Oct 232014
 

Looking for a fun family fall treat? Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster has it all, or check out a similar amusement in your area--this truly was the perfect fall outing for our young family!

Remember that sweet place in Lancaster County where we love to hang out, Dutch Wonderland?

We are kind of totally in love with it.

So when they invited my family back to check out their Halloween Happy Hauntings, there wasn’t a whole lot of arm-twisting that had to happen to get us there. In fact, there was none.

We excitedly packed our daypack and costumes (yes, the park encourages guests to delight in the season and dress-up!), and headed off. Factor in a few temper tantrums and about 10 trips back to the house for things we forgot, and you’ll get the accurate picture of what goes down when my so-together family decides on a day out.

I like visiting Dutch Wonderland in the fall because all of the rides and attractions, excepting those with water, are still open.  Granted, my kids love the water park, but there is still loads to do on the drier side of the fun. This also allows for a cheaper admission price and a slightly less packed agenda–more time to simply explore and play always works for us!

Dutch Wonderland’s Happy Hauntings is perfect fit for young ones. The rides are still smaller-kid friendly as they always are, and the park does an excellent job of embracing the season–without being too scary. Pumpkins, costumes, and cobwebs galore adorn the park, but there are no horrifying super-spooky ghosts or goblins. This works for us–my children battle fears of the dark without any extra reasons for nightmares.

The smaller-kid friendly rides and attractions at Dutch Wonderland are a young family's dream come true! Visit next time you're in Lancaster County, PA, or check out a kid-friendly amusement park in your area!

The highlight of our visit was the Trick or Treat trail.  Crossing over the bridge into the back of the park, we found Exploration Island transformed into a Halloween wonderland! At each dinosaur exhibit, the kids were treated to some yummy candy by the very creatively costumed-employees. I won’t spoil all the fun in case you are planning to visit (Happy Hauntings is open both this weekend, 10/25-26, and next, 11/2-3), but my favorite dinosaur exhibit themes were the Dr. Seuss and the Crayola crayon box–you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen a dinosaur dressed as a pink crayon…

The Trick or Treat Trail was the perfect way for some safe trick-or-treating fun with a lot at some of the coolest costumes themes around!

 

I can’t say how fun it was to let the kids run around in their costumes and have a blast in a family-friendly environment. I even felt sort of vindicated when the hood of my son’s knight costume started to tear a bit after some very active sliding board fun. “See!”, I plead to my husband, “They DO get enough wear out of their costumes!” I may have slight obsession with gearing my children up in adorable coordinated costume themes each year.

The coordinated costume at mention, our little knight and princess combo couldn’t have been more perfect for the royalty theme that Dutch Wonderland is known for year round.  Now if they just start letting us bring in our dog dressed as the dragon, we’ll be all set…

Dutch Wonderland Happy Hauntings @meredithspidel

Head out to Dutch Wonderland, friends.  In a season when there are so many options for fall fun, this is the one that truly brings it all together and creates a whole autumn-full of special memories!

****Thanks to Dutch Wonderland for hosting my family for the day. All opinions expressed remain 100% my own.****

Oct 222014
 

Call it the cooler fall temps and the fewer sit-outdoors-and-do-nothing kind of nights, but I got busy with my books recently.  And I fell in love with them.

I read A LOT, no question, but the recent crop of books that have come my way have been so fun to cozy up with. Check out my favorites below, and then enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win your very own copy of some of these books!

And remember, I always love people to read along with me on Goodreads and Pinterest (I have a specific board there for the books I’m crushing on!).

 

Curling up with these cozy good books is the perfect way to spend this fall! Go beef up your reading list!

People I Want to Punch in the Throat’s Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scrouges by Jen Mann. In short, by reading this book of essays about motherhood in suburbia, I felt more normal and laughed harder than I had in ages.  Each time I picked it up, my world seemed less crazy and I fell more head over heels for Mann.

I Heart My Little A-Holes: A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting by Karen Alpert. There is a reason this book keeps hitting the New York Times bestseller list.  The accounting of a mom’s day-to-day is so real, it’s funny.  Alpert is so hysterical, you will cry.  It’s the kind of book I am gifting with abandon to all the new mothers I know–the perfect way to magically make the 3am feedings funny.

Mom of the Year by Denise Pischinger. Not a bad title, huh? ;) This book was so fun. The setting was too relatable, and it was a delight to see I read a lot @meredithspidel #booksthe worst of what “being an involved mom” can spiral into. I eagerly snuck in a few pages in the pick-up line or after kids were in bed, and found myself delighting in all the perfect chaos Pischinger offered. She’s got talent!

The Seduction of Miriam Cross (A Delilah Percy Powers Mystery) by W.A. Tyson. This book was truly a thriller! I had no idea how the mystery of Miriam Cross’ murder would resolve. Tyson kept the pages flying by, allowing the reader to escape into a wild, unfamiliar world.  Looking forward to reading more of her work ASAP!

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger. Wow. This is something most of us have experienced, but so rarely discuss. The courage these gifted authors have in openly sharing their stories is an encouragement that helps bite away the sting that the hurt of losing a friend often leaves. I applaud their bravery and honesty!

Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: Funny Stories by Sleepy Moms edited by Lisa Nolan. I have often wondered if I should see a doctor about the fact that I am perpetually exhausted. Then I read this book and remembered I’m a mom. I love the way these ladies made the reality of motherhood laugh-worthy while also clearly showing how deeply they love their kids. I also love that the next morning while I was falling asleep over my cup of coffee, I didn’t feel like a spaaz.  Thanks, ladies!

My Gentle Barn by Ellie Laks. I had never heard of The Gentle Barn before, but am now understanding what a tremendous movement Laks has started.  Through her endless compassion towards animals, the hope packed into every page of this book is inspiring.

The Realm of Possibility by Dan Dalmonte. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan in person and was delighted with his enthusiasm for the art of writing. His dedication to his work is so evident in the detail and creativity in this novel, the story of a man who meets a world wildly open with possibilities–and all the complications they bring. An incredibly captivating and engaging read.

Totlandia by Josie Brown. I love escaping with a good frothy fun novel, and the Totlandia series fits this bill so well! The world Brown created with The Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club, and uber-exclusive children’s playgroup in San Francisco is indeed packed full of “Friendship. Lies. Seduction. Betrayal.” Too much fun and so full of the drama of motherhood!  I can’t wait to read all four of these soapy treats.

Georgetown Academy by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz. It’s fascinating how these two authors spin the intrigue of high school with high stakes political drama by sharing the stories of the students at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school.  These books were entirely entertaining and keep you eagerly reaching for the next. Unique and very cool look into a different world!

And don’t forget to follow along with our very own virtual book club!  Dig into Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed and get ready to discuss on 11/7/14! We are so excited about this book.

Enter below to win these books!

Fall Book Giveaway--win and cozy-up with some reading this fall! @meredithspidel

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Oct 172014
 

For me, having polished nails is important, so I was more than eager to test run the new products from Sally and see if the time and effort was really worth the finished product of this DIY gel manicureMy daughter is adorably into “Ladies’ Time”. What is Ladies’ Time? It involves the two of doing anything together one-on-one.  This can range from not-fun, “The ladies love to grocery shopping in the rain together!” to the very fun, “Ladies are so excited to troll through sale papers on the weekends!”. Sometimes she will walk around the house singing, “Ladies! Ladies!” because she is so delighted with the idea of our time together. I know, it kills me too.

When Sally Hansen asked me to check out some of their new nail products on the market, I knew this would definitely qualify as “very fun” Ladies’ Time. I’ve shared before about how much I enjoy dolling up my nails through at-home gel manis–allows me to still feel a bit fancy while scrubbing dishes, but without the crazy cost of salon visits.

So casing out their at-home gel manicure kit? And their new Miracle Gel product and some pretty sparkly nail polishes?  Yes, please!

I was thrilled with the Wine Not shade of gel polish I chose. I have used several other brands previously, and the glossiness and vibrancy of this color was unique!  Using the three tips I follow with at-home gel manicures, I enjoyed a long-lasting shiny manicure without a single chip:

Do DIY gel manicures ever really work? Some tips and tricks I've found for making them last!

1) Always use a base and top coat (the Sally Hansen kits come with both).

2) Cure each step for 2 minutes total under the UV light. Yes, this takes time, but it means your manicure LASTS.

3) Take the time to fully clean (using the kit cleanser) and buff your nails ahead of time.

If you follow these steps, the manicure actually lasts for the full two weeks, which makes it well worth the time expenditure for me!

Does the New Sally Hansen Miracle Gel really work? For the promise of a at-home gel mani without the need for a UV light, I was willing to try!Knowing how much I enjoy my gel manis and the classy look of finished nails, I was beyond eager to give Sally Hansen’s new Miracle Gel product a go.  The same long-lasting power as gel without the UV light curing? Able to take it off with regular polish-remover? Sign me up!

This polish definitely lasted longer than regular non-gel polish, and I love that I don’t have to soak my nails in acetone to get it off (regular polish remover works fine!).  It didn’t seem quite as glossy as a traditional gel manicure, but it lasts far longer than a non-gel polish. It’s perfect for my toes too–what mom has time to constantly be up-keeping her feet? After 10 days it looks as good as when I first put it on.  I also love that there are over 45 color choices availableIt is terribly hard work to stop myself from snatching up ALL of them.

 

I also received some NYC New York Color glitter polishes and THIS was it.  This was the Ladies Time I knew my daughter would squee over.  The sparkly polishes are perfect for her little piggies.

 

Painting toddler girl toenails @meredithspidel

The only problem? Choosing which shade to go with!

Good news, these polishes are so cheap ($1.99/piece!), you can snag up a bunch and have easy girls’ weekend fun for a song.  They made her day and it made my day watching her enjoy them so much!

Make a little girl's day! Paint her nails with these cheap, sparkly finds. And hey, she won't judge any smudges!

 

Bottom line: I love doing my nails. In my days as mom when so much is so chaotic, glancing down at my fingers and seeing them look pretty helps center me a teeny bit and allows me to feel a little sane.

I love that Sally Hansen and NYC New York Color works so hard to provide economical and long-lasting solutions to make the time I invest in my nails not only worth-while, but fun!

Now you’ll excuse me, friends, I’ve got some polishing to do.  It’s Ladies’ Time, after all…

These new nail products are rolling out all these new nail products and polishes and I decided to give them a try! My thoughts on what works for a busy mom in caring for her nails

 

****Thank you to Sally Hansen and NYC New York Color for providing me with all products to review for this post!  All opinions remain 100% my own.****

Sep 262014
 

Caring for your self with chiropractic adjustment and massage? Wonders for pain reduction and muscle relaxation!I have lived most of my adult life with pain.  Neck pain, back pain, headaches–all too familiar.  Yuck.  It hurts.

Yet I remain very wary of any medication that might tax the liver.  I’ve become invested in alternative pain-reduction methods.  Chiropractic care and massage?  Right up my alley.

When I saw the Groupon deal for Tri-County Chiropractic, I Googled it right up.  It got superb reviews.  It was close to our home.  Why not?  I decided to give it a go and snatched up the deal.

This deal-grabbing happened a year ago.  Since my first visit, I have fallen head over heals for Dr. Kennedy and her staff.  Dr. Kennedy and the rest of the Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton staff are committed to providing chiropractic solutions to address your unique needs, whether you are experiencing back pain, neck pain, headaches, or even muscular tightness and tension.

She’s so excellent at meeting you where you are and helping you attain improved wellness and health.  But it’s not only her extreme competence and skill with adjusting my spine, it’s the fact that she’s nice.

That she has young kids of her own, is so easy to chat with and gets it.

That the office looks so pretty and smells relaxing.

Tri County Chiropractic Treatment Room @DrKennedyTCC @meredithspidel

That her massage staff have tackled the knots in my neck with incredible expertise.

Tri County Chiropractic Massage Room @DrKennedyTCC @meredithspidel

That each chiropractic adjustment includes heat therapy, muscle stimulation (if needed), and a mini-massage to loosen things up.  Yes, this means I lie with my head face-down for 20 minutes and am forced to do nothing.  It totally sucks, I know.

But listen, don’t just take my word for it, read this testimonial (and read many more glowing reviews) on their website:

“Dr. Kennedy and her staff are the BEST. I can’t say enough good things about them. They treat you like family when you come in. They are attentive to your needs and I do not rush the adjustment process. Starting with the massage, heat, and electrical muscle stimulation…I feel like I am at a spa instead of a doctor’s office. I would highly recommend Tri-County Chiropractic in Exton. They will take amazing care of you.”
–Carrie G

I am incredibly impressed with Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton and am very grateful to have connected with them as a patient.  Check out all that they have to offer and follow along with Dr. Kennedy’s savvy on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.

And then…enter below to win a massage!  That’s right, a free 1/2 hour massage is up for grabs!  While I sit here and try to figure out ways to unethically win my own giveaway, throw your name in the hat and get ready for the most relaxing and healing 30 minutes of your life…yes, it’s that awesome, truly.

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Go snag your own wellness and health, friends.  Pain doesn’t have to be a way of life.  There are wonderfully talented people like Dr. Kennedy who can help get you back in shape and feeling better.

*****Thank you to the staff of Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton for sponsoring this post and giveaway.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my very positive experience!****

Sep 152014
 

myCharge Giveaway

The kids are back to school, but Moms know that’s only the beginning! Now that the school year is in full swing, there’s no slowing down. In fact, things can start getting pretty hectic this time of year between your work and your kid’s homework, after-school clubs and sports, music lessons and carpools, birthday parties and play dates…the list goes on and on!

Even the most organized Mom will tell you things can change at the last minute, and Moms of all people can’t afford to run out of power…we mean for your phone or tablet, of course! myCharge knows how important it is for you to stay charged and connected all day – and all school year – long, so they’re giving the gift of portable power so you’re never left in the red!

To keep you charged and connected myCharge is giving 3 lucky winners each an iPad mini with a myCharge HUB 6000 portable charger! The amazingly compact Hub 6000 features built-in cables and connectors for smartphones, tablets, e-readers and more. Get up to 27 hours of additional talk time for your devices, as well as integrated, quick-charge wall prongs. The Hub series is commonly known as the “Swiss Army Knife of portable power devices.

myCharge HUB6000 @meredithspidel

 

Additionally, 40 winners will each receive an Energy Shot compact portable charger for their smartphones that delivers an additional boost when you need it most. They come in a variety of styles and can give you up to 10 hours of talk time! (Please note, smart phone not included in giveaway).

 

myCharge Energy Shot

So Moms, stay out of the red this school year! myCharge is here to keep you charged and connected! For more information on products visit the myCharge website or follow them on Facebook. You can find myCharge products available at retailers such as Target and Kohl’s.

Fill out the entry form below September 15, 2014 – October 15, 2014 for your chance to be one of 40 winners to receive an Energy Shot Charger (10 winners randomly selected each week) and one of 3 grand prize winners randomly selected on October 15, 2014 to receive one iPad Mini with a myCharge HUB 6000 portable charger. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age or older, must live in the United States and have a valid shipping address. See giveaway form for complete list of rules and details.

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This is a sponsored post from myCharge.

Aug 062014
 

Clothes Mentor West Chester @meredithspidelMy husband has adapted very well, with a general acceptance, to my endless string of crushes.  These crushes range in subject from Jesse Pinkman to new TV shows (Orange is the New Black, anyone??) to an incredibly pretty shade of Urban Decay lipstick.  Most recently, my fashion obsessions have been raging, finding exciting territory in StitchFix, maxi skirts and collectively, anything found in People Style Watch.

The only slightly sticky wicket of all my fascinations is that they cost money. Snap! It just feels like rocking out sweet styles should be a given freebie or something, right?

Mmhhh…sadly, looking gorgeous isn’t necessarily an easy no-cost-given on this earth.  Enter Clothes Mentor.  Self-advertised as “a huge walk-in closet for fashionable women”, I started swooning immediately upon learning of this local shop.  I have long been in love with consignment and re-sale.  The truth?  I like brand-names and adorable stuff, but our still-paying-endless-school-debt/WAHM salary doesn’t allow for a lot of first-pass Kate Spade and Micheal Kors.

I like Kate Spade and Michael Kors.

A lot.

So it was time for a Clothes Mentor-intervention.  Could my budget really meet my high-brow taste?

Shopping at Clothes Mentor @meredithspidelI grabbed my friend Sara for the Christmas in July sale and we were off to discover the depths of money-saving/brand-name snagging glory at the West Chester location of Clothes Mentor.

And…Holy Cow!

I was wowed by how huge the store was and how very-filled the racks were.  Throw in a brand-new Free People dress in my size? I was swooning. It wasn’t entirely pretty.  When the Ann Taylor new-with-tags dress entered the scene, the drooling got rather intense.

This store was HUGE and packed to the gills with sweet finds.  Moreover?  The staff was so very friendly and helpful.

In Main Line suburbia, there are a boatload of excellent consignment shop finds, but the pleasure of uncovering a store that not only has so many nifty items but also excels in customer service?  I’m a goner.

Check out this sweet staff...ready to help you! Carrie, Juli & Aly...at your service!

Check out this sweet staff…ready to help you! Carrie, Juli & Aly…at your service!

I have already scheduled my return to Clothes Mentor in my personal calendar and am counting down the days to my next visit.  I’m also sort-of crushing on an adorable brown leather clutch I saw in the shop, but don’t tell my husband this; cool?

Clothes Mentor @meredithspidel

As the Clothes Mentor website says, “Clothes Mentor is a resale store like you’ve never seen before.  At 70% off mall prices, we carry current women’s fashions in sizes 0-4x, plus athletic wear, petites and maternity–with thousands of better name-brand clothes under one roof. We also carry jewelry, handbags, shoes, wallets, belts and so much more! You’ll find a huge designer selection, from handbags to jewelry.”

Clothes Mentor is also a great place to sell any extra items you may have: “How do we build our fabulous inventory of like-new women’s fashions? By paying our customers CASH-on-the-spot all day, EVERY day for their items…We understand that life changes–so bring those fashions that no longer fit, whether they are the wrong size or just don’t fit your personality any more.”

The selection was endless...

The selection was endless…

Ready to try Clothes Mentor for yourself?  Locally, they have shops in both West Chester and Springfield, but check out their shops nationally.  And the owner of the local stores, Chris, is so very cool.  She is offering one of my readers a free retail therapy party.  What is a retail therapy party and why is it such a neat event?

Local shop owner Chris explains her philosophy, “Clothes Mentor is a store based on a community of women.  Women who support each other and who empower each other—no matter how big your budget or how important your job, everyone is on a level playing field in our store and our team makes you feel like royalty even if you are not.  Women do not spend enough time building each other up.  We need a place to celebrate and throw “attaboys” at each other—with a high-five and a butt bump or two!  Here is what the give-away of a retail therapy party for 6 or more includes:

  1.  Appetizers and beverages of choice
  2. Personal stylist assigned to the party to help with outfit/clothing selection and to help with party set up.  This stylist will support the entire party at the dressing rooms to make trying on clothes easier and will take photos to share with the hostess after the party.
  3. 20% discount for everyone who attends the party—but there is no requirement to shop or to buy, just come and have a fun evening out with girlfriends.
  4. If the party (at either the Springfield or West Chester store) is scheduled before September 1, the hostess also receives a $25 shopping credit to use during the party.”

I love the way this party is set-up as a way for women to celebrate each other and enjoy some fun with fashion!  Are you also swayed? Ready to check out Clothes Mentor for yourself?  Enter to win this retail therapy package!  Pop in the Rafflecopter below.*  

Another great reason to head to Clothes Mentor soon?  Chris is also offering all my readers a 20% discount through September 1 if you mention “The Mom of the Year” at checkout!

Friends, when isn’t it time to update your wardrobe?  Having some fun, new, affordable cool clothes and accessories is within reach.  Go find your inner-fashionista at Clothes Mentor.  Fall in love with a new item…or two or a bunch.  I’ll be here cheering on all of your adventurous money-saving shopping from the comfort of my jazzy new leopard-print pants!

Appalling, I know.  But I really like that consignment-pricing afforded me the chance to rock these pants that I would never have otherwise-looked at...

Love that consignment-pricing afforded me the chance to snag these pants that I otherwise wouldn’t have even tried on!

And make sure to follow Clothes Mentor on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay tuned on the latest store items and events!

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*E-mail addresses entered in Rafflecopter will be added to Clothes Mentor’s mailing list.

Our total haul? 7 (yes, SEVEN!) dresses (tags still on Ann Taylor and Free People), 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of earrings, and a pair of jeans and a pair of pants for $119!

Our total brand-name haul? 7 (yes, SEVEN!) dresses (tags still on Ann Taylor and Free People), 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of earrings, a pair of jeans and a pair of pants for $119!

****Clothes Mentor has compensated me for reviewing their store, but my awe of their business remains 100% genuine!****

Jun 132014
 

Pictures.

Pictures.

PICTURES.

Spend just 30 seconds in my home and my obsession is apparent.  Yes, I was the psycho pregnant lady stalk-calling Picture People to make sure I fully understood their membership options six months before my first child was born.

I like memories. I like smiles.  And I like things that make me happy.

Back in the old school world, this worked out pretty well.  I burned through rolls of film with my allowance and begged my parents to drive me to KMart to get them developed.  The photo counter dude? Obviously my first crush.

Fast forward twenty years and then this silly little fad of technology took over.  Digital pics, memory cards, Dropbox, texts, attachments would all work well if I wasn’t so dumb about these things and if my phone wasn’t some archaic vintage piece that takes a half hour to fire up. It may involve a hand-crank.

The picture situation got so stressful at BlogU that I handed my phone over in desperation to the photo-savvy Courtney of Our Small Moments every time I wanted to capture a memory.  She’s very, very nice and I was pitiful, so she humored me.

But the pervasive reality is that my pictures are a confused mess, and since I generally struggle to find time to manage the laundry, the photos that I have managed to print are lying in ambiguous heaps waiting to get properly filed in an album.  This may happen before I die.

Enter Everalbum. What is Everalbum? It’s an online photo storage service that gathers your photos from your phone, PC, and social profiles, and brings them all together in one place.

Let me take you behind the scenes of the fab Mom of the Year home for a minute. On more than one occasion, our laptop has completely crashed.  I started to panic, cry a little, and then my sweet husband ended up spending the entire night babying our hard drive so our precious photos of our kiddos aren’t lost forever.  He does it because he loves me, but I know he really spends the next day cursing me out under his breath over sixteen cups of coffee.

With Everalbum, this won’t happen.  We don’t need to worry about about losing family photos because even if our computer breaks, or I lose my phone, once the pics are in Everalbum they are backed up and safe forever.

My other favorite late-night scenario is that our memory card or Dropbox maxes out.  Since I don’t know how to empty them myself (no really, I’m hopeless), I end up begging my husband to sort it, again leading to a similar next-day coffee cursing situation, I am sure.

But by using Everalbum, running out of space on our phones is a non-issue. Once photos from the phone are backed up, camera rolls can be deleted and any future photos taken will automatically be added and backed up to Everalbum. Can you hear my non-giddy husband giddy-dancing in the corner?

Also, with Everalbum, no worries about privacy or having your photos public. Privacy is taken very seriously by the company and they’ve done everything possible to guarantee all of your photos are private to you and only you by default, except when you want to share your photos privately with family and friends.

THIS is the reason I can't afford to play around with my pics.  Courtney of Our Small Moments is too important to me.

THIS is the reason I can’t afford to play around with my pics. Courtney of Our Small Moments is too important to me.

Everalbum is AFFORDABLE. At $7.99/month, or by snatching the 20% discount buying yearly package for $79, you will have up to 50,000 photos backed up in full resolution and the peace of mind of never worrying about GBs, or MBs storage.

The thing is, if you’re a family, or you otherwise have a life of some fashion, you are probably busy.  You probably have better things to think about on a daily basis than proper back-up of your photos. Or, at the very least, you have dirty dishes threatening to topple out of your sink, and simply don’t have time to address your picture situation.  So let Everalbum do it for you.

The cost that we retro gals used to spend on film and development? It’s wonderful that we can now save some allowance cash, but the fact is, we still need to invest a little to protect our photos.  The smiling faces of the ones we love are more than worth it.

And why not do it with the super-smart convenience of Everalbum? This service is genius and trusting my memories with them? The perfect solution!  Go check them out!

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

Everalbum did compensate me to write this post, but rest assured, my love of this service is 100% original–go check them out!

May 302014
 

PACT clothing @meredithspidel @wearPACTEarlier this week I wrote about embracing a thus unknown fashion sense with Stitch Fix.  And while I really do have high hopes of vogue-ing it up a little in the days to come, truth told: as a WAHM of two young ones on any given average day, it is very convenient when my carefully chosen “outift” can roll over from daywear to jammies to exercise gear the next morning.  It’s all about efficiency around these parts.

So when PACT asked me to check out their line of super-soft organic cottonwear, it didn’t take much convincing.  I live and breathe in cottonwear–tees, undies, leggings and socks, all of which PACT specializes in. These duds are my happy, comfy home.

I have spent years seeking the perfect cotton tee without success.  Sure, I have found some fav brands from my familiar haunts, but I had yet to discover the truly perfect tee.  A tee that not only fits well, but also holds up well through the wash and is super-soft.

I had yet to discover such a tee, that is, until PACT, a line of super-soft organic cottonwear for men, women and babies.

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

I love all the stuff I got from PACT. The undies have a great fit and don’t ride up at all (I have already ordered 2 more pairs). The leggings are obscenely comfortable.  The tights?  Please bring on winter again for the sole reason that I can’t wait to wear them.

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I sport printed leggings and post a pic of myself in them for all the world to see...SO COMFY!!!

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I post a pic of myself in printed leggings…SO COMFY!!!

But the tees.  The tees.  The tees.

The thing is, PACT tees fit.  They look cute.  And they wash well. Very well.  So well, in fact, that after multiple launderings, they have not pilled, thinned, or lost their shape–all while remaining incredibly soft.

The prices are very reasonable in my opinion. When you consider that a PACT tee will be hanging out in your closet for a loooong time, it’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars over the mass-marketed cheapies that need replaced after every season.

LOVE this blue color!

LOVE this blue color!

It’s the quality of this clothing that I can’t highlight enough.  PACT clothing is the real deal.

I am thrilled to find a cool new line of clothing that is committed to not only superb standards, but to also respectfully caring for our environment.  As their site says, PACT is obsessed with a big idea: super soft organic cotton that makes the world a better place. Socks with soul, altruistic underwear and other everyday essentials ethically manufactured with fabrics that feel good and go easy on the environment. Sounds good? Oh it is.”

They make fab duds for men and littler ones too!

You know what they say–the couple that wears PACT tees together…;)

It is so good.  And the fact that this company describes their underwear as “altruistic” makes me love them a little more. ;)

Go check PACT out, love on them and enter below for a chance to score a PACT sock wardrobe!  As long as you are a 18 or older and a resident of the continental U.S., you are eligible to win!*  One winner will win one of the 5-pack socks below (winner can choose which pack to claim) Below are pictures of all the different sock packs winner can choose from:

Ladies' socks

The ladies are stepping out!

Deck that dude out

Deck that dude out

Sweet feet for baby girls!

Sweet feet for baby girls!

The little man's gotta take his first steps in style!

The little man’s gotta take his first steps in style!

I am thanking my lucky stars that I’ve finally found a brand that will deliver those perfect tees I have long been fantasizing over.  Next time I need to stock up on tees?  PACT it is.  PACT it SO is.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

****PACT provided compensation for me to review their product, but my love of this brand is 100% genuine****

*PACT will be adding e-mail addresses of those who enter the giveaway to their mailing list

Apr 182014
 
The choices are maddening.

The choices are maddening.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m desperate to shave off a bit more of my muffin top before summer hits us with all its adorable little tees and capris, so when Yoplait asked me to give their new Yoplait Greek 100 Strawberry a taste and compare it to the flavor of Chobani Simply 100 Strawberry yogurt, it wasn’t a hard gig to get behind.

I’m a huge Greek yogurt fan.  The best luck I’ve had with shedding pounds was during a time in my life when I was dedicated to my daily Greek yogurt.  I’m a sucker for the creamy fruitiness, but what really made me a loyalist was the protein.  If I noshed on a cup in the morning, I was able to hold myself off relatively painlessly until lunch.  But you see, that was back in the old school days.  The days when Greek yogurt wasn’t just 100 calories per serving.  Now the new lower-calorie products have made the prospect of throwing the sweet stuff into your diet even more appealing.

Chobani is usually my favorite brand, so I admit I was skeptical about Yoplait’s offering, but the claim to fame of this new yogurt is that in a national taste test, Yoplait® Greek 100 Strawberry beat Chobani® Simply 100™ Strawberry”. Confident in their product, Yoplait encouraged me to try both and give my genuinely honest opinion.

Specifically, I was intrigued that 4 out of 5 tasters preferred the Yoplait over the Chobani. Yoplait suggested getting my co-workers on board to help with the taste-test.  Excellent, no problem.  As it turns out, they are exactly 5 people on staff at The Mom of the Year, so bring on the experiement.

Start with my son (his window of tolerance is about 2 seconds, so grab him while you can, you know?)

YOPLAIT! No, really this wasn't rigged.  And there were only minor bribes to get him to smile.

YOPLAIT!
No, really this wasn’t rigged. And there were only minor bribes to get him to smile.

My daughter was insanely serious about her tasting duties:

Yoplait again, voted for by a genuine Cinderella princess! (though perhaps this may have something to do with the fact that she's right-handed...)

Yoplait again, voted for by a genuine Cinderella princess! (though perhaps this may have something to do with the fact that she’s right-handed…)

Dr. J I think is honestly shocked that he likes Greek yogurt and is trying to cover it up with a spoofy thumbs-up:

Dude, Yoplait. Or, as he more eloquently later stated, "If you are looking for the classic strawberry yogurt taste, Yoplait is the one."

Dude, Yoplait.
Or, as he more eloquently later stated, “If you are looking for the classic strawberry yogurt taste, Yoplait is the one.”

And the dog, of course, was extremely opinionated about his favorite:

He thoughtfully considers...

He thoughtfully considers…

Then he digs in...and refuses to stop until it's licked clean.

Then he digs in to the Yoplait…and refuses to stop until it’s licked clean.

I love it when my “team” makes my job easy.  Without influence or persuasion, they unanimously went for the Yoplait vs. the Chobani.  As for myself, I admit to being sort-of on the fence.  If you are looking for a kick of strawberry flavor, Yoplait Greek 100 strawberry is the way to go, yet I still really enjoy the subtle smoothness of the Chobani.  I would eat either, but since my family obviously prefers the Yoplait, I’m off to the grocery store to stock up. And there you have it, at the The Mom of the Year headquarters, we are very scientifically 4 out of 5 for the Yoplait.

Yoplait vs. Chobani #tasteoff @meredithspidel

But hey don’t take our word for it, go take this test yourself.  Yoplait is so pleased with their product, they are calling all testers!  Since it’s available nationally in 12 flavors, you’re going to find one that appeals for you.  And your co-workers.  Be them human or canine, you’ll be grabbing up those 5.3 ounce cups and throwing them in your cart.

So spoon up the Greek and weigh in with your opinion!  Get ready for some creamy goodness at only 100 calories a pop, whichever brand you settle on.

*********Compensation for this post is being provided by Yoplait, but all opinions are 100% mine (or my family’s or my dog’s in this case).*********

Apr 042014
 

HOST MOAM blog tour & giveaway button @meredithspidelYou may remember a bit ago when I hung out with the Mother of All Meltdowns, the groovy book that tells the truth of momhood like it really is.  I loved this book. When I read it, I felt real, which is always a score in my book.  So when the super ladies of this book announced they were touring to share their new MOAM Community, I was in!

Was is this community? A home for the perfectly imperfect mother.  A place where you can let your guard down and talk about the meltdowns, struggles, and less rosy aspects of being a mom…in short, it’s my kind of place!

To celebrate this new community, these ladies are throwing a giant giveaway that you want to enter.  Trust me.

With fabulous sponsors like The Oaks at OjaiCarilohaWicker CentralMetropolis Coffee CompanyWind & Fire JewelryChuao ChocolatierGlobal Rose, & Anew Riesling , the No Mother is Perfect, But Every Mother is Unique Mother’s Day Giveaway is pretty much a dream-come-true.

As the ladies of  The Mother of All Meltdowns say, “Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11th 2014! And we want moms everywhere to accept the meltdowns, stop chasing perfection, and embrace their uniquity. You won’t find this word listed in Webster’s, but you will find it within every mother on the planet. Enter between April 1, 2014 to May 11, 2014 to win one of three fabulous prize packages including a three night stay for two at a destination spa!”

So go check it out and treat yourself, and do your mental sanity a favor by grabbing a copy of the book that started it all, available today through Mother’s Day for only $0.99 on Amazon!

Mother of All Meltdowns Community Giveaway Enter to Win! #NoMotherIsPerfect #EmbraceUniquity @meredithspidel

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 And to keep the party for this new community and giveaway hopping, I’m hashing it out below with Danielle Herzog, one of the book authors and the blogger behind Martinis and Minivans.  This is such an honor for me, as her blog was one of the first I found when falling into this online world. 

Her tagline, “a blog for anyone who has ever needed a martini after driving a minivan around all day. Or for anyone who has just ever needed a martini”? She is gold. That she reports that she “is currently writing her first novel while gaining 10 lbs from binge eating Girl Scout cookies after each draft edit”? I am totally in love with her and starting the Danielle Herzog Fan Club NOW.  Join up with me.

Below she humors me on some questions about The Mother of All Meltdowns and her writing.  xo, Danielle!  Thanks for hanging out at The Mom of the Year!

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

@martinisandmini @meredithspidel

 

1.      What color is a meltdown? Clear. Like the color of vodka.

2.      What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘meltdown’? See previous answer

3.      What was your story about? It’s what REALLY happens when you find out your pregnant. From taking four pregnancy tests at once, to then driving directly to the OBGYN’s office holding my pee sticks; it was the meltdown before the baby was even born.

4.      What did you like best about working on The Mother of All Meltdowns project? Hands down – the contributors. It was an instant camaraderie between us all, even though most of us have never met. Each person laughed at each other’s stories and worked together to share our best words. It’s an awesome experience when women all work together to build each other up and produce an incredible book that showcases each of our unique stories.

5.      What advice do you have for other mothers who melt from time-to-time? Keep a flask on you at all times, and pretend to be sick some days so you can lay in bed and catch up on DVR’d reality shows.

6.      What is your favorite story in the book? Why? You’re at the Happiest Place on Earth. Why are You Crying? by Dana Hemelt. I love that Disneyworld really wasn’t all that magical. Expensive and full of mouse ears, but maybe not all that magical.

7.      Why should people buy the book? It’s a simple reason. It’s [darn] funny. It’s one of those books where you laugh that very specific laugh that says, “I totally relate but never wanted to admit that happened to me.”

8.      If you could associate any one song with the word meltdown, what would it be and why? I would choose “I’m Sexy And I Know It” – I have to keep telling myself that when I have a Goldfish stuck on my [butt] and spit up in my hair.

9.      What made you want to contribute to The Mother of All MeltdownsI wanted to show the world that they are probably a better parent than I am. That really does make us all feel better most days, doesn’t it? That someone else does it a wee bit worse?

10.  What’s next for you? I’m writing a memoir about the letters my grandmother and I wrote to each other for over a decade. It’s the story of my life weaved through our correspondence. It’s her words of advice and wisdom she shared with me during my clueless thirty-something years of life.

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I KNOW.  Now go hang out with the new MOAM community and check out Martinis and Minivans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest too!  Keep on keepin’ it real, Danielle!

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