Creating a Dining Nook on a Budget

This post has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. This post was sponsored by Starbucks as part of an Influencer Activation. I received compensation and complimentary products to facilitate my review. #StarbucksCaffeLatte #MyStarbucksatHome #CollectiveBias

The newest member of our family, Baby Brando, is much more demanding than my first child Cash ever was. He loves to be held all the time, and wakes up much earlier than I had been accustomed to before he was born. While he goes to sleep early- around 8pm- he also gets up for the day SUPER early between 5-5:30am. For a while, I tried feeding him at 5:30 then laying back down and grabbing some extra sleep for an additional 45-90 minutes depending on his temperament, but I discovered in doing this I was actually wearing myself out even more. So recently, I started actively beginning my day at 5 when he wakes up.

It took a few days to fully adjust, but now I LOVE starting my mornings off super early. Typically after Brando is fed, he will go back to sleep for a bit and this gives me time to myself to get some blog work done, eat a good breakfast, and actually have some quiet time to mentally prepare myself for the long day ahead.

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In having this quiet time each morning, I like to have some space to lay out my laptop, coffee, and daily planner. Since we don’t have a formal dining room in this house, I was doing this on the bar/barstools for a while when I realized I did actually have space to put a table and chairs in my living area. I put this dining nook together on just $50 and I’m going to show you how!

First, I came up with my visual concept. The area by my front door has an excellent window for natural light to come through, and it was just housing a playtable and easel for Cash, with plenty of extra room. I took measurements of this area to know what size table would best fill the space without making it look overcrowded.

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After taking my measurements, I took to the internet to find a second-hand table and chairs within my budget. Since I wasn’t buying something brand new, and am not above painting things in my garage I wanted to stick within a $50-60 budget for everything including the cost of paint. I always use a spray paint with built in primer that costs $4 per can, for an average table & chairs which I wanted to paint white, I figured I would use about 5 cans so I factored in $20 for paint. That left me with $30 for a table and chairs, and while it took about 2 weeks of daily looking at the online listings, I found a deal to get a table with 3 chairs in my area for $25. The asking price was $40, but I simply messaged the seller and asked if he would take $25 to keep me within my budget and he happily obliged. I always recommend negating furniture prices online, as most people are just trying to get rid of the pieces for space, and if you’re willing to pick it up they are happy to be letting go of it!

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Once I had my pieces at home, I laid out a tarp painted them. This took about 12 hours in total for dry time. I did two coats of paint on the table to prevent scratching and get a nice even look, then one coat of paint on the chairs. Once the chairs were finished drying I went over their edges with a piece of sandpaper, to create a more “shabby chic” look.

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After I moved the kid’s table upstairs I brought my brand new dining table and chairs in, and set up an adorable Halloween centerpiece. To separate the living areas even more, I made a mini gallery style wall above the table with wedding photos and a wall art piece we were gifted for our wedding.

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With my dining nook finally done, it was time to relax and enjoy this space! My morning ritual is quite simple. After Brando is fed and laying peacefully back in his crib, I pop in a K-Cup® and let the caffeine work it’s magic. My favorite new way to start my day with my Keurig is with Starbucks® Caffè Latte K-Cup® Pods.

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Made from milk with no artificial flavors, these Starbucks® Caffè Latte K-Cup® Pods enable me to enjoy my favorite latte’s in the comfort of my own home! They come in 5 different flavors- 3 classic ones (Caramel, Mocha, and Vanilla), and 2 seasonal flavors (Peppermint Mocha & Pumpkin Spice, only available for a limited time). What’s even better is that they are available at grocery stores everywhere, so there’s no need to have to hunt for them! The process of making them is slightly different from brewing your typical K-Cup®.

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First you add your flavor packet to your mug, then you brew your K-Cup® pod, stir well, then enjoy!

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This morning routine is so much nicer enjoyed in my dining nook, and starting my morning each day with a Starbucks® Caffè Latte K-Cup® Pod is the perfect way get myself up and going on these super early mornings.

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What time do you get up in the mornings? What flavor of these Starbucks® Caffè Latte K-Cup® Pods would you try first to start your day with?

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2016 Starbucks® Corporation. All rights reserved. Keurig, Keurig HOT, K-Cup and the K logo are trademarks of Keurig Green Mountain, Inc., used with permission.

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Printable Baby Sprinkle Games

This post was sponsored by WaterWipes as part of an Ambassador Program for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. #WaterwipesMom

I recently blogged about a fun Baby Sprinkle that I threw for my friend Kandrea a few weeks ago. This was such a great time that I wanted to take a moment and share a few more details of the event. One of the best parts about a party with other mothers to me, is the ability to connect and get to know new people. I love laughing and creating memories with good friends and making new friends at the same time. It’s so nice to share motherhood experiences and laugh at some of the crazy stuff our kids can accomplish in a days time. One of the great ways to connect with one another at a party is to play some games and really let the good times roll!

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Here are a few printable games that you can literally just save to your computer and print for an upcoming shower or sprinkle you might be planning! These are a ton of fun to play, as you compare answers from other guests, especially the alphabet game! At my sprinkle we heard some of the funniest answers!

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As always, aside from the games and snacks, baby sprinkle parties are about getting some essential needs for the mom to be. I gave my friend the gift of Waterwipes, baby wipes are so essential especially in the first two years, and it’s important to know that your baby is safe with their wipes. Waterwipes are the only chemical free wipe on the market, made from 99% water and grapefruit extract, they are durable and effective without any harmful chemicals. Waterwipes are a safer, more natural alternative for babies, which is why I choose them for my little ones and love giving them as a gift and sharing their greatness with my mommy friends.

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What fun games have you played at a Baby Shower/Sprinkle? Leave your party tips in the comments! <3

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Host a Baby Sprinkle in 4 Easy Steps

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MomsHelper #CollectiveBias

Having a second or third child is great. You have the parenting experience down, and often have a lot of stuff leftover from the previous babies to pass down, so budget wise you don’t need to start from scratch in collecting baby needs. With my second son Brando, I didn’t intend on having a shower at all, but my Mom surprised me with one. I was discussing the surprise and how it was nice to celebrate my second child with friends and family just like we did with Cash, with my friend Kandrea who is due with her third child and first daughter in September. She wanted that same joyful celebration of life, but didn’t want all the fuss of a huge shower, so I decided to throw her a sprinkle.

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Like the name suggests, a baby sprinkle is a light shower. A way to celebrate a new life without spending a ton of money on the party. It was so much fun, easy to put together, and most importantly stress-free for everyone involved. Here’s how I put it together in 4 simple steps!

  1. Create a cute invitation on any simple phone app, create an event on Facebook, add the invitation to the event, and invite friends. This takes the hassle out of sending invitations in the mail. My family is really bad at owning stamps, so things will get addressed and just SIT on the counter for an entire week sometimes before I finally make it to the post office. Taking advantage of the ability to create events and invite friends online has been a lifesaver!                                                                 Unknown-6
    I simply added the date, time and location to this template I created on an app on my phone! Custom invitations for free!
    I simply added the date, time and location to this template I created on the WordSwag App on my phone! Custom invitations for free!

    2. Set out some Refreshments. Having a full lunch or anything extravagant is not necessary at a baby sprinkle. A few small bites will do just the trick, I set out a couple different chip & nut varieties, some fresh fruit and cookies for our event. Having a cake is the most important, and this Sprinkle Cake was really simple to make, you can get the details here.

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3. Add some decor. You don’t need to go all overboard with some crazy concocted theme to throw a good sprinkle. You can grab a few essential color coordinated utensils & plates, then blow up a few balloons, and make your own tissue paper pom-pom banners to really set the mood. To let guests know they were at the right house I set my son’s chalkboard out on the front stoop, and made a cute little sign. For a little extra “sprinkle fun” without spending additional funds, I filled clear plastic cups with sprinkles I had leftover from making the cake, then I added a tea light candle to the center of the cup, this added an extra special touch of decor to some areas of the house!

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4. Grab Essential Gifts. Unlike a baby shower where everyone buys everything under the sun down the baby aisles of Target, getting essential items is much more important at a Sprinkle. Since this isn’t for the first baby, most mother’s have basics like a swing, baby wearer, and stroller from the previous child, so you want to gift items the mother would have gotten rid of like pacifiers, swaddling blankets, and feeding essentials. Kandrea plans on breastfeeding and has a pump, so I decided to purchase a bottle that works well for breastmilk and formula, the Playtex Nurser with drop-in liners.

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My newest baby Brando, has had terrible issues with reflux when bottle feeding, and we went through almost every bottle option before finding some relief with these Playtex Nursers. The Playtex Nurser with Drop-Ins Liners are the closest to breastfeeding you can get, allowing our son to go from breast to bottle and back to breast again naturally with no issues. It’s Most Like Mom® NaturaLatch® Nipple has a natural texture and wide shape allowing Brando to latch on naturally. As Brando feeds, the disposable liner inside the bottle collapses, keeping air from mixing with the milk, and reducing his reflux and spit-up tremendously. Since he spits up less, he’s much less fussy and happier without all the air and gas in his little baby belly. So when picking a gift for Kandrea, thinking about essential needs, I knew this bottle was a must-have for her! These were super easy to find at Target, the #1 place for baby registries, and my personal one-stop shop for all baby needs! Right now until 9/3/16,  you can score an awesome deal on these bottles at Target with the Cartwheel app, check it out here!

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All in all, the baby sprinkle was an absolute success, and my friend Kandrea was so grateful for all the love she and her first baby girl received this weekend. I had such a blast planning it, and will most definitely plan another one soon for my sister-in-law who just found out she’s expecting!

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Have you ever been to a baby sprinkle? What was your experience?! Share your story with me in the comments and check out some great parenting deals on Playtex’s Facebook Page!

 

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5 Tips to ease Eczema

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreeToBe #CollectiveBias

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Sensitive skin is something that runs in both my family and James’ family. James struggles with psoriasis on his elbows from time to time, while I have dealt with having to buy certain products to avoid allergic reactions to dyes and perfumes on my skin. When planning for a family, neither of us thought that those skin traits would be passed on, not like it was a strange thing, it just wasn’t something we actually thought about.

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It wasn’t long after our son Cash’s first birthday that we found ourselves and a very itchy baby in a specialists office learning as much as we could to help ease a chronic itchy rash he had developed. Eczema, as our allergist put it, is an itch that becomes a rash. The small red bumps that broke the surface of Cash’s skin were actually the reaction to him scratching. The itch is internal and often caused by environmental allergies, but can be triggered by numerous different things. For example: Cash’s eczema was brought on by an allergy he developed to our cat, but even after we got rid of the cat and moved into a home with no pet dander, his eczema is still triggered by certain things like heat and will flair up a few times a month due to these triggers.

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While each child and case is different here are some tips I’ve found that really help keep Cash’s flair-ups to a minimum. These are especially helpful to use during the hot summer months, as heat and sweat can be HUGE triggers for most with this condition.

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  1. Bathing daily in lukewarm water. Keeping his skin clean is a huge priority, and being the active toddler he is, Cash is always getting into something or another, so bathing daily is really important. However, since his eczema is triggered by heat, we have to keep those baths very chill, literally. Our allergist also recommended keeping the baths to 10 minutes or less, because sometimes sitting in water for extended periods of time can strip the moisture out of the skin
  2. Use body lotions & soaps that are free of dyes & perfumes. This is one of the most important ones. Looking at the ingredients in what you’re putting on your child’s skin is very important. Often times a brand will advertise that it is made for treatment of eczema or that it aides with sensitive skin, but it still contains harsh perfumes that can aggravate a skin condition. Always read your labels
  3. Sweat Less. Our eczema, like many others is triggered by heat, so during the summer it’s almost impossible to avoid flair-ups. As soon as my son sweats, he starts to scratch as well, so we try to avoid being in the sun during its peak hours (12-2), and stay indoors as much as we can without being hermits. This doesn’t mean don’t have fun in the sun or enjoy time at the beach, but be mindful of how many consecutive hours you’re spending outdoors, and bring portable fans as well as hand towels covered in ice water for an all day outside adventure. Keeping cool is key. Most of the time when we are outdoors during the summer it’s in a water play type setting, ensuring Cash can have a blast, while still staying cool.                                                                                                        IMG_7640
  4. Heavily Moisturize & Cover Areas. Keeping the skin soft and hydrated is a great preventative measure to take when it comes to a flair-up. With a toddler running around all the time, it can be difficult to get him lathered up and keep that lotion from rubbing off on other surfaces. We are prescribed a steroid cream that we use when his reaction has gotten really bad, which we apply 2 times a day to the affected areas. When the bumps are not as bad, we use a perfume & dye free lotion made for eczema, and cover his trigger areas with articles of clothing. Cash’s effected areas are his feet, elbows, and behind his knees, so I generously apply the lotion after bath time, then put leggings, a long-sleeved shirt, and socks on him to make sure the areas get extra moisturized each evening. We also turn down the thermostat each night to cooler than most homes to ensure that Cash doesn’t get warm while being so covered at night.
  5. Ensure your laundry detergent is all® Free Clear.  Anything that comes in contact with the skin can cause a break out which is why it’s just as important to check your laundry detergent for dyes, harsh chemicals, and perfumes as it is your lotions and soaps. We use all® free clear, the #1 sensitive skin brand.  all® free clear helps remove 99% of everyday and seasonal allergies including cat and dog dander, dust mite matter, ragweed, grass, and tree pollen, which is great for when we let Cash spend time at the homes of relatives with animals. It’s also the #1 recommended brand detergent by Dermatologists, Allergists, and Pediatricians for Sensitive Skin, putting my mind at ease. The best part is it’s affordability and the way it fights tough stains, brightens colors and whitens whites, making it the only detergent we need for the entire family. It’s great on my clothes, the newborn’s little onesies stained by spit-up, and getting out all the smeared food/dirt Cash gets on his clothes on a daily basis.

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I also love how long lasting the detergent is! Even with a household full of laundry I typically only have to pick up one bottle a month on one of my many trips to Target!

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Keeping my children happy and healthy is my number one priority, and preventing uncomfortable itchiness for Cash is one of the ways I do so. I’m not yet sure of what skin conditions our newborn Brando may develop, but I know now ways I can prevent some of the situations we experienced with Cash with the help of all® free clear. Continue the conversation by joining the all® free clear community and connecting with parents just like you and me!

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Packing for the Hospital

What to pack for the hospital

What to pack for the hospital

Last time I had a baby I had NO IDEA (aside from recommendations on the internet) of what to pack or expect for the stay at the hospital. Going into this delivery with the knowledge of what I can expect, how long I am staying, and how I’m going to feel is making preparing for this 3-4 day stay much easier.

While I don’t EXACTLY know if I’ll be in the hospital from Mon-Wed or Mon-Thurs, at least I have a general idea of how long the stay will be. Last time James and I only lived 15 minutes from the hospital, and this time we live MUCH further away, so sending hubs back to the house to grab something I forgot isn’t really an option this time. So, after a week of really intense thinking and replaying different scenarios, I created the ultimate checklist and made it into a printable checklist for any future Mamas out there!

MAMA & BABY WHAT TO PACK FOR HOSPITAL

Keep in mind, I am a high-maintainence person, I like to look good and I personally believe that for myself, looking better helps me feel better, and feeling better helps me recover faster. I’m not ashamed or apologetic about it, but with that being said this is an OVER-prepared checklist and you may not need EVERYTHING on this list according to your lifestyle.

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For Baby: You’ll notice there are no diapers or pacifiers on this list. What no one told me when I was pregnant was that while you’re in the hospital they provide these for you! I don’t say this to be cheap, but these are included in the hospital bill regardless of whether you use them or not, so you may as well get your money’s worth! Also they have the really good NUK pacifiers (they ended up being the only ones my first son would use) which are around $5 for a set of two at any store, so why not take advantage of the free ones while you can! I also am going in with the sole intention of exclusively breast-feeding, if you plan on formula feeding, add Dr.Brown’s Anti-Colic Bottles & your formula of choice to the list, my recommendation for formula is Earth’s Best Organic, I used it with my first son after breast-feeding for only 6 weeks and he never had any issues with reflux, colic or gas!  They also provide wipes, but you have to wet them yourself and that can be extremely annoying, so I did include those on the list. -Check with the hospital you intend on delivering at to be sure of what newborn products they have on-hand as this could vary from hospital to hospital- The hospital also provides a swaddling blanket and newborn beanie, I am bringing my own from home for photography purposes, as the ones the hospital provides aren’t exactly the cutest in my book.

Mama's Hospital Check List

 

For Mama: Again I really like to feel good about myself and for me it aides in a speedier recovery, so things like curling iron & hair dryer are things you can skip out on if you don’t have the same mindset. I am also a blogger in my heart so things like the DLSR, back-up camera batteries, and laptop aren’t NECESSARY for everyone checking in to the hospital. I included our Apple TV on this list (sub that with any streaming device you have) because you spend A LOT of time in the room, and I don’t exactly have the patience to channel flip, if your hospital doesn’t have TV’s with HDMI ports, be sure to bring some of your favorite DVD’s.

Having these checklists prepared ahead of time was a huge help as far as feeling super ready for the baby. Hopefully these lists will help another mama in need of assistance organizing the chaotic mom-brain that can cloud memories those last few weeks of pregnancy!

Did I miss anything?

 

T’s crossed and I’s dotted,

B

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Throw Your Own Family Film Festival

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #DataAndAMovie #FishAndFlicks #CollectiveBias

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My family is centered around a love of cinema. When James and I first met, one of the biggest things we had in common was our love of the same movies. We used to go to the theater religiously each weekend to “help the box office stats” of the cinematic adventures we knew we would love. As we’ve adjusted into family life as parents, our trips out to the actual theater are few and far between, and we’re watching a lot more animated flicks than the black-and-white foreign features we used to.

Minor details aside not too much has changed, we still adore movies and love sharing some of our classic favorites with Cash, our son. We have a family movie night at LEAST once a week where we snuggle up on the couch, have indulgent snacks, and laugh at the latest animated flick. This time together as a family of three is absolutely incredible and I hope that Cash will remember these special treat nights as he grows up.

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Our party of 3 is soon to be a party of 4, and we’ve been trying our best to make the most of our time with just one child extra special for Cash. I want him to have memories as an only child, so he will always know how loved and special he is being our first child. Over the weekend, I put together a family film festival for us to enjoy in the comfort of our living room, and it turned out so perfect! Here are some tips for putting together your own impromptu film festival at home with a little one!

Pick Movies Everyone Will Enjoy. I mean, duh, right?! When you have a toddler it’s important to pick movies you know they will pay attention to. Make it a learning experience by picking a “theme” so all your movies will have the same scenery and similar main characters for your toddler to understand some new words & what they mean! Our theme was “Under the Sea”, so I picked out 3 films that were set in the ocean: Finding Nemo, Shark Tale, and The Little Mermaid. Cash LOVED the music in The Little Mermaid, and kept saying “turtle” “fish” and “shark”, so he’s definitely got a better grasp of ocean life now. While James may have snoozed a tad during The Little Mermaid, he really paid attention to Shark Tale, because it had some adult humor, and we all love the classic Finding Nemo!

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Have an Intermission. No kid can be expected to sit still for the entire 6 hours of a 3-film festival, so be sure to plan some fun activities in between the movies. I put together some coloring activities using our art easel, took Cash outside to splash in the sprinkler, and also had a bubble blowing break during our film festival. It was so much fun and still adhered to our festival theme! Not to mention making sure we got to get our snacks without missing any of the film!

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Make the couch comfy! The best part of a family film festival is the comfort of your own home, so prepare the living room ahead of time to meet all your needs. I broke out tons of pillows and our best most cozy blankets to ensure that everyone felt great snuggled up on the couch together.

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Don’t skimp on the concessions. I don’t know about you but the snacks at the movie theater are my favorite part! Make sure you have a fully stocked “concession stand” for your evening of entertainment. I went to Walmart to affordably stock our stand, and got some amazing treats! To fit into our film festival theme, our snack bar had to have Swedish Fish.

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I love those gummy little fish so much and so does the rest of my family! They were the perfect complement to our “Under the Sea” Festival!The Swedish fish packaging has gotten a bit of a modern makeover, but they were still super easy to find, new look same fish! I even made these little “fishbowl” mocktails with Swedish Fish for a super fun drink that matched our theme. You can make your own super cute Swedish Fishbowl Slush by simply:

  1. Adding Blue Raspberry flavored drink mix to 4 cups lemon lime soda and freezing for 30-45 min
  2. Add scoops of frozen mixture to cup, and place in a few Swedish Fish.
  3. Top cup off with lemon-lime soda & enjoy!

Swedish Fish Slushie

This “mocktail” was truly refreshing, and was enjoyable for the whole family! I don’t know which I enjoyed more, watching Cash try to get the fish out of his cup or the amazing flavor of the drink!

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Be sure to stream. While both James and I remember as children going to a video rental store, picking out a great VHS, and patiently watching all those fantastic ads before we got to our flick, technology has made things much more convenient for the kids these days! No more hitting “rewind” or even having to pop-in a DVD since we can stream movies live to our TV using VUDU & our Walmart Family Mobile PLUS plan! This makes things much easier, especially when watching movies back-to-back! Streaming movies is here for good and I couldn’t be more happy about the convenience it gives me and my family!

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The Walmart Family Mobile PLUS plan gives us unlimited talk, text, and data in addition to 10 GB of 4G LTE coverage AND a free movie on VUDU every month! With great smart phone options available in store at affordable options, this Family Mobile PLUS plan gives us everything we need in a cell service and more! At only $49.88/per line a month it’s most definitely the most affordable unlimited option around! Right now you can even score a great deal on the Walmart Family Mobile PLUS Starter Kit! The starter kits are actually cheaper now than ever before and on rollback for just $19.88! This offer lasts until July 7, so be sure to get to Walmart before then so you can save even more!

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I scored Cash this cool touchscreen, the “Coolpad Rogue”,  so he has something to play with when I need a break from entertaining him, the phone was only $19.88 on rollback, originally priced at $39.83 and well worth it. Cash is always trying to play with my phone and I’ve had to replace my fair share of shattered screens. Giving him his own phone at 2.5 may seem a little over the top, but it’s so much more affordable than having to spend $150+ to fix a broken fancy phone!  The service & signal coverage is incredible, plus not only are we saving money on this great plan, but we also get a free new release movie each month on VUDU ($7 value), making family movie nights a tradition we won’t have to sacrifice when baby number 2 gets here! To learn more, you can visit the Family Mobile Hub to find when an in-store rep will be in a store near you to assist and snag some delicious Swedish Fish samples!

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What would you theme your family film festival around? Which is your favorite part: the actual movie or the snacks?

 

We Devotin’ full time to Floatin’,

B

Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change.Please click here or check your local Walmart for current pricing.

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5 Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

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Some of the items featured in this post were gifted to me for review purposes, all opinions are my own.

It’s no secret how into the holidays I am, while I know holidays signify much more than materialistic things and it’s all about “the thought that counts”, there’s nothing more exciting than being surprised with a wonderful gift. After going through my own battles with gift-giving&recieving some rather interesting gifts for the holidays, I decided to put together a list of fun surprises mom will actually adore this Mother’s Day.

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1. A surprise tea/brunch. There’s no doubt about it, ladies love to brunch & we also love a good ol’fashioned excuse to get dolled up which is why a Mother’s Day Tea/Brunch is the perfect combo. Invite a couple of her close friends/family over (after you’ve already made sure she doesn’t have to clean up the house for their arrival), throw some champagne in OJ for them, and set out a spread of tasty treats & teas for them enjoy, while you take the kids to the park. While a made-from-scratch brunch would be fantastic, if you aren’t so good in the kitchen The East India Company offers a great selection of fancy teas & takeaways you can have delivered right to your door so you can spend extra time setting up a nice table scape for her!

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2.A great handbag. Whether she’s “into” fancy expensive purses or not, there’s no woman who would be angry if she received one as a gift. A good bag with great structure made from real leather will last a lifetime and we all love a gift with long-term functionality. If you opt to go the handbag route, look at the bags she currently has for inspiration on how the purse should look (is it a small bag she wears across the body, or a huge tote she can throw everything in?). I also recommend getting a bag in a nice neutral color that will unexpectedly go with everything such as olive, blush, mustard, or cream, that way it’ll be a special color that she can still get a ton of use out of!

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3.Adult Coloring Books. Mom needs a stress-relieving hobby more than anyone and trendy adult coloring books are a great gift idea. Grab her some colored pencils & crayons (sometimes we wanna use both), so she can enjoy coloring just as much as the kids! Vogue just released their very first coloring book for adults, Vogue Fashion A-Z, and the pictures are phenomenal. Getting to choose what color that Givenchy dress is going to be will make her feel like Anna Wintour herself!

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4.A New Fragrance. While the idea isn’t necessarily original or unique, getting that special woman in your life something that smells just as sweet as she is, is a fabulous idea. Get some help picking out the perfect fragrance from someone at Sephora to ensure you get a scent she’ll enjoy that will also match her lifestyle needs. She’ll also love that you took the extra time to pick something out personally as opposed to a gift card or cash. My personal scent love this year is Viktor&Rolf’s Flowerbomb, a light floral scent for the spring available exclusively at Sephora.

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5.A spa day at Home. Not everyone has a limitless budget to get mom exactly what she may deserve this holiday, luckily you can create an expensive spa day at home with an inexpensive trip to your local drugstore & Lush. Grab a face mask, some scented candles, a nourishing hair mask, and a couple bath bombs, to set up your own in-home spa where mom can relax and treat herself for an hour or two without interruption. Not only will she love this idea, she’ll adore that you went the extra mile to set something refreshing up for her to help her get the rest&relaxation she truly deserves without making her stress about balancing the checkbook later on!

Mother's Day Spa Basket

While any gift is appreciated, Mother’s Day is a great time to show her that everything she does for the family doesn’t go unnoticed. Turning Mother’s Day into an extraordinary way to show her that you care as opposed to throwing something together at the very last minute is a great way to make her feel as loved as much as she selflessly gives year round.

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Show her that you care,

B

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Hip Mom Hair – in 5 Minutes!

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I’ll be the first to admit I’m TERRIBLE at doing my hair. I wash and condition it every other day as recommended, but when it comes to day-to-day hairstyles, I typically just have air-dried hair with my bangs bobby-pinned to one side, and I have super thin hair, so honestly most of the time it isn’t even brushed. I say I’m going for that “messy look”, but in actuality a lot of the times it just comes off as messy and unpolished.

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In an effort to make myself feel super confident as my face starts to round from this pregnancy, and since I’m basically just wearing stretchy cotton on a daily basis now, I’ve started to put forth the extra effort to finish off my looks with cute and simple hairstyles. This is one of my favorite go-to casual hairstyles, that only takes 5 minutes to pull off and makes me look like one of the “cool” moms as opposed to the hot mess I normally am.

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All you need for this hairstyle is : 2 ponytail holders, a brush, a comb, hairspray and texturizing spray.

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First, wake up with messy hair like I do daily, then spray in your texture spray and brush it out. After you’ve brushed your hair, use the comb to part your hair all the way down the center. Once you have your hair parted, gently & loosely braid each side, securing each braid with a ponytail holder. Pull random strands of hair out of place around the frame of your face, and pull sides of each braid to loosen it more. Finally, finish off the look with a lightweight hairspray and run your hand through your bangs if you have them.

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There you have it! Cool and Hip hair that’s perfect for a music festival or an all organic picnic lunch with your little one. I love how this style slims my face, makes my eyes stand out, and feels super fun.

Braids or Platts,

B

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The Perfect Easter Basket

While I know the true reason for the season has nothing to do with a bunny leaving eggs and baskets filled with goodies around the house, I love the traditional aspects of Easter. All holidays are especially fun for me because I love any and every excuse to celebrate something, but holidays like Easter, Christmas and Valentine’s Day are especially my favorites because it gives me a chance to treat my family members to nice surprises. Everyone in my house gets a basket from the Easter Bunny, including the adults and while I know it may be a little on the childish side, it’s super fun for me to put these together and one of my favorite things to do in the spring. Here are some of the tips I’ve picked up to stuff your baskets with ease and style, in my 3 years making Easter baskets for my family.easter21.Get QUALITY baskets.

Once the fun of Easter is over, you’re left behind with this basket. It’s not holding anything at all, it’s not cute enough to use on a daily basis. You think to yourself, like MAYBE you’ll hold on to it and see if you can do something with it next year right? After a couple years of saving baskets for the next year, you’ll find that you have 10 baskets and you don’t want to use any of them again this year. This is exactly why I got REALLY nice baskets that can double as storage containers for toys, towels, toiletries, etc for this year. I found them for $3 in The One Spot at Target.

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2.Don’t JUST get candy.

I don’t want to have an endless supply of candy or risk binge eating it all one night after a depressing episode of Girls, which is why I only buy a few nicer indulgences on the sugary side. I opt for picking basket stuffers that the recipient will get use out of, but often forgets to get for themselves on a daily basis. The travel size section of any store is the BEST place to find nice items that will be appreciated that don’t cost you an arm and a leg.

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3.Make your candy last longer by stuffing it in Eggs

Another way to make sure I don’t overdo it with candy is to set small portions of candy in plastic Easter eggs and use those to take up space in a big basket. I can get 2 sharable sized bags of candy (typically 2/$3) and fill up about 20 eggs, which is plenty for an egg hunt later on and for filling our 3 Easter baskets.

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4.Get More for your Money with Non-Seasonal Candy

When you purchase your candy in the “Easter Section” of any store, you often get smaller portions or they have a slightly higher price tag, which adds up quickly. While some seasonal favorites like Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs can’t be replaced, grabbing some regular candy in the “fun size section” and “5/$5 King Size” can pay off and get you more sugar for less bread.

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To help inspire you a little more, the Easter Bunny dropped off our baskets early this year and I’m showing you what he brought each of us!

For Mommy

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Pastel Mixing Spoons, Hammonds Easter Corn, A Dozen Marshmallow Eggs, 2 Spring Notebooks, Coconut Car Fresheners, Rosemary Water Setting Mist, EOS lip balm, Up&Up Make-up Remover Wipes, Lavender Body Wash, Olay Raspberry Shower Gel, Reese’s Pieces Eggs, Fun Size Snickers with Almonds

For Daddy

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Twizzlers, AiM Flossers, Write On Notepad, Refresh Linen Auto Vent Sticks, AXE Apollo Spray, Hammonds Crisp Rice Treat Pop, Febreze Car ToGo, Coconut Air Freshener, Twilight Woods Body Lotion, Reese’s Pieces Eggs, Peppermint-N-Hemp Soap, Hershey’s Cookies’n’Creme Bar, Marshmallow Bunny Treats, Snickers with Almond Fun Size

For Baby Cash

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Bunny Balloon, Minions Coloring Book, Bunny Bubbles, Watermelon Bubble Bath, 8 pack Sidewalk Chalk, Minions Crisp Bar, Minons Fruit Candy, Yellow Bunny Peeps, Ice Cream Truck Puzzle (24 pc), Hotwheels Monster Truck, Hammonds Handmade Lollipop, Jelly Belly Kid’s Mix, 2oz Hollow Chocolate Bunny

Hope these tips help make your baskets seem bigger and your hearts fuller this Easter!

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Here Comes Peter Cottontail,

B

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Tips for Wedding Planning on a Budget (& a Whim)

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James and I have been married for almost 3 months now! Crazy how the time is flying by! We decided to get married so quickly that I didn’t have time to blog about it, so today I’m going to tell you how we planned our dream wedding in 6 weeks for $3000 total! YES, that INCLUDES the cost of the dress.

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So, to give you a little back story on why we decided to take the plunge so quickly we had at this point

-Been engaged for 18 months

-Been parents to our love child for 2 years

-Both hit a height of success on the work front

-Just found out we were expecting Baby 2

Our original plan was to have a destination wedding in San Francisco in November 2016, however we decided with another on the way we didn’t want to overspend on a wedding when we could use that same money on college funds/buying a house. So we decided to have something small, quick and fabulous at the start of the new year before I would start showing. Here’s what I did to ensure our wedding came together smoothly.

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1.Pick a Date, Make a List, and Invite Everyone

We selected Jan.2, 2016 since some of our out-of-town family would still be down here from their holiday trips. Once the date was selected we sat down and decided who was ESSENTIAL to being at the ceremony, and went ahead and let them know the date and plan so they could plan accordingly. At this point we didn’t have a location, but knowing that we’d be getting married in a local area meant that we could at least just make sure everyone had the day off until we could print invitations.

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2. Find a Venue

With a date already selected and guests tentatively invited it was time to find a venue. This was BY FAR the most difficult part of the process. Finding a venue that meets your visual goal, is within budget, with your specific date available that includes catering will make you want to pull your hair out, but it’s TOTALLY possible. Don’t settle, don’t go above your price range, don’t say “ok” to sub-par food choices and don’t change your date to work with anyone. This is your special day, and you’re spending your hard earned money, even if it’s not as much as someone else is able to spend no company should take your budget for granted or make you feel like you’re getting sub-standard services because of that. After 12 straight days of phone calls & emails & pleading for ideas on Facebook, we found our venue which including ceremony and reception space, cash bar AND gave us a CUSTOM pizza bar for our nuptials at $16 a person! If you’re in the Tampa Bay area let me HIGHLY suggest The 1930 Grande Room in Ybor.

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3. Send Invites 

There are a ton of great sites where you can design your own wedding invitations, and the great news is most of these sites offer cheap express shipping as well as email sign-up coupons. James and I had our wedding invites sent to us from Optimal Print. The day they were delivered I had them addressed and mailed out to ensure EVERYONE got their invitations at least 2 weeks ahead of time!

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4. Dress Options

As a fashion lover I was NOT about to keep it simple with my dress. I’ve been dreaming of walking down the aisle for 27 years now, and not ONCE did that dream entail a white cotton maxi dress. I considered RentTheRunway, but didn’t find any dress I really loved on there. After searching David’s Bridal and Alfred Angelo I had almost given up hope in finding an affordable dress that didn’t suck, when CiCi’s Bridal Boutique had a sample sale. Literally the first dress I tried on was the one I walked out with, it was meant to be! There were a few alterations I needed to have made because I am super short and not EXACTLY the sample size, so all in all with alterations my dress ended up being $660.

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5. Sit Back & Relax

I was one of the MOST calm brides I think I’ve ever seen. All that really mattered to me was the music (I put together the perfect iPod playlist and the venue played it with their bluetooth speakers), my attire, and having delicious food. Once those things were all taken care of I didn’t worry about the minor details. I let my mom and mother-in-law take care of the rest because they WANTED to help! They threw me an amazing bridal shower that I didn’t have to lift a finger for, they put together the flowers for my wedding and table decor, and they also picked up the wedding cake from Publix on the day of for me! This made me feel amazing on my wedding day, all I had to worry about was getting ready, it was legitimately a really relaxing day.

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Stacked Wedding Cake Publix $98.00

My wedding was a blast and I wouldn’t change a single thing if I could! I’ve watched a lot of Bridal Reality TV in my day and always just assumed it would be a stressful time for me, with the money we saved having a small, low-key wedding we were able to take a week long honeymoon to San Francisco afterwards! So if you’re contemplating a shotgun wedding, take my advice: you don’t have to settle! You can have it all on a budget!

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All photos taken by the incredible Laura Davis of Laura Davis Photo

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This post was written as part of the #marchmarriagechallenge by The Eyes of a Boy 

Little White Chapels,

B

 

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