How to Pack Everything Your Child Needs in a Single Carry-On

How to Pack Everything

Soon my family will be taking its first trip to Universal Studios.  To say we are excited is an understatement.  We were happy to score decent prices on our planes tickets but quickly realized that baggage fees added up really fast if we checked a suitcase for every member of the family.

I quickly decided Bill and I would share one checked suitcase and use carry-ons for the rest, and the boys would use carry-ons only.

DSC_7084Step 1 was to call the airline and find out the exact measurements of a carry-on.  Delta informed us that a carry on is limited to 22”x14”x9”.  Armed with my measurements I went where I always go first when I need something. I went to Costco, and they did not let me down. I managed to get an adorable rolling carry-on for Casey with a telescopic handle for only $29.99.  Similar ones at Target were $50 and up. Then for AJ I purchased a rectangular carry on case that has a sleeve on the back so it will slide on to the handle of Casey’s and roll as one unit. That bag was only $24.99!

Step 2 was to assess what was left of Casey’s summer wardrobe that would still fit him for a trip to Florida. I wasn’t surprised to find that he had outgrown most of it. He has had two growth spurts in the past couple of months. Luckily for me a Kohl’s coupon arrived and it was the super spectacular 30% off. I managed to get Casey’s entire summer wardrobe in one shopping trip.

Step 3 was to lay it all out on the floor so I could see it. I am a visual person, I need to see everything to be sure I haven’t missed anything. First was clothes, an outfit for each day, pajamas for each night, a coming home outfit, and swimwear.

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A seven year old doesn’t require much in the way of toiletries. A Ziplock holds his toothbrush, toothpaste, and sunscreen. Next comes games, electronics, a small art kit and a few other fun items to make the plane trip easier and to have fun in the hotel room.

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Clothes and Crocs went in the bag first.

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The top of the bag held a new little art kit he received as a Christmas present along with a block toy. In the side pockets went some favorites, Uno and Spot It!, as well as a small puzzle, a Nintendo 3Ds and game chips.


In the front pockets I placed his bag with his toothbrush and a travel size packet of baby wipes to wipe sticky fingers.

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In the end it all fit inside the bag just perfectly. Casey is ready to roll!


Stay tuned. I will be packing my teenagers carry-on very soon!

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Breakfast Banana Split Sundaes

Breakfast Banana Split Sundeas

What child doesn’t want to have dessert for breakfast? With just a few simple ingredients and a little presentation they can!

DSC_7108aMy boys love the Fage Fruyo Vanilla Greek Yogurt. It is incredibly thick and rich and filled with vanilla bean. It makes a great base for all kinds of breakfast combinations and even night time treats.

Simply fill a sundae glass up with the yogurt.


Casey loves to help me in the kitchen so he was on banana slicing duty this morning.

DSC_7114aFor toppings we added the sliced bananas, fresh blueberries, and granola with flaxseeds. A tiny drizzle of chocolate syrup topped it all off and ramped up the fun factor. A drizzle of chocolate syrup will usually win over even the pickiest of eaters. Plus they never need to know that they are actually eating a breakfast filled with protein, potassium, calcium, anti-oxidants, and omega 3’s.


Breakfast was a hit!


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How to Save Your Clothes From Set In Grease Stains

How to Save Your Clothes

It’s amazing really. I own three aprons. Yes, really, three, and do I ever remember to use then when I am cooking? No, not really. So it should come as no surprise that I am always getting grease spots on my clothes from cooking, or the occasional dropping of a meatball down the front of my shirt.

Further, I switched to strictly organic laundry products a couple of years ago because of sensitivity issues for both myself and my youngest. I love my Ecos and Honest laundry products for daily washing, but I can’t lie, quite often the products aren’t strong enough to remove set in grease. So, I was intrigued when my sister shared with me her results from using Dawn dish soap on spots, a trick she picked up from Pinterest.

I decided to try it out on two of my favorite knit tops that I used to wear all the time but were now no longer usable for work because the stains were too obvious.

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It was incredibly easy.  All I had to do was pour the Dawn right on to the stains and let it sit for about ten minutes. Then I used the kitchen brush to give each stain a quick scrub. I only took the brush back and forth about five or six times because I didn’t want to damage the fabric.

Dawn scrub

After that I tossed the shirts into the machine with some other items that needed a wash along with a bit of Ecos detergent. After they tumbled dry I pulled them out and searched for the stains.  I was really happy with the result. The stains are about 95% gone.  You have to be looking for them to actually spot them. So now instead of having two shirts for the Salvation Army I now have two shirts that are back in my closet and ready to be worn to work.

It worked 2 It worked

I have since worn these shirts and I can say that I did not have a reaction from the Dawn dish soap. The amount needed to remove the stains wasn’t enough to make my clothes give me a reaction. However, if you think you might have a reaction from the Dawn I would recommend rinsing some of the soap out of the garments after it soaks and then wash as usual.

Hope this tip helps save your laundry as it has mine.



Mommy Blogger Winter TAG

Mommy Blogger Winter TAG

Today I thought I would have a little fun by starting a mommy blogging tag. I thought it would be a great way for my followers to get to know me a little better, get to know some other awesome mommy bloggers, and invite others to participate. So let’s begin!

1. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? 

I am definitely a tea drinker. I have tried coffee so many times and I honestly think it tastes like mud.  I’ve had lattes, cappuccinos; vanilla flavoring, pumpkin flavoring, peppermint flavoring, and I just don’t like it. I really only just started liking tea a few years ago and now I have become a bit of a tea snob. I must have at least a dozen boxes of assorted tea flavors in my cupboard as well as a big can from Teavanna. I prefer fruity flavors although at the moment my favorite is Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride by Celestial Seasonings. I actually went to Target to stock up on it since it is a limited holiday edition.

2. Favorite thing about winter? 

I love a snow day, and not just because as a teacher I get to stay home, but because the boys and I stay in our jammies all day, build a fire in the fire place, and just stay warm and cozy reading or watching movies or a Netflix marathon. It is hard for me to watch shows when they air so it is quite normal for me to suddenly have six or seven episodes on the DVR and then spend an entire day watching them.

I also love to watch the boys go sledding. We have a fairly decent ravine in our back yard so the boys will bundle up, grab their sleds and play for an hour. Then they come in for hot chocolate and thaw out.

3. Favorite winter candle scent?

I pretty much have two candle scents that I burn, Yankee Candle Macintosh Apple or Vanilla Cupcake. It’s really nice to burn both at the same time. It makes the house smell like apple muffins.

4. What are your top 3 winter essentials?

My first one is my new Touch Gloves that I got at Costco. No more taking off my glove to use my iPhone outside. Second would be scarves. I love scarves and own way too many of them yet requested even more for Christmas. Honestly though, scarves are the best thing to have when you are just wearing a plain t-shirt and need to add a bit of color or style, and as lots of moms know, they are really good at hiding the spot your child got on the front of your shirt. Last, would be shea butter.  The Body Shoppe makes the most wonderful body butters. My hands get so dry in the winter as do the heels on my feet. My heels used to crack and split and, oh my, that was so painful. Now every night I put that stuff on thick and no more cracking.

5. Must have winter lip product? 

I wear Honest Lip Balm most of the time.  I have them tucked all over the house and in my bags. I like that it is organic since it is on my lips. I also like EOS but they aren’t as buttery feeling as the Honest products.

6. What book are you currently reading or just finished? 

I just finished The Highbury Murders: A Murder Mystery Set in the Village of Jane Austen’s Emma. I am a huge Jane Austen fan and have read all of her books.  This book was written by Victoria Grossack and I must say she did a great job of keeping true to the characters. I might have tweaked the ending however.  Now I am reading Gone Girl. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I would like to, but I always have to read the book before I see a movie. It’s a habit I can’t break.

7. Favorite wine or cocktail?

This is a tie.  I love Barefoot Riesling and an Appletini. It’s funny because I am a cheap wine drinker but I only want high end vodka when it comes to my Appletinis. I can tell the difference right away. Grey Goose is so smooth. True story, when I heard that the US was going to ban some Russian imports the first thing I did was grab my Grey Goose. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it was a product of France and not Russian vodka. Viva la France!!

8. What is your go to super fast dinner?

I have two. The first is Tyson Panko Chicken Tenders from Costco with Alexia Organic Sweet Potato fries.  Dump each on a baking sheet and in 25 minutes dinner is served. Add a bag of salad and it actually is a pretty healthy dinner. Second is another frozen food, Chicken Alfredo Voila. It takes two bags to feed us and I like to add in extra frozen peas, carrots and broccoli florets to make it go a little further and to make it more healthy. Frozen foods and veg really are a mom’s best friend.

9. What cartoon or show do your kids love that you hate?

This is a no brainer for me. I can’t stand Teen Titans Go! My boys will watch it and laugh hysterically. Honestly, it really is the stupidest cartoon. Plus, then they will repeat the catch phrases from the shows for days, and they don’t make sense. In one episode the only word they said the entire time was “waffles.” If I had a nickel for every time AJ and Casey then walked around saying waffles it would probably be enough for a new Coach purse.

10. Where is your favorite place to hide when you need a break from your kids?

I’m sure my answer is the same as most moms. The bathroom! My bathroom is big and pretty. The window looks out to the woods and ravine behind our house. It’s full of girly products and nail polish. I keep a stack of magazines in there. Plus, I always grab my iPhone before I go. (You know you do too!) As I said in a Facebook post, I could stay in there for hours!

So, now you know a little bit more about me? If you like this post let me know in the comments below.  If you have questions you want to ask me that weren’t here ask them and I’ll reply!  ~Tina

As I said, this is a TAG post so below are some awesome Mom Bloggers that I think are funny as hell and I am going to TAG them and invite them to join in. Be sure to check out their pages!

J.D. Bailey from Honest Mom

Alyson Herzig from theShitastrophy

Stacy Gill from One Funny Motha

Sarah Cottrell from Housewife Plus

Kathy Radigan from My Dishwasher’s Possessed

Teri Biebel from Snarkfest

Sara Wells Green from Motherfluff

Lisa Jacqueline Lewis from Moms Who Write and Blog

Gina Gaetano Fenton from Extreme Mom

Julie Maida from Next Life, NO Kids

  1. Favorite candle scent?
  2. Coffee, tea, or hot chocolate?
  3. Favorite thing about winter?
  4. What are your top 3 winter essentials?
  5. Must have winter lip product?
  6. What book are you currently reading or just finished?
  7. Favorite wine or cocktail?
  8. What is your go to super fast dinner?
  9. What cartoon or show do your kids love and you hate?
  10. Where is your favorite place to hide when you need a break from the kids?

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Why I Won’t Reinvent Myself in 2015

Why I Won't Reinvent Myself in 2015

As I was tidying up this morning I picked up a magazine and the big title was Reinvent Yourself in 2015.  Yesterday as I scrolled through Facebook and several of my favorite websites I saw blog after blog sharing their resolutions for the things they want to change for the New Year.

I admit I had toyed with the idea of putting out a blog myself on this very topic, yet I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to do it.  Then today it hit me, and I mean it really hit me as I tossed that magazine into the recycling bin.

The reason I couldn’t find the desire to write my list of how I was going to be a new me in 2015 is because there was nothing wrong with the 2014 version of me.  In fact, I have spent many decades of living, screwing up, making poor choices, making right choices, and learning from my mistakes to become the self confident, wine loving, foul mouthed smartass that I am today.  And you know what?  I like me.  I like me just fine!

I wasn’t always a confident smartass bitch.  Oh no, once upon a time I was a timid little mouse who cared way too much what other people thought about me.  I wanted to please everybody.  I wanted to be everyone’s friend.  I trusted everyone to be a good friend in return and got burned more times than I can count.  Don’t even ask me about high school! I spent most of my 20’s and a small part of my 30’s feeling worthless.

It took a failed marriage to an abusive guy to teach me that I don’t have to take abuse from anyone…ever!

It took me getting stabbed in the back and betrayed for me to learn to recognize a real friend.

It took me putting my foot in my mouth repeatedly to learn that I didn’t have to voice out loud ALL the thoughts in my head.  (It’s better to save those thoughts and share them with a glass of wine with those real friends I mentioned.)

It was by needing help that I learned it was okay to ask for help.

Could I stand to lose a few pounds?  Sure, but I am much more interested in being healthy and having more energy to keep up with my boys than being skinny.  My hubby loves me just the way I am, curves and all.

Even if I do lose some weight my stomach will always be a mess.  It is covered in stretch marks that resemble the painted flames on a Harley Davison.  For the record I earned my stretch marks, every last one of them.  They are a reminder of the infertility that I struggled with for two years to conceive my first child.  They are a reminder of the miracles that can happen when you finally let it go and put it in the hands of a higher power.

Does this mean that this is it?  Am I done growing and changing as a woman?  Not at all.  Hopefully I have another four or more decades ahead of me to continue this journey called life.  With more mistakes comes more knowledge.  With more living come more opportunities for happiness and even sadness, but it only by knowing sadness that we can truly appreciate the happy.

So if I can share one message with you this 2015, it’s that you are already perfect.  You don’t need a list to make yourself a better self.  You will have that happen to you quite naturally with the passage of time.  Love your curves, wrinkles and stretch marks for the badges of honor that they are, proof of a life lived, challenges faced and met, smiles formed.

If you chose to go on a diet this January, do it because you want to be healthy, not because you want to fit in a different pair of jeans.  If you do make a resolution make it to carve out more time for yourself.  Make a resolution not to carry guilt over the past or worry what others think about you.  Tell the negative people in your life to get lost.  Make a resolution to cut yourself a little slack and smile more.

Have a happy, safe, & healthy New Year!


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It’s Time for a Better Magazine

It's Time for a Better Magazine

Make This Year Your Year, Look 10 Years Younger in Just One Month, Lose Two Dress Sizes in a Week, How to Make Him Adore You, Sex & Your Body, Find Your Style, What Your Style Says About You, The Mega Fashion Issue, What Makes You Happy, How to Be Happy, Drop Pounds in Days…

HeadlinesFor a couple of decades now I have been reading women’s magazines with gusto.  Cosmo promised me the power to have better sex.  Ladies Home Journal told me how to create the perfect house…if you have enough money.  Glamour, Elle, and Women’s Day all had advice on the quickest and best diets.  Vogue, Lucky, and all the rest were busy keeping me up to date on the latest fashion.  People, Us Weekly, and the gossip rags allowed me to get a hair cut like Rachel’s from Friends, use the same skin care products as Cindy Crawford and learn what was in Drew Barrymore’s bag.

As I have gotten older, however, I have gotten wiser.  I now know these magazines don’t really offer the promise of a better future.  Really, if you stop to think about it, most of these magazines are making money by playing on women’s insecurities and fears.  The real message that women are told again and again is that they are not good enough, not thin enough, not working hard enough, that they are just NOT ENOUGH as they are now, but with a little help from Cosmo or Glamour they can fix themselves and be just as perfect as the actresses and models who have been photo shopped to the point of ridiculousness.

Magazines today set standards that are not attainable by anyone, and more importantly, we shouldn’t be trying to obtain them anyway.  Instead of living life like Angelina Jolie or Taylor Swift, I should be living my life, just as every woman needs to live her own life the way she sees fit.

Does that mean I can’t wear a hot red lipstick like Taylor Swift or a nude one like Kylie Jennr?  Well, that depends on whether I think that lipstick would look good on me and if it would bring me happiness.  I have finally learned to take these magazines for what they are, giant advertisements designed to make me buy stuff.

But, when I really want to read a magazine that can offer me inspiration, creativity, information about better living, better parenting, finding my Zen or filling my soul, I have found a better group of magazines and I am eager to share them with you!


Bella Grace  

This magazine is very new.  Their second issue just came out on December 1, 2014.  I absolutely love this magazine.  It is more like a book with its firm covers and good binding.  It is filled with inspiring and empowering articles and beautiful photographs.  I find myself rereading both issues over and over.  When I am at a road block or feeling low I pick them up and let them work their magic.  Bella Grace is a magazine and workbook in one.  There is room in the magazine to write your own thoughts, scribble a note or two, and write down your favorite quotes.  My fingers are crossed that this publication starts putting out more frequent issues.  Click the pictures if you would like to order your own copies.  Both issues are still available for purchasing.

Bella Grace Issue 1a Bella Grade Issue 2a

Darling  Mag4a

Darling comes out four times a year, spring, summer, fall, and winter.  It’s fresh, a little funky, and best of all they do absolutely zero photo shopping on their models.  Finally there is a magazine that shows beautiful women just as they are~flaws and all.  Just like Bella Grace I find myself picking up this magazine often looking for inspiration and ideas.

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Darling also offers an online magazine with different content from what is in the print issues.  I love to read my print issue in bed at night with a cup of tea, and I find myself clicking on the web magazine on weekend mornings when I have some time before having to start my day.  I really love their original series Mom’s the Word.

One perk of Darling magazine is that when you subscribe to receive the print issues, you automatically receive an email with a link to the digital copies of their past print issues, so buying one magazine unlocks all ten of their issues to date!!  That’s $20 well spent when you think that it comes to $2 an issue.


This magazine is on line only and offers an amazing web magazine filled with great articles, practical fashion and make-up tips, video tutorials, and just like Darling, none of the models have been photo shopped.  In fact, most of the models aren’t models at all, just regular women.  There content is wide, covering fashion and beauty, lifestyle, culture, healthy living, and relationships.  Verily is all about empowering you to be your best authentic self and a bonus, a lot of the articles are about finding that balance that so many of us long to achieve.

Verily Perfect Male a Life

So if you are tired of magazines filled with women who look like wax figures, or tell you to lose weight to gain confidence, or just make you feel like something is wrong with you, I really think you should give these a try.  Click on the pictures in this post to link to the homepages for these magazines as well as their online versions.

After you have a chance to check out these sites please let me know what you think of them down below. 

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Taking Care of Mom: So Mom Can Take Care of Everyone Else

Taking Care of Mom

It is no secret we are all tired.  If you are a mom with or without a forty hour a week job you are exhausted.  If you are like me you are only getting about six hours of sleep a night…on a good night!  If you are like me you are only getting about four of those so called good nights a week at most.  So what can we do to cope with our sleep loss?  What can we do so we don’t look like an extra from The Walking Dead?

Here you will find a list of things that has helped me to make it through the day.  Hopefully some of these will help you too!

Get as Much Rest as Possible:

I know what you are thinking.  Duh!  If I were getting enough rest already I wouldn’t be wasting my time reading this blog.  But are you really getting the most rest that you can?

  1.  Stop drinking caffeine around noon.  I know this is a hard one, but I recently gave up all my caffeine drinks after lunch time and I have noticed a difference.  My brain seems to quiet down faster once I go to bed at night instead of replaying the day over and over or worrying about all the things I need to do the next day.No-caffeine after 222
  2. Take a melatonin supplement with dinner.  Melatonin doesn’t work like a sleeping pill, and it is all natural so you don’t have to worry about dependency.  However, it does take several hours to kick in so if you take it at bedtime it will be too late.
  3. Consider buying a white noise machine or downloading an App.  I have an actual white noise maker in my room but it is too loud for my husband.  Instead I use the App “Relax Melodies” which is free through the iTunes App Store.  I set it on my bedside table on a volume that is just loud enough for me and it works great.  The two sounds I use each night Relax Melodies 2are Thunder and Oscillating Fan.  For me just the sound of my husband breathing is enough to keep me awake at night, not to mention every time one of my boys cough, sneeze, or talk in their sleep.  I just don’t need to hear all that.  So a white noise machine blocks those sounds out for me.  Now if I can just find a way to block his snoring.

Take Care of Yourself:

 I know you hear this one all the time too, and trust me I have rolled my eyes more than once by some of the helpful articles I have read.  Here is the truth, I don’t have time to cook from scratch daily.  I don’t have time to buy fresh produce every couple of days.  I can’t afford to buy 100% organic all the time.  Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking AGAIN!  And exercise! Hah!  Screw that.  However…

  1. Probiotics are our friends.  I love all those little active bugs.  They keep things on track.  I have been eating Greek yogurtNaked Juice 2 for years, but recently I added Naked Juice to my morning breakfast and I buy the ones that are Boosted with Probiotics.  Both of my boys just had colds with fevers.  Usually I catch everything they get.  Not this time.  I was shocked.  My class has had some kind of bug running back and forth through it and I have yet to catch it.  I am giving full credit to my Boosted Naked Juice along with my Greek yogurt.
  2. Turn on the music and turn it on loud.  It just happens.  Before you know it you are tapping your toes, shaking your rear, and bopping along.  As far as I am concerned any movement is good movement, even if it is just my bad dancing.  Plus loud music will help to drown out your children’s whining.
  3. Take your vitamins.  Many vitamins actually make me sick because the doses are too strong for my system, but I love my Flintstones with Iron.  It is just enough to stop my anemia (which is a side effect of my Rheumatoid Arthritis) but not make me positively ill.  Even better, toss in a Krill Oil supplement.  All the benefits of fish oil but no yucky fish burps!!
  4. Stick a banana or an apple or a Kind Bar in your purse when you leave the house.  It helps you to avoid a quick pop-in to the drive thru or shove a candy treat in your mouth.  If you are PMSing, though, just eat the chocolate and call it a day.
  5. Drink lots of water.  I have learned from experience that it is really easy to confuse dehydration for exhaustion.  I keep a refillable water bottle on my desk at all times and I never leave the house without one.

Get Yourself the Right Tools

  1. Dry Shampoo!  Seriously, I don’t know how I ever lived without this stuff.  I used to use my Treseme all the time but Rockaholic Dirty Secret 2recently I discovered Bed Head’s Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo.  OMG!  This stuff is amazing.  I use it on clean hair to add volume and texture as well as on three day old hair to keep it fresh and looking good.
  2. Concealer.  I love the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser.  It is a great little product that is super cheap and super effective, and it fights fine lines.  I actually buy two shades of this.  I use the one called Brightener for highlighting and then Light Pale to cover any imperfections.  The little sponge applicatorsInstant Age Rewind2 make using it a piece of cake.
  3. A small emergency kit for your purse.  I used to carry my PAK with me where ever I went but there is no denying that the PAK is rather large since I had purchased the original version.  Then one day I found the perfect replacement.  Pinch Provisions make a tiny little bag that fits in the size of your palm filled with mini-emergency items for her.  I then took a couple of their items out that I don’t really use and swapped them for items I need all the time, like my eye drops and nail clippers. It’s perfect for the busy mom on the go!
  4. Eye serum and face cream.  I am currently using a really fancy eye serum thanks to a Fabfitfun box, but trust me once itRoc runs out I will not be buying another since it costs $88.  Usually I just use Olay Regenerist products and Roc Retinol for my day and night moisturizer.  Whether you have wrinkles or not that stuff works incredibly well and I am a big believer that it is never too early to start.  Life is rough.  Life is exhausting, and all those sleepless nights and times spent worrying over one problem or another will begin to show up on your face.

So there you are.  My attempt to share a little knowledge gathered from forty years of life experience and time spent being really, really tired and still having to go to work.  Let me know if any of this advice helps you.  It’s nice to know I am not just talking to myself.  Also, if you have any great suggestions please share!

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Fabfitfun Winter 2014

Fabfitfun Winter 2015a

Today was the day I was waiting for.  My new Fabfitfun Box arrived.  I had been tracking it for a week through the mail and today when I walk to the door there it was!  Fabfitfun is a seasonal box that comes four times a year, which is more practical than some of the other monthly subscription boxes.

I really love the Fabfitfun boxes because they always have an amazing selection of items for a tired working mommy!  There will almost always be a moisturizer, anti-aging product, or make-up item of some kind, which is great for making an exhausted mom look a little younger and more refreshed.  They have healthy and nutritious snack options which is nice for trying new products without committing to an entire box.  Plus, there is always some kind of exercise items in the box which is great because honestly, how many working moms really have time to run to the gym? Just like my fall box, this one did not disappoint!  So let’s get started.

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When you open the box you see tons of goodies waiting for you.

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The first item is a Zumba DVD and a $25 gift card to Zumba Wear.  I know a lot of people might not be excited about this but I actually am.  My favorite kind of exercising is just dancing (in the privacy of my own home), and I know I love Zumba.  Since I am too busy for a gym this is perfect!  Plus I am need of a new sports bra so this gift card has perfect timing!!  It even includes free shipping and handling as well as your $25 off. Retail value of two items combined=$55

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The next item is three months free to a website called Salted.  The code is right here for you to use.  (I love when I can share a code!)  I really like this idea.  How many times have you watched a show on TV and they go to fast?  Or you have a question but there is no one to ask?  This site supposedly takes care of all of that so I will give them a try.  Plus I am always eager for a new dinner idea.  I know I tend to get stuck in a rut of cooking the same ten dinners over and over again and again until I am sick of my own cooking!  Retail Value=$29.97

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The next three items in the box were sponsored items, which means they don’t apply to your grand total.  These are samples for you to try with the hopes you will like them and buy them again in the future.  First is Justin’s Almond Butter which I already know tastes fabulous.  I buy these little packs at Target and stash them into lunch boxes.  The Special K bar is something new for me but I am sure I will like it.  Chocolate, pretzels, and salt…what’s not to love?  Finally there is a product I am excited to try.  I love the Organic Valley milk boxes but this protein shake is new and I plan to have for breakfast tomorrow.  I’ll let you know in the comments if it is yummy or crummy! Retail value of three sponsored items=$4.06

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This product I am eager to try since it costs $88 and supposedly fights wrinkles.  I don’t really have wrinkles but I am also really determined to not get them any time soon, so I welcome this little bottle and all its anti-aging properties.

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Usually I love a clay mask or a nice oatmeal mask in the evening but again, I am willing to give this a try.  The Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel for Sensitive skin retails for $39.

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I love make-up.  I especially love mineral make-up.  I can’t wait to apply my new Swedish Beauty eye shadows tomorrow.  They swatched beautifully. Retail value=$44

IMG_1919This is the one item I am not sure about in the box.  I believe in fighting hunger and I am glad the proceeds go towards feeding the hungry, but I am an elementary teacher.  I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to wear a bullet necklace to school even if the bullet was collected from a firing range.  Retail value=$34

IMG_1925While I admit I have a ton of hand creams due to holiday sales at Ulta, Sephora, and Bath & Body works, I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as too much.  So I will put this away until I need it, or maybe I will stick this in my desk at work! Retail value=$30

IMG_1941The last item in the box is this pretty candle from COCO.  It is the first candle I have ever owned made from coconut wax which is earth friendly and renewable resource.  The scent is soft and subtle and very pretty.  Retail value=$42

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So there you have it.  The grand total for the entire box is an amazing $383.59 and it only cost me $49.99.  Plus there are always codes to save $10 off your first box.  Just click the link below and enter the code included!!!

Click this link and enter code WINTER10

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Don’t Get Caught Without Bread & Milk This Winter

Don't Get Caught Without Bread & Milk This WinterHe’s back. Old Man Winter is here and he is here with a vengeance. For those of us who just survived four polar vortexes last winter on top of 90+ inches of snow, no one is all that happy to see winter here again, and earlier than ever!

Curtsey of New York Times
Curtsey of New York Times

This past week saw the people of Buffalo hit with a snow storm of epic proportions. The weather man predicted two feet, which is bad enough, but then they got seven! I can’t even imagine seven feet of snow. Unfortunately over a dozen people did not survive the storm and my heart goes out to those families.

Curtsey of the New York Times

Curtsey of the New York Times

On the news came the aftermath. Patio doors caved in from the weight as did windows. People opened their door and couldn’t see past the wall of snow that then poured into their living room. They were literally trapped in their homes, having to climb out of second story windows to get out.

There was the guy who had to walk five miles to get diapers for his baby. On CNN they interviewed a family who was getting worried because the mom had only purchased three days worth of food and the local government was now telling them it might be a week before their residential roads were cleared. It was a quick reminder that the best time to prepare for emergencies and bad weather situations is BEFORE the situation arises.

Last winter in Michigan there was a run on supermarkets just before a big snow was predicted to fall. At the time the predictions were for anywhere from 1-3 feet. Shelves were bare, produce sections were picked clean, and there wasn’t a gallon of milk or loaf of bread to be found for miles. People actually got into punching matches over bananas!

So what are some simple things you can buy now to have on hand later when you are snowed in under several feet of snow? Everyone knows about the easy stuff, canned pastas, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, and cans of tuna. But what about perishables?  How do you keep those on hand long term?

With a few easy to use substitutions it’s actually pretty easy.  Most people are familiar with Horizon milk boxes.  The chocolate milk boxes have been a favorite for children’s packed lunches for a couple of years now.  The best part about these shelf stable milk boxes is they have ridiculously long expiration dates.  Not only can you buy them in chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla, but you can also just buy plain 1% milk.  At Meijer’s today I grabbed the first box I saw.  Today is November 23, 2014.  The expiration date on this milk box is for five months from now!  This is a great time to buy a dozen of these, hide them on the top shelf so the kids don’t grab them because they are convenient, and have them for an emergency.

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milk 4aAnother great trick I learned to do in a pinch is use Carnation Condensed Milk.  I admit I don’t want to drink a big glass of this stuff, but I have used it many times for cooking.  It actually makes for great mac and cheese, works perfectly for baking, and can even be poured over cereal.

Next is bread.  The best advice I can give you here is to just freeze it!  Stick a loaf in your freezer and forget about it.  Next week when you buy a new loaf, swap the old for the new.  It will thaw on the counter top and be as fresh as just baked. Still, another really good substitute here is a hearty box of crackers.  My family is addicted to the Toasted Harvest Wheat.  A handful of these with some cheese sticks and deli meat makes for a quick meal.bread 2a

A great idea to keep in mind for these times is to purchase easy prep foods or ones that require nothing more than water to provide a hot meal.  Bear Creek makes some fantastic soups and pasta mixes that need a couple of cups of water and that’s it.  I make their Chicken Tortilla soup all the time. I love to add the leftovers from a Costco chicken and a can of kidney beans to it bulk it up, but it is perfectly delicious all on its own.  Plus all you need to prepare it is a working stove burner.

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add water 6aA special breakfast treat is Krusteaz Fat Free Blueberry muffins.  First, you would never ever know they were fat free.  My picky eaters gobble these right up.  Second, the only ingredient you need to add to this box is 1 cup of water.  No eggs, no milk, or cooking oil is required, so if your oven is working whip up a quick batch!

Everyone loves fresh fruit, but again this is an easy one to stock up on.  My kids love Go-Go Squeeze apple sauces, raisins, tropical fruit and peaches packed in light syrup. fruit a

One problem people usually have when blizzards happen is they lose power.  I am fortunate to have a gas stove.  The oven won’t work without electricity, but I can still use a match to light the burners so I still have access to my cook top even if my microwave and oven are absolutely useless.

So stock up now and put your feet up and relax the next time you are snowed it!

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I hope these suggestions are helpful. If you have any mommy preparedness advice to offer please share below.

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When Daddy Fills In For Mommy

When Daddy Fills In For Mommy

On Election Day my boys didn’t have school, but as a teacher I still had to go in for a Professional Development day.  Since I had just used sick days for household and car purposes my husband offered to take the day off of work and take care of the boys.

I have learned from past experiences that when three males are left at home all day that the house will be a mess when I arrive.  Since I know what to expect I am not that shocked when I walk in and there is stuff everywhere.

What I do find funny are the comments my honey says to me.  Before I get a lot of people calling me out for husband bashing I would just like to say that a.) I am not bashing my husband.  I actually love the guy a lot and I know I am very blessed that he is such a hands on guy, and b.) he is actually pretty capable of running the house when I’m not around.  I think all ladies would agree with me, however, that guys and girls look at things a bit differently.

Example #1

What he said:  I washed a couple of loads of laundry for you.

What this means for me:  There are now three laundry baskets of clean clothes sitting in the living room.  The clothes are clean, but since they have been sitting wadded up for several hours they are now hopelessly wrinkled and I will probably just rewash them as opposed to trying to iron all of that.

Example #2

What he said:  I fed the boys lunch today.

What this means for me:  The kitchen has been ransacked because he couldn’t find what he was looking for. Half of the kitchen contents are now in the wrong place, the sink is full of dishes, and the table is covered in crumbs.

Example #3

What he said:  I took care of dinner.

What this means for me:  He picked up a rotisserie chicken at Costco.  Now all I have to do is make a couple of side dishes, reheat the chicken and serve dinner.

Example #4

What he said:  I went on line and paid the bills.

What this means for me:  I now have to defend why $68 spent at Sephora was a necessary expenditure as well as my subscription to Boxy Charms and Popsugar.  For some crazy reason he disagrees.

Do you and your hubby have different opinions on how things should get done?  Share below!

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