February 25, 2015

Books My Kids Are Loving in February

We have been reading a lot around here lately, thanks to a dear friend who gave me a HUGE bag full of books that her daughters were no longer reading. It was very exciting for the kids to have more than a dozen new stories to pour over. Mila was especially excited since they were mostly princess and girly books, something I never think to buy.

The Giving Tree
Hudson loved this book when he was younger and he was excited when he found it again recently. Now he reads it to Mila. I love the sweet story, even though it is also a little sad. Hudson always says, "This kid is so selfish... he takes everything from the poor tree!" But we still love it.

New Boots for Hudson
I got the book for Hudson for obvious reasons, but it is really such a cute story. It's about a dog who is sick of living in Manitoba. He wins a trip to Miami and soon realizes there is no place like home. This is fun since not only does the lead character have my son's name, but he visits Miami as well.
Disney Princess: Magical Moments (Book and Magic Wand)
This princess book came with a star wand that makes different sounds when you touch the pages. (you can also push the button for magic on demand) The only movie Mila has seen is Frozen, so she loves to ask me the names of each princess. She looks at this books almost everyday and she loves bringing the wand in the car.

Frozen Big Golden Book
This should come as no surprise. My sweet girl is (still) Frozen obsessed and this book from Grandma is her favorite. She has me read it to her in the morning and every night. I have started to realize the places I can cut corners a bit to make it shorter. (don't judge) It mirrors the movie, which is awesome for her, since she can kind of 'read' the book to herself since she already knows the story.
Also today the trailer for a new Frozen short came out, click the link if you want to check it out! I know I will be showing it to Mila when I get home! It will be shown in theaters before Cinderella.

 **Nothing in this post is sponsored or was given to me for free. If a book I mentioned is available at Amazon.com I link to it using my affiliate link**

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February 22, 2015

Have Fun & Get Geeky with Geek Fuel!


I am all about subscription boxes lately. It is so much fun finding a little box at your door full of gifts! I was recently offered the chance to write a review for Geek Fuel, which is a monthly subscription box full of exclusive games, toys, collectibles and more.

A few months back, my hubby found a box full of old Garbage Pail Kids and Star Wars trading cards, and he had a blast explaining to my son how he used to collect them, which cards were his favorite and who all the characters were. So I knew they would love getting a Geek Fuel box, and I was right. 

I was even able to bribe my son to finish his homework faster, so he could open the bright red box the had arrived at our door. He was thrilled to see what was inside. 

Our Geek Fuel Box came packed with a bunch of cool items: 
  • Doctor Who Bobblehead that can go top of computer monitor (or on top of your 6 year old son's dresser)
  • Full Mojo Rampage vinyl sticker with a free code to download the game
  • Star Trek collectible coaster (1 of 4)
  • Mash-Up Magnet featuring Iron Ant
  • Legends of Zelda mints tin
  • History of Time Travel T-Shirt
  • Geek Fuel Geek Guide

Hudson didn't know anything about Doctor Who, so my husband had to explain it to him, but he loved the bobblehead anyway. The Zelda Mints were also a big hit, and very delicious. Hudson was excited to keep the tin. (since we all know kids don't throw anything out. EVER.)


I think this is a really fun and different subscription box for the fabulous geeks in your life! (and aren't we all geeks at heart?) One box costs under $24 bucks (that includes shipping) and the items in ours added up to more than $45 bucks. That's a great deal, especially when you consider some of the stuff is hard to find. If you go to Geek Fuel's website, you can what was in past boxes to get a better idea of the variety of items. Have fun geeking out! 

Disclaimer: I was sent a complimentary Geek Fuel box for my review but opinions are 100% my own. 

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February 20, 2015

How To Get Kids Toys For Free

Get Kids Toys for free

Today I have an AWESOME guest post from Catherine Alford who blogs over at Budget Blonde. When she offered to share this piece she originally wrote for ThePennyHoarder.com... I couldn't resist! I had no idea this was even possible! 

Here is her full article:

The other day I was browsing in what was marketed as a “smart” toy store. I was curious about “smart toys,” toys that have their own electronic intelligence, so I went in to check it out. After rolling my eyes at a hot-pink vacuum cleaner toy (seriously, what is this, 1950?), I came across a Mars Rover Barbie. Despite her sexy astronaut uniform (as if that would be necessary on Mars, people), I thought she was an interesting option. The only problem was the hefty price tag. “Have Barbies always been almost $20? I am in for a real surprise when my daughter gets a bit older!” I thought. Then again, what if I didn’t have to buy my daughter a new Barbie? What if I could get it for free -- or, better yet, what if she could earn it herself?

Cool Job for Kids: Toy Testing

It sounds crazy, but it’s entirely possible. Many legitimate toy companies hire normal kids to be toy testers. If you want your child to be one, the age range seems to vary depending on the application, but typically companies are looking for toddlers through preteens. The company will either send your child a toy to review or ask you to take them to a toy lab at the company’s headquarters. Interested?

Here are three tips to help your child land the gig:

1. Get a Jump on the Competition These jobs are hard to find. They pop up unexpectedly, so you should always be on the lookout. As journalist Samantha Christmann explained, be proactive by emailing toy companies directly and asking about opportunities. For example, you can email your contact information and your child’s name and interests to playlab1@fisher-price.com to find opportunities at Fisher-Price. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

2. Prowl Social Media Follow toy companies on Facebook -- both major ones and smaller players. For example, recently the toy company Step 2 posted on its Facebook page that it was looking for kids to test a Thomas the Tank Engine bed. The company wanted to send the bed to several families to try out. The families got to keep the bed for free in exchange for a product review. I spoke with Krystal Butherus, a blogger who was selected to test the Thomas the Tank Engine bed after hearing about the opportunity in a blogger Facebook group. Krystal advises anyone who wants to get a toy testing opportunity to set up a blog and social media accounts “to show influence if you’re interested in being a toy tester. Word-of-mouth marketing still seems like a big deal to brands, and it's worthwhile if you actually use the product and enjoying sharing the information with your friends and family.” As another example, The Warehouse toy company in New Zealand gives its prestigious toy testers $200 worth of toys plus $8,000 cash for their families! To snag one of those jobs, kids had to buy a toy from their store and upload a video of themselves playing with it and explaining why they’d be a great toy tester. If you want your kids to land similar opportunities, make sure they are comfortable in front of the camera and have no problem selling their skills! It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about marketing and the power of social media all while hopefully getting tons of free toys.

3. Curate Your Online Presence As Krystal advised, you should have a strong online community to be a toy tester, even if it’s just an active Pinterest page, to be more desirable to toy companies. The bigger online reach you have, the more likely it is that you will be selected as a toy tester. If you want to do this regularly, prepare your blog by reviewing toys that you already have. That way, you can use these posts as a portfolio to show companies that you write well and review products thoroughly. When doing a review, be sure to describe the product in detail, including the size, the color, and the age group it’s designed for. Make sure to mention any special or unique features. Have your kid play with the toy for about a month before posting the review, so you can comment on how it held up to wear and tear. Also, don’t be afraid to mention if you weren’t happy with a toy. Remember, many toy tester jobs exist to check on the safety and reliability of a product, so it’s an important job but also one that involves a bit of risk. Make your reviews honest and reliable, and the companies will thank you. While it might seem like these jobs are too good to be true, many kids out there are not spending $20 for Mars Rover Barbie. Instead, they can put that money in their college funds and enjoy playing with free toys instead.

  Your Turn: Would you put your kids to work as a toy testers?

Catherine Alford is a full-time blogger, personal finance freelance writer, and mom of newborn twins. She writes about how to balance life and a budget all across the web including on her own site, Budget Blonde. Original source: “Jobs for Kids: Earn Free Toys as a Toy Tester

February 17, 2015

6 Things I Learned in my 1st Year of Blogging

6 things I've learned in my first year of blogging

I can't believe its been a year since I started consistently blogging! As I mentioned in my Best of 2014 post, I started this blog when I was pregnant with Mila... wrote a few posts and then didn't write again for an entire year. (here's that post from last Feb)

Going into this, I knew content was king, but there are so many other factors I had NO CLUE about. I have learned so much this past year, I couldn't possibly write them ALL down, but I did narrow it down.

Here are 6 things I learned in my first year of blogging:
  1. Comparison is the thief of all joy: This is true in life, and in the blogging world as well. When I first started blogging I was SHOCKED by how many others were out there. I had a few blogs I enjoyed reading before I even got into all this, but beyond that I had no clue. I used to think, "I can't compare to this other fancy site... or those professional-looking pictures... " It can be overwhelming to see what's out there, but try not to let it get to you. There is enough room for everyone!
  2. Some people won't get it: So what is a blog? What do you write about? Who reads it? Just a small sampling of the questions I was asked when I started blogging. (and sometimes still get asked today) I know a lot of my friends have no idea why I blog, and that's okay.
  3. Be careful with sponsored posts: Once your blog starts getting popular, you will likely start getting offers to write paid posts. I got a lot of offers in a short amount of time. I was so shocked that people wanted to pay me *AND* give me free stuff on top of it, that I accepted almost everything. It was a HUGE mistake. I had a few weeks where I had a TON of sponsored posts, many on a strict deadline. The whole thing stressed me out. Now I am super picky when accepting sponsored posts and I am much happier.
  4. It's blogging, not rocket science: Blogging is a way for you to express yourself. No one can write a post exactly like you... which is good, since there is a big chance you will be writing about stuff that other people have touched on before. For me, since I am a 'mommy blogger' this is particularly true. There are only so many mommy-related topics out there. We all talk about basically the same stuff... parenting, potty training, crafts, pacifiers, bullying... it's rare to have a post on a topic that hasn't been done in some form or fashion.
  5. You will get stressed out: Blogging is a lot of work. Writing, pictures, editing, promoting on social media... it is more work then I ever thought it would be. I really love doing it, so most of the time, it doesn't feel like work. But there have been a few times when it did. So I took a break. When I have nothing to write about, or I don't feel like being on social media... I will give myself a week off. I have done that two times so far and felt much better afterwards.
  6. Find other bloggers: This is probably the most important. There is an amazing community of bloggers out there. I didn't realize that going into it. I have met so many awesome women through my blog and it is a very important factor if you want to grow. I love sharing great content from other sites, and in return, they share my stuff when it is something they really like. I met most of these women through SITS girls, I highly recommend all bloggers check them out.
So there you go! I still have much more to learn, especially on the technical side. SEO, photography, graphics... I could go on and on. Right now, I am just going to focus on writing posts that make me happy & hope the rest will just fall into place!

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February 16, 2015

My Sweet Girl Is 2!

Happy Monday! I know lots of people are off work today for President's Day. I have to work which is fine with me, since I have spent most of the past week in bed! (and NOT in a good Valentine's Day romantic way...) I had a nasty bout of stomach flu, and I can honestly say I do not remember the last time I have been that sick! (and for so long) My sweet husband was the last man standing and he has been taking care our whole sick family!

Yesterday was basically the first time I left the house since Wednesday, and I had to force myself since it was my sweet girl's 2nd birthday! We were planning to go to the zoo to celebrate on Saturday, but I just couldn't do it. By Sunday morning I was motivated and ready to go! But first Mila opened her gifts. Her favorite gift by far is her 'big girl' Elsa shoes. I knew she would love these since she wears my heels all around the house.

Loving those shoes!
We are lucky to live near Zoo Miami, since it is such an awesome zoo with lots of interactive stuff for the kids. It is HUGE though, so I highly recommend renting one of their pedal bikes. The kids had a blast sitting in them and it is way easier than walking. (but get there early, or you will waste your whole day waiting in line to get a bike)
Beautiful day at the zoo!!
So much to see!
If you go there, be sure to check what time the giraffe feeding station opens and get there 5 minutes before! It is a very cool experience and the kids LOVE it! I've done it a few times before and it really is amazing having the opportunity to get so close to these huge, beautiful animals!
Back at home, we sang Happy Birthday after dinner and lots of people commented on Instagram about how cute Mila's cake was. I have to agree.
Hello Kitty cuteness!
It was a Carvel Ice Cream cake and it was in the ready made frozen section at Publix where all the other Carvel cakes are. The only downside is that the inside is just vanilla ice cream with sprinkles, no chocolate crunchies. (which I think we can all agree is the very best part of a Carvel cake) But the cake was so darn cute and Mila just LOVED it.
Wish big, sweet girl!
After 5 days of doing nothing, I am way behind on my blog stuff, so this post is my way to get you caught up on what's ben going on... while I catch up on all the posts I want to write! Hope you have a fantastic week!

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February 11, 2015

5 Things my Daughter Taught Me About Myself

My sweet girl is turning 2 this week. I know it is cliche, but I feel like it was just yesterday that I was going to the hospital to have her. I think the best thing about my children is how much they teach me about myself. When Hudson turned 6, I wrote about the life lessons I learned by watching him. Mila may be young, but her arrival has helped me realize some pretty amazing things about myself.

Her 1st Birthday!

Here are 5 things my daughter has taught me about myself:

1. I enjoy the infant stage. Hudson was born early, after I spent a month on bed rest since he wasn't growing. He was so tiny when he was born and I was terrified. I was a typical anxiety-ridden first time mom. I stressed over everything... his weight, going back to work, lack of sleep... etc. I just wanted him to be a toddler already. But with Mila came a confidence, and a calm. I had no issues breastfeeding, I wasn't scared to leave the hospital and I was confident in my skills as a parent. I enjoyed every moment of her infancy, and I am so thankful for that.
Loved those sweet baby snuggles
2. I have a better understanding of siblings. I grew up as an only child. I never really understood the dynamic of siblings. My husband is very close with his brother, and I always thought it must be so cool to have that. It is the reason why I wanted two children. I never get sick of watching them interact. I know their relationship will change throughout the years, but seeing them together is so amazing to me.

Sibling love
3. Having a girl doesn't make me girly. When I found out Mila was a girl, I was so excited to dress her up. It turns out, I'm just not built that way. As much as I want to make her a fashionista, she is more like a mini version of me.... which is a fashion cluster. So she wears what she likes, which is leggings and T-shirts. I love having a girl, and I do like some girly things more than I did before... but you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Fashion fumbles
4. I'm a good multi-tasker. I'm pretty scatterbrained, so I never felt like I was good at juggling a number of tasks at one time. These days, I rock multi-tasking. Having two kids really solidified that. I have my routine and I (finally) feel like have a good handle on the whole working mom thing. It's not a perfect science, but it's pretty darn good.

She's my selfie partner in crime!
 5. Me time is important. After having Hudson, I felt guilty when I wanted to do things for myself, or even just be by myself. Since I work full-time I thought that all my free time should go to my son & my husband. Pretty soon after having Mila, I realized that just wasn't going to work. I felt overwhelmed and stressed. I needed some time to myself. So now I take a 'time out' when needed. I still feel guilty about it, but I know getting that time alone makes me a better & more patient mother.

Mila completed our family and I am thankful everyday that we were blessed to have her. Now I finally have someone to watch "The Little Mermaid" with (if she ever lets me turn off Frozen!) and a reason to buy Barbie's again! Yay! Happy 2nd Birthday to my sweet, sassy girl!

The fam!

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February 8, 2015

Geek Chic with Firmoo Glasses


Disclaimer: I was sent pair of prescription frames free of charge in exchange for my review, but opinions are 100% my own.

I wear contacts most of the time, but when it comes to my glasses I am usually pretty boring. I always go for the basic wire rimmed small frames. So when Firmoo contacted me to do a review of their eyeglasses, I was pretty excited to try something new.

I really wanted a pair of black frames, after the whole geek chic trend. Every time I see someone wearing a pair of them, I just love how they look.
I had never heard of Firmoo before, but I was pretty impressed with what I found once on their website. Especially with the prices. (they had pairs in the clearance section for just $10! and that INCLUDES your prescription!)

They had tons styles that matched exactly what I was looking for. I adjusted the search engine to pull up plastic frames only, which made it even easier. Firmoo has a virtual try-on option, which took a bit of adjusting to get the picture/frame size just right. (adjust the pupillary distance option to fix it) Even with this option, I was still worried about ordering glasses online. I have the hardest time finding glasses when I am in the store trying them all on, I didn't think there was any way I would get it right ordering based on the picture alone. I found a pair I really liked and hoped for the best!

The ordering process was easy, I simply had to type in my prescription. They had a bunch of upgrade options as well, I got the anti-reflection lenses. My glasses arrived in less than a week. It was nicely packaged with both a hard and soft case, a cleaning cloth, and a adjustment kit. The biggest shocker... I actually liked the way they looked! They fit exactly how I had hoped they would, and I love wearing my trendy, new frames!


If you are looking for a fun pair of inexpensive frames, I would definitely recommend Firmoo! Now I want a cat eye pair, so I will be going back online soon to order another!


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February 5, 2015

Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Oreos

Quick & Easy Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Oreos

They're here, people! Red Velvet Oreos have arrived... and they are FANTASTIC. Chocolate covered oreos are one of my very favorite treats, but making them at home is not as easy as it looks. Until now.

If you have ever tried to make these at home with regular chocolate chips, you have probably figured out that the consistency of the chocolate makes it very difficult to work with. The chocolate is thick and clumpy. If you put the chocolate in the microwave longer, it only gets worse. If you buy special chocolate, like the chocolate melts they sell at craft stores then you will be fine. Or if you want to use regular chips some bakers suggest adding a special type of wax! (ewww, no thanks!) Adding milk just makes the chocolate clump up and butter needs to be tempered in using a double boiler. I don't know about you, but I don't have time for any of that.

If you want to make chocolate dipped ANYTHING using regular microwaved chocolate chips all you have to do is add a bit of COCONUT OIL! Boom. That's it. Just a small amount makes the chocolate smooth and shiny... and it will still firm back up to a hard shell once refrigerated. The coconut oil also adds the slightest yummy flavor of coconut... I mean very slight... that makes it SO GOOD!


Just throw the chocolate chips into a bowl and microwave in short 15-20 second increments. Take it out and mix each time until the chocolate is smooth. Once the chocolate is melted, mix in the coconut oil. Start with a tiny amount and add more until you get the consistency you want. (it doesn't take much) Then dunk your oreos (full-dunk or half, your choice) and place them on a baking sheet covered with wax paper. I usually add sprinkles or chopped nuts. Place the oreos in the fridge to harden. I store them in there, but the chocolate stays firm even if you don't. I put them in my son's lunch and they hold up great.

                     Easy Chocolate Dipped Red Velvet Oreos

It takes less than 5 minutes to make these with the coconut oil trick and you can use regular store bought chocolate chips. It is a game changer people... you will put Pinterest to shame with your beautiful chocolate dipped goodness.

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