3/23/17

6 Ways To Get The Most Bang For Your Spring Beauty Buck

With Spring on the horizon, I thought I would share a few of my top tips for buying champagne style beauty products on a beer budget. (Aveda, Trish McEvoy, Lancome, Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Sephora, OPI...) Or, how I rarely buy high-end beauty products at full price and get a lot of awesome free stuff in the process, and not because I'm a blogger. Let's just say, I'm a product whore with a laughable budget. 

It takes a lot of great stuff to keep me from looking like a dehydrated sun-baked raisin. I'm also fairly brand-loyal. I have very sensitive skin, so I stick with what works. That being said, I still, on occasion, try the next best beauty thing. Below I have broken down the different ways to save big on your beauty needs, brand loyal or not!



1. First and foremost, sign up for email alerts from your favorite brands. This alone makes it easy to get the most bang for your buck from your go-to brands. FACT: Department/Beauty store brands (Clinique, Bobbi Brown, Trish, Laura...) promote 'gift with purchase' specials twice a year, however, the brand's website has a weekly gift with purchase specials and free shipping, add a coupon code and you SCORE BIG!! 

2. NEVER Buy anything without getting something free! I'm not kidding. I have yet to buy any products without getting free samples. If the brand is not offering 'gift with purchase' specials, stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Macy's may offer in-store/on-line promotions for the brand's products. Do you see where I am going with this? Research your brand-loyal beauty products online before heading to the store. Always.





3. Print Monthly Coupons. Love your Cover Girl Mascara or Almay Tinted moisturizer? Desperate to try evolution of smooth? Before you shop for shadow and gloss, spend some time downloading coupons. At the beginning for your favorite products and a few new ones, you may want to try. If you play your coupons right, you might score big combining with an in-store promotion. 


4. Reap the Rewards, Reviews + RatingsThanks to stores like Sephora, Ulta, and Amazon, getting the 411 on products is easier than ever. Amazon is a gold mine for finding reviews, photos, and deals on beauty products. Sephora is the spot for finding new products and scoring a loot bag of sample size products. Ulta sends coupons for discounts on a single item or entire purchase via snail mail and email, so signing up for the email list is worth it for that alone. I use this for self-tanner and nail polish purchases!







5. Google What Gets You. The next time you want to splurge on a new miracle cream, Google it before buying it. But try googling the specific need,"dark circles," "deep wrinkles", then look for best sellers, then read the reviews. There is no reason to spend a month's salary on an eye serum with so many great options available for a fraction of the cost. Did you know, Amazon's best selling serum cost $15? It does. It also as 4300 reviews and 4.5 stars. 



                                                                      


6. GET CASH BACK! Last, and my biggest and best shopping tip of 2017, EBATES. I promise I am not getting paid to say that. Over the last seven months, I've received $150 in actual CASH back from shopping online.  I cannot recommend enough signing up for Ebates, then downloading the Ebates browser plug-in. (SUPER EASY) Then, every time you shop online, Ebates notifies you automatically of the percentage of cash back you get for purchases and then at checkout, Ebates will auto load available coupon codes. IT'S AWESOME! Download and get cash back on nearly every online purchase, here.



Can you add to this list? Please leave your best tip in the comments below. 

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3/22/17

Do You Need A Genetic Counselor?





Some would say your genetics are everything. Genetics can tell a tall of your past heritage and possible future health challenges. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), Genetic counselors are professionals who have specialized education in genetics and counseling to provide personalized help patients may need as they make decisions about their genetic health. Today, there are more than 4,000 certified genetic counselors.


For couples trying to conceive, a genetics counselor can be integral to a healthy pregnancy. Consider visiting a genetic counselor if you:

●  Are pregnant and have an abnormal ultrasound
●  Have previously given birth to a baby with a genetic disorder or chromosomal abnormality
●  Have a history of miscarriage
●  Have a family medical history of a certain genetic disorder
●  Are of advanced maternal age of 35 years or older

If you answered yes to any of the points above, then a prenatal screening by an obstetrician may be an option. Noninvasive prenatal testing analyzes a blood sample from the pregnant mother in order to analyze DNA from the fetus without the risks associated with procedures that may disturb the fetus. The information from this test can tell your healthcare provider if your baby is at a high risk of having a condition that may affect his or her health, for example, Down syndrome.



How Can a Genetic Counselor Help You?




Genetic counselors thoroughly explain prenatal screening and prenatal diagnostic options, in addition to giving you information about the genetic disorder in question and how it may affect your child. They also help you understand what the results of prenatal tests mean for you and your baby.

It is important to understand the options that are available for prenatal testing in order to make an informed decision about whether you would like to have a test done. Additionally, your genetic counselor will help you cope with the psychological and emotional aspects of going through the prenatal testing process. While waiting on the results of your test, you may feel anxious. Your genetic counselor will talk to you and listen to your concerns as well as answer your questions regarding the testing process.

If you learn that you and your partner have a high risk of having a baby with a genetic condition, you can also discuss conception options with your genetic counselor. Some options may include:

●  Continuing with a natural pregnancy and opting for prenatal diagnostic testing
●  In vitro fertilization with donor egg or sperm
●  Adoption
●  Pre-implantation diagnosis


What Kind of Information Will I Need to Give a Genetic Counselor?


Before meeting with a genetic counselor, you may be asked to gather information about your family medical history in addition to that of your partner. You may also be asked to provide information regarding your:

●  Ethnic background
●  Previous pregnancies
●  Ultrasounds and prenatal blood tests

With this information, your genetic counselor will analyze the risk that your baby may have a genetic condition, in addition to explaining how a possible genetic condition may be inherited.



How Do I Find a Genetic Counselor?


If you’re interested in working with a genetic counselor, talk to your doctor. Your obstetrician can give you information for recommended genetic counselors. You can also search for a genetic counselor in your area online through the National Society of Genetic Counselors website. Working with a genetic counselor will help you fully understand and prepare for a healthy pregnancy.

More info:

6 Things ALL Parents Have In Common

I love being a mother. It's the greatest blessing of my life. My son teaches me about life, love and forgiveness, daily.

HOWEVER!


There are certainly some parenting moments that suck. I always talk about how the parenting books leave out so much of the ugly side of parenting. After four years of being a month, I've decided the parenting books leave out the ugly because then the book goes from tips for parents to tips for birth 

control.





The fact remains, there are solid things all parents go through, that are constantly left out of parenting books. Below I outline a few of the big ones. Things that all parents have in common, regardless of how "perfect" your child may be. 


1. Sleeplessness- By far the worst part about being a parent is the constant lack of sleep.  Once you become a parent, eight solid hours of uninterrupted sleep carries the same odds as winning the Lottery.   Newborns need round the clock care. Toddlers think they are roosters that need to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn. Or worse, sleep in bed with you, kicking and punching all night long. Kids five and older think early bedtime is for losers, then still wake up at 7am ready to rock. Teenagers are sure bedtime is for losers and stay up all night banging and clanging and then try to sleep all day. Then once your kid gets their driver's license, forget ever sleeping again! Sucks. Bottom line, if it' not your child keeping you up, it's your parent-anxiety.

2. The mess. Kids are tiny tornadoes that rip through the house on a daily basis throwing everything out of order. All while dropping a trail of crumbs and juice along the way. Each night, I go around picking up and replacing the things that traveled to strange destinations around the house. I once gathered an entire load of laundry walking around the house picking up stray garments. Then, there's the car. More crumbs, stickers on the windows, sticky fingerprints on everything. The mess is a constant battle. you eventually learn to live with the mess. Even the type-A OCD crazies like me! 

One day I will learn...
3. Constant fear- I live in a constant state of Mom-anxiety. Every time my child coughs, gets a fever, tries something new, climbs on something, leaves for school, breathes... I'm terrified. It's total stupidity to worry so much, but such is the life of a parent. According to my mom, this anxiety never subsides. Sucks.

4. Having to be the bigger Asshole- Sometimes, when my kid is a super A-hole, I have to out Asshole him to get his attention and make him stop. Some days I feel like all I do is say, No!, make threats then follow through with the threats. I once spent an hour trying to keep my son in timeout. Once the situation diffuses, it's only a matter of time until the cycle repeats, and I'm back to being the bigger asshole.  



5. Buying All the crap they want/need! Kids need a lot of crap! It seems like the older they get the more they need! Between my son's constantly growing body and short attention span, if I am not buying new clothes and shoes, I am buying new toys or education development tools. Then the outgrown or unwanted stuff piles up because I cannot bring myself to give it away--I spent a ridiculous amount of money acquiring the stuff. I want to somehow figure out how to get my money's worth. If only I could send my kid to college on his 10k in hot wheels, Thomas The Tank crap or all the assorted electronic devices that promised to make him a genius.  

6. Sugar is the enemy. I love giving my son candy, it makes him so happy. Cakes, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, he loves those too. Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that even though I love to see him happy and he loves to barrel through sugar, in the end, we both end up crazed lunatics that need a nap. Some kids eat too much sugar and throw up, but not my kid. Oh, No. He goes ape-shit crazy. It took me a while, but I finally realized that when my son eats chocolate, he's near unmanageable. When he eats refined sugar, he's wild and can't sit still. Natural occurring sugars can even cause trouble. After eating a bowl of grapes he runs wild, then, like with all other sugars, he crashes. Hard. Then either gets miserable or really miserable. 

Sugar causes havoc like nothing else. I know my son is not the only one. I wager to say every kid is a Gremlin after sugar, but I really don't want to field the comments from the self-righteous parent who's perfect kid could eat a bag of sugar and sit through church. 

Bottom line, if your kid sounds familiar, back off the ho-hos and see if that helps. 


Parents, above all, the one thing we have in common is how hard and scary parenting can be. We have good days, bad days, miserable days and absolutely mind-blowing heart pounding proud-parent days. Meltdowns happen on both sides. Don't be hard on yourself, or listen to the nasty judgmental people. I can guarantee you, even the most seemingly perfect parents with well-behaved children are still stressed, exhausted, and quite possibly, their child is being so perfect because she just got out of a four-hour stint in Time Out! 


3/20/17

10 Tips To Save BIG On Kid's Things For Spring

Happy Tuesday! We are a family that lives by our budget, and when I can squeeze it a little more, I do. Being that I'm a first time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes and season appropriate toys and snacks, all can be big budget busters. So, for today's top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on Kid's things for spring... and summer too!



1. Make a list: I learned very early that kids do not need half as much stuff as I think they do. Before my baby was born, he had enough clothes to go a month without wearing a new outfit. Most of which, he never wore because he grew too fast! I quickly learned that I need to make a reasonable list of what I actually needed for my son, taking into account mid season growth spurts! I cannot recommend this enough, make a list of the number of shorts, shirts and shoes that you actually need to start the season, also include seasonal toys and future big buys like bicycles, ride on toys or backyard trampoline if your brave enough. Having a list early will allow you to do online shopping for better deals as well as put feelers out with your family to look for things on sale.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is get grimy in their nice new clothes. Go through those winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and cut them off  to make shorts and t-shirts. Then, deem those play clothes, so you won't cry when you can't get the grass or ketchup stains out.



3. Borrow Budget Busters: For those one off family portraits or special occasions where you normally end up buying an incredibly expensive outfit, your child will most likely only wear once, check out Etsy, eBay and your friend's closets before paying full price for anything.

4. Secondhand Shops: Places like Once Upon A Child and other children's secondhand shops are full of clothes and everything else you need to cover an entire winter or summer wardrobe, for under $20. (Shoes too! Did you know Crocs are machine washable?)

5. Facebook Finds: Every city has at least one Facebook mommy group that has clothes exchanges and lists where big family sales are taking place. To find them, on your Facebook page ask your friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Garage sales are great place to pick up those big toys that people want to get rid of because they take too much space, but you desperately need because it's time for your toddler to start riding a bike. On Fridays, go to Craigslist, or wherever your city list garage sales, and find ones close by. Look for multi-family sales then grab a friend and some coffee and start shopping!



7. Discount Dealers: I love Groupon, ZuLily, Plum District, Living Social, Overstock, and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount. All will be fighting for attention this season, so capitalize on it!  Most are even offering free shipping on the smallest orders.

8. Daily Deals: Did you know there are hundreds of websites that crawl the Internet daily for the best online daily deals? They do, and then list them in an easy to search format so you can quickly search for items on your must have list. My favorite is DealNews.com.

9. DIY For Family Health: When it comes to spring time treats and healthy fruit snacks, the budget can bust very quickly. I make our Popsicles, grow our fruit and cut out juice and soda, we are water drinkers during the warm months. If you have a sunny spot in your yard, patio or balcony, you have a place to grow your own fruit! Did you know strawberries grow well in a pot? Go to your local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live (Grower's Zone).









For a total of $20 I have strawberry plants, blueberries and grapes thriving in pots and around my yard. The best part is that I can use that fruit to make Popsicles! (For my Posicle DIY post, Click here.)

10. Price Shop From Home.  There are way too many apps and websites available today that make price comparison shopping from home a breeze. Gone are the days of driving from store to store or waiting for the Sunday Paper deals. Pull out the list you made of spring must-haves and start going through each item online and list where the best deal is, for that item. Once you've gone through your list, check the entire list for stores that overlap to save you a bundle on shipping and time. Between the coupon apps and the compare-and-save apps, there is no reason to pay full price anymore.

If you have any great tips, please leave a comment below, or join my Facebook discussion, here. 

3/19/17

How To Avoid Door-To-Door Solicitor Scams


I love Spring. The weather warms, flowers bloom, trees release their new crop of leaves, neighbors peek their head outside to say, Hi!, and even the ice cream truck makes a few passes on the weekend. Spring also brings a few unwanted pests: mosquitoes, flies, ants, door-to-door scammers solicitors. Luckily, the first three can be mitigated easily enough, Door-to-door salespeople (D2D), on the other hand, not so much. 



No offense to the legitimate door-to-door solicitor (D2D), I get it everyone has to make a living, but for the most part, I'm skeptical of all D2D sales. For good reason... 

1. There are many horror stories reported throughout the US about dodgy door-to-door solicitors that scam people out of money, or case the house while the unsuspecting homeowner blabs-on giving ample time to make mental notes on valuables and return later, or worse, some are assaulted and robbed.  



2. The movie American Honey. It's SO TRUE! (And also, Sasha Lane, is AMAZING!!!)






Below are great tips I found while researching an article on "How To Avoid Door-To-Door Solicitor Scams."

First and foremost, I cannot stress enough the importance of creating boundaries with your child(ren) around answering the door, and what they should say when/if they do.  The rule in my house is, if you don't know who it is, DO NOT answer the door. NO EXCEPTIONS. ZERO! My son is to say, "I have to go get my mommy and daddy." Even if daddy is not home, we have him say that. I feel safer if the person thinks my husband is home.

Now, for when we answer the door:  
    • DO NOT let them into your home for any reason. Rain, sleet or snow, they made the decision to get out in it, let them live with that decision. Some bank on a bad day as an easy way to get in. 
    • Ask to see identification (Business card, credentials) before speaking with them about anything. No reputable company would send people door-to-door without identifying materials. A shirt does not count, it could have been purchased at a thrift store.
    • Do not allow them to use your phone, even your cell phone outside.They may run off with it. 
    • Do not give them money. Not even girl scouts ask for money upfront. ALWAYS Check charities and businesses out at BBB before making a contribution or a purchase.
    • If you want a magazine subscription, even the BBB recommends that you subscribe to it directly instead of purchasing a subscription from a door-to-door magazine sales representative. 
    • Don't be pressured or intimidated into ordering a product that you don't want or need because your check will be cashed immediately and you will have no recourse for obtaining a refund.
    • Do not provide any personal information.  
    • Don't fall for common tactics used to gain your trust. Many will say that they live in your neighborhood and that your neighbors have already given contributions or purchased their products. Don't take their word for it. Ask for a neighbor's name.
    • It's your house, you have the right to tell them no thank you, ask them to leave and close the door. In that order in three seconds or less. It's part of the job. 
    •  Peeping is NOT ALLOWED! If you observe them looking in windows, trying doors or entering back yards call 911 immediately. 
    • If you have any doubts they are legitimate, call the police and let them decide. Call immediately when the activity is occurring so officers can respond to the area and try to locate the subject and determine if they are legitimate.   
    • If they become aggressive, irate or hostile you can call 911 immediately. 

Or... 

You could just post a NO SOLICITING sign. Believe it or not, they still hold up in court. 

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3/16/17

St. Patrick's Day Party Essentials





Every year, The Aussie and I throw down for our city's St. Patrick's Parade. We live very close to the parade route, so our friends turn up an hour early to walk up with us. Afterward, we all walk back to our house and have the best St. Patty's party ever!  

The kids go wild. The parents don't care. We eat. We drink. We celebrate being with each other.

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE IT!

In preparation for the party, I thought I would look for some new, fun St Patty's day themed drinks and appetizers. Below are 10 of my favorite finds. It's possible, I will make all of them! 












This looks super easy!  


This is a kid's dream come true.
Warning: You will never be able to go back to rice crispy treats after these. 






Totally making these!














12 St. Patrick's Day Fun Facts #StPatricksDay










Did you know...

1. St. Patrick was not Irish. He was born in either Scotland or Wales. At the young age of 16 he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery. He spent six years herding sheep in Ireland before escaping. 

2. Legend has it, St Patrick drove all of the snakes out of Ireland. (Truth is, there is no evidence of snakes ever even being in Ireland! Geologist claim this is due to the Ice Age, NOT St Patrick.)

3. St. Patrick's day was a 'dry' holy day of remembrance in Ireland until 1970. (I love when people embrace change.)


4. Your odds of finding a four leaf clover are about 1 and 10,000. (It can be done!)

5. The phrase, "Drowning The Shamrock" is from the custom of floating a shamrock on the top of whiskey before drinking it. The Irish believe that if you keep the custom, then you will have a prosperous year.

6. Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: Hope, Faith, Love and Luck.

7. There are more Irish in the US than Ireland. An estimated 33.7 million people living in the US are of Irish decent. That is NINE times the total population of Ireland! 

8.  No one is really sure where St. Patrick is buried. The site with the strongest claim is at Down Cathedral, where a large slab of rock on which the word "Patric" is inscribed.
St. Patrick died on March 17, 461 AD

9. The custom of celebrating St. Patrick's Day began in America in 1737.

(And I look forward to it, and my city's fabulous parade, every year!) 



10. There are 4 US Cities named Shamrock. They are located in Texas, W. Virginia, Indiana and Oklahoma. 

11. Ever Wonder how they dye the Chicago River GreenThe dyeing of the Chicago River dates to 1962, when Mayor Richard J. Daley and Stephen M. Bailey, a boyhood friend and then-St. Patrick's Day parade chairman, started the tradition. Today by boat, three men use flour sifters to dump about 40 pounds of an environmentally friendly orange powder into the river. The formula for the powder, which turns the water bright green when it hits, is top-secret.


                                  

12. An estimated 13 MILLION pints of Guinness are consumed on St. Patricks day!


An Irish Toast: 
May your glass be ever full.
       May the roof over your head be always strong.
                       And may you be in heaven half an hour 
before the devil knows you're dead.


**Looking for some awesome St Patrick's day treats and crafts? Check out my St Patty's board on Pinterest.