Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stinky and Sweet

Yep, a random mid-week post just sharing some things from all over.


A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to test out a new chemical free air freshener product, and now it's gone viral on Kickstarter.  Buddha Fresh is a natural alternative to chemical air fresheners, it eliminates odors and is non-toxic, biogradable, and lasts for two years.   I generally use either all natural cleaners (vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils) or eco-friendly brands like Honest Company and Method, so I jumped on this opportunity to test drive this air freshener.  I love that it's safe around children and pets, especially considering the majority of our smells around here are coming from them!  So far it's done a great job keeping the smell of stinky shoes and dog food out of our mudroom, and I've even starting using it in our powder room.

I'm so honored I got a chance at testing out this product before it hits the market, and now that they reached their crowd funding goal (in mere days!), it will be going to market soon.  If you like to get in on the bamboo charcoal goods, check out the Kickstarter page for an opportunity to receive different products based on your contribution, starting as low as $9 bucks.


Moving on to the sweet,  I can't remember who's instagram I saw these posted on about a week ago or so, but I saw them on my weekly Wegman's run and seriously, they taste like cotton candy.  Of course, after my 5th one or so they start to just taste like grapes, but so crazy those first few definitely have that sweet sugary taste!



Last, a few recent reads to share...


>  Out of left field, I'm embarrassingly kind of into this makeover. (source)

>  How to curb those meltdown avoiding impulse buys. (source)

> Karate Kid, the tiniest bully around.  (source)




Monday, August 24, 2015

Home Sweet Home


I think this year's trip to Ocean City, NJ (my hometown) officially sealed it as my favorite week of the year.  Give me sand, sun, and salt air and I'm a happy girl.  When I headed off to college, my mom , empty nested, sold my childhood home.  My dad left the island a few years later, and since graduating college, my visits home have been far and few between.  I am so thankful that my inlaws have decided to rent during August these past two years (and planning to in the future) and that we've been invited to stay a week.  There is nothing like being in my element, sharing it with my family, seeing the joy in my children's eyes, and having a few extra hands of built in babysitters with Nan and Pop around.  We hope to spend a bit more time down there next year and if anyone has an extra half mil laying around to lend me, I'd be happy to let them spend the night at our shore house.





Aside from our daily 5am wake up call from the kids, there wasn't really any drawbacks to the trip.  We had perfect weather, even if a bit humid.  Ate all the must-haves, hit the beach, the rides, the playgrounds, and even the zoo.  Since we had the grandparent's around, we were able to sneak out for a date night (early anniversary dinner) and later in the week met up with a couple of my childhood friends for dinner and drinks.





There is something so strange that I can't really put into words, about being able to share a place that means so much to me and holds my childhood memories with my children.  I can't help but wonder how many times I've ran the same path of boardwalk (thanks track practice) or rode the same rides I buckled my kids into tightly.  While so much as changed in the town, my memories all remain intact, and I cannot wait to make more in the future.



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Back to School Books

Brand new teachers, brand new BOOKS!

With the school year upon us, I know Ashlynn is experiencing a combination of excitement and anxiety.  I vividly remember the "night before 1st day of school" from my childhood.  Making outfits with all my back to school clothes, memorizing all students on my class list, imaging the bus ride and who I'd sit with at lunch.  Ashlynn is moving up to a new pre-school classroom, which means new teachers.  All the kids in her class who attended the school's summer camp have already transitioned over to the class and I know Ashlynn is nervous to have a new teacher and room.   She loves her teacher from last year and feels secure with her,  I hope by talking about school and her new room and teachers help ease some of her anxiety.  I also think reading books about school will get her excited to head back.  




I also wanted to share that Brightly, a site for book loving parents who are looking to raise lifelong readers, is running a campaign for Save the Children providing books for their literacy program.  All you need to do is "like" the picture below on their facebook page or instagram feed



I hope everyone who is sending their little ones off to school this week is holding it together and those who are checking off the last from their back to school lists enjoying their last moments of summer.  We are enjoying our last hurray at the beach, I'll be recapping all the fun next week, until then feel free to follow the overgramming on instagram.



Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Five

Five things and go!


Vacay

I can't wait to go back to the beach next week.  I love getting the chance to share my hometown with my family.  I also can't believe this was a whole year ago!








#targetdoesitagain

I've resolved to start wearing grown up jammies (pajamas? is that more grown up?) I usually throw on an old tee and some shorts and call it a day.  I occasionally, work out in the same clothes the next day, or hell, hang around the house all day in them before going back to bed.  I've been purging my dresser (thanks KonMari) and decided it'd be more adult of me and maybe I'd be more likely to have to change out of my pjs everyday.   Anyways, I strolled through Target's loungewear department and found this cute romper on the clearance rack for $11.



rodan + fields

A few weeks ago I shared on instagram that I was starting the Rodan + Fields Reverse regimen.  I'm going to do a full post on my experience after 8 weeks of use, but my (real life) friend, Dena, who I purchased them from wanted to know how I was liking them a few weeks in so I took comparison shots at two weeks and even though I didn't see a difference myself in the mirror.  I finally got around to making a side by side and the pictures clearly showed a smidge of improvement in the short period of time.  


Brace yourself.  A whole lot of face is coming....




It's currently been four weeks, so in another month I'm hoping another month there is visible changes. Dena let me know that she is currently offering a free facial to anyone who places an order by Thursday,  August 20th.  The facial includes a sugar and salt exfoliating scrub, a night serum, and a lip serum.   If you've been interested in these products, feel free to send Dena an email, dena.mcguigan@gmail.com with any of your questions!

(for a good time, call D!)




Memory

I recently attempted to teach Ashlynn how to play memory.  It was one of my favorite games as a kid (along with trouble and guess who?) and while the games say for 3+ years I know from experience, that three years old don't always have the attention span or self control to play an organized game.  When my niece was three I bought her disney princess matching game and it didn't go like I planned.  So I've pushed board games and the like from our radar, but recently thought Ashlynn might be ready.  She still sometimes tries to turn over an extra card during her turn if she doesn't find a match, but she loves the challenge of finding the right cards and working as a team.   Not sure how long this deal will last, but I picked up this Disney character version for less than $5!


And as usual, I can never think of a fifth, so I'll leave you with this.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Flash Sale Finds

I'm not really a big Zulily or "flash sale" shopper.  I find that once you add in shipping costs, the savings are generally moot or I can find it for the same price on Amazon and use my free prime shipping.


However, yesterday I grabbed two new leos for Ashlynn, because they can be insanely expensive, and saw a few deals that were definitely worth sharing.




The biggest items to note are the tegu blocks and magformers.  They apparently were the Christmas toys of 2014, as I had never heard of or seen them until reading all the holiday wishlists.  However, they are crazy expensive, I was able to score a set of magformers at Homegoods (keep your eyes peeled at yours!), but the deals on Zulily are comparable.  

We love our classic wooden blocks and this set for $15.99 can't be beat. And if you like wooden toys, there are bunch of wooden puzzles, like this colorful butterfly, great gift idea.

Balance bikes are another item that can be fairly pricy depending on the brand you buy, there are few colors of these B-Bikes are almost 50% off.  

With Halloween around the corner, the dress up shop is a great place to find a deal on what are normally overpriced pieces of polyester (truth).

Kids love pretending, building, and fixing.  I know my girls (and probably all boys) would love to pretend to build and fix a race car.  The toys tools are battery operated and you can even decorate the car with decals.

And finally, not really a toy, but I'm a sucker for striped jammies and if you don't want spend the Hanna Andersson prices (on sale!) there is a great collection available here for cheaper.



If you haven't already signed up for Zulily, you can here! (referral link)



Has anyone else started Christmas shopping??  Picked out Halloween costumes??  Still soaking up the last of the sunshine?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Women Crush Wednesday - Favorite Instagrammers

I don't usually participate in the Follow Friday posts on IG, but I do have a bunch of favorite instagrammers who I'd love to share. Generally, my favorite accounts are those who are my friends (real life and internet buds), but these other accounts offer lots of inspiration and eye candy.



Artists

I had a hard time narrowing it down to just four artists, but I love that these artists are all so different.  Blakely Little because her low country marshes remind me of the marsh back home.  Carolyn Joe because her techniques just blow my mind.  Seriously, check her feed and see the variety of styles she can master, I have a hard time picking a favorite.  Britt Bass just has such a fun style and the best color combinations, if art is supposed to invoke a feeling she's completely cornered "happy".  April Preston paints replicas of bride's bouquets, amongst other things, but I love the detail to the flowers, yet she makes it seem so simple and easy with light layered brushstrokes.



Interior Design

If I could live in a dream house, it'd be styled by these geniuses. 



Sweet Treats

Try not to drool.  Having to pick from Erin's feed wasn't fair.  Holly Fox makes the best royal icing sugar cookies.  Her colors are insane and designs always cute and modern.  I Am Baker is crack up and her photos are foodporn at their finest. And Hayley could send me any of her treats any time.  Just sayin'.


Deep Thoughts / Mama's With Words

These mama's.  Man, if you are having a bad day they are sure to provide some insightful thoughts on motherhood.  Their feeds are beautiful, but their words even more.  And if that doesn't work #odessagrooves is sure to change your day. 
(you're welcome)


Momtogs

Of course the @momtog account run by @drewbphoto should be involved, but these are some of my favorite fellow mommy photographers.  I love their photography styles, filters, lighting, the way they capture their (adorable) subjects, etc.  They make me want to take better photos.



Handmade Dolls

We have a bunny from bunniclub, but I love these other adorable handmade shops.  Vanessa Byrne's Ikla Shop is so on point.  The swans, flamingos, bunnies, and fawns.  All the feeds are beautifully styled, and the dolls look almost too pretty to play with.



Crafty Ladies

Once again, perfectly propped and styled shoots.  Generally, for "real life" pictures, I can get irratated of the perfectly styled shots, like a mug of coffee, vase of flowers and fresh mani.... but for shops or websites who's purpose is to inspire, sell goods, and share ideas... I eat it up. 



Please, tell me who are your favorite accounts?!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Kindle Fire Apps for Pre-Schoolers

Last year, I shared our favorite apps for toddlers and I figured now that Ashlynn is a pre-schooler and we've added a bunch more it was time for an update.  I have a hard time finding articles or reviews for Android Apps, so hopefully this is helpful for anyone else with a Kindle Fire or non- iPad tablet.



When we first got our Kindle Fire, Ashlynn was about Kenley's age now.  20 months old and not a lot of options that fell into an learning field that she could actually master.  We favored apps focusing on putting together puzzles or ones that involved recognizing colors, shapes, or counting.  A year and a half later, Ashlynn is rarely entertained with any of those.  She still enjoys the "play" apps like Strawberry Shortcake's Bake Shop, where she follows directions to create a cake and Puppy Palace where she gives the dogs baths, treats, and toys, but thankfully her favorites are actually learning apps.

One of my favorites from when Ashlynn turned two was Endless Alphabet.  It was a puzzle/matching game where she would match the letters to where they belonged in the word, but it also made the phonetic sound of each letter when she touched it.  After the word is completed the little monster characters act out the definition of the word.  It was one of the only apps we actually paid for, and it was worth every penny, she still plays it today.  Apple users can play this as well as Endless Numbers and Endless Reader.

One of the reasons I thought to do this post was that I was completely stunned when at a party on July 4th, Ashlynn spelled her friend's name without any hesitation.  He had a personalized name puzzle and she went up and pointed "B R O O K S".  Spelling her own name is no big deal, but usually whenever I ask her to identify a letter, she says "you tell me" before I encourage her to make a guess.  I had been so shocked because Ashlynn had been out of school since Memorial Day, and I hadn't really been doing the best job of playing teacher at home.  Whenever I would attempt to have Ashlynn write or trace letters, she would want to do something else.  I think she was afraid of messing up or not doing it right, so she wouldn't try at all. The day after, I realized she was able to spell his name so easily from all her alphabet and phonics apps. Now pointing out letters is like her favorite thing, in the car she'll point out letters on signs, letters in books, the mail, you name it.

At least, it makes me feel less mom guilt about screen time.



Hooked on Phonics - While we only have the free first unit, this is definitely my favorite.  Granted, the songs they sing are bit annoying and I find myself singing them at random times, I can tell educationally, she is really learning a lot about letters and sounds.  The repetition and memorable songs and games are definitely working their way into little sponge of a brain.


Other favorites include the following:




What are your current favorite apps?  




*this post contains affiliate links 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

As the world turns...

I can't believe we are almost a week into August.  We'll be on our beach vacation in a few weeks and then reality of back to school schedules and changing leaves will be upon us.  Kenley turned 20 months last week and while I should do a separate post, second child syndrome and a binge on Friday Night Lights have gotten in the way.

Biggest things to note are her language and "smarts".  She's able to identify basic colors and shapes.  She has counted to five, but generally just spouts off a random "two, three, two!" or "five, six, eight, nine!" while pointing at things.  She's been a good eater and a decent sleeper.  Every once in a while she'll wake up in the night and I'll just bring her to bed and she's fine until morning.  Most nights she sleeps from 7:30-8 to 5:30-6am and takes a two hour nap on average. Her favorite past time is art of any kind,  chalk, crayons, water colors.  And of course anything physical.  Dominates playgrounds, climbing up structures she probably shouldn't and using the big kid swings like a pro.  She jumps with two feet off the ground with ease and is almost able to do a forward roll without help, keeping up with the Ashie's.  She also peed on the potty.... twice.   I have the little potty out in the girl's bathroom since she likes to sit on it when Ashlynn uses the bathroom before baths.  She always sits on it after getting out of the bath and twice now she's peed.  I still don't think I'm going to even bother with training until she's two, but I guess we'll see how motivated she is by her sister. #herostatus




In other "things worth sharing" news....


This is an every girls knowledge must-know... you know, for emergency situations.

I came across this book in my suggested finds on Amazon the other day and added it to my wishlist to remember to pre-order.  Hello Ruby, is about a small girl with a huge imagination that teaches the concepts behind coding.  Seriously, does this not sound like the right book for all blogger mom's out there??

Last, a few fun reads.... generation catalano (that was a new one to me),  for the disney fanatics, and finally a "you don't say" ;)



Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Fivin'

High fives, friends... it's Friday!  Here's my five finds to share.




1 - Gap is currently (when are they not?) offering 40% off to card members (code 40NOW) and they have been rolling out new fall styles every time I browse back. Also, totally worth sharing, I shopped instore over the weekend and they were selling Kenley's basketweave jellies for 40% the sale price.  I grabbed another pink pair for $6.99 $4.20 in size 7 that just fits Ashlynn now, and hopefully will fit KK next year. The silver pair was even lower, $4.99 $2.99.  I don't like them as much as the pink, but I grabbed a pair for Ashlynn because $3 shoes that she can wear to school (closed toes), pool, beach, etc is a deal I just can't resist.  Check your stores for better deals!  #skipalatte


2 - I shared my favorite non-fiction finds yesterday, and some of the books I ordered arrived.  I'm still waiting on a few more that were just too good of deals to pass up, but I've already hidden them away.  I scored a handful toys on super clearance at Target a few weeks ago, So I think I'm just going to wrap them up now and hide them for Christmas so I'm not tempted to just hand them over.  I did take a look through Before After and it's amazing.  It has 176 pages and is just loaded with illustrations that perfectly explain so many things little ones often wonder about or find interesting.


3 - I've been working on organizing our mudroom (a slowwwww) process, but I've gotten our pegboard hung and things are coming along.  Using this "Summer Ready Mudroom" organization post for inspiration.


4 - Has anyone tried this egg-free single serve cookie dough recipe, yet?  I'm almost afraid to since I have a feeling I'll never stop.





5 - Last, we have an upcoming wedding in Boston at the end of August.  I'm planning on using Rent the Runway, since I've had great experiences in the past.  Trying to decide between these two dresses.  And just for frame of reference, I'm only 5'2" so these mini dresses will hit me in an age appropriate length.  


Let me know your thoughts! Hope everyone has a great weekend :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

[Bookworm] Not Your Average Non Fiction

Typically, when you think of books for the toddler and and preschooler crowd, non-fiction isn't the first to come to mind.  Fantasies of princesses, dragons, pirates, and boys who can fly.  Colorful worlds of inanimate objects like trucks, trees, and or crayons come to life.  But non-fiction gets a bad rap.

Recently I've been drawn to adding more books with "meat" to them to our collection.  Ashlynn is in such an inquisitive stage, asking about everything around her and trying to learn more about this vast world we live in.  Everything from what does each and every farm animal eat to stars, planets, and sun and back to why she can't hold the little birdies in her hand (as she chases any she sees).  Aside from our growing collection of story books, she loves her Look and Finds, but she's completely memorized every page - and they have become a huge bore for mom and dad.  The best part about all these non-fiction finds is while they were be great when she's learning to read and soaking up deeper information about the world around her, they currently offer gorgeous eye candy for her to take in and learn some basics through the story the pictures tell.



Some of these books are currently at their lowest prices ever, I marked them above with a asterisk.  I scooped up Creature Features, Over and Under the Snow, and Before After, plus a few other great deals from our wishlist.  I'm hoping to hang on to at least a few until the holidays and maybe bringing out one or two over the next few weeks as I always like to bring in something fresh. 

Do you have any favorite non-fiction books for kids that are more engaging than the Encycopedia Britannica? What is your child's favorite subject?




Side Note:  Currently there are a few great deals (over 40% off) on favorites Where the Wild Things Are, Stuck, Extra Yarn, The Adventures of Beekle, You Are (Not) Small, Gaston, and Ballpark.



*post contains affiliate links

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mommy's Day Out

This past weekend I finally got a nice little break away.  I had originally planned to take a 'girls weekend' and spend a night out (which would be my first aside from when giving birth), but the plans fell through and my Best and I decided just do brunch, go shopping, and a see movie.  I snuck out at 930 and didn't get home until the kids were in bed.  Usually when I get my "me time" it doesn't last longer than 2-3 hours at a time and it typically includes a trip to Wegmans for solo food shopping.

I headed out early to do some window shopping, I hit up homegoods, Anthro, and a local boutique. We had brunch outside at White Dog Cafe (a favorite), and then wandered around the mall for awhile looking for some dresses to wear to upcoming weddings.



After being turned down by the husband for buying this $500 dress ;)  my friend scored a great gown for a steal.   We wandered around before heading to the theater to see Trainwreck.  I rarely ever go to the movies.  Actually, the only movies I've seen in the last eight years have been with Abby - Valentine's Day, Bride Wars, and both Sex in the City movies, clearly chick flicks.  The movie was hysterical and I would gladly go see it again, maybe the husband and I can sneak out one night while on beach vaca to catch it. 

Sunday was just a standard lazy weekend day.  Playground in the morning, some cleaning and chores, hung a frame in A's reading nook, and then some more playground time before bed... and Rory and Lorelai.

bunny | frame (similar) | letter | bunny

I hope everyone had a great weekend! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Lately

A bit late for a weekend recap, so I'll just do a little life lately meets from the cutting room floor post.

July has flown by.  Ashlynn has had activities four mornings a week, and thankfully, they have kept us from the boredom induced crazies. On top of two different gymnastics classes, soccer, and swimming, the husband has been traveling for work being gone for a week here or there at a time.  Thankfully, we've had visits from Mimi and Bopo and playdates to keep us entertained.   I'm also pretty sure we all survived a case of Hand, Foot, and Mouth.












Outside of my nightly Gilmore Girls binge, I've finally been back on the maker wagon crafting up things that have been on my to-do for ever.   Sidenote:  No joke, if you haven't realized by now, I've been watching way more television ever since getting rid of cable.  Probably my own fault for not taking advantage of our DVR or OnDemand, but I've already been through the first three seasons of Scandal, all seasons of OITNB, almost all of House of Cards, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schimdt, all of The Mindy Project, and I'm not even sure what else but clearly streaming is a big success around here.

Back to things that don't involve me sitting on my arse, I finally put together Ashlynn's canopy for her reading nook.


It was a super cheap DIY.  An extra large embroidery hoop with a 50% coupon from Joanns for $4.84, two packs of Ikea Lill Curtains for $3.99 each, and some mini purple pom trim that I hot glued on since the curtain panels have a rolled raw edge and sewing was going to be a disaster.  I might give the top a little flower crown, but we'll see if that happens.   Also need to finish hanging art up on the walls, hopefully another sooner than later project. 

We are also getting a pegboard put up in the mudroom for everyday house tools.  We used to keep screw drivers, nails, and the hammer in the junk drawer, but moved them when the girls started getting into the drawer.  We've been keeping them in a tool box in the mudroom, but it's constantly getting buried amongst other junk.  Hopefully having them organized, hung high for safety, and in sight will keep us from constantly misplacing them.  And hopefully it will keep the counters from getting as cluttered. 

I'm also giving their easel a bit of a makeover.  Kenley LOVES to color.  If she isn't doing something physical and active, she's most likely coloring.  


Over the weekend we hit up one of the local farmer's market and picked up some cappuccino peanut butter, it's amazing as it sounds.  And on Sunday we dropped the kids at Nanny and Pop Pops and went out to brunch to watch the British Open.  






Between the cocktails, eggs benedict, nutella stuffed french toast with peanut butter cream, AND worn out kids this is probably going to become a new monthly tradition. 


So that's what's been happening around here!  Happy Hump Day!