Great Books to Read and Gift

I have always loved to read, but with adult responsibilities it is sometimes challenging to find the time to enjoy a book.  I have been making time lately and have some great reads to share with you!  If you are getting stressed from the holidays, taking a few minutes to get lost in a book is a great way to relax.  Many, if not all of these books can be found in your local library, or downloaded to an e-reader (I enjoy my books both ways).

good books
Who doesn’t love to curl up with a great book?

Option B – This is by Sheryl Sandberg, who also wrote the awesome book “Lean In,” which focuses on how women can make new opportunities for themselves in business.  Sheryl is the COO of Facebook, and if you follow her in the news, a few years ago her husband, Dave Goldberg, who was CEO at Survey Monkey, died of a heart attack while they were on vacation in Mexico.  He was in his 40s.  Option B talks about how she dealt with this family tragedy, both in her personal life and at work, and how she has found the path to her Option B.  This is a great read for anyone, but especially someone who has experienced something traumatic in their lives, or is struggling with a setback, or struggling with their faith.

Mirror Sisters trilogy by V.C. Andrews- I started getting into V.C.  Andrews last year (no, I never read Flowers in the Attic in high school) and got into this series “The Mirror Sisters.”  Without any spoilers, it explores the lives of two identical twins who were raised to be identical in every way, not just in their appearance.  It’s a pretty juicy psychological thriller – just think what you would do if you were forced to not be an individual in any way!

It’s Always the Husband  by Michele Campbell -This book explores the lives of three best friends who meet in college and the lives they lead after graduating.  There’s a murder…. and lots of twists and turns to see who did it.  This is a great page turner that will have you guessing….is it the husband?!

Dead Woman Walking  by Sharon Bolton – Two sisters go on a hot air balloon ride, witness a crime on the ground and are in an accident…. more danger awaits them once they are on the ground.  This book had me on the edge of my seat with a lot of unexpected twists and turns!  Who committed the crime?  Will the sisters survive the crash?

Gone Without a Trace   by Mary Torjussen – A woman comes home one night, excited to share her promotion news with her live-in boyfriend.  However, when she gets home, there is no sign of him having ever lived in the house.  Is this guy a major douchebag?  I’ll just tell you that things are not as they seem.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – Two couples who are neighbors get together for dinner, but after that night no one’s lives are the same again.  What happens?  What I can tell you without any spoilers is that everyone’s got a secret in this story!!

I hope something here has piqued your interest.  As you can tell I’m really into thrillers or murder mysteries lately.  I used to read all the chic lit there was years ago, but my interests have definitely changed.

Remember that books also make great GIFTS so if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, this could be a great idea for the reader in your life!  Or, buy all your friends a copy and start a book club!   I do have some gift guides I put together that you can also check out here and here.

What books have you been loving lately?  Leave a comment!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to buy any of these books!

Gift Guide – $50 and under

Welcome to my second post of my holiday gift guide series.  The last post had some great gift ideas in the $25 and under price range.  This guide contains ideas in the $50 and under range.  I hope this will give you some inspiration for all the special people you are shopping for this season.

 

swell water bottle

Swell Water bottle – $35 This is not just any old water bottle.  Swell keeps liquid hot for 12 hours and cold for 24.  They are available in lots of cool designs and as an added bonus this fits in your car cup holder!  This gift idea is great for anyone on the go or for fitness buffs who are constantly drinking water!

 

 

 

 

kindle e readerKindle e-reader, $49.99 – This is a great deal for anyone who loves to read.  You can be anywhere and instantly download a book or magazine, without leaving your house!  Give the gift of hours of entertainment with this device. Plus, this is a great tech gift when you don’t have the budget to buy an iPad!

 

 

container store mirrored power bank

Mirrored power bank $29.99 – This is a mirrored compact for your purse plus it charges your phone on the go!  This can be a great gift for someone who travels a lot or works from their car.

 

 

 

A rose that lasts a year!Venus et Fleur – Mini round  $39- How would you love a rose that can stay beautiful and fragrant without watering or maintaining for a whole YEAR?  Here is the answer!  Venus et Fleur has some gorgeous arrangements and I feel better giving a gift of a flower when I know that it will last longer than a couple of weeks.  There are some really pricey options, but this single rose is beautiful and would look beautiful on any desk or nightstand to enjoy!

 

Bauble Bar earring setEar Adornment Trio gift set $48 – This boxed earring set from Bauble Bar with three beautiful earrings in a lovely gift box is a great gift for the jewelry lover in your life.  I bought a similar set for myself last year and I am still wearing and loving the earrings.  It’s great quality!

 

 

 

kl polish lips and tips

KL Polish Lips and Tips $45 – If you’ve read my post about my favorite nail polishes, then you already know that I LOVE this brand!  The colors are really unique and they just don’t chip!  KL Polish just released a new limited edition boxed set containing 6 bottles of their new nudes polish, which coordinate with lippies, that were created by Kathleen Lights with ColourPOP.  (Kathleen is the creator of KL Polish and a YouTuber with a huge following.)  The set also comes with a free lipstick, which makes it a great value and an awesome gift for someone who loves to do their nails, or is just a beauty junkie in general!  If you are new to the brand, you can join their newsletter and get 10% off your purchase!

tarte blush bazaarTarte Blush Bazaar $44 I bought this as a gift for myself and think it’s a great value.  First, I own a couple of the Amazonian Clay blushes and love the colors and how they perform.  This set comes with 8 blushes and 2 highlighters in a beautiful circle compact packaging.  I LOVE this – the blushes and highlighters are a good size, the packaging is not only beautiful but great for travel and there are a great variety of shades in the set.

 

martha stewart pom pom throwPom Pom Throw $35 – This is a great gift either for a hostess or someone who really likes interesting home accents.  The little pom poms on the end of this throw are adorable!  This is from the Martha Stewart collection and this price reflects a Black Friday special.  The original price is listed as $120 – yikes!

 

 

Sephora Ready Set StyleSephora Ready Set Style $32- This is a great gift for someone who is always on the hunt for a good volumizing hair product.  I know I am!  This allows you to try out several products in a travel size and see which ones are your favorites before committing to a full size!

Monogrammed Black Leather Snap Valet $43.50- This is a great gift for the guy who travels a lot, or it looks really nice on a dresser to hold keys, money or jewelry.

Holiday Gift Guide – $25 and under

It seems like, once again, the holidays have just snuck up on us out of nowhere!  If you’re like me, you haven’t done any shopping yet – but don’t panic!  With a targeted plan of who you need to buy for and what you want to spend, you can get this done with time to spare!  This is the first in a series of gift guides and I hope I can inspire you with some ideas for the special people in your life!  This guide has gifts that are $25 or less and can be great for grab bags, co-workers, or stocking stuffers!  Read on to see what I’ve rounded up for you!

jewelry pyramid organizer Stackers Jewelry Pyramids (Small $9.99 / Large $14.99)  This is a great stocking stuffer or teacher gift  available at the Container Store.  I like that it is different than the typical dish-looking jewelry holders out there.  I feel like this is more decorative to keep on a nightstand or dresser and hold your jewelry.

 

jewelry roll organizer

Jewelry Roll $15– You can combine this gift with the one above for the jewelry-lover in your life so they can have somewhere to store jewelry at home and when traveling.  These come in a variety of colors and textures at Target but I am LOVING this leopard print!

 

 

corkcicleCorkcicle $24.95 – I first saw this idea on Shark Tank  and was blown away.  I’m not sure if this is the same company, but these travel, spill-proof wine glasses make it great to have wine on the go (think tailgating, kids soccer games) without using a plastic cup.  Plus no need to worry about spills and staining your clothes.  Rather have coffee?  It’s good for that too!

 

Angry mama microwave cleaner$9.99  I love The Container Store’s quirky and unique gifts – another great stocking stuffer for the clean-freak in your life!

 

 

 

 

kelvin multi tool

Kelvin.17 Multi-tool$19.99  Everyone has a guy in their life who loves gadgets or likes to tinker with things.  This multi-tool is for that guy in your life – 17 tools in one.  I don’t even like tools and think this is pretty cool!

 

 

 

Stila Big Shots Stay All Day Liquid Liner and HUGE Mascara Duo $25 – I can’t have a gift guide without some awesome beauty sets for the makeup lover in your life!  Ulta has great gift sets at all price points, but this is a great value!   I personally use and love the liquid liner (it is my all-time favorite) and the full size mascara makes this an awesome set to achieve a festive holiday eye!

 

 

 

too faced under the kissletoeToo Faced Under the Kissletoe $25 – This gift set has four of the brand’s popular liquefied lipsticks in a great variety of wearable shades.  Who wouldn’t love trying out some new colors on their lips for the holiday!?  And the packaging is so cute your wrapping is done!

 

 

 

 

Mini-emergency kits $17.95 – I gave these out one year and they were a hit!  You can keep this in your car or purse and you will be prepared for literally anything! And it comes in an adorable mini-case. You won’t believe what they fit in there:  earring backs, clear nail polish, safety pins, bandages (just to name a few)!

thought a day notebook

 

A great thought a day notebook $14.99 This is a  great inspirational gift recommended by Oprah for our friends and family that love daily inspiration or need some encouragement.

 

 

 

Tagalong charger caseMYTAGALONGS charger case $16 – This is great gift for a teen, college student or really any techie lover, or someone who travels frequently.  Keeping all those charging cords for phones, laptops, etc. can be tricky!

Happy shopping everyone!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

10 Favorite Beauty & Lifestyle YouTube Channels

Favorite beauty/lifestyle channels on YouTubeHow many of you like to watch YouTube?  I got into it a few years ago, mainly because I love getting inspiration from watching makeup tutorials.  However, I’ve started to enjoy a few specific channels that I continue to watch and I wanted to share them with you (in no particular order).

Brianna Stanko (Premier Look) – I love watching Brianna because she is as obsessed with skincare as I am!  She owns the website www.premierlook.com which sells all medical-grade skincare products.  She also does fashion and other topics too.  Her channel is great to watch to get updates on latest trends in skincare (I.e. stem cell technology) and different brands in the medical- grade skincare space.  She is not pushy or sales-y and I really enjoy catching her videos.

Pretty Neat Living I’ve been following Jen for years now.  Every time I watch her I get so inspired to be more organized in my home!  Her topics range from organization to beauty to travel to mommy topics (she has a toddler and a baby on the way). I love her Midwestern charm and she seems like a truly lovely person.

Jaime Paige Beauty – Jaime is a twenty-something living in Canada, and what I love about her is that she brings a maturity and knowledge to all things makeup.  Her makeup tutorials can easily transfer into wearable every day looks and she gives very thorough product reviews.  She also does great videos where she finds less expensive dupes for more luxury products.

Casey Holmes – Casey is from the south and recently moved up to NY state with her military husband, Davis.  She has a main beauty channel where she does great tutorials and product reviews, and also has a vlog channel where she brings us along into her everyday life.  I love her southern charm and she is a huge animal lover who also spotlights her two dogs, Daisy and Rose, on her vlog channel.

Dominique Sachese – Dominique is a news anchor in Texas that has a YouTube channel that covers beauty and lifestyle.  She has taken the camera with her to get injectables (Botox) and lash extensions which I love to watch.  I also like to see her behind-the-scenes glimpse into her life as a news anchor.

beauty inspiration from YouTube

Busbee Style – Erin runs a YouTube channel and a blog focused on fashion for women over-40.  I love when she takes us into the dressing room at any clothing store she is at and lets us see some of the latest styles on a real body.  She also was a great resource during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, highlighting items she felt were a great deal and wardrobe staple.    That sale can be very overwhelming, but I felt I was prepared and made really good decisions with her advice.

Kathleen Lights – Kathleen Lights is pretty well known in the beauty community on YouTube.  She has a fun-spirited personality which makes her so much fun to watch.  She also has launched a nail polish line, called KL Polish which is one of my favorite nail polishes that I have also written about here.  Her eye color is similar to mine, so I’ve had a lot of luck buying eyeliners and eye shadows that she uses that I find are very flattering to my color.  She also really does a great job balancing drugstore products with higher end products; many of the great drugstore finds I’ve made are on her recommendations!

Alexandrea Garza – I’ve watched Alex for years, since before she got married.  Now she’s been married a couple of years and recently announced that she and her husband Michael are expecting their first child!  She has a great sense of style and I have learned a lot from her make-up and hair tutorials.  She also has a vlog channel with her husband that I like to watch.  They are such a young adorable couple and they’ve done quite a bit of traveling lately (to Italy and France) and they’ve shared a lot of great places with their viewers.

Hot and Flashy – This is Angie’s channel.  She takes her subscribers along with her on her anti-aging journey.  Angie is another skin care junkie (like me) and gives extremely thorough product reviews, complete with before and after pictures.  She is lovely and looks fantastic (I believe she is in  her early 50s).  I like her take on make-up products for more mature skin (like mine) since a lot of the other You-tubers I watch are in their twenties so some products will not work as well for me as it does for them!  She also has a great sense of style and I look forward to her seasonal look books to get outfit ideas.

Tati (GlamLifeGuru) – Tati is literally the queen of YouTube; I believe she has over 3 million subscribers! That is just staggering, but you know what?  She puts out great content and literally has new videos every day, which is much more than the other channels.  I don’t watch everyday, but there is a lot of different content you can check out.  I do like her thorough and honest product reviews, which is the main reason I watch.  She also tries out some strange beauty products that you’ve probably never heard of, which I find pretty entertaining.

Why do I tune in to these channels?  I don’t know but there is something about each of these women that I can relate to or that I find endearing.  I also feel they are knowledgeable about the subjects that they post on their channels, and, after watching them for so long, I start to think of them as if they are my friends.  I’d love to know what YouTube channels you like to tune into regularly for entertainment or inspiration.

10 Signs that the Fall Season is Here

I don’t know about you, but fall is definitely my favorite season!  It’s the perfect temperature of not too hot and not yet too cold and the foliage really lifts my spirits!  I know it’s technically still summer for a few more weeks but I’ve put together a fun list of things that signal the start of the fall season for me (Disclaimer:  You won’t see football on my list)!  If you don’t live in an area where you can experience the changes of the season, I would certainly recommend visiting somewhere that does to experience the magic of fall.

Are you ready for the fall season?

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Pumpkin coffee is available at Dunkin Donuts (the pumpkin donut is pretty awesome too).  I just drank my first of the season and was loving it.  For the record, my other go-to cold weather drink at Dunkin Donuts is the “Dunkaccino” – part hot chocolate, part coffee: enough said!
  2. Halloween costumes are out in the stores. I know there are people out there who really get into Halloween.  As a kid, I had fun but dressing up was not something that I got super excited about.  I do get excited to think about what my son can be each year, based on what he’s interested in. I also enjoy going to the school to see him walk in his parade.  ( BTW, my son wants to be a dinosaur, but that’s what he was last year!)
  3. New episodes of my TV shows start.  I’m already excited to see the beginnings of some of my favorite shows – any other “This is Us” fans out there?  I’ll also check out some new shows if they sound interesting to me.  I don’t get a ton of time to watch TV, but after my son goes to bed, I take an hour or two to watch and it is my “me” time.  Can’t wait!
  4. You smell fireplace in the air and the first signs of crispness in the air- We had a few cooler days at the end of August that started to make it feel like fall, but we haven’t yet really seen this type of weather, and I am waiting to smell that fireplace smell!
  5. Apple / pumpkin picking!  There are so many nice orchards in our area, it has become an annual tradition to get together with our friends and see our children play together.  It has become something that I truly look forward to doing each fall season.  Sometimes, it’s easier to plan time to visit with our friends at this time of year versus the summer, with everyone’s crazy schedules and vacations!
  6. “New Year’s” resolution – In my opinion, this time of year has more of a “fresh start” appeal to it than Jan 1.  I find myself thinking about trying new things, maybe getting a new haircut, and wanting to get more organized.  And then actually DOING it!
  7. Urge to purge – Similar to #6, with a new season comes a desire to get more organized.  I typically go through all my clothes at the start of each season to get rid of what I’m not going to use and take a brief inventory of what I have and what I may need to get in my collection for the cooler weather.  Thanks to Nordstrom’s anniversary sale, I think I am in good shape for my fall wardrobe, but I’m sure I’ll find other things to buy!  At this time of year, I also like to change up my home décor to give it a fresh, cozy look!  Usually some wreaths, new candles and hand soap and towels can really breathe new life into the house.
  8. Cravings for baked goods – I’m not proud of this, but as the temperatures get colder, my “go to” comfort foods include hot beverages and baked goods!  Somehow, a salad just isn’t as appealing as it is in the summer.  I just devoured a package of mini pumpkin muffins this week.  Note: I am not suggesting that every craving is going should be satisfied!  I don’t want to undo all the hard work I’ve put in at the gym the rest of the year!
  9. Panic about holiday shopping – Wait, how many shopping days until Christmas?  Each year I vow to get ahead of the holiday rush because once Halloween comes and goes and then Thanksgiving, it’s crunch time to get everything done.  And, for me, to truly enjoy the season, I like to reduce my stress as much as possible.  Sometimes, with all of the  rushing around trying to create the “perfect” holiday, it’s so easy to lose sight of what the holidays are about in the first place.
  10. Back to school – Several years ago, before I was a mom, I remember seeing this Staples commercial set to the song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year ” by Andy Williams showing a mom gliding down the isle with her cart with a carefree smile on her face.  Now, I get what that commercial was trying to convey!  It truly is a great time of year!  I love my son to death, but with him now in school for the whole day, there is so much more I can get accomplished!

I’d love your comments about what your favorite seasons are and why!  Whatever your favorite time of the year, best wishes to you for a fabulous September!

5 Ways to Make More time for YOU

Does this look like you? Find out how to get more time back into your day.

Feeling stressed?  Ever daydream about doing the things you love?  Except, there aren’t enough hours in the day to finish all the things you NEED to do before you can enjoy what you WANT to do?  Is there any way to make more time for you?

It’s time to take a step back and try to manage your life like you are running a business.  In business, there are certain tasks that are outsourced so that the company can focus on the core of what it does.  If you take the same approach to your life, then more time for YOU, which should be YOUR core business, can become a reality!  Here I’ve outlined five tasks or responsibilities that are real time stealers.  If these tasks can be outsourced, you can carve out the time to do things you actually want to be doing!  Remember, life is too short to keep putting off enjoying life and following your dreams.  Let’s make more time for you!

 

Give yourself the gift of time!

1. Cleaning

My parents were neat freaks when I was growing up, and I distinctly remember so many Saturdays that my mom went to town cleaning the house, after working all week.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for leisurely pursuits.  This is one thing that, by outsourcing, will definitely put time back into your days.  I didn’t begin doing this until I was pregnant with my son, and it was the best thing I ever did!  Again, you can control how often your home is cleaned based on your needs and budget.

2.  Food Shopping

I love shopping at the mall, but hitting the grocery store gets me as excited as going to the dentist for a root canal.  The crowds, maneuvering the shopping cart, trying to scan food labels and waiting in the monotonous lines that are never ending is just not my cup of tea.  Not to mention that the stores near me are so crowded that even finding a parking spot gives me anxiety.  And what if you have kids with you for these excursions?  I think you get my point.  Order it online, and either just go to pick it up (kiddies don’t even have to leave their car seats) or have it delivered directly to your home.  Not only is it saving you time, but also added stress and aggravation that no one needs in their lives. Plus, it avoids any unnecessary (or unhealthy) purchases you might make if you go to the store hungry.

Another option here is to utilize one of the many meal delivery services out there that send all the ingredients you need to cook up tasty dishes.  I’ve tried Hello Fresh and you can check out my article detailing my experience here.

3.  Find a good babysitter/pet sitter

Think of how much more you could do if your mind was at ease because your child and/or pets were in good hands.  With a good sitter, you can get out and do things you might otherwise not have time to do, or be able to attend social functions with people that you might otherwise not be able to see.  In general, a good support system in place to help you juggle all the balls that are in the air on a daily basis is key to keeping your sanity!

4.  Form a Mommy Alliance

Keeping in the theme of having a support system, if you are a mom who feels like she’s traded in her life to be a taxi driver, having a network of other moms  that you could trade off with to carpool kids to activities can definitely ease the hectic rushing around we do every day.  Your kids still get to participate in the activities they enjoy, but you also ease the burden of getting them everywhere yourself and spending more time shuttling people around than doing something you want to do.

5.  Go Paperless

This sounds so easy but, even in this digital age, so much paper continues to come into our homes.  Opt for paperless bank statements, manage your bills online, scan all your important documents and store them securely.  I don’t know about you, but piles of paperwork on my desk are not only distracting, but they cause me anxiety and are more likely to cause disorganization.  Plus, searching for things in piles of papers is a time WASTER!  There are websites you can go to and register to remove your name from mailing lists to reduce the junk mail coming to your house.  One is http://www.dmachoice.org.  Clean desk, no piles = more time for you!

Good luck getting started on making time for YOU.  Whether it’s leisure pursuits you are after, or just want to find the time to focus on a business endeavor that will give you the freedom you are looking for, managing your time and where you focus your activities will help align with those priorities.

Matt Anton, co-founder of Local NJ SEO, and his family.

If you have been trying to get a side business off the ground but need some guidance to take it to the next level, then Local SEO NJ may be a great resource for you.  A family and veteran-owned business run by brothers Dan and Matt Anton, you can receive an individualized evaluation of your business and get unique solutions to grow it.  Matt Anton is the former online marketing manager of Liberty Travel and is currently in charge of client strategy and execution at NJ SEO.  He is listed in the top 62 SEO marketers and has been cited as an SEO expert with many endorsements.  A well established and respected digital marketing agency in NJ and Atlanta, NJ SEO can provide services ranging from branding, website design, search engine optimization and everything in between!

I hope this give of time will help you pursue your dreams, whatever they may be.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Packing for Vacation – Summer Packing Series #3

Welcome back to my summer packing series! Today I’m going to share my tips for how I pack for a beach vacation!  If you haven’t checked out my other articles in this series, I’ve shared my tips for packing make-up for vacation, as well as what I pack in my beach bag!

Make a list

The worst thing to do is just wing it and start throwing random items into your suitcase.  You could easily get distracted and forget something important.  Remember you want your vacation to be relaxing so don’t add stress to your life by leaving something you really want at home.  I pack for myself and my son so thinking about where we are going, what we will be doing and what the weather will be help me to start writing out the items that need to be included.

Use interchangeable clothing items

I found a company called Vacay Style that takes the stress out of packing!  They sell interchangeable clothing pieces that, when you add some basics, like a white tank top and white jeans, will have you set for a week-long trip!  For example, I bought the Seychelles 2 piece romper, part of the Seychelles collection. They can be worn together for one outfit, but the top can be paired with shorts or jeans for another outfit, and the shorts can be paired with another shirt for a third outfit!  The quality of the material is very high and the pieces wash well.

 

I also have the St. Kitts Convertible dress, part of the St. Kitts collection.  By itself it is a strapless maxi dress, but the top can be folded down so it can be worn as a skirt with a different top.  Genius!  They also sell entire 5 piece collections that can be interchanged to make between 15-18 outfits.  Now that’s what I call smart packing!

 

 

Leave some room for souveniers

I always like to leave a little room in the suitcase for any souveniers we may buy on the trip.  If you are going somewhere requiring air travel, this becomes even more important

What to bring vs. purchase there

Typically, my family rents a condo at the Jersey Shore for the week.  oftentimes, that means that bedding, towels, and paper goods (tissues, paper towels, toilet paper) may not be supplied as in a hotel.  Typically we purchase the paper goods along with snacks and other items we will use during the week at a local market at our destination vs. packing them in our car on the way down.  That is just our personal preference.  If it’s your first time renting a place like that, I would inquire what is supplied so that you can make your plan.  If traveling with young children, this is important also.  Many places offer crib rentals or linen service you can take advantage of if you do not want the hassle of bringing your own.  If you want to bring bicycles or pool toys, I’d recommend checking with the renters on any rules/policies for that.  Where we stay, we cannot store bicycles or any beach/pool toys in our unit.

Have a great trip!

Wherever your destination this summer, have a wonderful trip!  If you are going somewhere warm, I hope my other articles in this series (Packing Makeup for vacation and What’s in my beach bag?) help get you prepared and ready for a great time!  By taking the stress and guesswork out of packing, you can focus on enjoying the people you are with and the wonderful things you will experience on your travels!  I would love to hear your comments on any packing tips you use.

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

How to Plan a Child’s Birthday Party in the Summer

So my son just turned 5 – I know it’s cliché but I can’t believe how fast time flies.  I still remember him as a newborn in the hospital!  But, for this milestone, I decided it was time that he enjoy a birthday party with his friends.  However, knowing that his birthday is in the summer, when school is out, my fear of no one coming because of vacations, etc.  made me almost decide to not do it.  In the end, I decided to go for it and here is how I kept things organized:

Venue– There are so many different places that host children’s parties these days, there is a good chance you can find one that meets your family’s needs.  The key to finding the right fit is to think about what your child enjoys.  Also, what is your comfort level having a party at your home vs. out somewhere?  In my case, I preferred to have it out (less clean up, etc.)

Date and Day – What I learned is that this really matters!  I talked to a lot of moms about this as I was planning because my fear was that no one would be able to come to the party due to vacations, etc.  After all, it’s the summer!  What I was advised and what ended up working well, was to have it on a Friday evening.  In this scenario, you could still have people come as most vacation travel would be on Saturday or Sunday.  For the working parents, it is still late enough to be able to get there.  Of course, I think it would be unrealistic to expect high attendance in the summer in general, but I think that a Friday evening is a good way to try to mitigate that.

Dinosaurs were our theme.

Theme– I think it is nice to have a theme for a child’s birthday party.  It helps to bring together invites, decorations and gives some insight into what your child is interested in.  Places like Party City, Target  or Michaels are great places to get ideas and they have a lot of cute merchandise available to help you.  In my case we went with a dinosaur theme since John has been obsessed with these creatures for the past year.

Getting the word out – This was another challenge for me.  I did not have any contact information for any of the children in John’s class, so I couldn’t send evites or anything like that.  What I ended up doing was sending paper invites with John at school in June toward the end of the school year (his birthday was in July) and asking the teacher to send each child home with an invitation.

I really enjoyed using personalized favors for the kids.

Favors – This was a tough one.  Usually a trip to the dollar store or WalMart can give you some ideas of trinkets that kids in whatever age group you are looking at will enjoy, but I wanted to give something that was less junky and a little more personalized.  (This was also easier to do as I had a smaller group at the party.)  I remembered an awesome favor John received at our friend’s daughter’s party a few years back, which I found and ordered online through outrageouspartyfavors.com.  It’s a small business run by Cheryl out of Long Island.  Cheryl was great and even made some quick additions to my order without a beat.  Each child received a water bottle with his/her name on it.  Also there are a couple blank ones included in the order for any last minute attendees and they are really cute as well.

Food– with kids, I think it’s best to keep it simple, so for us it was pizza and cake.  When ordering, be sure to include the parents in your headcount also!  If you are at a total loss about what to order and how much to order, most party venues will be able to assist and make recommendations.

Decorations – Once you’ve set your theme, it will help to brainstorm decorations.  Some venues will supply paper products (for a fee usually) but tablecloths, signs, balloons, cups and plates can easily be bought at a party store.

Showtime!  I think that with any event, the more organized and planned it is the better.  The only regret I had with this party was really my own fault and it’s because I am so bad with taking pictures.  I was good about taking pictures during the party and got a family shot of us with John and his cake but I forgot to get a group shot of John and all his friends who came to the party.  Bad mommy!  So if you are bad at pictures like me, I’d recommend putting together a list of pictures you want before the party and then make sure you get them during the party.  If you have a friend or family member you can put in charge of this, even better!

The venue added a nice touch with our welcome sign!

John had a great time and, at the end of the day, that’s really the reason we host these parties.  I feel very lucky that he has really nice friends who have great parents.   Happy party planning!

 

What’s in my Beach Bag? Summer Packing Series #2

Are you ready to hit the beach?

Welcome back to the summer packing series!  Hope you enjoyed my first blog about how to pack makeup for vacation.  If you missed it, you can check it out here.  This post will talk about the essentials to keep in your beach bag so that you can be prepared for lots of beach/pool fun this summer!

To make my life easier, there are some staples that I pack into the beach bag at the beginning of the season, and leave in there so I can’t forget it!  I keep a lot of items in plastic zip lock bags to keep out sand and water.  Then I can just throw in towels and some snacks and we are good to go!

Sunscreens

There are several SPF products that have a permanent home in my beach bag.  First, I have fallen in love with Coola’s sport Guava Mango sunscreen spray SPF 50.  It’s organic, and smells so delicious it doesn’t even give a hint that it is sunscreen!  It is a chemical sunscreen so if you prefer mineral, I have another great one to recommend to you.  This other  sunscreen I’ve been loving is from the drugstore.  It is Australian gold Botanical sunscreen SPF 50.  This also has a fruity heavenly scent but is a lotion (mineral, so it’s great for those with sensitive skin).  To get the lowdown on SPF you can check out my other blog post here.  Now both of these sunscreens are ok to use on my son, but I do have another one I use for him from Thinksport.  Like the others, it’s broad spectrum, water resistant and is SPF 50+.  This one also smells great so sometimes I’ll use this for me also!  It’s a little thicker than the Australian gold lotion so sometimes it’s easier to use the other one.

Brush on Block – I spoke about this product in another blog.  It’s great to reapply SPF to your face on a daily basis.  It’s a powder and brush in one.  The powder has an SPF of 30, is broad spectrum and water resistant as well.  If you wear makeup when out in the sun, this is a great way to keep your sun protection in tact without messing up your makeup.

Lip protection – I found an awesome product from Supergoop called Shine on Lip Screen.  This is a gloss with SPF 50 to keep your lips protected in the sun.  You can wear it alone or right on top of your regular lipstick (this is how I like to use it).  Again, it’s a great way to get that sun protection in while keeping makeup looking fresh!

Bug Spray – Not sure about where you all are located, but here in NJ, mosquitoes are even more of a menace this season.  I really don’t like to use products with DEET, so I’ve found a product from OFF! that has another ingredient called picardin, which is a gentler alternative.

Deodorant wipes – I like to keep these on hand to freshen up after the beach if I am out somewhere without a shower nearby.  Pacifica makes these wipes that smell like coconuts.  It is so refreshing and they really work for me to not smell!

Baby Wipes– With a 5 year old, you never know what can happen, so I always keep a pack of baby wipes on hand.  They are in my car, at my house, and definitely in my beach bag!  Over the years I’ve tried many brands, but I always go back to the Huggies Natural Care.  They are gentle, have no fragrance and do not feel greasy.

Hand Sanitizer – Along with the baby wipes, whether you have kids or not, it’s always a good idea to bring hand sanitizer to the beach.  I use one I got as a freebee from work a while back, but Bath and Bodyworks has great travel sized ones and any drugstore will have some travel sized ones also.

Good book – I make pretty regular trips to my local library, so before my next trip I’ll run over and grab something that looks like a good beach read.  Lately I’ve been into suspense and mysteries, but let’s see what I find!

I hope you are enjoying your summer and happy packing for your next trip!  Stay tuned for the next installment of my summer packing series, which will be all about packing clothes!

 

Please note that some of the links in this article are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of those products, I receive a small commission.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I appreciate your support of this blog if you do decide to try some of the products!

 

My Rose Gold Obsession – How to Rock the Trend

Rose gold - the obsession is real

With Spring here I am LOVING all the blush/rose gold colored EVERYTHING.   This color is the new neutral of spring and can be achieved so easily with a few key pieces.  Read on to see some great clothing/accessories I have found to achieve this look!

Rose Gold Aviator style glasses from Ann Taylor LOFT.

Rose Gold Aviators – (LOFT) – What better way to accessorize all my other blush color finds than with a pair of rose gold sunglasses!  I stumbled on these at LOFT on sale a few months ago but have been wearing non-stop lately.  Unfortunately, these are not on their website and I’m not sure if it is still in stores.  There are, however, similar styles available and some are on sale!

Kendra Scott Elisa necklace  (NORDSTROM) – This delicate necklace is right up my ally and has dozens of color/metal combinations to choose from.  The one I have is called Iridescent drusy and rose gold.  This is the perfect necklace for the spring!  It has the rose gold chain and the center stone is a sparkly iridescent.  The length can be adjusted to suit my fancy and I’ve already gotten compliments on this one.

Adidas Superstar (they call it copper but it’s rose gold) – I have not really ever been a sneaker person but in the past few months, now that I am not working in an office and heading to the gym more often, this has become more of a mainstream accessory for me.  When I saw this style on one of the YouTube channels I watch my interest was instantly piqued.  This sneaker is HARD to get!  Nordstrom was sold out and many other online retailers I checked out did not have the rose gold color in my size.  I found a website (sheikh.com) that did have them and quickly ordered.  Shortly after I saw that they were back in stock on Nordstrom briefly, then sold out again.  I am so glad I was able to snag a pair! If you are in the market for these shoes, it’s recommended you size down one size.

Bomber jacket – pink

Gap blush jacket/sweater – I love this sweater from the GAP not only because of the color, but the weight and weave is perfect as we transition into Spring.  It goes with so much – I love with denim as shown in the picture, but I’ve also been wearing with light grey skinny jeans and can’t wait to pair it with some distressed white jeans!  I also got the bomber jacket which I’ve been wanting for awhile, but it’s beautiful in the blush color!  This looks great with black distressed jeans and a black tank.  Add the Adidas tennis shoes and you’ve got the perfect Spring look.

Rose Gold Bracelet– found these adorable bangles on Nordstrom, called Mantra Bands.  They are adjustable to the size of your wrist which I love.  They come in silver, gold and rose gold and of course I bought the latter.  There are a bunch of inspiring quotes on each one and you can select the ones that are most meaningful or inspiring to you.  Mine says “Live Laugh Love.”

Calia sports bra and tank – Ive carried the blush pink trend even to the gym!  If you checkout out my article on the athleisure trend and what brands I’ve been loving, you know I listed Calia (Carrie Underwood’s brand) as one of them.  I found this beautiful blush pink sport bra and tank top on sale at Dick’s Sporting Goods a few weeks ago and love them!

I hope you are all enjoying Spring whatever trends you are following.  Leave a comment and let me know what you are loving this Spring!  If you found the tips helpful please like and share!