Category - Tips & Tricks

Tips for Keeping Your Kitchen Clean in Summer

“I’m sharing affresh® in my life as part of a sponsored series for Socialstars™ #affresh

 

Summertime means a lot of things in our home, it means the kids are home from school every day, it means hosting friends and family for celebrations and gatherings, and it means our kitchen is in FULL use. More kitchen use means more kitchen mess means more kitchen cleanup.

There are so many reasons to make sure you are keeping on top of kitchen cleaning other than to make it looks nice.

Here are a few reasons to keep a clean kitchen in the Summer:

  • Keep away ants and other bugs that LOVE dirty kitchens
  • Make it easier for entertaining {one less room to clean}
  • Not feel like you have chores hanging over you when fun activities pop up
  • Smelly kitchen can effect the way your entire house smells
  • Dishes are clean and easy to grab for a quick meal in between pool time
  • Enough counter space to pack a park lunch
  • Lessens the amount of germs for a healthier summer

 

Is the kitchen a hard place to keep clean?!? YES!! Especially when you aren’t the only one living in your home, but you can see it’s an important room to tidy up. Luckily there are some ways you can make cleaning the kitchen easier.

Enlist Help

With Miss A and Miss C tall enough to reach the counters and old enough to put things away on their own I can give them a good bit of kitchen cleaning chores. Even if you have a small child you can find these fun kitchen helper stools at almost any online retailer and they can easily help with wiping the counter or putting away unbreakable, non-sharp dishes.

 

Remember, help doesn’t just have to be your littles it can also be a spouse/significant other, or a friend {just be sure to return the favor}.

When you’re enlisting help be sure to make it fun, put on some music or make it a game to pass the time and encourage cheerful workers.

Keep it Simple

Use products that will clean without a lot of work. This is what I call “Return on Rub”. If you spend hours using a product that makes you scrub and sweat, and you’re not left with something sparkling clean, it’s so not worth it, am I right???

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Clean Smart. I clean smart using products I know that work, and products that are super easy to use.

Remember the smelly kitchen I mentioned above? One reason kitchens get so smelly is because the ever-so-helpful garbage disposal won’t clean itself. I know, maybe in the year 2030 that will be a thing, but in the meantime giving our garbage disposal a deep clean with minimal effort is humanly possible.

affresh® Disposal Cleaner is designed specifically to clean and remove odor causing residue using powerful foaming action.

 

Not only does it work, {trust me I tried it}, but it’s easy to use. Follow the instructions listed on the back of the box once a month or as needed.

 

 

 

1. Get ready for awesome affresh® cleaning to take place

2. Turn on hot water to a low flow

3. Place 1 fresh, citrus scented tablet in your disposal

4. Turn on the disposal for 15-30 seconds and watch the foaming action

After turning off your disposal and rinsing any foam residue, enjoy a fresh smelling disposal in practically less than a minute.

Wherever there is a specific cleaning job to do, you can count on affresh® cleaners to provide the right tool for the job. Purchase your affresh® cleaners HERE

 

Break it Up

When you’re thinking of steps you need to clean your kitchen think broad and make a list, when you break the work into chunks and spread it out it becomes easier to tackle. If you’re a visual person writing down your task might be a great help. We have a white board in our kitchen that has many uses including writing down and checking off chores.

Here is a list of some tasks that may be helpful to send you on your kitchen cleaning journey:

  • Counters
  • Appliances {you could even break these down more}
  • Sink & Disposal {see tip above}
  • Floors
  • Cabinets

Your tasks may vary depending on the size of your kitchen, your appliances and your personal preference, but hopefully this is a great start to a clean kitchen this Summer.

 

What tips do you have to keep your kitchen clean, and you’re not allowed to say, “don’t use it”, I’ve tried that but eating out every meal is too expensive. 

 

What’s In My Diaper Bag? – Diaper Bag Essentials

This is a sponsored post with Beech-Nut brand, however all opinions are my own, honest thoughts.

 

Let’s face it moms are always on-the-go, whether it’s doctor’s appointments, playdates, or running errands. It’s so hard to try to remember the list of things to bring with you as you scramble to make it out the door. Organization and pre-planning go a long way in the mommy world, and while it’s not possible to plan everything {ie, diaper blowouts, or traffic jams; both equally horrible}, there are some things that you can plan that are easy and will simplify your life.

Today’s What’s in My Diaper Bag? – Diaper Bag Essentials post isn’t an absolute list, it’s a list to get you started in the right direction and allows you to make changes that will fit your family and personal on-the-go needs.

Playtime

The type of toy will vary depending on your child’s age, but generally speaking choose toys that are easily washable. You already know those toys are going straight to the ground. Sophie la Girafe Teether** {pictured above} is a must-have diaper bag toy. She’s easy to find in stores and can be wiped down quickly {don’t use her as a bath toy}.

Some fabric toys that wrap around the carseat or shopping cart are great too. {Always look for machine-washable to save yourself some time and stress.}

Mealtime

Easy travel dining ware, like pop-up bowls and disposable flatware are great for meals on the go.

I also highly recommend easy snacks. We’re pretty mindful of what our kids are eating and compare brands to see which are the healthiest and Beech-Nut** really stands out. Not only are their baby and toddler snacks and cereals real ingredients, but they are super portable and a great addition to your diaper bag essentials.

 

Check out their Naturals™ and Organics™ lines:

 

Don’t forget the two-in-one highchair/shopping cart cover like this multi-colored Eddie Bauer Reversible Cart & High Chair Cover**. We loved ours and highly recommend keeping one in your diaper bag. {Opt for darker colors to hide stains.}

While we are at it, I love these Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Milk Feeding Bib the unique dribble catcher absorbs moisture and is ideal for drips or teething and they’re reversible as well.

Changing time

Of course diapers and wipes are important, we heart Pampers brand. Be sure to put a few diapers in your bag, get a travel wipes case, and remember to check every so often to refill.

Changing Pads often come with diaper bags but personally I’ve always been hesitant to use them because I feel like they may not be super clean, I typically go with disposable options and you can find earth-friendly versions as well.

Don’t feel like carrying a dirty diaper around in your diaper bag? Yuck! I highly recommend having the handy Munchkin Arm & Hammer Diaper Bag Dispenser & Bags** attached to your diaper bag at all times. It clips on to the strap AND smells great.

 

 

Remember the extra change of clothes for when messes occur, trust me you’ll thank me later.

Mommy time

It’s always nice to have a few things for mom stashed away in your diaper bag. Remember some bottled water, a quick snack, extra clothes, and maybe even some shower wipes to freshen up a bit. If you can sneak a good book or magazine in, GO YOU!!

Healthy time

Disinfect the world. Okay I know some germs are good, but for public places and unexpected stops I love a good disinfecting wipe. Yep, I’m that mom.

You can buy a set of nail clippers, a thermometer, all your baby’s health needs separately, but why when you can get everything in a complete set that comes with a great little bag to keep everything in one place in your diaper bag. Love this set by Safety 1st. Check out their Deluxe Healthcare & Grooming Kit**.

Okay on this last one, I have not personally tried this but feel like I have seen parents in a standing ovation over this health product. Ladies, and gents, I give you the Fridababy NoseFrida® Nasal Aspirator**. Again, people swear by it and reviews on shopping sites are pretty impressive.

 

And don’t forget the cute Oh Joy!® Backpack Diaper Bag** that’s super stylish and just the right size to hold all your essentials and not be overwhelmingly large.

 

So tell me, What’s In Your Diaper Bag? No, seriously, I really want to know! Leave a comment below, can’t wait to see what your must-haves are.

Exploring Love Languages – Gifts

Welcome to the Exploring Love Languages series on MommyB Knows Best! If you didn’t get a chance to read the first post or take your 5 Love Languages test (or test your family/friends) head back to the Exploring Love Languages and How to Show Them post to do that now.

If you know your love language that’s great, that will tell you how you most like to be loved and probably be a good indicator of how you typically love others. While I think loving others is great no matter how you do it, you may find that sometimes when you show love it’s not received in a way you might think, of course this could be the product of many factors, but one thing I’ve found is that my way of loving others may not be their preferred way. While we don’t need to “change” everything we do for others isn’t it nice to meet them where they are, especially our family members/children?

I thought it would be great to explore some love languages and gain some insight so we can all love a little better. As my love languages don’t fit every love language, I’ll need your help, if you fit in the current category or know some great ways to show love in this category won’t you please leave a comment with some tips and ideas too? We’re all in this together.

 

Let’s get started with The 5 Love Languages – Receiving Gifts.

 

 

Occasionally I’ll hear that the receiving gifts love language is a greedy one, when in reality I think each love language is valid and important. I’ve been told by several “gifts” friends and family that it doesn’t matter the size or price point of the gift, rather that someone took the time to think of them enough to give a gift.

Here are some gift ideas from across the board, some are free and others are thoughtful and I would love to hear your ideas in the comment section below!!

 

Personalized gifts – Nothing says “this gift is specifically for you” like a personalized gift. Think about something that the recipient will love like a tote bag or a journal and get their name or initials on it. Every time they see or use that item they’ll think of you, it’s a win-win.

We bought this great Summer tote from Simply Personalized for Miss A, and she loves that it has her name written in one of her favorite colors. There are a lot of great websites that will personalize almost any kind of gift.

 

Handmade gifts – This is where you will definitely want to know your recipient, some LOVE receiving handmade gifts and feel they’re from the heart, others will be disappointed thinking you don’t really know them all that well. Hayley M. mentioned to make sure if it’s handmade it’s also something that person will use. This one can be tricky but hopefully the intentions aren’t lost in translation. PS if you don’t feel super handy you can also check out Etsy.com or local vendors for some pretty amazing handcrafted items. I treasure this necklace my sister got me in memory of our mom.

 

Meaningful gifts – When it’s clear you’ve taken the time to really think through gift giving this person’s “love tank” will be overflowing. One tip I’ve found is by peeking at Pinterest boards and other social media sites the gift getter is on to see what that person has been eying. In the past, I’ve also loved making gift giving a game, making a scavenger hunt or completing a puzzle to find the gift. Some people like Jennifer M. Don’t care what the gift is as long as it means something.

 

Themed gifts – Find a theme, whether it’s red for Valentine’s Day or smiley faces to brighten someone’s day, a theme can help you buy gifts when you’re not completely sure of what to get and be a fun gift to give.

 

Things to avoid:

  • giving gift cards unless you know the recipient REALLY wants gift cards
  • missing gift giving special event, especially birthdays and Christmas
  • generic gifts, Megan H says “like coffee mugs because I’ve been gifted so many”, also things like body wash sets, slippers, again unless you know that’s what they REALLY want
  • thinking they don’t like your gift when they receive lots, Hayley M says, “I often choose one gift (unintentionally) that is my favorite and over use it. I will make my way to the others at some point.

 

I’ll admit as an over thinker I often don’t even up giving gifts because I always second guess what I am getting. Will they like it? Is it what they want/need? Will they even care? I’ve come to the conclusion though that we can’t make everyone happy, however we can at least try and our intentions do matter. So please don’t second guess yourself when it comes to gift giving, the effort counts!

 

Is gifts one of your love languages or do you know someone who is? Leave us some tips in the comment area below!!

 

**I received product from Simply Personalized which I chose to write about, this is not a paid or sponsored post.

Exploring Love Languages and How to Show Them

I love exploring personalities and learning more about myself, my family, and friends and why we are the way we are. I feel like getting to know others is so valuable in understanding them, and so important for building relationships. One of my favorite tools is The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

This tool helps you figure out how you and others love to be loved. If you ask me that’s pretty valuable. If you think so too, {I hope if you don’t you’ll think about why it might be a good idea to “step into someone else’s shoes”}, then I encourage you to check out The 5 Love Languages, there is a great website, books, and online resources available.

If you’d like to take the online test, head to The 5 Love Languages Website click “Learn Your Love Language” then select “Myself” or “My child” depending on whose love language you are trying to figure out.

*Note that the site starts quizzes at ages 5, which is in my opinion an appropriate age to start figuring out your child’s love language, if you are trying before this age you may have some difficulty answering the questions, but it won’t hurt to try, just know as they get older you want to retest as some answers may be swayed by maturity and not having certain life experiences.

The five Love Languages, in no specific order are: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. It’s said to be true that more often than not we love others the way we like to be loved. So if you highly value physical touch for example then you are more likely to give others hugs and kisses when you want to show them love and similarly with other love languages.

 

 

On my blog I’ll be starting a series exploring ways you can show love to others using their love languages, because we know it’s easy to love the way we like to be shown love. Hopefully you’ll gain some insight into other love languages and have some easy ways to show love.

 

Fresh Market Charlotte Refresh

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Before last week I had never stepped foot inside The Fresh Market grocery store. With the amount of competition in the Charlotte area amongst the grocery stores it’s easy to choose a chain and stick with it, even if it means sacrificing some things. I know some families will give up quality produce for being able to have a one-stop shopping experience, and I know others who will go to several stores to save the most money. With The Fresh Market’s new features shoppers can enjoy having their most important grocery needs met.

The Fresh Market recently enhanced its shopping experience in several Charlotte area stores.  Along with introducing a new logo, they’ve also lowered prices, and they have also increased product offerings to better serve customers.

I was able to meet with one local manager, who told me about all the recent changes and what to expect from The Fresh Market with the addition of so many great products.

It’s clear that fresh fare remains top priority, {it is of course named after freshness}. The Fresh Market offer an impressive selection of produce, meat, seafood and products from local farmers, and also high-quality items simply sourced from the best providers across the globe. I found out that they wrap and butcher their own meats, and if you’re a chicken lover their $2.99/lb chicken thigh Tuesday is now available at that low price every-single-day.

Stores now provide a larger variety of local offerings throughout the store. As you browse the aisles these items are clearly labeled and easy to spot, great for quick shopping trips. Local produce from farmers across North Carolina {Scott Farm and Lively Orchards} are displayed prominently in the store as well.

In perhaps the most dramatic change, shoppers will now find 1,300 everyday grocery essentials including baby, pet and household cleaning products to supplement the premium, gourmet and specialty items customers have come to love. Expanded product offerings at stores and optimized grocery space accommodate an increased selection of grocery and household items. The Fresh Market has also lowered prices on hundreds of items across the store making shopping both more convenient and budget-friendly.

If you’re looking for a quick bite or heading out for your lunch break, you can now find a new variety of freshly prepared, salads, entrees and wraps.

Select stores feature a new, dedicated sampling stations to offer shoppers the chance to taste flavors from across the store, including the weekly dish from the signature Little Big Meal program.

I personally love the Little Big Meal program where shoppers can easily pick up that week’s featured ingredients conveniently located at the station and whip up a delicious meal at home. Here’s an example of their current offering during my visit:

In addition to all the other great changes, The Fresh Market now offers a more comprehensive destination for health and wellness products with its new Mind & Body department {at select stores}. These areas feature a selection of over 3,300 vitamins, minerals and supplements, as well as a specialist to answer customer questions and offer recommendations.

I personally was very thankful for the clear signage that is present to guide shoppers with dietary restrictions or food allergies. These items include 1,600 organic items, 850 certified gluten-free items and 1,900 certified non-GMO items. I was impressed by how many gluten-free items they offer including many that I had never seen before.

 

The specialty grocer will continue rolling out refreshed stores across the country so make sure you visit a nearby location and take advantage of the great changes!

“The refresh of our stores will place an emphasis on delicious fresh fare, convenience, and health and wellness options,” said Rick Anicetti, president and CEO of The Fresh Market. “The company is investing in what our customers love most about The Fresh Market, while adding new categories requested by our shoppers. We look forward to offering the Charlotte community those special products they always enjoy at The Fresh Market, while adding more options to ensure they can experience extraordinary eating experiences more often.”

Be sure to check out The Fresh Market website for updated deals, specials, recipes, cooking tips and more.

With the level of care that goes into customer satisfaction and the clear regard for their shoppers as seen by the changes to so many aspects of the store, The Fresh Market is definitely a grocery store that is now on my list and I hope that you will consider checking out a location near you, to see how they’ve changed, like me, you may be pretty impressed.

 

A Few Of Our Favorite Things Holiday Gift Guide

These are a few of our favorite things…

This Holiday Gift Guide edition features lots of our favorites and we know you will love them too!!

 

holiday-gift-guide

 

Favorite Kid Reads

Do you have a superhero lover in your family?? Downtown Bookworks has some pretty awesome book collections for your DC Comics loving kid! While Miss A is partial to Marvel, the new DC Superhero Girls series has definitely caught her eye. Here are some great DC books you’ll definitely want to pick up this holiday season.

mommyb-holiday-gift-guide-dc-superhero-books

 

Favorite Tech

The MEEM Memory Cable is GREAT for those who don’t always remember to back up their phone. It’s easy to use and backs up your phone every time you charge. The MEEM App gives full control; your personal data remains safe in your hands and inaccessible to anyone else.

meem-tech-gift

MEEM is available for Android (16gb / $49.99) and iPhone (32gb / $69.99) and on Amazon

Favorites for Her

I love a good picture of my family and can’t wait to get some pictures up on the walls of our new home. Diamonds in Ice features a great line of really unique glass photos at great prices. I especially love their coasters and ornaments great for gifts for mom or grandmom, pet lovers {or anyone really}.

diamonds-in-ice-picture

Anything from Kristin Schmucker, she has beautiful devotionals, awesome mugs, and even pretty jewelry all infused with inspiration for a grace-filled day. If you subscribe to her emails she has some pretty great deals too. Head over to:  thedailygraceco.com

Favorites for Him

If your guy is a fan of football, especially Texas football then Pigskin Rapture will be a great gift for him. Pigskin Rapture: Four Days in the Life of Texas Football by Mac Engel and Ron Jenkins is a first-ever, one-of-a-kind, 360 degree look at the athletic and cultural phenomenon that is Texas football, and launched the new Lone Star Books imprint this fall. This book is just under $13 right now on Amazon. Click the link above to purchase through my affiliate link.

 

pigskin-rapture

Favorite Stocking Stuffers

I love heading to Etsy for stocking stuffers. The creations that people come up with are a great addition to fillers. Depending on how big or small you go for stocking stuffers here are some great sites.

Vintage Stamp Jewels – pretty delicate pieces

One More Sunshine – adorable custom clothes pins

CurioPress – fun designs {love their stamped pencils}

BumbleFly N ButterBees – awesome handmade wooden toys

 

Favorite Charities

I love companies where you can purchase a gift and in turn you’re also giving to a charity. Giving Soaps is one of those small companies that is using their business to help others. They sell great, quality items that are organic and smell heavenly! Shipping is free and they always use recycled products to ship. This is a great gift option for someone who is very earth-focused.

giving-soaps-gift-basket

 

Sometimes giving to charity is a better gift than receiving a physical gift. Our family currently sponsors a little boy named Haftom in Africa and I’m so thankful that we have enough to help someone else in this world out. Whether you gift someone else the sponsorship or decided that your whole family will sponsor a child I personally recommend World Vision. {There are a lot of other amazing places to sponsor a child, I can only vouch for World Vision because we use their services.}

Thanks so much for checking out the holiday gift guide. Have a blessed holiday season and remember giving is where your heart is, not what gift you buy.

 

While this list could go on and on with loads more ideas we want to hear where your favorite places to shop and what your favorite items are this holiday season. Leave a comment, feel free to leave a link!!

 

I received samples of some of the above products, but was not paid for my opinion or inclusion on this list. The above companies and products are all things my family and I would recommend organically.

Health Tips for Families in the Fall

This is a sponsored post.

 

healthy-tips-for-families-in-the-fall

 

As a parent, it’s important to encourage healthy habits for the whole family. Many American children aren’t getting enough exercise or adequate nutrition, leading to serious health problems later in life. To instill a healthy lifestyle for your children, here are some great tips:

 

Get Moving

Due to an increasingly sedentary way of life, most Americans aren’t logging nearly enough hours of physical activity. Both children and parents usually sit at a desk for up to eight hours per day, so it’s extremely important to add in physical activity whenever possible. With the cooler weather that Fall brings it’s great to take a stroll around the neighborhood or explore a new wooded trail and watch the leaves change colors with the entire family. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, and when you’ve gained a bit of fitness, see if you can increase that goal to 45 minutes or an hour. To mix it up, try taking a few group classes like yoga or cycling.

 

Make Breakfast a Priority

Busy families often find it difficult to make breakfast in the morning. If you and your kids currently skip breakfast entirely or opt for something quick like sugary cereal, do your best to re-think your breakfast habits. A healthy breakfast doesn’t need to take a long time to prepare. In fact, you can prepare overnight oats the night before and have a delicious and portable breakfast ready to grab on the way out the door. Similarly, Greek yogurt topped with nuts, cinnamon and ground flax seed is a fantastic choice that takes under five minutes to prepare and hits the spot with Fall flavors. By feeding your children a nutritious breakfast, you’ll rev up their metabolism and keep them full and focused for a challenging day at school. Of course, breakfast is the most important meal of the day for everyone, not just kids. Set a good example and make sure to pack breakfast for yourself, as well.

 

Pack Your Lunch

School lunches are notoriously high calorie and unappetizing. Instead of spending money on lunches that your child most likely doesn’t enjoy, pack a lunch. This way, you’ll know exactly what went into the lunch, and you’ll rest assured that it’s fresh. Easy lunch ideas include lean meat sandwiches on whole grain bread with low calorie, low cholesterol hamptoncreek mayo, and apples are at their peak right now, so try adding few different types to your child’s lunch. For more meal ideas, visit Hampton Creek’s Facebook page or website.

 

Plan Meals Ahead of Time

Busy schedules demand foresight to avoid falling into the trap of eating out every night. When you’re tired from a day at the office and taking the kids to extracurricular activities, dinner is often the last thing you want to think about. While eating out is perfectly acceptable in moderation, you should aim to cook dinner at home most of the time, as restaurant meals are known for their huge portions and high calorie foods. The weekend is generally a good time to sit down with the family and decide on meals that you’d like for the week. Once you’ve mapped out dinners for a few nights, involve the whole family in meal prep. This will encourage kids to feel comfortable in the kitchen, setting them up for meal planning success in the future. Fall is also a great time to use your slow cooker, easy for little ones who are helping, and great for the busiest of days. Once you’ve made a few dishes, you’ll be able to freeze them for low-stress dinners for the upcoming week.

 

Make Mealtime Special

It’s often tempting to grab TV trays and head for the living room at dinnertime. However, eating in front of the television can quickly lead to overeating. Instead, make it a priority to sit down together as a family away from the distraction of technology. Family bonding time while eating a meal that you’ve prepared together is a great way to stay involved in your kids’ lives, as well as promote healthy eating and portion control.

 

Promote Responsibility With a Garden

Many of us aren’t aware of where our food comes from. If you’d like to save money as well as reduce your carbon footprint, start a garden in your own backyard. Start small, with just one or two crops. It takes time to hone your gardening skills, but once you get going and enjoy some success, you’ll be able to branch out and expand your garden. Gardening encourages more outdoor time for both kids and parents, and children will learn respect for the earth and cultivate a greater sense of responsibility. Caring for a garden is a lot of work, but the payoff is well worth it. Fall gardens can yield some of the tastiest and healthiest vegetables.

 

No matter what season these tips can be so valuable in helping your family create a healthier lifestyle. Consider changing your current habits to those above or adding in small changes that will benefit the whole family.

 

Leave a comment: Which of these tips will you work on? Do you have any fun fall health tips to add???

Out with the Old and In with the New

As an ambassador for Rayovac I have been compensated for this blog post. All thoughts and opinions on the products are my own.

The new year is upon us and it’s a well-known time of year for change. People make resolutions, what not to eat, what to do more of or less of, and also changes on how they are going to organize or manage their household.

Out with the Old and In with the New MommyB

Here are some resolutions to help you manage your household while making small changes that will improve the organization and tidiness of your home:

1. Replace your batteries in items like remote controls, smoke detectors, and nightlights to avoid last minute (especially night-time) battery changes. Also using batteries that last longer and cost less help to stretch out the need for battery changes, which is why we stick with Rayovac batteries.

Improving Home with Rayovac Batteries

2. Buy furniture that doubles as organizers. We have several pieces of furniture that act as organizers, our ottoman for example has a great storage area for games and blankets, which makes for easy cleanup when friends pop in. We love anything that has bins too.

3. Use ordinary items for organizing. I love using clear shoe organizers for all kinds of things like cleaning products, and craft supplies, but mostly we use ours for our pantry door to hold grab-n-go snacks or store treats (out of kiddos reach).

Pantry Organizer MommyB

4. Line your fridge. Do you love cleaning your refrigerator?? No, no one that I know does either. To set yourself up for easy, stressless cleaning, consider lining your refrigerator with contact paper, wax/parchment paper. Move your items, lift and dispose of the paper and then replace with a fresh piece and move your items back. You’ll be saving paper towels and electricity too.

Whether your New Year’s Resolutions are different or you don’t have any, these are still some great, easy, tips to get you going in the direction of a happier, tidier home.

What changes, if any are you making for 2015??

Happy New Year!!!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of my partnership with Rayovac. All opinions and thoughts expressed in this post are my own, yours may vary.

10 Things I Heart in Winter

I know it’s not “officially” Winter yet, however the things I love all have to do with Winter or the Winter season, so I’m posting my 10 Things I Heart in Winter.

10 Things I Heart Winter MommyB

Here we go!

1. Warm coffee, yummo!!! Here are my favorite varieties:

    • On-the-go –  Starbucks, (My favorite is Hazelnut Macchiato with soy milk)
    • At home – Real Cup Coffee, they have awesome coffees and teas that work great with my Keurig and both hubby and I love. I personally love flavored coffee (see above) and for the Winter season they have a great Winterfest flavor.

Real Coffee MommyB

    • For stocking stuffers – Craft Coffee’s Coffee DNA Project™, if you know a coffee lover this great coffee subscription features coffees you probably won’t find anywhere else in a great sampler size (not too small not too big). Answer some questions, customize or get their recommendations.

2. The Spirit of Giving.

I reviewed and posted about this awesome book last year – The Sparkle Box Book Review and we fell in love. Without giving any of the storyline away the book encourages families to do for others. It not only gives a great incentive to have a giving spirit, but it reminds us what Christmas is all about. I love seeing our sparkling box this time of year and love that my girls desire to fill it up with good deeds for others. Hope you check it out!

3. Smiling Faces, Fun Experiences, and Cute Pets.

Where do all those things appear?? Instagram. Yep, I heart Instagram. Probably my most loved version of social media. It’s less controversial than Facebook can be at times and rather than all the words on Twitter I can see fun, sweet, beautiful pictures that embody the lives of family, friends, and coworkers (aka other bloggers and pr companies).

Recently I received an opportunity to check out #Cube™. Basically it’s a large 8” square LCD touch screen display, that taps into Instagram. #Cube™ delivers real-time and instant continuous delivery of a stream of photos and video clips, has built-in Wi-Fi, free wireless software updates, and is rechargeable. You can put #Cube™ anywhere in your house and move it around easily because it’s wireless (and really cool too.)

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If you know someone who would love this as a gift, or want to buy it for yourself (that’s okay too), head to hashtagcube.com/#cube and for a $15#cube discount use coupon code: CUBE71 at checkout (affiliate link).

4. Christmas Cards

I love making our Christmas Cards each year, but even more so I love receiving them. We’re thankful for any cards we receive this time of year, but I’m especially partial to those with pictures of beautiful families, awesome couples, fun kids, awesome babies, and sweet pets. This month we’ve already received a bunch and I can’t wait to see new ones that come each day and hang them up.

5. Elderberry

Each time we get sick (which I feel like for a family of four isn’t too often, but often enough), I have a couple of dear friends who remind me the power of Elderberry. Well just last month I decided to get on the Elderberry train and I’m so glad I did! I didn’t realize all of the great benefits of Elderberry especially when you’re fighting an illness.

Norm’s Farms (locally in NC but ships worldwide), has an AMAZING selection of Elderberry products, that we used and loved (okay the girls didn’t like the taste but I thought it was similar to cranberry and loved it). My favorite product is their Elderberry Extract which is great for boosting your immune system, and has 2 times the amount of antioxidants than blueberries. They also have some great jellies and jams you’ll want to check out as well.

Norms Farms Elderberry MommyB

I also found some Elderberry products in health stores like lozenges that included zinc which I’ve heard is also another great, homeopathic way to treat a cough/cold. So don’t put it off like me, try Elderberry and then come back and thank me when you fall in love too!

6. Gettin’ Crafty.

Now that my girls are older, they want more hands-on activities and learning opportunities that a coloring book just won’t achieve. We often keep recycled materials in a bin in their “kids’ office” but we also buy science experiment kits, and craft sets.

We were able to try CreatorBox, a built-it-yourself subscription box that includes a new toy each month. The box comes complete with instructions and quality materials and feature some really cool things you wouldn’t normally think to create like a trebuchet/catapult, paper airplane launcher, and smart house.

For us, this was a great project for the girls to do with DaddyB because I often work on arts, crafts and projects with them, but due to DaddyB’s work schedule the quality time he does have is on the weekends. We saved our catapult for the girls to put together with him and they had a blast with it! I highly recommend this for great family bonding, and learning too!

7. Holiday Shopping

We don’t go big for Christmas presents but we do buy each of our girls 3 gifts (want, need, read) and this year we also bought most of our family 3 gifts as well (one thoughtful gift, one gift card, and one handmade gift). While at a recent BJ’s Holiday event, my assistant Lil’ C and I were introduced to quite a few great gift sets and learned a little more about BJ’s Wholesale as well.

Though we were members for several years, mostly buying diapers and paper products, I never realized how much larger BJ’s Wholesale is than their competitors, carrying more than double typically. They also have a great charitable foundation that gives back to the community and each store also participates in several outreach opportunities throughout the season including an angel tree. Did you know that???

Here are some of the great gifts for two-legged family and friends (and some four legged ones too):

BJs Holiday MommyB

 

8. Fun Movies

I love fun winter and Christmas movies, don’t you? The problem with fun movies though is that there are so many to choose from, so I’m gonna try to keep my list simple. Try is the operative word people. In no particular order:

  • Elf, for obvious reasons.
  • Iesodo’s new JOY themed video
  • The Grinch (good lessons in here)
  • Home Alone (and Home Alone 2 but if I have to pick, I’d go with the first one)
  • Any Veggie Tales Christmas, Merry Larry and the True Light of Christmas, Saint Nicholas is a great one to teach your kiddos about who St. Nicholas really was, and the Ultimate Christmas Collection has a bunch of great holiday DVDs in one great set.

9. Goodies

Yep, it’s the season of candy and sweets, cookie exchanges, and delicious stocking stuffers. One of my favorite places to pick up sweet treats for my family is CVS/pharmacy. They have the usual treats like candy canes, gold coins (which I always put in the girls’ stockings), and other great candy bars, nuts, and trail mixes to name a few, plus the sales and prices are….awesome.

CVS Gold Emblem Select MommyB

10. You! 

The biggest thing I love this Winter is you!! I always try to remind you, my readers, that I’m so thankful and blessed to have you stopping by my site, reading, and sharing my posts. I hope that you have a great winter, a Merry Christmas and of course an awesome New Year. Thank you for being so amazing for yet another year end. I heart you!!!

 

 

 

This is not a sponsored post, however I have worked with some of the above brands in various ways and received some product to showcase on my blog. Any and all opinions expressed in the above post are my own honest thoughts. Yours may vary. 

Advent Ideas for the Whole Family

I know Advent has already started! I can’t believe it’s December already, not only because it was 70+ degrees here in North Carolina, but also because I don’t feel like it’s time for the end of this year. {Tell me I’m not the only one in this boat.}

In lieu of Advent, one of the most awesomest times of year that we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus and show even more love and kindness to those around us, our family likes to honor advent and count down the days until Christmas with a paper chain filled with fun activities and thoughtful acts as well.

Advent Ideas for the Whole Family MommyB

 

Here is our list {in no specific order} of things on our Advent chain.

  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Decorate the house {inside/outside}
  • Donate Food to a local food bank/cause
  • Make homemade presents
  • Wrap presents {with Christmas music and snacks of course}
  • Christmas Craft
  • Invite someone to church
  • Watch Christmas Movie {movie marathon or movie night}
  • Have a holiday playdate
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus and sing Happy Birthday
  • Send Christmas Cards {kids help address, stuff, stamp}
  • Take gifts to civil servants, doctors, etc.
  • Head to our favorite botanical garden {we love Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens}
  • Visit a {live} nativity {we enjoyed Billy Graham Library’s festivities}
  • Read Christmas stories from the Bible and check out some great books our family likes to read.
  • Write a letter to Jesus {and leave it under your tree or read aloud and share as a family}
  • Go caroling with some friends in nearby neighborhoods or Senior Assisted living communities
  • Drive through your neighborhood or a neighborhood that’s known for it’s lights display
  • Make paper snowflakes and then display them
  • Help your child make or purchase gifts for their classmates {we made play dough one year}
  • Help your child make or purchase gifts for their teachers
  • Send a care package to missionaries, {we’re going to send ours to the Yon family}
  • Celebrate St. Nicholas Day, which just so happens to be my birthday. {Believe it or not the real St. Nicholas focused on giving more than receiving and so this day we plan on doing something kind for others}
  • Have a secret Santa with family or friends but instead of giving gifts write thoughtful notes or draw pictures.
  • Have a neighborhood night in {invite neighbors for yummy food and great fellowship}

Again, those are only a few ideas and the ones we’re using this year, it’s easy to find other ideas online as well.

 

I’d love to hear if you celebrate Advent and how you celebrate it. Also let me know if you decide to use any of these ideas too!!

Matthew 1:21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 

Happy December!