Friday, December 30, 2016

What To Do While You're Expecting: Tips For Making Your Baby Wait Seem Shorter

Pregnancy is one of the most wonderful times in the life of a woman. Your body is doing what it's designed to do. The miracle of gestating life, the feeling of your baby moving inside of you thrilling you more every passing day. You daydream about the life to come, the joys you can expect and the life you will lead together. It's a glorious, natural, wonderful time.

It also takes forever. Or at least, it feels like it.

Most women get to the stage where they are ready to be a Mom now. The time is passing slowly; as much as they enjoy the pregnancy, the nearly-10-month long wait passes at a pace that becomes unbearable. While you try and delight in being pregnant, there's still a part of you that is always just ready to meet your baby as soon as possible!


Flickr Image

While there's no way of pressing the fast forward button in biological terms, there are ways and means of making it easier to cope with mentally. Coming up are a few ideas of things you can focus on, look forward to and use to fill your time while the wait continues.

1. Your Baby Shower

Baby showers (http://www.parents.com/baby/shower/) have almost attained the status of being a rite of passage, and it will definitely be a highlight of your pregnancy. If you're desperate for something to do, then there's no harm in requesting you have an active role in the planning. That way, you're guaranteed to get an occasion that you want - and take up some time looking forward to it!

2. Gender Reveal Party


Flickr

While not quite as grand as a baby shower, gender reveal parties have become more and more common in recent years. It's a simple concept if you're not familiar. Gather together your closest friends and family to reveal the gender of your baby.

This is traditionally done with cakes; sites like http://www.babyprepping.com/events-and-announcements/gender-reveal-cake-ideas/ have plenty of adorable options to choose from if you're short on ideas. When the cake is cut open, it reveals a pink (for a girl) or blue (for a boy) decoration inside.

It's a cute, fun way of celebrating. You can choose whether or not you know about the gender prior to the reveal. If you don't want to know, then ask your OB/GYN to write the sex down in a sealed envelope and hand it directly to the bakery.

3. Yoga

It seems that yoga is the generally accepted cure-all these days, but there are genuine reasons why you should indulge while pregnant. Not only will it keep you supple and help your body after the birth, but it is known for how soothing you will find it.

If your nerves are frazzled and you are struggling for patience, taking a few hours out a week can help set you back on your course. It's also the kind of discipline where the longer you give it, the more rewarding you will find it - which should definitely help the hours tick by!


This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Morning After: How To Get Through The Day When You Haven't Slept



If I Fall Asleep Now, I Can Get... Two Hours?

There is a lot of information out there on how to make sure you get a good night's sleep. You've probably heard so many tips you could recite them all in your sleep. But if you've heard them all and put them into practice, you'll know one more thing. Sometimes, no matter how well-behaved you are, the Sandman doesn't come, and you don't get the sleep you need.

Short of powerful medication, which should be avoided in all but the direst emergency, there's no foolproof way to drop off. It could be for any reason. A disturbance in your routine, a distant nagging worry. It could be something stupid that happened years ago. It doesn't matter. What matters is getting through the next day.

How Do You Deal With The Morning After A Sleepless Night?

Unless you're very fortunate with when it falls, the world doesn't stop for you when you've not slept. Your job needs doing, the kids need feeding and looking after. When you can't crawl back under the covers for a while, you need a strategy - a way of surviving until the following, hopefully restful, night.

Dealing With Feeling Tired

Sometimes, after a night where you slept for just an hour or two, you feel weird in the morning. A kind of wired adrenalized feeling. Almost like you're hyper-powered. It happens, but it doesn't last, and you will feel a crash.

When that hits, you need caffeine. Good, strong, quality coffee is the best delivery system. A look at the machines available on Espresso Gusto and elsewhere will give you some ideas. In extreme cases, a drink of ice cold water also helps.

Dealing With Looking Tired

If you can go through a night without sleep and rise without it showing in your face, you're either a teenager or ridiculously lucky. Most of us will show the scars of a battle with insomnia. The first thing to do is chase off the tell-tale dark circles around the eyes. Use cucumber slices or used tea bags to help with this.

Additionally, a spritz of water will wake you up as well as replenishing moisture that can drain from the face. Apply a moisturizer to lock this in, and don't use your usual foundation. A tinted shade will give more life to the skin. You may know you've not slept, but no one else needs to.

Getting Through To Night Time

It is always tempting to catch up on sleep as soon as it is lost. So if you don't have a full day of work ahead you may plan in a nap for the afternoon to help yourself feel better. I would advise against this. Napping too much in daytime can lead to restless nights. If you can grab a fifteen to thirty-minute power nap, this will help pep you up. It will also avoid the sluggishness that often follows a two-hour nap.

At the end of the day, don't feel bad about having an early night. The best time to go to bed is when you feel tired, and this is when your body will take the sleep it needs. By trying to stretch it out until your usual bedtime, you may risk kicking into that odd, wired feeling again. Before too long, you're in a cycle of insomnia.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Taking Some Time with Family

Taking some time to spend with family this week.  Hope you and your loved ones have a great holiday and get to enjoy it together.  See you all next year! (I couldn't resist.)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Friday, December 23, 2016

Wonderful Ways To Have Good Old-Fashioned Festive Fun



Image Source

Just a couple more sleeps until Christmas guys and I’ll be honest, I’m having mixed feelings about it. Over the years we seem to have lost a lot of the wonder and the magic that used to be around Christmas. Rather than spending time with the family on Christmas Day kids are playing video games and parents are watching movies. Instead of celebrating Christmas Eve people order in a pizza. Well, I say it’s time we put some of the old fashioned festive fun back into the Christmas holidays. Here are some great ideas I think you’ll love.

Head Out Caroling



Flickr Picture

I can’t remember the last time I saw people go caroling when they weren’t trying to raise money for charity. I say it’s time to bring it back big time thi, s year. On Christmas Eve let’s all go out with our families knocking on neighbors doors to sing those festive tunes. I’m sure some people will love it, particularly if you choose the right neighborhood. Just make sure at least one person in your group can actually hit at a note!

Homemade Winter Treats


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Let’s make some delicious winter treats for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I know that a lot of people just buy the goodies they stuff the sideboard with from the store. But what about if you made them fresh instead? Just think about how wonderful it would be if your home smelled of delicious mince pies and lots of other goodies too. I’m sure your guests would love them because nothing tastes better than a homemade mince pie. If you’re unsure where to start, you can find some fantastic recipes online.

Get Some Gifts You Can Share




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There’s still a few days left for some winter shopping. I think you should try and get some gifts that will bring people together rather than pushing them apart. For instance, you can buy boardgames that the whole family can enjoy. New board games come out every year and some of them are great fun. But if none of them tickle your fancy, you can always purchase some of the older classics. Clue, Monopoly, and Trivial Pursuit will all lead to some fantastic experiences on Christmas Day. Just as long as no one starts taking it too seriously. Make sure you buy someone a large variety pack of dice as well. Nothing is worse than having a game but no pieces.

Light Up The Room



Pixabay Source

Forget about twinkling lights for your home this Christmas. Light up the place with some beautiful candles to give your home the perfect festive glow. If you’re worried about the danger of real flames you can get flameless candles from stores. They still give the same type of lighting effect but they are a lot safer.

Make It Magic




Picture Link

If there’s one thing that’s been lost it’s the magic of Santa Claus. Let’s make everyone believe in this figure again by getting at least one special present for each person. Did you know you can actually get a replica of the bell from The Polar Express? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful present for a true believe in the spirit of Christmas?

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Healthy Breakfast And Snack Ideas For The Whole Family To Enjoy



https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-healthy-red-summer-35545/

When you’re trying to plan your meals for the week, it can often be difficult to think of creative and exciting breakfast and snack ideas that are both healthy and enjoyable. You may have got healthy lunches and dinners down, but it’s not always easy to think of breakfasts that are both simple to make and good for you. It’s the same with snacks. You often want ideas that you can grab on the go and sometimes, junk food can tick that box a lot easier. So take a look at these breakfast and snack ideas and see what you can come up with.

Toppers On Toast

One of the easiest options for both breakfast and a snack can be toast with a topping. If you’re not a fan of bread, you can avoid the gluten by opting for rye toast instead. Then, you have to think about what you’re going to top it with. Eggs are always a good choice, but avocado is also another tasty choice. But, they’re not the only options you have to choose from. You can also go with fruit and vegetables!

Raw Veggies

If you’re struggling for snack ideas but you want to keep it really simple, raw veggies and chopped fruits make for a great choice. Take carrots, cucumbers, and bell peppers and cut them into slices. Then, you can whip together a homemade dip, like hummus, and snack away. You can also do the same with fruits. You might like to chop up an apple and some melon and grab a handful of berries and dip away in things like peanut butter or honey.


https://www.pexels.com/photo/6-orange-fruit-beside-lemon-and-red-round-fruit-during-daytime-27599/

Smoothies & Juices

Quick and easy breakfasts and snacks don’t get any better than smoothies & juices. They’re easy to whip up first thing in the morning, and you can create a range of combinations. So, if your children love berries, you can create a berry smoothie and store some for later. And, if you’re looking to be a bit healthier, you can have a green juice and reap the detoxing benefits. All you need is the fruit and a juicer. If you’re not sure which type is best for you, learn the facts now.

Eggs Galore

You don’t always want to have to make a big hearty meal first thing in the morning or spend hours making healthy snacks. But, you do want to make sure that the food you’re eating and providing your children with is healthy. So, why not focus on eggs? They’re super easy to prepare and delicious too. Omelets take minutes to make, and you can pack them with lots of different ingredients. But you can also make baked egg muffins to snack on throughout the day.

Frozen Fruit

If your entire family like fruit but get bored of eating it in the same way, you can create different recipes to make it more exciting. Frozen fruit options are a lot of fun. Not only can you make fruit kebabs that your children might enjoy putting together as well as eating, but you can also make yogurt bites that double up like perfect little desserts.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Holiday Gifts for Him

I don't know about you guys, but I always have trouble finding great gifts for the men in my life.  If they have a few hobbies, most likely everyone is giving them/is giving him the few hobby-related gifts I think of.  And if they don't have any really big hobbies (or have an expensive hobby like...cars) then I just don't even know where to begin.

So understandably, putting together this gift guide was a bit difficult for me.  But I did it!  Check out the items below for some gift ideas for the men in your life.

Panasonic Wet/Dry Travel Shaver

For the well-groomed man who is always on the go, this shaver is the perfect, no-hassle solution.  Its compact, hypoallergenic, and affordable.  It makes a great stocking stuffer or small gift.

Korres Men's Essentials

Leave it to Korres to do men's scents perfectly.  All of the scents in this line have a masculine, clean feel and don't come off as "too young" or "too old."  They're refreshingly classic without being dated. The set comes with coordinating cologne and aftershave. It's something every man will use and enjoy.


2Boom Movement Wireless In Ear Sports Clip Earphone

Ever go for a run or work out and end up constantly ripping your earbuds out of your ear (ouch!) because the wire gets caught on something as you're moving?  This earphone is the solution.  Wireless, compatible with android and apple phones, and comfortable, these will be a great gift for the active guy in your life.

Rigoni di Asiago’s Nocciolata

Got a guy with a sweet tooth but tired of giving him the same old candy and baked goods?  Switch it up with this gourmet organic hazelnut spread.  Does your guy have special dietary need? No problem.  There is a vegan/dairy-free version as well.  

Friday, December 16, 2016

Hairapy with Women’s Rogaine®

We interrupt the holiday series posting to bring you a very important message for women everywhere.  It's time to take care of your hair and treat yourself to a little hairapy.

I'll be the first to admit that I often neglect my hair when it comes to styling.  My skincare routine is intense.  When I do my makeup - I go all out.  But I can not tell you the last time I "did" my hair.  (Unless putting dry shampoo in it counts.)

My hair is naturally straight, difficult to curl, lacks volume, and difficult to set into place.  So this means, I often just let it air dry and brush it out. But there are times when I want to do SOMETHING with my hair...and I just don't.  I don't indulge in "hairapy." So I decided to try a tip from celebrity stylist, Jill Crosby. (See list below.)
Side part with texture spray
Now, don't get me wrong.  I realize I'm lucky to have hair that looks somewhat decent when I just let it be. After all, many women experience hair thinning as they get older. It's not at all uncommon and it's often not the result of mistreatment of hair.  In fact, 90% of all hair loss cases are caused by hereditary hair loss.

We all know Rogaine® is a popular go-to item for men experiencing hereditary hair loss.  But women also have a product they can turn to with Women’s Rogaine®. Women’s Rogaine® 5% Minoxidil Foam is the first and only FDA-approved, once daily application hair regrowth treatment for the scalp exclusively for women experiencing hereditary hair loss. The treatment contains 5% minoxidil, the ONLY ingredient FDA-approved to regrow hair in women.

So what are the early signs of hair loss?
  • Thinning Hair – hair loses volume and density over time
  • Hair Shedding – increased hair accumulation in shower, pillow, and hair brush. Most people lose between 50-100 hairs a day, which is considered normal hair loss; a consistent loss of 150 hairs a day is considered significant hair loss. If hair loss is sudden or patchy, consult a medical professional.
  • Widening part or visible scalp – increased scalp visibility is a definite sign of hair loss
But, not to worry! With daily use, Women’s Rogaine® 5% Minoxidil Foam is clinically proven to regrow up to 25% more hair in just 3 months. But what can you do in the meantime to continue getting the most hairapy possible?  Check out these tips from Celebrity Stylist Jill Crosby:
  • Wear hats that fit and ditch the ones that don't
    • Jill Crosby: “Hats cause hair loss only when they are too tight, don’t fit well, or rub and pull the hair constantly. Go ahead and enjoy wearing hats and caps that fit properly – especially the soft knit types.”
  • Embrace styling tools!
    • Jill Crosby: “You can use all of the same tools and techniques, just with less heat and less tension. The key here is gentle. Ask your salon stylist to ease up on the heat and tension, and use a light touch with towels and hairbrushes at home.”
  • Switch up your part
    • Jill Crosby: “Experiment with flipping your part to the opposite side. By adding a little texture spray to the roots you can get a new voluminous flip started. Or try a look without a defined part – sometimes with fine hair parts can expose too much scalp.” 

 Women’s Rogaine® 5% Minoxidil Foam is available at Walgreens and Walgreens.com

You can also check out the giveaway by SheSpeaks here.

This post was developed in partnership with Women’s Rogaine®. All opinions are my own.

Family PJ's: My Favorite Holiday Tradition


Traditions this time of year vary from traveling to baking cookies to driving in the car to look at Christmas  lights.  But my favorite tradition? Matching family Christmas pajamas. My husband and I started this tradition last year with my son. He LOVED that we all matched. I know this is something my son will eventually grow out of, but it's such a simple, cozy, easy tradition we all look forward to.  Plus, cute family pajamas are available almost everywhere now! Zulily even offers some really adorable designs at a discounted price.

Matching family pj's are becoming more and more popular. Some families even wear their matching pajamas all day on Christmas. Some just wear them while opening presents. Check out Zulily's infographic below to see how families celebrate with matching family pj's.




This post is in collaboration with Zulily.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sephora Holiday Gift 2016

We all have one.  A beauty fanatic who is in the know about all of the latest and greatest when it comes to skincare, makeup, and hair.  It may be hard to know what to get them.  Of course, a gift card to Sephora is a safe bet.  But what if you want to get them something more than a plastic card.  Sephora has you covered with their holiday gift and value sets.  Check out the list below for a few of my favorites.

Sephora Favorites Soko to Tokyo

THIS SET! It is one of my favorite gift sets from Sephora. Ever. If you know someone who seems to be obsessed with skincare, this is the gift to give. The set includes several trending Korean skincare products - perfect for the beauty guru who wants to give new products a try before committing to a full size purchase.  My favorites in this box are the Caolion Where is Pore? Premium Steam Blackhead Pore Mask and the Shiseido Ultimune Serum.  At the time of writing this, this set seems to be sold out online but is still available in stores.


Sephora Collection Glitter Happy Brush Set


You can never have too many makeup brushes.  After all, they take so long to clean and dry (and having clean brushes is important!) that it's also a good idea to have an extra set or three to use.  I love Sephora's brushes.  They are high quality (no shedding) and seem to apply makeup flawlessly.  This set is classy, gorgeous, and festive all at once.  Plus it comes with a sparkly brush stand.

(Also pictured is the matching eye brush set -Great for travel. Other fabulous brush sets include the Sephora Collection Sparkle & Shine Brush Set and  Sparkle & Shine Antibacterial Brush Set.)





Too Faced The Chocolate Shop

You want to give something that will get a "Wow" reaction? This is the set for you. Not only is it adorable, but the products included are well known for their superb quality. The set includes deluxe sizes of t Better Than Sex Mascara, Shadow Insurance eye shadow primer, and the Luminizer highlighter.  Plus a blush, 21 eye shadows, a deluxe-sized Melted Chocolate Liquified Long Wear Lipstick, and a Chocolate Soleil Bronzer. The set has a value of $312 and is value priced at $58.  More pictures below.



Bumble and Bumble A Few of Our Favorite Things Kit

Commonly used in upscale salons, Bumble and Bumble is one of the top haircare brands around. This kit has everything the hair obsessed could ever need to style the perfect 'do.  My personal favorite is Pret-a-powder dry shampoo.  It not only saves me from having to wash my hair when I'm low on time, but it also adds texture and volume.

Sephora Collection Confetti Set of 5 Mini Sponges and Precision Makes Perfect Mini Airbrush Sponge Set

These make great stocking stuffers and, in my opinion, are just as effective as their $25 blender counterpart.  Plus, look at that super cute packaging!

Sephora has so many more gift option.  The above are just a few of my most favorite.  To see everything Sephora has to offer check out your local store or online.

The Best of Three: Christmas Ideas To Inspire Your Ideal Festive Period


[ annca / pixabay ]

Sometimes, one just isn't going to cut it.

A cookie, fresh from the oven - who ever has just one of those? Someone with more willpower than I do. A holiday - wouldn't life be better if we could finish one holiday, then skip off on another? There are some things in life that you just need more of.

So when I came to think of writing this - ideas for things to do over the Christmas period - I thought: why just make one suggestion for each category? For a start, that seems like there's a possibility I could suggest something that someone doesn't like the idea of. So those people have to be denied, without a recipe, or an idea for Christmas crafting for kids. What could be more miserable? I want to cater to all!

And while I was at it, I thought: why just double up? Surely triple the fun is all the better? Chocolate chip cookies are great. Double chocolate chip cookies? Even better. But triple chocolate chip cookies? Now you're talking my language.

Category One: Recipes
The sweet treats of Christmas are what make it so amazing. If it sounds like I've got cookies on the brain, then choice one is going to come as no surprise at all...


[ pezibear / pixabay ]


Chocolate chip cookies are a must! In terms of recipes, I love this one from Betty Crocker, the mother of all amazing sweet delights. You might want to add a few more chocolate chips - I find half a cup extra is enough to get the cravings satisfied. You can make them more Christmassy with a sprinkle of icing sugar or cut them with themed cutters; it takes them outside of the everyday.

Another favorite is pinwheel cookies. The great thing about these is that they're so very versatile. You can add your own flavorings - that recipe is an idea, but basically, go wild with your imagination. The distinctive pinwheel is created by coloring two sets of doughs and then rolling them together - it's a lot easier than you’d think. Red and green are a classic for Christmas, but white and blue gives a fantastic "frosted" impact!

If you prefer your cookies to be chewy, then these ginger cookies are a great option. The spice is subtle but has that distinctive Christmas aroma that scented candle makers have been trying to capture for years.

If you prefer your Christmas treats to be more on the savory side, then I've got you covered too. These canapés look absolutely amazing - they're perfect if you're expecting guests. Or if you just fancy a night in front of a Christmas movie with lots of canapés and some mulled wine...

Category Two: Crafting
Keeping kids busy during the Christmas holidays is not the easiest of things. You couple the sugary treats with lots of free time and you've got a recipe for a minor site of mayhem. The best way to channel that energy is into Christmas crafting.

As the saying goes, the only limit is your imagination. However, there's something for all ages that can not only give you some quiet time but also help make your house look spectacular.

Less Experienced / Younger Children

Paper crafts are the best way to go. Something simple like paper chains allows rooms for creativity. Snowflakes are the obvious answer, or go for something more ambitious like these:



[ PDP / PixaBay ]

You can then use wire to paint on halos and all of a sudden you've got a string of angels to hang up!

Middle Experience / Preteens

[mazaletel / flickr ]

You can still stay within the realms of paper crafts, but make them a little more intricate. Use themed or glitter paper to stay in keeping with the season. You can find plenty of ideas here - should keep you going to 2017!

Any Ages Above

[ marcosaasilva / pixabay ]

You can pretty much go ahead with any ideas that you can find aimed towards adults. I really love the idea of ornaments. They are intricate and time-consuming while having the benefit of being immediately useful. It's a lot easier to add a new bauble to the tree than grabbing the step ladder to string up some paper chains.

Category Three: Keeping Safe

I know, this may sound like a little bit of a downer - but it's one to remember. Actually having an accident at this time of year (rather than just reading about it) is what would be the real downer, so a little leeway is allowed.

Keeping safe during the festive period is not as easy as it sounds. There's so much going on that you might not be as vigilant as you usually are. You can lose track of things, leave something on for too long or just entice an opportunistic burglar with presents stashed under the tree.

So, without further reflection, three important safety things to remember...

[lhotsky / pixabay ]


Fairy and tree lights can look amazing and give a room the perfect festive atmosphere - but they do get hot. It's not recommended that you leave any tree lights on unattended, and give them an occasional break when you're at home as well. It's also important to keep your tree moist if it's a real version; dried out pine needles are much more flammable.

If Christmas for you involves family and friends descending (with more Christmas toys), you might find yourself rushing to find transport. You could be going to local festivities or just for a cleansing walk among nature, but there’s limited space and a lot of people. You end up with something like a clown car, trying to pack as many people in as possible. It's important to remember, even if you're struggling for space, the car and booster seat requirements of young children. It's very tempting just to dismiss the issue - especially if it's a short ride - but the problems caused by not doing so are going to last a lot longer than the 12 days of Christmas.

I've already briefly mentioned it, but it's worth reiterating. Every year, houses are burgled due to the presents sitting under the tree. Now, I'm not suggesting you do away with that tradition, but do try and shield the tree from view. At the very least, a well-placed net curtain can save your blushes - and your enjoyment of the holiday. If you have an alarm, no matter how tipsy on mulled wine you get, make sure you arm it at night as an extra layer of protection.

Category Four: Cleaning

There is no doubt that the period brings with it new cleaning challenges. For a start, there's just so much stuff - particularly if you're cooking for a large family. Playing hostess for out-of-town relatives can be difficult as well, meaning your usual chores can double overnight.

In the midst of it all, it is possible to bring some calm back to proceedings. Here's my three valuable tips for dealing with a houseful of guests, not to mention just the usual family number being around for longer than normal...

Switch to cheaper bed coverings. If you've got guests, the last thing you want is to be worrying about your 100% cotton sheets and your best bath towels. Go for cheap, simple options that you can pick up for a few dollars - and then throw away later if needed. This helps to save their blushes also; if there's an accident with lipstick on pillowcases, you can absolve their guilt by admitting it's only a cheap stand-in that they've ruined.


Use as few cleaning products as possible. Most of the holiday season is going to be spent clutching the chance to clean whenever you possibly can rather than being able to spend a couple of dedicated hours. It, therefore, makes sense to use products that have multiple applications, or even consider using the cheap eco-hacks you can find online.


Get kids involved. Let's be realistic, there is no greater threat of Santa's mythical Naughty List than in the run up to Christmas! Give each child (both yours and visiting children, providing it's okayed by their parents) a chore and reward them with a star for doing it. Even better, give them one of the cookies you made earlier - if you can bear to part with them that is!

Category Four: A Season of Joy



[ jill111/ pixabay ]

Can you keep the peace? Arguing at Christmas with family members is something of a stereotype, but it's still one that can happen. Nothing will ruin the festivities quicker.

Try and intervene before it gets worse if you see it happening, separating the parties into different rooms if necessary. If it's you feeling the irritation, practice a few self-calming techniques.

If it's children fighting, separate them even quicker than you would with adults. When they have calmed down, insist that they apologize to one another. If they're young enough, a few more mentions of the Naughty List might work wonders at this point. The double-apology is very necessary, as not only does it make them take responsibility, but ensures they know there are consequences to bickering.
Try and keep alcohol to a minimum. Yes, it's Christmas, but alcohol is also notorious for how it loosens inhibitions. If necessary, water down a troublesome guest's allowance in the effort for family harmony. For example, if you water down wine 50% and then dip the rim into wine to imprint a taste, they won't notice the difference. Everyone else, however, just might.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

6 Ways To Master Food Prep For Your Family

Mastering food prep for your family has so many benefits. Not only will you save money when you go food shopping, you’ll have less waste, and everybody will know exactly what you’re eating all week long. However, getting into the swing of things can be a little difficult at first. Here are 6 ways you can master food prep for your family:

Look At Your Schedule In Advance

Take a look at your week’s schedule in advance and see what you have coming up so you can decide how much time you have to make food. If you have a busy week ahead, you’re going to need a week of meals that are quick to prepare and cook. If you have more time on some days, you can afford to make a new recipe. Make sure you use your schedule to decide what meals you’ll be eating on certain days. There are lots of different meals that are still healthy and yummy while being quick to prepare. Do your research or buy a cookbook!



author

Create A Master List Of Meals


Think of all of the meals your family really likes and create a master list of meals. You can choose from these meal ideas each week so you always have a varied diet and lifestyle. Your family will probably get bored if you all eat the same meals on the same days. The master list of meals can help you to switch things up.

Write Out Your Meal Plan And Create An Ingredients List
Write out your meal plan for the week, and using that, create an ingredients list. When you go shopping, take the list with you and you’ll know exactly what you need to buy. You’ll save money this way, and you won’t buy anything you don’t really need. You might even want to plan snacks and things for the week too, or you can simply pick up a couple of things, like a bag of apples and some yogurts.


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Don’t Stray From Your List

Avoid straying from your list if at all possible. It’s all too easy to get sidetracked by the offers and deals section, but there’s no point if you’re not actually going to eat what you buy. You might just end up with more food that you can realistically eat, and this is why things go to waste.

Buy Utensils And Accessories To Help You

Make sure you invest in utensils and accessories to help you master your food prep. This could be things like a blender, slow cooker, and even a sharp set of knives. You can find ideas on sites like http://www.cutitfine.com.

Prep Whatever You Can In Advance

To save time, prep whatever you can in advance. Maybe you could take Sunday evening to chop up your vegetables, for example. You can even make certain meals in advance, and then freeze them so you have super fast meals later on in the week. You’ll get into a good routine this way and save so much time during the week.


This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Monday, December 12, 2016

MAC Holiday 2016 - Nutcracker Sweet

Nutcracker Sweet Red Retro Matte Kit
It's my most favorite time of year!  Yes, I love the decor, the sweet baked goodies, the random acts of kindness, and the classic holiday music playing EVERYWHERE.  But do you know what else I look forward to this time of year?  MAC's Holiday line.  Why?  It's always fabulously themed with gorgeous packaging and high quality products I adore.

This year, I have to say, the packaging is absolutely stunning.  It's a departure from the typical green/red/silver/gold color scheme we usually see this time of year.  But it is done so brilliantly that the pink/plum/gold designs still convey that inviting holiday theme.  Plus, this year there is something for everyone: Those who prefer to do up their eyes, those who focus on having the perfect pouty lips, and everyone in between.

The Nutcracker Sweet Red Retro Matte Kit is pretty much what you need to get that classic Holiday look in one gorgeous bag.  The kit comes with a lipstick in Nutcracker Rouge, a Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour in Fashion Legacy, and the Upward Lash Mascara in Upward Black.  Don't let the tiny brush on the Upward Lash Mascara fool you.  This baby packs a lot of punch when it comes to volume and drama.  Perfect for those holiday pictures.

Nutcracker Sweet Warm Eye Compact
Shades from left to right
Filament, Whirling, Era, Woodwinked, Unwind,
Lady Fingers, Twelve Chimes, Showstopper,
Beyond Gorgeous

The Nutcracker Sweet Warm Eye Compact is one of my favorites in the entire line.  I'm an eye girl.  If you've been here awhile, you know I love to play up my green beauties with different shades of bronze, brown, plum, and other smokey colors.  This palette is a great mix of smokey and bright shades.  My favorites are Woodwinked, Unwind, Showstopper, and Beyond Gorgeous.  As always, the eyeshadows go on smooth, are never chalky, and last all day.

Check out the rest of MAC's Holiday line here or visit your nearest boutique or counter for more information.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mommy Hacks For Ill Kiddies



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Here are some of the best, (and most creative) Mommy hacks for when your child isn't feeling too good.


Head Lice

No parent wants to hear that their child has head lice, it's one of those things you dread, but know it will happen at some point. Unfortunately, nothing you can do will prevent it (unless you never let your child leave the house and mix with other kids!) If you want a natural, chemical free product that will get rid of lice in one to two hours after application, go to cootiecorral.com to find out more. Get what you need so will you always be ready.

Homemade Heat Pack

A cute homemade heat pack can be made from old fabric and dried corn kernels; this is great for children is they have muscle aches or growing pains!

Bug Bite Cream

This is actually an ancient Chinese secret as a remedy for insect bites. Just rub the inside of a banana peel on bug bites to stop swelling and itching quickly when you don't have any anti-histamine cream on hand.

Homemade Cough Drops

If you have a child who treats cough drops like sweets, it can get super expensive. Forget going to the shops to buy them, just make them yourself. This recipe for homemade throat sweets that can be done on the stove-top or in a microwave, and you can use fun molds like stars or teddy bears that will get kids happy to pop them in. You can even make lollipops!

Vicks Verruca Foot Trick

You are probably only familiar with rubbing Vicks Vaporub on your child's chest to ease their breathing and coughing. But it has been sworn to work as this lesser-known trick to get rid of verruca: rub Vaporub on their feet (and of course covering the verruca, then cover with thick socks and leave like this every night when your child goes to bed. Do this until you see results! Make sure you don't put the Vicks on a cut - it will BURN.

Marshmallows for a Sore Throat

For kids (or even adults for that matter), being sick won't be half as bad if that means they get to eat marshmallows to soothe a sore throat. Marshmallow is similar to a substance that has been used to relieve scratchy throats for thousands of years. The gummy substance is called mucilage, which creates a slick gel that then coats the surface and relieves irritation. The marshmallows you buy at the store today probably doesn't contain this magic herb, but they do contain gelatin, which can also coat and soothe a sore throat, too. So try it out!

Maxi-pad Ice Pack

Wait, what? Those womanly napkins you grab for when you get your period has another use? - Well yes, it makes a great DIY ice pack. You just have to run it under cold water for a cool compress, or you can freeze it for lower temperatures.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

This post is not meant to give medical advice.  Please consult a medical professional with any health concerns and before implementing any new treatments. 

9 Fun Ways To Experience Nature With Your Children

It seems these days that kids spend so much of their time cooped up inside, playing computer games and watching television. Fresh air is good for all of us, and nature is such a great source of learning and intrigue, it seems a shame that more children aren’t encouraged to spend time outside. Here are just a few ideas for things you can get up to outside that are both educational and fun.


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1. Pick Fruit Together

Scavenging for fruit is a great way of teaching your kids where food comes from and gives them a beginners biology lesson to boot. Even toddlers love getting involved and getting a bit messy. Show them what is ripe and what isn’t, encourage them to taste the fruit fresh from the tree, and then go home and bake a delicious pie that the whole family can enjoy.

2. Pack A Picnic

Choose a lovely secluded spot on the beach or under some trees, pack a feast into a hamper, and get out exploring. When the weather is good, it seems a shame to eat at home. Encourage your children to come up with picnic ideas for food, and ask for their help in preparing and packing. Just don’t forget insect repellent, wet wipes, and antibacterial hand gel.


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3. Go For A Hike

You could combine your picnic with a lovely hike through the outdoors for older children. When planning, ensure you choose a route which you know won’t be too arduous for your kid’s little legs. Make sure you make frequent stops along the way for treats, and to look at the plants and animals that line your route.

4. Set Up Camp

If you’ve got a little bit more time to spare, why not make great family memories by spend some of it sleeping surrounded by nature. Kids will love the opportunity to put up their tents, cook their dinner over a campfire, and sing songs as the sun sets. Just make sure you choose a protected camping site and take any necessary precautions if you’re in bear country.

5. Go On A Bug Safari

You can do this right in your own backyard, all you need is a few cardboard boxes, plastic tweezers, and a book for identification. It’s the perfect opportunity for a bit of a biology class, but also to teach children not to be squeamish of creepy-crawlies. Encourage them to pick up bugs using the tweezers, put them in a box, and then try to identify them. You can even test them later on.


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6. Learn About The Weather

Adults can find inclement weather inconvenient and an irritation, but for children, it’s just another new experience. When it rains in the warmer months, put your raincoats on and splash around in puddles and dance in the yard. When it snows, build snowmen, snow dogs, entire snow families, go sledging, and throw snowballs. Afterward, warm up with hot cocoa and a bath. You’ll all sleep well after that.

7. Make Sandcastles

If you’re lucky enough to live nearby, the beach is a great place to hang out with your kids, and really educational too. Build sandcastles and moats, decorate them with rocks and have a competition to see who can make it the highest before the tide comes in. Spend some time looking in rock pools at the tiny fish, crabs, and limpets on the rocks. Kids love seeing what they can find.

8. Do Some Yard Work Together

When the weather is clement, and you just know you need to cut back some of the overgrown foliage, why not enlist the help of your kids? They’ll happily pull out weeds and spot the creepy crawlies. If you enjoy growing your own vegetables, why not encourage your kids to plant the seeds and check on their progress regularly? If they’re after a pet, then they can prove how responsible they are by watering their plants daily.

9. Build A Fort

If you live near a forested area or your yard is big enough, why not scavenge for branches and twigs together and build a simple lean-to fort against a larger tree? Finding the right materials and creating a sound structure is a great education for slightly older children. They’ll love sitting in the fort, and the sense of achievement at the end is brilliant.

There are so many different ways you can experience nature with children of all ages. Even if you live in an urban environment, your own backyard has so much to offer. It’s all about just getting outside and seeing what adventures you can find.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Celebrate with Kindness

The Elves with my on-going list of kindness
tasks (written in my Limelife Holiday Planner).
It's officially that time of year! The most wonderful time, sometimes (ok, most of the time) a very stressful time, but always a time that gives us all warm fuzzies when we see the lights, decor, and family movies we grew up with on TV.  Continuing fun family traditions is one of the best parts of the holiday season.  Whether it's driving around looking at Christmas lights, baking cookies, or going to see Santa, traditions are a BIG part of Christmas.

One tradition many families have is hiding and posing that pesky elf that reports back to Santa.  However, at my house we do the whole elf thing a little bit differently.  Now, don't get me wrong, I think Santa's little spy elf is a fun tradition - for both kids and parents.  But I wanted to also incorporate the importance of giving back this season with our elf fun. I wanted to teach my son that Christmas is much more about giving than it is getting.

So the elves that come to our house are a little different.  Every year, on December 1st, Santa drops the elves off at our house.  The elves are on a mission to help us complete one kindness task each day.  Sometimes the tasks are something small like baking cookies for a loved one or making a card for a neighbor.  Sometimes they are bigger tasks like donating some of the toys no longer played with in our home, shopping for and donating toys to a local holiday charity, or donating canned goods to a food drive. Whatever the task, my son is excited to see his note from his elf friends each morning and loves to participate in the act of kindness. Then, on Christmas Eve, when Santa comes to bring presents, he also picks the elves back up to go home.  The elves usually leave behind a small Christmas gift and thank my son for helping them spread joy and kindness to others.

Beyond being fun and reminding even my husband and I to make an effort to give what we can, this also normalizes the act of giving back and thinking of others at a time when most are consumed with what they are getting.  I'm hoping it strengthens my son's empathy and broadens his perspective as he gets older.  I also hope it helps him appreciate what he has and learn to celebrate not through gifts and spending copious amounts of money, but to instead celebrate with kindness.

*Tip* Write down kindness task ideas as you come up with them a couple of months before December.  I tend to have serious brain farts if I have to come up with them on the spot! Writing them down before hand not only keeps me from repeating tasks, but also gives me the opportunity to incorporate all of the activities we really enjoy into our tasks.


Monday, November 28, 2016

Cute And Fun Gifts For The Man In Your Life

If you’re looking to buy a meaningful gift for the man in your life, this could be the perfect post for you. These cute and fun gifts for the man in your life are bound to make him happy, whether you’re buying for a birthday or Christmas time. Take a look and see what you think!

An Adventure Day

Men love adventure. Most of them, anyway. Why not send him on an adventure day? You could go along with him if you really wanted to, of course. You could get him a hot air balloon ride, a trip on a segway, or something even more daring. How about a sky dive? There are also sports car driving days he could take part in, if he’s a bit of a car fanatic. This should be a lot of fun and really get his adrenaline pumping!


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A Custom Bobblehead

A custom bobblehead, like the likenessme bobbleheads are perfect for the man in your life. If he works at a desk, having one of these smiling up at him during the day should definitely make his day a little brighter. They are handmade, and you won’t believe the level of detail that goes into each piece. It’s definitely a cute and fun gift that your man will love.

A Musical Instrument

Has the man in your life always talked about playing a musical instrument, but never actually gone through with it? Now could be the time to purchase one for him and encourage him to learn! Ukuleles are thought to be pretty easy to learn, but you could go for anything. To really top off this gift, you could get him lessons too. However, lessons aren’t always necessary these days when we have resources like YouTube. If he’s committed enough, he could very well teach himself to play the instrument.


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A Novelty Gift

If you’re on a budget and you want to make the man in your life laugh, a novelty gift could be just the solution. You have so many options here. For the man who has everything? You could get him nothing. Seriously, they do ‘nothing’ in a little plastic case that you can wrap up and present to him. You could get him a novelty mug, a blow up walking frame, or something else he’ll likely laugh at. Just make sure he’s got the right sense of humour for this kind of thing, or it could backfire!

Hopefully, these fun and cute gifts for the man in your life have inspired you to give him a great gift. Remember, it’s not all about price. It’s about the thought that’s gone into the gift! Something could cost barely anything and still make a great gift. Really think about your man, his hobbies, and what he likes to do. You should be able to come up with some of your very own great ideas! If you have any ideas, leave your thoughts below. I’d love to hear them! Come back soon!


This is a collaborative post written by a contributing writer.

Mom Sick Day Hacks

If you follow my social media (and this blog) you may have noticed I haven't been posting at my typical frequency.  That is because this mama got sick! And it took me down.  It was one of those times - a virus causes a sinus infection wicked enough to slow even the strongest Super Mom down.  But as I was trying to rest (HA!) and still take care of my family, I realized there are some tricks that I used (learned from my own mother) that others may not know about.  And, since us mamas have to stick together, I thought I'd share them below.





Baby Food

This is perhaps the most unique tip I have.  Disclaimer - It sounds a little odd but give it a chance and this will be a game changer.   I know baby food has a reputation for being... well... gross.  But it's really not that bad if you buy certain combos and add a little salt and spice to it. 

When my brothers and I were younger and had our wisdom teeth out or throats so sore that we couldn't eat real food, we did not get to live off of ice cream and smoothies like most kids.  My mom has a medical background, so she knew putting nutrients back into our bodies was essential to the healing process.  So what did we get instead?  Baby food.  My mom would heat it up, add some salt (sometimes butter and garlic) and serve it to us. And, honestly, it's pretty good. When done right, it ends up tasting like a fancy pureed soup.  So, now when I'm so sick that I don't even feel like eating, this is what I do.  It's fast, easy, delicious, and I'm putting nutrients into my body instead of junk. 

Frozen Meals for the Fam

Frozen food gets a bad rep.  And, yes, it isn't the best idea to eat nothing but frozen, processed food all of the time.  But when you're barely able to drag your butt out of bed and you want to make sure your kids are eating more than cereal and pizza, a frozen casserole can be your lifeline.  Brands like Amy's also have meals that are a little healthier than the typical family style TV dinner brands.  After all a frozen noodle, cheese, chicken, and broccoli meal is better than a meal of Froot Loops or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Shower Time

Take a little longer (if you can) when it comes to your shower time.  Breathe in the steam and take a time out to just focus on your own self care. You'd be surprised how much better (and less congested) you can feel after a long, hot shower.

Pedialyte

Pedialyte...it's not just for kids! Sipping on some Pedialyte can replenish a feverish, worn out mom in no time.  Also, as hard as it may be, try to stay away from the caffeine when you have high tempature.

Screen Time = Rest Time

Loosening the screen time reins is a way I get a little extra rest.  "Yes, mommy knows you usually only get to play with the tablet after bath time.  But right now mommy is so dizzy that she can barely stand...so here you go. Play while I lay down on the couch next to you."

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Top Tips for Moms With Two Under Two



https://www.pexels.com/photo/brother-sister-hug-coast-27547/

Being a Mom with infants can be tough. Doable, but tricky. Sometimes, tips from those that have been there, or little hacks on making things easy or quicker, can help. So that’s the aim of today’s post. If you’re a Mom with two under two, or even a few under school-age, these tips might just help you to get through the day with fewer tears - from them or you!

They’re nothing mindblowing all that new, but focusing on these easy ideas can make a difference to your day - if they don’t already.

Keeping Them Busy and Sweet

We all know our little ones like attention, but it can be hard to think of new ideas that can keep them entertained and calm at the same time. No to mention, save your sanity! Baking is an activity that should always be fun. Your little ones can get involved with making things like cookies, that are quick and easy, and enjoy eating them for days afterward!





https://www.pexels.com/photo/love-baby-boys-family-50692/

Sit and Stand Strollers

Getting anywhere with two under two can feel like a mission in itself. Often it is. A double buggy is a very good idea, but it can be hard to handle and get around. If you’ve not thought about a sit and stand stroller yet, you might want to. They keep your toddler in check, without them feeling locked up. Sites such as like http://wholovesbabies.com/the-best-sit-and-stand-stroller/ have great reviews and comparison points to help you figure out which style is best for you.

Jazzing Things Up

If your kids love to be creative and you’ve had a project in mind, then a little DIY could kill two birds with one stone. Whether you want to create something decorative for the home or to go up in the bedroom, or something they can both use, DIY is a great activity to get it done. Babies can play happily in the bouncer while you and the toddler get to work on something fun.


https://www.pexels.com/photo/children-running-together-on-wooden-path-way-bridge-194009/

Mommy’s Little Helper

Often, the eldest of the two can feel like the youngest gets a lot of attention. It is hard for them to understand that the baby needs you more, but it can be made easier by showing them. The littlest might be in a bouncer or highchair during a lot of your activities together, but they don’t always have to be. Why not let the eldest help you give the baby a bath or feed them. Sibling bonding can be special, and it helps to show them attention at the same time.

Share and Share Alike

Do your children like to share? If not, you’re not alone. They’re so close in age, but sometimes that can be the only thing they have in common. But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have a little more control over their routines if you want to sync them up. It can seem easier to separate their bedtimes and mealtimes, but sometimes, joining them can be much more hassle free. And if the toddler becomes Mommy’s little helper, you won’t be doing it alone!

This is a collaborative written by a contributing writer.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Makeup Tips for Time Limited Moms

Sometimes when that little bundle of joy comes along, all those things you are used to doing for yourself can go out the window. It is hard to keep up your beauty regime, and a fashionable wardrobe when you are up to your armpits is diapers. Time is thin on the ground, and there always seem to be a mountain of things that need to get done. Which can make you feel bad for taking time out of your busy day to little things like applying your makeup. But it doesn't have to be that way. In fact, you can have your cake and eat it, if you use a shorter beauty regime. Read on to see how putting your face on doesn’t have to take forever.

A good base

One of the most important things to get right in a quick makeup routine is the base. This is the foundation for all the rest of the stages. Get this right, and the rest should go on without a hitch.

Some people use a moisturizer as the first step of their base. While those that are clever combine this step with an anti-aging serum to future proof their skin. You can shop a popular anti-aging serum online by following the link. This is a good bit of insurance to keep you looking young, whatever your age.




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Once this stage has been completed some people choose to apply a primer, and then a foundation. But this can be a bit too time consuming for a busy mom to do every morning. Instead, why not try something like a BB cream. This is like a light foundation that should even out and mattify your skin tone.

Concealer

If you have any specific blemishes, a great makeup tip is to use a concealer. Cream concealers are the best. Don't fall into the trap of applying them with a brush, though. You can get a much more natural finish by putting it on in layers with your finger.

Bright eyes

If you have young kids then a particular problem that you may suffer from is having tired looking eyes. You can solve this quickly and easily by using eye shadow in the correct way. Start with a darker color and apply it to the crease of the eye.

Then you need to take a light color and apply it to the lid. Start in the corner closest to your nose. Then apply a white shade over the top just in this corner. That will really make your eyes pop instead of looking like they have only had three hours sleep!

A radiant shimmer

Something else moms can have trouble with is a gray tinge to the skin, again often caused by tiredness. Luckily there are things you can do about this. You can make dull skin more radiant by applying a shimmering highlighter power once the rest of your makeup is complete. Then you will have a healthy glow like your favorite celebrity, rather than having spent most of the night with a colicky baby.

This is a collaborative post written by a contributor.