12 Days: 6 Cheapskates Dating


It’s the holidays. We are all strapped for cash. Here’s some great (although slightly ghetto) ideas of how to feel like you are having a date night while saving that whopping babysitter fee. On the sixth day of Christmas I bring you:

6 Cheap Date Night Ideas:

1. Movie Night. We don’t have a TV in our room so we set up DVDs on our laptop and Parker snuggles in on our bed and watches his own movies on these special nights. While he does that, we can watch our own show/movie (current obsession is Breaking Bad). We are fortunate in that he doesn’t move a muscle while these movies are on and is not seen again until the credits are rolling and he comes peeking out of the bedroom, “I had a good movie.” “You did? Well, now it’s bedtime!” Your own movie night gets only slightly interrupted by stories and sippy cups, but can resume as soon as the kiddos are snuggled in bed. And, you get to go to bed at a respectable hour as well.

2. Happy Hour Meetup. Since Mike and I first met and hit it off at a teacher happy hour (that’s a story for another day I think!), I love getting out for a drink with him after work. We do this sometime mid-week and pick the kids up from day care a little later. It’s not costly and is a great check in and rejuvenates you for the night ahead. (Read: You usually end up quoting the kids and laughing about things they do so you just end up getting excited to pick them up!)

3. Babysitter Exchange. Have a friend with kids? Pick nights for a babysitter switch off. Maybe even a sleepover if the kids are old enough. It’s a great way for free babysitting and for kids to play with their friends at length. Plan months ahead for that party or wedding. Splurge on your night out instead of on the babysitter.

4. Naptime. If you are not taking your own nap, use naptime for having a nice meal together and enjoying your favorite television show or movie. It’s a time we usually leave to chores and other busy work, but you can capitalize on it as good together time.

5. Gym Date. Okay, this one is laughable. But, since having kids, an hour on the elliptical by myself sounds kind of luxurious. Also the pool and the Jacuzzi at the gym? Yes, please. The care at our YMCA is much cheaper than any home babysitter. Live it up, baby! It’s a health spa!

6. Date with Yourself. Over Thanksgiving we went to Boston. My husband and sister-in-law took the kids to the aquarium and I was left with time to myself. Time. To. Myself. I kind of freaked out trying to figure out what to do first. But here’s what I did. Got a latte. Got my book. Read my book in the lobby of the hotel. It was glorious. I was rejuvenated for the evening and for the whole rest of the weekend. Just a little me time can go a long way.

Any way you slice it, the holidays can be uber-stressful and the stress of finding the cash for a babysitter even more. Try any one of these tricks to give you a little peace of mind and of pocketbook.

Girlfriend Gifts: Help a sister out


In this post, I got a lot of feedback for a piece of advice where I said, “Don’t mistake your husband as a best girlfriend. He can be your best friend but only a girlfriend can be a girlfriend.” There are certain things that only the women in our lives can help us with– listening, listening and more listening– mainly.

I was thinking today how gift giving for my girlfriends went out the window when we all had kids. Above picture is of me and my college partner in crime whooping it up at a recent trek back to campus, namely our sorority. It becomes a kind of unspoken agreement. “No, no gift, let’s just grab dinner sometime so we can actually have a full conversation.”

So, this post is written in mourning of the girlfriend gift. The most fun gift to buy. Sad face.

Just like women dress for one another, we also love to buy for one another. Finding just the right fancy notebook for your teacher friend or the special comfy socks your BFF likes to lounge in is– comforting in some way. So, here’ s a list of my favorite girlfriend gifts— to give and to receive.

Disclaimer: Some of these I have not actually given, but if I was giving gifts out to all my girlfriends, this is what they would get. Think of it as my own little episode of Oprah’s favorite things. Girlfriends of mine, consider yourself gifted!

1. Lattes, lots and lots and lattes. Like girlfriend gifting, coffee with friends also went out the window with having kids. Lattes are pure luxury. Enjoying them with a friend— even more luxurious.

2. Manicures or pedicures in one another’s company. A fun date? Go for pedicures and insist on paying for each other’s. The idea that you are treating your friend and treating yourself at the same time is intoxicating.

3. Nick Arrojo dry shampoo. My hair and hair routine have been revolutionized by this product. If the smell alone does not draw you in, the saved time in the morning will.

4. Candles. Nice stinky ones. I don’t know why but relaxation and cozy to me is always a candle burning in the Winter time. It’s makes you want to cuddle under a blanket and watch Pretty Woman on TBS.

5. Trip to the movies together. No talking needed. Just popcorn, bottomless cup of diet Pepsi and Taylor Lautner. If that’s not the perfect girlfriend date, I don’t know what is.

If you can’t get any of these things for friends, maybe make a date for a drink or dinner, as I have with my college girlfriends. A time for everyone to chat about preparing for the holidays, laugh at your latest Mommy faux pas and just take the time to love on and appreciate the women who have been your supporters through all of life’s ups and downs. Whether it’s a partner to watch girly movies with or someone who will compliment your cute outfit, us women need each other.

8 Shortcuts You Haven’t Tried Yet

1. Dry shampoo: For the girl on the go who does not want greasy hair!
2. Smooth shave: Smooth legs, no expensive shaving cream!
3. “Cheater” Homemade pizza: Thai Chicken. Make it for your friends, it’s better than delivery.
4. Dump cake: The birthday cake that you just didn’t have time to make!
5. Editing your own photos: The professional look without the professional cost.
6. A sock bun: For the days when you just can’t handle your hair.
7. Yoga for the mind: Generating gratitude to help center you.
8. At home highlights: Do-it-yourself make over, right at your bathroom sink.




Beauty Tip Tuesday: My Anti-Wrinkle Secrets


Warning: Don’t spray on your face.


I probably won’t ever get Botox or Restylane or anything to puff up lips and take away my crow’s feet, but man, my clothes will always freshly pressed and looking good.

I mean, take some pride in what you wear, would ya?

Guilty Confession of an Anti-Domestic: My Mom can’t believe this. She probably chalks it up to my youngest child laziness or semi-only child need to not follow directions. Either way it means I will NEVER win Housewife of the Year. I don’t iron. Ever.

I do use the dryer from time to time but in a real pinch– there’s a better way. And once you find out more– you’ll never even think of picking up an iron (or a dryer?) again.

It was revealed at the lunch table at work yesterday that no one likes to iron. So people are either dry cleaning or Downy wrinkle releasing their way through their wardrobe each week. It’s the shortcut of all shortcuts really. Spray yourself with this Downy spray and be crease free all day. Wow, I think I just wrote a slogan.

Here’s the How To:

1. Hang up or line dry your typically wrinkled clothes After washing. When they are dried, spray them down generously with Downy Wrinkle Release.

2. Rub in the spray and help spread out the liquid. Don’t be afraid to soak it.

3. Allow clothing to dry, reapply as needed.

At our house, this is typically done when clothes are already on:)

So skip the appointment with your plastic surgeon and just go to your local grocery store and pick up a bottle of pure magic. You won’t be sorry. Your clothes will look years younger after using it for just one week!



Beauty Tip Thursday: Dirty Face

Seventeen (magazine)

Seventeen (magazine) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I started Shortcut Girl, it was a vision I had in the bathroom. I was using dry shampoo, thinking about all the corners I cut, all the ways I don’t play by the “rules” of traditional beauty (I hope that reads as absurd as I mean it to.) And mainly, I realized, I don’t do “all those things” that Seventeen magazine, Cosmo, Redbook and Elle Magazine told/tell you to do. I leave my contacts in until I get a sty, I sometimes go three days (okay, four!) without washing my hair and I keep an extra set of eye makeup in my purse for when I forget to put it on. I have no routine. I am beauty ritual-less. My showers are 5 minutes long if I’m lucky and I have not dried my hair with a hairdryer since my last haircut (May). I think I might be not only Shortcut Girl but also Dirty Face. I’m lucky I don’t breakout for how I use and abuse my skin.

My “Ritual”:

  1. Wash and exfoliate (read: rub the yuckies off) in the shower
  2. When needed, use those fresh wipes they have now to get all the grime and dirt off
  3. When you are feeling like you really want to rip off something gross, do a Biore strip
  4. Repeat as needed

So, I have a theory. Women are embarrassed to admit they don’t wash their face enough. SOME women. Women like me. There are some, however, who are religious about their skin care. I have included confessionals from a select group of my friends below. They have been given fake names to protect them from everyone staring at and assessing their skin at the next cocktail party.

What I wanted to know was what are the secrets to good skin care for a woman in her–GULP— thirties? Is there a secret to looking younger? My mother said men look younger because when they shave, they are exfoliating daily. So, all women should exfoliate daily, right? Right. Do I? Nope. Do you? Tell me in your comments below. Here’s what my friends said.

First. “Amy” My Face Washing Friend: She has a routine and even a technique in her face washing. Dammit. She’s showing the rest of us up. Here’s what she told me:

Morning- wash face with exfoliating cleanser to remove morning greasiness.

Make-up- mascara and usually some eyeliner (I typically practice “no-make-up Sundays though)

Before bed- use oil-free eye make-up remover wipes, but I cut them in half to make the package last longer. Then I “steam clean” my face. I wet a washcloth with hot water, hold it against my face briefly and then wipe around. Repeat once more. Done.

Second “Jennie” My Non-Face Washing Friend. She eased all my feelings of inferiority about my skin care. She basically does the same thing I do. Phew.

I definitely fall under the “non-face washer” category. Or more specifically, I don’t wash my face at night…when you’re supposed to. I only wash it in the shower or if it “feels” dirty/sweaty. In the shower I exfoliate with a washcloth and use whatever cleanser happened to be on sale last time I needed to buy some.

I have used those make up cloths but honestly, now that I think about it – I’ve only really used them when I’m on some kind of girls’ trip and I get peer pressured into doing some kind of night-washing technique after a night out haha. You don’t want to be the only girl not doing some kind of face washing!

I feel her pain in the last comment. It’s Girls weekend, everyone is doing the going to bed tooth brushing and face washing and pulling their hair back– and you are like, “Yeah…of course I wash my face EVERY night!” I have one friend who even puts on Aquaphor or Vaseline on her lips! I mean, she remembers to do it every night! I can barely take my earrings out. Sigh.

Ever the shortcutter, I have purchased these two items (okay, I lied– one was being handed out for FREE at Target the other day) and will commit myself to using them and then letting you know how it helps my dirty face. If you feel at all sympathetic or just thing I’m puh-thetic please comment below and tell me your skin care regimen or non-regimen.




Beauty Tip Tuesday: The Shaving Cream Scam

In this post, my good friend “SF”weighs in on smooth legs, rip off beauty products and more. Thanks SF for this last minute favor!

Hi everyone, it’s me again- SF. You know, the Shortcut Friend who brought you the cheeseball and deviled strawberries? Well, I’m quite comfortable contributing to the foodie side of this blog, but the beauty tip side? Seriously? I feel like the living version of an oxymoron right now, but here goes:

Are you overwhelmed by the skin/hair care aisles wherever you shop? Do you spend far too long in an dazed, eyes-glazed over trance when faced with so many bottles of lotions, creams, gels, washes, toners, scrubs, cleanses….? Do you gasp in horror when looking at your receipt and realize your short shopping list of personal care items costs more than your groceries for the week? Are you expecting me to solve all these dilemmas for you forever? Sorry. No can do. However, I do have one little tip that allows me to skip right over one section of those evil aisles and save a few bucks while I’m at it so this is what I will share with you.

Despite what the commercials tell you, you do not need those fancy little bottles and canisters of shaving creams/gels! There, I said it. And this is coming from a former die-hard Skintimate user. One day, mid-shave of course, my Skintimate spit, sputtered, and ran out. Okay, there were many days that it ran out- those things never last long! But there was one day that I was smarter. Instead of using soap, body wash or shampoo as a quick replacement (which I’m guessing many of you might use regularly instead of shaving products already), I used hair conditioner. I loved that it was thick, moisturizing and didn’t suds up, but still rinsed off easily and didn’t clog the razor. Also, my legs had never been smoother! Since that time, I ditched my Skintimate and never looked back. Instead, I now buy large, pump-style bottles of inexpensive conditioner (currently I’m using Aussie Miraculously Smooth). It’s cheap, convenient, lasts forever, and makes my legs feel so, so good!

Now, it’s entirely possible that I’m not the genius I think I am and many of you have already discovered this. But if not, you really need to give it try. Your legs, and anyone who touches them, will surely thank you for it!


Beauty Tip Thursday: Be Smart About Your Skin

I have made every mistake in the book when it comes to protecting myself from the sun. Childhood sun poisoning, peeling skin, not enough sunscreen. But, the older I get, the more I realize that I don’t want to be looking in the mirror in twenty years saying: I wish I wore more sunscreen.

This was reinforced when I saw the photo of the truck driver below. One side shows his skin terribly damaged by the sun coming through the window while the other shows aging without sun damage. Scary, isn’t it?

(Shortcut Girl Steps up on Soapbox) With all the nipping, tucking and filling going on, we sometimes don’t look at what we can do to prevent looking older. Get more sleep, eat less, drink less and take care of your skin. Having kids had made me see that being reckless and carefree is only fun for so long. I want to be healthy, happy and (forgive my vanity) looking good for my kids and my grandkids and heck, even for myself.

There’s not really a shortcut here, there’s just common sense. Wear sunscreen, wear hats, keep out of the sun when you can. A “healthy” tan is temporary. Healthy skin is yours forever.

SPF 50 or more is recommended for children. I recommend the same for you especially on your face, neck, ears and chest.

Sorry for the seriousness. But there’s not a way to shortcut your skin’s health. Well, unless you’re talking to a plastic surgeon of course!