Feb 082016
 

Here are the top ten skincare finds every busy mom needs! Time is short, but you still care about your face and skin and want to look your best. Try these tips, tricks and finds for the best skin of your life--winter weather will pose no threat! #10 is my all-time favorite smart tip!Let’s be real for a minute here, mamas. The older I get, I realize there is very little hope for ever fully taming my thighs situation. That’s cool, I can handle that…mostly, on good days, when I am not surrounded by too many adorable hip moms in their exquisite athleisure. It’s a brutal world at preschool pick-up, you see.

To cope with my dawning self-acceptance, I find it excessively helpful to direct my passion for sprucing up into something a bit more controllable–my skin. I love skincare. I love it for 3 reasons:

  1. It’s easy.
  2. It makes me feel like I am prioritizing self-care
  3. The results can be significant.

Why does all this matter?

  1. Because I’m really busy and can’t fuss around with anything time-consuming
  2. Doing something to value yourself is a tremendous mood-booster.
  3. Most days I don’t have time to shower, much less go for the make-up. I need my face to look decent at-the-ready.

All this said, I love skincare. I love finding fantastic products in general, but because skincare is something I so thoroughly enjoy, I’ve spent some extra effort nailing the best, most-effective, and easiest to use products that savvy up with the busy mom lifestyle.

What ten products do you need to add to your skincare regimen right now?

A quality toner. Last winter I read a foolish article that said it was okay to skip this step in the winter. So I listened. And my skin almost instantly got scaly and weird. Don’t skip it, friends, just don’t. Wash your face well then apply toner before moisturizing. DHC’s Skin Softener is my absolute favorite (miracle worker!), but I have also been trying out this more budget-friendly option from Neutrogena with good results.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

A serum. We’ve been hearing for two years now how essential using a serum is; and it’s true. The sky’s the limit on what a serum can target: lines, age spots, dry skin, saggy skin…shop around and find one that works for your own needs. Serums can be brutally pricey; basically, you get what you pay for. Even a cheaper serum will help, but to get full-on magical results, be prepared to shell out.

My dream purchase (sampled once and it was fab): Clinque Smart Custom-Repair Serum. What I am now crushing on that my budget approves of: The Body Shop Vitamin E Overnight Serum in Oil (bonus points for the mad nighttime saturating power!)

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

A sunscreen. You’ve heard it a million times. Do it. You’ll thank yourself in twenty years when you aren’t hanging out non-stop at the dermatologist’s office. I like this one from Yes to Carrots. All natural, inexpensive, non-greasy, and lays well under make-up.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

An overnight mask. What?? I know, but TRUST ME! I discovered this product this winter, and I’m never looking back. This is not the same thing as a night cream; this is the very last step you put on before bed, after your night cream. Lather up, doze off, then wake up with baby soft skin! I am loving Oil of Olay’s Luminous Overnight Facial Mask Gel Moisturizer. It has a fun, light texture packed with skin-hydrating benefit.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

A lip exfoliator. Why am I only now discovering this? This cheapie from E.l.f. is easy-peasy revitalization in a simple stick! Smooth it on, wipe it off and dead skin on your lips is history. Lipstick and gloss goes on and stays put so much better. Grab a few of these sticks now!

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Hand cream. My skin is EXTREMELY dry, and when I say I’ve dedicated most of my 36 years to finding a genius solution that will actually work, I mean it. But I need not search any longer: genius discovered. Buy this from The Body Shop, buy it in bulk, and don’t look back. Not greasy, light, lasts through washes and actually heals. For an even more power protection of those hands, snag The Body Shop Hemp Hand Oil too. It works. Wonders.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Body Butter. My dry skin requires intense moisturization after a shower, and in the winter I don’t mess around. Body butter feels amazingly creamy on your skin, and The Body Shop has a huge selection of yummy scents. My favorite scent is cranberry, so I stock up when it is on sale around the holidays and enjoy it until spring.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Foot cream. Yup, those tootsies need loving too. To stave off calluses and cracked heels, you need a cream with urea in it. This one from Gold Bond is my go-to. Pleasant texture and gets the job done. Slather it on every night and you’re set!

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Eye treatment. Eye creams are essential to your daily routine (try E.l.f.’s new Illuminating Eye Cream for an effective, economical option), but periodically, treat your eyes to this good lovin’ from GLAMGLOW BrightMud Eye Treatment. The results are stunning! After the first time I used this product, I couldn’t stop staring at my eyes in the mirror: was this for real?! Go treat those tired peepers, friends. You’ll feel like a new woman, I promise.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Water. In a serious way. Water does all sorts of wonderful things for our bodies and our energy levels, but getting enough water is also the smartest thing we can do for our skin. It hydrates, refreshes, and keeps our skin thriving. If for this reason alone, gulp it down and get your daily intake in. If you need help keeping track of your sips or finding motivation, check out this nifty bottle that helps push you on throughout the day to meet your goal.

Looking for a skincare product that will make a big difference without taking a lot of time? I've got you, busy moms! I call this my "miracle worker" and depend on it for fresh, healthy-looking skin. Your face will thank you for scooping this fab product! And make sure to check out the other smart tips in this post--all the skincare smarts you need!

Whether you give all of these ideas a try, or just a few, your skin will thank you, and you’ll feel better for having taken some healthy care of YOU. We busy mamas can’t fix everything, but we can take a few easy steps to help us look and feel our best. Go get your skin glow on, friends–it’s worth it!

****I received compensation for absolutely none of these products. Yup, I just like them all that much and wanted to share them with you. Skincare on, fellow mamas!****

Dec 162015
 

This book is hysterical, true and will make you feel MORE NORMAL, I promise! The perfect read for yourself or the perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent or soon-to-be-parent. Grab it up now!Who manages to rock the NUMBER ONE spot on Amazon’s hot new parenting humor releases within a month of publishing their very first namesake book? Science of Parenthood, that’s who! Their new book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations was released on 11/17/15, and has been hanging out with the best-selling books ever since.

If you’ve crossed paths with Norine Dworkin-McDaniel & Jessica Ziegler, the dream team duo behind the uber-popular website, Science of Parenthood, you understand why whatever they create is such a huge hit. These girls bring a fiery energy and enthusiasm to all that they do, not to mention that they are wicked smart and FUNNY. They know what they are doing and do it so darn well! But don’t even think about being intimidated by them because these gals are incredibly real, friendly, and kind–basically, they’ll have you falling in love with them within minutes of meeting them. In sort, these gals are amazing and Capable of All Things.

And Norine and Jessica haven’t only nailed the formula for success, they’ve nailed the equation for surviving parenthood too:

This book is hysterical, true and will make you feel MORE NORMAL, I promise! The perfect read for yourself or the perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent or soon-to-be-parent. Grab it up now!

What is Science of Parenthood? 

In their words: “Science of Parenthood started nearly three years ago as an illustrated humor blog. We use fake math and science to “explain” the stuff that puzzles parents every day. Things like …

Why are broken cookies “ruined?”

Why does it matter what color the sippy cup is?

Why can’t you put the straw in the juice box without your kid having a melt down?

Why will a kid whine-whine-whine for a toy, then lose all interest in that toy once they have it? 

Where the eff is my phone?  

We’ve come up with some pretty hilarious theories.”

This book is hysterical, true and will make you feel MORE NORMAL, I promise! The perfect read for yourself or the perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent or soon-to-be-parent. Grab it up now!

A sample of the funny you’ll find in the book!

And what is the book about?

Also as they explain: “Our book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, is like our blog … but like our blog on STEROIDS! We utilized the blog to road test–perhaps we should say “field test”–material, and now the book contains the kinds of cartoons and writing that fans love to find at Science of Parenthood, along with all new cartoons, infographics, flowcharts pie charts and quizzes that we created just for the book. About 90 percent of the book is brand new material.

Divided into four sections–biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics–the book lives in the chasm that exists between our collective hopes and dreams and expectations of what parenting will be like … and the brutal, slap-you-upside-the-head reality of what parenting actually is. We cover all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the hilarious frustrations that come with early childhood (tantrums, picky eating, diaper blowouts, illness, sleep issues, play dates, toy creep, homework battles and encounters with crazy parents (not you, of course, we mean other parents). And you know what? You don’t even need to be a scientist to “get” it.

Our goal is just to make parents laugh. Because when you’re a parent, you NEED to laugh. Humor is a survival tool.

This book is hysterical, true and will make you feel MORE NORMAL, I promise! The perfect read for yourself or the perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent or soon-to-be-parent. Grab it up now!

More fun you’ll find in the book…and too true!

See, I told you these gals were fantastic! And you want to get this book.

Actually you want to get a bunch of copies of this book. Not only will you need one for yourself, you’ll want to gift it to all of your fellow parenting warrior friends. The thing about this parenting gig is that we’re all in it together. Chances are if your kids have done something to make you groan or want to beat your head against the wall in frustration, you aren’t alone. Let’s laugh our way through the madness together.

How can I get my hands on a copy?

Easy-peasy! Snatch it up HERE and get it in time for Christmas! Perfect stocking stuffer for any parent or soon-to-be-parent. You can’t go wrong with this hit book!

I’m so proud to cheer on Norine and Jessica in all their efforts and watch the success of their new book continue to soar. Thanks for nailing the equation for all of us, ladies, so we can sit back and enjoy the witty fun as we bump along this parenting road together!

This book is hysterical, true and will make you feel MORE NORMAL, I promise! The perfect read for yourself or the perfect gift for anyone in your life who is a parent or soon-to-be-parent. Grab it up now!

And one more giggle…brace yourselves now as we dive into gifting season, parents!

****This is not a sponsored post and no compensation or product was provided for this review. My delight in Science of Parenthood is 100% genuine!*****

Nov 302015
 

Want to know what health concerns your dog is at risk for? Seeing a specific symptom and not sure if it's normal or not for your dog? Wanting to understand more about your dog's temperament to help gauge the success of potential family changes (i.e. having kids, moving, etc.)? Need to know how big your dog will become so you can assess proper future space accomodations? These dog canine DNA tests can help you sort these important questions!I will never, ever forget the day we met our first child. My husband and I were young, silly, and convinced we needed a dog in our lives. Turns out, we did; we really, really did need this dog. He went and changed our lives in a very sweet way, you see.

The pooch we snatched up from that crazed (are we picking the right dog??) Lab Rescue Adoption Day has proven to be fully neurotic, a complete mess, and a perfect match for us. I could fill your ears with Bailey stories, lovey ones (his most peaceful place on this earth is curled in ball with his head burrowed underneath my bum), horror-worthy ones (yes, it’s true–one year he ate our Christmas tree), and silly ones (the time he wolfed down an entire bag of coffee beans and was then vexed with us for an entire 2 days because he had a caffeine headache), but the most important thing to know is that he is ours.

And we love him.

The only tricky wicket is that we don’t know exactly what or who he is. We grabbed onto this guy at a chaotic Pet Smart event and immediate enveloped him into our lives without knowing anything other than he was a cutie-patootie with dark brown fur who appeared to be about 10 months old.

Largely, our lack of knowledge about his history hasn’t been an obstacle. His behavior pretty quickly told us he had severe separation anxiety issues–from wherever they came, so we figured this–and all the rest of Bailey–out as we went. But there have been times it would have been nice to know…more.

Want to know what health concerns your dog is at risk for? Seeing a specific symptom and not sure if it's normal or not for your dog? Wanting to understand more about your dog's temperament to help gauge the success of potential family changes (i.e. having kids, moving, etc.)? Need to know how big your dog will become so you can assess proper future space accomodations? These dog canine DNA tests can help you sort these important questions!

And this is where the Wisdom Panel Canine DNA test would help. They offer unique DNA tests for dogs, which helps owners make more informed decisions about the health and wellness of their pet. Knowing the breeds in your dog’s ancestry, can tell you a lot about how to keep them happy and healthy.

Why does this DNA test matter?

Want to know what health concerns your dog is at risk for? Seeing a specific symptom and not sure if it’s normal or not for your dog? Wanting to understand more about your dog’s temperament to help gauge the success of potential family changes (i.e. having kids, moving, etc.)? Need to know how big your dog will become so you can assess proper future space accomodations? These tests can help you sort these important questions!

With millions of mixed-breed dog owners in the U.S., having access to reliable breed ancestry information can be critical for the nutrition, training and overall healthcare of their furry family member. Understanding the breeds that make up their dog enables much more targeted care and in some cases provides lifesaving information.

What is MDR1?

MDR1 or Multi-Drug Resistance 1 is a genetic mutation found in some herding and sighthound breeds, as well as many mixed-breed dogs. The MDR1 gene is responsible for production of a protein called P-glycoprotein. The P-glycoprotein molecule is a drug transport pump that plays an important role in limiting drug absorption and distribution (particularly to the brain) and enhancing the excretion/elimination of many drugs used in dogs. For more information on breeds and drugs affected by the MDR1 mutation, visit www.wisdompanel.com/MDR1_Disease_Screening. 

Why is it important to know if my dog has the MDR1 mutation?

Dogs with the MDR1-mutation may have severe adverse reactions to some common drugs, so it is important to test mixed-breed (and purebreds with the high-propensity breeds) dogs and for owners to share results with their veterinarian so they can provide the dog with for the best possible care. For more information on breeds and drugs affected by the MDR1 mutation, visit www.wisdompanel.com/MDR1_Disease_Screening

What are the benefits of canine genetic testing?

Turns out, even adopting a dog from a Lab Rescue event doesn’t guarantee it’s a Labrador Retreiver. Did you know visual identification of a dog’s breed(s) is only accurate about 25% of the time. That leaves a 75% chance for error and mis-identification, which can mean creating much less effective health, nutrition and behavioral plans.

The information from a canine DNA test can help develop a training program that works with a dog’s natural instincts (breeds) and a better understanding their behavior characteristics. It can assist in developing a nutrition plan for breed-specific needs and/or achieving/maintaining healthy weight as well as determining what the adult size of your dog might be and understanding the breeds within your dog, in order to lookout for any breed-specific health concerns or common issues.

Want to know what health concerns your dog is at risk for? Seeing a specific symptom and not sure if it's normal or not for your dog? Wanting to understand more about your dog's temperament to help gauge the success of potential family changes (i.e. having kids, moving, etc.)? Need to know how big your dog will become so you can assess proper future space accomodations? These dog canine DNA tests can help you sort these important questions!

How does it work?

Use a cheek swab to collect a DNA sample from inside your dog’s cheek, and then send the swabs into the laboratory. Once your sample is received at the lab it is scanned into the Wisdom Panel database and assigned to a batch for testing. The swabs then undergo processing to extract the DNA from your dog’s cells which are then examined for the 321 markers used in the test. The results of these markers are sent to a computer that evaluates them using a proprietary algorithm designed to consider all of the possible pedigree trees in the last three generations.

These trees include a simple pedigree with a single breed (a likely pure-bred dog) all the way up to a complex tree with eight different great-grandparent breeds. The algorithm uses information from the extensive Wisdom Panel breed database (more than 10,000 samples!) to fill out these potential pedigrees.

How accurate is Wisdom Panel® 3.0?

Wisdom Panel does not offer a guaranteed accuracy level, however if a good, clean sample is obtained—dog does not share any food/toys/water with any other dogs prior to testing and doesn’t eat any food/treats—accuracy can be about 90%.

Is this outrageously expensive?

No! The cost is very reasonable: $84.99 (with free shipping to and from!) for the Wisdom Panel® 3.0 Canine DNA Test that reveals your dog’s genetic background back to the great-grandparent level, provide a predicted weight profile and potentially life-saving test for the MDR1 genetic mutation. Wisdom Panel 3.0 covers more than 250 breeds, types and varieties including almost all those recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) and can be run for mixed-breed, designer, or purebred dogs.

What is in the Wisdom Panel® 3.0 Canine DNA Test Kit?

  • Instructions
  • DNA cheek swabs – all for use on one dog
  • Drying insert for swabs
  • Pre-paid shipping label and box

How long does it take to receive results?

It normally takes 2-3 weeks from the time a sample is received for the genetic testing and analysis to be completed.

How do I get a kit?

Easy. Pop over to Wisdom Panel and order a kit–sent to you with free shipping!

Or…if you are local to Scottsdale, AZ, head over on December 5!

Want to know what health concerns your dog is at risk for? Seeing a specific symptom and not sure if it's normal or not for your dog? Wanting to understand more about your dog's temperament to help gauge the success of potential family changes (i.e. having kids, moving, etc.)? Need to know how big your dog will become so you can assess proper future space accomodations? These dog canine DNA tests can help you sort these important questions!

The Wisdom Panel will have a booth at the The Holiday Pet Festival is in Scottsdale AZ on December 5. Visitors who bring their dogs to the Wisdom Panel booth there can get them swabbed on-site for a special price($39.99. MSRP is $84.99) or take home a discounted do-it-yourself kit($49.99). Within three weeks of receipt of the cheek swab test, dog owners will be emailed an official Ancestry Report revealing their dog’s genetic background. Sweet! Simple, easy and uber-informative!

Follow along with the Wisdom Panel for more events and news on their social media channels: FacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. This brand is on the cusp of innovation and you don’t want to miss their latest happenings!

As for us, I look with love upon our 11 yr. old rescue dog, Bailey. I’m thankful for all that I know he is, and thankful for all that Wisdom Panel can help me learn about what I don’t know about this pooch. You see, since that fateful day at Pet Smart, this dog went and became a part of our lives…a part of our family, and I want to know everything about him that I can. Because he’s mine.

****Thanks to Mars Veterinary Wisdom Panel 3.0 for sponsoring this post so I could share their canine DNA testing products with you!****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:21360029, Copyright:jbryson

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, Image ID:9889235, Copyright:eriklam

Nov 252015
 

Losing it a bit over holiday shopping stress? Don't! Follow this smart formula for better, smarter shopping, not more stress and craze! You can cross off your whole list easy-peasy and relax to enjoy the rest of the Christmas season with this proven recipe for easy, efficient shopping.Shopping season! Wa-hoo!

Listen, I know the fruitcakes and Santa visits are calling, with a rather festive frenzy (read: keep the migraine meds on stand-by), but this shopping gig does NOT have to be a source of your stress this season, even if the budget is tight. Really.

The key to successful shopping is efficiency. What makes for efficient shopping? 3 components:

Well-spent time +

well-spent money +

smart choices

= efficient shopping

Efficient shopping that is fun and doesn’t break your bank or overtake your holiday season.

How does it work? Use all the tips and tricks I spell out in THIS POST. It’s a comprehensive, user-friendly guide to all the time and money-saving savvy you need. And it’s been well-researched with extensive purchasing endeavors 😉 If you don’t believe me, ask my husband as he nervously scans the checkbook each month. Silly guy, he should totally trust me.

After you school yourself in shopping it up quickly and cheaply, the next step is making good purchase choices. How do you do this? I’ve got all the fab suggestions you need below. This is another trust-me scenario. I’ve personally checked out all these items and LOVE THEM.

Even better? A boatload of them are up for grabs, so look for the Rafflecopter widgets below and enter for the goodies you want to win! There are FIVE SEPARATE GIVEAWAYS, all announced in RED LETTERING throughout this post. Feel free to enter all five, or just the ones you are interested in. All giveaways close 12/4/15 at 5:30am ET. As long as you are 18 or older and live in the Continental United States, you are eligible to win.

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Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

 

Shop for the Mom Who Could Really Use a Chance to Feel Special

This mothering gig? NO JOKE. Go ahead and give the hard-sacrificing gal in your life something that will make her feel like a queen–at least until the next diaper change.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

I’ve completely fallen for Cork Crafts. The Portuguese husband and wife team behind this shop handcrafts truly unique and gorgeous items using the eco-sustainable resource of cork. I’ve been blown away with the impeccable design and quality of their products. Check their Etsy site for the perfect gift for the busy gal in your life. Moms are constantly breaking out their wallets to pay for stuff–be it for the dry-cleaning, school activity fees, or the box of raisins forgotten for fruitcake-baking marathons.  Make her feel special every time she breaks into her bag to fork over the cash.

Fantastic news: Cork Crafts is giving away one of their gorgeous wallets to one of you in the giveaway below.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

 

A mom’s beauty routine? Typically, falling into bed at night, praying that she remembered to scrub her face at least once that day. Looking at the celebs’ gorgeous skin, we dream about having enough time to baby our skin to be so flawless. Now, with Le Mieux’s Skin Perfecter, this can happen. After the initial, worth-it expense, it’s an easy-peasy, super-quick way to get the best skin of your life in your own bathroom. True story, I used this product once and I swooned. I contacted LeMieux and squeed, “What is this magic?!”. I can’t do much in this life to take care of myself, but I feel fancy every time I use my Skin Perfecter  and the results are jaw-dropping.

Fantastic news: Le Mieux is giving away a serum of your choice (Vita C, TGF B, Derma Relief, or Rx Complex) to one lucky winner!

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

Don’t have a ton of cash to sink into a present? Here’s a sweet way to gift some cozy to an overwhelmed friend in your life: socks. No really, my feet are always cold. And tired. If someone gifted me an ultra-comfy pair of Gold Toe Luxury Socks, it would be the perfect, appreciated gift that says “I get how hard you work!” Go grab some pairs of these super-soft tootsie toppers for yourself and for a friend.

Fantastic news: Gold Toe is giving away two pairs of Luxury socks to the winner of this giveaway.

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

Here’s a fantastic, relaxing gift for the harried mom you love: this GuruNanda 100% Essential Oils with Diffuser is an aromatherapy gift set that features two different oils (calming lavender and uplifting peppermint) and an ultrasonic diffuser with a color-changing LED light. In short, it’s a whole at-home spa for only $19.99! Snag these up for all the pals in your life who are seriously in need of a break!

Looking for a unique, useful gift for the mom in your life? She's busy, crazy, tired and will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!

You all know how very much I love coloring, and this new coloring book is such a cool way for a mom to pretty up the chaos in her life! Color Me Cluttered by Durell Godfrey adds calm to the mess as you tackle it with color! Hey, we might not be able to get rid of the clutter in our worlds, but at least we can make it look nice!

Fantastic news: a copy of Color Me Cluttered is being included in the giveaway below!

Enter the giveaway below to score some super gifts for the moms in your life who could use a slice of special (or save them for yourself!) An original Cork Crafts wallet, a Le Meiux serum, a copy of Color Me Cluttered, and two pairs of Gold Toe Luxury socks are up for grabs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? These are such unique, special ideas and she be so impressed with the originality and quality!

Shop for the Jewelry Lover in Your Life

You know who I’m talking about–that friend who has a style more boss than People Style Watch could ever dream up. And it’s Christmas, and it’s time to get her a gift. What’s a pal to do? Check these ideas. Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks!Looking for a special, quality gift for the gal who has everything? Helen Ficalora‘s jewelry can’t be beat. They sell gorgeous earrings, rings and chains, but their sweet charms are my favorite. The choices and combinations are endless and you’re sure to find the perfect one to match your gifting and budget needs. Check out their site and snag a fabulous match for the lady on your list! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! This wooden watch is GORGEOUS!Looking for a unique, special gift for the jewelry-lover in your life? She may have everything she needs, but she will be SUPER appreciative of this--trust me! All the inspirational gift-giving ideas you need right here!THIS. The most special and gorgeous of all watches of all time. Ever. I’ll admit: sometimes I just sit and stare at my JORD watch in awe. The quality construction and intricate beauty of these wood watches is swoon-worthy. And they are fantastic for both the men and women in your life. Check out their site for their full line of watches and then snag one for $25 off! For this gift guide, I’ve partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $25.00 each for the holidays. Getting your discount code is easy: click this link, and it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch. Once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you. Snatch up this savings, friends; it’s a sweet deal! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! This wooden watch is GORGEOUS! I’m so taken with the artful combinations of pearls and leather Vincent Peach uses in their collections. It’s such a unique mix of dainty and boss! And there are so many other styles and materials they work with to create beautiful pieces for a variety of budgets. Go shop through this site now and find the perfect gift for the jewelry lover in your life–and make sure to get a little something for yourself too! Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! Looking for a way to gift a gift to a friend AND give back to those in need? Shop The World Vision Handmade Gift Catalog. It is full of beautiful, handcrafted items, and each purchase goes towards the Where Most Needed fund, which supports a variety of World Vision’s programs around the world. Browse the whole catalog and read more about the World Vision mission here. Fantastic news: World Vision is giving one of the Mango Wood Beaded Bracelets (pictured above) in this giveaway. Created by a community on the island of Java, these unique bracelets provide a sustainable income to help feed and care for their children – honor the special woman in your life with this gorgeous bracelet. Have a jewelry lover in your life but aren't sure what to get her? This is such a unique, special idea and she will LOVE it! Check it out and get ready for some major thanks! What a sweet way to tell your best friend that you love her! My favorite small-business jewelry shop is always Penny Jules! She pours so much creativity and dedication into her work, constantly filling her shop with fun new items. Even better, her items aren’t only sweet, they are also very affordable for all the ladies on your list. I am currently crushing on her new take on the old-school best friend necklaces of our youth. Designed to look like two small peas in the pods, grab a set of two: one for you and one for the gal who’s your fellow pea in the pod! Fantastic news: Penny Jules is giving a Two Peas in a Pod set away to the winner of this giveaway! Enter the giveaway below to score a Penny Jules Two Peas in a Pod bracelet set and a World Vision Wood Beaded Bracelet for the jewelry lover in your life! a Rafflecopter giveaway **************************************************************************** Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Shop for Friend Who Loves to Host

She’s the kind of gal who genuinely loves having people over, fancying up her table and serving up treats. Now’s the perfect time to celebrate the way she always celebrates others by gifting her one of these finds.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Where should every hostess start? With wine, of course! I’m a big fan of Little Black Dress Wines because they are delicious, fun, and affordable. Their site is loaded with cool recipes for tasty signature drinks for your next get-together too. Pop over, check them out, and then stock up on this wine for hostess gifts this holiday season!

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

When I chanced upon these stunning paper flower bouquets from Dana’s Paper Flowers, I was head over heels. Completely head over heels. If you are looking for a wow-worthy gift for the special hostess in your life, look no further. Head over to the shop and browse through the tremendous selection of colors, designs, and sizes Dana has to offer. Don’t see exactly what you’re looking for? Just chat with Dana about it! She is so friendly to work with and is happy to craft an order to your specifications. These flowers are a gorgeous accent for any table, you can’t go wrong!

Fantastic news: Dana’s Paper Flowers is giving away the above bouquet to the winner of this giveaway.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Every hostess loves chic gadgets to keep her food preparation and serving running smoothly; why not give her some quality kitchen and bar accessories to help her do her duties in style? Trudeau is such an impressive brand! They have a have a huge selection of everything your hostess needs, and all the items are so very well made and have a trendy edge. Shop around the site and find the perfect gift!

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

Any hostess with the mostess likes to impress her guests, and there is no better way to do than by serving up some homemade sushi! Make it easy for her to wow with this dish by gifting her the SushiQuik kit. Trust me, I was daunted at the thought of giving this one a try, but it’s true–yummy at-home sushi is yours in just six simple steps with this kit, which includes a recipe book. And use promo code EASYSUSHI here to snag $5 off this kit for the sushi-loving friend in your life.

Have a friend who likes to host? Toast her welcoming spirit with these fantastic fun hostess gift ideas! You'll be the favorite guest at her next party!

I love the sweet simplicity of Slateplate, natural, hand-cut cheese boards, plates, serving trays, chalkboards, L’Amuse Bouche Slates and coasters made from real, natural North American black slate. An included stick of pure soapstone chalk (completely natural and food safe) allows you to directly write notes on the Slateplate (i.e. food names or varieties of cheeses, etc.) Before we had our Slateplate, I served apps for Happy Hour on a sad, regular dinner plate…oh how we’ve now stepped it up!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win the gorgeous paper flower bouquet from Dana’s Paper Flowers for the hostess on your list!

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Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with these unique gifts and keep them busily playing for hours!Shop for a Kid with a Big Imagination

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with these unique gifts and keep them busily playing for hours!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

What a quick, easy way for a little one to put on a whole dress-up outfit! Suitables™ Role Play Bibs let kids dress-up for mealtime, playtime or whenever the mood strikes them. With eight designs to choose from, these long-sleeved bibs let kids role play while keeping them clean (read: they will be appreciated by mom AND toddler!)

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

This is a fantastic stocking stuffer for a child who loves to play with cars. Buy hours of fun playtime with Classic Road Red PlayTape. Printed to look like a road, PlayTape Classic Road Series is a roll of removable tape that’s perfect for playing with die-cast toy and model cars like Hot Wheels® and Matchbox®. Make instant roads, anytime, anywhere with this smart gift!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Here’s a gift for the whole family to play with: Animal Upon Animal is celebrating 10 years with a commemorative edition tin of the game that has players race each other to be the first to place all of their wooden animals upon the animal pile. A roll of the die tells the players how many animals can be placed or whether they can add to the crocodile base. Bonus? This game isn’t just fun, it fosters hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills too!

A personalized letter from Santa? I KNOW! What kid wouldnt love this?! Check out how to score an authentic one for super cheap with this exclusive promo code!

The main man of the hour this time of year is, of course, Santa Claus. And what kid wouldn’t love to get a personalized letter from the big guy? SantaSentMeALetter.com makes it happen! With 20 exclusive templates to choose from, the website allows for each letter to be completely personalized. Santa signs and wax seals each letter by hand before postmarking it directly from the North Pole. And let me tell you, friends, the early warning to my kids that Santa is watching them closely for good behavior? Score! Send one to the child in your life for 20% off using the exclusive promo code TMOTY2015 with your order.

Fantastic news: One reader will win the full North Pole Package Santa Letter in the giveaway below!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Am I the only one with a child obsessed with unicorns? When my daughter received her Zoonicorns, she squealed in delight…and hasn’t put them down since. What are Zoonicorns? These unique, plush toys combine an exotic animal (zebra) and a mythical creature (our beloved unicorn). The full Zoonicorn set comes with a book, and together, they feed your child’s imagination, keeping them occupied for hours on end (trust me on this). This a fun gift for the playful unicorn-lover in your life!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

These may be the cutest, most fun shoes ever made! Bobbi-Toads is a full line of interactive footwear. The Paintables are designed so that you can paint (and repaint!) the “toes” with nail polish for a custom look every time you wear them. The Light-Ups have toes that light up in five different-colored LEDs with each step and can be decorated with Bobbi-Stickers nail stickers. Not only are they fun to customize, they inspire creativity by encouraging to play and have fun in their shoes. Every time my daughter puts hers on, she does a dance routine so she can see the toes light-up! Head over to the site to shop using the exclusive promo code TMOTY30 to get 30% off your order through 12/31/15.

Fantastic news: Bobbi-Toads is giving away a pair of your choice to one winner in the giveaway below!

Childhood is the perfect playground for imagination! Foster it in kids with this unique gift and keep them busily playing for hours!

Put away the iPads and cell phones, and allow your child to connect with a teddy bear that teaches them strong, powerful, fun statements to reinforce how special they really are!  “I love me!”, “I love my body!”, “I love to laugh!”and “I am so loved!” are some of the joyful sayings that the bear says to the child and encourages them to repeat back. The interactive toy works with a press of a paw.  A positive, empowering message is delivered from one paw, and it offers the opportunity for the parent or child to record something special of their own on the other paw! BuppaLaPaloo will help children learn to feel empowered and full of love! LOVE the inspiration behind this toy and the way that it encourages children to use play to build self-esteem!

Fantastic news: One BuppaLaPaloo bear is up for grabs in the giveaway below!

Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win The North Pole personalized letter from Santa package, a BuppaLaPaloo bear and a pair of Bobbi-Toads of your choice for the imaginative child in your life!
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****************************************************************************Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out these original ideas on the list!

 

Shop for a Kid Who Loves to Learn New Things

Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! This is a sweet gift book for any child on your list! Deanna Bufo Novak has written a tale that incorporates many of the holiday traditions around the globe in My Sleigh Ride Around the World. It’s personalized for the child, and teaches them about the way others celebrate the holidays across the globe. It includes pages in the back of the book where a child can write in their own favorite traditions, create a gratitude list and a gift list for friends and family. Order this special gift now! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! If there’s a little one in your life learning to ride a bike, I can’t recommend Glide Bikes enough. My son has struggled to get the hang of the bike-riding thing, and balance bikes have been a Godsend. They are perfect tools to help kids build their confidence by learning how to balance without the use of training wheels. Read more about Glide Bikes and the different sizing options available on their site. This is an incredible gift to put under the tree!Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! This one is PERFECT for babies! Have a baby on your list? They love to learn too! Check out this adorable Yookidoo’s Lights N Music Fun Ball. It features four colorful friendly faces that light up together as music plays. Lights and short clips of music are activated by shaking, tapping, or rolling the ball, and there is an on/off button for silent play. It lets your baby play while encouraging crawling, head lifting, improves motor skills, and sensory development. Need help battling temper tantrums? There's an app for that! And it's easy, and cheap and it WORKS. Scoop all the details here! This is a gift for BOTH parents and kids to help them learn something very important–how to tackle those nasty temper tantrums! We need this so badly in our house! Thankfully, there’s an app to help. Taming Tantrums is straight-forward, cheap, and it works. Download it for your own family and then pass it onto other families who are struggling with tantrums. It will be an appreciated gift, I promise! Some kids have an insatiable need to keep exploring, learning, and discovering their world. Help them do it in a fun way with these neat gift ideas! You'll have your holiday gifts for children in the bag after checking out this original idea on the list! I love this last suggestion because it encourages kids to learn with their dads. Cooper and Kid is all about making dad cool again and doing what matters most–bonding with the kids! Cooper & Kid has everything a dad needs in the winter for educational fun (think STEM) with his kids. Each kit contains a huge box themed projects, toys, books and ideas that dads and kids will truly enjoy. Together they can build rocket ships, take off with sky lanterns or explore the world of butterflies — there is so much to create and discover! Check it out and gift the dads and kids in your life now!

**************************************************************************** The is the smart, HUGE money-saving solution you need to cover all of your pricey shipping expenses this holiday season! Trust me, this is an incredible deal--get the whole scoop here! One final giveaway treat is provided by TransWorthy Shipping. What is TransWorthy Shipping? It’s a smart, money-saving solution for all of your shipping needs this holiday season. TransWorthy is a worldwide shipping advisor that receives DHL discounted pricing which they then pass on to you. We’re talking 74% savings on your shipping costs! Apart from their ridiculously low prices, the TransWorthy system offers the following benefits: ability to track your shipment on the DHL website, convenient payment on their site and no waiting in lines (we know how much of a drag it can be).   How does it work? Go online to TransWorthy.com, place your International Order, input credit card info and they’ll schedule a pickup. Easy-peasy!   Fantastic news: TransWorthy Shipping is offering a $100 shipping credit to one of my readers in the giveaway below. Now that is a sweet deal! a Rafflecopter giveaway

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And for even more fabulous gift-giving ideas at incredible prices, pop over to the newly launched The Penny Hoarder’s Black Friday portal. It’s superbly organized to help you shop smartly, and she really knows her deals!

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I get it, friends. Time and money are tight, but we still love the people in our lives and want to spread some holiday-lovin’. And if we’re going to hand over our hard-earned cash, we want it to be worth it. So let’s do this shopping thing together. And we’ll get it done quickly, so there’s loads of time leftover to sit through yet another preschool Christmas program, I promise!

Losing it a bit over holiday shopping stress? Don't! Follow this smart formula for better, smarter shopping, not more stress and craze! You can cross off your whole list easy-peasy and relax to enjoy the rest of the Christmas season with this proven recipe for easy, efficient shopping.

****Thank you to all of the above companies listed in this gift guide for sending product for review purposes. All items were carefully selected for inclusion and my delight in them is 100% genuine!****

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:44255237, copyright:Maridav

Last image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:15854487, copyright: Syda_Productions

Nov 112015
 

Struggling with how to have peace on this earth? The super wise wisdom from this film will have you making sense of this world in a way that leaves you proud and understanding--find your truth now!As with most things that are culturally-relevant, I’m a bit behind the game. As in, entire world-wide trends will come and go, and I’ll miss them. Or an earthquake will happen next door, and I won’t notice. This usually results in me hollering at my husband, “Why didn’t you tell me about this?!”

He’s all, “There is this thing called the news. You can watch it. Or, just be generally aware.”

No, no, I can’t. It’s his job to tell me All the Things and it’s my job to post funny kid pics on Facebook. Our roles are clearly defined.

Regardless, there’s no use pointing fingers now. We finally got ourselves sorted and Redbox-ed up Cinderellaa mere eight months after it’s release. We cozied in, cued up the magic, and…I fell in love.

My crushes on particular shows or movies aren’t unheard of; when I like something, I tend to really like it. Bonus points if it carries a powerful lesson that should be learned on this earth. And Cinderella did this in abundance.

If you’ve watched the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go watch it. Even if you don’t have kids. Even if you’re not into cartoon princesses coming to life. The wisdom and smarts pour from the screen throughout the film, but the single most resonating truth shared was the advice Ella’s mother spoke from her death bed, “I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind.”

I think the easy part is being kind. As adults, we generally know how to do that. It doesn’t mean that we always do it, but from a young age, most of us learn basic concepts of the Golden Rule, treating others as you yourself want to be treated. Case in point: don’t scream, “Ew! Your lunch box is ruined!” when the darling girl next to you pukes during lunchtime. Not that this is a current example of appropriate behavior we are addressing in our home…

Struggling with how to have peace on this earth? The super wise wisdom from this film will have you making sense of this world in a way that leaves you proud and understanding--find your truth now!

 

Nope, the far, far trickier element is the having courage bit. I’ve written a lot about living fearlessly. And how this somehow became a bit easier after my mother died; the worst already happened, you see. Scary things? Less scary. My rock and my centering force was already gone; losing anything else seemed inconsequential.

But there are days, friends, there are days. There are days when I am yanked back to the morning I first clung to our kitchen counter and forced myself to take breaths in and out. That morning I finally called my doctor and said the cautious, precious words, “I need help.” The morning I finally started taking Effexor and began my journey to a more peaceful relationship with this earth.

There are days I still call my husband at work and whisper, “I can’t breathe,” and he is all, “I am in a meeting with important people. I love you and care, but can you make it quick?” I love him; he’s a good guy. I would recommend him, but he’s already taken.

So I try, really try, to be courageous and to keep doing what I need to do–you know, raise kids and put food on the table and such. To put one foot in front of the otherI work to drown out the unmanageable and handle the manageable. 

I hear the tenet of my faith, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage–I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33), and realize how much Ella’s mother’s words parallel this. There’s going to be bad things in this world, sometimes huge and awful. Sometimes less dramatic: the piled-up dishes or difficult kids that makes Mommy feel like her last straw has snapped.

Struggling with how to have peace on this earth? The super wise wisdom from this film will have you making sense of this world in a way that leaves you proud and understanding--find your truth now!The hard truth, the core truth, is that it all boils down to courage: can we keep going even when we’re scared or overwhelmed? Even when we don’t know what the end result will be or how we will get there? This is what bravery, what courage, IS, friends.

We may never be fully fearless, as we are human, but we can fear less. We can keep trying and walking forward.

If you’ve ever paused in your life and wondered, “Am I doing this right?”, I can reassure: if you are chancing errors to the hope that you are nailing it, you are on a good path, a very good path.

The thing is, this life is short. We too often screw it up. But we are given the chance, while we are here, to pour out the good and do it the best that we can. To pour out the kindness, the hope, the courage. To embrace the whole of who we can be while being decent to other people on this earth.

Ella’s mother had her secret exactly right. Be kind. Have courage. And friends, if you do this, you’ve nailed it more than you could ever know.

The sweet and powerful heart of the Cinderella movie is captured so beautifully in the wine bottle DIY craft. This home decor idea is a simple, easy way to add a touch of love, courage, heart, and kindness to your home decor!

My friend Sara made these gorgeous bottles as a way to capture the heart of Cinderella. For more of Sara’s creative skills, check out her business, Cocina Cupcakes!

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, imagie ID: 10485318, copyright:Deklofenak

Third image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:7203557, copyright:yellow2j 

 

 

Nov 092015
 

Looking for a social good company to support this holiday season? I love the work La Brea Bakery is doing to serve others and honor the people who care for others during the holidays. Who is your Thanksgiving Hero? Go honor them and surprise them with this very cool recognition of their service!My husband thinks it was his suave demeanor and boss guitar skills that sold me on him. He was a catch, for sure, but he’s entirely wrong. What sealed the deal for me? His grandma.

Yup, you read that right. Upon meeting my husband’s grandmother, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to marry this man. Shhh…don’t tell my husband. That whole fragile male ego thing….

You see, his grandma is a rockstar. This is a woman who has dedicated her entire life to loving on her family. She cooks, cleans, serves and celebrates with a humble sacrificial love. She does it all with a savvy and grace that leaves every person she meets feeling like they are precious and cherished. His grandma has the unique gift of connection. Her hugs feed you with strength to face whatever your life is holding.

Her legacy when she leaves this earth will be that she spent every day loving those around her. In fact, as it becomes increasingly difficult for her words to meet her thoughts, the one, the only, phrase that she doesn’t stumble over is, “I love you.” That’s who she is. She loves.

That’s who I want to be. I want to spend my life loving. And this is why she my hero.

This time of year, she is most poignantly my Thanksgiving Hero. For years and years, the family has gathered at her table to feast on the gorgeous Thanksgiving meals she created. Most recently, as her own health has declined to a point where she is no longer able to ace it out in the kitchen. I can’t imagine anything more fitting than to honor someone who has spent her life serving others on Thanksgiving by taking the day this year to serve her.

Looking for a social good company to support this holiday season? I love the work La Brea Bakery is doing to serve others and honor the people who care for others during the holidays. Who is your Thanksgiving Hero? Go honor them and surprise them with this very cool recognition of their service!

I will always, always cherish this photo of my son with his Great-Grandma.

This is why I am nominating her for the very cool Thanksgiving Hero contest La Brea Bakery is sponsoring. As I scooped you on last week, La Brea Bakery is the leading artisan bread in the United States, and they are running a Thanksgiving promotion where YOU are encouraged to nominate your “Thanksgiving Hero”: someone you know and love who regularly works on Thanksgiving serving others. To celebrate these heroes, La Brea Bakery will deliver fully catered meals to five finalists across the nation on Thanksgiving. 

Looking for a social good company to support this holiday season? I love the work La Brea Bakery is doing to serve others and honor the people who care for others during the holidays. Who is your Thanksgiving Hero? Go honor them and surprise them with this very cool recognition of their service!

Contest Entry Instructions: To submit an entry click the “Thanksgiving Heroes” tab to create your form submission by including: your first and last name; zip code; email address; an essay of 100 words or less telling about your family member that you will be unable to share Thanksgiving dinner with and submit at least one photograph showing both you and your family member that you will be unable to share Thanksgiving dinner with. Submissions must be received by November 15th 2015. Finalists will be announced November 17th 2015, after which the public will have a chance to vote for their favorites through November 20th 2015.

For a sweet look at this contest, check out this video:

Gets you thinking, doesn’t it? Go make your own #ThanksgivingHeroes nomination now and take a minute to honor someone who always honors others with service! It will mean the world to them, I promise.

After you’re done making your nomination, make sure to follow along with La Brea Bakery on their social media channels and with the contest hashtag #ThanksgivingHero. Updates and product discounts are shared on their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram accounts, and you’ll want to stay tuned in to what this cool company is up to.

In the meantime, I’ll be here, looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with my own hero, the lady I’m most truly thankful for this year.

Looking for a social good company to support this holiday season? I love the work La Brea Bakery is doing to serve others and honor the people who care for others during the holidays. Who is your Thanksgiving Hero? Go honor them and surprise them with this very cool recognition of their service!

*****Thank you to Single Edition Media for sponsoring this post on behalf of La Brea Bakery so I could share this #ThanksgivingHeroes contest with all of you!*****

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:29335415, copyright:RobHainer

 

Oct 162015
 

Winter is coming! And even if you aren’t a Game of Thrones fan, this is still enough to make even the best of moms shudder with a sense of foreboding. Winter brings colds…and all the snotty fun that goes with them. The good news for you? Boogie Wipes is giving away a one year supply of Boogie Wipes and a $100 gift card to help you brace against the coming season. Read up on how Boogie Wipes can help you ward off the germs and make sure to enter this giveaway below!

Enter to Win a Year’s Supply of Boogie Wipes!

Complete the form below to share the Boogie Wipes video with your friends, and enter to win a year’s supply of Boogie Wipes plus a $100 Target gift card. (If the form is not appearing, click here to enter.)

NOTE: To find the URL of your share for the giveaway form, go to your FB newsfeed and click on the date or time of the video you shared. It will open in a new window, and you can copy/paste the URL. Thanks for entering!

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm ET on 10/31/2015. Open to US and Canada. If winner is located in Canada, a gift card of equal value will be awarded.

The Solution to Snotty

While we may not be able to help you when your kids act snotty, the Boogie Wipes Nanny definitely has solutions when it comes to snotty little noses. Watch the video to learn more.

#1 – Use Boogie Wipes

Experienced moms and nannies will be the first to tell you that nothing soothes noses better than a Boogie Wipe.

Experienced moms and nannies will be the first to tell you that nothing soothes noses better than a Boogie Wipe. Tissue, paper towels, or even your sleeve are savage on a little one’s skin - especially when you’re wiping 20, 30, or even 40 times per day. Unlike other wipes, Boogie Wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation - thanks to Vitamin E, aloe and chamomile. Click here to learn more and download a coupon.

Tissue, paper towels, or even your sleeve are savage on a little one’s skin – especially when you’re wiping 20, 30, or even 40 times per day.

Unlike other wipes, Boogie Wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation – thanks to Vitamin E, Aloe and Chamomile.

#2 – Tell Your Friends

Experienced moms and nannies will be the first to tell you that nothing soothes noses better than a Boogie Wipe. Tissue, paper towels, or even your sleeve are savage on a little one’s skin - especially when you’re wiping 20, 30, or even 40 times per day. Unlike other wipes, Boogie wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation - thanks to Vitamin E, aloe and chamomile. Click here to learn more and download a coupon.

Don’t keep this secret to yourself. Tell your friends so they can experience the comfort of Boogie Wipes this season. Click here to spread the word on Facebook by sharing the Boogie Wipes video.

#3 – Repeat 1 and 2

Experienced moms and nannies will be the first to tell you that nothing soothes noses better than a Boogie Wipe. Tissue, paper towels, or even your sleeve are savage on a little one’s skin - especially when you’re wiping 20, 30, or even 40 times per day. Unlike other wipes, Boogie wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation - thanks to Vitamin E, aloe and chamomile. Click here to learn more and download a coupon.

Look – kids are going to get sick. They’re kids afterall. Prepare yourself for the worst, and provide them with the best – Boogie Wipes. Click here to download a coupon now.

Like this? Pin it!

Experienced moms and nannies will be the first to tell you that nothing soothes noses better than a Boogie Wipe. Tissue, paper towels, or even your sleeve are savage on a little one’s skin - especially when you’re wiping 20, 30, or even 40 times per day. Unlike other wipes, Boogie wipes have no harsh or drying chemicals. The natural saline dissolves mucus without irritation - thanks to Vitamin E, aloe and chamomile. Click here to learn more and download a coupon.

Oct 122015
 

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!Happy 4 year blogiversary to me! What the heck is a blogiversary, you ask? It’s the annual high-five acknowledging you dedicated another year of your life to the thriving world behind a computer screen, justified by a logic that no one but a fellow blogger can appreciate. And maybe my dog, who remains thrilled I spend so much time in one spot, so he needn’t neurotically panic that I’m sneaking peanut butter in the kitchen without sharing it. This whole blogging thing really is a win for him.

Anyway, the most important thing to remember about a blogiversary is that no one cares about it but you. And that’s cool. Because the most important thing to remember about blogging is why you do it, and if you can’t keeping circling back to the fact that you enjoy it, none of the crazy is really worth it anyway, right?

And I do enjoy it. So much. All the insane smarts, savvy, connections, skills, fun, funny and passion that’s rolled up into the world of this sweet gig leave my heart swollen with gratitude that on October 12, 2011, I sat down and Googled up “How to start a blog for free.” That I didn’t let the fact that I had never read a blog before or didn’t even really know what one was stop me. That despite the 2 mo. old baby napping upstairs and the 2 yr. old I pretended was napping upstairs, I did it anyway. That days after my sister’s wedding, a month after my grandmother passed and in the midst of my mother actively dying of cancer, God gave me this voice to find my way.

That through all the ridiculous deadlines, sneaking work into the corners, and overwhelmed real-life schedules, I’m still here, saying “Thank you”. Thank you that for now, I can still be here doing what I’m doing.

And thank you to YOU. For reading me, for hearing me, and above all for being real through it all. And in celebration of how much I appreciate you, I thought we’d trek back a bit to the Mom of the Year roots.

What is a Mom of the Year? Get the whole scoop here, but basically it’s a way to say “I rock at this motherhood gig!”–and you can mean this as genuinely or as sarcastically as called for by different moments of your day. A couple of years ago, I had a lot of fun hosting some friends who told us all about how they were rocking the Mom of the Year title.

Today, I thought I’d pass all the awards on to YOU. Because, in case you don’t know it, you ARE a Mom of the Year! Really truly, YOU ARE.

Go ahead and claim whichever award badges work for you. Print them out and plaster them all over your refrigerator (let’s be honest, kids’ art work is overrated), make them in t-shirts, or go fancy-pants technology-savvy and Pin away. However you choose to celebrate yourself, it’s a win, friends. It’s a win!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

And finally, the very most important one. If you can rock this trophy at the end of the day, you are so Mom of the Year. Well done, friends, WELL DONE.

This motherhood gig is TOUGH! And the thing is, whether you feel like it or not, you ARE acing it! Go ahead and award yourself for small victories along the way. Forget discouragement and despair--feel powerful for doing this incredibly hard job. And know that I'm cheering you on! Go you, Mom of the Year!

Happy Mom of the Year award to YOU!

 

Trophy vector credit: depositphotos.com, vector ID:15399593, copyright:dmitriykp

 

Oct 052015
 

I'm a sold-out goner for this brand of toilet paper. Long-lasting, super-value, budget-friendly bargain find that works well for the whole family while saving you a bunch of money. Plus, with this sweet exclusive deal, you'll be running to change the bath tissue roll a lot less often! A total win!As a blogger, I often get requests to check out a product I’m not familiar with, but when Scott® Brand asked if I’d be interested in sharing news of their new Scott® 1100 rolls of toilet paper with you, I was all “I know that toilet paper!”.

You see, there are a few things I feel firmly about on this earth, and toilet paper is one of them. After I finally figured out that I needed to buy it, I became a sold-out Scott® girl. Over the summer, I sent my husband to the store to pick up some toilet paper and he returned with (gasp!) not my toilet paper. I sulked and grumbled for a considerable period of time. This was a most serious transgression.

Recently when a friend called in a bind over not having time to shop and asked if she could pop by and grab a few rolls, I was delighted to help her. I think she was less delighted to hear my forever-long spiel about why Scott® Brand is so amazing.

In any case, I’m a fan, and these new, larger rolls are a super thing. Knowing I can pick them up and #get100extra at my beloved Sam’s Club, is a double win. More toilet paper at one of my favorite, slightly magical places to shop? Score! They are sold in select stores and online in 36 roll packs. If you are into bath tissue math, adds up to be the equivalent of 3 extra rolls. This sweet steal is typical of the many exclusive deals available at Sam’s Club.

I'm a sold-out goner for this brand of toilet paper. Long-lasting, super-value, budget-friendly bargain find that works well for the whole family while saving you a bunch of money. Plus, with this sweet exclusive deal, you'll be running to change the bath tissue roll a lot less often! A total win!

Not a member? You’re going to want to rethink that. We’ve been members of Sam’s Club since Year One of our marriage, and I continually find myself thankful that we joined. Like when I popped a semi-new minivan tire this week and they gave me a boss pro-rated price on a replacement…seriously, friends, it’s a smart move!

So get yourself set up with Sam’s Club, and then make sure your first purchase is the most important–yup, this toilet paper. The cool thing about these new Scott® rolls, is that they’ve thrown in some bonus extra sheets–100 to be exact. This might now seem like much, but trust me, when you spend an unseemly large portion of your week responding to the emergency, “Moooooom! I need more toilet paper!” call, it’s a huge plus. Anything that can be done to space out and reduce these annoying SOS pleas is a very good thing.

I'm a sold-out goner for this brand of toilet paper. Long-lasting, super-value, budget-friendly bargain find that works well for the whole family while saving you a bunch of money. Plus, with this sweet exclusive deal, you'll be running to change the bath tissue roll a lot less often! A total win!

In general, having a bit extra isn’t usually a bad thing (except when it comes to weight and squeezing into skinny jeans, but this an entirely different matter). See too-true examples below…and then make tracks to your store list to add Scott® 1000 Bath Tissue.

And while you’re busy sorting out your Sam’s Club shopping list, pop by HERE to score your $5 off rebate. Yes, that’s right. You’re already getting an incredible value by purchasing this 1100 sheet-per-roll toilet paper pack at Sam’s Club, and now you can rack up even more savings.

To score your rebate, follow these steps:
1. Head HERE and under Grocery, find Sam’s Club
2. Find Scott® 1000 $5 offer
3. Unlock rebate
4. Purchase Scott®1000 bonus pack at Sam’s Club
5. Scan receipt and upload to Ibotta
6. Earn $5

I'm a sold-out goner for this brand of toilet paper. Long-lasting, super-value, budget-friendly bargain find that works well for the whole family while saving you a bunch of money. Plus, with this sweet exclusive deal, you'll be running to change the bath tissue roll a lot less often! A total win!

Maybe you should sit down from all this savings excitement?

I know, I know, but really, what you need to do is go shop–for Scott® 1000 Bath Tissue at Sam’s Club. Go #get100extra now!

I'm a sold-out goner for this brand of toilet paper. Long-lasting, super-value, budget-friendly bargain find that works well for the whole family while saving you a bunch of money. Plus, with this sweet exclusive deal, you'll be running to change the bath tissue roll a lot less often! A total win!

Today’s post is sponsored by Scott® Brand, but my love for their Scott® 1000 Bath Tissue is all my own!

Sep 142015
 

Spent time wondering if the new adult coloring craze is for you? IT IS! Trust me--affordable, easy and fun. All the how-tos you need to get started hereIt’s time to fill you in on my latest obsession. Hello, grown-up coloring.

I’d been hearing a lot of buzz about the new coloring books designed for adults and how trendy this stress-relieving hobby was becoming, but I blew it off. My hours were full enough; I didn’t need another distraction for my time. Plus, art was never really my thing. Nope, better just leave it to the hipper hobbyists around while I cozied up with my knitting.

And then my sweet sister bought me a book for my birthday. For a week, I eyed it suspiciously. What was going to happen if I picked up my colored pencils and went for it? Would I be judged if I colored outside the lines? Would I have to show my work to anyone? What if I picked the wrong colors?

Then, the Sunday night before school started, while I was busy hyperventilating in a paper bag with nerves over my sons beginning first grade, it occurred to , “What can it hurt?” Any form of stress relief could only help, right?

So I set up shop on the deck and carefully selected what I perceived to be the easiest page in the book. I grabbed a pencil and I set off…

Fast-forward two weeks, and I now find myself saying things like, “Mommy needs a coloring break” and “Don’t touch them! Those are the good colored pencils!”

Yup, I’ve gone from being coloring-wary to fully coloring-centric in less than a month. Why the switch? Everything they say about coloring being a form of relaxation, an easy way to practice mindfulness is 100% true. I love the way they explain it on the back of my book:

“If you notice at any point that you are forgetting your worries, daydreaming freely or feeling more creative, curious, excitable, delighted, relaxed, or any combination thereof, take a deep breath and enjoy it. Remind yourself that coloring, like dancing or falling in love, doesn’t have a point. It is the point.

When you don’t feel like it any more, stop.”

The idea is that you lose yourself in something other than the cares of your world. There is lots of research that explains why coloring is such a successful means to achieving this goal. Parade magazine recently an a great article on this. For me, as soon as I got over my silly hang-ups about how I was supposed to be coloring and realized the reason I was doing it was solely for my own enjoyment, I fell in love.

Curious? I know, I get it! Listen, it’s a super-duper easy hobby to pick up–and one that is well worth your time for the stress-relief it provides. Let me hold your hand while you get started…

As I do with all new fascinations, I’ve thrown myself into exploring this hobby, experimented with different methods and studied up on the tools of the trade. And here are my user-tested tips for beginning colorers.

Want to take up coloring? It's so fun and EASY, I promise! Grab the tools you need and you're good to go, I promise! Here is the REAL scoop on what you need to get started with those fun adult coloring books!

Get the right tools:

  1. Start with a good, general coloring book. I am overwhelmed by the fantastic selection of grown-up coloring books available, and have now filled my Amazon “Save for Later” cart with those I’d like to check out, but my sister did a super job and giving me the perfect book for kicking off my new hobby. This one gets great reviews and is incredibly popular.
  2. The quality of pencils does matter. While a few weeks ago I assumed colored pencils were colored pencils, turns out I was such a novice fool. My Crayola pack was brittle, with tips breaking off and difficult to sharpen. They layed color down poorly and wore down quickly. After that first night, I used a gift card to snap up a Prismacolor set and I’m tickled with them. The color is vibrant with the tips soft and long-lasting. I’ve found my brand!
  3. A good sharpener is important.  Again, I learned this one the hard way. Get a sharpener that works with your pencils. If you have good quality soft core pencils, such as the Prismacolor set I purchased, regular sharpeners will be too harsh. The Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener works like a dream for my pencils, but if your pencils are harder, the Scholar Sharpener may be a good fit.
  4. Choose an eraser that suits your needs. While coloring outside of the lines is a good thing in life, some people find it to be annoying when you make a mistake on a picture. At first I thought I wouldn’t care. And then I got really into how pretty my picture was and was grouchy when my hand slipped. I think this kneaded rubber eraser works so well, but I know some people enjoy the grip of this triangular version, while others favor the pencil-like peel-away erasers. The good news is, erasers are cheap, so if you have to get a couple before you find the one that works for you, it’s not a huge expense.
  5. If you get really into coloring, there are other items you can invest in, such as blenders, pencil extenders, and fixatives, but they aren’t necessary to begin your coloring hobby.

Spent time wondering if the new adult coloring craze is for you? IT IS! Trust me--affordable, easy and fun. All the how-tos you need to get started here.

Enjoy your coloring!:

  1. Some people do well coloring with their kids; I do not. I prefer it to be a peaceful experience, and with little hands asking to use my fancy pencils, I’d end up stressed out and cranky. So I save coloring time for after they’re in bed. Do what works for you.
  2. Give it whatever amount of time feels good. I am exhausted in the evenings and am jealous of my sleep time, so typically color for only 20-30 minutes before I pack it in. Remember there is no finishing point (i.e. don’t aim to complete a page). Color whatever is in front of you for as long as it feels soothing.
  3. I don’t watch TV or check my phone during this time, but I do hang with my husband. The thing is, we so rarely get to just talk. When I color, my endorphins start flowing, I relax, and conversation about the tougher things in life–worries about son’s schooling, schedules to make, bills to pay–flows so much easier. This might not work for everyone. Many people prefer to color solo. Again, do what works for you.
  4. Some nights I just want to chill with a TV show or go to bed–totally fine! Coloring isn’t a chore, it’s a delight. Do it when you feel like it.
  5. Don’t worry about colors or making it look pretty. Just color and allow yourself to channel your inner zen and be in the moment. It’s not a test, it’s mindfulness: being present where you are. Enjoy it, and just grab whatever colors or design that initially pops to mind.
  6. Relax and let the soothing strokes of the pencil still you. It’s an awesome experience.

Yup, it’s an awesome experience. Go for it, friends!

 

First graphic: depositphotos.com, Image ID:30164331, Copyright:Syda_Productions

 

Third graphic: depositphotos.com, vector ID:77301626, copyright:karakotsya

 

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