Nov 212014
 

Finding the perfect gift for the kids in your life can be so tricky, but by using this website, it's not hard at all!  Holiday gift-giving delivered in one click!Friends, I think it’s officially on. While I’m trying hard to remain dedicated to visions of turkey and thoughts of thankfulness, Christmas wish lists are edging their way in to our days. Shopping season is here.

In the past, I’ve been a more organized person. This year, I’m not sure if it’s that I’m getting older, all the endless school Harvest parties, or that I would just really, really rather spend those last few minutes of the evening sneaking in some time with my books instead of pricing out the latest Frozen dolls. In any case, the general state of our holiday shopping organization amounts to a scattered mess of sale ads strewn all over the kitchen table on Saturday mornings. Top it off with a bunch of sticky syrup hands, and we have ourselves a full-on mess.

So when I was introduced to GetThemGifts.com, I took serious pause. What was this sweet sanity?? A one-stop shop for everything on my kids’ list?

Even better, this site helps you figure out what you really should be getting for the young ones in your life.  If your kids are at all like mine, they change their minds every single time they see a new toy, so Santa ends up rather confused and overwhelmed with ideas.

Overwhelmed with kids' Christmas lists? Take the guess work out of holiday shopping and find the best-rated, top toys here!

Enter Get Them Gifts. Go to the site, and four categories immediately pop up to help you narrow your search for the perfect toys: relationship, occasion, age and price range. Enter the information for the kid you’re shopping for, and a customized shopping guide for your needs pops up. There is also a link on the homepage to the Top 100 Toys for the year along with pictures of the hottest toys of that day. It doesn’t get clearer or more user-friendly than this. Easy-peasy!

I have long loved my online shopping sites, but Get Them Gifts has taken things to a whole new level.  They work really hard to make sure the items they offer will really be appreicated by the recipient. As described on their website:

“Each item we have is selected after careful scrutiny. We want to make sure that you are “hip, relevant and cool.” We do not have any Sony Walkmans here and we highly doubt that your nephew would appreciate one for his college graduation. The stores we work with are a vital part to providing you with the best results possible. We select each store after going thru all their products and determining that it fits our criteria.

By using our site you get access to the latest gifts out there, we comb the internet looking for what the latest products are…by clicking one button you have gained access to immense amount of data that will allow you to find the right gift in 1 click. You see products, you can organize products and you can give the gift that makes you stand out. The memorable gift, the practical gift, the personal gift”

Finding the perfect gift for the kids in your life can be so tricky, but by using this website, it's not hard at all!  Holiday gift-giving delivered in one click! Capture all the awe and surprise!

GetThemGifts.com takes the guess work out of gift-giving. More time for parents and grandparents to enjoy the season with their kiddos instead of spending hours trolling for the ideal gift.

Make sure to follow along on Facebook and Twitter too. They will be running two giveaways per week on their Facebook page until after Christmas. Head over and score some fun loot!

GetThemGifts.com takes the guess work out of gift-giving. More time for parents and grandparents to enjoy the season with their kiddos instead of spending hours trolling for the ideal gift.  So pop over today and shop away–and then pour yourself a glass of eggnog to celebrate your gift-giving savvy!

****This post was sponsored by GetThemGifts.com, but my glowing opinion of this site is 100% genuine!****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:1460426,copyright:FreedomImage

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:34408171, copyright:Syda_Productions

Nov 102014
 

Holiday shopping and budgeting is such a beast! Follow these tips to get your spending in line and under control! I like nice things. A lot. Probably too much, if you ask my husband...but here is the dirty secret of how I float tossing sweet stuff into our lives without breaking the budget: I shop online.

Almost entirely, exclusively online.

I took my son to the mall the other day for a soft pretzel/play area Mommy-and-Me date on a day he had off school. I planned to let him pick out a Christmas gift for his sister during our time. We managed to agree on an item which left me feeling robustly proud of my mothering skills. What an excellent use of time! Only November and I was schooling this holiday jazz!

I then picked up the selected boxed Frozen doll and upon checking the price, gasped in horror, quickly replacing it on the shelf. $15 over the Target price?! No way!

My mind was reeling with all the other online saving tricks I could score if I shopped for it online: cash back, loyalty rewards, PROMOS…The siren song of snatching an item easily off the shelves is alluring if you are out and about…but it’s not something you want to answer.

When my son was born, my interest in online shopping was piqued. We all know how tricky carting a kid around to stores can be…Two years later, when he landed himself in a full body cast and I had a 3 mo. old baby to boot, it became a necessity. I schooled myself in all the tips and tricks to getting anything sent to my door sans a shipping cost and with a discount.

How do I save all this money without ever setting foot in the brick-and-mortars?

1) Always, always go through Ebates. What is this? It’s the first-step landing page for all of your online shopping. Start here and then select the store you where you want to shop. By taking the 5 seconds to start your shopping through Ebates you get a certain percentage of your purchase credited to your account, which you get back in a quarterly check mailed to your door. Tempted to scoff at that 1.5% back from Walmart.com? Don’t! It adds up and many of the percentage-back rates are much higher.  When that Ebates check arrives every 3 months, it’s a happy day.

Also use this to shop for things you would never think to buy online. When we finally decided on a new refridgerator at Lowes, we went home and ordered it–online and through Ebates. It was delivered for free and the 2% back on a large purchase like that was a big bonus!

Save a boatload of money for yourself and your family with these online shopping tricks and techniques! Let the savings begin!2) Keep yourself in the loopShop It to Me, Busy Saving and a local e-mail subscribtion, Mama Cheaps, are easy ways I keep myself abreast of the latest deals and steals. It takes no more than a few seconds to scan through the e-mails and see if anything is for you; if it’s not, ditch it and move on. Information is power; how will you snag the amazing hot BOGO on Legos if you don’t know about it?

3) Know your promos! Retailmenot.com is my favorite resource for snagging online promos, but I have learned that there are other resources, sometimes better ones.  For example, if I have a cart at Kohls I want to process, I take the time to pop over to a general Google search for “Kohls promo codes” and see what pops up. It is a bit work to enter the suggested codes at check out to see if they work, and many times the codes are bunk, but I figure it’s worth a try.  When that 25% off code works and is stackable on top of the $15 off coupon? Sweet!

4) To get around shipping costs, I always order enough to get my purchase mailed for free. If there is a physical store close by, I might order multiples of the same item and then return what I don’t need. Or, if I’m unsure of sizing, I order a pair of pants in 3 sizes, try them on in the comfort of my own home, and then return the rest. In truth, I ask my husband to return items on his lunch break; this saves me from going to into the store and being lured by yet another purchase.

Be careful with buying from stores that are online-only.  Some, like Modcloth, offer free returns on any item, but if this isn’t an option, unless I am sure I want the item, I don’t order it.

If I don’t have enough things in my cart to get free shipping from such a store, I wait to order until I do. Or, I whip out my Christmas gift list (that I start keeping in the summer so I can grab items for cheap when I see them on sale), and check to see if there is a gift for someone I could throw in my cart to bump my total into free shipping territory. Free shipping for me and a gift crossed off my list is a win-win!

4) Leave it sit in your cart. Whaa?? I know, so hard to find a deal and not jump on it! But if time isn’t of the imperative, put it in your cart and walk away.  This does two things: 1) lets you make sure it truly is a smart purchase for you and 2) alerts the store that you are interested and allows them time to start sending you coupons. When you should avoid this trick? It’s a hot item that might sell out quickly. If you definitely want it, don’t wait.

5) Loyalty rewards are no joke. Listen, my life is insane. I don’t have time to sort my undies much less organize my shopping excursions. But if Target wants to float 5% my way with every visit, SURE! Similarly with The Children’s Place and any other shop that offers a recurring-visit discount. It adds up.

If you want to save a boatload shopping for your family with the ease of online ordering, take these small steps. Together, they all add up–in a big way!

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:15846951, copyright:viperagp

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:36193699, copyright:Syda_Productions 

Nov 052014
 

Win money to cover your holiday shopping list AND make a nice donation to a charity of your choice! Set aside holiday budget stress, enter now and score some cash!Nerves shot just thinking about trying to squeeze holiday shopping into the budget? Wish you could give more to a charity, but just can’t swing it? Relax! We’ve got you covered!

I have teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to offer you one very cool holiday giveaway–not only do you score shopping cash for yourself, but you get to give a sweet donation to a charity of your choice as well!

Right now, the amount is set at $125 for one winner, with a matching $200 for the winner to give to a charity (Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPCA, Tabitha, Red Cross, or World Wild Life) but this amount may increase! (Bloggers, e-mail budgetingfunstuff *at* gmail.com if you are interesting in participating. Contributions are still being taken through 11/20/14).

FOR YOU, THE ONE WHO WANTS TO WIN, this means that you should enter now through the Rafflecopter below!  AND make sure to come back after November 20th to see if there are even more ways to enter to score the prize. The giveaway runs from from November 5th, 2014 at 7am EST to November 27th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST.

  • A single grand-prize winner will be chosen randomly and will take home the first $125
  • That grand-prize winner will also get to choose one of the following charities to receive the rest of the pot of $125+ – Big Brothers Big Sisters, the SPCA, Tabitha, Red Cross, or World Wild Life

Trust me, friends, I know how tight things can get around the holidays. Hop in here and let us cover the bills!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:12119510, copyright:illustrart

 

Dec 252013
 

Perfect last year, perfect this year.  You’ll excuse me while I take a “week off” and repost some of the oldies, but goodies from last year.  None more appropriate that today’s post.  Merry Chrismas and xo, dear readers…

Silent Night.

Holy Night.

Christ the Savior is Born.

Dec 232013
 
Source SCREW THE PERFECTION.

Source
SCREW THE PERFECTION.

I’m struggling this year, I won’t lie.  I want desperately to feel the glorious Christmas spirit and impart some beautiful words of cheer your way today, readers, but…

This whole Christmas season I have been a beast.  In fact, it’s times like these I’m super-glad I’ve nailed my husband down with a wedding ring so he has to put up with me.  Love you, babe, xo.

I do not feel like trudging through the fourth miraculous snowstorm of the week for preschool drop-off.

I look at the ornaments from my mom on our tree and I miss her.

Hosting the annual party?  Good times, but I’m tired.

Speaking of exhaustion, whenever I try to watch a Christmas movie, I just fall asleep on the couch.  So I still haven’t seen Elf in it’s entirety this season, and that just feels horrendously wrong.  Also, and perhaps most egregious, I haven’t watched the Hallmark Channel once all season, and this is offensive to all things that define the fluffy part of myself.

The thing is, with kids, there is so much pressure as parents to make their season magical. To ice that gingerbread house, build that snowman, hang out with Santa, and slap bows on anything red or green.  It’s a lot. A lot of a lot.

While I was busy trying to convince myself the other day that my children will not require therapy for my failed efforts as a mother to provide the perfect Christmas, God sent me shot of clarity.  No, no perfect Christmases around here, nor will there ever be.  But maybe, just maybe, it is ENOUGH.  What my husband and I are doing for these kiddos is good enough.

Maybe it’s possible that they will still enjoy Christmas if the icing on the gingerbread house drips messily and the dog ate the cute gingerbread man that came with the kit.

Maybe they will just see a pretty sparkly tree and never ache for their grandma who helped decorate it.  Or maybe they will.  Either way actually seems okay.

Maybe they will somehow still “get” the true reason we celebrate the season is our Savior, even when Mommy grumbles through the icy parking lot on the way to church.

Maybe they will just see the parts that are there instead of the parts that are missing.

Maybe, even when things are off and we are so busy not getting it perfect, it will somehow be good enough and we can all still celebrate the miracle of Christ’s birth amidst the sea of shiny wrapping paper and very-likely burned baked corn.

My hope and prayer for all of us this season, dear readers, is that our Christmases, while often far from ideal, can just be ENOUGH.

I love you all and Merry Christmas, dear readers.

Dec 202013
 

My film skills are notoriously bad.  Flipping the camera upside down, shaking the screen, forgetting it’s on and recording the carpet for 15 minutes…I do it all.  Maybe someday I will get my crap together and treat you to a montage of this sweet skill.

While sadly, my lack of talent precludes me from a Hollywood gig, the exciting news is that I am SO AWFUL at video-recording, that sometimes I can still surprise myself.

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I were trolling through old pictures and we came across this gem THAT I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW HAD BEEN RECORDED.  When we found it, we both fell off the couch from laughing so hard.  It was awesome.

Remember this sweet photo-shopped selfie from when You have Lipstick on Your Teeth was released??

You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

THIS is what went behind the capturing of this moment. Consider it my Christmas gift from me to you.

Tune out after 51 sec. because the guitar gets boring after that, but please, please note the highlights of me falling off the chair and then getting pissed at the camera.

xo with so much love, dear readers.

Holiday shopping #ITPRLipstick @meredithspidel

Dec 182013
 
Hey Mom...

Hey Mom…

There is no shortage of rituals that began around here after my mom died last year.  There is The Bracelet, which I filled you in on before.  There is the fact that I keep Yankee in business by having this bizarre need to burn a candle whenever I am home for longer than a millisecond.  That I call my doctor every 3 months and beg for more sleeping pills because my brain can’t seem to shut off without them. Yes, I am admitting I am a drug addict.

And then comes Christmas.  This one is tough for me.  Tough because I love this season so much and swoon whenever I see red and green, but…BUT…but…last year I sort of fell apart.  It wasn’t pretty.  There was a lot of runny mascara, crumpled kleenex and a very baffled husband who had no idea what to do to abate the pain.

I don’t have answers for how to do this year “better”, but who knows?  Without making any predictions, maybe it will naturally just be better because it’s not the first year without my mom here.  Firsts are always such nasty beasts.

I do know that I have started yet another ritual.  When digging through my mom’s holiday stuff several months ago, I found a gorgeous sweet porcelain bud vase.  I knew instantly I had to put it out and keep a single red rose in it during the Christmas season. I am not sure why I had this conviction; it wasn’t as though she liked red roses more than any other flower.  But when I saw the vase, I knew.  I knew there had to be a red rose and it had to be in that vase.

And how could my husband argue with this reason to buy flowers?  Nothing like playing the dead mom card…

I can’t bring her back. I can’t shop with her or see her face when she watches my kids on Christmas morning. I can’t call her in panicked tears when I’ve managed to burn all of the cookies I was baking or need someone to bring an extra gravy boat to the family dinner. She can’t be here.

But a red rose has found it’s way into the bud vase for the season.  And in this way, while the jingle bells are jingling and the tree sparkles in the background, my mom found a way into our Christmas.

xo, Mom.

 

 

Dec 092013
 
Source  Stop laughing, Santa, this is legit.

Source
Stop laughing, Santa, this is legit.

Gosh, yes, we all know that what I really want most for Christmas is more cuddly time by that gorgeous Christmas tree with my family…or with a book and a hot chocolate while I put in ear plugs and pretend I can’t hear my children.  Same difference, really.

But in any case, if we were to focus on more material things, this is what I’m praying Santa throws in my stocking this year:

***Disclosure: NO DISCLOSURE, since I am not cool enough to figure out how to do one of those sponsored gift guide things.  This is just all stuff I really like.  Very similar to October Crush, when I just swooned freely over cool things.***

1. Sea Salt Spray.  What the wha???  Exactly, I know.  But I read an article where Salma Hayek said this goop changed her hair life, so naturally, I had to try some too, and…suddenly, strung-out witchy wavy hair easily structures into sweet curls?  Um, yes please.

Embracing Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin-ness in all it's perfection

Embracing Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin-ness in all it’s perfection

2. Tights. TIGHTS. Mostly, I blame my friends for not telling me that, despite my thighs looking obscenely large in this garment, the cozy knit fabric in these beastly winter months is WORTH IT.

3.Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I have the driest hands in the world. This elixir?  Perfection in a tube–plus less scaly, cracked knuckles? Always a score in my book!

4.Elf If you don’t instantly pee yourself in agreement, obviously you have not seen the movie.  Or shouldn’t be reading this blog.  Either way, go rent it, and don’t be a Cotton-Headed Ninny Muggin.

5. Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses. Sure, I’m all for Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus (as in, pursuit to any other end is foolhardy), but this song? Makes the holiday for me; true story. PLAY IT AGAIN PLEASE!!

6. Those reindeer antler things people rig up to stick out of their car windows? Not.  NOT. If you are of the camp that takes pride in these things, perhaps I can assuage my strong disenchantment by saying that, truly, I am in awe of you having your crap together enough to get them on your vehicle.

Source The Lucia, in all her sold-out glory.  Don't despair, similar items to swoon over still available.

Source
The Lucia, in all her sold-out glory. Don’t despair, similar items to swoon over still available.

7. Darn me for agreeing to host this Stella and Dot trunk show.  Sure, I am the bleeding heart over these NICU baby families and love the opportunity to help them through this sale.  But not only do I find myself begging friends to buy stuff to support the show, I am now obsessively checking sale prices for items such as the astounding Lucia necklace. I am sucked in.

8. The Great Christmas Light Fight.  The only bummer of this seasonal ABC show? It didn’t start until 12/9.  We all know my seasonal obsessing (including open-mouth awe-ing at people who care this much about outdoor Christmas lighting) starts way earlier for me…

9. Margaritas with my Dead Parent Support Group (The DPSG).  Not only do I love these ladies, I know too well how tricky these holidays can be when you’ve lost someone special.  While formal grief group don’t personally work for me right now, tossing back a Mexican drink with my sisters in the thick of December most definitely does work for me.

10. The Portable North Pole.  Confession: I paid “up” $4.95/per kid this year.  Hanging the threat of Santa Claus’ wrath all season long?  EXCELLENT.

Source With my cohorts/friends during this Christmas season? No better therapy I know of...

Source
With my cohorts/friends during this Christmas season? No better therapy I know of…

Dec 062013
 
Source See? The lights are out. Perfect!

Source
See? The lights are out. Perfect!

Aiming Low is putting up with me again and letting me toss around all the reasons I am declaring a WIN this holiday season. There’s a little teaser below, but please head over and check out the whole scoop.

You know if I am writing something in between shoving my way through the massive lines at Target and kicking myself for forgetting preschool teacher gifts, it has to be pure genius…or least you could just be proud that I managed to string together a few complete sentences?? xo, readers.

***************************************************************

On average during the Christmas season, about five times a day I read the suggestion to “simplify and enjoy the holidays” by “lowering my expectations” and “focusing on the meaning of the season”.  This wisdom is usually followed with a detailed explanation of how to make my own popsicle stick manager scene and give myself grace if Mary’s head keeps falling off...read the rest of the magic HERE.

 

photo credit: Jesse f/2.8 via photopin cc

Nov 072013
 

You could win $500 from Checked Twice @meredithspidel

CheckedTwice is a free online gift registry for families and friends to create and collaborate on holiday and special occasion wishlists – making gift-giving simple, organized, and fun.

CheckedTwice makes it easy to add gift ideas from anywhere, create and manage lists for younger children, share gift giving across family, friends, and other groups, and more. And no spoilers here – CheckedTwice won’t reveal what’s been purchased from your registry, so the joy and surprise of gift-giving stays intact!

When less time is spent shopping and the gifts are guaranteed to please, there’s more time to celebrate the season with friends and family. Happy Gifting!

I won’t lie.  I am crying into my coffee pretty heavily this morning because with co-hosting this giveaway, I can’t win the $500.  My head sort of spins with the possibilities of what I could do with $500 (van payment? Fantasy redeemed in the form of a Michael Kors watch?).  I think I’d better sit down because I’m getting a tad overly excited.

But hey, the good news is I can still sign-up with Checked Twice!  It would make organizing the kids’ ever-growing Christmas lists so much easier with grandparents, but moreover, I could FINALLY BUY A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR MY HUSBAND THAT HE WOULD LIKE.  By some odd stroke of God’s planning, I got myself hitched to the pickiest man on earth.  Just once, I would love to get him something that he wants, but not something that he has specifically told me to purchase.  This would make Christmas morning for me.  And now with Checked Twice?  I think this might actually be possible.

So check this one out, friends.  Sign-up for Checked Twice to make holiday dreams come true!  And just to reinforce…

One lucky winner will receive $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping!

CheckedTwice is giving away $500 to help you get started on your holiday shopping!

Giveaway ends November 18th at 8 pm ET, open to residents of US and Canada, ages 18+.

Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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