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!

 

Thinking about Invisalign? Read on to learn about getting braces over 40!

I’ve journaled my experience using Invisalign so read on to see if it’s for you!

Invisalign Diary

February 23, 2017

Today I am going to get Invisalign on my teeth.  I know there are no wires or brackets like my first experience with braces back in my teens, but the orthodontist did say to allow 40 minutes for the appointment so I am expecting something more involved than just popping them on.  How does it work?  First,  an impression is made of your mouth and you wait about 6-8 weeks for your trays to be made.  Then you can meet with your orthodontist to get started. 

Once I arrive at my appointment, I learn that adjusters will be glued on to a few of my teeth to help secure the tray.  They are the same color as my teeth so no big deal there.  The bulk of my appointment is having them attached and then smoothed over so that they are comfortable.  Then the trays were inserted and bam! I’m done.  The orthodontist lets me practice popping them off and on, which is not as easy as I expected, especially considering they need to be removed every time I eat or drink something other than cool water.  For a frequent snacker like myself, this could be a challenge, especially since it is recommended that the braces stay on 22 hours per day for optimal results.  Maybe I’ll drop a few pounds during this process!  However, the trays are comfortable on – I don’t feel like my mouth is huge and as I speak to the ortho, I am pleased to notice that I don’t appear to have any type of lisp as I speak (I have met some people with Invisalign who do speak with a lisp).  I left with four different trays – the first stays on for 3 weeks and the others are worn for 2 weeks apiece.  The total number of trays I’ll need to wear for the duration of this treatment is 31.  My next appointment is in May to check in and get some more trays.  Let’s see how it goes!

 

Changing a tray every few weeks is part of the process when wearing Invisalign.

March 16, 2017

Today I start to wear my second tray of Invisalign!  How have the last few weeks been?  For one, as I’ve worn the initial tray, it has become much easier to pop in and out of my mouth when I eat, so that has been encouraging.  Other than that, they are really very low maintenance and, honestly, people that I interact with on a daily basis have no idea that I’m wearing anything at all, which is awesome!  When you are over 40, you especially don’t want to draw attention to yourself in that way.  For my 12 year old niece who is sporting the traditional type of braces, it’s fine, but not for me!  My teeth are usually a little sore as soon as I wear a new tray but it is not anything intense. 

Many of my friends, including my husband, don’t really “get” why I’m wearing them at all and think my teeth are fine now, but this is something I decided to do just to move some teeth that have shifted a bit over the years.  It is a financial investment, but luckily our dental insurance will cover a portion of it.  Overall, so far so good.  I won’t lie; I have cheated on the “no eating or drinking hot beverages with them on” rule.  I’ve drunk iced coffee using a straw, and have also enjoyed drinking seltzer with them in and have had no ill effects.  I am pretty diligent to make sure I’m keeping them clean and brushing my teeth often though.  And I don’t think I will attempt to drink hot beverages with them in, as I’ve read it could melt the material that the trays are made with and I don’t want to risk that!

 

One tray down, 30 more to go on my way to perfectly straight teeth!

I’ll keep you posted on this journey as there are many, many more trays to wear over the coming months, but, if you are thinking about it, I can tell you that so far it has been a positive, no fuss experience for me.  Have you used Invisalign?  Please leave a comment and share your experience!  Thinking about it?  Ask me any questions you have!

 

The Athleisure Trend: Don’t Buy Anything Until You Read This!

Read on to learn how to navigate shopping for “Athleisure.”

Athleisure…

What is it?  Well, according to Wikipedia, “Athleisure is a trend in fashion in which clothing designed for workouts and other athletic activities is worn in other settings, such as during work, casual or social occasions.”  There are different theories as to how this became such a popular trend, but I think in our society, the style trend has become increasingly relaxed and casual overall.

There is no denying that this trend has been growing in popularity – Khloe Kardashian, Gigi Hadid and countless other celebrities are photographed with this look all the time.  Recently, Beyonce launched her Blue Ivy line at Nordstrom.  This past summer, Miss Teen USA eliminated the swimsuit competition and has replaced it with Athleisure.

Functionally, I think it is great to hit the gym and then be dressed to go out and run errands or appointments without having to change or vice versa.  But Athleisure is a lot more than just throwing on a pair of sweatpants.  In fact, I’ve spent more money on some Athleisure pieces than I have on office attire!  The look strikes a delicate balance between “casual” and “put together.”

In my quest to stay motivated to hit the gym, I’ve shopped around at a few of the various popular Athleisure brands and can share with you some of my thoughts on quality and price so that you can be armed with this information before you go shopping!

The Align Pant II by Lululemon. The promise of full freedom to move, sweat wicking fabric and “Naked Sensation” were all on point!

Lululemon – this brand definitely has a cult following, but I was hard pressed to find one pair of leggings that was under $100 – I mean, they are LEGGINGS.  I’ve spent less on dress pants for work.  But I have heard so much about it I figured I’d take the plunge and see what all the hype was about.  I settled on the Align Pant II, which totaled $98.  They claim to have a lightweight feel like you are naked (they call it, “Naked Sensation”).  They felt comfortable when I tried them on in the store and the waist band stays in place and does not require adjustment while working out.  I have to say, these were pretty life changing for me!

Athleta – this sport line of GAP is also pricey. I have a couple of pull overs from them and the quality is solid.  However, if I’m going to splurge I probably would go with a different brand first.

Old Navy Sweatshirt – Super Comfy and Great Price!

Old Navy – this is my favorite and most impressive brand.  For the price you are still getting quality and can stay right on trend with the latest cuts, patterns, and styles.  I have leggings, t-shirts, jackets, sweatshirts (link above)  and sports bras from Old Navy and I really love them all!

Kate Hudson has created an affordable line of Athleisure fashion.

Fabletics – This is the brand by Kate Hudson.  Who wouldn’t want to look like Kate Hudson when working out?  Or just look like her, period!? The plus is that this is a very affordable brand.  However, to get the discount prices you need to become a VIP.  So, if you aren’t careful about logging in every month to “opt out” if you don’t want to make a purchase, you will have $50 put on your card.  Again you can spend it in a different month but you do need to be diligent about keeping track of what you are buying and when.  I have enjoyed some pieces from this line, but have found the sizing to be a bit inconsistent for me on a few different styles.

Check out my cute (but pricey) Lorna Jane sweatshirt!

Lorna Jane – This is another higher end line of Athleisure, comparable to Lululemon.  I have not tried their leggings but did recently fork over $129 for a sweatshirt, yes a SWEATSHIRT, but it is really cute.  Would I spend that much on a sweatshirt again?  Probably not, as I don’t think it is a phenomenal shirt or anything – it was more of an impulse purchase for me.  However, I haven’t tried their leggings, sport bras or other shirts so the other pieces may be worth the price.  For what it’s worth, I think the styles are cuter than Lululemon’s.

Calia by Carrie Underwood – cute styles sold at Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Calia (Carrie Underwood’s designs) – I bought some pieces from Calia, which are Athleisure pieces designed by Carrie Underwood.  They can be found at Dick’s Sporting Goods.  Prices vary depending on what you are looking for but it is more affordable compared to Lululemon or Lorna Jane.  And if you catch some items on sale, even better!  Overall, I think they styles are cute and the quality is nice for what you pay for.

SUMMING IT ALL UP

Bottom line, what you spend and where you spend it really depends on what you are looking to achieve.  If you are an athlete and/or spend a lot of time at the gym, I think you may want to spend a little more on some of the pieces for their materials which allow breathability and flexibility.  If you are really just wanting to look on point with the trend, then Old Navy would definitely be a solid way to go on a budget.  Note that here I’ve only scraped the surface of the many brands of Athleisure but hope that my mini reviews are helpful.  Let me know what your experience has been with Athleisure and where you buy your clothes!