Sunday, December 10, 2017

Gift Guide for under $25

I'm back with Round 2 of my Gift Guide! These items are all between $10 and $25. Same categories as last time. Here we go!

Kitchen Gadgets
Yes these are all unnecessary, but that's the point of a gadget. It does something cool for you. I think I would really like the veggie chopper because it would be a big time-saver and my knife skills are not so great. The herb/spice grinder is a great idea for the home chef who loves to cook with fresh herbs and spices. Finally the strainer could prove to be convenient in many scenarios.

Kitchen Novelties
How cute are mason jar S&P shakers? Angled measuring cups are a nice convenience and this 3piece set is a great deal! I was gifted this very same cookbook holder last year and I love it! I love that it holds my book up above the counter so there is way less chance of my book getting dirty. It's sturdy and supports all my heavy cookbooks regardless of if I'm open in the middle of far towards front or back (off-balanced)

Baking Accessories
Apparently I was in the mood for cookies! I follow Sally on Instagram and her cookies all look so amazing! The 3-in-1 cooling rack looks like a great idea for a kitchen with little counter space! And baking mats are a great thing for any baker to have.

Book Lover
If you know a lover of pretty books, they might have the boxed set of 4 Rifle Paper covers but they may need this 5th for their collection. I purchased Emily Ley's book during Black Friday and I cannot WAIT to read it over Christmas break. The Magnolia Story is a must-read for anyone who loves the Gaines and/or Fixer Upper. Such a fun read and I loved getting to know more about their story.

More Throw Pillows is a Good Thing
Okay! Come one! The first two have multiple options to  choose from beyond what you see here. I am in love with 3 different options of the set of 4 including the one you see. They would be so great in my loft playroom.

Home Decor
Make a clock or a basket a pretty color and I want it. It makes time and organizing so much more enjoyable, right? Isn't that how it works? The rustic HOME letters are a cute idea for  shelf.

A New Hobby
I'm sticking with the same hobby of lettering and doodling. These pens are so fun and you can use them as watercolors. They are dual-tip so the brush is great for lettering and the fine tip is perfect for line drawing!

 Okay, I strayed from Amazon a bit here. But I couldn't do a gift guide and have a Beauty category without including my new favorite beauty products from SeneGence. The ShadowSense is avaialble in 21 different colors and is long-lasting, water-resistant, smudge-proof, anti-aging and can be used in WAAAAY more ways than just eyeshadow (brows, contour, eyeliner, highlighting, concealer, lip color, blush, etc!) And then we have 11 glosses to choose from. They are a great option for the gal who uses Chapstick all the time. Way better for your lips and there are several colors to choose from. Finally, a makeup brush set. I have heard great things about this brand and this set includes all that you would need to apply makeup on your entire face.

Order ShadowSense or Gloss by messaging me on Facebook

These items all seem to be hot trends right now. Can't go wrong with a cute CC Beanie. Both the hat and the scarf come in several other color options beyond what is shown here. I love my blanket scarf. It's so fashionable but yet wonderfully cozy. Finally, I've seen a lot of gals wear these leather teardrop earrings. I have yet to try them myself but I love how they look.

Staying Fit
Wireless earbuds just make so much sense for the gym. This bag comes in different colors and got great reviews. No, it's not a FitBit, but hey we can't all afford that so here is an alternative with good reviews that is much more affordable.

Again, I am so surprised at the cute clothes I have found on Amazon and keep wondering 'why have I never thought to look here before?!' All come in more colors. So cute and I would wear any of them!

For the Guys 
Personally, I think the ratchet belt is a genius idea. It seems like the men in my life are always in between holes on their belt so it is really pointless in helping them. This one comes in a ton of different options. Even if your man isn't a handyman, these tool seems like a great option to have. It's universal and can adapt to many different scenarios replacing the need for specialty wrenches and ratchets in multiple sizes. This bag seemed like a great idea because we all know it takes only a few minutes for all the device cords to be a tangled mess.

What did you think? Find any items you like? I'd love to know if you got anything or already have any of these items! Leave me a comment. :)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Gift Guide for Under $10 & Amazon Prime!

Over the years, I have enjoyed reading Gift Guides from other bloggers and have often found items I want or eventually get thanks to their inspiration. I thought it might be fun if I did some gift guides of my own this year. I decided that I will do three different guides. This one is gifts under $10. I will do one for gifts under $30 and another for gifts under $75. I know mine isn't very fancy looking, but hey, it's my first time so it is what it is. Maybe next year I can make it look prettier. I came up with several categories and 3 gifts in each category. I would love to hear if you already have any of these items and what you think of them, or if you purchase any as gifts for others, or finally if you tell your family that you want some of these things and then receive them! I do not own the majority of these items and none of them are sponsored. I just had some fun browsing all over Amazon, and yes these are affiliate links. Ok, without further are the gifts under $10!

Kitchen Gadgets
Maybe in my next house when I have a huge pantry, I will re-do all my spices in mini mason jars with these cool spice lids. I think I will be getting some Food Huggers eventually as I think the concept is so great and I would save on all those little sandwich baggies. I can see the multi-tool being great for a guy or gal just moving into their own place and not having all the different gadgets.

Kitchen Novelties
Okay these are more the cutesy and less practical things. The little snails hold your tea bags! Engraved spoons seem to be the thing these days and who doesn't want a cute meal planning notepad?

Baking Accessories
I have been very into making donuts this past year both baked and fried. I have this nonstick pan and it is great. I wish I had the cutter and even asked for it for Christmas. There are lots of donut cookbooks out there, but these ones $10 or less!

For the Lover of Books
I have read the first book and it is very good. I cannot wait to read some of the other books by the author. The second one she just released earlier this fall and it's on my Christmas list and yes I know it's a few cents over $10. The Little Golden book is a very fun gift to give someone who loves Disney.

You can never have too many throw pillows!
Cute pillows...under $10...enough said.

Cute items for the home
Who wouldn't love some cute little birds to add to shelves and stacks of books? Or a mini lantern, make anything mini and it's cute! The fake flowers come in 3 other options and would look nice on a bookshelf.

A New Hobby
If you are stuck for ideas to get someone, you could always open the door to new possibilities for them! If they are crafty or like to doodle, I would suggest these to help them start learning modern calligraphy aka brush lettering. I have dabbled in it a bit this year and it is lots of fun.

Some great stocking-stuffer ideas.

Cute and fun jewelry!

Staying Fit
I don't know why the price disappeared on the tank but you can get one for $8.99 and they got good reviews. The link box doesn't let me choose from the options but you can get 1 towel for $7.49 and again, great reviews. If I was a runner, I would want one of those belts.

Can't Forget Clothes
I have never really thought to buy clothes from Amazon, but after searching for this blog post I found several cute options and just might look there next time I am on the hunt for something.

For Him
We can't forget the guys. Here's some cool little gadgets that are bound to come in handy one day.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Top 10 Baby Items (Part 1: 0-6months)

My baby turns 1 this week! WOW! How???

I've been looking back at pictures from the year and deciding it was finally time to turn this blog post from a draft of several months into a published piece. Ay yi yi. Well better late than never. Share this with your friends who are new moms or moms-to-be.

I've been sharing my experience with new mom friends as well as my list of must-have items and things not to bother with. I do not claim to be an expert or authority but moms helping other moms by sharing the non-glamorous tips and tricks of their everyday is so valuable I think. So here, in no particular order,  are my Top 10 so-glad-I-had-them baby items for the first 6 months with affiliate links so you can find and buy it right away!

1. Monitor:
Infant Optics DXR-8

When we were working on our registry, I put my husband in charge of researching and choosing our monitor. He read lots of reviews and decided on this one for many reasons which I have listed below. He liked that it did NOT connect to our smart phones. Yes, you read that right. In today's world where everything can connect to your phone, it seems like that would be what we want. We chose to avoid this feature for two reasons. #1: If we used our phone as a monitor than we couldn't use it for anything else. We'd have to leave that app to use other apps which then means we can't hear/see what's going on so that defeats the purpose of a monitor. #2: We didn't a video feed of our baby connected to Wi-Fi which, while password protected, does have the potential to be hacked.

All that being said, we LOVE this monitor. Other reasons we chose it was the ability to pan, zoom, talk via intercom , add another camera, and long battery life. It does sometimes say "loss of signal" when we it is right next to one of our cell phones, but that is very minor as it always come back within seconds. It has a great, clear picture and good volume as well. We use this multiple times each day for naps and bedtime so definitely a must-have in my opinion. Also, the customer service with the company is top-notch! We had the power/sleep/off button on top quit working one day for no apparent reason. We reached out to them, and there were so helpful and efficient. A new unit was shipped to us that next day! The whole process was so easy and fast and seriously some of the best customer service I have dealt with in a long time.

2. Wrap: 
Moby Wrap

Around 5-8 weeks old, Easton had rough evenings. I wouldn't say it was colic but just the class "witching hour". You parents know what I'm talking about, and you soon-to-be parents will find out! We tried several different recommendations of how to soothe him but the Moby wrap was the solution he preferred 90% of the time. I'd just wrap him up and snug and then walk around the house until he calmed down.

I also used this several times for his naps. Until he was about 4months old, he very very rarely would nap in his crib. He wanted to be held or he would nap in his carseat. After a few weeks, I just couldn't stand to have to sit still and do nothing when he napped. So I started wrapping him up and then would be able to be a little more mobile while he slept. It took a little trial-and-error to figure out the trick to wrapping it just right but then I watched a YouTube video and it made so much more sense. Definitely check that out if you are new to using a wrap!

3. Nursing Pillow & Cover
 Boppy Pillow & SlipCover

I know there are several different kinds of nursing pillows out there, but I've only ever used this one and have no reason to try anything else. I like that it can be used in multiple ways: nursing, propping, and tummy time. I love using it for nursing. It's a perfect fit for both of us and saves my arms. Whenever I have to nurse out in public, I wish so badly that I had it with me. Maybe that will be the next mommy/baby gotta-have item...a compact nursing pillow for on-the-go. Someone invent that!

Cover: I recommend having two for when one is dirty and being washed. I originally planned to make one myself, but was running out of time and the patterns and directions I was finding were confusing. So I just ordered from Amazon. I have the Classic Fox and the Classic Windmills, which were both pretty cheap considering how expensive some of them can be. I also like that they are gender neutral.


4. Car Seat Blanket:
J.J. Cole Bundle Me

This item will not be a must-have for everyone. For us, living where we get good, cold winters and having a fall baby, this was a must-have. It's basically like a sleeping bag for the car seat. Since it's not the safest to put a baby in big puffy coat and then buckle into car seat, this is a great solution!

The bottom half goes into the bottom of the seat and has slots for all the straps and buckle to come up through. Then the top zips on with 2 zippers, one on each side. I love the design of two zippers. When we arrive someplace and are indoors, I unzip one side and open it up so he isn't too hot.

5. Activity Mat:
Fisher Price Mobile Gym 

Ever since being 5 weeks, old, he loved this. The top round part has little butterfly-shaped lights that blink red and yellow and it plays music. I love that it offers a quiet volume option. Each of the three legs has 2 fabric rings for hanging toys from which is great so large ones can go above and smaller down below. It also helps him to look in different places and even have a toy when he rolls onto his side. The bottom mat easily detaches from the legs so I can wash it. My baby spits up a lot so it's nice that he at least makes a mess on the mat rather than my carpet.

We got this at a secondhand swap event so ours didn't have the original toy attachments with it. He enjoyed this so much and would spend time on it each day until he really started rolling and scooting all over around 6 months. Now we have it set aside for when families with younger kids come over. When Easton finds it, he loves to use it to stand up and push the buttons on top. He also thinks its fun to knock over now.

6. Memory Keeping:
First Year Calendar

Yes, I have a baby book. No it is not up-to-date. Yes he is my first child and the joke is that they always have a completed baby book even if siblings don't. I still have goals to finish his baby book before the end of 2017....we'll see. At any rate, THIS is awesome! I love jotting down a quick note or two of what happened each day. Then there are several prompts to fill out each month that are a little more general.

My husband gets involved and will say "oh, that needs to go on the calendar!" I also know this will come in really handy when I do work on the baby book because the notes often correlate with the pictures I took that day. I totally plan to do this with my future kids as well. It comes with really cute stickers with milestones and designs and each month has a spot for a picture as well.

7. Breast Pump:
Medela Pump in Style

Even if you plan to stay at home, I highly recommend having a breast pump. You will definitely want some bottles stockpiled in your freezer for date nights, road trips, etc. I have taken this and used in the car a few times and the whole set-up works great. There are so many choices and it can be overwhelming but I am definitely glad that I got an electric AND a dual. So time-efficient to pump both sides at the same time.
Medela Pump in Style Advanced Breast Pump with On the Go Tote

Before you buy one...check with your insurance! A lot of insurance companies will pay 100% for you to get one. If they do, don't even waiver on getting one...get it! If your insurance doesn't cover it, or if it does but you just want to read some reviews and get more specs check it out on Amazon with my link.

8. Pacifier:

At first, my son did not want anything to do with a pacifier. He would "gag" or spit it out so
we gave up. But then he was sucking on his hands so much and I thought maybe he'd like something else to suck on and play with so I tried the WubbaNub. He loved it! He loved to hold and play with the monkey or giraffe and he loved to suck on the pacifier.
WubbaNub Infant Pacifier - Monkey
During his month long attachment to it, he never figured out that the animal and pacifier were two-in-one because he will fling the stuffed animal in play and then freak out because there is nothing in his mouth anymore. So aside from having to constantly replace it in his mouth, I love this. It calms him down, is the perfect size for him to grasp and hold, and went everywhere with us during that month he really liked it. After that, it became a part of nap and bedtime routine. That is the only thing allowed with him in the crib and we don't take it out to play with as toy during the day. We like having the separation and association for sleeping. When we lay him down, we put it in his mouth and it comes out within 2 seconds but it's part of his routine and he likes it. Sometimes he will suck a little or play with it. I'm definitely glad we had this for when he really needed it and am glad he never got super attached as far as when we put it away for good.

9. Sleepsack:
Halo Swaddle

If you haven't heard...the new rule is to put your baby to sleep on their back. The "Back is Best" campaign has seen HUGE decreases in the number of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). If you want more info on SIDS or the campaign or a class, definitely check out this website. They are local to me but still really good information or they can probably help you find something similar in your area if you can't. When we took their free class we received a free Halo swaddle sleepsack in newborn size. We have since got our son a Medium and Large.

The Medium and Large don't have the swaddle part. But the wearable blanket is genius! I also love that they come in different materials for different times of year. We had several other kinds of sleep sacks that were given to us and some were okay but this had the best swaddle as far as keeping his arms in tight. It also is the only one of the ones we've tried that has the range of sizes, materials, and patterns.

From left to right: Micro-fleece, 100% cotton, and muslin

10. Headphones:
Baby Banz
My husband coached high school varsity basketball and Easton and I were at games at least twice a week. You never realize how loud the buzzers and whistles are until you have a sleeping newborn! After one week I quickly got on Amazon and ordered these. We also used them for church during worship.

His age and the timing of basketball season lined up perfectly for us in getting to use these. The month after basketball when we put them on him at church, he had figured out how to pull them off. Babies' ears are much more sensitive than ours so definitely something you want to protect. 

11. Stain-Remover
Fels-Naptha Bar Soap

You guys! This stuff is miraculous! You need this! It's just a few dollars but a must-have for sure! I can't even tell you how many times a day Easton would spit up or how many blow-outs we would have each week. Some days he was in four different outfits from a combination of the two messes. But the number I can tell you with absolute certainty...the number of clothes he ruined from said messes......ZERO!
Not. A. One.
How? Because of this soap!

Here's how I use it. First, rinse the clothing item so that just the stain remains. Rub the bar of soap on to the stain, lather it up. Then hand wash a little bit really rubbing your fingers, palm and even another part of the clothing into the stain. If I had a load of laundry ready to go then, great. But if not, that's okay too. I would let items hang and wait for laundry time. Then if the stain was still visible I would treat with Spray & Wash and voila! When it came out there was no stain to be found! I don't just use this on baby clothes though. I use it on my husband's clothes for greasy, oily food, car grease, etc. I've also used it on my clothes to remove pen, lipstick, etc. It's seriously something you need to have in your laundry room!

Okay I hope you found that helpful! I would love to know what items you consider must-haves for the first 6 months or which of mine you agree with the most or want to buy the most now! Comment below and tell me. I'll share my must-haves for 7-12 months soon.