Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Stella & Dot Trunk Show: and a GIVEAWAY!!!

For years I have purchased countless amounts of costume jewelry that have betrayed my fashion sense and my style.  From earrings falling apart, to necklaces snapping where they shouldn't to rings turning my fingers green.  And all for what?  In the name of saving a few bucks?!  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I recently dumped a 6 lb. plastic bag of costume jewelry away.  After all, I won't be forever 21, so I can't keep buying my accessories there!  That's why I've started replacing all of that junk with Stella & Dot!

A few months ago I met Alison Fuller, Stella & Dot Star Director, Stylist and Founding Leader at a blog event.  We sat at the same table and chatted over the cutest accessory she was wearing, the Coral Cay Necklace (which I now own).

Over lunch, we bonded over fashion, blogging and social media.  I also mentioned to Alison that I knew what Stella & Dot (S&D) was, but that many of my friends (almost all, really) had no idea what Stella & Dot was and how incredibly beautiful their jewelry was.  I mentioned that I'd never seen an S&D piece in person, but that I knew of S&D via blogging because all of my blogging friends in the South and Midwest always wore the most amazing S&D accessories.  Alison and I stayed in touch after that lunch, at which time I decided to host a Stella & Dot Trunk Show.  How awesome would a gathering with girlfriends, champagne and jewelry be?! So I scoured the web for Stella & Dot party printables (created by Nikki of Flairy Tales) and invited some of my favorite people over for Baubles & Bling!

After my trunk show, I had earned so much in free accessories that I ended up owning numerous pieces.  This then turned into me stalking scouring Alison's Stella & Dot e-boutique and looking for the next items I would be buying.  While I teetered between becoming a stylist or just becoming an "avid Stella & Dot collector," my friend Becky became a stylist after falling in love with Stella & Dot at my trunk show!  On my birthday, after weeks of simmering on whether I could take on another task, on top of my mommy duties, blogger duties and the duties of my full-time day-job, I decided that becoming a Stella & Dot stylist was something I could do.  I realized that I had the power to either hit the ground running and make it a top priority and when it wasn't entirely conducive to my schedule as a mom, blogger and full-time employee, I could control the speed of this endeavor without compromising my other roles.  I realized, that I had the power to control how much success I find in my Stella & Dot business and that is why I decided to join the Stella & Dot family.  I realized that I control my success and I control the speed at which I will travel.

Stella & Dot Giveaway

To celebrate this new endeavor as a Stella & Dot stylist, I've decided to host a giveaway for an engravable necklace ($69 retail value) from Stella & Dot's new Engravables line!  Check out my Instagram feed.  I've been layering my engravables with various necklaces!  If you don't know Stella & Dot, yet, you'll want to enter so you can win a beautiful, personalized necklace.  If you can't wait until the end of the giveaway (Thursday, September 11th @ 12am) and would like to check out what the newest looks are, stop by my site, but I should warn you:  your spouse will hate me afterwards!  Good luck, friends!

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Back to School Preparations around the Neighborhood

*This post is sponsored by Netflix, however, all comments and views are my own*

My babies recently went back to school.  My oldest moved up to 1st grade in a new school, with new friends.  And my youngest started Pre-School just last week.  While I wasn't too concerned about my oldest son starting 1st grade at a new school, I was more concerned for my youngest baby to go to Pre-School, since he's been under the care of his grandparents for the last three and a half years.  His grandparents love and adore him and we all baby him, so my concern was more for him going off into a new setting and a new routine.

Although he saw his brother go to school the last couple years, and he often wanted to stay behind with his brother at school, I was still worried that he wouldn't adjust very well, as he is quite the mama's boy!!  To help him get an idea about what he would be learning in school (and to help me transition with the fact that my baby was going to school) I decided to use Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, on Netflix, as a learning tool.  Of course, I have done Pre-School workbooks, but I wanted to make the reality of Pre-School a little more visual.  I made sure to begin with Episode 1 of the series, which is called "Daniel Visits School/ Daniel Visits the Doctor".  I liked this episode A LOT because it gave a real-life (they used actual humans and not animated characters) illustration of what to expect at Pre-School from the minute they walk in the door, to their nap and play time.  It was all sorts of perfect for my little mama's boy!

In numerous episodes of Daniel Tiger, he is seen helping others, working out problems and demonstrating kindness and learning new things.  As painful as it can sometimes be to watch childrens' television, I must admit that I truly enjoyed this series. If you recall Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, from our childhood, then you'll remember the way in which you were taken on tours of crayon factories, shown how mail was arrived and eventually arrived at your door, or how students learned to play the violin.  Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood mixes the wholesome simplicity of real world occurrences inspired by one of our favorite childhood TV shows with creative visual animation.  It's a perfect way to teach my boy new things about learning and school.  Throughout the episodes we watched I would pause the show and ask him questions about what he saw.  Questions like:


He was so into the show, that most times I didn't need to ask any questions.  He would describe what he was seeing and ask questions along the way.

My older son watched numerous shows as he grew up, but I do not feel that any were as genuinely educational as this one.  He didn't take a liking to Sesame Street, but I know that for my youngest boy, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, on Netflix, has been everything I remember Sesame Street and Mister Roger's Neighborhood being for me.

I hope your kids' return to school is a great one!  Have a fantastic school year, friends!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Easy Peasy Lentil Dip Recipe

Any time I go to a BBQ or bring something to a potluck, my go-to dish is my Easy Peasy Lentil Dip.  It's the easiest, fastest, no-cook, no-chop, no-cut, gluten-free, three-ingredient appetizer you will ever bring to any get-together!  I promise.  You will be the most popular person at your next potluck!

I'm not exactly known as the girl who people ask, "How did you make that?!  Can I have the recipe?!" The only time I am that girl is when I bring this dish!  Are you paying attention?  Here it goes...

The only three ingredients you need are:

  1. (2) packages of steamed lentils- I've found them at Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy or Sprout's.
  2. (1) 6 - 8 oz. container of crumbled feta cheese
  3. (1) 14.5 oz. container of bruschetta sauce- If you can't find bruschetta, you can also use mild salsa.  I've made mine with both and both come back with rave reviews. 

STEP 1:  Pour the two packages of the lentil dip into a large bowl or container:

 STEP 2:  Pour the bruschetta (or salsa) into your bowl.

STEP 3:  Pour the crumbled feta cheese into the bowl.

STEP 4:  Mix all ingredients well and eat with your favorite tortilla chips or pita bread, and ENJOY!  I like mine with Trader Joe's Flax Seed Vegetable Chips (Regular & Spicy)

So what do you think?!  You can handle that, RIGHT?!  Now, go impress everyone!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Top 7 Dinosaur Documentaries for Kids on Netflix

*This post is sponsored by Netflix, however, all comments and views are my own*

This summer, we've been trying to keep our (almost) 6 year old's brain active.  While we've been using Star Wars Workbooks in various subjects (Reading, Writing & Math), which we found at Barnes & Noble, we have also tried to keep up his interest in learning this summer by utilizing Netflix as a learning tool.

Under the "Kids" section in the search page, you can find varying sub-categories, from Adventures to Dinosaurs to Education to Little Kids and everything in between.  We handed the boy an iPad and told him to start watching a few things from the following categories:  Animals, Dinosaurs, Ocean Adventures and Science & Nature.  Well, my dinosaur-loving boy quickly clicked on Dinosaurs and was on his way to learning about the Allosaurus and how it lived in the late-Jurassic period.  The amount of information he retained as a result of his Dinosaur documentary binge is incredible!  Naturally, we encouraged him to watch more documentaries throughout the summer and he can already tell me which dinosaurs lived during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods!  (Don't ask me because I'd fail miserably!  I can longer retain that kind of information. I blame it on my kids!)

If your child loves dinosaurs, encourage them to watch the following documentaries available on Netflix.  And once you watch it with them, you can do a little Q&A session with them at lunch or dinner time, without letting them know it's a Q&A session.  Trust me, they'll LOVE talking your ear off about the new things they've learned!

Here are Caden's favorite Dinosaur picks, in order of preference:

  1. Allosaurus: Walking with Dinosaurs
  2. Walking with Dinosaurs
  3. National Geographic: Dinosaur Hunters
  4. Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia
  5. National Geographic: Dinosaurs Unearthed
  6. National Geographic: Sky Monsters
  7. Dinosaurs Alive!: IMAX

Monday, July 14, 2014

4 Ways to Save Money on Date Night

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and BJ’s Restaurants, but all my opinions are my own. #DineInOrderAhead #pmedia

It's always nice to go on a date night with my husband.  Getting that time to reconnect with him is crucial to our marriage.  Being able to have a conversation without begging someone to eat their dinner, or stop playing with their LEGO's, is pure bliss! However, sometimes, the mere cost of the date itself can end up being more than you would like it to be, especially when factoring in babysitting fees.  That's why I've come up with 4 tips to help you save money on your next date night.

  1. Have a lunch date, if a dinner date is just not budget-friendly: The majority of the major chain restaurants (and many non-franchise restaurants, as well) have Lunch Menus, which have slightly smaller portions and the cost is incredibly reasonable.
  2. Hunt/Tweet/Post and beg for coupons:  With technology, it is possible to be sitting in a restaurant and then search for a coupon of that place while you wait for your server to take your order.  In fact, I did it just two weeks ago when we took my husband's grandmother to lunch.  I ran a search of the name of the restaurant along with the word "coupon" and found a few coupons I could use.  We picked the best one we could find and showed it to the server.  Boom!  Instant savings!  You might also be able to uncover coupons when checking in on a social media platform.  Ask your server if there are any deals or discounts when giving social media mentions.
  3. Swap babysitting services with your friends/neighbors:  A while back, my girlfriends and I started a babysitting swap.  When we are in a bind, we ask each other for  a babysitting favor.  That same day that the favor is "cashed in", you book that friend for a babysitting date.  It's very simple!  And that way no one "feels bad" for asking a friend to watch your two crazy kids!  You'll be watching theirs soon, also!
  4. If you want to skip #1, #2 and #3, go on a date to BJ's Restaurant and use their new Mobile App, to take advantage of their "Dine In Order Ahead" feature.  You'll save time and babysitting fees!:  Not only can you head to BJ's Restaurant for amazing pizza, pasta and pizookie, but now you can go confidently knowing that you'll save money in babysitting fees, because you'll be saving a ton of time!  How, you ask?  With this new feature, you are able to Order Ahead from your phone, while at home, still giving your sitter last minute instructions.  You specify the time you'll arrive at the restaurant.  Once you check in at BJ's Restaurant to Dine In, your order is immediately queued in the kitchen.  Placing an order through the Dine In Order Ahead feature, in the Mobile App, automatically places you on a wait list, so your actual wait for a table at the restaurant is very minimal.  

If you're a frequent BJ's Restaurant customer, then you realize how valuable this Mobile App truly is!  My husband and I have already used it three times since we downloaded it less than a month ago and the amount of time saved is immense!  We used it last week when we hired a sitter, and we were back in less than two hours!  Not to mention, we made two pits stops during our "mini-date".  We took the hassle out of the ordering process, we got our drinks immediately, and we even saved time by paying for our meal without having to wait for the bill.  I used the Mobile Pay feature in the app and we were in and out of the restaurant in less than 40 minutes!

On Father's Day, we also used the BJ's Restaurant Mobile App, while we had our kids in tow.  On this day, we used the Dine In Order Ahead feature, as well as the Mobile Pay feature.  If you have kids, you know very well how torturous waiting for your food could be when you have antsy, hungry and cranky children.  Not to mention waiting for the check!  On this day, we didn't wait at all! I paid for the bill directly from my phone and then had the receipt emailed to me.  There was no waiting to get the server's attention or for the doom of a bill that never comes when you want it to.  Instead, I paid from my phone and we were on our way home!  It saved my sanity, my mood and my husband's Father's Day!

For my husband and I, we have been using the BJ's Restaurant Mobile App as a time and money-saving tool.  Paying for less than two hours of babysitting fees because we are saving at least an hour of time is huge!  And the fact that BJ's Restaurant realizes that our time is valuable makes me want to give them my business for being a conscious and thoughtful restaurant.  So, do yourself a favor (seriously) and download the BJ's Restaurant Mobile App NOW!  It's available in both iPhone and Android.  And on your first use, you save $5 on a $20 order AND you get a free pizookie!!!  Yes, free pizookie!  Now, if that's not a good motivator, I don't know what is!

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