Friday, November 6, 2015

Feature Friday: Happy Science Mom

Take the After School Meditation Challenge

Picture1
What’s more stressful than trying to get the kids off to school in the morning? It has to be that moment when we walk in the door after school.
Does this happen to you? 
Everyone is tired and grumpy. After sitting in the long, slow carpool lines and battling traffic on the drive home, I am irritated and impatient. My kids have a million stories about their day, competing with each other to get a word in, while getting louder and louder. When we get home I feel rushed to unpack the lunch bags and backpacks. There are homework planners to sign, papers to file away, dirty lunch containers to clean, and school flyers to read. And then the homework hoopla begins.
It feels so overwhelming everyday at this particular time. There has to be a better way to ease into the school-to-home transition. What can we do to make this time a bit calmer?
I am challenging each of you to try making a huge shift in your routine. Instead of succumbing to the chaos, take a couple minutes with your children to decompress as a family. Create an after school meditation moment.
Try these simple steps:
  • Put the bags down and forget about them for now.
  • Sit together on the sofa or in a circle on the floor.
  • Ask everyone to close their eyes; you might want to hold hands.
  • Take 5 slow breaths in and out together.
  • Sit in silence for a minute, or a few minutes if your children can handle it. They will build up to a longer meditation time the more you practice.
  • Ask each child to mention one special moment of their day.
  • Take two more deep breaths to complete the meditation.
READ THE REST OF THE POST HERE



About

IMG_4351-PURPLE-4x6Welcome to your toolkit for raising happy, balanced children. I am excited to share tips, resources, and activities from the world of happiness science to help you teach your children how to live joyful, fulfilled, and peaceful lives.
It’s a tough world out there and our children need our guidance. Through my own battle with stress and anxiety, I have found ways to get back to a balanced state of mind, body, and spirit. This is a life-long project and there is always something new to learn.
There are many experts specializing in one area of happiness or stress reduction, but I am here to bring it all together in a simple, convenient way for parents. Each month I will highlight one of the areas in our toolkit, such as mindfulness, giving, optimism, loving kindness, or gratitude. Please join me on this journey as we make new discoveries together. I welcome your questions and comments along the way. Through knowledge and a constructive exchange of ideas, we can lead the next generation in making the world a better place.
Bio

I am a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in wellness, environmental issues, parenting, and human behavior. I enjoy analyzing everyday life using science, humor, and a passion to improve the world. This blog is just one aspect of my work, as I am always exploring new projects. I would love the opportunity to work with your organization or publication. Please contact me at info@sandischwartz.com.
As a science communications specialist for over a decade, I focused on environmental, transportation, and health issues. This work includes freelance writing and research projects with a number of organizations and publications, and positions with the National Academies, United States Environmental Protection Agency, and the Cadmus Group, a consulting firm in which I worked on EPA’s ENERGY STAR program and projects addressing indoor air quality and asthma.
I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies with a Political Science minor at The George Washington University and a Master of Arts in Government with an Environmental Policy Focus at Johns Hopkins University. My latest endeavor is learning about living a happy, balanced life. In 2014, I completed The Science of Happiness course through the University of California, Berkeley and served as a Community Teaching Assistant.


You can check out her blog here. 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Feature Friday: Dating Chaps On Apps

Say cheese!

Since I was ranting in my previous post about profile pictures I figured I owed it to you to elaborate.  For those of you who have already dabbled in the online dating scene, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  For those of you online dating virgins, you are in for a treat!
The “illusionist” !  Sometimes their profile picture looks kinda cute and you’re thinking….alright…here is some potential.  Then you scroll through the rest of the pictures and it’s bad news! Always make sure you scroll through all pictures ladies!  A lot of guys will also take the brilliant approach to post photo after photo without a face shot, very distant or blurry.  For example: a ski shot, a wakeboard shot, a rock climbing shot, an underwater scuba shot, random web images, etc…can you visualize it?  I’m sorry but if you don’t have a close up face shot what’s the point?  Let’s be frank,  I want to see what you look like…am I going to want to kiss you?  It may sound shallow, but I call it how I see it…initially it’s a physical attraction from the photo…then you read on to see if you connect on a level other than physical.
The “Where’s Waldo”!  This is a very common profile problem.   You really have no idea which guy is the eligible bachelor because all of his pictures are group pictures with about 10 other guys(usually doing keg stands, dirt biking, mud wrestling, etc…).  And I hate to say it, but all to often it’s the unattractive man taking this approach which is silly.  I get all excited because there are hot guys in the photo, only to find out it’s the one homely guy in the photo…ugh!  I kinda want to say, “yeah you look nice guy but …are your hot friends single?”

READ THE REST OF THIS POST HERE 



About

Hey Girlfriends,
This blog is solely about the dating world after divorce.  No advice here ladies!  I will share my experiences of being thrown back into the dating world 2015.  My hope is to make you belly laugh out loud, occasionally bring a tear to your eye and show you there is hope, humor and fun to be had for all us single girls out there.
I found myself single after being married a very, very long time and frankly, anticipating a dating scene that I quickly discovered no longer existed.  The harsh realization that my memories of being 20 something, carefree and hooking up with guys at bars, parties or at work were long gone.  I was thrown into 21st century style dating.  Meeting men online? Whaat?  I had no idea what to do. I was overwhelmed and kinda scared. After I mulled over the idea of window shopping for a boyfriend online all I all wanted to do was jump in bed, pull the covers over my head, cry and then hang with my rabbit-HA!
Not only had I lost my “A” game (did I ever really have one?), I was starting over.  Back when I was dating I didn’t have a cell phone so texting, checking your matches on Match, swiping to the right on Tinder, answering compatibility questions on E-Harmony – these instant, virtual means of connecting and meeting people were foreign and felt lame.  This old bittie felt out dated!
jenn_sig


YOU CAN CHECK OUT HER BLOG HERE

Monday, October 26, 2015

Thinking Of Joining My Team?

You've probably heard me talk about It Works! I absolutely love this company,  for several reasons.
#1 the products are all natural. They list all of the ingredients for each product,  and I can actually pronounce them all!
#2 they don't test on animals. As an animal lover, I hate to think of animals being tortured for any reason.
#3 the products work! You can see the photos of my wrap results. I've loved everything I've tried so far, and can't wait to try some more!
#4 they pay me. I loved the products so much, I signed up to be a distributor. And it's great! I can work in my spare time while still going to school and taking care of my family. I'm not making millions, but a few hundred bucks a month makes a big difference in our budget. And I'm sure if I tried harder I could earn more, but I'm content to just "work" a few hours a week.
I was very hesitant to join at first, simply because of the start up costs. But in the end, it was worth it. For less than $100, I got a box of wraps,  which I sold to make back my investment. I also received marketing materials, coupons, product samples,  and more to help start my business. I had everything I needed!
Then I got a $120 product credit,  which I used to buy supplies for a wrap party. You don't have to throw parties and you don't need to keep inventory. But I wanted to make some fast cash! 16 wraps, sold at $25 each, netted $400 in cash! That doesn't even include the bonuses or commissions earned! 

My initial goal was to make $500 in my first month to fund a car repair. It was so easy! I threw a party and invited several ladies from church. I shared free samples, sold my wraps, and enjoyed a night of socializing. I was able to sign up some loyal customers at the party and earn even more money!
I had every excuse for not getting started. I was busy with school and family and my blog. I was broke. I was terrible at sales. My husband wasn't supportive.
But I crushed those excuses! I took a leap of faith and took $100 out of savings. I booked a party in between exams and brought my kids along. I posted my personal results on Facebook and shared my excitement. I ignored my husband,  asking him to just trust me.
And I succeeded! I made back my investment,  with cash profit and residual income. I looked and felt better from using the product. I was able to help out with the budget while still managing a family.
And if I can do it,  anybody can do it! So if you are wanting to earn some extra money, or maybe you're just interested in trying some products,  let me know! Comment below or email me at theunperfectfamily@gmail.com
I'm here to help and support you in any way I can. I'd love for you to join my team and crush all your excuses!


For a limited time only, if you sign up by Oct. 29, 2015 at midnight, you get a FREE box of WOW in your business builder's kit. That's an added value of $77! You can sell this product, or hand out samples and make even MORE sales!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Feature Friday: CreativWriting

Screw Perfection – It’s All Relative

I’m a writer. I’m also a mom. And if you had to ask me which comes first, I would tell you hands down, being a mom.
Raising a healthy and happy family is essential to my own happiness. There is just no greater joy for me than seeing the happiness in my children’s eyes through their play, activities and affection. They represent the best and worst elements of myself and that of my husband… and through them, I grow as an individual… watching myself in them. Plus, they give me plenty of stuff to write about.
It is because I’m a full-time mom (and time limitations) that I’m not a perfect writer or even a perfect mother. If I had all the time in the world to take writing classes or classes on how to be the perfect mom, then I’d have no excuse. But the limitations of time and my own perception of what is valuable keeps me from pursuing that level of perfection.
Today, my youngest has crazy hair and my toddler has a runny nose with snot streaks across his face. We’re at the library reading and playing dinosaurs. I didn’t pack a lunch because we’re going to go eat horrible fast food as a treat. We’ll probably go shopping and miss nap time. See, I’m not a perfect mom. I don’t have it all planned out all the time and my writing sure isn’t perfect either. But as a mom, I get the job done and at the end of the day, I’m pleased and happy. So is my family. As a writer, my readers seem pleased as well. I’d rather embrace my imperfections knowing that I can always improve but at the time, remember with a loving heart how I spent my day being happy.


CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST


About

Hi I’m Leah Hart!
I’m the voice and writer behind the CreativWriter, and I’m so glad to have you here checking out the website and maybe even picking up some free ideas and eBooks. I’ve been helping writers (and businesses, too) behind the scenes for several years now, designing covers, creating content, doling out advice here and there, but most importantly, watching and evaluating statistics on book sales.
I’ve been in the business of writing and books since I first entered a writing contest for National History Day on Benjamin Franklin. For 4th grade, my writing wasn’t half bad. I got an honorable mention. Since then, I’ve become a book lover, a book supporter (I buy a ton and probably have a copy of your book), an avid creator of book covers and an amazing (yes, I have my moments) writer of business-boosting and book marketing tips.


YOU CAN CHECK OUT HER BLOG HERE

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Business Builder Kit - It Works!

When you sign up to be a distributor with It Works!, you pay $99 for a business builder kit. This kit is risk-free, as it gives you all the products and materials to make your money back right away! This is what is included in the kit:


50 Blitz Cards- your own personal coupons and business cards in one!
4 sample bottles of Defining Gel. You can use these yourself, offer them as free gifts, or have people sample them!
1 awesome It Works! Bracelet to help you promote your new business.

5 Product Catalogs to pass around to your friends and family


1 box of Ultimate Body Applicators (4 skinny wraps). You can use these yourself or sell them for $25 each and make your initial investment back!
2 Party Pads, which walk you through the presentation and information for a wrap party. It also has a notepad section so you can take it with you and write down potential customers' information. 
1 roll of Fab Wrap to help secure your body wraps in place when moving around.
You will also get your own eSuite website, your personal back office to manage your business and customers. This website also offers free training, marketing materials, and all the information you need to run your business. 


And, for a limited time, get a FREE box of WOW ($77 value) with your business kit. Again, you can sell this product, offer it as free samples to gain more customers, or use it on yourself! Sign up by October 29, 2015 to get this great deal!





This is an investment worth making and one that can change your life! If you would like more information about this business opportunity or if you simply have questions about the products, please email me at theunperfectfamily@gmail.com



Monday, October 19, 2015

I Finally Tried That Crazy Wrap Thing!

I debated for a while about posting this, as I do not feel comfortable showing my body. I frequently tell my kids "neck to knees and everything in between is for you, me, and Jesus". We are pretty modest.
But I also wanted to document my results and give an honest review. My cousin sells the stuff, so I figured I would try it out. I told her it was her Christmas present.

I will be updating this post throughout the week so you can see if I lose any weight, and, more importantly, if I gain it all back when I'm done wrapping.


Here is my progress so far:

 My before picture. I put the wrap on at 5pm.


 I work the wrap for 5 hours at first. You can wear it up to 8 hours, but I was ready for bed.
Not bad for 5 hours of sitting around doing homework!

This is day 2. The wrap can work for up to 72 hours, so this is still resulting from the night before. I confess, I did have fast food and soda today. Oops!
Still a little bloated from my fast food binge, but still much better than I was before the wrap.


I will continue updating my progress the rest of the week.


UPDATES







BEFORE:                                                                   AFTER:





















Want to join my team?

By some products for yourself?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Feature Friday: Here Wee Read

7 Ways Reading Has Made Me a Better Mom

Growing up, I didn’t have a nightly ritual of snuggling up with my parents while they read books aloud to me and my sister.  Instead, I read books on my own when I was old enough to read.  I always wanted to have someone read me bedtime stories so I vowed that whenever God blessed me with my own children I would read to them every night.
Since becoming a mom almost three years ago, (I seriously cannot believe “Sparkles” is almost 3) I’ve managed to stick to my plan of daily read aloud time with the kids.  The only times I’ve skipped our read aloud sessions are the few times when I traveled out of town for work.  Other than that, I’ve been very consistent squeezing in 15-30 minutes of reading time each day either in the morning or at night.
Perhaps you can relate, but I believe reading aloud to the children over the past three years has made me a better mom.  Here’s how:
reading_book
1. It Calms Me
Reading calms me and makes me feel productive.  It’s also a great stress reliever for me as it allows me to escape even if for just a few minutes.  This is a win-win for my entire family because when mommy’s happy, everyone’s happy.
2. It’s Boosting My Vocabulary
By reading books, magazines and blogs daily my vocabulary has increased tremendously.  Also, now that I’m learning Latin I’m gaining more knowledge and insight of how words were formed in English, Spanish and other foreign languages.  The kids will benefit from this directly because I’ll be able to pass on what I’m learning to them.
3. It Makes My Children Happy
I love seeing the look on the kids’ faces when I sit down to read to them.  They’ve come to expect that reading books will be a part of our day and whenever I say it’s story time their eyes light up and they run and go grab the books they want to read.  Love it!


CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS POST



About the author:
Charnaie is a Computer Programmer by day and a wife and mom 24/7.  She has over 15 years of experience in the Information Technology field.  She has both a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Science/Information Technology.  She blogs over at Here Wee Read, (http://hereweeread.blogspot.com) where she shares the books that she reads aloud with her two children as well as the books she reads.  Charnaie makes no claims to be a parenting guru who has it all figured out.  Instead, she likes to refer to herself as a perfectly imperfect mom raising two children the best way she knows how.



 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Laundry Room Organization

Organizing a laundry room can be a challenge for many families. The biggest issue is having enough space. When I sat out to revamp my laundry room, I took to Pinterest. I quickly became disappointed as everyone seemed to have giant laundry rooms. Our old house had no laundry room, just the washer and dryer set up in the kitchen, with no doors or even a way to hide it with a curtain. When we moved here, I fell in love with the laundry room. It seemed very spacious, was tucked away in a corner, and had a door to hide all my dirty clothes.
Then I started putting stuff in the laundry room. It got smaller by the minute.

Finding a good inspiration for my laundry room was nearly impossible. Everything was either for tiny laundry closets or what seemed like laundry mansions. I had to get creative.

As with all my projects, it started with a list. What did I absolutely need to have in there? What would be nice to have? What were my problem areas that needed a little help? Once I figured out a general idea of what I needed and wanted, I set out to find products to fit my needs.

I knew I wanted more storage, but finding something to fit in the space was a challenge. I ended up getting an old dresser and cutting a piece of the back corner off so it would fit properly. I had originally just stuck it between the washer and dryer, but then inevitably stuff would fall behind it and I would have to pull everything out to reach it. Cutting it wasn't my first thought, and certainly not the prettiest solution, but without the help of my husband or power tools, it got the job done. Now it serves a purpose without creating more hassle for me later.

What exactly to put in each drawer and how to organize it required a little thought, but I went back to my list and assessed my needs and wants. Suddenly I knew just what I wanted to do.



Laundry Supplies. Between making my own laundry detergent and dryer sheets, and all the various products we keep around, I needed a place to store them all without piling them on my valuable shelf space. The top drawer was the perfect place to hide everything but keep it accessible.

Cleaning Supplies. Again, I make my own and have a plethora of products on hand. All those little items needed a home, but I needed them in reach of my kids. Now when they get ready to do their chores, they don't have to hunt for the right supplies or ask for help to get them down from the shelf.

Dog Supplies. We don't have a ton of pet stuff, but the extra leash, training pads for car rides, and grooming supplies needed a home. Half a drawer was plenty of space, and she couldn't get to it to chew on everything.

Cleaning Rags. I love rags. I have tons of them. Microfiber for cleaning, larger ones for kitchen messes, and a giant pile of perfectly-12-by-12 white rags for hygiene and grooming. I also like to keep them separate. Now all of my cleaning rags are together, and near the cleaners, for easy access and use.

Outgrown Clothes. I've used many different systems over the years to deal with outgrown clothes. When my oldest son outgrows something, I keep it for my younger son. But when my younger two outgrow things, I pass them on to friends. Giving them one shirt at a time doesn't make much sense, but having piles of old clothes around isn't ideal either. A drawer in the laundry room was the perfect solution. Once the clothes come out of the dryer, they get sorted. When I see something that has been outgrown or was looking a little too tight last week, I fold it and put it in the drawer. When the drawer gets full, I move my son's clothes to keep to a tote in the garage, and the others I give to a friend. Now I have an empty drawer and can start all over. The clothes are handy (which is great for when our friends come to visit and need an extra change of clothes or jacket on cool nights), but out of the way and organized. Everything is clean, folded, and ready to go. I think this is my favorite part of my laundry room.

Then comes the actual laundry. There are six people in my home. Two adults with very messy jobs. Three kids who love to get dirty. Two kids who still wet the bed. A dog that has a mind of her own. And a Mommy who has to clean up after it all. We have a LOT of laundry. We used to spend hours sorting everything before we washed, only to have it ruined when the clean clothes piled up because I hadn't had time to put them away. Now, everyone has their own dirty AND clean laundry basket. My roommate keeps his stuff in his room, so his laundry doesn't end up mixed in with everyone else's.

I opted for one of the laundry sorters with a hanging rack. This makes the entire process much easier. I can hang dry items as needed, and I have a place to hang up clean clothes when I folding and putting everything away. My ironing board is mounted to the back of my laundry room door, so it's easy to hang up freshly ironed clothes. Each person has their own basket, and of course, everything is labeled in the correct color. We have a "house" basket for towels, sheets, and blankets. We have tons of towels and they really needed their own place.





(Almost) everyone puts away their own laundry. My youngest needs a little help, and I take care of mine and my husbands. My oldest son and I take turns with towels and blankets. This system makes my life so much easier. Everything is sorted before and after washing, which makes finding mates to socks and the right person's underwear much simpler. When it's time for clothes to be put away, each child takes their basket to the living room where they can spread out, and they hang up or fold all their clothes and get them put away. The clean baskets go back on the frame. I have an extra bag or two in case one tears or needs washing. I keep my hanger holders next to the baskets in the laundry room, so there's no running around and hunting for anything when it's time to work- everything is at hand.

Limited shelf space. This is a problem in most laundry rooms, I'm sure. I have one really long shelf, which is wonderful at times. But it's not very deep and one bottle of laundry detergent is about all you can squeeze on there. I keep all my detergent on one side, then the occasional bottle of bleach or fabric softener in the middle. My big boxes of detergent supplies hide in the corner, since they only get used every few weeks. This is where I utilize the top of the dresser. I keep a small trashcan for lint and the inevitable stickers my daughter puts everywhere. I have a small bin for found items in the dryer or pockets, belts, and other items that shouldn't go through the wash. When the laundry is done, I move belts and clothing items to clean laundry baskets, and have the kids return the other items to their proper homes.



Finishing touches and little details. I wish I had more space to add decorations and make it look nicer, but you work with what you've got. I keep a measuring cup hanging by the washer for detergent, along with a list of instructions and sizes for when somebody is helping out, like my son or husband. A couple "plants" in the window, okay, just pretty pots with some dead grass. I have a black thumb and none of my laundry room plants survived. I use a marker to label settings on the washer for my son, it comes right off with a magic eraser when I clean the machine. A hook for the giant lint-trap cleaning brush. A small set of tools for quick fixes. One of these days I'll make some decor to tie it all together.


And that's it! An organized laundry room with everything I need to keep my family clothed. Do you have any tips to add? Is your laundry room in need of some help or is it more like those laundry mansions on Pinterest?

Friday, October 9, 2015

Feature Friday: Cherished Magazine



As I began to try to decide what I was going to share with you guys over at The Unperfect Family I found myself in tailspin. Maybe this, no that, could this idea be better. I sort of had give myself a shake to pull me out of the tail spin of worry. I realized I was worried about "not getting it right".

Now...if you think about it...it is sort of ironic. I'm writing for a blog called "The Unperfect Family" but yet I am worried about well...being perfect, getting it right. It's not the first time.
There have been many times in my past that I have done nothing instead of trying something because I might fail.

 How about you? Afraid to fail? Ever worry about not getting it right? Has fear crept in to the point you can't move forward?

 Here is what I do to get through when I find myself in these situations. I grab my journal and try to figure out what is really stopping me or to see the situation from a new angle.

 Grab your journal and answer these questions:

 1.What are you really afraid of?
 For example, the first time I was on a microphone in front of people I was ready to run from the room. After some thought and journaling, I discovered I was really afraid of forgetting what I wanted to say.

 2.Is there something I can do to help lesson the fear?
 For example,when I speak, I use visual aids and notes to keep me on track.It helps me to have it and lesson the underlining fear of being in front of people.

 3.Ask yourself,"Do I really feel that I am suppose to do this and why?"
 If you answer "yes", then write this down in your journal. I am meant to do _____________, so I'm going to do __________ afraid.

 I hope that helps you. I decided to do a quick journal sheet that you can print out and work through the next time you find yourself in the paralyzing thought process of "I can't do this. I don't know if I can get it right".

 Just hop on over the Cherished Magazine's Cherished Everyday Fall Tour Extravaganza and get your printable.
 You are chosen, cherished and loved!
 PS - I just also wanted to let you know there is special pricing for Cherished Magazine during the Cherished Everyday Fall Tour Extravaganza. Get your journal sheet and information on the pricing here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Feature Friday: A Splendid Messy Life

 

9 Tips to Save Money and Curb Impulse Shopping



I just got my December credit card bill. Sigh. You know that saying "shopping is my cardio"? Can online shopping be cardio? Well, that's my weakness. But I'm resolving to save a little more in 2015, so that means less spending in 2015. Here are the tips I'm going to try and follow to help grow our savings and pay for the two bigger trips we have planned this year.

1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails and unlike their FB and Instagram pages. Bye bye J. Crew. Au revoir Anthro. No more will I allow you to assault my Facebook news feed with free advertising because once upon a time I clicked 'like'. And my inbox? It already feels lighter. I do like following the Chapters/Indigo Instagram feed, so that one got to stay. They don't post everyday, and their pics are beautiful. But otherwise outta sight, outta mind.

2. Tell a friend about the item. This trick I do often with my friends or on the blog. Sometimes I find something that I think is so great, but I probably don't really need it, so I feel better when I tell others about it.

3. Don't buy for "sometime." I often find gifts and think, "Oh this would be a great baby shower gift, or this would be a great gift for so and so." But the problem is, I just end up buy more things and don't always gift them when I thought I would. If it's not something I need right now, or I don't know exactly when and for whom I need a gift, I won't buy it.

4. Use up what you have.  Stationery, food, cosmetics. These are all things that I have multiples of at home. I resolve to use up the things I have at home before I buy anymore. Seriously, there is a 1/4 of a cow in my freezer.

5. Brown Bag It. I'm usually pretty good about bringing my own lunch, mostly because at work I really don't often have time to run out and grab something. But, I can be better at making Rob's lunch for him so that he buys it less often. At least that's what I tell myself. Rob tells me that whenever I make him lunch, he eats it at 9:30am and then still gets "second lunch". Ugh. So maybe this one doesn't really work.....

6. Use the library. Buying a Kobo has got to be one of the best investments I've ever made. Ebooks are little bit less expensive when buying them, but I can download books from the Toronto Public Library right onto my Kobo. Free books. On my Kobo. Plus the waitlists for ebooks is often shorter at the library. I also don't have to go pickup or return my books because they just disappear off my Kobo when my lending period is over.

7.  Make a universal wish list. I have a Pinterest board that serves a bit as a running wish list. I can pin things here that I'm coveting and come back when I'm ready to make a purchase or forward the list to my husband when he's asking for gift ideas.

8. 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.  Check out this article. The idea is to ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? Focus on short and long-term profit/loss. I've been trying to use this one more and more lately. In 10 months I'll likely be annoyed that I spent X number of dollars on a third grey sweater, but I'll probably be ok with splurging for a glass of wine when watching a movie with a friend.

 9. Sell your stuff. I'm a purger. I'm constantly going through our house and getting rid of stuff we never use. Sometimes I just give things away, mostly stuff like books and the like, to friends. Other times I'll send a big pile of stuff off for donation. But if something is still in great shape, I may try to sell it on consignment. Here are 2 online consignment stores I use:

i. For clothing, my favourite consignment shop is called Trend Trunk. It's a Canadian online consignment store. Here's my Trend Trunk Closet if you want to see the items I'm currently selling. They even have an app, so it's wicked easy to take pictures of your clothes and post them to the store.

ii.  For baby stuff, I've used Baby Pre-Loved. This is a Toronto-based online consignment store. What I like about this store is that the commission you earn is a little less, but they will pay you upfront and take the risk themselves. So, you're guaranteed either cash or credit to their store if they take your item. I prefer this than waiting to see if my stuff has sold at a traditional consignment store.

So those are my money-saving tips. Do you have any to add? I'm sure we'd all love to read them too!
xo
 
 
 
 
 

About Me

 
This is a blog where these things matter: women, moms, friends, family, having fun, experimenting with life, plus a few DIYs from Pinterest that may or may not totally fail. 
Here is where I hope to share bits and pieces of my life with you. 

A Splendid Messy Life is a mommy and lifestyle blog written and edited by me, Jennifer Bairos. I am a working mama living in Toronto with my husband, Rob, our son, Sebastian, and our cat, Lily.

Both the journey to get and stay pregnant, and then my first year of motherhood weren't easy roads. It helped me to connect with others and read stories about how motherhood didn't always look like walking with a sleeping baby in the stroller while drinking a Starbucks latte.  (I don't know why, but for some reason I thought I'd be doing this every day as soon as Seb was born).

When I was on maternity leave, I started to follow a few blogs and loved hearing the voices of these women sharing their tips, tricks, and thoughts on motherhood. I was, and continue to be, inspired by these women and wanted to join them by sharing my experiences with others too. I write about books and toys that are loved in our house, things we love to do in Toronto, resources I've found that have made life a little bit easier, or just my thoughts on parenting.


I don't write exclusively about motherhood, however. I also love to share wonderful and fun things I've found that I think any woman would love. I call them les petits plaisirs.

If you'd like to get a taste of what I've written, a few of my most popular posts so far have been:
Breastfeeding, Bottle-feeding, and Balance
Instagram vs Real Life
Chemo Angels
Non-Cheesy Anniversary Gift Ideas for the First Five Years

Thank you for stopping by, and welcome to my blog :)

"She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it.)" Lewis Carroll

 

Frequently Asked Questions  

Where do you find the time to blog?
Usually during nap time. Most of the year I work full-time, so I will write a post during naps on the weekend or maybe work on a post over a few evenings during the week when Rob and I are binge-watching something on Netflix. That's why Seb will nap until he's 18 and off to his next grand adventure. I don't know when I'll write when he stops napping!

How do you keep your house so clean and seem to have your life all together?
Ummm....I think you have the wrong blogger. Refer to the picture below and this blog post.



Tell us some of your favourites.
Sure thing!
Books:
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Spilling Open by Sabrina Ward Harrison, and I posted earlier how I love pretty much any kind of trilogy.
You can check out my reviews of the books I've been reading recently here.

TV Shows:
Downton Abbey, The Mindy Project, The Big Bang Theory, Mad Men, Suits, and Orange is the New Black

Beauty products:
Jurlique Calendula Moisturizer, Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream, NARS Blush in Orgasm, CoverGirl LashBlast Length Mascara, Stila Lip Glaze in Guava, and Essie nailpolishes (usually in Wicked or Mademoiselle)

Stores:
Chapters Indigo, J Crew, Gap, Sephora, Etsy, and Anthropologie

Shoes:
9 times out of 10 you can find me in either these Roots boots, black Havianas, or a pair of Tieks.

Blogs:
The Mom Edit, Rookie Moms, The Honest Toddler, The Average Girls' Guide, and Girl Meets Box

Small claims to fame

Guest posts for The Rookie Moms: My Year of Rookie Mom Challenges and Baby Activities in Toronto.
Guest post for The Ruralist: Finding a Small Town Within a Big City.
Contributor for VoiceBox: Why I'm Not Having a Birthday Party for my 3 Year Old.


A few comments about posts (and comments)

I do not collect or share data (other than traffic stats) from my readers.
I believe in honesty on this blog and would never promote a product or service that I did not totally love and think you would love too. Any compensation provided will also be fully disclosed in the blog post. A Splendid Messy Life does include affiliate advertising links in posts and can earn a very small referral commission from these links. This blog is written and edited by me and all opinions are my own.
A Splendid Messy Life reserves the right to remove any comment that is offensive in nature, self-promotional spam, or in any other way not related to the post.


Feel free to email me anytime at asplendidmessylife@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!

xo
 
 
You can read more of A Splendid Messy Life here. 
 

9 Tips to Save Money and Curb Impulse Shopping



I just got my December credit card bill. Sigh. You know that saying "shopping is my cardio"? Can online shopping be cardio? Well, that's my weakness. But I'm resolving to save a little more in 2015, so that means less spending in 2015. Here are the tips I'm going to try and follow to help grow our savings and pay for the two bigger trips we have planned this year.

1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails and unlike their FB and Instagram pages. Bye bye J. Crew. Au revoir Anthro. No more will I allow you to assault my Facebook news feed with free advertising because once upon a time I clicked 'like'. And my inbox? It already feels lighter. I do like following the Chapters/Indigo Instagram feed, so that one got to stay. They don't post everyday, and their pics are beautiful. But otherwise outta sight, outta mind.

2. Tell a friend about the item. This trick I do often with my friends or on the blog. Sometimes I find something that I think is so great, but I probably don't really need it, so I feel better when I tell others about it.

3. Don't buy for "sometime." I often find gifts and think, "Oh this would be a great baby shower gift, or this would be a great gift for so and so." But the problem is, I just end up buy more things and don't always gift them when I thought I would. If it's not something I need right now, or I don't know exactly when and for whom I need a gift, I won't buy it.

4. Use up what you have.  Stationery, food, cosmetics. These are all things that I have multiples of at home. I resolve to use up the things I have at home before I buy anymore. Seriously, there is a 1/4 of a cow in my freezer.

5. Brown Bag It. I'm usually pretty good about bringing my own lunch, mostly because at work I really don't often have time to run out and grab something. But, I can be better at making Rob's lunch for him so that he buys it less often. At least that's what I tell myself. Rob tells me that whenever I make him lunch, he eats it at 9:30am and then still gets "second lunch". Ugh. So maybe this one doesn't really work.....

6. Use the library. Buying a Kobo has got to be one of the best investments I've ever made. Ebooks are little bit less expensive when buying them, but I can download books from the Toronto Public Library right onto my Kobo. Free books. On my Kobo. Plus the waitlists for ebooks is often shorter at the library. I also don't have to go pickup or return my books because they just disappear off my Kobo when my lending period is over.

7.  Make a universal wish list. I have a Pinterest board that serves a bit as a running wish list. I can pin things here that I'm coveting and come back when I'm ready to make a purchase or forward the list to my husband when he's asking for gift ideas.

8. 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.  Check out this article. The idea is to ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? Focus on short and long-term profit/loss. I've been trying to use this one more and more lately. In 10 months I'll likely be annoyed that I spent X number of dollars on a third grey sweater, but I'll probably be ok with splurging for a glass of wine when watching a movie with a friend.

 9. Sell your stuff. I'm a purger. I'm constantly going through our house and getting rid of stuff we never use. Sometimes I just give things away, mostly stuff like books and the like, to friends. Other times I'll send a big pile of stuff off for donation. But if something is still in great shape, I may try to sell it on consignment. Here are 2 online consignment stores I use:

i. For clothing, my favourite consignment shop is called Trend Trunk. It's a Canadian online consignment store. Here's my Trend Trunk Closet if you want to see the items I'm currently selling. They even have an app, so it's wicked easy to take pictures of your clothes and post them to the store.

ii.  For baby stuff, I've used Baby Pre-Loved. This is a Toronto-based online consignment store. What I like about this store is that the commission you earn is a little less, but they will pay you upfront and take the risk themselves. So, you're guaranteed either cash or credit to their store if they take your item. I prefer this than waiting to see if my stuff has sold at a traditional consignment store.

So those are my money-saving tips. Do you have any to add? I'm sure we'd all love to read them too!
xo
J
- See more at: http://www.asplendidmessylife.com/2014/12/9-tips-to-save-money-and-curb-impulse.html#sthash.zwOlodyT.dpuf

9 Tips to Save Money and Curb Impulse Shopping



I just got my December credit card bill. Sigh. You know that saying "shopping is my cardio"? Can online shopping be cardio? Well, that's my weakness. But I'm resolving to save a little more in 2015, so that means less spending in 2015. Here are the tips I'm going to try and follow to help grow our savings and pay for the two bigger trips we have planned this year.

1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails and unlike their FB and Instagram pages. Bye bye J. Crew. Au revoir Anthro. No more will I allow you to assault my Facebook news feed with free advertising because once upon a time I clicked 'like'. And my inbox? It already feels lighter. I do like following the Chapters/Indigo Instagram feed, so that one got to stay. They don't post everyday, and their pics are beautiful. But otherwise outta sight, outta mind.

2. Tell a friend about the item. This trick I do often with my friends or on the blog. Sometimes I find something that I think is so great, but I probably don't really need it, so I feel better when I tell others about it.

3. Don't buy for "sometime." I often find gifts and think, "Oh this would be a great baby shower gift, or this would be a great gift for so and so." But the problem is, I just end up buy more things and don't always gift them when I thought I would. If it's not something I need right now, or I don't know exactly when and for whom I need a gift, I won't buy it.

4. Use up what you have.  Stationery, food, cosmetics. These are all things that I have multiples of at home. I resolve to use up the things I have at home before I buy anymore. Seriously, there is a 1/4 of a cow in my freezer.

5. Brown Bag It. I'm usually pretty good about bringing my own lunch, mostly because at work I really don't often have time to run out and grab something. But, I can be better at making Rob's lunch for him so that he buys it less often. At least that's what I tell myself. Rob tells me that whenever I make him lunch, he eats it at 9:30am and then still gets "second lunch". Ugh. So maybe this one doesn't really work.....

6. Use the library. Buying a Kobo has got to be one of the best investments I've ever made. Ebooks are little bit less expensive when buying them, but I can download books from the Toronto Public Library right onto my Kobo. Free books. On my Kobo. Plus the waitlists for ebooks is often shorter at the library. I also don't have to go pickup or return my books because they just disappear off my Kobo when my lending period is over.

7.  Make a universal wish list. I have a Pinterest board that serves a bit as a running wish list. I can pin things here that I'm coveting and come back when I'm ready to make a purchase or forward the list to my husband when he's asking for gift ideas.

8. 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.  Check out this article. The idea is to ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? Focus on short and long-term profit/loss. I've been trying to use this one more and more lately. In 10 months I'll likely be annoyed that I spent X number of dollars on a third grey sweater, but I'll probably be ok with splurging for a glass of wine when watching a movie with a friend.

 9. Sell your stuff. I'm a purger. I'm constantly going through our house and getting rid of stuff we never use. Sometimes I just give things away, mostly stuff like books and the like, to friends. Other times I'll send a big pile of stuff off for donation. But if something is still in great shape, I may try to sell it on consignment. Here are 2 online consignment stores I use:

i. For clothing, my favourite consignment shop is called Trend Trunk. It's a Canadian online consignment store. Here's my Trend Trunk Closet if you want to see the items I'm currently selling. They even have an app, so it's wicked easy to take pictures of your clothes and post them to the store.

ii.  For baby stuff, I've used Baby Pre-Loved. This is a Toronto-based online consignment store. What I like about this store is that the commission you earn is a little less, but they will pay you upfront and take the risk themselves. So, you're guaranteed either cash or credit to their store if they take your item. I prefer this than waiting to see if my stuff has sold at a traditional consignment store.

So those are my money-saving tips. Do you have any to add? I'm sure we'd all love to read them too!
xo
J
- See more at: http://www.asplendidmessylife.com/2014/12/9-tips-to-save-money-and-curb-impulse.html#sthash.zwOlodyT.dpuf

9 Tips to Save Money and Curb Impulse Shopping



I just got my December credit card bill. Sigh. You know that saying "shopping is my cardio"? Can online shopping be cardio? Well, that's my weakness. But I'm resolving to save a little more in 2015, so that means less spending in 2015. Here are the tips I'm going to try and follow to help grow our savings and pay for the two bigger trips we have planned this year.

1. Unsubscribe from retailer emails and unlike their FB and Instagram pages. Bye bye J. Crew. Au revoir Anthro. No more will I allow you to assault my Facebook news feed with free advertising because once upon a time I clicked 'like'. And my inbox? It already feels lighter. I do like following the Chapters/Indigo Instagram feed, so that one got to stay. They don't post everyday, and their pics are beautiful. But otherwise outta sight, outta mind.

2. Tell a friend about the item. This trick I do often with my friends or on the blog. Sometimes I find something that I think is so great, but I probably don't really need it, so I feel better when I tell others about it.

3. Don't buy for "sometime." I often find gifts and think, "Oh this would be a great baby shower gift, or this would be a great gift for so and so." But the problem is, I just end up buy more things and don't always gift them when I thought I would. If it's not something I need right now, or I don't know exactly when and for whom I need a gift, I won't buy it.

4. Use up what you have.  Stationery, food, cosmetics. These are all things that I have multiples of at home. I resolve to use up the things I have at home before I buy anymore. Seriously, there is a 1/4 of a cow in my freezer.

5. Brown Bag It. I'm usually pretty good about bringing my own lunch, mostly because at work I really don't often have time to run out and grab something. But, I can be better at making Rob's lunch for him so that he buys it less often. At least that's what I tell myself. Rob tells me that whenever I make him lunch, he eats it at 9:30am and then still gets "second lunch". Ugh. So maybe this one doesn't really work.....

6. Use the library. Buying a Kobo has got to be one of the best investments I've ever made. Ebooks are little bit less expensive when buying them, but I can download books from the Toronto Public Library right onto my Kobo. Free books. On my Kobo. Plus the waitlists for ebooks is often shorter at the library. I also don't have to go pickup or return my books because they just disappear off my Kobo when my lending period is over.

7.  Make a universal wish list. I have a Pinterest board that serves a bit as a running wish list. I can pin things here that I'm coveting and come back when I'm ready to make a purchase or forward the list to my husband when he's asking for gift ideas.

8. 3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Purchase.  Check out this article. The idea is to ask yourself, how will you feel about this purchase in 10 minutes? in 10 months? in 10 years? Focus on short and long-term profit/loss. I've been trying to use this one more and more lately. In 10 months I'll likely be annoyed that I spent X number of dollars on a third grey sweater, but I'll probably be ok with splurging for a glass of wine when watching a movie with a friend.

 9. Sell your stuff. I'm a purger. I'm constantly going through our house and getting rid of stuff we never use. Sometimes I just give things away, mostly stuff like books and the like, to friends. Other times I'll send a big pile of stuff off for donation. But if something is still in great shape, I may try to sell it on consignment. Here are 2 online consignment stores I use:

i. For clothing, my favourite consignment shop is called Trend Trunk. It's a Canadian online consignment store. Here's my Trend Trunk Closet if you want to see the items I'm currently selling. They even have an app, so it's wicked easy to take pictures of your clothes and post them to the store.

ii.  For baby stuff, I've used Baby Pre-Loved. This is a Toronto-based online consignment store. What I like about this store is that the commission you earn is a little less, but they will pay you upfront and take the risk themselves. So, you're guaranteed either cash or credit to their store if they take your item. I prefer this than waiting to see if my stuff has sold at a traditional consignment store.

So those are my money-saving tips. Do you have any to add? I'm sure we'd all love to read them too!
xo
J
- See more at: http://www.asplendidmessylife.com/2014/12/9-tips-to-save-money-and-curb-impulse.html#sthash.zwOlodyT.dpuf

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tonight I'll Hold Her Hand

Tonight, I'll hold her hand
My daughter has always been spoiled. She's the youngest child, and the only girl. My husband and I have the only kids in the family, so she's the only granddaughter as well. Being the baby of the family means she got held a little longer, cuddled a little more,  and coslept well beyond when my boys did. I had my tubes tied when she was born, so we always knew she would be the last, and we tried to cherish every moment. And she got quite spoiled along the way. Not with material things, but time and attention. She was this perfect little angel we just couldn't get enough of.
But, eventually,  we wanted her to become a "big girl" and do things on her own. Like sleeping. She started kindergarten a month ago, and until then, had nearly always slept with us. She has her own bed, and most nights she would start out there. But she always found her way to our room, and we didn't put up much of a fight. Since starting school, she has grown so much. And now she stays in her own bed all night.
With two dogs and a husband, my bed was anything but empty. Yet I found myself missing those late night cuddles and sleepy smiles. I dare not wake her, though I often slipped in the doorway to watch her sleeping peacefully alone. I knew I would miss cosleeping, just as I had when my boys outgrew it. But this was so...final. She was my baby, and now was happily sleeping, going to school, and enjoying life without my constant aid. I was proud, though sad, at her budding independence.
Then tonight, I got a little piece of my baby back. I was lying in bed and heard crying doen the hall. She had a bad dream and was frightened, needing her mommy for reassurance. And I happily obliged. I picked her up and carried her to my bed, where we talked it out and calmed down and cuddled for a while.
She took her place beside me in the middle of the bed, and grabbed my hand. She clung to it as she dozed off,  and held on tight even as she snored into the night. And I put up no fight.
My arm was asleep, I lay in a terribly awkward position,  and I cared not. My child needed me, and I needed her. And we were at peace. Many times over the course of motherhood,  I've read articles and blog posts that tugged at my heartstrings and made me grateful for every moment with my children. I would hold them a little tighter, and remember how lucky I am to have them.
Then, after only a few hours, I would lose my new found appreciation. Tossed in the throes of parenting, I would lose my patience and quickly forget everything I was so thankful for. But not tonight. Too often we get wrapped up in the daily grind, and lose sight of the magical journey we are on, together with our children. They are learning to grow,  and we are learning to let go.
So tonight, I will not pull away. I will not worry about my aching body and numb fingers. I will not stress over her independence or my lack of personal space.
Tonight, I will hold her hand.
*disclaimer: I typed this one handed from my tablet, please excuse any typos*

Friday, September 25, 2015

Feature Friday: Stephanie Dube

Gourmet Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This Gourmet Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe is for those times when you want something that reminds you of a simple comfort food, but with an adult, more complex-tasting twist. It’s a delicious creamy meal with three types of cheese, artichoke hearts, garlic, olives, and capers. The unique mixture creates a delicious taste. Of course, this recipe is completely modifiable, so you can add or subtract any ingredients pretty much!
I used to make a plainer baked mac & cheese a lot when I was younger. But the dish always tasted … well … plain. Today I had some free time and I loooove to de-stress by cooking, so I decided to experiment, throw a bunch of ingredients together, and see what happened. What resulted was pure deliciousness!
Gourmet Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

To make this concoction, you’ll need the following. (And don’t forget, there’s a recipe card at the end of this post where you can print or save a simple recipe version!)

Ingredients

1/4 onion
5 garlic cloves (to taste — add more or less)
Olive oil (3 to 4 tablespoons, however much you need to saute the onions and garlic)
1/4 cup green olives with pimento
1/4 cup artichoke hearts
1/4 cup capers
2 to 2 1/2 cups of penne pasta (I use whole wheat penne, but you can use macaroni or whatever pasta you like)
2 cups 2% or non-fat milk
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter + a little more
1/4 cup white wine
1 “dash” of dijon mustard
Garlic powder to taste
1 dash of red pepper flakes
Salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning to taste
1/4 cup each of feta, extra sharp cheddar, parmesan
Panko

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.
First, chop the onions and garlic cloves. Saute in olive oil on low to medium-low until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic towards the end of this process, so it doesn’t get burned. Chop the olives and artichokes and add to the saute mix, sauteing with the onion. Add the capers too. Keep on low while you’re cooking the penne and the sauce.
Baked Mac and Cheese - Saute
Boil the penne according to instructions. Set aside.
Make the sauce. You’ll start out by creating a “roux” with the flour and butter. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter on low. Then mix in the flour until it’s all congealed. Then slowly add the milk, with the burner on low to medium-low so you don’t burn the mix. This will take awhile. Keep stirring periodically and keeping a close eye on the sauce. Let it heat and stir until the mix sickens to a mac-and-cheese sauce consistency. Add the white wine. (You may need to add a little extra flour if the wine thins out the mixture too much.) Add the mustard (3 quick squeezes), garlic powder, pepper, salt, red pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning to taste.
Make sure the sauce is really hot, and then add the cheese. This will further thicken the sauce. Stir and stir until the cheese is completely melted into the sauce.
The sauce for baked mac and cheese

Pour the saute mixture into the sauce and mix it up well.
Now, pour the penne into a baking dish. Pour the sauce on top and mix it all up really well. It will look like this:
Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe
Sprinkle Panko on top and then either pour a little melted butter on top of that or spray some “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” on top.
Bake in the oven on 350 for 15 minutes. You’re done and ready to eat a delicious meal!
Gourmet Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe 


About This Blog

I went through numerous iterations picking a name for this blog. I considered "Trial and Error," something about cats, something about sparkles... "A Blog by Dube" pays homage to my old blog, Dube's World. It's also my nickname. :) You'll find writing advice, recipes, lifestyle tips, and articles about women and TV here. Enjoy!