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!

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?

 

 

 

#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

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

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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