Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Preparing Our Home for the Holidays

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

As you know, I'm on a mantle decorating kick. Needless to say, as much as I loved my Thanksgiving mantle, I was super excited when it was time to make the swap for Christmas decor! I'm truly feeling like this is decreasing clutter on my mantle and helping to create a more peaceful space in my living room. I'm so excited at both the simplicity and festivity of this Christmas mantle!

I love the homey, rustic, details of this Holiday Handicraft Wood Tree Set. The trees are beautiful yet simple and the perfect size for my mantle. Combining wood with metal, they are sturdy, and I expect them to be a staple Christmas decoration in our house for years to come.

The Merry Christmas Tabletop Sign adds a pop of festive color to some rustic Christmas charm. It's a sturdy wooden sign and actually has a built-in stand so you could use it as I have on the mantle, or right in the middle of your Christmas dinner table as a free-standing centerpiece.

The Vintage Christmas Tree to the left is a favorite Christmas decoration that I scooped up last year.

Our mantle always seems to be full of little trinkets - they all deserve a spot there, but all of them together is just too much. Switching things out seasonally is making a big difference in simplifying our space and helping us focus on one thing at a time. Right now we're focused on Christmas and I'm loving these new additions to our decor!

You can find these Christmas decorations and more on the Oriental Trading website.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

DIY Christmas Ornaments - Perfect Gifts for Friends and Teachers!

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

I've shared before that my oldest daughter is a giver. She can find any occasion to give gifts to her friends. Christmas is one of the more obvious times of year where she starts planning months in advance for the most perfect, thoughtful, true-to-her, gifts for friends and teachers.

This year she chose to make ornaments for gifts. She knew she wanted them to be "winter color" themed ornaments with blue, turquoise, purple, white, and of course, anything sparkly. She loves to be creative and I love to be low-maintence these days, so these DIY winter themed Christmas ornaments were perfect for us both!

We started with some Clear Christmas Ornaments and then simply just filled them up with blue and pink Snowflake Beads, Winter Pony Beads, Silvertone Jingle Bells, Winter Fun Loops, Snowflake Jewels, Tiny Pom Poms, Glitzy Buttons, and Foam Snowflake Craft Shapes.

What we got were some colorful (just like my daughter!), wintery, super cute ornaments that will look great on Christmas trees this year and for years to come!

What a simple and fun way to ring in the holiday season and help us gift a lasting memory to our friends and teachers this year!

We got all the supplies for these super easy DIY Christmas Ornaments online from Oriental Trading.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Our Home (and our Hearts!) are Ready for Thanksgiving!

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

I love warm weather, but there's something to be said for the shift in New England seasons and the gradually change to cooler air, colorful trees, and limited edition pumpkin-everything throughout the grocery stores! Thanksgiving is my husband's absolute favorite holiday so we always do the holiday up big when it comes to food. We've always slacked a little (or a lot) on decorating, though. We look at the table on Thanksgiving morning and realize that we forgot to decorate! Thankfully the food takes up a lot of space and fills the space, in some ways serving the decorating purpose well enough!

This year though, we wanted to switch things up, both literally and figuratively. We decluttered our fireplace mantle and added some new Thanksgiving decorations to prepare our spirits - and this year our home too - for giving thanks!

I'm so excited about some of our new additions. I think we have the perfect combo of pretty and fun - because with two little ones you can't skip the latter!

This Sweet Fall Sign showcases white paint on brown wood. It's sturdy and reminds us of what Thanksgiving is truly all about - giving thanks! Several Fall Burlap Pumpkins add a pop of fun color to the simplicity of the sign. This pumpkin set comes with 12 pumpkins so we were able to spread this bit of charm throughout our home which was a really fun touch!

This "Carved" Thanksgiving Pumpkin Set is beautiful. Again, reminding us of the spirit of the season, these sweet pumpkins are the perfect touch. 

Of course, we couldn't skip the colorful Plush Turkey! This cute little guy keeps moving from room to room around our house. He's pleasing to the eye and a huge temptation for my littlest to play with! He certainly adds just the right amount of fun and silly to our Thanksgiving decor. We'll miss him when we pack him up after the holiday passes, but how fun it will be for him to visit again year after year!

To take our decorations beyond our living room, we've hung this Autumn Leaves Barn Star on our front door. I am super duper excited about this. I adore having a beautiful wreath on our door each winter, but that's the only time we ever really have pretty, and welcoming, door decorations. Just adding it to the door makes me feel more hospitable. I love the rustic charm of this star! It's perfect for fall in New England.

Everyone is well aware of my oldest daughter's commitment to gifting her sweet friends with holiday treats. She can't pass up the opportunity to let them know that she's thankful for them! This Give Thanks for Friends Craft Kit is what she chose this year and it is perfect. She has created one for us to hang on our mantle and is bringing these individually packed craft kits to her class so that everyone can make one of their own. Super sweet!

I'm so pleased with these new additions and how they've already added to our Thanksgiving spirit! 

You're likely not surprised that I was able to find all these festive things online, shopping from my cozy couch! Oriental Trading has a huge selection of Thanksgiving items that will help you embrace the spirit too! No matter what your theme or decor, I'm sure you'll find something you love!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Order Your Halloween Candy and Treats Online!

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

If I'm given the option to complete a task of motherhood without leaving the house, I'm taking it! Life is busy. I'm a full-time working mom and time for myself is very limited. I'm certainly not complaining, but I am being realistic. The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is go to the store!

This year I got all my Halloween candy shopping done with one quick stop to Oriental Trading - online! No matter what you're planning to hand out during trick-or-treat, they've got you covered. Name-brand, chocolate, fruity, sweet, salty, even non-food items to give away, I promise you'll find something for everyone. The options are plentiful, the prices are great, and the convenience can't be beat!

This year we chose a combination of chocolate favorites and fruit snacks with the Hershey® Halloween-Shaped Chocolate Candy Assortment and the Welch’s® Fruit Snacks Halloween Medley. I know these will be enjoyed by our trick-or-treaters this year and I certainly won't be sad if there's some left over for me!

Order your Halloween Candy online today!

Photos courtesy of Oriental Trading

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Halloween Party Planning with Animal Print Glow Sticks... and more!

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

In anticipation of our trick-or-treat fun with friends this Halloween, we just made a stock-up on glow wands, glow necklaces, and glow bracelets! Halloween is just no fun without glowing treats. 

Last year we had a glowing mishap... we snapped our glow wands in the kitchen before we left the house and glowing liquid squirted all over the place! Needless to say, this year I tested a few of these before the big night to be sure we don't end up with glowing ceilings, countertops, costumes, and children this year! Thankfully, I think we're in the clear!

Check out these amazing Animal Print Glow Sticks! They are the perfect compliment to my daughter's Snow Leopard Costume! We were so excited to find them. She and her girlfriends are going to love carrying these around during their trick-or-treating adventure. They come with a string so you can use them as a necklace or tie them onto whatever you tote your candy in. The colors are so vibrant and the prints are super fun!

The Glow Party Assortment is the perfect mix of colorful glow necklaces and bracelets. It comes with 50 pieces - 25 necklaces and 25 bracelets - and includes the little attachments necessary to attach the ends. They are long-lasting, colorful, and just perfect to share with our friends this Halloween.

Save yourself a trip to the store and order all your glow accessories online from Oriental Trading this year!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Halloween Costumes for All Ages

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

Halloween is coming! You already know we're ready for our party that night, and now we're ready for trick-or-treating too! My oldest daughter typically begins preparing her costume plans on November 1 of each year. As soon as she takes one costume off, she starts planning for the next. Historically, I've made her costumes but now that I have a toddler as well and am working full time outside the home, my time and energy is more limited. Off to the internet we went, searching for costumes for both girls.

Oriental Trading has so many costume options for trick-or-treaters of all ages! Whether you're looking for something for a baby, a grownup, or anyone in between, you'll find it. Group costumes, family costumes, themed costumes galore. On the top of our list when we look for costumes is a costume that works practically for us. Halloween night is typically cold in New England but no kid likes to wear their jacket on top of their costume. We were on the hunt for something cozy that we could layer underneath for warmth. Stylish, fun, and practical - that's what my girl was looking for.

Introducing our snow leopard and our duck!

I'd love to be able to convince my I'm-not-2-yet-but-I'm-in-the-terrible-twos toddler that she should wear her costume, but her favorite word right now is "no" so that's not happening. Fingers crossed she changes her mind by the end of the month!

I love these costumes and look forward to making memories with them this year! They are creative, fun, cozy, and high quality.

If you're looking to save yourself the hassle of a store trip to picked-over, messy costume aisles, browse Oriental Trading online. I guarantee you'll find something that works for you and your whole family. Happy Memory Making this Halloween!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Hero Nutritionals - Yummi® Vitamins for Kids - And Their Grownups!

I received this product for free from Moms Meet to use and post my honest opinions. 
Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links. 

As a mom, health and nutrition is important to me. It's important to me that my kids are healthy but sending them to school and daycare doesn't always work in my favor. It's only September and the germs are already in full swing around here! There's not a whole lot I can do to avoid their exposure but I can do a little to help make sure their bodies are healthy and strong so that they are more ready to work on at least attempting to fight off whatever comes their way. 

Yummi Bear Organics Complete Multi-Vitamins from Hero Nutritionals feature 16 essential nutrients for a child's healthy grown and development. The first and only organic and GMO-free gummy vitamin for children with nothing artificial added, I can feel confident that when my child is taking these, they are only taking in goodness! Yummi Bears® truly are yummy, containing natural strawberry, orange, and pineapple flavors. My picky-taste-buds daughter hasn't tried a flavor she doesn't like! These vitamins are fruit pectin based, and free of gelatin, gluten, and dairy.

I know that in order to take care of my kids, I need to be taking care of myself. Easier said than done, right? My kids are always my priority, and I honestly put myself on the back burner quite a bit. Taking a daily vitamin myself can improve my health - and with Hero Nutritionals Slice of Life Organics Energy + B12 - I just might improve my energy too! That's a pretty exciting prospect! These delicious vitamins contain all natural berry flavors and organic colors. They, like the Yummi® Bears, are fruit pectin based, and free of GMOs, gelatin, gluten, and daily. They contain Vitamin B12, along with folic acid and B6, to form a potent supplement to support heart and circulatory health as well as energy metabolism.  I feel good about taking these daily vitamins - they taste good, are good for me, and improve my daily life - so that I can improve my family's! 

Hero Nutritionals Vitamins are available to purchase at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market, Ralphs, Kroger, Smart & Final, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Jimbo's,, To find Hero Nutritionals in your area, visit their website for a full list of locations.

You can also connect with Hero Nutritionals on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Peanuts® Halloween Party Planning

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

When I was young, I lived in a neighborhood full of friends my age, and trick-or-treating was truly a group affair. Everyone would eat a quick dinner and head out into the darkness (there were not even street lights!) for treats and fun.

We've carried on the same tradition in our family now that I have children of my own, but there aren't many kids my kids' ages that live in the neighborhood so the fun factor is not quite as high. Last year, thinking about our own situation, and knowing that we have several friends from school who live on busy streets that are unsafe for trick-or-treating, we invited some school friends over to our house and then headed out together for trick-or-treating. For one friend, it was her very first time trick-or-treating, because she'd never had a safe place to enjoy the tradition! 

Our little get-together last year was so much fun so it was an easy decision to make this an annual tradition! This year, we plan to invite even more friends, and even picked a theme for our pre-trick-or-treating Halloween party - Peanuts®! We're hoping to catch a peek at the Great Pumpkin this year!

We've gathered together some simple decorations to set the mood. They are so fun!

We'll cover the wall in our dining room with this a-m-a-z-i-n-g Great Pumpkin Backdrop. It's made of three strips of plastic that stick to our wall with static electricity - I didn't even need to use tape! There are only two of the strips hung here because I couldn't fit all three in this space. The completed set is 9 feet x 6 feet. 

I expect that we'll put this life-sized Great Pumpkin Cardboard Stand-Up outside on Halloween, but for now, on this rainy day, it's set in front of the Backdrop. Won't this make for some super fun photo ops?

We'll serve pizza because it's quick and easy, and we'll set our table with this Peanuts® themed Halloween Plastic Tablecloth, along with these themed Dinner Plates, and Napkins.

Hanging Paper Lanterns and Halloween Cutouts will complete the look!

We can't wait to have our friends over again this year... and can't wait to surprise them with this fun Peanuts® themed party!

All of these items - and more - can be found at Oriental Trading! Plan your holiday get-together easily with goodies to match whatever theme your heart desires. There are tons of fun and affordable options available!

Canobie Lake Park - New England Fun for All Ages!

We were provided with complimentary tickets to Canobie Lake Park to facilitate this review. 
All opinions expressed are my own.

Last weekend we took our annual summer trip to Canobie Lake Park! It's always a relief to make the final arrangements for this super fun day trip because I'm asked almost every day of the summer, "Can we go to Canobie Lake this weekend?" Being another crazy summer that included broken bones, we had no choice but to again wait until the end when we were all cast-less and ready to play.

Canobie Lake Park is conveniently located in Salem, New Hampshire, just a couple of minutes from Route 93. It's easy to get to, parking is free, and if you plan to spend the entire day there, I can promise you won't get bored!

We have a seven year old and a 19 month old and they both, not surprisingly, had a blast at the park this year.

Our big kid will ride most all the park rides. A few of this year's favorites were the Canobie 500 Cars, the Kiddie Dragon Coaster, the Caterpillar, the Policy Pond Log Flume, the Boston Tea Party (SO WET!), and the Pirate Ship.  We decided to wait one more year before riding the biggest roller coasters like the Yankee Canonball, the Corkscrew Coaster, and Untamed.

Our little one enjoyed her first carousel rides(s) this year! I lost count of how many times she rode the Antique Carousel but the nice things about Canobie Lake Park is that once you've paid for admission to the park, you're good for the day and can ride what you love an unlimited number of times!

Our entire family loved riding Over the Rainbow.

It is so fun to have rides that can be enjoyed by the whole family!

Although our youngest was big enough to ride the rides in the kiddie section of the park, I didn't quite trust her to ride alone and my oldest is a tad too big for those rides. For the most part, these rides have a 48" max height. If this girl wasn't in a phase filled with "no" and some pre-terrible-two defiance, I may have trusted her, but climbing out of cars and boats mid-ride wouldn't be good! Next year!

The food at Canobie Lake Park is always delicious and this year was no exception. In fact, this year was better than ever before with the new Smokin' BBQ! My husband and I enjoyed delicious pulled pork sandwiches with baked beans, coleslaw, and iced tea. My parents tried out the BBQ chicken. My southern husband is pretty critical when it comes to barbecue and he was impressed in this authentic, delicious meal! Smokin' BBQ is only open Friday through Sunday, starting at 1pm, and only until the food runs out. We got there at 1:00 to get the freshest of the batch and we'll do it again next time for sure.

You can't bring food or drinks into Canobie Lake Park, but there truly are tons of options for meal and snack time! We enjoyed popcorn, cotton candy, and ice cream throughout the day. We'd been looking forward to them all year and they surely didn't disappoint!

If you haven't had a chance to make it up to Canobie Lake Park yet this year, it's not too late! There is still tons of fun to be had at Live Shows, the Canobie Petting Zoo, and Screemfest, which begins this weekend! Start planning your trip today!

Flexible Seating with Jumbo Floor Pillows

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

I had so much fun getting the school counseling office ready for this school year. I added some new organization, activities, and wall decorations. It was an amazing transformation, but I still felt like something was missing. It's important to me that the office is a fun, safe, and comfortable place for students to visit. All the credit for what may have been the best update goes to my husband, who had an instantaneous answer when I told him I felt I needed just one more thing. His answer was flexible seating!

The addition of a soft, cozy place for students (or staff!) to relax was exactly what I needed in this space. We have a couch and some chairs, but there's just something special about a place to comfortably plop down and ponder difficult moments.

These Jumbo Floor Pillows are the best - I knew it as soon as I saw them and I know my students would vouch for them now too! They are so super soft and fluffy and their pillowcases are easily unzipped to remove and machine wash. At a size 30" x 30", they perfectly filled this empty space in the office. The colors are so vibrant - besides the green, purple, and red pictured above, they are also available in blue and yellow. They've been great for friends to sit on as they play a game on the rug, some have used them on the couch for some extra padding, but mostly, they've been great for lounging while we chat. I highly recommend them as a flexible seating option - either in your classroom, office, or home! I actually may need to get a few more for us at home... I think my girls (and I!) were sad to see them go to school!

I ordered these jumbo pillows from Learn365 by Oriental Trading. They also offered options of medium (16" x 12") and large (23" x 18").

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Safe Nausea Relief from Sea-Band Mama!

I received this product for free from Moms Meet to use and post my honest opinions. 
Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links. 

As I entered pregnancy with my youngest daughter, I didn't expect to struggle with much morning sickness or nausea at all. My first pregnancy was a breeze in that regard. I had a little bit of morning sickness in the very beginning but it truly was minimal - no vomiting, and easily managed with a little lemonade and some oyster crackers. However, since no two pregnancies are alike, the pregnancy nausea hit me a little more than I expected the second time around! It was like clockwork. I'd get up in the morning and jump in the shower hoping it would be gone by the time I got out. Nope. Not a chance! I tried special lollipops and candies, all promising to relieve my nausea, but even just the taste of anything in my mouth just made it worse! Every morning for months I was plagued with morning sickness that was only relieved by vomiting. Yuck. 

I wish I'd known about Sea-Band Mama!

The Sea-Band Mama! product line includes Ginger Lozenges (fortified with iron), a pocket-sized Aromatherapy Rollette with essential oils of lime, ginger, and spearmint, and Acupressure Wrist Bands, all to aide in nausea relief.

Recommended by midwives and pregnant women around the world, the Sea-Band Mama! wrist band uses acupressure to provide a natural choice for effective - and safe - nausea relief. Simply wear two knit elasticated wrist bands and position the plastic studs to apply pressure on the P6 Nei-Kuan acupressure point between the two central tendons near the wrist. It's easy, convenient, safe, and effective.

Now, we all know nausea doesn't only effect pregnant women. Sea-Band offers nausea-relief products for non-pregnant people of all ages including wrist bands - for both adults and children - and drug-free ginger lozenges to aide in nausea from travel and motion sickness. I used these acupressure wrist bands when I was experiencing some stomach upset just last week before bed and I was able to fall asleep comfortably in no time. We also used bands on a recent amusement park trip that was packed with stomach-dropping rides and didn't hear one motion-sickness complaint.

Easy, safe, and effective - that's how I'd describe Sea-Band products. Sea-Band Mama! is available to purchase at CVS pharmacy, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Walmart, Target, and many other drug stores and pharmacies. To find Sea-Band Mama! in your area, click here for a full list of locations.

Visit Sea-Band online to learn more. You can also connect with Sea-Band online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Setting Up the School Counseling Office

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

School starts next week and the counseling office is ready for visitors!

My role as a school counselor started partway through last school year so although I did what I could to make the space my own, I really didn't put too much time or energy into it until this summer. I reflected on the year and gave some thought to what was really needed in this space. I reflected on the things my students struggle with and what they are looking for when they visit me. I am so pleased with how this safe space has turned out. It has the perfect combination of peace and fun with some really great tools mixed in. Stay tuned for more posts about the therapeutic games I added to our mix as well as our new flexible seating!

Although I use books a lot in my social skills lunch groups, I find that I don't use them quite as often in individual meetings with students. I think one of the reasons is that neither the student or I think of them when we're meeting! Having student books hidden high on a bookshelf is impractical... we forget about them! As an educator, I love to see students inspired to spend time with books. There are so many good books out there that address the issues we work on so much in the counseling office. I hope that placing books in an accessible, eye-catching spot will encourage us to use these books more often. Classroom Organizer Book Storage Bins were exactly what I needed.

The same Book Storage Bins I'm using for student books are a perfect way to store our coloring sheets too. I have tons of coloring sheets and we use them all the time - some with inspirational quotes, verses, words of encouragement, or favorite animals and designs. They've been stored in file folders in a pile on the shelf. We all know where they are, but making them a little more visible really added to the look and feel of the space. They are welcoming and seeing them makes me want to spend a lot more time in our coloring corner!

I'm also using the Book Storage Bins to store the grown-up books and counseling worksheets on my desk. Even just that extra pop of color makes the space feel more welcoming!

Adding some wall decor this school year was important to me. I've had bare walls - which isn't awful - but it doesn't add anything special to the counseling office. I wanted something special for the walls and when I found these Jumbo What Can I Do Cutouts and these Jumbo How To Be A Friend Letter Cutouts, I knew they were exactly what I needed for this space!

Not only are these colorful, welcoming, and fun to look at, they are perfect to help us work through the issues we address most often in the counseling office. We now have tools, literally right in front of us, that can help us quickly come up with plans to address the hard times and get back to class, and life, more efficiently and effectively. We all benefit from some simple reminders about how to be a good friend and how to solve everyday problems in healthy ways. I received so much good feedback on these at our recent open house and can't wait to see how my students use them on a day-to-day basis once school starts back up next week!

All of these additions to the counseling office were available online through Learn365 by Oriental Trading. I'm always excited at the assortment, quality, and affordability of options there - and I never have to step foot in a store!

Next up... new counseling games and flexible seating! Stay tuned!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Rainbow Unicorn Birthday Party

We received free product to facilitate this post. No other compensation was received. 
All opinions expressed are our own.

My oldest daughter just turned seven and threw the most amazing Rainbow Unicorn birthday party to celebrate! This is actually the second time we've had a rainbow themed birthday. If you met her you wouldn't be surprised! Summer birthdays are always a little tricky because we love to plan outdoor shindigs. Thankfully the weather cooperated this year and even though we woke to chilly air and cloudy skies, we ended up with a hot summer day which was exactly what we hoped for.

We swam in rainbow pools with rainbow banners hung in the yard.

We decorated with rainbow balloons.

We served our favorite snacks in an assortment of rainbow colored bowls. Of course we even served up rainbow cookies and cake!

We created water bottle labels to go with our rainbow theme. If you've never done this before, it's such an easy way to add something special to your party. You can find a tutorial here. The rainbow birthday labels we used can be downloaded free from Catch My Party and the polka dots from Piggy Bank Parties. The stickers we used on the polka dot labels came from Oriental Trading.

We served up our foods on rainbow plates, with colorful plastic utensils. Aren't these rainbow straw cups the cutest? They were such a big hit with all of our guests!

My creative daughter loved customizing her cake picks by decorating clear picks with sharpies. She drew rainbows, flowers, hearts, sunshines, etc. and they added a fun personal touch.

We customized these colorful chevron party favor boxes with rainbow unicorn stickers which perfectly matched our theme, and we filled the boxes with an assortment of colorful treats!

I love ordering party favors and supplies from Oriental Trading because they come in sets of a dozen which tends to be perfect for parties. I'm always impressed with the number of options we have to choose from no matter what theme we decide upon. They are always fun and high quality. I prefer novelty toy favors over candies. After studying the website, we chose Rainbow Cake Necklaces, Rainbow Mechanical Pencils, Fish-Shaped Ring Toss Water Games, Rainbow Heart Rubber Bracelets, and Plush Tie-Dyed Dogs. The adorable dogs are my favorite and I started getting texts asking about where to buy these ring toss water games within an hour of the party ending!

Planning parties for my littles is one of my favorite things to do! My daughter has such fun participating and coming up with the plan she knows will be just perfect for her friends. This year was no exception. Our Rainbow Unicorn Birthday Party was a huge success and I'm looking forward to next year already.

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