Family Bucket List // Christmas 2018

The Holiday Season is here! Our Christmas tree is officially up and our house is slowly being covered in obnoxious amounts of flocked greenery. This is my favorite time of the year and the most that I’ve ever looked forward to Christmas. Having a toddler who is old enough to understand and enjoy holiday activities makes the season more exciting than ever before! I’ve created a Holiday Bucket List to help us accomplish everything that we want to do as a family and I want to hear your ideas, too!!

  1. Decorate The Christmas Tree
  2. Make Homemade Hot Chocolate
  3. Watch The Original “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”
  4. Write A Letter To Santa Claus
  5. Pay For A Stranger’s Drive-Thru Order
  6. Make A DIY Christmas Ornament
  7. Bake/Decorate Christmas Cookies
  8. Take Family Christmas Photos
  9. Drive Around, Looking At Christmas Lights 
  10. Take A Photo With Santa
  11. Have A Sleepover Under The Christmas Tree
  12. DIY Christmas Cards For Family Members
  13. Read A Christmas Book Every Night Of December
  14. Open New PJ’s On Christmas Eve
  15. Wear Family “Ugly” Sweaters
  16. Build A Snowman
  17. Go For A Winter Walk
  18. Make Snow Ice Cream
  19. Go Sledding
  20. Have A Christmas Music (Living Room) Dance Party 
  21. Build A Gingerbread House
  22. Make Reindeer Treats
  23. Go To A Local Christmas Festival
  24. Donate A Toy
  25. Make Cinnamon Buns and Hot Chocolate Christmas Morning

Comment below and let me know what your favorite family tradition is- Maybe it will be added to our list next year!!

 

Happy Holidays!

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Once Upon A Time With BabyLit

*This post may include affiliate links. This just means that if you were to make a purchase after clicking that link, I would make a very small commission (costing you NO EXTRA). This is an easy way to help provide for my family, while sharing content for you! I truly appreciate your support!*

In the last few months, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Greysley’s speech and messages asking how I get her to talk so much. As much as I really wish that I could take full credit for my chatty little monster, I have to admit that I’ve had some help.

I spend my days talking to Grey, encouraging her to repeat words and converse with me.. But I also spend A LOT of time sitting down and reading with her. I know that you always hear, “read to your kid,” “reading is magical,” etc. etc. But guys, it’s SO TRUE!!! BOOKS TEACH OUR CHILDREN. They teach our kids new words, help them to focus AND they allow us, as parents, to squeeze in some major snuggle time!

I’ve always loved to read and in the last few years, I’ve strayed from this love because well, life happens. Now that Greysley is old enough to WANT to read, I honestly think that reading WITH HER feels more special than reading my own books. 

I ask her to pick out a book. She’ll shuffle her tiny little legs (as quickly as possible), over to her book shelf, returning with not one, but a whole stack of stories. Her expressions and enthusiasm when I pull her on to my lap and start to read just light up my heart. She points out the objects and animals that she recognizes and we talk about the things that she’s unfamiliar with. 

I truly believe that she is so social and has such an extensive vocabulary for her age, because of books! 

Some of our favorite books to read are the BabyLit stories. I mentioned these books around Christmas time, because they were gifts that she received, but they are STILL going strong as a favorite in our house. The BabyLit books are spin offs of classic literature, which make them ADORABLE! From “Pride and Prejudice” to “Jane Eyre,” they have so many stories that they turn into fun “primer books.” Each book is different, but they teach numbers, colors, words, letters, etc. while still giving a quick summary of the actual literary piece. 

Greysley has the BabyLit version of “Alice in Wonderland” memorized and it’s probably the cutest thing ever to watch her sit and read it aloud to herself!!

Here are our top 10 favorite Babylit books!

  1. Alice In Wonderland
  2. Pride and Prejudice
  3. The Secret Garden
  4. The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz
  5. Little Women
  6. Les Miserables
  7. The Jungle Book
  8. A Little Princess
  9. Romeo And Juliet
  10. A Christmas Carol

Although these are our top favorites, our “wish list” is growing and I try to add new books to our collection as often as possible!

What are your favorite books to read with your children??

 

xo,

Rachel Rowles

instagram.com/rachel_rowles

*This post is not sponsored by Babylit. I’m simply sharing my love for this amazing brand!

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What I’m Loving, Wednesday//June 27, 2018

I’ve been wanting to get a little more organized with a blogging schedule, so I decided to start a “What I’m Loving” list. I’ll try to update my list weekly, sharing my current “favorites.” Some of the favs will be physical products and some may just be random things that make me happy. I think that this is the perfect way to get to know some of you and allow you get to know me! Let me know in the comments what YOUR favorite things are this week!! Maybe we love the same things. <3

This post may include affiliate links. This just means that if you were to make a purchase after clicking that link, I would make a very small commission (costing you NO EXTRA). This is an easy way to help provide for my family, while sharing content for you! I truly appreciate your support!

So let’s get started! (In no particular order, but Brandon was VERY offended that he took 2nd place.)

What I’m Loving, June 27, 2018

  1. Dixie Chicks Radio Station on Pandora- I stumbled upon this a little over two weeks ago and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’m not a huge fan of the more modern country music, but this station strikes so many happy feels. I just can’t help but smile when I’m listening to it. Garth Brook’s, “Long Neck Bottle” came on yesterday and it brought back so many happy childhood memories. I remembered my mom listening to this song with the windows open, while I played outside. We had a big rock in our yard that I stood on as my “stage” and I would belt out the words to the song (not having a clue what they meant!!). My five year old singing voice was probably MUCH better than what I’m working with now! Anyway, if you want some good nineties country, this is your station!
  2. Spending (no phone/no tv time) with Brandon- The weather has been BEAUTIFUL lately, especially around 8 PM. Brandon and I have started making a point to spend some quiet, no phones//no tv time together after Grey goes to bed. We sit out on our deck and just appreciate each other. It’s crazy how even just 30 minutes of sitting, listening to birds chirping and watching deer walk through the yard can make you love your life. (We got this affordable little 3 piece set and it’s super comfy for lounging and just hanging out. I wanted to find something that was modern looking, without breaking the bank and this was a major score! It also has pretty great reviews! We have it in the gray color, but I just noticed that the brown version is even cheaper than the gray!)
  3. Younger (the TV Show)- I became obsessed with this TV Land show months ago and binge watched it in an embarrassingly fast amount of time. Now, Season 5 started up and I’m invested all over again. It airs on Tuesday nights, but because we don’t have live tv, I just watch it the following day on TV Land’s website. The past seasons are available on Hulu and I promise, it’s good! I won’t give away too many details, but it’s definitely a “feel good” show.
  4. Aldi’s Knock Your Sprouts Off Bread- I’m the worst at making myself eat breakfast, but I always feel so much better if I do! We (almost) always get our groceries at Aldi and I recently discovered the Knock Your Sprouts Off Bread. It’s full of fiber and lots of other “good stuff,” so I figured it was worth trying. I really love it! I just toast it and then mash up an avocado to spread on top. Then I sprinkle a little bit of feta cheese and sliced grape tomatoes. It’s delicious, good for you and SO EASY! I can literally make it while my coffee brews and force myself to take a whole 5 minutes to enjoy.
  5. Fizzics Waytap– I know that I just shared this in my “Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide-Amazon Edition,” but it’s making this list, too! If you want to read all of the details you can head over to my last post, but this little gadget is actually the coolest! We use it a few times a week and it really helps to step up our beer enjoyment level. 

I feel like taking the time to acknowledge what makes us happy, ultimately helps us appreciate our lives. It’s the little things that build up and tend to make the biggest difference in our days. SOOOOO, I’d LOVE to hear what’s making you smile this week!! Please share in the comments!! <3

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Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Guide-Amazon Prime Edition

This post includes affiliate links, which just means that if you make a purchase through any of the links below, I will make a small commission through an affiliate program (without costing you any extra!) This is my way of supporting my family, while providing content for you. It doesn’t cost you anything, but I really appreciate your support!

If you’re anything like me (which I feel like you are), I’m a HUGE procrastinator. I work my best under pressure and that’s for EVERYTHING, including gift giving. If I wait until the last two weeks, before I’m supposed to give a gift, my mind typically gets the most creative and thoughtful.. Which basically just means that I panic and my brain thinks up the best ideas.

I decided to hold off on posting this until the last minute because I want my procrastinating friends to know, I GET YOU. Procrastinating is my life and we’re in this together!

I’m going to be honest, I waited until only a week before Father’s Day to get a gift for my husband and honestly, I have no shame because it was a pretty freaking good one!

I know that you guys are familiar with my love for wine but in the last year or two, Brandon and I have started experimenting with new beers and breweries. I can proudly say that I went from hating the taste of even the lightest of beer to loving some pretty bold IPA’s. 

The only problem with that is that we have a toddler and only have so much time to “go out” and “grab a beer.” Our local bars typically don’t carry IPA’s (which I now prefer) on draft. Draft beer always seems to enhance a beers flavors and I’ve really grown to enjoy it more than beer out of a can or a bottle (wowww. After not liking beer only a few years ago, I kind of sound like a beer snob). ANYWAY, sometimes it’s just a pain to drive almost an hour for a unique draft. SOOOOO,

When I came across the Fizzics Waytap, I was in awe. I knew right away that this type of gadget was something that Brandon would be obsessed with and my sneaky little self was pretty pumped that I would get to use it, too! 

You can order the Waytap through Amazon Prime, my life-saver. Ours was literally delivered yesterday (told you I waited until the last minute). I couldn’t wait until Father’s Day to give it to Brandon, so we opened it as soon as he got home. Oops! His first words upon unboxing were, “woah. That’s cool.” 

I agree. It’s pretty freaking cool.

The set up was super easy and the directions were a breeze to follow. It took less than 30 seconds to put it together (not even exaggerating). 

As soon as it was set up, we opened up a bottle of Perpetual from Troegg’s Brewery in Hershey, PA. This is one of my favorites! And if you’re ever in Hershey, this brewery is SO FUN.

ANYWAY. To use the Waytap, you just push a button to lift the system canister from the system’s base. You place a can or a bottle of beer into the system’s base and then lower the system’s canister so that the “draft tube” is inserted into the can or bottle. Once the canister is firmly secured on to the base, you’re ready to go! 

Make sure that you tilt your beer glass while pouring! It even tells you how to pour correctly in the directions. 

Brandon is currently standing beside me and his direct quotes are, “It tastes smoother. I feel like it really opens up the flavors.” “I’m good at this. You should let me write your blogs.” Feel free to laugh!

You’re now officially ready to enjoy your draft beer, right in the comfort of your own home! 

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

The Fizzics Waytap is battery operated, so it can be taken anywhere! Tailgating, cookout, picnic, WHEREVER. It’s so convenient and easy to take along! 

At under $100, the price point for the Fizzics Waytap makes it a perfect Father’s Day gift for the beer loving men in your life. And because it’s an Amazon Prime item, you’ll have it right in time for you man’s special day.. If you order tonight!! 

Already have a Father’s Day gift? Perfect! I’m proud of you!! The Waytap system is an amazing gift for any special occasion.. Birthdays, anniversaries, ANYTHING. It’s that perfect gift-giving price point. He’s going to love it!!  

Incase you don’t have a big beer drinker in your life, here are four other ideas that are all ready to be ordered straight off of Amazon Prime!

 

  1. Herschel Supply Men’s Roy Rfid Wallet
  2. Thermos Stainless Beverage Bottle
  3. LinkSoul Charcoal Trucker’s Golf Hat
  4. DotDash Kerfuffle Sunglasses

 

If you’re a last minute shopper like me, please comment below and let me know what you chose for the dads in your life! I’d love to add to my list of ideas!

 

Like always, thanks so much for reading! Please comment below with any questions!!

 

Happy Father’s Day!!

 

This post is in collaboration with Fizzics.com . I highly recommend their brand for not only the product itself, but also the extraordinary customer service team!

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Picking Flowers Over Fights – A Facebook Community For Women Supporting Women

HI. HEY. HELLOOOOO.

I’m officially back and I’ve missed you all! I have been in a major writing rut lately.. taking random breaks from social media, trying to find some sort of inspiration to get my creative thoughts flowing again.

I can be scrolling through Instagram one moment and feel super inspired, then the next minute I’m comparing myself to someone else in the most negative way. I feel like it’s so easy to fall into this comparison trap. Everyone does it.. And if you “don’t”, you’re incredibly strong and I NEED you to teach me your ways.

With all of the comparing and just general negativity via social media, I want to create a safe place. A few months ago, I created a Facebook group (Picking Flowers Over Fights) where women of any age/ religion/political view/walk of life could talk to each other, ask questions and just be supported. The group is specifically for women, simply because I want everyone to feel safe talking about anything and EVERYTHING. (Please don’t be offended, male population. This was the easiest way to run things smoothly.) The only rules in the group are that we have to respect and support one another and we don’t talk about politics/religion. (Again, please don’t be offended.)

Not everyone will have similar beliefs or views on every topic. THAT’S OKAY. Thank goodness for varying beliefs and views.. That’s what makes our world beautiful!! The point of the group is to show that we can still support, respect and love each other, DESPITE our differing opinions.

As of now, the group has been incredible. Every single one of these women have not only met, but majorly exceeded my expectations of what I hoped the group could evolve into.

This is why I’m finally sharing with my blog community… I’d like to personally invite all of you to join “Picking Flowers Over Fights”!

I have to sort through and approve every request, so PLEASE make sure that you answer the questions when you send your request to join! This shows me that you understand and will follow the rules. If you do not answer the questions, I can’t approve you. (This gives me the right to remove anyone from the group who is not following the rules (I haven’t had to do this yet <3 )). We’ve had personal conversations about self care, beauty, babies, children, diseases.. SO MANY meaningful things that are hard to open up about through your normal Facebook Feed. We’re here to build each other up!

If you’re already a part of Picking Flowers Over Fights, this is a huge THANK YOU. I seriously love how sweet you’ve all been to one another. Our group wouldn’t be what it is, without YOU.

To join, CLICK HERE.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!! <3

xo, Rachel Rowles

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Cyber Monday Roundup-2017

 

Happy Cyber Monday!!!

I planned on having a list of Black Friday deals for you, but after having an amazing (but crazy busy) Thanksgiving with our family, I ran out of time… Luckily, the list that I had put together for Black Friday is not only still on sale, but most items are now even MORE ON SALE for Cyber Monday!!

Make sure to check out the coupon codes at each store and stack as many savings as possible! If you haven’t signed up already, almost all of these sales are shoppable via Ebates.. So you’ll want to create an account!! If you click the link below, you can sign up and get $10 cashback on your first $25 purchase. Ebates also organizes all of each stores coupon codes for you, giving you the easiest access to great deals!!

www.ebates.com/r/RACHEL48728

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Holiday Gift Guide- Baby/Toddler Edition

With this being our daughter’s first Christmas, my husband and I decided that we wanted to start the tradition of having a “minimal Christmas.” We both love the idea of treating our children to gifts and going along with the Santa fun, but we decided that only giving four(ish) gifts would be best for our growing family. Last year, I saw a blog post from a family who had a very similar tradition and I thought this was the coolest idea! The family gifted their children based on, “something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read. Plus, whatever can fit in my stocking.” I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing all of Greysley’s first Christmas gifts, as well as some other ideas that I think are adorable and really make me wish that we hadn’t implemented the four gift rule! (Holding back from buying your baby everything that you think they’d love is the hardest thing, EVER.) Because babies change and develop so quickly, I didn’t want to base this guide off of a specific age/number. I chose to include ideas for both babies and toddlers, trying to find options that can grow with your child.

  1. Teamson Kids Rustic Woodland Play Kitchen– I can’t even take the cuteness of this kitchen!!! This is Greysley’s “want” gift this year and I think I’m more excited than she will be. I loved to pretend and play house whenever I was little and I’m really hoping that Greysley has that type of imagination, too. Teamson Kids has the most adorable play kitchens and they are great quality. I love that this Rustic Woodland Kitchen is basically a miniature of our cabinets. It matches our home perfectly (major mom win). When I ordered this set, it was a bit more than I was willing to spend. This kitchen, in this color, is a new release for Teamson Kids and I found it on Hayneedle for $200. I then, found a $20 off coupon through Retail Me Not, which brought me down to $180. Now, the price jumped up to $280. I’m not sure what that’s all about, but if I see that the price goes back down, I’ll keep you posted!! Because I’m a freak and wanted to make sure that we had all of our pieces, my husband and I put this together last night. It took us a couple of hours, but it looks amazing! If the price does drop on this again, I HIGHLY recommend! If you’re not a fan of this style and are looking for less expensive options, here are a few of Teamson Kid’s other versions that are also perfect Christmas gifts!! Urban Adventure Grey. Urban Adventure Teal. Sunday Brunch Play Kitchen.
  2. EZPZ mini mat– These mats were featured on the show “Shark Tank” and since then, have taken off in the baby industry! They’re seriously brilliant!! EZPZ is a silicone mat, that replaces tableware for your child. These mats are dishwasher safe and stick right to the table or high chair, helping to keep you from having a super messy situation at every meal. This is Greysley’s “need” gift and I can’t wait to start using it. We got Greysley the blush color, but I’m loving all of their other colors and sizes, too. The mini mat can be rolled up, packed in the diaper bag and taken along anywhere… perfect for restaurants!!
  3. Baby Chuck Taylors– This one was a bit of a combo gift and isn’t even technically meant for Greysley, but we’re calling it her “something to wear.” My husband always complains that I have matching outfits for myself and Grey, so he’s been begging for a pair of shoes to wear with her. I found out that Nike.com lets you personalize a ton of their shoes, including Converse! Sooooo, I designed and personalized matching Chuck’s for Brandon and Greysley!! They are the cutest little sneakers that I’ve ever seen and I can’t wait to see Grey matching her daddy. (I’ll share pictures of their actual personalized sneakers after Christmas. I don’t want Brandon to see them yet.)
  4. Personalized Book by I See Me Books– I’ve used I See Me Books for gifts in the past and they have never disappointed. For Christmas, I wanted to personalize a book for Greysley’s “something to read.” I found this book called, “My Very Own Name” that tells an entire story, spelling out your child’s name. The illustrations in this book are gorgeous and it’s the cutest little story!! *I also highly recommend their book, “If My Dog Could Talk.” We gave this as a gift to my dog-loving sister in law and made it all about her pet… Her reaction was priceless!
  5. Fisher-Price Classics Music Box Record Player– HOLY CUTE. I’m not letting myself buy this one, because we already have Grey’s four gifts.. but it is adorable!!! Fisher-Price came out with their Classics Collection and I love them all! They are remakes of some of their original toys, so they look vintage and cute. This record player is so fun!!
  6. Fisher-Price Classics See n’ Say Farmer Says– Another Classic, but it’s definitely a toy to grow with your child! There are other versions of this toy, but I’m loving the vintage look of this one. Perfect for teaching animals and their noises!
  7. Joovy Spoon Walker– I’ve talked about this product before, in my Neutral Baby Gear post, but we are still loving it and I think it would make a perfect “big” gift item for any baby! Greysley literally RUNS around our house in this walker. The tray is removeable and dishwasher safe, making it the perfect place to feed her snacks. The tray is also really big! I wasn’t sure how I felt about having such a big tray, until Grey started getting into everything. Now, this huge tray helps to limit her reach!!
  8. JellyCat Robyn Reindeer– I found this stuffed reindeer a few weeks ago and have been thinking about how cute it is ever since!! This would make the perfect gift alongside Jellycat’s reindeer book or any Christmas book.
  9. Old Navy Honeycomb Beanie– I scored this beanie on sale about a month ago and Greysley has been living in it!! I swear in the last two weeks, we’ve gotten at least 75 compliments on it. Every time that we go somewhere, she wears it and everyone is obsessed (me too). She keeps it on and it matches everything! Old Navy is always running some sort of sale, so make sure to use a coupon code!!
  10. Melissa and Doug Stainless Steel Pots and Pans– This is going to be a first birthday gift for Greysley, but I had to share! All of Melissa and Doug’s products are amazing quality, but these pots and pans are so fun for a learning baby. I’d rather not have Grey using my pots and pans to clang around, but these are perfect sized (and shiny!!).
  11. Babylit Books– I found these books on Amazon a few weeks ago and I am soooo in love!! I’m a huge reader and I’m a pretty big fan of (some of) the classics. These books are primers of classic literature pieces, made specifically for babies. If you already know the classic stories, you’ll think that these books are adorable! They typically only have a few words per page, but they’re focused on teaching colors/shapes/letters/animals, etc.

 

If you have any questions about any of these products, please ask in the comments!! Happy Holiday Shopping!

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Holiday Gift Guide- New Mom Edition

‘Tis the season to have no idea what to buy for anyone.

At least that’s how it is in our household. I love, love, love the holidays.. But they can also be so stressful! I get actual anxiety trying to make sure that I choose gifts that I know everyone will enjoy. It’s always great to be thoughtful, but I feel like sometimes I probably put too much thought into gifts.. And then I stress myself out even more. That’s why I’ve decided to round up gift guides for all of you and the people in your lives. Hopefully by sharing some fun ideas, I can help to ease the pressure of choosing that “perfect” gift or maybe, I can just help get you in the holiday spirit!

I’ll be sharing various themed guides throughout the next few weeks, but we’re going to start off with a “New Mom Edition.”

This guide is truly special to me because I was blessed with so much love and support through my pregnancy and postpartum months. I LOVE the thought of other new mommys experiencing the same pampering and comfort. Most of these items I have either used or still use and highly recommend.

  1. Miss Fong Diaper Bag– You can look back at my previous posts about how much I adore this bag, so I won’t make you read another rant about how perfect it is… BUT I do think that this is the number one gift that a new mom would love to receive. It’s stylish, easy to clean and because it’s a backpack, super functional! Winner, winner.
  2. Candles– I’m a sucker for a good candle and I love the thought of being home with my baby in a cozy, fresh-smelling house. I swear by my diffuser throughout the night, but during the day the smell of a burning candle just gives me all of those happy feelings. I prefer lavender scent, because it’s relaxing and soothing.
  3. Gift Cards for Takeout– Balancing being a new mom with the responsibilities of a normal life can become overwhelming very quickly. We were blessed with a great church, friends and family who provided meals for us right after our daughter was born. This meant the world to me because it meant that I had one less thing to worry about. Finding a local restaurant, that delivers, is a really easy way to help a mom out. Just give a gift card and you’ve saved her from hours of stress.
  4. A Cozy Robe– I ordered a robe from Pink Blush with intentions of wearing it in the hospital, during delivery. I ended up completely forgetting about wearing my robe and just hung out in my gorgeous hospital gown (gag). BUT when I got home from the hospital, my robe became my go-to piece of clothing. I wore this robe constantly because it was comfortable and the easiest thing to wear for nursing. Even now that I’m no longer nursing, this is my most comfortable robe and I wear it almost every morning.
  5. Cozy pajamas– Adding to the coziness.. if you really want to make the new mom in your life happy, give her a pair of soft jammies. I’m loving this season’s velvet trend and when we’re talking velvet and lounge-wear, I am ALL ABOUT IT.
  6. Norwex Body Cloths– The dirty secret (please laugh at me) of new mom life is, showers rarely happen. When they do happen, it’s the best thing in the world. BUT those moments of heaven are definitely rare. I started using Norwex Body Cloths during my pregnancy because I became terrified of chemicals (I’ll do a whole post on that someday). These are microfiber cloths that contain “Baclock” technology, which is antibacterial and used to kill odor/bacteria, sans the harsh chemicals. They come in packs of three, which I separate for body and face. These things take your makeup off better than makeup remover and make your body feel so soft and clean. They make showers and personal cleanliness way less time consuming. This is like the gift that keeps on giving.
  7. A Quick and Easy Face Mask– My favorite way to pamper myself at home, is by putting on a good face mask and taking 15 minutes to just breathe and chill. I’ve found these two masks to be my favorites and I swear that they are both miracle workers. This Amazonian Clay Mask is super fun. It works in conjunction with Apple Cider vinegar to deep clean your pores. You combine equal parts mask and vinegar and apply it to your face. Once it sets for 15ish minutes (tingling your face), you rinse it off. DONE. My face feels so smooth and looks extremely glowy after this one. My other favorite is this Deep Sea Mud Mask. I have a major problem with big pores and black heads. This mask makes my pores look smaller and helps draw out all of the disgustingness. Either of these options are super simple and quick for that busy-new mom life.
  8. Corkcicle Travel Mug– I’ve been a huge Corkcicle fan for a while now, but I’ve been a huge coffee fan FOREVER. I’m not sure what I would’ve done in my early motherhood life, without a good coffee thermos. Pouring coffee into your typical coffee cup, taking a sip (or not even getting a chance), baby cries, feed baby, change baby, go back to coffee (it’s cold), reheat coffee… On repeat, all day. If you have a good coffee thermos, it keeps your coffee hot all day. No reheating. Plus, Corkcicle products look nice and make amazing gifts!
  9. Babywise– This is a mom’s best friend, in book form. I swear this book changed our lives. It’s basically an amazing guide on how to implement a routine in your baby’s life. Everything in the book guides you to getting your child to sleep well and it truly works. I’m not going to spill all of the details, but this is a must-have for new parents!
  10. Photo Album and Gift Certificate to Local Photographer– I love taking pictures. I love having pictures taken. I love looking at other peoples’ pictures. I love pictures. AND I love the thought of giving a new mom a gift certificate to capture memories of her family. I took a lot of pictures when Greysley was first born, but some of my favorites were taken by a local photographer that we adore. For any local readers, she’s linked right here. (highly recommend) Having professional pictures of your new family makes any parent happy and proud.
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Why Microblading is my New BFF and Should Be Yours, Too.

 

Microblading, oh Microblading… Where do I even begin when trying to explain this magical procedure?!

Recently, microblading has become a game changer in the beauty world and after doing months of research, I’ve got all of the details and I’m sharing my own microblading experience.

“So like, what’s microblading?” I’ve been sharing my before/after pictures and my phone has been blowing up with questions. As popular as this procedure has become, it’s still new enough that not everyone has heard of it and that’s why, I’m here to share all of the juicy details.

Despite the popular misconception, microblading is not simply “tattooing” your eyebrows. You may be imagining those sharpie-looking, inked up brows, but these are natural looking works of art.. right in the middle of your face. REAL LIFE WORKS OF ART, guys. This completely natural look is created by a special blade that allows the artist to draw on individual strokes, creating the look of actual eyebrow hair. Microblading is considered “permanent makeup,” however, it should really be called “semi-permanent.”

After your first microblading appointment, your eyebrows may subtly fade throughout the first month. This is all part of the healing process. Everyone’s skin is different and depending on age/skin type/oiliness/dryness the ink may absorb better or fade faster for each person. This is why a four week follow up appointment is necessary. Most microblading technicians include this follow up appointment in their price, but just be sure to ask whenever booking your original appointment. The follow up is to touch up any spots that may have faded or peeled during the first month of healing. After the follow up appointment, your new and beautiful brows should last for up to 18 months. Again, this will all depend on how your skin reacts to and absorbs the ink. They may fade a bit faster or last months longer.

“So what should I expect when I go to my first appointment?” Here is where I get to gush about how freaking amazing my brow lady is. Just be prepared, I’m not even slightly exaggerating.. She just impressed me SO MUCH. Before booking an appointment, I did a ton of reading and spent crazy amounts of time stalking before and after pictures. I wanted to find someone who created natural looking brows, had great reviews and was clean. No, not just clean.. I wanted to make sure the person drawing on my face was STERILE. (I’ll get into that later) I finally found the Picasso of eyebrows. Meet Camille, of Forever Lovely By Camille.

Camille has been in the permanent makeup business for years and she’s legit. And whenever I say she’s legit, I mean that she legitimately has taken all of the proper, educational steps to become a permanent makeup artist. In my state, Pennsylvania, tattoos and permanent makeup are not regulated. This basically means that anyone can pick up a tattoo gun or a microblade and call themselves a “professional.” This can all be fine and great, after years of practice, but it can also be dangerous and extremely unsanitary.

In 2013, Camille was trained by world renown artist and educator, Rose Marie Beauchman at the Beau Institute for Permanent and Corrective Cosmetics, in New Jersey. When Camille explained to me that anyone could just decide to be a permanent makeup artist, my mind when straight to all of the sketchy “$100” permanent eyeliner deals that you see online and I was terrified. These people could just pick up a tattoo gun, call themselves a professional and then permanently mess up your eyes/face. NO THANK YOU.

That’s why, in this field, it’s soooooo important to do your research. As Camille and I talked about how scary this is, she also explained the importance of being insured. She stated, “I would recommend that if someone is looking for an (permanent makeup) artist, they find someone with training from a reputable source. The artist should be up to date on their blood borne pathogen certification and you need to make sure that they are insured. Finding someone who is insured is huge because the insurance company asks a ton of questions, making sure that the artist knows what they’re doing. The insurance company needs to know where you get all of your tools and inks and also how these items are sanitized, etc. Basically, if they have any doubts that you’re not doing things safely and properly, they won’t insure you.” Camille is insured and she purchases high quality tools/inks, from well-known sanitary facilities.

Now, let’s get back to the process! I walked in, greeted by Camille’s smiling face, and we got straight to work. Camille made sure that I didn’t have any allergies and then she applied numbing cream to my eyebrows. She then gave me all of the forms that I needed to fill out. Basically, these forms made sure that I wouldn’t have a negative reaction to the ink and helped her to understand my health history, making sure that I was a safe candidate for permanent makeup. This is also where I filled out the insurance form and then we both signed the form, to be sent to the insurance company. Camille was great about asking if I had any questions, all throughout the process. She made sure that I felt comfortable and knew what she was doing all of the time. I felt so at home!!

Microblading is typically a 2-3 hour job. If a microblading artist tells you that you’ll be in and out in an hour (in your first appointment), you probably don’t want to let that person touch your face. The process of shaping your brows takes about half of the time because it’s so tedious and precise. Camille was amazing at perfecting my brow shape and making sure that we were both truly happy with how they looked, all before she even broke out the microblade.

Camille based my “new” brows off of the shape of my natural brow, my face’s bone structure and the natural lines of my eyes and nose. Before doing anything permanent, she draws on your eyebrows to make sure that they look perfect. She turned my face into an actual map, making sure that everything would look natural. I think that this was my favorite part of the whole procedure.. It was so cool learning that everyone’s bone structure varies so greatly. I learned that my right eyebrow bone is higher than my left, which Camille was able to compensate for by filling one differently than the other. She was excellent at making sure that my brows looked like they were meant for MY FACE and weren’t just stenciled on there. I had gone in thinking, “I’m all about this big brow trend and I can’t wait to leave my appointment with big, full brows.” Camille made me think otherwise, THANK GOD. She explained that this whole big brow thing is just a trend and though microblading is considered “semi-permanent,” it stays on your face for a long time. Once you have those big brows, you’ll have them for a while.. Even when they’re not “in” anymore. What doesn’t go out of style? Natural beauty.. And yes, I still consider microbladed brows to be “natural beauty.” This is what makes microblading so amazing! It’s all about enhancing what you already have.

After Camille shaped and reshaped my brows until I was absolutely in love with the look, we talked about what color would look best on my face, based on skin-tone, natural brow color and my dyed-hair color. Because I had no idea what the best option was, Camille actually combined two colors to create a customized shade that she thought would look best. (true artist) Next, we were able to start the actual procedure. MICROBLADING TIME!!! I was super nervous for this part, because I had no idea if it would hurt or if I could even feel anything. She applied numbing cream multiple times throughout the process, so I never actually felt pain, but it definitely felt like a little pinch/tickle. Everyone does have a different pain tolerance level, though. *Fun fact- When she initially started the microblading, it made me sneeze like crazy! Every time that she started, I would feel a tickle in my nose and then sure enough, sneeze. I guess this actually happens pretty often, but I thought that it was hilarious!

Like I said previously, microblading is so natural looking because the “hairs” are individually placed. As Camille filled in my brows and continued her artistry, she added more numbing cream, as needed. After perfectly sculpting and drawing, she coated my brows with more ink, allowing it to sink in and evenly absorb. TAH-DAH! Finished. Gorgeous, right?

Totally kidding! After she allowed the ink to absorb for a bit, she cleaned up this craziness and was able to see if she missed any spots or if she needed to add anything else. She showed me my “finished” brows and I was instantly IN LOVE. My once, sparse, splotchy caterpillars had been transformed!! BUT Camille, being the brow genius that she is, wasn’t finished. Her perfectionism (loveeeee) helped her to notice spots that I couldn’t even pick out. She continued to “fix” things, until my brows were actual perfection. This level of pickiness is why you shouldn’t just go to anyone to do your permanent makeup. Camille wouldn’t have let me walk out of that office, had I not had the most perfect brows.

 

My finished product was/is more than I ever expected. I knew that my brows needed an upgrade and I truly despised having to fill them in every day. Microblading isn’t a cheap thing to have done and you know how thrifty I can be.. But after my experience, this is something that I will recommend over and over again! Before leaving the office, I kept gushing to Camille about how much I loved my brows and she goes, “just wait until you get out of the shower and look in the mirror, that’s when you’ll really love them.” No lie, when I got out of my first shower (post-gorgeous brows) I felt a whole new level of confidence. I was makeup-less and my face actually looked awake and refreshed. Normally, when I get out the shower and have no makeup on, I look like I’ve been sick for a week and just ran a 5k… And I know that I’m not the only one. I just can’t get over the difference having brows makes on my “natural” beauty. Not only does it cut down on my getting ready time, it also allows me to leave the house totally without makeup and I’ve never done that before.

I could go on and on about how much I’m loving these new brows, but I’ll just say this.. As not just a woman, but also a mom, I know how hard it is for us to treat ourselves. Hell, sometimes I have a hard time even making myself take time for a quiet shower. I may be a new mom and I may be judged for saying this, but it’s so true and so important.

If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t be our best selves. This means that we can’t give our all for our children, husbands, loved ones, etc. Taking care of ourselves, as women, is what gives us the confidence to do life. We are the best moms, when we take time for us.

Because Camille is also a young, amazing mama, she has been sweet enough to do a HUGE discount for my readers. If you book your appointment and mention that I sent you, you will receive 20% off of your microblading experience. This means that instead of charging her regular price of $375, Camille is only charging my readers $300!!!! With the holidays coming up, I know that this is the time that we have the biggest amount of mom-guilt when it comes to spending money on ourselves or even just taking time for ourselves…

And guess what, that’s why Camille was also sweet enough to offer this deal via gift certificate, just for Christmas!! Husbands are always clueless at gift giving (except mine, but he’s just the best). Tell your man that you have been working your cute little mom-butt off and you would love to be treated to not just new brows, but a new level of confidence. This deal will only last until the New Year!!

 

To book your appointment, please contact Camille at:

Facebook (phone number listed): https://www.facebook.com/foreverlovelyllc/

Instagram: @forever_lovely_by_camille

 

Thank you so much to Camille, of Forever Lovely By Camille, for working with me and being the sweetest!

 

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding my microblading experience!! I will have my follow up appointment in the next two weeks and I will continue to keep you posted!!

 

 

 

 

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How I Saved Hundreds on My Holiday Shopping (And Finished Before Halloween)

Imagine sitting on your sofa, in your sweats, sipping your coffee (or wine… I don’t judge) and knocking out all/most of your Christmas shopping. You don’t have to go out into the craziness or heck, even put on pants.. All while saving a ton of money, with every available coupon AND earning cashback on each of your purchases.

This is real; you read that right.

That’s exactly what I’m doing and is why, for the first time EVER, I’m (all but) finished Christmas shopping in October. I’m working on holiday gift guides that I’ll share in the next few weeks, but until then… Let’s talk about how I saved a ton of money and knocked out my gift shopping not only prior to Thanksgiving, but even before Halloween. I’m the queen of Christmas Eve shopping, so this is a huge deal in our house.

A couple years ago, I found this app called Shopular. It organized coupons for hundreds of stores, all in one place. I was able to set up my account and select all of the stores that I regularly shop at. Then, Shopular organized my personalized “feed” and filled it with all of the current ads and promotions from my selected stores. How cool, right? If I wanted to shop online, I would just pull up this app and it would show me all of the current promotions and coupons for that specific store. I could click the link and Shopular would send me directly to that store’s website, where I would be able to shop with my coupon! SCORE.

Fast forward to more exciting news. Shopular now works with Ebates! What does that mean?

WE SAVE MONEY AND EARN CASH BACK. No lie. Told ya this was huge.

Ebates works with A TON of stores, offering cash back on your online (and even some in store) purchases. Occasionally, they offer “double cash back” on random stores, which scores you even more cash back! The huge thing about Shopular working in conjunction with Ebates is that you can shop through Shopular’s app, see all of the current flyers and sales, use any of the available coupons and earn whatever cash back percentage is currently available. That adds up so quickly!!!

I love using Shopular for purchases that I “need” to make. For example, Greysley is about to grow out of all of her pants. I just pulled up the Shopular app, clicked on Old Navy and saw that they are running a 30% off coupon. I just ordered her 6 pairs of pants, applied the 30% promo and only spent $42.70. Then, on top of that, I got 2% cash back (doesn’t seem like much right now, but this adds up quickly).

*BIG NEWS FOR YOU* On your first purchase, through Shopular/Ebates, you get $10 cash back on a $25 purchase! This, combined with your other savings, makes your first purchase a major steal!! Cash back is paid every 3 months, in what is called their “Big Fat Check.” If that doesn’t entice you, what will?

My last favorite way to earn cash back through Shopular is just by sharing your newest obsession with your friends!! Everyone loves a good deal, especially when it scores you $10 cash back, just for making that first $25 purchase. I promise that if you start making it a habit to pull up the Shopular app for your online purchases, your rebates are going to add up! Plus, this gives the easiest access to thousands of coupons!! Whether your shopping in store or browsing online, make sure to search for the most current flyers and coupons via Shopular. Use your coupons, earn your cashback and let’s make this holiday the thriftiest yet! <3

To sign up and get all prepped for the holidays.. Go ahead, put on your coziest sweats, pour that coffee (cough, cough, *wine*) and sign up through my personalized link!

 Rachel Rowles for Shopular

Happy Savings!!!

 

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