Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gift Cards = My Favorite Gift

When I give someone a gift I want it to be something that the recipient will love. There is nothing worse than being the giver (and in some cases the receiver) of a gift and seeing a fake sort of happiness spread across someone's face.

It is one thing to know someone so well that you will know exactly what said person would love to receive. But it is another to have an office gift exchange, a house warming party, sibling gift exchange, or a birthday party where you may know the recipient, but you don't know them so well that you feel comfortable giving them a gift.

This is why I adore giving gift cards as gifts. Gift cards are an easy way to ensure that the person on the receiving end will get just what they wanted--or they could use it towards an even larger purchase that was out of the price range for asking someone to give them.

Another thing that I love about gift cards? You can do so much more than just mailing them in an envelope. Here are my top five ways to give (and hey, even receive for myself!) a gift card.

  • Buy something small that you can tuck the gift card into. You could get a cute change purse, a cozy pair of socks, or a cute coffee mug and then give the remaining balance of gift money in a gift card. So if your gift amount is $20 and said coffee mug is $5, buy them a $15 gift card. It's a cute and fun way to give a gift card.
  • Stick them in a stocking as a fun way to stuff your stocking during the holidays.
  • Hang them from your tree. This is especially fun if you're doing a Secret Santa type gift exchange and you are the host. Ask your guests if they plan on participating to bring "x" amount on a gift card and then wrap the gift. When they arrive you can punch a hole in the paper, tie a string and have them hang it up on the gift tree. Then draw numbers to see who gets to pick the first card on the tree and so on. Doing a White Elephant exchange? This would be a fun way to try and get the much coveted gift card on the tree.
  • A lot of gift cards can be purchased electronically. This can be a little tricky to email to the recipient. You could always buy the amount, e-mail it to yourself and then once the big day arrives e-mail it to your recipient.
  • If you are giving a baby gift, you could roll up a diaper cake and then attach a gift card to the cake. If the parents-to-be only have one item left to buy for their new little one, try to plan with the other guests and family members to donate a gift card to the same store and attach them all to the diaper cake. Now they can have a starter on that crib or nice carseat that they have had their eyes on.

With almost all stores offering some sort of gift card program these days you can really be creative on how to give the gift of a gift card. Have fun and remember when in doubt, buy a gift card!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Gift Cards Rock blogging program, for 6,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Because Everyone Shops with Poop on Their Shirt...Right?

Friday was supposed to be a fun day. Key word there is "supposed".

We woke up and decided that we would finish up some last minute shopping, give in to Isabella's pleading for a visit with Santa, mail some packages, and finish up with dinner at our favorite restaurant.

Once we arrived for our shopping Leo decided that it would be the best thing to just carry Brynlie rather than lug around our double stroller. I happily agreed to this and off we went.

As we arrive at our destination Leo informed me that he smelled something--and that it wasn't a good smell. He did the butt sniff test on Brynlie and the look on his face said it all.

We had a pooper.

He was walking ahead and yelled back at the girls and me that he would just take her into the family bathroom. I stayed with Isabella and Madelyn so we did some walking around. Isabella begged for a guitar. Madelyn was running around. Isabella licked some shop windows. Madelyn did some screaming.

It was great.

I was wondering where the hell Leo and Brynlie were and what the hell happened to the two of them when out walked Leo.

He was drenched with sweat. Brynlie is wrapped in a blanket. He looks, well, unhappy.

I looked at him wondering what in the...?!

He must have read my mind. He then told me that Brynlie had the most massive poop that he had ever seen.

Said massive poop was all over her back. Her shirt. Her pants.

There were no spare clothes in my massive bag. Not even a onesie.

When he reached into my bag to get out the wipes? We had two measly wipes.


There was no air circulation in the family bathroom. He said it reeked of shit from the diaper and that he couldn't breathe.

As he's pouring sweat off of his body he looks down to see what he had feared.

Shit all over his shirt.

We learned a few valuable lessons during this. One, we always double check the wipes container. Two, keep an extra outfit in said bag at all times--and make sure someone *ahem, me* has not removed outfits to wash them.

Final lesson? Make sure that Leo wears an undershirt that isn't so see through that his nipples are showing.

Book of the Week: Recession Proof

I love being introduced to a new author whose novels make me fall in love with the entire book. From the characters, the story, the obstacles that the characters may face; if the book is impossible for me to set down, I know that I have a winner.

The latest book to suck up every spare minute of my time to include being sleepy and sneaking in reading time at every possible chance is Recession Proof by Kimberly S. Lin.

Recession Proof is about a woman named Helen who is successful yet not fulfilled with her life and career in the finance department. She has been with Mark, her boyfriend, for six years and their relationship is at a standstill. As she is pondering if the finance world is ultimately for her and if Mark is actually "The One", the recession hits. She is suddenly left unemployed and begins to wonder what would truly make her happy in life?

Helen was so likable--as was her best friend, Sophie. I could relate to her in the way that she felt as if there was something out there that she was meant to be doing and she wanted to follow her dreams to reach her goal. I found myself rooting for Helen for her dream job and in the love department.

All in all, I loved this book. It was a great read and I honestly could not read it quick enough. It was so easy to love Helen and all of her little mishaps and to cheer her on while she decided that she could follow her heart and her dreams.

My only critique of the book would be the typos and lack of commas. I noticed that for the majority of times a character would be spoken to that there wouldn't be commas before/after their name. There were other typos and for me it took away from how great of a book Recession Proof is.

Introducing "Recession Proof" from Kimberly Lin on Vimeo.

About the author: Kimberly S. Lin is a California native, graduated from UC Irvine with a degree in economics. After college she moved to Los Angeles and worked as a financial writer and hedge fund analyst, but always dreamed of becoming a women's literature writer. Utilizing her experiences she writes stories that are witty, heartwarming and relatable to the modern woman. 

A huge thank you to Chick Lit Plus and Kimberly S. Lin for this book review opportunity. No other compensation was given.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shoppers in a Panic--JCPenney to the Rescue!

By a raise of hands who still has at least one gift left to buy? Maybe it is for that impossible to buy for person, the one who has everything, the one who is too picky or the one that you honestly have no clue what to buy him or her.

This is where one of my favorite stores, JCPenney, comes to our rescue! They have an amazing gift guide out there for all of us shoppers who need help and are finding ourselves in a panic with only days to go until the holidays officially arrive.

Here are a few of my favorite gifts that you can find from jcpenney--no need to panic when you have such amazing finds right at your fingertips:

Do you know a coffee lover? This Keurig coffee maker is sure to be a hit!

This Makeup Studio Blockbuster by Sephora is the mecca of makeup for beauty lovers. So fun!

The Liz Claiborne Clear and Rose Gold Resin Watch is perfect to tuck away in the woman of your life's stocking. Loving the rose gold trend!

These Stafford flannel pants are so cozy and warm--perfect for the cold winter nights ahead.

If you need more gift ideas check out the JCPenney gift guide--there is something for everyone on it! There is no need to panic this year when you can find a special gift for everyone at JCPenney. Make sure that you order by December 20th for standard delivery to arrive by Christmas Eve!

JCPenney Don't Panic Last Minute Shopping Guide

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of jcpenney and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Life Glances

* I went out last night. No children. No husband. I met up with two moms at a coffee shop. We laughed. We talked. We closed the place down. Which, by the way, I haven't closed anything down for years. Mission accomplished.

* This will probably sound weird--but it is weird. Around a month ago I noticed one of Madelyn's ears smelled...and not in a good way. She goes to the doctor today--and I may or may not have giggled when explaining what the problem was when I booked said appointment.

* Making Christmas cookies and cinnamon rolls this weekend. I love this time of year. My weight, though? Yeah...not so much.

* I did the 30 Day Shred yesterday. My body is in some pain today. Yikes.

* Reading another awesome book--I'll be writing about it next week. I can't put it down.

* I have really went overboard this year on presents. Every year Leo and I are all no going overboard this year, Chelle!  And then it's always an excuse to why the overboardness has happened. I love buying presents for people. It's too much fun!

* Brynlie is a real life crawler. She crawls around the entire house. No more worm crawling, either. This is full on I'm super baby crawling like a pro, Momma! This is going by WAY too fast.

* I turned my air conditioner back on. It's in the 70's. I hate this. I want cool weather, please.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Super Cute Grandparent Gift Idea {I Made This!}

While browsing the most addicting site known to man, aka Pinterest, I ran across a cute idea--but then I made my own spin and did my own thing with it.

What I loved about this craft was that my girls could be a part of it and actually help create an adorable gift idea for their grandparents. So much of Christmas can be purchased at the store and I wanted something special and unique from the girls to their grandparents.

Here are their fingerprint snowman ornaments:

Cute, right? Here are the supplies that you'll need:

*Wood shape of choice. These can be found at any craft store (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc)

*Child safe paint. We used washable paints because my girls are a little paint happy.

*Paint pen

*Ribbon (I used scrapbook ribbon)


*Mod Podge

*Hot glue gun

After you have all of your supplies, give your child(ren) a paint brush and a little of the paint. Have them paint the wood shape in color of choice.

Once the ornament shape is dry you then pour out some white paint onto a plate. Spread it out some and place child's finger into paint.

Press the finger down firmly enough onto the ornament to make the snowman's body.

Repeat for however many little ones that you have. Since I have three girls we have three snowmen.

Once the snowmen are dry, write the year on top of the ornament. I chose a silver paint pen but any color will do.

Using the sharpie draw on your snowman eyes, mouth and arms.

Once you have the snowmen complete, Mod Podge the ornament. I did this just as a sealant for the ornament.

After Mod Podge is dry cut your ribbon to the desired length. Fold into a loop and hot glue onto back.

And...that's it! Super easy, super cute and my girls are so proud that they helped make their grandparents' gift.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Infantino Sync Carrier

I have been searching for a baby carrier for quite some time and I am starting to think that my list of requirements is what is making it so difficult for me to pick a carrier.

First and foremost on my list is safety. I realize that is a given for all of us as parents, but you would be surprised at how many carriers are not worn safely.

My second requirement is comfort. Not just for me, but for Brynlie as well. Carriers that pull on my back and shoulders won't do me any good. I have a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 6 month old--I must have all of my muscles working properly in order to keep up with these three while out and about.

And my final (personal) requirement? Cute. It must be something cute.

When I pulled my Infantino Sync Carrier out of the package I was both excited and confused. Excited because this was the type of carrier that I had just been looking at. Confused because of the straps and where to put what.

After reading the instructions over for quite some time I recruited my husband to assist me. I honestly wasn't comfortable doing this alone for the first few times--and even now that I have had it and used it for a few weeks I am not comfortable using it alone quite yet. You need to be able to pull the straps tight and I still don't think I am at the level in order to do that while holding onto her at the same time.

I loved this carrier for a variety of reasons. The Infantino Sync Carrier met all of my above requirements. Once Brynlie was snug and secured inside I LOVED it. The carrier was extremely comfortable. I have used carriers in the past that killed my back and shoulders. Not true with this one. It is so comfortable and Brynlie was also comfortable.

It's really cute! I love the red and black floral combination. A lot of my clothes are black so it compliments them perfectly.

And finally, most importantly, I could feel and see that Brynlie was secure. She was strapped so tight, but not tight enough to make her fuss and be uncomfortable. I did some squatting, leaning over and walking around with her. She loved it all! Remember to ALWAYS read your instructions first and utilize any videos that the baby carrier may come with. Your baby's safety is the most important thing always.

You can view and purchase the Infantino Sync Carrier from Amazon. There you can find reviews and read what other moms thought of the carrier in addition to my review. Want to see the Infantino Sync Carrier in action? Check out their YouTube video here.

What to be kept in the know with Infantino? Find Infantino on Facebook, follow Infantino on Twitter and/or subscribe to the Infantino YouTube channel.

I am a participant in a Mom Central Consulting campaign for Infantino and have received various Infantino products as part of my participation. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I think a redo is in order...

I am not sure if I want this photo to be the photo that all of my family will receive for our Christmas card.

However, it's almost too funny for it not to be, right?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Pick of the Week: Chosen by Chandra Hoffman

I love finding a book so invigorating that I cannot put it down. It is while reading these types of books that the exhaustion the next day is well worth it.

Chosen by Chandra Hoffman was one of the above. This book was so intense and had me wanting, no, needing, to find out what was going to happen next. My heart would pound and I would read every chance that I got. I found myself staying up until midnight to squeeze in those next pages and chapters.

Here is a brief description as told on the book jacket:

It all begins as a fantasy...

A caseworker in her "paperwork-signing" suit alongside beaming parents cradling their adopted newborn: this is the blissful picture that keeps Chloe Pinter, director of Portland's Chosen Child domestic adoption program, happy as she juggles the demands of her boss and the incessant needs of adoptive and biological parents. 

But the dream job that offers Chloe refuge from her turbulent personal life soon becomes a nightmare involving three very different couples" the college sweethearts who, after suffering fertility problems, are now expecting their own baby' the wealthy husband and desperate wife for whom adoption is a last chance; and the couple who has nothing--except the baby everyone wants. But when a child goes missing, perceptions of family and future are challenged, posing the questions: What happens when you get what you thought you wanted? How far would you go if it wasn't what you wanted after all?

Right when I read the book jacket I knew in my heart that I had to read this book. As a mother who has struggled with unexplained infertility, as a sister to four adopted siblings, I knew that this book would be a great read.

The characters were so believable--it was as if I actually knew them. Once I started to get deeper into this book I saw that some of the characters were not who they seemed to be on the outside. I could relate to a few of the characters, but I think that the characters whom I could not relate to are what kept me captivated the most.

I could not imagine having to make a sacrifice so large such as putting my child up for adoption. Chandra Hoffman made me feel as if I were the mom who was placing my child with their forever family. The ache in their hearts--you truly get to see a point of view that many of us do not get to witness every day.

When I got to the portion of the book where the child goes missing, I felt sick to my stomach. Once the parent of the missing child realized that the child has disappeared, I once again felt like I was this character. The panic. The heart racing. The collapsing onto the ground--it was written in such a believable manner and had me feeling as if I had to hug my daughters that much closer.

All in all? I loved this book. Chandra Hoffman's writing skills are phenomenal. The characters did not seem to be stereotyped as they sometimes do in books that have well defined characters who play a certain role. It was as if I knew all of the characters in my own life.

I highly recommend this book to all of my blog readers and friends. I cannot tell you how many times that I told my Mom that she must read this book. I raved about it so much and she is now going to read it. I loved Chosen and hope that once you read it, you will understand when I say that I could not put this gripping read down.

Chick Lit Plus is hosting an Amazon gift card giveaway! Simply visit the Chosen blog tour page and leave a comment. Super easy!

Want to learn more about Chandra Hoffman and keep up with her social networks? You can "like" her on Facebook and/or follow her on Twitter.

A huge thank you to Chick Lit Plus for this amazing reading and review opportunity! I received the book to read and no other compensation was given. All opinions expressed above are my own.