Penny Pinching Peach

For the semi crunchy, homeschool friendly and totally frugal!


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Dear Mom…

Mom Laughing

Mom in Joyful Times

Dear Mom,

Happy 9th birthday in Heaven!

You should have been 53 today, but you’re forever frozen at 44 in my mind’s eye. I know you’re at peace and free from pain up dancing there in heaven, but I’d rather be able to celebrate the life I feel like you should still be living here on earth.

Just the other day, my oldest daughter- your much longed for granddaughter- came to me sobbing like her little heart was breaking.

Once I calmed her enough to find out what was wrong, my tender hearted, deep thinking child said “Mommy, I’m so sad! My Grandma Dorinda never got to meet me, and now my baby sister will never get to meet our Grandma Dorinda or our Ganna! Both my mommy’s and my daddy’s mommies are in heaven now! It’s not fair! I miss them! They should be here!”. I had no words to comfort my little girl for awhile, because my words were drowned out by the tears I was swallowing for my own grief that came rushing like a flood from the vast void that she reminded me of so powerfully.

Finally, I calmed my own spirit enough to speak, asking God to help me be the

Mom, Nana and Me

Mom, Nana and Me

kind of wise & loving momma I always felt blessed to have. I told her that her Grandma and Ganna were probably watching together from Heaven, bragging to all the other souls up there about having the most beautiful, amazing grandbabies that ever lived. I told her that they both live on in our hearts, in the love we still have for them, and the stories we can tell about them. I told her that love never dies. It lives forever in the hearts of those we loved, no matter what. I told her how lucky she is to have her two grandpas, step-grandma, two great-grandmas and a great grandpa still on earth to give her hugs and see her and all of the other children in our family. I told her Grandma and Ganna want her happiness more than anything in the world. You know what? She calmed. She believed. She went back to play calmed by the love that is very much alive in our family.

Mom & PawPaw

Mom & PawPaw, Together in Heaven Now

The next day, my sweet girl came to me with some news.

She reminded me of her firm belief that you chose her as the perfect grandbaby for you, and the perfect daughter for your little girl. She went on to add that she is had great news. “Mommy, my Grandma Dorinda and my Ganna did a wonderful thing! They went together through all of the babies in Heaven, and chose my baby sister for us! You know why they did that? They heard me telling Jesus that I wanted a baby sister more than anything in the whole wide world, and they wanted to make sure I had the best little sister for me! Wasn’t that sweet of them?? They really do love me lots.”

Mama, you may be gone from us physically and never got to meet any of your precious grandchildren, but the love you so desperately wanted to share with your grandbabies has been shared.

They can feel it, believe it and cherish it. Your body was taken from us far too soon, especially for them, but that love lives . It ripples and whispers through our hearts and lives at just the right moments in just the right way. It will never die. You have proved to me that the love of a mother and a grandmother is stronger than distance, stronger than pain, stronger than cancer, stronger than loss and even stronger than death.

So…..happy birthday in heaven, Mom!

I miss you every day, but especially days like this. I’m thankful to have something so amazing and precious to celebrate today, though. We are celebrating 53 years of your love.

Love Ya Bunches!

Your Daughter


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Winning Wednesday

Great Gobs of Giveaways

Great Gobs of Giveaways

We are back again with Winning Wednesday, and some absolutely amazing giveaways for y’all to enter! Has anyone won any goodies here lately? 🙂 I just received some adorable shoes for my oldest from the gift card I won from Umi Shoes, and am expecting a couple more goodies from the same prize pack I won. 🙂

Enter to win a Step Up Chair With ALL Attachments, $200 Amazon Gift Card, T-Shirts, and Poster! (Ends 4/28)

http://gvwy.io/xh33izn

Try to win an $80 Diaper Junction gift card! (Ends 5/8)

http://is.gd/FgulgE

Here’s a chance to win a copy of the My Little Pony Complete TV Series! (Ends 4/27)

https://gleam.io/PEcGN-xkCQ2Q?l=http%3A%2F%2Fmamasmiths.com%2F2015%2F04%2Fmy-little-pony-tales-tv-series-giveaway.html

Enter to win a Swiggydiggydoo Subscription box! (Ends 5/6)

http://is.gd/VqegwL

Here’s a chance to win a Pampers Easy Ups Potty Learning Package! (Ends 4/29)

https://gleam.io/ftzdV-xkCQ2Q?l=http%3A%2F%2Fmamasmiths.com%2F2015%2F04%2Fpampers-easy-ups-potty-learning-package.html

Try to win a great gift pack full of goodies for Mom (or any other lady, honestly 🙂 )! (Ends 5/3)

http://gypsyroadschool.blogspot.com/2015/04/my-favorite-things-sound-of-music.html

Great chance of winning with low entries for an adorable Pick-ease set! (Ends 4/26)

http://www.sensitivemommy.com/2015/04/35-pineapple-recipes.html?hc_location=ufi

Try to win a Little Tykes Cape Cottage Playhouse! (Ends 5/6)

http://mommysbundle.com/little-tikes-cape-cottage-playhouse-giveaway/?hc_location=ufi

Enter to win a Chew-Choos Sweet Pea Teething Necklace with low entries! (Ends 5/2)

http://www.thesahlife.com/2015/04/giveaway-chew-choos-sweat-pea-silicone.html?hc_location=ufi

Try to win a $75 Gymboree gift card! (Ends 4/30)

http://mamasmiths.com/2015/04/75-gymboree-gift-card-giveaway.html

Any bloggers or small businesses with current family friendly giveaways are welcome to post links to one or two of those giveaways with a brief description in the comments section. If you have an upcoming giveaway you would like to be featured, please contact me via my Facebook page with details. This will continue to be a weekly feature here on Penny Pinching Peach if there is consistent interest, so give a shout if you enjoy these lists and let me know if you entered any contests! Oh, and definitely come back and let me know if you win something, please!!!


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Easy Cake Mix Cookies

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

Easy Cake Mix Cookies

My family loves super soft cookies, and I love simple and inexpensive treats. While I don’t always keep cookies around, sometimes nothing else will do. I usually have some cake mixes stashed in ym cabinets, so I decided to try out this easy cake mix cookies recipe, shared at the bottom of this post.

The beauty of this recipe is it’s versatility. You can literally do pretty much any flavors you can get in a cake mix and throw in whatever mix-in tickles your fancy. My husband is a fiend for chocolate and peanut butter together, so this time I went with devil’s food cake and peanut butter chips. It was the bomb diggety!

This recipe is a terrific choice for cooking with kids, because it’s pure simplicity and no fuss to make, and what kid doesn’t like cookies? 😉 My five and two year olds had a good ol’ time dumping in the ingredients, doing quality control taste tests on the peanut butter chips, dumping spoonfuls of batter on the cookie sheet, and eating the results of their labor.

Some other flavor combinations I think would be yummy? Lemon cake with vanilla chips, almonds or coconut. Chocolate cake with white chocolate, coconut, raisins or nuts. Vanilla cake with chocolate chips, dried cranberries or nuts. Peanut butter cake with chocolate chips, Reese’s cups diced up or nuts. Orange cake with dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries. Strawberry cake with dark or white chocolate chips. I’ll stop now, but you get the picture. There are TONS of possibilities!

What flavor combinations can you come up with?

Here is the link to the simply sweet recipe I used as my base.

http://www.food.com/recipe/easy-cake-mix-cookies-5287


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Dandelions Are My Favorite Flower

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Dandelions are my favorite flower!

A lot of folks look at dandelions as a weed, a nuisance, something to be combatted removed at any cost. I see a dandelion and I think of dimpled hands, smiling faces and bright yellow bouquets offered with lots of sunshiny sweetness and pride in a gift well chosen.

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

Many people see dandelions as pesky plants they want to eradicate. I see a beautiful bloom that speaks of love and innocence.

♥ I love this beautiful Real Dandelion Seed Pendant Necklace! ♥

 

I’m sure most people list something fancier as their favorite flower, like roses or tulips, and I understand that. I love those, too. They are lovely to look at, last longer, and smell sweeter than the humble yellow blossom that I’m so fond of. Fancy flowers can’t compete with dandelions and the feelings they evoke in my heart, though.

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

Sweet Smiles of Spring!

These plain and simple flowers have been handed to me by sticky hands, accompanied by the biggest, most genuine proclamations of “I love you!” that you can imagine, with slobbery sweet kisses and tight hugs from dirty little arms. I have very early memories of running to my mom with a sunny bouquet picked with all the love in my little heart and seeing the smile it put on her face. Dandelions bring up so many memories of sunshine and love, that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.

Dandelions may be a nuisance to you. That’s okay.

♥This is a beautiful story of a dandelion seed in The Dandelion Seed Book!♥

To me, dandelions are a symbol of all things sweet and special, generous and innocent about childhood and the love of the children God has allowed to touch my life!


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Penny Pinching Popsicles

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Penny Pinching Popsicles

Whose kiddos don’t enjoy an ice cold treat on a warm day? I haven’t met one yet! Here comes the quandary for the penny pinchers like me who also try to minimize their children’s intakes of artificial dyes and an overload of sugars on less-than-special occasions. The cheap popsicles are full of naughty dyes and sugars. The “healthy” versions are way out of our daily budget for the voracious appetites of our chilly chompers. My solution? Homemade on the cheap, of course!

My children have already started their popsicle trip for the summer, so I was planning to make some homemade popsicles to satisfy their cravings. Last year I’d already purchased a new set of popsicle makers on sale for a dollar, so I was prepared with the right tools. You can also get them on Amazon for less than five dollars: Ostart 8 Cell Frozen Ice Cream Pop Mold Popsicle Maker Lolly Mould Tray Pan Kitchen DIYA similar model to the one I have is: Easy Pack 8 pc Popsicle Maker

As I scanned the juice aisle, I spotted fruit punch marked way down to 50 cents for the real kind in the refrigerated section!! SCORE!!! It’s not the 100% fruit kind, but it is dye free and no corn syrup, so I’m good with that for a treat.

When I got time after I’d gotten everything put up, I poured a set of popsicles up, let Princess Pennypincher put the tops on them and popped them in the freezer to set up. I made a set of 8, but I can easily make a minimum of three more sets out of this one juice container. At this price, that’s less than two cents apiece, y’all!!! It didn’t take much longer than it normally does to fix two sippy cups full of their water splashed with juice, either, so it’s not at all time consuming. A trick for removing them from the freezer container more easily without getting all handle and no popsicle? Carefully twist the handle as you pull the popsicle out if it starts to stick on you. My children love the cold, sweet treats. I love that there is no guilt in allowing them to indulge- from a health or budget perspective. Win-win!!! 😉

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”


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Phonics Hunt Game

Phonics Hunt

Phonics Hunt

My oldest daughter is currently learning to read. She is doing an amazing job with her schoolwork, and has inherited my voracious love of learning. However, when we did our review work today, I spotted a couple of letters she was having trouble matching with their phonics sounds correctly. I decided that- instead of doing math today (which I don’t do daily with a kindergarten student, since she likes to do a lot at a time, anyway)- I would make up a fun game with multiple parts to help her get a better grasp on the sounds she was struggling with remembering. We needed some outside time to burn energy and get some fresh air, so I incorporated that in with our school time. (Gotta love homeschooling!! Learning happens everywhere!! Since I’m a second generation homeschooler, this is natural & normal for me, but I am seeing a whole different side of it now. Love it! 🙂 )

My Princess Pennypeacher was having trouble with the letters H and N. I handed her a grocery bag, and explained that we were going hunting for things that start with those letters, making the phonics sound for her. Our goal was to find at least three items with each phonics sound. She is very goal oriented, so she loved this!! As we went walking together, searching for objects, I kept repeating the letters and sounds and helping her come up with words starting with those sounds. We found a few things outside, then continued our search in the house. This kept her busily searching for a while, having a good ol’ time all the way, with her little brother following her around shouting the sounds with her without having any idea what he was talking about. 🙂 Once she found three items starting with the H and N sounds, we moved on to the next part of the game.

I had her sit down and choose two pieces of paper to write the uppercase and lowercase versions of each letter at the top of each sheet. Once she did that, I had her pull one item at a time out of the bag, tell me which sound and letter that item started with, set it beside the correct letter sheet and then I helped her write the words by breaking down the sounds in each word to see if she could tell me the matching letter. This was mostly to reiterate the sounds she was working on, but also to check for any other sounds she might be struggling with. This part was less of a hooray kind of fun for her, but she still enjoyed the challenge.

To finish up, we took a silly photo of my kindergartener, her project, and her loyal assistant! 🙂

Do you think your little ones would enjoy this game? It cost nothing whatsoever, so that made my pockets happy. It definitely helped her get a better grasp on the letters she was getting confused on, although I think we will need to do a couple of more fun reviews to make sure she really has it. I love having fun learning with my munchkins! 🙂


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More Than a Mom

Before being a mommy, with one of my hiking buddies.

Before being a mommy, with one of my hiking buddies.

Sometimes I find it hard to remember that I was ever more than just a mom.

It’s difficult to believe that once my primary identity was merely “Keisha, a human”, rather than my first identifier being the fact that I am obviously the mother of the two beautiful munchkins who are pretty much always with me everywhere I go and the growing bump showing baby number three coming along. I don’t remember the last time I was remembered for being myself, but everywhere we go regularly people remember my friendly little people. I love being Mommy…but sometimes I desperately need to remember that I am more than that.

Once I had a job that I was proud of, with flexible hours conducive to being a full time mommy when the time came (and continued to work- taking them with me- for the first three years) and had worked very hard to make that a secure long term career plan. I had to step away from it in order to make the parenting decision I could be comfortable with under extenuating circumstances I can’t go into publicly. I went from being a wife, mother, and shipping manager/motivator in the family business to being a full fledged stay at home mom & wife. Even knowing it was the right decision, I went through a huge depression. I still struggle with the fact that I “just” take care of my family.

Staying at home with little ones day in and day out is both rewarding and soul numbing.

I forget I am anything other than a mother. I forget I’m capable of anything other than being a sibling referee, snot wiper, bottom cleaner, story teller, homeschool teacher, art director, entertainer, dish washer, laundress, chef, chauffeur and all the other little things that make up the day of a homeschooling parent of a tribe of small children. What else is there in the world? I don’t remember sometimes, since I’m alone in this little world of children so much of the time.

I always dreamed of being a mommy. I love living that dream- with or without income in my own right- but sometimes I want to remember there’s more to me than that.

Being silly, before I became a mom or lost my own mom.

Being silly, before I became a mom or lost my own mom.

I am artistic. I can do a lot more than just quick sketches for my children to color, but I forget that sometimes because I just don’t take the time out of being Mommy to do draw anything that interests me without involving my babies. I love to hike and wander through nature, but it’s so much hassle to try to haul my children along by myself that I don’t bother, and my husband is so infernally busy with the job of providing for the family and being everything to everyone that he rarely takes time for that type of outing. I’m good at selling anything I’m enthusiastic about, but haven’t been able to focus beyond the munchkins enough to find something I am passionate about to sell to help pay for our little family’s needs. I haven’t finished a book that wasn’t colorfully illustrated for the joy of children in a few years now, where I used to read extremely long novels on an almost daily basis. Until I was 8 months pregnant with my daughter, I went to the gym three times a week, because I loved it. Haven’t stepped foot in one in over 5 years now. I could go on, but I’ve forgotten too much. Really! 😉

Mommies, it’s okay to forget for awhile what made you unique and happy as an individual before you became a parent.

I know that I do. Sometimes I forget who I am underneath it all so much that it starts feeling soul numbing, though, and I have to do something- however so small- to remind myself of the things I loved and was good at before. When it starts to get to you, take time to try to remember. If you’re like me, you just plain can’t do anything major. That’s okay. What do I do?

Well, I blog, for one thing. It reminds me I’m able to continue to form sentences and thoughts without anyone’s input other than what flows from this crazy place inside of my brains. 🙂 It’s amazing how much that helps.

I draw, even if it’s just a quick card to brighten someone’s day. Sometimes I even throw some calligraphy on there.

Walking in the woods with Mommy

Walking in the woods with Mommy

I take my kids on a walk in the woods. I may not be able to go for miles on a trail somewhere, but I can certainly circle my own woods, watching the take in the beauty of nature that I find so peaceful as an individual and treasure even more as a mother.

I read a few online articles or a magazine to satisfy my inner bookworm until the day that I can voraciously consume literature once more.

I crazy dance around my living room or do stretches to feed my inner gym rat. I need to move it, move it….even if I’m tripping over crazy short people in the process. 🙂

In short….I remember.

I remember what I love and who I am that has absolutely nothing with the beauty of motherhood and the demands of tiny amazing beings who call me Mommy. I seriously stink at remembering, but sometimes I pause and remember all those little things that make me just plain ME. I am a much better mom when I take a few minutes to do that.

How do you remind yourself that you are more than a mom? Struggling? Head over here for a reminder that you are not alone.


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Easy Mexican Bean Salad

I love to cook, but don’t always have a lot of time to spend on making dinner. This super simple Easy Mexican Bean Salad is ready in a snap, healthy, delicious, kid friendly, and cheap enough for the penny pinching people among us! I mean, this is a meal I felt great about feeding to my family, but literally spent  less than 15 minutes int he kitchen preparing from the time I opened the fridge to get out things to start chopping! Who needs more meals like this? I know I do!!! 🙂 Keep reading for the how-to of this yummy meal!

Easy Mexican Bean Salad

Easy Mexican Bean Salad

Ingredients? You can choose your own! This time I use canned black beans (two cans seasoned with cumin, garlic powder and chili powder to taste should be about right for a family of four), avocado, tomato, cilantro, onion, cheese and sour cream. You can also use ground beef, venison, turkey, pork and chicken, shredded chicken or beef, pre-cooked dried beans of any kind you like, other types of canned beans, lettuce, green pepper, jalapenos, olives, fresh spinach, green onion, corn, sprouts and a variety of other things that sound appealing and reside in your kitchen at any given moment. The beauty of this meal is that it is so flexible to your individual tastes, pantry, dietary needs, and budget without being a hassle to throw together something different for everyone.

Give everyone a bowl, spoon in a healthy helping of your protein(s) of choice, then let them pile on their own choices from the rest of your ingredients you have set out for your family! My kids absolutely adore getting to pick all of their own toppings for their bowls of beans! It makes the battle of the belly filling non-existent, because most kiddos love to eat things they help prepare. Even my five year old, who is currently waging battle over half of her meals even when she likes them, didn’t give me a bit of trouble when she realized she was in control of all of her ingredients other than the beans she was piling them all onto! Since she chose it, she worked to make it herself and she is doggone proud of her own work in pretty much every instance…no arguments for the prissier side of my table. Bambam loves making his own selections, but he has a lifelong love affair with food, so if he ever protests a meal….well, the child is sick. 😉

If you pack lunches a lot, like I do for my hubby, this container is amazing for being able to carry leftovers to work or school for a healthy lunch without making a big soggy mess. Stay Fit Deluxe Salad Kit, EZ Freeze

Are there any toppings I didn’t think of that you think would be the bomb diggety on this easy Mexican bean salad? What do you think you’d like on yours? Are you hungry yet?? 🙂

“Penny Pinching Peach is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com”

Little Boy Approved!

Little Boy Approved!

Little Girl Approved!


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Frugally Fashionable

Her outfit came from this consignment visit, worn the day she found out the new baby is a SISTER! :)

Her outfit came from this consignment visit, worn the day she found out the new baby is a SISTER! 🙂

Soooo….my children were beginning to look like neglected waifs a lot of days, especially my long legged oldest with her floodwater pants and the many stains on my rough & tumble Bambam’s clothing. I am also finding myself scraping the barrel for clothing options for those times when short pants and stains were just not appropriate (like winter, for the former…LOL), since I wore out so many of my maternity items with my second pregnancy and prolonged recovery. I was pondering the horror of deciding what would actually fit into the budget, knowing I wouldn’t put myself in there, when the phone rang. *RING!!! RING!!!!* It was an auto call from a local consignment shop, informing me of half price days. Whoop, whoop!! Clothes shopping time, y’all!!! 😉

For just $31, at two consignment shops that are beside each other and run sales at the same time, we got a ton of very nice clothing in like new condition!!! For Princess Peachy: 4 pairs of pants, a ruffly skirt with a bow on it, a sparkly purple long sleeved top, a gymnastics/swimming suit and a short sleeved shirt. For Bambam: A jacket, 2 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, a pair of footie jammies. For Mommy: 2 shirts, a pair of pjs,  a dress, all of which will work through pregnancy and breastfeeding, both. Just the dress would have cost about $50-$60 new, and it looks brand new.

To save money on clothing while still looking fashionable and fresh, consignment shops and thrift stores are a terrific option! For me, I honestly don’t give a flip what is in style, but I don’t want to look like I got my outfit from a dumpster, either. Even if you care about the latest style, you can often find what you’d like at these places. Dumpster chic is not my thing, and consignment stores and thrift stores don’t leave me with that undesirable look. You can choose to consign your own clothing that is outgrown or just not worn often enough in exchange for money or credit toward clothing your family can actually wear. Half price days at these stores are a great way to save, as well as supporting local business and inadvertently being green in your choice of clothing. What’s not to love? 😉

Of course, this isn’t my only trick. I hit up online sales, piling coupon codes onto clearance and sales prices. I buy the next season’s clothing at the end of the season when everything is seriously marked down. There are countless little tricks that add up to serious savings!

What do you do to clothe your family on a tight budget? Another trick of mine is Schoola Discount Clothes!


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Cloud Dough

So much fun!

So much fun!

Has anyone made their own play dough? I hadn’t, but I was looking for a new project for little miss creative when I saw a recipe for something they called “cloud dough”. It looked so easy, fun and super duper cheap to make, I had to give it a try.

The recipe? Two parts corn starch to one part hair conditioner of choice. I let my little one pick one that was pink and she liked the smell of. Mix until it’s all combined. It will be the roughly consistency of play dough, smell like conditioner, and have a soft fluffy feel to it ( hence the cloud part).

My daughter loves this stuff! She says it is even better than regular

Glittery Dough

Glittery Dough

playdough, because it’s soft and makes her hands smell yummy. We keep it in a Ziploc bag between playing. Our first batch kept for several weeks, then we made a second. It takes very little time or money, and scored high points for Mommy. It has kept her busy for hours, and I even let my little guy play with it some, if I am able to stay by them to watch closely.

A fun change up is one we just tried yesterday. I sprinkled a tiny bit of gold glitter on the table and let her roll the

dough in it, then she squished the glitter all up in it. Now she has sparkly cloud dough, which she calls her sparkly fairy dough. 🙂

Pink Cloud Dough

Pink Cloud Dough

Updating to share yet another twist on this fun dough we make regularly! 🙂 If you’re like me, and don’t keep dyes around on a regular basis, but do

Green Cloud Dough

Green Cloud Dough

keep sugar sprinkles for decorating baked goods, this one is for you! My kiddos had been arguing over what dough was whose, so I was brainstorming for a way to differentiate. I reached for the green and red sugar sprinkles in the spice cabinet and mixed a generous amount into each of their batches separately. My girly girl Princess Peachy wound up with a beautiful pink to make her little heart smile, and my dinosaur loving Bambam got a soul satisfying light green. No more fussing!! 🙂

Who wants to whip up a batch of this stuff? It is super simple, inexpensive and smells wonderful! 🙂