Momma Told Me: September 2017

Blog Archive

Egg-Free Raw Cookie Dough + Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup Recipes

This post was sponsored by S&W Beans and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. All photos contained below are copyright Momma Told Me Blog 2017.
The secret ingredient to this creamy dairy free (Vegan) Broccoli White Bean Soup is delicious #SWBeans. #Sponsored
While I may not be able to tell it by the weather, here in SoCal, the immediate over-saturation of Pumpkin Spice everything, and the stunning photos of leaves changing on Facebook tell me that Fall has arrived.

Since I may not notice much of a difference between the seasons, until those clocks Fall back in a few weeks, I'm relying on some classic comfort foods to help get me in the mood. Of course, one way in which I know it is indeed Fall is my increasingly packed schedule. As the days and weeks progress towards the end of the year, with holiday gathering and shopping sprinkled in, I will find myself with less and less free time. Every now and then I'll get wrapped up in a busy work week, or the start of our Fall bowling league, and find myself swamped with things to do.

Because of this simplicity is definitely one of my key words this time of the year. and simplicity not only means time-saving in the kitchen, but but more robust flavors, and delicious filling snacks and meals as well.
Earlier in the year I shared a few of my favorite unexpected ways to add a little extra, affordable, protein, fiber, and vitamins into my everyday cooking and snacking routines; the fabulous, varied, world of beans. I also shared that S&W Beans, a standard leader in the industry for over 120 years now, is my preferred brand of canned beans not only for the 7 types of beans, across over 40 varieties, they offer, but for the picture perfect quality that lends itself to that 'eating with your eyes' recipe finish. S&W Beans also offers a Recipe Collection, Low Sodium Options, and the new Organic range of beans, so you can always choose what fits your family and recipe best.
But don't take my word for it, find an S&W Beans retailer near you then take advantage of this special limited time printable coupon for $1 off of 2 cans of S&W Beans (Now through 12/31/2017). Not only is that an amazing high value coupon, it's the perfect excuse to try a new recipe, or even variety of beans! Not sure how to think outside the can when it comes to beans? Feel free to take a peek at our previous S&W Beans post for a light and easy Bean Salad preparation and Vegan Black Bean Brownies recipe. You can also follow the brand on Pinterest and Instagram for some amazing bean inspired recipes ans serving ideas!
And, of course, I can't leave you hanging without some fresh seasonally inspired recipe creations- so I took to the kitchen, beans in hand, erm can? To begin I decided to make a nice, simple, yet filling and creamy soup offering. This Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup recipe requires a quick reduction on the stove-top, followed by a few pulses in an immersion blender. It's base recipe is vegan and dairy free; thanks the the S&W Cannellini White Kidney Beans it has a rich and hearty texture that needs no added cream.
The secret to this recipe is simmering the shallot and garlic in your olive oil until just fragrant and browned. This helps release the flavors that will infuse your broccoli and beans as your reduce them.The trick to getting a great creamy texture, without dairy, is in the high quality S&W Kidney Beans, pre-cooked to the perfect texture. During the simmer process these beans slowly cloud the broth releasing an even protein rich base that blends perfectly into the broccoli for a satisfying mouth-feel you typically only find in cream based soups.
The secret ingredient to this creamy dairy free (Vegan) Broccoli White Bean Soup is delicious #SWBeans. #Sponsored
At the bottom of the post I've included the recipe for this Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup, at it's most simplest base. Feel free to ad some chili flakes during the reduction process, or to top with a sprinkle of fresh cracked pepper for a little extra bite. Because this soup tends to be thick and creamy serve it piping hot!
The second recipe I want to share with you is another one of those 'secret ingredient' recipes you'll love fooling guests with. Cookie dough may not seem like a traditional Fall recipe, but I think all things under the 'comfort food' umbrella fit in with Fall, and raw cookie dough is definitely a comfort food for me. However you bill this to those you serve it to, 'raw cookie dough,' 'egg-free cookie dough,' or even 'vegan cookie dough,' you're sure to trick taste-buds with a classic texture and taste that is guilt free.
My secret ingredient in this particular recipe is S&W Premium Organic Garbanzo Beans (or, as Jay calls them, chickpeas)- I'll be honest, I've only cooked with garbanzo beans a few times, so I was a bit intimidated at first. Thankfully my S&W Beans were already cooked to the perfect texture, and the Organic variety meant there would be only the purest of light flavoring in the background of my 'dough' base.

If you are a bit shy of trying such a radical recipe then go ahead and use regular dark chocolate chips, instead of a dairy free/vegan variety- it may help ease younger family members and skeptics in. You can also increase the amount of maple syrup added for additional sweetness, though this exact recipe fooled my father on the first try. He said it was delicious, and asked if my 'raw cookie dough' could be baked. Haha- not quite, dad.
For those wondering this Egg-Free Cookie Dough will store in the fridge and keep texture, just make sure it's in a sealed container- I also suggest allowing it to sit at room temperature for 3-5 minutes prior to digging in- though it never survives long enough for us to have leftovers to store!

So there you have my two favorite ways to infuse 'outside the can' thinking into some Fall comfort staples with S&W Beans. Be sure to grab the printable coupon for $1 off 2 cans of S&W Beans, and share with me your favorite beans, and how to prepare them! Also, please let me know if you try either recipe!

Fool even the pickiest of tastebuds with this healthy guilt-free, protein packed, egg-free, vegan raw cookie dough recipe. #SWBeans #Sponsored
Egg-Free (Vegan Option) Cookie Dough
****Click here for printable Egg-Free Cookie Dough Recipe

Help Raise Money For TX + FL Hurricane Victims When You Spot #SealsForGood
If there's one thing people who know me know I love, it's cheese.

I don't need any extra incentives to eat delicious dairy products, so you can imagine how tickled I was to learn my favorite Real California Milk products were joining together to merge another of my passions, philanthropy, with calcium rich, nourishing, dairy items our family eats every day. I mean the satisfying feeling of giving back could only be made better when paired with the prospect of giving back over delicious dairy products, right? Don't worry, my lactose intolerant friends, thanks to this unique #SealsForGood initiative ANYBODY in California can give back simply by snapping a photo of a product with the Real California Milk Seal- no purchase necessary.

So, if you're one of those rare people I still don't quite believe exist, who don't love dairy, you can still turn your next shopping trip into a fun photo-scavenger hunt and help a great cause right from the store's aisle on your phone's social media apps.
Want to know more?

It's easy, really.

First, go to your nearest fridge, or supermarket cold case, and find a product with the Real California Milk Silk. You might be surprised how many products have the RCM seal- It's definitely NOT limited to just milk and cheese. I found the seal on cottage cheese, butter, sour cream, ice cream (even mochi!), yogurt, smoothies, and much more!

The Real California Milk Seal itself is a stamp of sorts found on packaging (printed or in the form of a sticker) which tells consumers that the product is made with wholesome, locally sourced, California dairy milk. These are products that aren't overly processed, and contain minimal ingredients, sourced by real family farms right in the state. It's not only a great way to help shop quality products for your family, it's a great way to support the local economy.
Once you've 'spotted the seal' you're going to need to snap a photo of it as proof.  Feel free to get creative and snap a photo of the product with your favorite recipe, or just get down and dirty right there in the store on the shelf. As long as your photo clearly shows the Real California Milk Seal you're on your way to helping spread some much needed aide to families recovering from the resent TX and FL hurricanes.
Lastly, take your photo and pull it into a new social share on your network of choice- it doesn't matter where the photo is shared but- you MUST include the appropriate tags and handles:

  • If you are using Facebook, tag @RealCaliforniaMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood. 
  • If you are using Instagram, tag @RealCalifMilk AND use the hashtag #SealsForGood
  • For all other platforms upload your photo with the #SealsForGood hashtag.
You have until 12/31/17 to get those Real California Milk seal photos shared, so no excuses, okay? For every submission Real California Milk will donate $5 to the Great American Milk Drive (up to $20,000) to help families affected by hurricane Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida. No purchase necessary.
The Great American Milk Drive is a wonderful charity designed to help provide the basic staple of milk to families who may be suffering in the aftermath of the recent Harvey and Irma hurricanes. Donations will be made in $5 (per share/photo) increments up to $20k OR the 12/31/17 deadline, whichever comes first. The Great American Milk Drive, in partnership with Feeding America, has delivered more than 1 million gallons of milk to food banks across the country since 2014 to help families get the nutrients they need.

I know a lot of my fellow Californians have been lamenting over how they can help the Texas and Florida hurricane victims, while so far away. My own town ran several commercial trucks full of collected supplies several borders over during the Texas hurricane- but so many of my fellow Californians still want to do more. This is the best kind of charity; nourish your family with your favorite Real California Milk seal products and share a simple photo that gives back. Easy-Cheesy.

D.I.Y Wicked Broom Candy Poppers + Graveyard Dessert With ibotta Deal

Fun D.I.Y. Witch's Broom Candy Popper party favors + creepy, and adorable pudding cup graveyard with Butterfinger fun sized treats. #Sponsored #TrickorButterfinger
Like so many, I love the holidays.

However, while many love Halloween for it's plethora of creatively gory, and excessively gratuitous sweets I love it more for it's sentimental value. Every year, growing up, the first day of Fall marked the first day of crafting season in my home. It was the marker for all of the harvest festivals and craft shows to come; the day when Momma would begin announcing her creative decoration schematics, and gift-worthy crafts. The day I'd finally learn why on Earth we'd been hoarding walnut shells for 5 months, and what all of those old socks we'd been collecting would be used for.
These days I don't quite have kids of my own yet, (just one giant freakishly adorable baby, apparently), but I still strive to continue my family tradition of bringing the holiday spirit to friends and family through handmade treats and gifts.

Since I've begun watching my sugar intake over the past few years I've come to rely more on the crafting aspect of seasonal gifting, than the homemade sweets. Don't get me wrong, I love whipping up a low sugar Vegan cheesecake as much as the next gal, but not everyone is as enthusiastic, or brave, enough to chow down on a dairy-free dessert with cheese in the name. Thankfully Walmart has me covered, even in the middle of September, with an entire aisle full of fiendish sun-size treats.
ibotta deals at Walmart
Not that we need an excuse to visit Walmart, we seem to be in there multiple times a week this time of the yea- but it turns our many of my friends and family's favorite Halloween treats are also featured under the Walmart category on ibotta. In fact, the brand new (and elusive in my neck of the woods) Nestle Butterfinger Skull Cups share a page with an equally fiendish rebate deal for Butterfinger fun size. That's right, for a limited time you can score some cold hard, very much alive, cash-back on your Halloween candy stock ups at Walmart when you use the ibotta app. We are stalking that seasonal aisle for those Butterfinger Skull Cups like we're zombies hunting for brains ya'll!
Since I had several bags of delicious Butterfinger fun-size treats on hand after our recent Walmart ibotta shopping trip I knew I had to fund a cute way to present them. I'd seen plenty of people on Pinterest already sharing little cauldrons full of candy, and tissue paper pumpkins. Cute. But I wanted to craft something especially wicked, witchy wicked that is- so I gathered these supplies:

Empty Toilet Paper Tubes (Or Paper Towel Rolls, Cut In Thirds)
Large Bag or Bundle of Raffia (Crafting Straw)
Twine Rope And/Or Thin Ribbon
10-12" Sticks (Twigs From The Garden Will Do)
Yellow Tissue Paper
Hot Glue Gun
Fun-Size Candy

I started by placing my toilet paper/paper towel rolls in the center of 2 layered sheets of tissue paper. I next dropped 3-4 fun size Butterfinger candies down the center of the tube. Smaller candies will 'pop' more and can be used in addition to your fun-size filler. I chose one of my most gnarly twigs and placed it down the center of the tube, in between the candy, so it just touched the bottom. I then gathered the tissue paper at the top of the tube and twisted it closed. Cut off any excess tissue paper, leaving about a 1.5" 'stem'.
At this point my project was beginning to resemble it's end product. It's important to make any adjustments here, as this is the 'core' of your popper and will not be able to be adjusted once you continue with the decorating process.
Because I have a bunch of spare ribbon laying around at any given time I next tied the top of the tube off, about 1/2" from the very top of the tube. This ribbon only mildly acts to secure the tissue paper, and really serves as a guide to attach the raffia strands.

Carefully I placed a 1" line of hot glue on the ribbon and laid 12" long segments of raffia across in a single layer. I repeated this process until I had gone around the circumference of the tube once. A second layer was appropriate in some places so I repeated this step again.
I then took my twine rope and tied two lengths around the tube, over my hot glue lines, where the ribbon was underneath. This helped hide some of my sloppy work and add that final decorative touch to my broom. Only minor trimming was needed on the top of the broom- I cut at an angle, downward to help shape the bristles at the very top and allow for my stick 'handle' to become more visible.
Make these adorable D.I.Y Witch's Broom Candy Poppers for your next Fall or Halloween event! #Sponsored #TrickOrButterfinger
This simple craft is not only an adorable decoration throughout the Halloween and Fall season, but serves as a functional candy popper for entertaining and gifting. Simply poke the twig handle down through the bottom of the broom and your candy will come pouring out. For now, though, I keep one on my mantel with the other decorations- it's almost passable as an expensive home decor handmade item!
Make this creepy, and adorable pudding cup graveyard with Butterfinger fun sized treats. #Sponsored #TrickorButterfinger
Of course it wouldn't be Halloween without some fiendish ways to enjoy our favorite treats, so I also whipped up a tried and true classic with some of the leftover Butterfinger fun size treats. This layered pudding cup is more than the classic cookie dirt- I used crushed Butterfingers to make a little 'fresh dirt mound' where the grave was 'dug,' and used some cookie icing to write 'RIP' on another Butterfinger fun-size. Add a few sprigs of mint for some overgrown weeds, and a candy pumpkin with a spider ring and you've got one adorable and creepy dessert.
Make this creepy, and adorable pudding cup graveyard with Butterfinger fun sized treats. #Sponsored #TrickorButterfinger
We've still got plenty of time to imagine more fiendish ways to celebrate Halloween this year, but those ibotta deals at Walmart won't be around forever, so be sure to head into Walmart and stock up on all of your creepy favorites now. And please, do let us know if you spot the Butterfinger Skull Cups on a shelf near you! Now, tell me, how do you like to dress up candy to pass out for Halloween parties or trick-or-treaters?

Tips For Promoting Focus In Young Children

Product samples were provided to us at no cost in hopes that we might share our honest thoughts with readers. Regardless, all photos and opinions contained below remain genuine and property of Momma Told Me Blog 2017.
Tips to promote focus through problem solving and creative thinking, for kids. #sponsored
When I was a young girl I would spend the majority of my holiday school breaks flying with my father to the East Coast to visit with my family in Massachusetts. Because of Momma's previous fight with cancer she wasn't cleared medically for the long flight journey and was left staying home. As a result I spend large chunks of time in my grandparent's tiny living room while he helped with 'honey do-list' chores around the house. It was a very simple, but extremely well lived in room. No more than 14' x14' with a full couch, 2 rockers, a fireplace and (old tube) television, the walls were as full as the floorplan. From curios cabinets chocked full of collectibles to hundreds of frames with family photo collages, old magazines, military decorations, and more.

For a young child of 5 or 6 it was a dreary, boring, place at first glance. But my grandparents had a trick up their sleeves- a small 2" Waldo figurine borrowed from the elaborate 'tiny town' display in the main dining room. Every day I'd wake up in that house Waldo would have moved to a new location- my sole mission for the day being to find him without moving a single object.

It was pretty genius, looking back.

I'd sit on that antique couch with the floral ruffles in the tiny living room that smelled like moth balls, incense, and grandpa's Old Spice after-shave and spend hours just combing the room with my eyes. When I was youngest there would be a reward- a cookie from grandma's cookie jar, or a scoop of ice cream. But, as I grew older, the reward quickly turned into the act of actually finding Waldo. Even better- if I found him with enough time before the adults finished their conversation or tasks I had the authority to hide him again, myself.
While Where's Waldo, and the concept of Find It games holds treasured family memories for me, I'll admit I was quite tickled to see that Waldo is no stranger to today's generation either. When I presented 6 year-old Carter with the new Where's Waldo Find It game I was quite tickled to hear him exclaim "It's Waldo from the books!" after all, the books are where the real Waldo magic began. A more perfect character for a game designed to captivate and mesmerize may never exist.

Much like the I-Spy style books every generation is familiar with Find It games are tangible object exploration experiences that are constantly changing. No item is ever in the same spot, due to the array of colored beads and the constant movement involved in locating items. It's a self contained Find It game designed to travel anywhere and withstand plenty of handling. Much like my grandparent's genius game of hiding a physical Waldo, the Where's Waldo version of Find It has over 40 hidden objects inside one mini bead-ridden universe and is intended to help keep busy minds and hands occupied for extended periods of time.
Object search games are not just useful to occupy children, games such as Find It can be played in a variety of ways to keep the content constantly new, and always growing, along with your child's verbal and processing skills. Each Find It game includes a set of cards with special scavenger hunt descriptions that go beyond just naming or showing an item. For example, a card might read "Find something that you'd see outside" and potential correct items would be a sleeping bag, bunch of flowers, or dog. Another card might read "Find something you would look through" and correct items might be binoculars, a magnifying glass, or eyeglasses.

By giving children verbal search cues that require them to problem solve to first identify possible items, then search them out Find It is promoting focus through vital skills children of any age can benefit from. This also means the game is always changing and less likely to run out of engagement. Most of the cards have multiple answers, too, which is great for playing in the back seat on long car seats with siblings.
Carter, age 6, is quite bright and has a unique way of thinking that typically outsmarts even adults. I especially enjoyed listening to and watching his unconventional solutions to the Find It prompts. A card would read "Find something made of plastic" and he would wave the entire container in the air and exclaim "It's all plastic"- sometimes the answers are 'too simple' I guess- Psh, or the kid is too smart for his own good!

We also got a bit of reading practice out of this game- as the contents of each Find It are printed on the top of the tube. It didn't take long for him to learn to consult the content guide before answering the card prompt and searching for items- though there was a fair amount of distraction when something shiny or new would sift through the colored beads and throw him off the hunt.
For all his problem solving skills the Find It container, itself seemed to pose a problem he couldn't quite solve. A few times he'd want to 'remove' the top (don't worry, it's virtually impossible,) while others he'd turn the tube around and around in circles making no progress.

Enter the problem solving skill of engineering and flow comprehension. Younger children may not immediately grasp how to get the beds to sift and move in new patterns. There's a fair combination of turning, tilting, and twisting involved in revealing new tokens and items inside. This is the game's real challenge and even the adults on hand sometimes struggled with coaxing a hidden piece out of the mountain of beads.
Find It games come in 14 different themed varieties including the new Captain Underpants and Sesame St Jr editions, so your child can showcase their favorite shows and characters in a fun game that will captivate the whole family while promoting focus and problem solving skills. Honestly- even if you don't have kids in the house keeping one of these in the living room or on a coffee table is a genius way for visitors to pass the time while you're in the kitchen or preparing to entertain. Find these great Find It titles, and more fun online at Find It Games. Now, tell me, what sort of activities did you enjoy doing with your grandparents when you were a child?

Halloween (+ Dia De Los Muertos) Ideas For Every Style, On A Budget

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #CollectiveBias
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD

When I was growing up the holidays were kind of a big deal in my family.

Though it was just myself, Momma and Pop, the creative aspect of seasonal events never ceased to bring out the enthusiasm through over-the-top decorations. Back before Pinterest existed Momma was the one who all the other mothers would try to copy. She had the coolest crafts, the most frugal decorations, and a batty (pun intended) sense of humor- especially when it came to Halloween. For my father's sake, and sanity, I often think it was a good thing we didn't move out of our tiny condo and into a home until I was nearing high school. Had we had the garage access, and lawn space, we did in the later years of my childhood back then Momma probably would have had him fabricating props for a Haunted House come Halloween.

Of course Momma also had a frugal side which drove many of her ghoulish creations- If she could make a decoration she'd seen in the store for half the price, she would. And, when we finally did move into a house of our own, she would always drag me out of bed at 3am the day AFTER a holiday to go rummage through the 50% off seasonal clearance.

Now that I'm living in a home of my own, with no more pesky HOA or shared walls, I'm especially excited to kick off this year's Fall and Winter holidays. Of course it will come as no surprise that budget friendly is the key term around here, as we quickly learn that the joys of  living in a home mean the costs of maintaining it!
Just because we don't have any human children in the house does not mean I intend to skimp on Halloween. This is a holiday I fully intend on celebrating inside and outside my home so that everyone who passes by it, or comes into it, can experience a little bit of season fun.

At the same time we are just beginning to build a collection of seasonal decor- while I'd love to go out and buy 10' inflatables, anamatronic characters, and elaborate yard decorations I don't expect to get it all done this year. Or at least that's what I told Jay before I walked into our local 99 Cents Only Store way back in August and was greeted by 2 sprawling aisles full of macabre-amazingness. I won't lie, I started planning and stocking up 2 months back- you simply can't let an amazing find go at the 99, you never know if it will be there when you go back! Over the past several months I've actually been making trips several times a week just to see what's hit the shelves.
If the 99 has had their Halloween stock for sale since August one might be inclined to think there's not much left but several long barren shelves, wrong! In fact my local store keeps decorating the aisle as new inventory comes in; last week there was a giant skeleton swooping down as I entered the store.

While the dollar buys are high quality and a steal in themselves you'll also find some larger signature pieces to build your display around. These large-scale decorations are priced above a dollar but still 75%+ cheaper than you'll find anywhere else. But you have to visit soon, and often, because these amazing buys don't stick around too long!
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
One of the things I was especially excited to find at my 99 this year was a large dedicated section for Dia De Los Muertos, the Day of The Dead- a traditionally Hispanic holiday celebrated between October 21st and November 2nd. Aside from the fact this traditional holiday celebrates the lives of those no longer walking on land, and the fact that this particular celebration lasts over a week, Dia De Los Muertos is a particularly colorful event known for it's painted sugar skulls.

99 Cents Only Stores not only have you covered when it comes to all the baked goods necessary to put together a traditional DDLM alter, but a plethora of vibrant decorations from wine glasses and candle holders to beautiful floral crowns and face paint guides. They also have all the supplies you need to make an inspired Sugar Skull planter all of your guests are sure to love.
 For this simple Dia De Los Muertos craft project you'll need:

1 Package of Assorted Color (Paint Tip Is Best) Permanent Markers
1 Package of 3 Chunky Black Permanent Markers
1 Bottle of Permanent White Paint
1 Medium Sized Terracotta Pot
1 Plant, Cactus, or Succulent of Choice
Rocks/Soil As Needed For The Above
Drop Cloth (Such As A Party Tablecloth or Shower Curtain)
I was able to find all of these things at my local 99; you'll find markers and paint in the school/office supply aisle, plants/pots/soil are typically located on rolling carts towards the front of the store (if in season near you), and drop cloths are easy to come bay as table-covers in the party aisle. Keep in mind the brands, sizes, colors, and items available will vary by location but you can typically get creative to find what you're looking for at the 99. For example a mason jar would also work well for this project!
This incredibly easy, adorable, sugar skull planter simply requires 2 coats of white paint, properly allowed to dry. Next, using your black permanent markers, make sure to draw a rough outline of your skull's facial features. You may use my skull for reference, or the 99 has many fun styles of sugar skulls on party supplies and decor you can refer to when drawing. I chose to keep it simplistic so my pot would be instantly readable as a sugar skull. Once you have your face on as you'd like it transfer your chosen plant (the 99 had these creepy Venus-Fly Trap looking plants I thought were perfect) and proudly display your work of art for all to admire in jealousy.
D.I.Y Sugar Skull Planter Under $5- Great for Dia De Los Muertos or Succulents #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
One of the great things about Dia De Los Muertos, and this pot, is the handmade detail which lends itself to authenticity. Being imperfect is perfectly perfect. Yes, I just said that. Don't stress jagged lines, or cracks in the paint- it fits the mood and vibes of this spooky celebration just right! How cute would it be to have a little family of these sugar skull pots on your front porch?
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
For those who feel their holiday celebrations should be celebrated throughout the entire house, the 99 has you covered. You'll find an impressive collection of home decor for your entire home, including the bathroom and kitchen. I almost walked out of the store with 5 new rubber duckies but Jay made me narrow it down to just 1. And how amazing is this vibrant and funky sugar skull bath mat I brought home for just $1.99?! I swear some things just call to me from across the store and fly into my cart before I can even realize what's happening. Do you have that problem too? Oh yes, that's precisely how I wound up with a complete oven mitt and dish towel sugar skull couple set for the kitchen, too...
One of the most exciting things, for me, about living in this house during the holidays is the presence of a mantel. Don't get me wrong, we had a mantel before, it was just at such a strong angle even the cat couldn't balance on it for long.

I honestly had no visions for the mantel going into this season, but the local 99 hit me hard with 'black is the new orange'- and all the gold accent statement pieces lining their shelves. Some of the finds, whew- fan yourself, so much gold, glitter, and flocking. We're talking materials and designs you'd pay big dollars for in a fancy dedicated home decor store. Tell me again why I can't have an entire collection of fleur-de-lis life size skulls? Mmmmmmhhhhmmmm.
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
Once I decided I wanted a sleek black motif for our mantel I knew I wanted to bring in some pops of color. The 99's pumpkin patch is on fleek, y'all. And, just past those pumpkins I found the party supplies where a brilliant reflective silver-tones spider platter screamed 'candy dish'. Toss in a spiderweb lace table runner, mock 'potions' bottle, birdcage tealight holder, and 2 creepy flocked shimmer twisty trees and you have an instant focal point.
You may recall a little (big) wall art installation we did above our fireplace earlier this year- well, I wasn't about to take it down so I brought the holiday spirit to it. A few flocked clip on spiders scurrying in various directions helped bring life and movement to my vision for an especially creepy touch that cost less than $1.
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget- Use plastic fangs as napkin holders. #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
For those who love to entertain you can truly save hundreds of dollars on seasonal soirees when you shop the 99. Not only will you find pretty much all the ingredients you need to make your favorite sweets and treats, but you'll find name brand snacks and beverages to keep your guests chomping on something other than brains.

Because the 99 has a large party supply and decor section, as well as a generous home decor/linens assortment (often found near the food containers and organization in my store) you can afford to dress up your tables for less. I used a package of plastic 'fangs' as napkin holders and chose a bright yellow color of disposable napkins to bring in a pop of color. I also found some exquisite plastic skeleton arm goblets that can be broken or tossed at the end of the night without fuss. They really tie the table together!
Simple Halloween + Dia De Los Muertos Ideas On A Budget #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
Around the table I scattered some glitter eyeball ornaments, a glass skull bottle, and topped each plate with a flocked spider clip for guests to wear or take home. In the center I spruced up my cake display with a golden Halloween charger plate adorned with a with shadow, and capped this centerpiece off with a plastic 'cage' I'd bought for a dollar. This larger scale piece added sizeable value to my decorating efforts for cheap.
Fun Orange Fruit Pumpkin Bowls- Get all your fresh produce for Halloween celebration at a fraction of the price when you shop 99 Cents Only Stores. #DoingThe99 #99YourHalloween #AD
Of course some of us can't quite indulge in all of the holiday's guilty pleasures, and others just plain prefer to treat smarter. 99 Cents Only stores have a full fresh produce department where I often buy everything from ears of corn and pineapple to kiwi fruit and Bing cherries. Grab some of this fresh fruit at prices up to half off your local grocer and impress your goblins and ghouls with inspired treats such as the orange fruit cup above. Don't worry, I sliced up the pumpkins 'guts' and put them in with the fresh berries. A genuine Albanese brand gummy worm also makes for a tricky treat when crawling out of this characters head.
It'll still be a few weeks before we're full blown decorated for Halloween outdoors- I prefer to savor the decorating process, and the neighborhood kids love to spy something new each week when walking home from school.

For now I've invested in several heavy statue-like decorations that will withstand the Fall weather and stay put in the SoCal gusty winds. The skeleton gnome above also had a female counterpart that was even more ghoulish than he! I just might move him around the yard as the weeks progress and let the passers by wonder where he'll turn up next week!
Accents such as these clay stepping stones are high quality and durable decorations I know we'll pack up and put out next year. I love that they require no set up and can go straight out into the yard or garden to bring a bit of Halloween spook in seconds. I picked them up for $1 a piece, but I saw a similar set of 3 for near $19 at a big box store last week!
You truly can decorate every corner of your home for Halloween on a budget at the 99; the trick is forcing one's self not to buy EVERYTHING they see. Heck, with such affordable prices, why not grab what catches your eye it can always make it out for display next year!

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that you'll also find all of your costume supplies at the 99- even those for pets. Yes, we saw a wide variety of pet costumes and accessories while shopping; though Gidget seems convinced this small cauldron we bought to put our candy in is actually her newest pet bed. She's just keeping the candy 'safe'. So there you have it; my master plan to rock Halloween without breaking the bank. Be sure to follow us on social media to see our newest additions to the decor each week, and follow 99 Cents Only Stores on Facebook and Instagram for exclusive heads up on all the newest finds hitting stores every day! Looking for more genius decorating ideas on a budget? Check out the 99 Halloween Social Hub to see what my fellow bloggers are scaring up in their homes!