About Natalie

A committed, but not yet institutionalized SAHM of three. I enjoy crafting experiments, cooking and baking adventures, and fancy myself as handy with a power drill as I am a glue gun. I may not get the project right the first time, but I always have fun doing it!

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

 

 

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!

“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

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

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!

 

 

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?