Monday, December 16, 2019

6 last minute things to do before your holiday guests arrive

Written by Alex Berger

 One of the best parts of the holiday season is getting to spend time with friends and family that you may not have seen in a while. Hosting holiday events and sharing your home can be so special. Although it is an extremely busy time of the year for most of us, there are still some things you should consider getting done before your guests arrive to ensure the best visit possible! Read on to make sure you check your list twice.

Finish Your Shopping

If you have guests coming into town for the holidays, the last thing you want is to be scrambling to buy last-minute Christmas gifts after they arrive (especially if it is shopping for your guests’ gifts!). Your guests will likely be ready to relax and enjoy the holidays when they get into town, and they likely won’t want to be dragged around town into busy stores. Check this one off your list and knock it out before they get to your house!

Bake Cookies For Your Neighbors

While baking cookies for your neighbors isn’t necessary, nor is it a common practice, that’s what can make it extra special. Your neighbors will love opening their door to some warm, fresh-baked holiday cookies. There is nothing better to get you into the holiday spirit! However, when you are having guests come into town, you might want to bake those cookies before they arrive. Once your guests arrive, save the cookie baking to eat for yourselves!

Get Your Exterior Cleaned

Are you having people stay at your house? If so, you absolutely need to get your windows washed. I bet you haven’t done that in quite some time and you’ll be surprised how big of a difference it makes. To be honest, I asked some of my friends when the last time they had their windows washed and 90% of them said that they have never had it done before. If this is the case with you, I highly recommend getting it done before your holiday guests arrive. And if you are looking for a great company to get the job done, check out ZAP Cleaning, based out of the North Port, FL area. ZAP Cleaning is locally-owned and operated. They specialize in pressure washing, house washing, and roof + window cleaning. They are able to rid your home of mildew, grime, algae, and other unsightly elements from your house, concrete surfaces, and roofs, as well.

They say, “If you want a clean exterior without the hard work, look no further. Our crew has been proven time and time again to be on time, professional, and having reasonable pricing. We stand by our word and only want to provide our customers with the best. Our quality shines through with our multiple repeat clients, so why not join them and be on our list? Zap Cleaning only provides the best for your home or business and that means we don’t cut corners when it comes to cleaning. We use soft wash techniques for your home or business exterior and only use the highest qualities of solutions. Don’t risk damage that can be done by power washing yourself or having someone uninsured do it – get the Zap guarantee and give us a call for an estimate.” With timely and accurate estimates, guaranteed customer satisfaction, and amazing results, what are you waiting for?! Find out more about ZAP Cleaning and get a free quote today!

Make A Christmas Playlist

As you and your family or friends gather around the Christmas tree in the days surrounding Christmas, having some Christmas jingles playing in the background is a great way to add a little extra joy and spirit to your holiday. This is something that you want to make sure you can complete before your guests arrive so that you don’t spend hours slaving over your computer or phone instead of spending that time with your guests.

Create Your Grocery List - And Shop

A very important task to get done prior to your guests’ arrival is the grocery shopping. Does ANYONE like grocery shopping? More power to you if you do, but your guests might not want to tackle that chore with you. Add all of your eggnog recipe ingredients to that list prior to day-of, and get the shopping done so that you can spend the most time possible with your friends and family who came into town to spend time with you.

Make Your Home Smell Like Christmas

Last but not least, make your home smell like Christmas to make it feel cozier (and happier too, in my opinion). There is nothing like the smell of a frasier fir tree, but if you cannot have a real tree in your home for whatever reason, you can at least make it smell like you have one in there! I highly recommend getting essential oils to make this happen. Or, if you do not mind burning scented candles, there are some great candles on the market that give you that Christmas-feel!

*This is a sponsored post*

Monday, November 11, 2019

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 for the Nintendo Switch: A Mom's Review

Full disclosure: I am no gamer.

I mean…I have two brothers who were into video games from the age of five. So I did grow up playing video games with them (I didn't want to be the odd man out!) And I can usually hold my own. But as far as what I prefer to do with my free time…I tend to gravitate towards reading, writing, or general socializing. (Except when it comes to The Sims. I get sucked into The Sims and end up giving those games hours upon hours of my life.) My son, however, is all in when it comes to gaming. Barely in elementary school and he's already a gamer.

All of that to say, I'm reviewing this more as a mom and someone who very occasionally plays video games. So my review won't include detailed information on graphics or technical aspects. But it will instead focus on what elements of the game my son and I enjoy. And how appropriate it is for younger audiences.

Right off the bat, I personally like that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 lets you skip through the intros. I do not have the patience to sit through those. I just want to play! Because of my impatience, story mode did go a little slow for me. Even with being able to skip through it, there is a lot of dialogue between gameplay. That is literally the only "complaint" I have as far as Tokyo 2020 goes.

Both my son and I appreciated how easy the game was to control. Buttons only mode kept things simple while the single and dual control modes allow the player to be a bit more active. The game does provide instructions on which buttons produce different actions at the beginning of each segment, but overall, it's all rather intuitive.

The plot of the game is a little silly but definitely age-appropriate for even the youngest players. The nefarious Bowser and Dr. Eggman have trapped Mario, Sonic, Toad, and (unintentionally) themselves in an old game system. (Cue the retro graphics.) Now Mario and Sonic must compete against the two villains to be set free. Meanwhile, the heroes' friends are joining together outside of the nostalgic game system to figure out how to help. You must compete against different "good guy" characters in various games to get them to join your quest to help Mario and Sonic. Why they wouldn't just help to begin with…I'm not sure. But it does allow for you to experience the non-retro games in story mode. So if you're not a fan of the retro look, this works out well for you. The storyline vacillates between what is going inside of the game system and what is happening outside of it.

My favorite feature of Tokyo 2020 is definitely the 24 various mini-games available in Quick Match. You can choose to play only your favorites or constantly switch (no pun intended) it up if you're one who gets bored easily. On top of the 24 main mini-games, there are 10 retro games. 10 additional mini-games can be unlocked through story mode as well.

My favorites of the mini-games are skateboarding and surfing. Probably because those are the ones I somehow always get first place in. The mini-games can be played in single-player or multiplayer (up to 4 players) modes. Parents of young kids- there are a few fighting mini-games but they aren't graphic or violent in the least. The hits are quick and injuries are not shown. Plus it very much has the “sporting event" feel to it with the boxing mini-game set in a ring and karate taking place on a mat.

Overall, the game is lighthearted, fun, easy-to-play, and appropriate for all ages. I feel it's definitely a game the entire family can enjoy together in Quick Match mode, as well as a game one can play on their own in story mode. There is also no worry of inappropriate content with this game which, as a parent, is always a major factor when it comes to purchasing a game for my kid. Wholesome and fun - this mom recommends.

View the game trailer here

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Can You Create A Grown-Up Space For Your Pre-Teen? Here’s What To Consider

Written by a contributing writer 

Our children grow up fast and while you want them to stay in their child-esq room, at some stage they will want a more grown-up space. The thing is, you want something that will last a while and reflect their age at the same time. You understand that they will probably want to spend more time in their rooms and that the space should be a usable space for playtime, homework, and general relaxing. You may be a little fearful of tackling their bedroom and decorating, so with that in mind, here is some advice to consider. Hopefully it gives you the inspiration and motivation to give your little one the bedroom of their dreams.

Image source - Pixabay - CC0 License

Invest in different furniture

You may want to ensure that you have the right sort of furniture in place to last as your little ones grow. As each year passes they get more homework, become more involved with friends, and want their privacy. Which means that unless you want to be redecorating things every few years, you may want to invest in the right furniture. Good storage options as well as things like a desk could prove very useful. Storage is very important for rooms that are small and will help them look and remain tidy. 

Use the opportunity to declutter and sell unwanted items

If you are in the process of overhauling your little one's room, then now is the perfect time to start thinking about making some big changes to the amount of items that they have in their rooms. Many children have toys, games, and items that they may have outgrown. This is the perfect time for you to start decluttering and you could even use it as a chance to sell unwanted items online. Websites like eBay are great for this,and it is also a great way to boost your income.

What about lighting and quirky features?

Another thing that can make a bedroom space feel a little more grown-up is the lighting. This can be achieved with things such as colored lighting or quirky LED bulbs. You could also look at investing in a haus bright grow light that could make a huge difference to any house plants in the bedroom. Lighting can transform a space, so take some to think about which fixtures and the types of lights would suit the bedroom. 

Have a budget

Finally, because it is so easy to let your imagination run wild when it comes to designing your child’s bedroom, especially thanks to Pinterest and Instagram which is full of inspiration, you should set some sort of budget for yourself. The cost of new furniture, paint, and other aspects such as handymen if you do need extra help with putting the room together. If things are a little tight, then you can hunt out some bargains online. Websites like eBay are full of great finds and even some used items can make great additions to your home. The last thing you want to do is to go overboard and run out of money before the project is completed.

With these tips, creating a space for your pre-teen can be simple and affordable.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ways To Give Kids More Social Experiences

Written by a contributing writer

There are things in your child’s life that will help give them the best start to adulthood, and that’s social experiences. Being able to communicate with others is something that’s needed so much in adult life and so it’s important to give them as much of an opportunity to socialize as possible. So here are some ways to give your kids more social experiences.

Image Source

After-School Activities

One of the main social experiences that we all have from a young age is through education. We go to school with hundreds, maybe thousands of others our age and we have to learn to be respectful and kind to everyone. It’s a real test of your sociable skills and what better than to do it from a young age? After-school activities, therefore, are just another way of expanding on what’s already happening at school. Not only does it provide additional friendships with others that they may not have interacted with at school, but it’s also good for finding passions. It’s certainly worth seeing if a stem class is available at your child’s school.

These after-school activities will usually cover topics that maybe aren’t covered in as much detail during normal school times. It’s never too early to explore what you like and what could end up becoming your career as an adult.

Sports Or Dance Classes

Apart from school, it’s good to encourage interest in other classes that may be available within your local area. Sports and dance classes tend to be two things that a lot of children get involved with at an early age. And whether those dance classes cover everything from ballet to tap or just focus on one genre, it’s beneficial. The social experience that they get from working together in a soccer team to lifting each other up in a dance routine, all goes towards their social experiences.

Making Time For Family Discussion

A family unit can come in many variations nowadays, and one of the most important things in a family is to have communication. The other main area where a child learns socialization for the first time is in the family home. It’s where they learn to say their first words and to have conversations - albeit at first a load of babbling - between them and you as the parent. So it’s good to continue this building of social skills by having family discussions on a regular basis. Whether that’s a catch-up around the dinner table or it’s a debate over something you’ve all just watched on the news. It’s healthy to keep them involved and to lead and listen in conversation. The more you do this within the family home, the more confident they’ll feel when it comes to socializing in the outside world.

Offering your child the best opportunities when it comes to social experiences can help boost their confidence in themselves and to create real friendships and connections with those that they genuinely feel a pull towards. It’ll help them later in their adult life and will continue to provide them with opportunities throughout their lifetime.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Tips for Flying with Kids with Allergies and Compromised Immune Systems

Plane travel with kids is difficult enough as it is, right? You have to make sure you have snacks, entertainment, and remedies for those uh-oh situations (bathroom accidents, airsickness, ear pain). But if you have a child with nut allergies or a compromised immune system, it becomes an even bigger challenge with even more prep-work and the situations you're preparing for are much more than little uh-ohs.

As you may or may not know, my son has a compromised immune system.  And while we have been lucky that this is something he could grow out of (fingers crossed) and something that doesn't affect his daily life too drastically, it is something that makes things like air travel a little more difficult.  Because for him, catching someone's cold on a plane could turn into an ear infection within the next day or two in a place far away from his regular physicians. And that equals a lot of explaining and advocating on my part in order to make sure my son receives the correct treatment.  No one wants to deal with any of that on vacation. So, needless to say, it's just best to avoid the situation altogether.

I imagine air travel for kids with nut allergies must be incredibly stressful for their parents as well. Especially if the allergy is severe. Luckily, the tips below can also help nut allergy parents make plane rides with their little ones just a bit easier.

1. Ask to Board Early

Most airlines have "family boarding" which allows you to board with young children before other passengers.  However, if your children are a little older you often won't qualify for this boarding. I recommend getting to the gate early and asking to pre-board. Explain your situation to the employee and often they will grant you preboarding. Please be aware that typically only the child and one adult will be able to preboard this way. You will not be able to preboard your entire family. But, this will at least allow you to have time to prepare your child's seat and area on the plane without a line of people waiting behind you.

2. Use Seat Sitters

Seat Sitters seem like such a simple idea that I'm not sure why it hasn't been around longer. These approved plane seat covers are easy to slip on when boarding. They're comfortable, washable/reusable, and overall incredibly effective when it comes to keeping those germs or nut oils on the seat away from your little one. I've used both the original version and the new version. I prefer the new version since it comes with an easy to carry and store zippered pouch. The seat cover also comes with antibacterial hand wipes, crayons, an allergy sticker, a tray cover, and an allergy mask. These covers literally make my life so much easier on plane travel days.

3. Lysol or Clorox Wipes Are a Must

I use Lysol or Clorox wipes (whichever ones I can find travel size packets for at the time) to wipe down everywhere the Seat Sitter doesn't cover.  This means the arms of the chair, the tray, the wall/window by the seat, the back of the seat in front of my son's seat, and even the seatbelt. I also wipe down the area of the seat next to my child (usually my seat) and if I have time, I basically wipe down the area and seatbelts of the entire row.

4. Hand sanitizer

I know hand sanitizer has been controversial in the past...but it's a lifesaver for us. My son and I both use hand sanitizer before eating anything and after leaving the airport. Antibacterial hand wipes (like those provided in the Seat Sitters kit) are also a good option.

5. Medical Masks

Medical masks can be purchased online (I use Amazon, of course) and I definitely recommend having your child wear one from the time you enter the airport. Seat Sitters do come with an allergy mask that may be enough for those with allergies. However, when it comes to blocking germs, I prefer hospital-grade masks. If your child feels shy about wearing one, wearing one yourself could help your child feel more comfortable.  That way, they aren't the only one on the plane wearing a mask.

Hopefully these tips help other parents stressing about plane rides with their kids! These simple tips have prevented my son from catching any germs on plane rides and overall helped us to have a smoother journey while traveling.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Are Your Kids Active Enough?

Written by a contributing writer 

As a parent in the current cultural climate, you may have found yourself wondering whether your kids are active enough. Many of our little ones are engaging in more activities that don’t require too much movement. Video games, cartoons, and social media generally encourage your little ones to sit still, facing a screen for extended periods of time. This, of course, is fine every now and then. But you should be encouraging your children to engage in more high energy activities that will get their blood pumping and keep them active!

Research of youth participation has shown that both the way kids engage with exercise and the types of exercise that kids are enjoying is changing. While football and soccer still remain popular sports, they are decreasing in popularity, while more obscure activities like gymnastics, lacrosse, and track and field are on the rise.

Female participation is on the up and more kids in general are participating in organized sports. So, you don't need to worry that your kids will be disinterested in exercise. You just need to make sure you’re offering them the chance to engage in a type of exercise that they enjoy!

Hopefully, the infographic from Cisco Athletic below will give you some deeper insight into youth sports participation trends and can help to guide you on the right path to getting your kids involved! Exercise is important for all children, so do your utmost to help them reach their sixty-minutes-a-day target!

Infographic Design By Cisco Athletic

Saturday, July 13, 2019

$1, $5, and $100+ Prescription Glasses. Can You Tell the Difference? - Where to Find Affordable Prescription Glasses Online

I did a thing. I finally went to the optometrist and my suspicions were confirmed.  Years of working from home and staring at a computer screen for hours on end without looking away...has affected my vision.  Although I now wear these Blue Light Blocking Glasses while working, enough damage had already been done.  So, glasses for me it is!

Now, I did buy a pair at the optometrist's office. Luckily, my insurance covered most of the cost. But, the glasses still ended up being over $100 after insurance. The sales person also tried to sell me prescription sunglasses. And while I am a sucker for a cute pair of sunnies... I was not about to pay hundreds of dollars on a pair that day.

Luckily, my simply beautiful sister-in-law had already told me about Zenni, an online shop that sells prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses at affordable prices. So, I asked for a copy of my prescription to order some Rx sunglasses online. I mean...I NEEDED them, right? (Tip: Make sure you get your PD measurements as well if you're planning on ordering glasses online.)

After ordering from Zenni, I saw an ad for a website called Firmoo on Instagram. I did some light research and quickly realized Firmoo has a pretty good reputation. During this time, Firmoo had two specials going on.  One was a pair of glasses for $4.95.  Another was a pair for just $1. I ended up paying $20.80 in total ($4.95 frames, shipping charge, lens charge of $4.95, and lens coating charge of $4.95) with the "$4.95" deal. But with the $1 deal, I paid just $1 in total. Shipping, lens, and coating charges were included.

See if you can tell which frames were $1, $5, and over $100 from the pictures below.




And now for the answers

1. Over $100 Optometrist pair
2. $4.95 Firmoo deal
3.  $1 Firmoo deal

Ready to get take a look and see if there is anything that catches your eye?


I've only purchased sunglasses through Zenni so I can't comment on how the eyeglasses prepare. But I love the sunglasses. The pair of tortoiseshell ones do make me a little dizzy if I wear them for an extended period of time. So I tend to prefer the black pair that I own. Both are oversized.

Tip: I don't think the "try on" feature is very accurate. Instead, I relied on reviews and the photos posted by others that can be found on the product page and within the reviews. I love glasses that other people deem ridiculously huge. So if there are reviews that claim "These are just too big" or "I wish they were smaller", I know I'm headed in the right direction.


The Firmoo $1 deal sounds too good to be true. But it wasn't. I definitely recommend using this deal to try Firmoo. The glasses don't feel cheap and they don't make me dizzy at all.  The $1 deal is available to new customers here. Be sure to use promo code 1usdsa at checkout. Valid through July 31, 2019.

If you're seeing this post after July 31st, you can still get 50% off of your order. Go here and use code Candice0629970.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

How To Make Your Daily Commute A Little Less Awful

Written by a contributing writer

Image via Pexels

The single biggest thing that most of us dread about our working day? The commute. Even when you're your own boss you need to travel for business. And although there are definitely unique frustrations about a commute on public transport, at least you have the option there of sticking in headphones or immersing yourself in your Kindle to make the time go by quickly. When your daily journey involves a drive, switching off is not an option. And the frustration of the pure wasted time involved in sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is enough to make you want to scream. However, there are ways that you can brighten up these bookends of your working day. It is possible to be more productive, comfortable and calm during that commuter drive, with a few essentials at your fingertips.

Grab A Cup To Go

One thing that is always guaranteed to start the morning off right and make traffic more bearable is a nice warm drink of your choice - whether it's the morning coffee you need to get your day started, a calming herbal tea or even an indulgent winter hot chocolate - invest in an insulated travel mug and you can take that beverage to go. Make sure that you purchase a quality container that is going to keep your drink hot throughout your entire trip. If you’re running late in the morning, you can even use it to hold oatmeal so you have something to eat when the traffic is stationary. Pack a drink and a cereal bar and you have breakfast ready to go at the wheel.

Keep Safe On The Roads

A safe commute is a happy one, so if you spend a lot of time in your car, then make sure that you have taken steps to keep your journey as stress-free as possible. Purchase a dashcam from a company like so that you have video evidence if the worst should happen and a collision on the roads should occur. Make sure that you take your vehicle in regularly for servicing if you’re using it for commuting, and that the tires are kept full of air and the engine oil is topped up. During the winter months, make sure that you’re fully prepared for adverse weather conditions by investing in snow tires if you’re in a place that experiences deep snow, and stocking the boot up with bottled water, blankets, a shovel, a flashlight and a small first aid kit, as well as a back-up charger for your phone.

Calm It Down

It's easy to lose your cool in traffic, so make the journey more comfortable with a padded memory foam seat cushion and some back support if you’re sitting for long periods of time. If you struggle with stress and anxiety, a dashboard aromatherapy diffuser can do a lot to improve your mood on your journey to work. And if it's the sense of wasted time that stresses you out when your to-do list is bursting at the seams, then try finding a current affairs podcast to listen to or even a learning a language while you commute.

Monday, July 8, 2019

How To Travel With No Fear As A Business Owner

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

Traveling as a business owner can be very scary. You are picking up and leaving your business in the hands of your employees, the other companies you work with, or for some small business owners, alone. Thankfully, there are many ways that you can log in and have remote access now and if you do it right, you will be able to travel with no fear as a business owner. Here are my biggest tips when it comes to doing so:

Schedule Your Trip Well In Advance

This provides your staff ample time to prepare for your absence and will give you the peace of mind needed to leave your business behind.

Preferably, scheduling your trip a year in advance will provide you and your staff time to prepare for your absence, while ensuring the business will operate smoothly. However, things happen and timing is not always ideal, but having at least a 6-month window before your travel dates will ease your fear as a business owner.

Prepare Your Employees And Customers In Advance

The key to ensuring your trip is indeed a pleasurable trip, is to prepare your employees and customers for your absence.

Train your employees on how to handle various problems and emergencies in your absence (e.g., internet connection goes out). Assign responsibilities to each employee for handling problems. In addition, be sure to write down contact information for outside resources so they can communicate those resources directly without needing the “go ahead” from you.

If you have customers you work with personally, be sure to alert them of your vacation schedule in advance and inform them you will not be able to work with them during your vacation. In some cases, it may be beneficial to tell clients you are leaving several days before you actually plan to leave in case they tend to procrastinate. That way you don’t have to worry about last minute questions or requests as you pack and prepare for your vacation.

Do Not Schedule Any Big Projects

It is important not to schedule anything to “go live” while you are away if you cannot manage it while you are gone. For example, if you have a huge presentation being sent out to your business email list, it is probably best to schedule it once you return from your trip. That way, if anything does come up, you will be able to figure out the problem at hand and fix it immediately.

Work With Great Companies

As a business owner, it can be very hard to pick up and leave everything behind, but if you work with great companies that help you run your business even when you are not there, you do not need to worry about it as much. For example, if you are an outdoor company, a sign shop, or an electrical contractor, you want Irvin Inc. to be in your corner no matter if you are in town, or away. Irvin, Inc. is the preferred supplier and one stop shop for LED lighting, solar lighting, digitals, billboard supplies, sign shop supplies, and much more. The companies that I mentioned above (outdoor companies, sign shops, electrical contractors, and other related businesses) partner with them because they trust them and know that Irvin, Inc. has already researched the manufacturers they work with. This means that when they get back in town from a trip, they do not have to do the research themselves - Irvin, Inc. has already done it for them and can lead them in the right direction when it comes to billboard supplies, signage lighting, outdoor & indoor lighting, and digital signage.

“Founded more than two decades ago, Irvin first made a name for itself servicing the largest and most respected powerhouses in outdoor advertising. Two products for billboards laid the foundation for a family-owned and operated business dedicated to one mission: offer quality solutions at fair prices, grounded in integrity and commitment.”

President and Owner, Denise Irvin Cannon has a 20-year track record in administrative management, vendor relations, product management, results-driven sales techniques, customer relations, and innovative marketing. She is the sole reason when it comes to the success of the operations side of Irvin, Inc. She says, “The people of Outdoor Advertising are the real drive behind my passion. I am continually amazed by the creativity of those that push the limitless boundaries of one of the most relevant mediums on the planet. But my heart is with Operations. I like to say we support the “non-sexy” side of the Outdoor Advertising and Sign Industries – those folks in the trenches who make good advertisements look great and challenging sign and lighting installs look easy.”

Irvin, Inc. is just one example of my point - work with companies that you trust so that when you are out of town and your customers (or employees) need help or recommendations, you have them at your fingertips.

I hope this article helped you learn how to travel with no fear as a business owner. No matter how large or small your company is, you should be able to live your life to the fullest!

*Sponsored Post

Thursday, July 4, 2019

How To Balance Being A Mom And A Teacher

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

I see that there are quite a few teacher-mom followers around here, so I wanted to write a post specifically for you! Let me just start out by saying that each and every one of you are rockstars and you are doing a great job at balancing everything. Just in case you need a bit of motivation and help on how to balance your life even more, I have a few tips for you:

Make It Easy On Yourself

There is a lot of guilt that surrounds working mother, one of which is not being able to make elaborate home cooked meals 5 nights a week. After a long school day, your energy is drained and the last thing you want to do is come home and whip up a 20 ingredient Pinterest recipe. No. You need quick and easy meals that your children will eat. It is survival mode during the school year. That might mean boxed Stouffer's Mac and Cheese will become your new best friend. Or maybe you are one of those people who like to meal prep on Sundays for less stress during the week. Whatever your preference may be, I have two helpful tips that will save your sanity when it comes to food in your home. First, online grocery shopping with Walmart or Amazon Prime. This will save you multiple trips a week to the grocery store, which you really don’t have time for anyway. Second, there is nothing wrong with picking up some fast food for dinner when you have to juggle extracurricular activities during the week. Picking up a pizza after soccer practice is not a crime.

Now onto the other two struggles of being a working parent: housekeeping and laundry. Laundry piles up like it is nobody’s business. Honestly, it seems like I am never not doing laundry. Then on top of that, I have to keep the house in order. How on earth can one person manage to do all this, while working? The truth is, it is not possible. Your family is a team and therefore, when the children are old enough, each member should be given specific responsibilities.

It Is Okay To Say No

This is a hard one for me. I find my purpose in contributing and helping others. However, it is very important not to overextend yourself. In the end, you are not only hurting yourself but also those you signed up to serve. It is important to understand your limits. You need time for yourself. You need time to devote to family. And you need time to devote to work. The key is finding a schedule that provides you time for each. Do not sign yourself for every possible committee only to realize your family time has been compromised. The most important work you do takes place within your own home. That means, when you get home from work, it is ok to turn off teacher mode and turn on mom mode.

Establish Personal Boundaries

I cannot stress the importance of this one enough. It is very important, as a teacher and a mother, to establish boundaries when it comes to communication with students’ parents. You are a parent first and a teacher second, meaning you can’t be answering emails all night and setting up lengthy parent meetings after school hours. It is essential that you start off the school year at a pace you are able to keep up. Inform parents that you are also a mother and therefore, will either answer emails during school hours or within 24 hours. Ensure you start off the year by managing communication with students’ parents in a way that is healthy for you and your family.

Schedule Time For You

Oh yes! This one is key for a successful balance.

I know some of you might have laughed when you read that. How in the world are you supposed to schedule in “you time” when you have work, family, and a million other things to manage? Well let me tell you, just as simply as you schedule a doctor’s appointment, you can schedule “you time.” Write it down on your “to do” list! Make it a priority. It could be as simple as going to get a pedicure, or going to Target with some girlfriends while your husband watches the children.

In addition, “you time” includes couple time for you and your spouse. Alone time with a spouse or significant other is necessary. It must be a priority! So go ahead and schedule that on your “to-do” list alongside “you time.” Time spent alone could be as simple as sitting out on your back porch after the children are in bed or as fancy as hiring a babysitter and going out to a nice dinner.

Lesson Plans Made Easy

As a mom and a teacher, I am sure you know how little time you have leftover. How are you supposed to take out even more time in the evenings to grade papers and make lesson plans? Well, luckily, you do not necessarily have to with the help from Teaching Point. Would you like to have an expert teacher provide all of your lesson plans and prep work for you? Think about how much time that would save in the long run! According to Teaching Point, decades of research shows that a better-prepared teacher leads to improved student achievement. While this is great, it’s just hard to be really prepared when you go home to a house of kids, as well. That’s why I think Teaching Point is so beneficial! If you are a teacher, I would highly recommend talking to your school system about purchasing TEACHINGpoint for all of the teachers. It is much less costly to help better prepare a teacher than recruit more teachers, so they would save on recruitment, development and retention, graduation rates, and college and workforce readiness, as well.

“Teaching Point is impact committed, mission driven and dedicated to serving the educational community by addressing the issue of the unequal distribution of highly-qualified and highly-effective teachers – without moving them around from school to school. Teaching Point is a provider of teacher training solutions through a patented and registered program that offers 3 distinct levels of professional development support:

  • Subject-specific instructional support materials (details posted below)
  • Subject-specific mentoring teacher access
  • Subject-specific university hosted online courses to assist teachers in their efforts to be highly-effective and, where necessary, certify teachers in additional subject-areas

Teachers with new assignments have different needs. Some may be technically qualified to teach a subject, yet as they have never taught it before, will benefit from instructional support materials and/or access to a subject-specific mentor. Others new to a subject assignment (or those unavoidably assigned out-of-field) will benefit by taking the university hosted online course for continuing education credit as a practical way of working toward recertification credits (the online courses include the materials and mentoring).”

*Sponsored post

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

4 Lessons To Learn From House Hunting

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

House hunting is fun and exciting, and it also has the potential to teach kids life long lessons (and maybe it will teach the adults some lessons, as well!). Then again, every single situation that you go through in life has the potential of learning and teaching lessons - it is just how you look at the hand you are given on that specific day. During house hunting, however, there really are so many amazing lessons that you can teach your kids during the process. It can be stressful, yes, but make it an educational time period, as well. Here are four lessons to learn from house hunting:

Finances Are Extremely Important

The first lesson that you can teach your children, or child throughout the home buying process is that finances are extremely important. It is very hard for children to see the true meaning and value of hard work and money until they have to figure it out for themselves, but as a parent, you want your children to be as educated as possible, in order to avoid going through tough times (which most everyone has to do at least once in their life - especially with finances).

The home buying process is the perfect way to show your children how being responsible with your money and your credit score is very important. Start from the ground up and show them. Start by explaining the down payment and teach them about saving money and why it is important to not only save for a down payment, but also for emergencies, as well. Then, you can teach them about credit scores and how it can affect interest rates (and life, in general). Your FICO score will reflect if you are maxing out your credit cards and/or making late payments on your bills. Another important financial aspect of the home buying process is your debt-to-income ratio. If you only teach your children one thing, this would be it. Talk to them about debt and how to be realistic with how much they can afford because money does not grow on trees and racking up your credit cards is never a good thing.

There are many other financial steps that you will go through during the home buying process and if you are able to work in a few other lessons for your children to learn from you, that is even better!

Being Open Minded Is Essential

Being open minded when you are house hunting is essential, but it’s also very important for everyday life, as well. Things are going to come up and life very rarely goes as planned, so keeping an open mind and being flexible is important, in order to succeed in all aspects of life. Simplify Your Day says, “Keeping an open mind is one of the most difficult things to practice.

It means you are open to everyone and everything that comes your way, allowing yourself to embrace different possibilities, opportunities, people, views, suggestions and interests.

You need to be unprejudiced, without stubbornness and flexible at all times. I try to practice this in every situation and it makes life a hell of a lot easier and less complicated. Better yet it is fun to practice. Trying to understand someone’s point of view, even when you disagree or don’t like the person very much, can change and free your mind in a way you would have never expected.

I don’t claim to master this skill, but I do see great improvement and it makes me feel powerful having the ability to change my way of thinking and not to get stuck in a mindset that makes me frustrated, angry or helpless.

Keeping an open mind is one of the best tools I use in simplifying my life.

It doesn’t mean I believe or accept everything, but I do listen, observe, feel and try to comprehend every situation on my path. It has given me, saved me and helped me many times. Try it yourself.”

Life Is Easier When You Work With Others

Unfortunately, in school, working with others is not always an achievement, but in real life, working with others is a very important skillset that most everyone needs to learn. For example, in a professional setting, you will have to learn how to work with others, especially in a collaborative environment (which most workplaces are navigating to). This goes for other things in life, as well, such as house hunting, or even selling your home. It’s not just yourself doing the work. More than likely, you will need to hire a team - a team of professionals and when you do so, you need to be able to work with them and rely on them, when needed. A team such as Erin King Jax Historic Realty makes that a bit easier to do because Erin King really knows the ins and outs of the real estate market in Jacksonville, Florida. For example, if you are selling and buying a home at the same time, this is called a contingent transaction and according to Erin’s website, this requires high levels of skill and project management to make it happen. Erin King is an expert when it comes to contingency transactions and can not only guide you through the process, but he can help take a lot of stress off of your plate. Erin offers coaching sessions online that are completely free, with no obligation, where he helps you learn how to make this complex set of transactions work for you.

Erin King is a Best of Zillow® REALTOR® who specializes in Jacksonville’s historic neighborhoods. “Erin, who previously worked in financial services and holds an MBA with an economics focus, brings a deep understanding of buying and selling historic homes. He enjoys sharing that knowledge with clients, from how to fit a 21st century lifestyle into a historic home and where to seek financing for renovation with a home purchase, to accurately pricing homes in Historic Districts such as Riverside, Avondale, Ortega, Springfield, Murray Hill, and San Marco. Erin, who prides himself on close attention to detail and quick response to clients, has put together a support team of contractors and other professionals who help transactions go smoothly.” This means that when you work in a collaborative environment with Erin, to find the home of your dreams, you are not only making the process easier for yourself, but you are saving a lot of stress along the way, as well!

Don’t Put All Of Your Eggs In One Basket

Last but not least, do not ever put all of your eggs in one basket. Buying a house is never a guaranteed thing until you officially sign the paperwork and get the keys. Until then, everything has the potential to fall through, so do not put all of your eggs in one basket. This is a great way to look at life, as well. You are dealt your cards and it is up to you to make the best out of them, but always be open to change and never be stuck in one type of mindset. I am sure you all have heard the phrase “don’t put your eggs in one basket,” and that is because it is a great life lesson, no matter who you are, or what you are doing.

*This is a sponsored post*

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Instagram "Collabs" - What Happens Behind the Scenes and How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

This topic is a little..."off-brand" for this blog.  But, it's something I talk to my friends and family about from time and time and their reactions seem to vary from intrigued to shocked. The question that usually starts the conversation to begin with? "How do you even make money through social media or your blog?"

To start off, my blog and social media accounts are not highly monetized.  Not at all. I didn't start this blog with the intent to make money from it. And I don't want to promote anything that seems sketchy just to make some cash. But I do accept sponsorships that "fit the blog's brand", seem interesting/useful/innovative, or that I know you all will want to see/hear about. I'll also participate in "collaborations" (I work with a brand, may be given free product, but am not paid) that fit that same bill.

When I first started my blog, I did a lot of the outreach for collabs.  I contacted brands I was interested in working with and promoting. As the years have gone on, I am fortunate enough to do very little outreach and have brands contact me daily. How does that happen? Honestly, I think it's because I have a long-standing relationship with COVERGIRL and I'm pretty sure they entered my information into large PR databases like Cision. (Thank you, COVERGIRL!) I also have learned to sign up for different third-party agencies (who act as the middle man between brands and "influencers") along the way.  It's very simple and a lot to explain all at the same time. But basically, that's the gist of it.

Since my contact information is available in PR databases, most of the more legitimate sponsorship or collaboration offers come through my email. Now, I still get sketchy ones that come to my email. And I do get legitimate offers in other places. But, generally, PR companies and brands like to contact me through email.

Every now and then, however, I receive messages through my social media DM's or comments asking me to DM an account for "collabs." Some of them are 100% on the up and up...others are a little questionable. Most of the time the brand wants me to promote their product but will give me something like 20% to 50% off. So I still have to purchase the product in order to promote it. And they may throw in an affiliate link with a commission percentage. I normally pass on those unless it's a product that I would (or already) buy at full price.

But recently, I've been seeing an uptick in [mainy instagram] companies offering a product deeply discounted in exchange for posts. But the thing is, they are selling these products at incredibly inflated prices. The first time I noticed it was with a sunglasses company (if you know me, you know why I get contacted by and consider collabs with anyone selling sunglasses).  They had a ton of super cute sunglasses and were offering me 60% off. Whaaaat. I am always down for some cute sunnies.

I went to their website and noticed the prices were around $70 or $80. And then recognized a pair (hi, I'm obsessed with sunglasses)... that I had seen on Amazon for about $12. So I started to do a deeper dive. I read reviews on the company located on third party review sites and what I suspected was unfortunately true. They were buying cheap sunglasses wholesale from China and selling them for much more than they were worth.

Since then, this has happened over and over again. And it's usually through Instagram. To the point that now when I get a collab request from anyone on Instagram, I usually research the company before I even respond. I can imagine that influencers who are much bigger than I am but don't yet have "people" to sift through requests for them, probably don't have the time to research every request they are interested in and may end up promoting something a little sketchy unintentionally.

So I'm giving you guys the "heads up" on what to look for.

1. They usually leave a random comment like this on a picture. 

I know they found me through one of the hashtags. The reason why this is odd is that MOST brands will either take the time to go to my bio to find my email and contact me that way. OR they at the very least send me a DM.

2. The conversation is usually a

Now, this is something you won't be able to see as a follower. But I wanted to include this for anyone just starting out in blogging or social media. Typically when brands contact influencers, they don't do a lot of back and forth before getting to the pitch. It's usually one message that goes something like "We love your blog/account/youtube etc. and think your followers would be interested in our product" and then they get straight into their company and what they have in mind as far as collaboration goes.

3. Their followers are all or mostly accounts with little content and/or most of their likes come from these empty accounts

If they have a ton of followers that have little to no content and little to no's a red flag. Everyone has some bots that follow them. I don't know why, but bots do just start following influencers, celebrities, and public accounts. But when a company has MOSTLY followers that look fake... there is a good chance they paid for their following.

4. All of their content was posted on the same day or not too long ago

If it's a brand you've never heard of, they aren't big anywhere else, and they have thousands of followers but their first piece of content was only posted a day ago... ehhhh.  Now, this could be a brand that has had an account for years and decided to hit restart and redo their image, wipe their account of content, and start over. But, it's not very common and it is still something to watch out for. Also having most of their content posted on the same day throws up a red flag since most brands will post a little bit each day or each week... Not all at once.

5. Their products don't seem to match the price

With things like sunglasses and clothing, it's hard to tell if the quality matches the price without actually seeing the product in person. But jewelry is a little easier. If the website doesn't list what the jewelry is made out of (examples: 925 sterling silver or 18K gold) then it's most likely alloy or another cheap material. And not worth $40.

You can also check this by doing a simple google search of the product name or reverse image search the product photo found on the website/ social media account. Most of the time you will find the same exact product (sometimes the same exact image) listed on wholesale websites and Amazon for 75%-90% cheaper.

*Bonus* They are following ... their other accounts?

This was new for me. I normally don't check who the brand is following. But this particular account was only following 3 accounts. So why not? Who were they following? Themselves. Yep. They have 3 more accounts for the same company. I'm assuming they have multiple people doing "outreach" via Instagram to influencers and that each person has their own IG account for the company...but that's not how things normally work (normally a company has one account or one main account and one PR/outreach account.... or their PR department contacts you through email). I can't know for sure if that's what's going on...but that's what it looks like to me.

And lastly, reviews are your friends! Check the comments on the companies' social media and search "[company name]+reviews" or "[company name]+scam" on google before giving them your coin.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Your Nursery Must Do's

Written by Alex from The Berger Bungalow

Do you have a baby on the way, or are you considering adding a little addition to your life? First of all, congratulations! Having a baby is such an amazing time filled with love, excitement, joy - and many sleepless nights. One of the most exciting parts of preparing for a new baby is getting the nursery ready. There are so many great nursery decorations and gadgets to help you style and organize your baby’s room. I’ve compiled a list of nursery must-do’s to help all of you new mothers out there make sure you’ve got everything prepared! Let me know in the comments below if you have any nursery must-do’s.

A Crib or Bassinet

Okay - this one is pretty obvious, but you definitely need a crib and/or bassinet. Every parent and every child is unique and will have his/her own needs, so find what works best for you. The recommendation now is to keep your child with you for the first few months while you sleep. Some parents co-sleep (with a safe sleeper, of course), some parents put a bassinet in their room, and others decide that the nursery works better for them, instead of sleeping in the same room. No matter what you choose, do not be swayed by the opinions of others. Like I mentioned, every parent and child is different and you just have to do what works best for YOU.

Closet Organization

I don’t know about you, but my entire life feels more organized when I have an organized closet. Seeing pictures of closet transformations is so satisfying! Having an organized closet in your nursery is critical - especially with all of the clothes and knick-knacks you will likely be gifted. Having drawers in your closet to separate smaller articles (think items such as socks and hats) is a good start. Another great method to organize, and my personal favorite method, is shelving. You can use anything from standard shelves attached to the wall, to an empty bookshelf. Shelves can hold anything from books to toys to clothing - the possibilities are endless! Let me know in the comments below how you are planning on organizing your nursery closet.

A Fan

Although there is nothing that can be done to totally prevent SIDS, babies who sleep in rooms with a fan have a lower risk for sudden death syndrome, according to quite a few recent studies. The finding is the latest evidence to suggest that a baby’s sleep environment is a critical factor in the risk for SIDS, which is diagnosed when the sudden death of an infant can’t be explained by other health concerns.

According to the New York Times, “Since 1992 the rate of SIDS deaths has dropped by 56 percent, from 1.2 deaths per 1,000 live births to about 1 death per 2,000 live births. The decline is linked to a national “Back to Sleep” campaign that promotes putting babies on their backs instead of the stomach, which has been shown to lower risk for sudden death. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that parents avoid soft bedding, allow a baby to use a pacifier if he or she wants, and avoid overheating a baby’s room as ways to lower the risk for SIDS.”

But, this means that you need to install a fan, which can be very tricky for some parents (especially with a big bump in tow!). Not only can it be tricky, but if you need to reroute wiring, it’s best to let the professionals do it so that you do not risk a house fire starting in your baby's room. Heck Electric, based out of Fleming Island, Florida, employees electricians who possess years of on-the-job experience, with industry certifications, so that you can have your electrical job done in the best and most skilled of hands. They say, “At Heck Electric, our goal is to provide you with the best customer service possible as well as the most highly trained technicians.” Heck Electric is a family-owned and operated business with tons of experience when it comes to installing fans! They are ready to provide fast and effective electrical services at a low price today, so give them a call.

A Comfortable Armchair

Having a baby is a wonderful and exciting time, but it also means lots of middle-of-the-night wake-up calls and lots of missed hours of sleep. Once you become a mother, you will care much less about losing hours of sleep when you see your cute little bundle of joy; however, it is still a good idea to have somewhere comfortable to relax in your baby’s nursery during that 1 am feeding session. You will appreciate it when it happens! Armchairs are a great addition to any nursery to give yourself some comfort, and also add a pop of color and a little extra style. You will thank yourself later, trust me!

*Sponsored Post

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Moving? These Services May Be Worth the Money

Written by a contributing writer

Moving can be a pain. Are you moving from your parent’s house to a new apartment? Are you a newlywed and you’re moving into your first house? Does your occupation require you to move from city to city? Whatever the reason for your move, it can be exhausting. Fortunately, several services can make your next move much easier for you.

Moving Services

If you’re like most people, moving is a multi-step process. You spend weeks visiting big box stores collecting boxes, or you spend a fortune on boxes at your local moving store. You spend days carefully packing all of your belongings into boxes, hoping you don’t break anything. You rent a big truck that is hopefully big enough for all your possessions. You beg friends and family to come help you on moving day. Then you spend a back-breaking day loading and unloading a truck. It’s not very much fun. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just get someone to do it all for you? For your next move, consider looking into some moving companies Tampa FL.

House Cleaning Services

If you’ve been renting your previous home, whether a house or apartment, the owners will require that you clean it after vacating the premises. This chore is not very fun. If you’ve been there very long, there are probably stains in the refrigerator, tubs and sinks. The windows probably haven’t been cleaned in months (if not years). The baseboards likely need scrubbing. If you truly want your deposit back, it takes a lot of work to get the house back to the landlord’s standards. This time why not let someone else do all that work? Hire a professional house cleaning service. There are even some services that specialize in cleaning for moves. They’ll make your next move much easier.

Carpet Cleaning Services

Another requirement by landlords or leasing agencies is that any carpets in the home be cleaned before you leave. Many lease agreements might even require professional cleaners do the job. Sure, if that requirement isn’t built into your agreement, you could rent a shampooer and do it yourself, but why put yourself through the hassle? Hire a carpet cleaning service who will take care of this time-consuming task. Save yourself some time and pain by letting a pro do the job for you.
If you’re tired of the hassle of moving, there are many services that can make your next move a piece of cake. Try one of these and enjoy a painless move.

Monday, April 1, 2019

The Best Things to Buy On Amazon: Amazon Favorites / Amazon Must-Haves

If any of you all have Amazon Prime, you know just how addicting it can be. Now add to that the fact that I'm much more of an Amazon mom than I am a Pinterest mom. What do you get? A ton of purchases from Amazon...which means a ton of products tested and tried by me. I've picked out my favorites. You know, the ones YOU NEED to get. (Ok, that's a little much. But definitely, the ones that I recommend.) I've purchased all of these products. And this post is not sponsored. In fact, some of these items are items I've been repurchasing over and over again for years. Some of them can be found at other stores and some I've only seen on Amazon.

I also wanted to include a link to my Amazon Storefront. It's not what it sounds like. It's not stuff that I'm selling. So don't worry! It's basically Amazon's new version of their influencer program. We aren't told to promote products or even to include certain products on our lists. It's literally just an outlet for us to list and link our personal favorites so that we are able to share everything in one place instead of having to continually list link after link to each individual product. I have a ton of stuff on my storefront that I love but are not included on this list. I tried to keep this list short-ish and only include my top 15 items.

So, if you want to see my full list of Amazon favorites and stay up-to-date and see my new favorites as I find them, check out my storefront here from time to time. 

Enough of my rambling! I know you came here for the list! Let's get into it.

1.  LVIOE Cat Eyes Sunglasses for Women, Polarized

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 These sunglasses! People either love 'em or hate 'em. They are seriously oversized. If you follow my Instagram (shameless plug coming), then you've seen them in a few posts including this one here.  If you know me in person, you most likely have seen me wear these. THEY ARE MY FAVORITE PAIR OF SUNGLASSES. And for a sunnies addict like me, that's saying something. I even bought an extra pair as a backup in case I lose them. The lenses do pop out if you put pressure on them. But they easily snap back in place. I actually LIKE this because it makes them easier to clean.

2. UTO Women Backpack Purse PU Washed Leather

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I know this bag may not be the prettiest in the land. But WAIT! It's so versatile and can hold SO MUCH. I was worried it wouldn't be very durable but I've used it nearly daily for over a year and it still doesn't have any damage. It's also very comfortable to wear. There are three things I love most about this bag. 1. All of the separate compartments. It makes it so much easier to stay organized (I definitely would say it's a great "mom bag.") 2. The ability to be both a purse and a backpack. I'm typically a purse girl. But when going to theme parks, the airport, or the park, I very quickly start wishing I brought a backpack instead. With this bag, I can have it both ways. And finally 3. I like that it has bottle pockets on the outside of the bag. This way there is no chance of your water, juice, etc. leaking within your purse and it makes it much easier to access when on the go.

3. S-ZONE Women Genuine Leather Backpack Casual Shoulder Bag Purse

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So, just like the backpack above gives up a little bit of its beauty for practicality, this backpack gives up some practicality for beauty. If I didn't have a kid, this is the backpack I would probably use. It's gorgeous. I have it in brown and have contemplated getting it in black as well. It's a little harder to keep organized and doesn't have the bottle pockets (the side pockets you see can barely fit a juice box). Even so, it's super high quality and definitely one of my favorite things I've gotten off of Amazon.

4. TOODOO 12 Pairs Heel Stoppers High Heel Protectors for Women's Shoes, Small/Middle/Large, Transparent
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These things saved my brother's wedding day. That's dramatic. But they definitely saved us bridesmaids and the bride from tripping down the outdoor grass aisle and sinking into the dirt. They were durable. Out of five ladies, no one's heel stoppers broke. I like that this specific set is affordable and comes with multiples of each size. We ended up using all three sizes between the five of us so I was very thankful that I had bought a bigger set with enough of each size for everyone.

5.  Dermarepair Hydroxy Acid + C Night Cream

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 I have four jars of this night cream at my house. Is that excessive? Probably. But I'm so afraid of this night cream selling out or drastically jump in price. Because both have happened in the past. And I was never able to find an affordable night cream that I liked as much as this one.

This cream is hydrating but not heavy. The only oil in it is grapeseed oil which is a very dry, non-comedogenic oil. It also has glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and salicylic acid.  So many ingredients that I like in one cream. I notice a difference in my skin day one of using this (and also day one without it). This cream makes my skin brighter and seems to keep blemishes at bay as well as smooth out my skin's texture. Best of all? It's only $16.99. And there is usually a $2 off coupon.  It is not an Amazon Prime product.  But the shipping is free. I'm stocking up while I can because in the past this night cream's price has jumped into the $100s.

6. TALIKE Waterproof Facial Cleansing Brush IPX7 Mini Pro-Aging Electrical Sonic Face Exfoliator
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Disclaimer- As I type this, this facial cleansing brush is unavailable. I contemplated not including it in this list but it's so good, I'm putting it in hoping it comes back soon.

I've talked about my Foreo Luna Mini before. I love it and still have it. But I felt uncomfortable traveling with it (even though that's literally why that product exists) because it's so expensive. So I began looking for a cheaper, comparable sonic cleansing brush.

You guys, I now use this as my daily cleansing brush INSTEAD of my luna mini. It has pretty much everything the Luna mini has - the timers, the auto shut-off, and the two speeds.  It doesn't need to be charged often was only $7.99. The Foreo Luna Mini runs for about $139.

7. Vanity Travel Mirror, Vakoo Portable LED Lighted Folding Makeup Mirror
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I bought this travel mirror for my brother's wedding. Us ladies were planning on getting ready together and I wasn't sure how many mirrors would be at the bridal suite. I like to be prepared so...I bought this.

It was a little over $20 and so, so worth it. It folds up into a very compact beauty tool. The mirror is clear and not distorted. It has a magnified mirror on one side and a normal mirror on the other. And the brightness of the LED lights are adjustable. It also has the capability of being both battery powered and powered by plugging into a USB or wall.

8. Cosrx Aha/Bha Clarifying Treatment Toner
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I love this toner. I've talked about it so many times. It's remained a part of my ever-changing skincare routine for a while. I buy it off of Amazon even though this toner is available at Ulta. It's cheaper on Amazon and just more convenient. But be careful that you buy from a reputable Amazon seller because some of them sell fakes. I buy mine from the Amazon seller MadPriceBeauty.

9. Renpure Coconut Water Mist Leave-In Treatment With Sprayer
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I've been asked several times what I use on my hair.  The truth is that since I started keeping it so long, I've had to add this leave-in conditioner/detangler. It's definitely a more sophisticated version of Johnson's No More Tangles. It keeps my hair smooth and soft without making it appear heavy or greasy.

10. Balight Portable Steamers for Clothes
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I'm going to try to go fast for the next few items because they are self-explanatory house/lifestyle items.

This steamer came with the glove and bag shown. It's small and heats up quickly. It's good for one or two garments but I don't think it holds enough water for more than that. I have a large steamer so this one is perfect for when I just need to steam one shirt but don't feel like lugging out the big machine. You do have to hold it up to prevent it from spitting water. But honestly, I've never used a steamer that doesn't spit at least a little water if you turn it a certain way. It's only $12 and definitely worth the money.

11. AmazonBasics 7-Piece Bed-In-A-Bag
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 I'll never understand why bedsheets are so expensive! I mean...I can't be the only one who feels this way. That's why I'm obsessed with this Bed-In-A-Bag set. It's about $40 for the queen-sized set and about $35 for the twin. There are so many patterns and designs to choose from. The one pictured is just my favorite one. I do wish they made these for King size beds though. The sheets and comforter are soft and wash well. The comforter isn't particularly heavy, which is fine for living in Florida. But if you live in a cold climate this may be not be enough to keep you warm.

12. Kicking Horse Coffee, Kick Ass, Dark Roast, Ground 

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 This is my favorite coffee to make at home. Period. Organic, Fair Trade certified, and delicious.

13. Southwest Technologies SM301 Elasto-Gel Sinus Mask

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 If you get sinus pain or sinus headaches... you need this. I wasn't able to take medicine for my migraines and headaches while I was pregnant and this was my lifesaver. You can put it in the freezer and use it cold or heat it up in the microwave and use it hot (how I use it).  It's amazing, I love it, and I always have one in the house.

14. O2COOL 5" Portable Fan Battery Powered

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 This might be a hurricane state specific thing but...This fan is a big part of my hurricane supplies. And I want to get more. When the power goes out and your windows are boarded up... it gets pretty stale and pretty warm very quickly. This fan definitely helps.

15.  Bubba Flo Kids Water Bottle
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Why is it so hard to find kids water bottles without straws? I have such a hard time finding kids water bottles that don't have straws and don't leak but are easy enough for my son to open and close by himself.  Then I found this water bottle and it's perfect! I removed the silicone outer piece to make the bottle more sanitary when cleaning.