4/17/21

Tips To Save Buku Bucks On Spring Beauty Purchases


Yesterday. I covered spring money-saving hacks for kids' stuff, so now it's time to talk about mama's stuff! 
Spring is in full bloom, so 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 and years of buying experience. 

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 YEAR-ROUND. TIP: Check your favorite brand websites for the weekly gift with purchase specials and free shipping... add a coupon code and 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 website is not offering 'gift with purchase' specials, stores like Sephora, Ulta, Nordstroms, and Macy's may offer in-store/on-line promotions for the multiple 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 In-store CouponsLove your Cover Girl Mascara or Almay Tinted Moisturizer? Before you shop for shadow and gloss, spend some time downloading + printing coupons. If you play your coupons right, you might score big by combining it 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 costs $15? It does. It also has 4300 reviews and 4.5 stars. 

                                                               

6. GET CASH BACK! Last, and my biggest and best shopping tip, RAKUTEN. I promise I am not getting paid to say that. I cannot recommend enough signing up, then downloading the browser plug-in. Then, every time you shop online, you're automatically notified of the percentage of cash back you get for purchases, and then at checkout, coupon codes are auto-loaded. IT'S AWESOME! I've been a member since 11/19/16 and have a lifetime cash back balance of $695.11 CASH!!!

Seriously... sign up. Download Rakuten then install the plug-in to your browser, 
and that's it! 

4/16/21

Too Much Comfort Food This Winter? 5 Tips To Get Clean For Spring...


I am of the school of thought that the word "DIET" is a filthy nasty word. One that is is not allowed to be used in my house. EVER!  I think diets are gimmicks that trick people into thinking that it will be the answer to their poor nutrition and weight loss prayers. NEWS FLASH: Diets are pure bullshit! What happens when they end? Because all "diets" end. All I ever learned on a diet was that they turn me into a starving raging bitchface, and even though I lost a few pounds of water weight, I usually gained it back in real fatty-fat-fat pounds binge eating once the diet was over. Total. Bull. Shit.


I also think diets help to breed food-obsessed people. If you spend every minute of your day starving and obsessing about food, then eventually that will completely consume you. No. Bueno! That's why this month is all about learning healthy nutrition and preparing meals and snacks that will make you feel full and energized for more than 30 seconds. 







Here 5 things that will get you clean for spring...

1. DRINK MORE WATER!  This is the MAIN challenge. I truly believe just drinking 8 glasses of water a day will make you lose 5 pounds this month! Along with gaining great skin and better sleep! Seriously. Those 8 glasses a day are going to change your life. Promise. I'll tell you why on Tuesday...

2. Make at least one NEW healthy meal for dinner each week.  I do this on Sundays since I have time to prep and follow the recipe. By the end of the month that will be four great meals, almost a week's worth... who knows, maybe you will keep up the habit until that is ALL you cook for dinner!

3. Stay active. Hopefully, last month's challenge helped teach you to incorporate some sort of movement into your day, even if it was not a full-blown workout. 

4. Visit a healthy lifestyle website/Facebook page/ Pinterest board/ magazine at least once a week to learn a few "who knew" facts about nutrition and exercise.  I LOVE SELF Magazine the most. (No one paid me to say that, I have had a subscription for YEARS!)  There is also Shape, Fitness, Women's Health, Men's Health and for us moms, Fit Mom Diet is a website full of inspiration from other moms sharing their stories and healthy recipes. I know a few of you out there are Gluten-free, check out their recipe for Gluten-free pizzas! For the kids check out the greatest website, from the American Academy of Pediatrics, HealthyChildren.org! Knowledge is POWER.



5. Think of your body as a fine-tuned machine.  Everything you put in has to be good for the machine, or it will fall apart and stop working. The same goes for your family. Make healthy choices.  Carrot chips instead of Lays. Grapes instead of gummy worms. Choose a healthier cereal this month.  Clean out those pantries. I think you will be shocked to find healthy choices are cheaper than you think. You can get two bunches of bananas or a pound of grapes for the same price as a bag of name-brand potato chips! 




Your mantra for the month is: If I eat like Crap, I will Feel Like Crap!  




4/15/21

10 Spring Life Hacks For Parents

Being that I'm a first-time parent, I feel like each season we start over with buying new clothes and season-appropriate toys (Swim crap) and snacks (Popsicles...).  What really makes it tough is we are a family that lives on a tight budget. Especially, now.  Covid and all...  

So, today I'm sharing a few of my favorite ways to save big on kid things for spring...




1. Make a list: 

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, balls bats... Having a list will put up guardrails. Only buy what you need! Also, put feelers out with family friends who may have hand-me-downs.

2. Shred those winter clothes: When it comes to outside playtime, kids get to get dirty, so the last thing you want them to do is grime-up the nice new clothes. Go through winter clothes that have holes in the knees or tears in the sleeves, and repurpose them into shorts and t-shirts. This way you save money on spring clothes and 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 (wedding) 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: 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: I addition to the standard Facebook Market Place 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, ask your Facebook friends if they know of any great mommy groups on Facebook and if they will invite you to join if the group is closed. I bet you'll get plenty of replies!

6. Garage Sale Heaven: Spring garage sales are a great place to pick up 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 your Nextdoor App, Craigslist, or wherever your city lists 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 and other sites that can offer great things at a huge discount or killer coupon code!  Retailers 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 hundreds of websites 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 springtime 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? Head to the local nursery and ask for help finding the right fruits to grow for where you live. 









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



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.

4/14/21

Spring Means Fun In The Sun, Which Also Means...



SUNBURNS SEASON!

Photo Credit: The Aussie's handy work with Oliver's and Professor's heads. 


'I know what you’re thinking: “Sunburns? It’s not even summer yet!” This is true, but as long as the sun is out, and so are kiddos, you need to protect that sensitive skin. Plus, before you know it, the Easter holidays will be here, after which the beautiful Spring and summer months will be at your door kicking your life outside and into high-gear covered in blazing rays of Sun. Keep reading. You'll wanna know these facts and tips...







Now is as good a time as any to make sure you and your child are well prepared for the sun. Whether you’re hopping on a plane to distant shores for spring break or staying closer to home for a family-style staycation, sun safety is equally important.

Here are a few pointers on how to protect your child from the sun.

Cover up

One of the most basic steps you can take is to ensure your kid is covered up. Long-sleeved t-shirts and trousers are effective at shielding the skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays, which damage the skin. Bear in mind that light colors may not be as effective; in fact, when wet, they absorb as much sunlight as bare skin. Also, make sure your child wears a proper sunhat with a wide brim as opposed to a baseball cap. Unfortunately, caps offer no protection for the ears and the back of the neck.

You could always go all out like I did. It kept Ollie cool and safe from the sun's rays during afternoon walks or trips to the zoo.


Sunscreen and sunblock



When it’s too hot for long sleeves and trousers, applying sunscreen, is of course, essential. Start with a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and apply liberally 30 minutes prior to sun exposure. Don’t forget those hard-to-reach areas like ears, back of the neck, and feet. If you’re going swimming with your little one, remember to reapply their sunscreen afterward, as well as your own! Even if you’re planning to stay dry, sun cream should be reapplied once every couple of hours to ensure the best UV protection. You can find more information on proper sunscreen application here.

FUN FACT: When it comes to choosing the right sunscreen, The American Academy of Dermatology recommends everyone use sunscreen that offers the following:
  • Broad-spectrum protection (protects against UVA and UVB rays).
  • Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 30 or greater.
  • Water resistance.

Sunglasses

Although protecting your child’s skin is quite rightly a priority, it’s important not to forget the eyes – over-exposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts in later life. Therefore, make sure your little one has a pair of sunglasses to wear along with their hat. Not all sunglasses have adequate protection from harmful rays, however, so it’s vital to check the product details before committing. If they are not labeled with “100% UV protection” or “UV 400 protection”, assume the glasses don’t have it. Fortunately, there are plenty of stylish options out there with this level of protection, including this collection of Ray-Ban Juniors.

Keep an eye out




If you have older kids, there will come a time when they will naturally want to go off with their friends and play in the park or on the beach. When this happens, the first thing to do is ensure they have a fresh application of sunscreen before they go outside – either by supervising them or doing it yourself. During the early afternoon, when the sun’s at its strongest, it’s also worth remembering that harmful UV rays can still be strong even on a cloudy day. Try to stay nearby and set a limit on how long they can stay in the midday heat.

Set a good example

As for any other part of parenting, setting a good example for your children to follow is key. Sun safety should never be a “do as I say, not as I do” topic! Many of us will admit to forgetting to apply sunscreen or staying out in the sun a little too long from time to time. These bad habits can be difficult to shake off at times, but if you’re not careful, your children may also develop a casual attitude towards sun protection.

Bottom Line: Teaching the importance of sun safety early is critical for a life-long understanding of the whys and hows for protecting your largest organ.

These Spring + Summer Staples Every Family Should Have

With Spring on our doorstep (Northern Hemisphere people of course!) and summer around the corner, I thought I would share my 10 MUST HAVE things that make frolicking in the sun with my family much easier.

Full disclosure, while a couple of the things on this list I did review on the blog, not one company is behind this list. The following 10 things are 100% MY FAVORITE SPRING/SUMMER 2015 PARENTING Game Changers!


1. A waterproof travel blanket for trips to the park, firework shows or late nights at a friend's house with a cold sleepy kid. Look for a blanket that fits in the trunk of your car in its own carrying case. I LOVE the Adventure blanket from Tribe Provisions.  It has an attached bag that makes unpacking and repacking a breeze.
Tribe Provision Go-anywhere Adventure Blanket (Black-Gray)

2. A small portable cooler bag.  Two years ago I was asked to review the Pack-It cool portable lunch/cooler bags.  I nearly passed up the offer, but my sister insisted that she heard great things so I tried it. Since I have used it more than any one of the things on this list! I cannot recommend enough a bag like the Pack-it cool.  Basically, it's a bag that you store in your freezer until you need it.  I use the crap out of ours for all kinds of stuff.  This bag keeps Popsicles frozen while at the zoo!  The best part is that it's cheap $15-50 depending on the size.  MOM TIP: Freeze a small washcloth inside of it for cooling off kids, wiping up messy faces and adding an extra level of cold!  DO THIS !

They are in stores everywhere.  For a store locator click here. 


3. Homemade popsicles!  Last summer when Ollie became a Popsicle junkie, which turned his poop BRIGHT GREEN, I thought I better read what the hell is in the store-bought Popsicles.  My friends, I felt like I needed to go to confession to report my sin of pumping my toddler full of things I couldn't even pronounce! I decided then that I would make all of Ollie's Popsicles moving forward.  I bought cheap molds and got to work. OMG! Not only does he love the Popsicles, but I also pump them full of healthy things like Probiotic yogurt, frozen organic fruit and juice, and when he's not looking, every veggie I can blend up small enough! DO THIS!  (Last year's Popsicle how-to is Here, I'm writing a new one for this year with new recipes coming soon!)

4. Super Safe Bug Spray! With all of our outdoor frolicking, by mid-June, if we don't have a great bug spray we become bug food. (SO GROSS!)  Bug spray is essential, but after doing the research on safe bug spray for babies/toddlers, I found not many were available.  Last summer I fell in LOVE with Honest Company's Bug spray.  It's super safe for the whole family, yet extremely effective! Even FTD who insisted on using his Deet soaked crap until it ran out, had to admit that the Honest Bug Spray was just as effective, if not more. Now it's the only spray we use! 


To buy it now, click here! 

5. SLAB O' Water! I keep a case of water in my trunk all year long, but especially in summer.  I go to Costco, buy the biggest one I can and store it in my trunk. Water is not only essential to fight dehydration, it cleans feet, toys, shoes, hands, scrapes and other assorted kid-mishaps in a pinch! 

6. Attachable (Clamp-On) umbrella!  This one is huge for me. FTD and I both have very fair skin, so naturally, so does my child! Since Ollie was a little baby I would push him around with an umbrella on his stroller for extra protection.  I still do.  You can pick them up at Big Lots, or Amazon.  They are SO worth it! 


Here is a super one on Amazon- ($20) Sport-Brella Versa-Brella All Position Umbrella with Universal Clamp, Firebrick Red


7.  First Aid Kit- Chances are, if you're the parent of a toddler, you're already packing band-aids, but with the summer running, jumping, scrapes and falls, make sure you have a full (travel size) first aid kit handy in your bag/car.

8. Outdoor Tub O' Toys. With a toddler's attention span lasting all of 10 seconds, I try to keep a tub full of outdoor toys ready.  I go to the Dollar Tree (Dollar store) and load up on outdoor toys and arts and crafts like chalk, sponges for water painting the sidewalks, and anything else that will make playing outside fun.  I'm determined to keep my kid playing outdoors for as long as possible.  Stupid video games...

9.  Sun protective clothing. I swear by UV clothing. It's so worth the investment (about $50) I do long sleeve top and long shorts. It takes the fear out of a long day outside.

This outfit is from http://www.coolibar.com
 10. SUNBLOCK!!!!!!!!!  There is no one thing more important. Now, that being said, there are four million sunblocks on the market, but when it comes to sensitive skin, there are only a few I trust. I ALWAYS check the Environmental Working Group's Annual Sunblock report, where thousands of sunblocks are tested and rated for skin safety. When it comes to Ollie, I try to stick to the absolute safest rating possible a Zero or One.  I really cannot recommend enough that you check your sunblock's rating before slathering it on your kid.  Click here for a list of last year's, (I will post the second EWG releases their 2015 Sunblock report!)

And for those squirmy little ones, I LOVE Honest Company Sunblock stick, It's the best!!






Are there any products you can't live without?

4/5/21

How To Avoid Spring's 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. 

3/11/21

An Irish Toast and 12 St. Patrick's Day Fun Facts Worth Knowing

 










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! Geologists 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 in Ireland. An estimated 33.7 million people living in the US are of Irish descent. 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.



(I at the fabulous parade my city puts on 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. Patrick's 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 Cocktails and Snacks and crafts? Check out my St Patty's board on Pinterest.