas!)  I also love that you have the choice of 2 sizes.  You can use the traditional blender for large batches or you can use a personalized size cup to blend.  Plus, you just add a lid (that comes with the blender!) and you’ve got your drink blended in your cup ready to go!


Or you can attach the food bowl and you’ve got a food processor or dough mixer!! This can mix 2 pounds of dough in 30 seconds.  Woah!! Or it can easily chop food without turning it to mush.  Perfectly, every time.

The Ninja Mega Kitchen System comes with a full recipe booklet full of great recipes to try.  I was really excited to get my first taste at juicing.  It’s a great way to get your fruits and veggies!  And it tastes great!  My son doesn’t even know all the great stuff he is drinking!


I also love the fact that the Ninja Mega Kitchen System is priced well.  It’s got great quality but also a true, true value.  Not everyone (ahm, me.) can afford $500 for a blender and Ninja hit the nail on the mark  at $179.80 (you can purchase it here.).  For all the jobs this machine does (and as much as you will use it!) it’s a great price!

So you want to win right?!?  On Dec. 6th you can!  One winner will win ALL of these great products PLUS tons of other great products in the Best of Bloggers Gift Guide Giveaway: Gifts for Foodies!  Seriously, don’t miss it!!

Make sure to Follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss any of the giveaways!!

Keep in touch with Ninja!

Follow them on:

Disclaimer: I received these products from Ninja to review.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Back to School Lotion Gifts

I wanted to bring back this easy DIY project we made last year for back to school gifts!  Can you believe it is that time already again? :)

Today I sent Josh off to 4th grade.  I can’t believe it.  He started a new grade at a new school.  I think I have more anxiety than him!  So I figured we needed to send him off with a few gifts to wish his teachers a happy new school year.  I showed you the lotions that Oops, I craft My pants made. I really meant to print off her pre-made labels at Office Max and I completely forgot.
So last night at 9:00 I realized I needed to get it done.  So here is my version.

First peel off the label. 

Then using the label I traced it to make a stencil. And cut it out of pretty paper.

Word of the wise.  If using a cute paper like I had make sure you don’t cut off important letters like the ‘c’ of classroom.  This paper definitely got trashed.  I could just imagine one of the 4th graders pointing out that our lotion gift said ‘assroom’. 

Now I used my little sticker maker.  I LOVE this thing.  I really use it all the time.  I use it when I cut things out with my Cricut (putting small letters on a project is so much easier with this!) I also use it to make quick labels, help decorate for birthday parties, scrapbook and so on.  Plus it’s small and easy to store.  And SUPER easy to use!  Plus they are inexpensive on Amazon!

Anyways you just slide the paper in the entrance and turn the dial and it will come out as a sticker.

Peel off the sticker and place on the lotion.  Easy huh?  I went ahead and made tags as well. I just traced a playing card in the pretty papers and cut out.

For the back I chose a plain card stock.  Which was adhesive.  (I’m on a sticker kick I guess!)

I scribbled (why, yes, scribbled would the appropriate word) a note.  Gave it a quick stamp and hole punched it in the corner.

Then I used a ribbon to attach the note and they were ready to go.  I got the 5 bottles done in about 20 minutes.  I love the fact that these can be adapted to have any sticker labels on the front!  I’m thinking seasonal ones, happy birthday, happy anniversary, congratulations.  You name it. 
Do you send your kids off with first day of school gifts?