Capture the Adventure in Your Family’s Life with the GoPro Hero! #GoProatBestBuy

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Sponsored post. I have been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card. 
I can’t believe how quickly the year has flown by. Here we are already well into October! I’ve decided I’ll be ready for Christmas this year so I’m starting my shopping now!
 
One place I know I can go when I want to find the latest cameras and camcorders is Best Buy. This year I’m super excited to check out GoPro Hero cameras for the action heroes on my shopping list and Best Buy has the full line-up!
Once I started looking into the GoPro cameras I thought of all sorts of awesome things I could use them for. There are so many places I never take my video camera for fear it would drop on the ground or get wet. GoPro to the rescue!! I’m already planning my next trips down the twisty slides or on the swing set! I think the kids will love using it while on their bikes! We can relive all of the big splashes and screams up close and in vivid color!
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These really are perfect holiday gifts for everyone. Kids and teens will love them and if you know a gadget guru they’ll be impressed by the technical specifications.
Here’s a quick run-down on the GoPro HERO line-up:
  • GoPro HERO4 Black: the most advanced GoPro ever, featuring improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates1, HERO4 Black takes award‐winning GoPro performance to a whole new level.

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  • GoPro HERO4 Silver: the first-ever GoPro to feature a built-in touch display. Controlling The camera, playing back footage and adjusting settings is ultra-convenient—just view, tap and swipe the screen. With 1080p60 and 720p120 video, and 12MP photos at a staggering 30 frames per second, HERO4 Silver combines powerful, pro-quality capture with the convenience of a touch display.

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  • GoPro HERO: Featuring high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 fps, HERO captures the same immersive footage that’s made GoPro one of the best-selling cameras in the world.
  • 12x more powerful processor with 2x faster video frame rates.

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I’m putting on a GoPro HERO4 on my Christmas list and I sure hope it shows up on December 25th. I’m excited to go out on adventures and capture the moments that bring joy to my life and a HERO4 is sure to do it beautifully!

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Learn more at www.bestbuy.com/GoPro or visit your local Best Buy to check out the latest cameras in person.

Before you break out your pumpkin recipes… Try this easy Blueberry lemonade!

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I’m just not ready to let go of summer. Even if it’s just for an afternoon of lemonade on the porch. The lemons are delicious right now. This Blueberry Lemonade was the perfect after school treat. By using blueberries, you don’t have to use as much sugar!

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 10 lemons

Roll your lemons. If you get them nice and soft before you slice them open and squeeze the juice out. This made it really easy for the kids to help squeeze too!

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Slice lemons in half. Another great tip is to slice wedges into the lemon. Makes it even easier to ensure you get all of the juice out.

 

 

 

 

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Squeeze your lemons! You should end up with a little over a cup of lemon juice. Remove seeds. Mash blueberries.

Heat water over medium heat until water starts to bubble slightly. Add sugar. Stir for a minute or two-until sugar is dissolved. Let cool a bit and then add lemon juice and mashed blueberries. Stir.

Let cool in the refrigerator.

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We added a few blueberries, a lemon garnish and a fun straw. The kids loved it!

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Fun fact: Add a bit of vodka and you have a sweet, refreshing cocktail! Make sure you sugar the rim of the glass!

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Before you go breaking out the pumpkin recipes, give this very easy recipe a try!

Are there any summer treats that are not ready to give up?

 

 

 

Homemade Moon Sand Recipe!

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Do your kids love moon sand? My kids definitely do! In addition to being good for sensory and tactile development, it is just good fun! For everyone who might not have come across it yet, it’s sand that is moldable. You can squish it into shapes using your hands or toys-kind of like perfect beach sand!

A few days ago one of my mom friends let me in on a little secret. You can make moon sand at home with just two cheap ingredients! It’s much less expensive than store-bought moon sand, it’s completely safe (it’s edible) and it’s really soft! We even put a few drops of essential oil in ours which made it smell so good.

Here is what we used:

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • A few drops essential oil (optional)

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Just blend together adding the vegetable oil a little at a time, stopping when you like the consistency. We used the full cup.

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Mix and add a few drops of essential oils if you would like. You should be ready to go!

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The kids had a lot of fun with our kitchen toys. The play “sand” was great for making ice cream. Next time I think we will get the dump trucks out and make an excavation site!

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Why is sensory play so important? Kids are drawn towards sensory experiences. That is the way they learn about their environment. Babies and toddlers constantly put things in their mouths-I know mine did! This stimulates senses and allows them to be able to identify objects in the future, differentiating between different attributes-temperature, texture, color, taste and more. Playing with things like moon sand, play doh, water, etc. also allows them to build fine motor skills too!

What other “sensory” activities do you like to do with your kids?

Roman Meal Bread: Baked Fresh Locally! Delish Recipes & Giveaway!

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I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Roman Meal. I received product samples to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Now that the kids are back at school and I only have to feed myself at lunch, I find myself skipping lunch and then snacking on a long list of things that are far from healthy. I’m not saying that a small mixing bowl of “sugar cereal” in delicious silence can be magical, but on the average a healthy, delicious sandwich on homemade bread sounds amazing!

I definitely don’t have time to make my own bread every week, so I’m really glad that Roman Meal bakes their bread daily at 90+ regional bakeries. It is delivered fresh to my local grocery store-it’s never frozen! Roman Meal is a favorite of the whole family, kids included! I’m not about to tell them it’s  packed with whole grains in addition to being light, soft and tasty! Whole wheat, whole rye, wheat bran, wheat germ, flaxmeal and a bit of honey and molasses make it so good. Just two pieces of Roman Meal (one serving size) has 21 grams of whole grain-thats 40% of the USDA’s recommended 48 grams of whole grain/day. It also is a great source of calcium, vitamin D and fiber. All of this good stuff may reduce the risk of heart disease, help with weight management and aid in digestion.

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It might look a little funny, but trust me. It’s delicious and it’s excellent for you! I made it in a matter of minutes too! Just look how easy it was:

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Recipe Card

Roman Meal makes it easy with an amazing list of recipes on the website. Here are a few that will be on our table this week!

Whole Grain Peach Cobbler

Fresh Peach & Nectarine Whole Grain Cobbler looks like the perfect dessert for the end of summer.

Stuffed Tomatoes

Can you believe the Chicken Sausage & Whole Grain Stuffed Tomatoes take only 15 minutes of prep?

Turkey Brie Grilled Cheese

The Turkey & Brie Grilled Cheese would make for a decadent picnic while the weather is still warm!

Strawberry Chicken Sandwich

I think the Strawberry & Balsamic Grilled Chicken Sandwiches might just be a new favorite of mine! What a combination!

Did you know that September is Whole Grains Month? Improve your diet when you “Make The Switch” to healthy whole grain meals. Get more info from Whole Grain Council website and check out the delicious recipes on the “Simple Meals” pinterest board.

Be sure to follow Roman Meal on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest news and promotions!

Save $1 on your next loaf of Roman Meal Bread

When you sign up for the Roman Meal Bread e-newsletter, you will get a $1 off coupon every time you receive one. You can sign up for the Roman Meal newsletter here.

Enter the Roman Meal Baked Fresh Sweepstakes

From now until September 30th, you can enter to win a $2500 cash prize on the Roman Meal Facebook page. Many will also win free bread coupons. Just for entering you will receive a $1 off coupon!

Giveaway: Enter below to win coupons for FREE Roman Meal Bread!

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We All Have Our Own #Combos4Success! But Red Crocs & White Socks?

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I would say that my man is pretty normal. His fave food pairing-nachos and beer. He packs his sunblock and frisbee when he gets to take a longer lunch break from work. He likes to start his morning with coffee and almond milk. (He switched when I did a few months ago.) But for the last few months, I’ve noticed a rather interesting and persistent combo that I’m not sure I should even tell anyone about. Okay, fine… here it is: my man loves tall white socks and BRIGHT RED crocs! Now, he only does this in or around the house (although sometimes to the mailbox). But I’m pretty sure he knows that this is something better kept under wraps.

When this strange crocs-socks relationship came to my attention, I NEVER in a million years thought it was useful for anything besides the occasional loving harassment. But here I am, telling you about it. Annnnnd in case you need a visual, here he is, unabashedly having morning coffee in his stylin’ combo!

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We all have our own favorite combos! They might be particularly delicious, make us feel successful or they just might make perfect sense to us personally. Did you know that 35% of guys ages 18-35 recently polled by Old Spice said that they could eat bacon and eggs forever if stranded on a desert island? Here are some of my other favorite findings:

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Old Spice has been a favorite for decades now! It might even be called the manliest grooming brand in this whole world! Layering is key. Old Spice anti-perspirant and deodorant, body wash + 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner is sure to make him smell amazing and fresh, while bringing out his inner stallion!

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As you can see here even against the worst odds, you really can’t go wrong:

If you’d like to see a bit more of what Old Spice can do for you, check all the hilarious spots out on the Old Spice YouTube channel!

Now you need to get your man smelling all irresistible (even if he insists on wearing brightly colored man-clogs) with a coupon for Old Spice deodorant + body wash and other products at: http://bit.ly/oldspicecoupons! Hurry! Coupons expire 9/30/14!

Old Spice is social! Check them out on:

This post was made possible by Double Duty Divas and Old Spice. I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions are 100% mine.

Family Game Night with Q’s Race to the Top Board Game!

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“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and EQtainment, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia  #Qsracetothetop http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Family game night is a really cool thing. Both my husband and I fondly recall evenings spent around the dining room table or sprawled out on the furniture and floor of our childhood homes playing cards and board games. It is a tradition we’ve carried forth into our little family on a weekly basis and our kids love it! Our newest favorite is Q’s Race To The Top Board Game from EQtainment

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Q is a monkey who lives with the Wunder family. He has a couple human siblings and he fits somewhere in the middle. The players get a Q monkey playing piece and move Q around the board. The board is made up of red, blue and green squares and each color corresponds to a stack of cards.

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The blue cards are YOU cards. They are questions about you that help the player practice manners, creative thinking and communication skills. The green cards are Q cards that allow you advise Q on what he should do in social situations. The red cards are DO cards full of silly actions that let you practice and balance and coordination both individually and as a team. We have had some good conversations as a family with some of the blue and green cards. One of my favorites was when Trevor, our 6 year old, drew a blue YOU card that asked “What is the best thing that could ever happen?”

We let everybody take a turn that wants to and his sister Kaytie said “Cheese, just cheese” in the most matter of fact voice a three year old who eats blue cheese plain could muster. Another was a green Q card that said “Q doesn’t like cleaning up his toys. Can you think of some ways to make cleaning up more fun?”. Maddy spent several minutes explaining the rules of “Clean Up Fairies”. From what I can tell she basically wants to recruit the younger two to do about half her work in exchange for her loaning them fairy bracelets and make-up. She is definitely the oldest child! And everybody loves the red cards!

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Pretty cool, right?!? In case you didn’t notice Q’s Race to the Top is educational. Not just in the regular board game ways of counting and reading. Q aims to teach kids Emotional Intelligence. “Emotional intelligence includes: reading social cues, self-motivation, delaying gratification, coping with life’s up and downs, managing relationships, decision making, and problem solving.”

Q is the creation of Sofia Dickens, a momprenuer of three. She learned about Emotional Intelligence at Harvard and she thinks there’s a perception that teaching EQ (emotional intelligence) is complicated and requires a specialist, which results in only elite schools in wealthy areas exposing kids to EQ training. But the truth is, the fundamental principles of EQ are simple and just require practice and repetition”. Sofia created Q as a way to bring EQ to your house. As your family plays Q’s Race to the Top your kids will be gaining valuable practice role-playing social situations and thinking about behavioral choices. My kids love the game and I love that I get to hear their thoughts on things.

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My husband and I really relate to so many of the cards that get the kids to talk about sleep issues, how to deal with bullies and everyday stuff like when its okay to cry. We’ve had some great conversations with our kids that we might have otherwise missed thanks to Q. Allow me to indulge my sappiness for just a moment. These times are totally precious. I am always surprised each time one of our three has a birthday. Another year past… Anything that gets more shared moments and windows into their minds is something I’ll sign up for.

Q is currently in a Kickstarter campaign for the first manufacturing run. Sofia has tons of information about the creation of Q and her various partners including Brandon Jeffords, head of story for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 and Debbie Sterling, CEO of GoldieBloxx. Her goals don’t just stop with funding the game, she aims to bring Q to life with animated videos, a series of stories and interactive apps. The expected delivery for the Q Kickstarter campaign is December 2014 so you can get your Christmas shopping done early! The entry donor level for the Kickstarter is $5, you can get a discount on the game for $30 or the game shipped to your door for $40 if you are an early backer in Q’s Kickstarter!

Finally Help for My Skin with Silk’n Blue Light Device! #SilknProducts

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I participated in a review on behalf of Mom Central for Silk’n. I received information and a Silk’n Blue to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions are honest and my own.

I’ve loved everything Melissa has let me have a go at writing about for her blog. But this review is one I am super excited about! But it’s really not that easy for me to talk about, but I know it will help a lot of people just like me!

I think I should start from the beginning. I was a tall, gangly, excited pre-teen ready to start middle school! I had my really stylin’ (read: really frizzy and awful) perm and flipped out bangs along with my B.U.M. sweatshirts. First few months of school were great. And then my skin started breaking out. I was devastated! Remember those Clearasil pads? Tried those. the bright orange Neutrogena wash? No luck. I even had a long list of home remedies including tea tree oil-ouch! I had better luck with some than with others-but nothing helped completely.

I couldn’t wait for my twenties. I was certain I would be out of the weird adolescent acne phase, right? Nope. A full-time job and a full load of classes and now it was stress breakouts! I’m sure the late study nights and lack of nutrition didn’t help. So, then I told myself it was my mid-twenties. I would have flawless skin then, right? Ugh… NO! Pregnancy, and another and another. But after the hormonal roller-coaster… I would have impossibly flawless skin. Finally? Adult acne. I have it. It tends to come and go with stress and monthly hormones, but it is either present, or right around the corner.

Things I have tried: acne creams, scrubs, masks. A short stint on antibiotics and then I got really desperate and tried Accutane-it came right back. A few days on Proactiv and I had what felt like a painful sunburn. Such difficult, frustrating skin. It takes a toll on your self-esteem. No matter how old you are. I do run my kids to the library without makeup, but it would be so nice to not have that feeling that people are staring. It’s been hard to say the least.

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Now in my mid-thirties, I finally found Silk’n Blue! And it makes a really, really big difference! It’s like nothing I have tried before. It’s gentle and it WORKS for me. I use it once or twice a day depending on the current state of my skin. Three to five minutes on each area. I spend a total of about 10-15 minutes on my face.

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Check the Silk’n Blue out in action!

So what is this magic machine?

It’s a hand-held device that gives out a fractional blue light-the same that a dermatologist would use. It has a temperature sensor so it doesn’t get too warm on your skin. Very important for those with sensitive skin!

What can it do for you?

It neutralizes the bacteria that causes acne! It stops it in its tracks! No treating with creams AFTER you have breakouts. It prevents them. I saw results in about a week of steady use, but Silk’n says that the best results are seen in anywhere from 3-7 weeks.

Why is it better than other methods?

Silk’n is clinically proven and recommended by dermatologists. It’s natural-you don’t have to put harmful drugs into your body. You don’t risk drying out your skin-or burning it like me! It destroys bacteria and prevents future breakouts. And of course, it’s FDA approved and Health Canada cleared.

The Silk’n website gives you a page of amazing before and after pictures. Here is an example of what differences it can make in a matter of just six months:

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There are a few conditions that the Silk’n Blue should not be used on: eczema, psoriasis, lesions, open wounds, active infections (such as cold sores) and abnormal skin conditions.

It is also not recommended without consulting a physician if you are currently on AHA, BHA, Reitn-A, topical retinoids or azelaic acid. If you have been treated with Accutane in the past six months or have a history of herpes outbreaks in the area that you would like to treat.

I would highly recommend trying the Silk’n Blue out if you have a history of skin issues that is anything like mine! I look and feel so much better. My skin is visibly smoother with only the occasional breakout. The pores are smaller and all of this without over-drying or making my skin red, itchy or tight-feeling. I can use a cleanser for normal skin types and never have patches of dryness. The difference is incredible! Drink lots of water and try Silk’n Blue!

Right now, you can get an additional 20% off by using the coupon code EXTRATWENTY until Sept 30, 2014!

 

You can follow Silk’n for all of the latest product information and healthy skin tips:

I was provided a Silk’n Blue to facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Benefits of Almond Milk are Amazing! #SilkAlmondBlends Lemon Blueberry Smoothies Recipe #cbias #Shop

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

Lemon Blueberry AlmondMilk Smoothies #SilkAlmondBlends #shop #cbias

It was just three and a half years ago that our daughter was born. When she started drinking milk we noticed something went wrong. She was miserable! After much reading, speaking to her pediatrician and then cutting milk products out-we knew she had a milk allergy. That’s when we started trying all the milk alternatives we could find. By far the best tasting and healthiest ones were almond and coconut milk. And I liked it so much that I switched too! It was easy once we found some great almond milk recipes!

Thank you #CollectiveBias and #SilkAlmondBlends for the fun afternoon of making and enjoying delicious smoothies. I’m going to love telling you all about it!

This week we experimented with blueberries. They are in season and so yummy right now! Blueberries and lemon sounded like the perfect summer treat.

I found some NEW Silk Blends at Safeway, Almond and Coconut milk and AlmondMilk Protein & Fiber!

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A few more ingredients and a hot summer afternoon and it was the perfect smoothie making time!

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I made some smoothies with the Silk Almond Coconut milk and some with the AlmondMilk Protein & Fiber.

The Almond Coconut Blend is packed full of good stuff-so many nutritional benefits:

• 50 calories per serving
• 50% more calcium than dairy milk
• Excellent source of vitamin E
• Absolutely no cholesterol
• Free of dairy, lactose, gluten, casein, egg and MSG
• Enrolled in the Non-GMO Project’s product verification program
• No artificial colors, flavors or funny business

And the Protein & Fiber blend of AlmondMilk nutritional benefits are just what my husband and I need daily:

• 50% more calcium than dairy milk2
• Good source of protein
• Excellent source of fiber
• Excellent source of vitamin E
• Absolutely no cholesterol or saturated fat
• Free of dairy, lactose, gluten, soy, casein, egg and MSG
• Enrolled in the Non-GMO Project’s product verification program
• No artificial colors, flavors or funny business

The lemon blueberry smoothies were wonderful! If you could put summer in a cup, it would be this!

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Lemon Blueberry AlmondMilk Smoothies

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The kids loved them too. Each had a big 12 ounce glass and asked for more!

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Pick up some fresh blueberries; you have to try these smoothies this summer!
AlmondMilk Recipe CardBe sure to follow Silk on Facebook for tasty recipes ideas and the Silk website to be the first to hear about delicious new products!

Besides cool treats, what else does your family do to stay cool when the weather gets hot?

DIY Height Chart: They are Growing Like Weeds, Make Sure You Save Those Memories!

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My brother and I lived in the same house for the first ten or so years of our lives. My dad had a door frame that he would mark our growth on our birthdays and sometimes after summers where we would hit one of those painful growth spurts. I can still feel my knees ache!

I remember trying to stand so tall to outdo my brother! Side note: we still do this. My brother is 5′ 11″ and I’m 5″10… but I’ve got the benefits of generally higher heels and hair that usually gives a bit of height. So the battle goes on.

Back to childhood and our door frame that held so much sentimental info-

We moved. And dad had to transfer all of our measurements onto a piece of paper kind of like a calculator tape. Then we moved again and again. He kept it rolled up carefully in his sock drawer. Knowing my life, I wanted to make sure that I had something a little bit more sturdy (especially given my track record of losing important pieces of paper) to keep track of my growing kidlets.

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I decided to to use a thicker length of wood- a 1″ x 6″ x 6′ piece of mdf. We started 6″ from the floor and measured up from the floor to make sure the the measurements would remain correct. Also, this gives us a few inches above 6′ mark, just in case we end up with some basketballers on our little team!

I did experiment a bit in the process of creating this chart. After spraying the board with an off-white spray paint, I used permanent markers to do the inch marks and then sprayed it with a clear coat. DON’T DO THIS! Whatever combination I used ended up making the black lines run. Which was terrible after working so hard to make them exact.

So I started again. A new piece of wood and I sprayed it again with the off white. Using my well-worn sewing tape (well worn by my mom-not myself) I added my inch marks.

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Now, here’s a secret that I learned from MUCH research on pinterest. Black nail polish! It’s not perfect-you can get little strips of black vinyl tape if you would like that-but I didn’t want to chance them coming off. So nail polish it was for my chart:

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On my other board I did a lot of ornate painting, with multicolors and filled it with flowers and different finishes of paint. But after adding the heights that I have been keeping track of in a book, it was WAY too much. I needed to keep it a bit more conservative. So, I actually went with grey 6″ numbers and hit them with a light grit sandpaper.

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The  paint was a light dove grey and a darker gunmetal grey around the edges of the numbers to add some dimension.

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Then I pre-drilled holes on the top and bottom of the board for hanging.

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And then we hung it on a stud in our bedroom. This chart will soon be full of names and dates. I can’t wait. Seeing my babies grow has been one of the most incredible experiences. Sometimes you don’t even notice until their socks are showing under their pants! I’m so happy to finally get this done. Tomorrow I will start adding all of the measurements we have written down over the years!

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Do you have a height chart for your kids? Do you just measure on their birthdays or at random times during the years? Tell me what I can do to give my chart a tiny bit of “umpf” but not too much to make it cluttered when I finally get all three kids’ measurements up? Any ideas?

 

 

 

#Orajel Has Our Family Covered at Every Stage! Vote for Your Favorite Captured #Smilestones Moment! #AD

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Orajel Kids.

I’m not sure about what goes down at your house but I’m pretty sure it is a lot like mine. We spend a lot of time dealing with tiny teeth! First, we had the magical two-toothed grins, and moved right into teaching the importance of brushing big kid teeth! Orajel has been with us for all of our #Smilestones!
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Teething was M-I-S-E-R-A-B-L-E for our kids. I’m not exaggerating.  Our third baby, Kayte, had the hardest time teething. She went from a happy little three month old to a really sad 4 month old. We had the experience of helping two other kids through their teething years, but we weren’t prepared for anything like this. Hard to believe this is the same baby!

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We tried everything from those rings that you put in the freezer to frozen fruit. Tylenol helped, but we definitely didn’t want to be giving it to her every day. We don’t put just anything in our kids. We really try to minimize the medication our children are given. One thing we really felt comfortable with is the ingredients from Orajel. It really works and it definitely passed the taste test. The original Baby Orajel helped bring her sweet smile back!

It’s hard to believe, now the kids are brushing (mostly) on their own!

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You can even get Baby Orajel in Homeopathic Teething Pain Relief. The ingredients are natural, it is even dye-free! The New Baby Orajel Naturals Nighttime Teething Gel will be part of every single baby shower gift basket I put together from now on!

As soon as the teeth started coming in we realized we needed to go from just wiping their gums to brushing those pearly whites. Orajel makes a tasty line of toothpaste, starting with a non-flouride version for the little ones right on up to big kids toothpaste. The flavors of the toothpaste are great, one guilty pleasure was running out of toothpaste and having to borrow the kid toothpaste. It tastes great plus the packaging is labeled with some of our favorite television characters like Thomas the Train, Sesame Street and My Little Pony. The kids all just love it!

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You can also get toothbrushes that match the toothpaste. The bristles are super soft and just the right size for a little mouth. Orajel makes a contoured handle that fits well in a small hand and that makes a big difference. Our kids are all learning proper oral hygiene and the right brush helps them do it by themselves! We still double check , as our dentist recommends, just to be safe.

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We had a special song that we sang with our kids so they knew how long to brush. What things did you do to teach your children to brush their teeth?

Be sure to vote for your favorite in the Orajel Smilestones photo contest! They will win a trip for a family of four to Beaches Resorts. Voting opens tomorrow Friday, June 27th, so be sure to vote for your favorite!

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Orajel Kids.

Do you Suffer from Car Insurance Confusion? Compare Auto Insurance with Autoinsurance.com! #Compare2Win #shop #CBias

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I am a member of the Collective Bias Social Fabric® Community.  Collective Bias has provided me with compensation for my time and effort to evaluate this website.  Participation in this program is voluntary. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.

Shopping for car insurance can be hard. You either have to comb the internet and navigate individual insurance websites hoping that the car insurance rates that you are quoted are what they will give you when you actually sign up. It’s hard to get an accurate car insurance comparison. I have had quite a history of cars and at times a driving record that was a bit questionable in my early twenties. It seemed that I was just hoping that I had the right policy with the right coverages from the right company.

I guess it all started with my first car, a ’76 Buick Riviera. It didn’t have a functioning air-conditioner or radio but who doesn’t love a battery-run boom-box in the backseat? I turtle-waxed the heck out of that weatherworn hood! But I was 16 and it was freedom! My friends and I called it the bat-mobile. It looked a little like this:

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Car ownership was awesome! I had a $50 car payment of which my favorite aunt was the lien holder and I paid about $30 of my parent’s car insurance premium. My friends and I drove around town with no particular destination in mind-but it was amazing!

Fast-forward to age 18. I moved out, started college and this is when bills started rolling in. It was kind of crazy that it was this point in time that I started driving faster, and racked up a few expensive tickets. With those tickets came a sharp spike in my car insurance bill!

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My insurance was as much as the car payment to begin with, but why not make challenges worthwhile, right? Soon I had an insurance policy that was 150% of my monthly car payment. Besides being smarter about driving, I wish I had know about shopping around for car insurance!

Fifteen years later things are much different. We have older cars, are in our thirties with a family and all of our tickets have thankfully dropped off our records!

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I shop the sales, use coupons when I can and I shop around for the best deals. In the last few years I have read a lot about what to look for in car insurance and policies. You have to consider many questions and a lot of these are not black and white. Here are some I have thought about carefully before deciding on a company and an insurance policy:

  • Is your deductible right for you? Don’t just stay with what you have always have had-consider your individual situation. Increasing the amount you will pay for fender-benders will decrease what you pay monthly. You will have to decide at which point this should even out. If you’re a relatively safe driver with a good record, you might want to save some money by opting for a higher deductible. If the threat of a larger deductible bothers you, you can put the money aside in case you have to offset the cost in the event of an accident.
  • I have always been asked how many miles I drive yearly in each vehicle. I estimated, but I didn’t know what the numbers really meant to the insurance companies. What was considered a lot of miles? It turns out anything under 7,500 miles is considered low, and 13,000 is a medium amount. My husband works from home so our smaller car doesn’t get many annual miles-last year it was just 5,000. But our SUV for taxiing kids spent 11,000 miles on the road. Twice as much. Make sure you update these numbers if your situations change, such as taking a job closer to home.
  • A little lesson in car insurance talk: Comprehensive coverage pays for the repair or replacement of damage not caused in an accident, and collision coverage covers damages incurred in a car wreck. If you took a car loan, you are required to have both. Once you pay your car off, consider what coverage you will really want. We don’t owe on our cars (granted they are 10 & 11 years old!) but I am not a risk taker. It is worth it to me to have both-I don’t want to worry about vandalism, storms-we get A LOT of hail in our area for some reason-or even theft.

Check out the diagram below that gives you an overview. Keep in mind that there may be different options available in your state.

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I recently went to Autoinsurance.com to review car insurance options that were available to us in our current situation. I typed in both my and my husband’s information and a few questions about our driving records and insurance history. Keep in mind that currently only Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi have full functionality on Autoinsurance.com.

What is Autoinsurance.com? It’s an independently operated website where you can search, compare and purchase auto insurance directly through the website or by phone with one of their licensed agents. You can change your coverage and see how adjusting these numbers impact what you pay. The information is accurate, up-to-date and the final price you will pay. You can just look and compare if you want to-there is no obligation to purchase. Currently, you can compare rates from up to six top national carriers: Progressive, Travelers, Esurance, 21st Century, The General and Safeco.

Within five minutes they were calculating our Quote Results. It would have been even faster if I had used the website’s functionality to retrieve my current auto insurance policy info instead of typing it in manually.

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They gave me quotes from FIVE companies with the same coverages that I had now.  I didn’t have to go to the websites of each insurance company and duplicate all of my information which would be time consuming and just plain frustrating. And as it turns out, two of the five had LOWER premiums than what we currently were paying! I don’t want to even think about how much we could have saved after ten years with the same company!

I’m so glad that I spent just five minutes to #Compare2Win in car insurance. Thank you #CollectiveBias for letting me know about what Autoinsurance.com has to offer!

Be sure to follow Autoinsurance on Facebook and Twitter for all of the latest car insurance info and tips. 

I was compensated for promotion of this site on the Sippy Cup Mom blog. But as always, all opinions are honest and my own. 

Create an Outdoor Oasis with Pier 1 {Win a $25 Gift Card to Get Started!} #Pier1OutdoorParty #Sponsored #MC

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I participated in this campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting  for Pier 1 Imports. I received a gift card to facilitate my review and to thank me for participating. As always, all opinions are honest and my own. 

It was about two weeks before our Outdoor Oasis cocktail party. Before the kids woke up, coffee in hand, my husband and I headed outside to make our “pre-party to do list.” Wow! Winter neglect had taken it’s toll on our yard! Our list was long, but we were determined. In the next ten days we weeded, edged, pruned roses, spread bark dust and refinished the deck. And then… the BEST part! A trip to Pier 1‘s Outdoor Department!

I think I spent so much time in Pier 1’s incredible Outdoor Collection department that I tired the family out. Thank goodness there was no lack of comfortable (and stylish!) seating for my little guy!

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There was so much to see! Just look at these colors!

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We now had a plan for turning our deck and backyard into an Outdoor Oasis with some fun, unique items purchased from the store or ordered from Pier1.com

The guest list was actually very easy. We live in an amazing neighborhood. It’s full of families much like ours. Our kids play in the cul-de-sac together, we have a pinewood derby every Fourth of July, progressive dinner parties in the winter months and just about every weekend we gather on each other’s porches or backyards to have a glass of wine and talk about our day.

After some loving labor in the yard, setting up was so much fun! My husband hung the beautiful Sunburst Lantern and I set up the lights under the umbrella and the freshly picked flowers under the table.

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The Mediterranean Tile Umbrella has a bright tile pattern that is colorfast and water-repellant. It has a super easy pulley design and a gorgeous eucalyptus pole. It comes with it’s own matching tote for storage. I love it when style and convenience come in one lovely drawstring package!

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We decided on an after dinner cocktail party just before dusk. Food and drinks needed to stay easy so we could enjoy the company: strawberry bellinis, lemon mint water and a new bruschetta recipe that I have been wanting to try for a while now. Sweet basil from my own garden, soft mozzarella from a local dairy and some rich cherry tomatoes-absolutely delicious!

The turquoise Tail & Fins Fish Bowl was gorgeous with some bright, fresh lemons and went beautifully with the Oceans Filled Candle and Colbalt Rim Pitcher. They gave the party a fun oceanside feeling.

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The Stacking Armchairs are made from all weather whicker and a sturdy iron frame. I love how light-weight and comfortable they are-and they come in a rainbow of colors. Eleven actually. It would be super easy to find a color that goes with your existing outdoor furniture! And did you notice the word “stackable”? Yes! Less storage space needed when we put the furniture away for the snowy months.

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Our small table was originally a humdrum forest green color, and older than two of my children! A bit of spray paint that matched the chairs perfectly and suddenly I had a beautiful, complementary color theme of purples, blues and turquoise.

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After some drinks and appetizers, we broke out the bright Bocce Ball set from Pier 1. It was a fun game and didn’t take much space-perfect for our smaller backyard.

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Our Outdoor Oasis party was a hit! It was an easy relaxing get-together with some of our favorite people. The food and drinks were light and delicious and the deck was transformed into a comfortable party area with just a few key pieces of furniture and decor. We will definitely be gathering together in this fun new space many more times on warm weekend nights this summer!

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After our friends taken the short walks back to their homes and our kids were tucked into beds, my husband and I enjoyed a drink together. The light as the sun went down was perfect, so I couldn’t help but snap a few more pictures.

The Arabella Garden Stool was one of my favorite purchases. The blue is rich and the cutout pattern is elegant and the height is perfect for a stool, a side table, a plant stand-move it around to be whatever your occasion calls for.

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The Clear Sunburst Hanging Floor Lantern was amazing in the twilight. Because we have kids, we will use the battery operated candles, but they would be incredible with flickering candles too!

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 Did you know that you can now order from Pier 1’s website? Associates will join in the fun as you mix and match items when you purchase in-store or you can order online from the comfort of your couch! Pick the items up at your local store or have them delivered directly to you. You can have furniture and large items delivered right to your door in 1-3 weeks.

Don’t forget to think about Pier 1 for gifting too. Hostesses might love a fun and practical gift that can be used at the party! I know I would!

What would you like to do with your outdoor living space? Would you make it an elegant alfresco space perfect for relaxing? A bright, trendy place for an outdoor cocktail party? Or would you create an area with seaside hues and a coastal feel?

Hurry over and check out the Outdoor Collection for inspiration because Pier 1 wants to give you a $25 Gift Card to start creating your own Outdoor Oasis party!

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Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat Review

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Seven years ago we moved. Our old house had a programmable thermostat, meaning we could set a schedule for heating and cooling. It certainly wasn’t easy and I griped all the time when I would have to change the schedule. Well, I had no idea how much I would miss it. The new house had a super basic thermostat. I had to manually switch from heating to cooling mode and zero scheduling.


A couple weeks ago I received a box in the mail from Honeywell. Inside was one Honeywell Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat. This thing is literally changing my life.

 

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The first feature that caught my eye is the locking screen. That’s right, no more kids turning the heat up… to 95. I’m not kidding, this happened multiple times with the old one. Now I can lock them out until they are old enough to understand that one or two degrees makes a world of difference!


With that I was sold. I proceeded with the installation. Honeywell has all sorts of help available if you aren’t mechanically inclined. The thermostat includes instructions in the box. If these aren’t enough to get you going you can even watch installation videos online.


 My husband and I did it as a team so I could take pictures of his handiwork. The first thing we did was turn off the breaker to the heating and cooling systems. Don’t forget to do that!! Removing the old thermostat was a snap and we were compatible so we proceeded. We were unable to re-use the current mounting anchors so we removed them, spackled the holes and painted the area where the old thermostat covered. We assisted the drying process by using a quick-dry spackle and also a hair dryer for both the spackle and paint. That was the most time-consuming part of the entire installation! Next we lined up the new holes using the new baseplate as a template. We used a level to ensure the thermostat would look great on the wall.


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A couple minutes later we had a wired and installed thermostat. We turned the breaker back on, completed several setup steps on the thermostat screen and had a working thermostat.


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The first thing we did was customize the color. With so many options to choose from we had a tough time but eventually settled on Emerald! It looks sharp with the colors in our house.


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Suddenly I realized I haven’t set a heating and cooling schedule in seven years and had no idea what times the house temperature needed to change. Honeywell to the rescue! This thing is named Smart Thermostat for a reason. It pays attention to overrides and will learn what you really want the temperature to be and adjust the schedule accordingly. That’s amazing!


Don’t forget the Wi-Fi in the name. That’s right, it hooks up to your home wireless network. There’s a good reason too. You can download an app for your Android or iPhone and control the temperature from your phone. So if you are out and about and realize you aren’t coming home you can put a temporary hold on the temperature or if you are coming home early you can make sure the house is a comfortable temperature for your return!


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Be sure to follow Honeywell on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and  Youtube.


I love being able to control the temperature that we are coming home to with my phone! What feature would you like best about this amazing thermostat?




I received the product mentioned above to facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and my own.

thinkThin Bars: Review & Giveaway!

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If I don’t watch it, I snack all. Day. Long. It doesn’t matter if I’m at home with the kids or running errands all day-I manage to snack, and they are not always healthy. For me, there is just something natural about seeing a bag of pretzels and taking a handful as I’m walking upstairs to switch the laundry. If the kids don’t finish the crackers and string cheese that I gave them for a snack-they’re mine. And when they go to bed, I like to relax with something to munch on and it usually falls under the category of “comfort food.” My habits are not good.

Enough with the confession.

I’ve been trying to do better! For the last few weeks, I’ve been leaving a jar of almonds on the counter. And I make sure to have an orange with me so I don’t hit the concession stand during my kids’ softball games. I’ve found something that would be great to keep in my bag or in the cabinet, and they can actually be described as a treat!

A few weeks ago, thinkThin sent me a selection of their high protein bars, crunch nut bars and a few other varieties. They were good! I ended up finding a few additional flavors because I wanted to try more!

High Protein Fiber Milk Chocolate Toffee Almond Bar   thinkThin Protein Bars   thinkThin®The thinkThin Lean Protein & Fiber bars have 10g of protein. The CDC recommends that women ages 19-70 get 46 grams of protein a day. One of these bars gets us well on our way to that number. In addition to keeping my protein intake up, I’ve been trying to shed some pounds lately and thinkThin fit the nutritional bill as a “guiltless” indulgence for me. These will make it much easier to snack healthier.

Here is what I had for snacks yesterday:

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My husband and I split the two thinkThin bars. He’s a fan too!

So, how do they taste? I’ve tried a lot of protein bars in the past. A LOT of them either taste like cardboard or the box says they are “protein bars” but the nutritional content info on the back tells another story altogether! A few thinkThin bars were not my preference, but there were some really great flavors!

The two bars pictured above are the Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein bar and the Coconut Chocolate Mixed Nuts Crunch bar. These were great!

The Creamy Peanut Butter bar had a nice smooth texture. The center was filled with soft, creamy peanut butter and the outside was wrapped in milk chocolate. The bar had a great flavor-no chalky bland taste here! The chocolate tasted rich-one of the best chocolates I have had on a protein bar. But get this- 20 grams of protein and NO sugar! I’m not kidding.

On the right we have the Coconut Chocolate Mixed Nuts Crunch bar. Almonds, peanuts and cashews are dipped in chocolate and then comes the coconut. How can this bar not be good, right? I’m not a big nut fan, but I really loved this combination. The bar had a nice crunch to it. The coconut was moist and the bar was very flavorful!

The crunchy Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts bar was our other favorite. It has 190 calories, 8g protein, 4g fiber and 6g sugar. I wanted to give you a close-up of the chocolate and nutty (almonds, peanuts and cashews) goodness you will be getting:

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All of the bars were filling. They kept me from mindless snacking and my appetite in check. If you’re trying to watch your diet, you should try a few thinkThin flavors and see what you like. With the amazing protein content, good fiber, low or no sugar and less than 200 calories-these are a great way to satisfy a craving!

Be sure to follow thinkThin on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for all the latest news and product info!

Do you want to win a nice assortment of thinkThin bars and a $25 gift card to use towards a cute new outfit for summer? 

 

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Disclosure: I received the above products for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

 

Birthday Parties with Subway Catering! Order NOW & get $10 off at Party City!

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I have no idea why, but kids birthday parties are some of the most stressful events that I have put together. Especially when there are both kids and adults to entertain. Subway Catering and Party City made my daughter’s last party much easier and I am never throwing another birthday without them again. I was able to set up the party and then enjoy it with her!

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First off, the decor! My daughter is a creative, out-of-the-box kid. In past years she has requested: a pirate/garden party, a bug/snowflake party and last year she had an ice cream/super hero/Rapunzel party. As you can imagine it was a bit crazy trying to make those combos work! She has no lack of imagination!

This year, I was pretty happy (and relieved) when she told me that she wanted a princess/crafting/tea party. I could do that!

We sat down and went through the Party City website. They have a huge variety of party themes with bright colors and fun patterns. They also have costumes at great prices (mental note to come back in October)! Party City even has a section for party ideas if you need a little inspiration.

It took her just seconds to fall in love with the wildly adorable Pink & Zebra theme! Once she saw this personalized balloon bouquet, her decision was made!

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Now we needed to feed the ten rowdy kids and a few of the kind-hearted parents that stayed to help me with the craft-making stations.

Subway Catering has a ton of different options: Party Platters & Trays, Giant Subs and Subway to GO Meals. You can also order Desserts, Sides and even Drinks. One stop for everything! Order over the phone from the Catering Call Center or online. Delivery is available in certain locations too!

With such a diverse crowd at my daughter’s party, I had a hard time choosing between the Flavor Craver, Classic Combo or the Fresh Fit platter. So we chose to customize our own platter! The platter was made up of 5 foot long sandwiches cut into thirds. We decided on a Cold Cut Combo, an Italian B.M.T., Turkey Breast & Black Forest Ham, Tuna and a Spicy Italian. We specified the breads, cheeses, toppings and they even put the sauces on the side. They were a hit at the party!

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 The party was so much fun! Check it out!

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Hurry, because right now until May 30th with any SUBWAY Catering purchase you’ll receive $10 off a $50 order at Party City!

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Make sure you follow Subway on Facebook and Twitter for all the delicious news and promotions! And Party City on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for all that’s new in the party planning world!

What is your family celebrating this summer that would be a perfect occasion for Subway Catering and Party City?

 

I was provided gift cards to Subway and Party City. All opinions are honest and my own.

DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls: Good for Your Family & the Environment!

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So… dryer balls. Have you heard of these things? You use them in place of dryer sheets. I wasn’t so sure about this idea, so I did a little reading. Here are a few reasons why making a switch might be a good thing for your family:

Sure they smell amazing, but there are so many chemicals in traditional dryer sheets! A lot of the chemicals can affect our central nervous system. Scary stuff. Here is a list of the seven most common chemicals that can be found in dryer sheets. If you’re brave enough to read it, that is!

There has been this really great push encouraging us to use more recyclable materials, bring our own bags to the grocery store and to opt out of as much junk mail as we can. (Now if I could get them to stop sending me bills of any kind! :) )

Which brings me back to dryer balls. How do they compare?

I have only used mine for about two weeks now-and honestly there are some good parts and some drawbacks. First off, I love knowing that I’m not drying my kids off with towels that have been tumbled in chemicals. However, the wool balls will obviously not have that Spring-fresh scent. I read a few tutorials that said to add a few drops of essential oil, which I did. But I was too chicken to put them in with regular clothes because I didn’t want to risk oil marks. Our towels smelled awesome. I used an all natural lavender-a very calming scent.

I found that tumbling with dryer balls, no matter what load it was, seemed to make the clothes less wrinkly and much more soft. I’m definitely willing to trade silky feeling of dryer sheets for this just plain softness factor.

Some of the dryer ball articles said that they wouldn’t reduce absorbency of towels the way dryer sheets can do. And you can use them with cloth diapers. They also said that it decreased drying time which would mean saving on utility bills.

I do know that dryer sheets, especially the sensitive kind that I used to buy, were spendy. My three larger dryer balls cost a bit less than $6 to make.

Wool is a renewable resource and doesn’t add to the landfill.

So, if you want to give them a try you can either purchase them, or make them rather easily as I did.

DIY Felted Wool Dryer Balls

Here is what you need:

  • 100% Wool Yarn -Make sure you try to find something that is not washable-which would prevent the felting process. I found a skein that called for hand-washing. I did have to run mine through the washer & dryer a few times to get them to felt nicely.
  • Scissors
  • A pair of old pantyhose. I’m not much for pantyhose, but I found one of those mid-calf pantyhose-like socks
  • Essential Oil (optional)

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 Pretty self explanatory! Start with a little knot and just keep rolling. Mine ended up about 4″ across. When you get to where you want to stop, just tie it off using one of the other strings of yard already across the ball.

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Slip them into your pantyhose and tie off between each ball with left over yarn tidbits.

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Wash in warm/hot water, and dry on high (right in with your clothes is just fine! Like I said, I repeated this a few times until I was satisfied with the amount of felting. And when I started using them as dryer balls, they turned darker in color and the felting increased dramatically. I’m pretty happy with the results!

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Have you tried dryer balls? How did you think they measured up?