November 17, 2017

30 Gifts For Adults That Give Back

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

Like I did for my previous post "20 Gifts For Kids That Give Back," I have decided to do the same for adults! All of the stores in this list will donate a portion of their sales to various charities and organizations.
 
1) United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) - UNICEF has an online market full of various gifts from jewelry, musical instruments, to area rugs! 90% of their profit goes to helping children all over the world, providing everything from food to health care.
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2) Guylian Belgian Chocolate
 - A portion of all of Guylian's sales goes towards Project Seahorse, a small conservation group dedicated to helping seahorses. This is my favorite brand of chocolate, so I highly recommend it as a gift for any chocolate lover!

3) Munchkin's Project Orca - Munchkin recently launched an #OrcasLiveInOceans campaign, where 100% of proceeds from their #OcrasLiveInOceans clothing goes towards building a coastal ocean sanctuary in the U.S. for captive orcas. Tee shirts are $25 and sweatshirts are $48. I actually own both sweatshirts and they are super comfy!

4) Toms
 - Toms shoes have a one for one program, so everytime you buy a Toms product, you are helping a person in need, from providing them with a pair of shoes to a safe birth.

5) Roma - Roma has a program called "Give Poverty of the Boot." Basically, for every pair of boots sold, a brand new pair of boots is donated to a child in need. Also, 10% of all of Roma's sales go to the Roma Foundation, which provides aid and education to children in poverty. Now rain boots on their own might not be the best gift, but you could do something cute like stick a bouquet of flowers in them!

6) Better World Books - Every time you purchase a book from Better World Books, they will donate a book to someone in need. Great gift for a book-lover!

7) Best Friends - Products you purchase from the Best Friends store goes towards helping animals find safe and loving homes! They have various shirts and accessories that would make great presents for a pet loving friend!

8) Box Lunch - For every $10 you spend at BoxLunch stores or on their website, they will donate a meal to someone in need! Box Lunch has a lot of pop-culture items, including Disney, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Sanrio, etc, so a great place to shop for the geek or nerd in your life!

9) Love Your Melon - Love Your Melon is known for their hats as their original program was for every hat bought, they would donate a hat to a child with cancer. Love Your Melon's now instead donates 50% of their profit made from product sales to their non-profit partners. They have also added shirts and other accessories to their site as well, in addition to their hats.

10) Good Spread - Everytime you purchase Good Spread peanut butter, Good Spread provides a life-saving peanut butter medicine called Ready-To-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to a child in need through their partnership with MANA Nutrition. You can find Good Spread in select stores or order online. This is a great gift for any peanut butter lover!

11) Pura Vida Bracelets - Pura Vida Bracelets have a Charity collection, where they give back to a wide range of causes! Their bracelets are all handmade, so each one is unique, and they start at only $5!

My Pura Vida bracelet that shows support for Crohn's Disease.

12) Global Goods Partners - All items in the Global Goods Partners store were made by women artisans in over 20 countries! Every purchase you make goes towards supporting these women all over the world. They have everything from jewelry to home decor. 

13) WWF Gear by New Headings - New Headings donates 20% of all WWF Gear sales to the World Wildlife Fund. They have a lot of great outdoor gear and travel accessories.

14) The Nature Conservancy - Select donations to the item of your choice come with canteens or bags. Donations start at $25 and go up to $250. Gifts vary depending on the amount you choose to donate. This would be a great gift for a friend that loves hiking and exploring.

15) We Wood - WeWOOD's goal is to plant a tree for every watch they sell through their partners: Trees For The Future, Treedom, and American Forests,  Their eco-friendly, natural wooden watches are made from reclaimed and recycled wood and materials. A bit on the pricier side, but their watches are of great quality and are gorgeous!

16) Hand in Hand - Hand in Hand has a "Buy a bar, Give a bar" program where they will donate a bar of soap and a month of clean water to a child in need for every Hand in Hand product purchased. All their products are made in the USA, are vegan, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly. They have various bath products such as soap and sugar scrubs, and also fragrances. 

17) The Company Store - For every comforter purchased at The Company Store, a homeless child will receive a blanket through Family Promise and their affiliates. Their comforters range anywhere from $100 to $1,000 depending on style and size. This would be a great housewarming gift!

18) Ivory Ella - Ivory Ella donates 10% of their net profits to Save the Elephants, an organization that tracks, monitors and secures elephant populations. The majority of their products are Elephant themed, so great for an animal loving mom! They have lots of great clothing choices, jewelry, and accessories!

19) Sudara - Every purchase of Punjammies® and Sudara goods helps empower hundreds of women in India to live in freedom from exploitation. They have clothes for women of all sizes, ranging from XS Petite to XXL Tall.

20) Headbands of Hope - For every headband that is purchased from Headbands of Hope, they donate a headband to a child with cancer. Their hair accessories start range from $10 to $20.

21) DIFF Eyewear - DIFF Eyewear has a buy one give one program. Every time you buy a pair of shades, they donate a pair of reading glasses to someone in need.They also help provide eye exams, assistance, and treatment to those in need as well. Prices range from $60 to $85.

22) The Starfish Project - Every purchase you make goes towards helping exploited women and girls. They mostly sell jewelry, but there are some shirts available as well. (They do also offer some jewelry for kids!)

23) Charlie's Project - Charlie's Project donates 20% of their proceeds or a minimum of $2 per legging to select charities.They have tops, skirts, dresses, and leggings in all sorts of prints. They remind me of Lularoe, but for a better cause! (They also have some clothing for kids!)

24) Panda -Panda makes a donation to Gift of Vision, an organization that helps get glasses and eye exams to those in need, for every pair of sunglasses they sell. For every watch Panda sales, they donate to Pencils of Promise, which helps provide schools in areas of need.

25) SoapBox - For every bar of soap you buy at SoapBox, they donate a bar to someone in need! Their soap products start at the just under $5! Their products are also cruelty-free and vegan!

26) Conscious Step - For every pair of socks you buy, Conscious Step donates to one of their many causes, which you can find a full list on their site. They have socks for both men and women. These would make great stocking stuffers!

27) Greater Good - Greater Good has various shops that support different causes. I have personally purchased from The Animal Rescue Site, where a portion of their profit goes towards helping rescued animals. They also have shops that help end hunger, support veterans, promote literacy, protect the rainforest, and fund research for breast cancerAlzheimer'sautism, and diabetes. All shops have a variety of items, ranging from clothes to home decor! You are sure to find a great gift that supports one of these great causes!

My kitchen mats I purchased from The Animal Rescue Site! You can find them here.

28) Twice As Warm - Twice As Warm sells hats, gloves, and scarves. Their mission is for every item you buy, they donate one to someone in need. All products are made in the USA. These would make great gifts for the holiday season!

29) Feed - Every purchase you makes from Feed, donates school meals to children in need. The site is set up so that you can see just how many meals your purchase will provide. They are known for their bags, but also have accessories, even some baby clothes! There are also diaper bags, which would be a great baby shower gift.

30) FIGS - Have a friend who's a medical professional? Then this site is for you! Every pair of scrubs that are purchased from FIGS, donates a pair of scrubs to another medical professional in need. They have scrubs for both women and men.

BONUS
Amazon Smile - I included this as a bonus as this is basically just you shopping on Amazon, but when you go through the "Smile" link you can pick an organization you would like a portion of your purchase to be donated to!

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Canva.

November 13, 2017

L.O.L. Surprise! Pets, Lil Sisters & Charm Fizz Prize Pack Giveaway


Sponsored & Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

The winner will receive: 

An L.O.L. Surprise! Pets (Series 3), Lil Sisters (Series 2), & Charm Fizz (Series 2) Prize Pack!

Love, Mrs. Mommy is hosting and sponsoring this years hottest holiday toys as a giveaway! Included in this prize pack is the BRAND NEW (just released!), L.O.L. Surprise! Pets (Series 3)! WOW!  Everyone wants L.O.L. Surprise! goodies and stores can't keep them on the shelves (I know, as it took me forever to get some for my daughter!), so I decided to share the love! :) Good luck everyone!

Open to entrants from the Continental US and must be 18+ to enter.
Giveaway Dates ~ 11/13 9:00 AM EST through 12/4 11:59PM EST

Good luck everyone! 

Don't forget to subscribe to be the first to know about newest post or giveaway! You can also follow the blog using the social media icons located in the navigation bar!

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy will be mailing this prize pack to the winner. All other participating bloggers are not held responsible for prize fulfillment or shipment. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this, please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

November 3, 2017

There is No Mommy Instinct

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Shortly after having our daughter, I remember family and friends telling me that the doctor isn't always right when I mentioned we had breastfeeding issues, and to follow my "mommy instincts" as if they were trying to be helpful, but for someone who just became a mom, this only made me feel worse, like they are telling me that I am supposed to know what to do because it's just instinctual.

I am a first-time mom. I have no idea what I am doing. My husband has no idea what he is doing. We have never done this before. There is no instinct.

Telling a new parent to trust their "instincts" is like throwing them under the bus! You should be able to trust your doctor, pediatrician, lactation consultant, if not, get a new one.

I feel like when they people say this, what they are really saying is "Well I didn't do that, but I did this, and it worked." Well great that it worked for you, but that doesn't mean it's right for everyone. And honestly, I don't trust family and friends as much as I trust my doctor. After all, how could someone who was trained to care for babies know less than me, a new mom who has never cared for a baby?

I feel that some people think just because they became parents they know it all and do not need to listen to their doctors or pediatricians, and thus feel like they can tell others what to do. Just because your child survived bed sharing and blankets before age one (for example), does not mean I am willing to take the risk! I also feel this is how so many parents end up losing their kids because they get bad advice from family and friends or think it can never happen to them as they have this "instinct", and then when it does, it is world-shattering as Jordan DeRosier discovered when her son died from a blanket (source).

My mom had bumpers, blankets, stuffed toys, in my crib growing up and yes I survived, but after reading horror story after horror story and being told time and time again by our birth class instructor, doctors, midwives, etc about sleep safety, I was not willing to risk my child's life if there is no need to. Did my daughter really need to sleep in the same bed? Did she really need a blanket? No, these were not things I believed our daughter needed. Plus side of not sharing a bed, we never had to deal with transferring her to the crib, which co-sleeping parents tend to struggle with. (However, these may be things you decide to do and that is your decision, just know they do come with risks.)

Everyone likes to make doctors out to be the bad guy and sure they can be wrong at times, but so can you and anyone else. This mom truly believed her son was lying for years about not being able to see well until an eye doctor finally proved to her that her son, indeed, had poor eyesight (source).

A doctor is going to give you advice based on what they know from research and have experienced first hand. You have the option to follow or to not follow that advice. If you choose not to and things worked out, it is not instinct, your choice just worked. Your doctor's advice might have worked as well if you had given it a chance or it might not have. This is problem-solving and decision making, not instinct. You do not just know that your doctor is wrong, you are just stubborn or skeptical and want to try something else, which is totally your call!

For example, my doctor recommended coconut oil for my daughter's cradle cap, but I didn't have any on hand so I looked up alternatives and found baby oil would work too, which we had on hand. I used that instead and her cradle cap cleared up after two days. There was no "instinct" telling me not to trust my doctor. I just didn't want to make a trip to the store so I found an alternative solution. I got lucky that it worked, if it had not, then I would have tried coconut oil next.

I think people have a tendency to throw around the word instinct without understanding what it truly means, so here is the definition:

"To qualify as an instinct, the behavior should be automatic, irresistible, triggered by something in the environment, occur at some particular time during development, require no training, be unmodifiable and occur in all individuals of a species." (Source)

To me, this leaves only human emotions to being a true instinct as you can't suppress how you feel, so everyone has them, but science says otherwise:

"Many psychologists consider instinct and emotion similar in that both are automatic. For example, fear is both an emotion and an instinct. However, while instincts are immediate, irrational, and innate, emotions have the potential to be more rational and part of a complex feedback system linking biology, behavior, and cognition." (Source)

With that definition in mind, motherhood comes with no instincts. If being a mom was an instinct, then there wouldn't be abortions or abandoned babies, women wouldn't suffer from postpartum depression, all women would have children and would continue to reproduce, which just is not the case.

Another phrase that is often used is "gut feeling,"  which I think is more appropriate, but I don't think this is a special mom ability. I see this as problem-solving, which anyone can do.

For example, my husband and I both had a feeling breastfeeding wasn't working as our baby was fussy and not dirtying as many diapers as she should have, so we saw the pediatrician and lactation consultant. We were both right as she had lost too much weight. It wasn't just me that had a bad feeling, but my husband as well. This was not a "mom superpower." (By the way, breastfeeding is not an instinct and it does not come naturally. If it did, more women would do it and there wouldn't be a need for lactation consultants. Anyone who says it just came naturally, got lucky.)

Another example is just last week when my daughter had a pretty bad diaper rash. The skin had broken and at the same time, she had a tiny amount of blood in her poop, which only showed up a couple of times. My husband and I began to have concerns that it was more than just diaper rash. I paid $20 to be told to alternate between Neosporin and Desitin and to change her diaper often, and the kicker, the blood was most likely coming from the open wound! BUT it was worth the trip to the doctor's office because I did not know that I needed to or that I could use Neosporin on her sore. After a few days, it cleared up, and we now know what to do next time so there would be no need for a rush to the doctor's office.

We also had a scare back when our baby was only maybe three months. She was super fussy, just out of a blue, so we called the nurse helpline. The nurse told us to give her some Tylenol, which helped and she went to sleep, and then to go to urgent care in the morning. Turns out she was totally fine, nothing wrong, just a really bad night and the doctors working at the time were so sweet. They told us we were doing everything right and that we were great parents. Maybe we just need new family and friends, because the doctors so far have been the nicest and most understanding when it came to parenting. Even our lactation consultant was super supportive when we decided to switch over to formula!

Anyone can have gut feelings or reactions, but how we act on them comes from experience. First-time parents do not have experience raising babies because they have never had one so they will rely on their doctors, books, family, and friends for help. Instead of telling them to "trust their gut," direct them to someone who can give them the advice or help they need, preferably someone trained in whatever it may be. If they have already received advice, don't belittle their choice to follow that advice. Remember, what worked for you may not work for them or you may have taken risks that they are not willing to take.

First-time parents, do not be afraid to ask for help. There is no parenting instinct and it does not come naturally. It is okay to feel as if you have no idea what you are doing. Anyone who claims they know it all is probably lying. Parenthood is a long journey, you learn as you go!

October 27, 2017

Writing a Will: What You Need To Know

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Being young parents, this may seem like a "morbid" thing to do or some may think it's bad luck to write one as if you are dooming yourself to die young, but having a Will is extremely important for your children in case something terrible does happen. We definitely don't have any intentions of dying anytime soon.

A Will is an ever-changing document, which you are supposed to visit time and time again to make updates as you age. People's addresses change, relationships change, assets change, and the number of children you have may or may not change. We are fortunate enough to find an attorney who will do free updates as time goes on.

However, getting a Will written turned out to be a more difficult process than I had expected, and then it became really simple. The problem we ran into in the beginning was that no one we knew, knew much about Wills! Sure some had one written, but they just had an attorney to do it for them so they weren't able to help with what all the documents were. Others used an online site, which many attorneys don't recommend because they may not follow your state's laws, so they just followed the prompt given to them.

In the end, we finally found an attorney who charged a reasonable amount and he explained everything to us. After talking to him, the Will no longer seemed as complicated as the internet had made it out to be.

I highly recommend contacting multiple attorneys in your area to find out how much they charge for their Estate Planning services as many, sadly, overcharge in my opinion. We got quotes from attorney's that were in the $1,000 - $2,000 range and that is way overpriced for a Will. Now if you are doing Trusts along with a Will, that would definitely put in the $1,000 range, otherwise, it should be under $1,000.

Our community does offer a Will class, which will get you a basic Will written and notarized on spot for $50 per person, but it is missing some important documents like Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, so we decided it was not for us as we wanted those documents.

To make your Will writing process easier, here are some things to consider before contacting an attorney:


1) Gather Your Assets


Find out how much your estate is worth. What is in your bank accounts? Do you have any CD's or bonds? Do you own real estate? Do you have life insurance? Any retirement plans? Do you own cars and what are they worth? Anything that is of any value should be added to your assets. 


2) Choose Your Child's Guardian(s)


This was our main reason for writing a Will. We wanted to make sure our daughter would go to the guardian of our choice should we both happen to pass away while she is young. You will need two people for this, basically a first and a second choice in case the first is unable to do so. I highly recommend you ask the person beforehand if they would be willing to be your child's guardian before having it written in the Will.

Side note: Godparents are not guaranteed to be guardians of your child. It is only recognized by the Church, so if you want to make sure the Godparents are the guardians of your child, then you will need to have a written Will.


3) Pick a Personal Representative


The Personal Representative will be the person in charge of making sure your Will is followed once you pass away. If married, the first choice is usually your spouse, and then you will have to pick a second person in case you both pass away at the same time.

Our Attorney recommended having the same backup for both if you are married or it becomes a little more complicated should you both get in a deadly accident at the same time. He mentioned it becomes a "race to the death," as it becomes a matter of who technically died first that will determine the way the Wills will work out. If you have the same person, not an issue, but there could be a conflict if not.


4) Pick a Trustee


This is the person who will manage your child's trust funds if they are still a minor. For many, this would likely be the same person you chose as your child's guardian. It just makes sense, in my opinion, that the person you chose to raise your child would also be the one helping them manage their money in case something should happen to you.


5) Choose An Age For Your Children To Recieve Their Inheritance


This was honestly not something we thought about at all until we met with our attorney. If there is no Will, the inheritance usually defaults to age 18, but our attorney recommended to wait till they are at least 25.

We both thought about it and ended up going with his recommendation of 25, with the idea that we could also change it later. I was pretty responsible in my early twenties and so was my husband, but we knew many who weren't and our daughter may or may not be responsible enough at a younger age so we will have to wait and see.


6) Choose Your Financial Power of Attorney


The Financial Power of Attorney is someone who will handle your finances if you are unable to do so. This will often be your spouse, but you will want a backup in case you both are in an accident.

Our attorney recommends picking someone you trust for this but do not tell them until the time is necessary as once they sign the document, it goes into effect. They can sign it when they need to know about it and take over handling your finances then.


7) Pick A Health Care Directive


This is the person who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. You will want to pick someone who knows what your life and death decisions are and will follow your wishes, such as how you want to buried or if you wish to be an organ donor. This will most likely be your spouse but you will want a backup should you both be in the same accident.

Our attorney recommends sticking to family members as a backup and in this case for your spouse and you to have different people,


8) Don't Forget Pets!


Different states have different laws when it comes to pets. In my state, you couldn't leave a trust for your pets until 2016, when that rule changed. This is not recommended if you have children as it takes away from the money they could receive. Another option is to pick an organization like the humane society, but our issue with this is that often times older animals are put down.

We went the third option route which was to pick someone we trusted to leave our pets to in case we both should pass at the same time and leave them some money to care for them. The only downside to this is sometimes that person you pick may put your animals down just to keep the cash so you will want to make sure to choose someone you really trust.


***

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to writing your Will. Your attorney will, of course, walk you through the process, but knowing ahead of time the answer to these things, will make the writing process quicker.

Once your will is written, it will need to be notarized and you will need to have witnesses, usually, these are provided by your attorney. However, if you so choose to go the online route, which is not recommended, you will need to find witnesses and someone to notarize your Will, or it is not considered official.

Once that is done, you can live the rest of your life with peace of mind that your child and pets will be taken care of if something should happen to you. Hopefully, it will be a long life and we will be able to come back later to change our backups to be our daughter once she turns eighteen.


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Unsplash.

October 20, 2017

Lottie Doll Giveaway

Sponsored By: Lottie

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Winner will receive: 

Their choice of Lottie Doll - up to a $25 RV!

Many of Lottie's dolls, outfits, accessories, and play-sets have come straight from the amazing and awe-inspiring imaginations of children. That’s what makes their range of dolls so relate-able. Kids have helped to create a range of toys that they actually want to play with!

Open to Worldwide entries and must be 18+ to enter.
Giveaway Dates ~ 10/20 9:00 AM EST through 11/10 11:59PM EST

Good luck everyone! Remember you can follow my blog using the social media icons in the sidebar to be the first to know about new posts and giveaways!

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

October 12, 2017

QueBébé Bath Kneeler and Elbow Cushion Giveaway

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

Sponsored By: QueBébé

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Co-Hosted By: Easter Babe's Theory

10 Winners will receive: 

QueBébé Bath Kneeler and Elbow Cushion ($44.95 RV)! A $449.50 TRV giveaway!



The QueBébé Bath Kneeler and Elbow Cushion is going to change your thoughts on giving your little one a bath. With their high-quality materials and an oh-so-cute gender neutral bath-time fun pattern, this makes for a great baby shower gift. So not only you, but your loved ones can have the same bath time comfort you enjoy.
Click here to read Love, Mrs. Mommy's full review!
Open to US entrants and must be 18+ to enter.
Giveaway Dates ~ 10/12 12:01 AM EST through 11/2 11:59PM EST

Good luck everyone!
Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winners will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

October 6, 2017

DIY Harry Potter Themed Wedding

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Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

Since today is our 5 year anniversary, I thought it would be perfect to flash back to our Harry Potter themed wedding! Yes, that's right, I was able to convince my husband into having a Harry Potter themed wedding. It was one the best days of our lives. The birth of our daughter, of course, trumps it now, but the wedding is definitely second on the list!

We were fortunate enough to have parents that were able to help pay for our wedding, but even so we had a budget to stick to and did a lot of the decorations ourselves! Here is a list of what we had done ourselves and if you scroll to the bottom, you will find more photos of our wedding!

1) Origami Bouquets


Flowers are on the most expensive items for a wedding, so we chose to skip real flowers and make our own origami ones! Luckily, my favorite flower is the lily, and origami lilies are super easy to make! 

All you need is some paper, floral wire, floral tape, and some ribbon. You make the origami lilies, which you can find a pattern for here, then attach them to the wire with the tape. You then wrap a bunch of stems together using the ribbon and your bouquet is complete! You can either tie the ribbon so you have a bow or you can use hot glue at the end. 

Below you can see my finished bouquet and the bridesmaid's bouquets. We used the main Hogwarts house colors primarily for our wedding (red, yellow, green blue) and then did the secondary colors as accents (gold, black, silver, and bronze). As you can see the bridesmaids each represented a different Hogwarts house (Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Ravenclaw)!



2) Origami Corsages & Boutonnieres 


Like the bouquets above, I made origami lilies for these as well, but on a smaller scale. The boutonnieres were done the same way as the bouquets except smaller, each only had two flowers. The corsages were done a little differently.

For the corsages, I  made three lilies for each, cut off the pointed bottoms, and then hot glued them to ribbon. I used sticker gems to add a little bling. I made sure the ribbon was extra long so they would fit anyone's hand and brought scissors with on the day of our wedding so people could cut off the extra length if they didn't want a huge bow.


3) Kusudama Pew Deocrations


I made Kusudama balls and then glued them to ribbon so they would hang off the church pews. You can find a tutorial on how to make Kusudama balls here.

I had also made some extra to decorate the cake table.



4) Wands as Favors


You can find my tutorial for making wands over a Potter Mama! These were so much fun to make and a huge hit at the wedding! They made great photo props!

We had kept a few and so I even used them as a prop in some baby photos. However, I would be extremely careful when using the wands as a baby prop or use them during the newborn stage as baby won't be able to grab them and move much. I think I waited too late, so I had to make sure our daughter didn't put it in her mouth or poke her eye out when I did photos.



5) Owl Place-markers


I had managed to find Harry Potter themed 3D paper owl templates on line! I printed and made a ton of these. I then typed up everyone's names, printed them out on paper, cut them out, and glued them to the owl's feet! 

Unfortunately it looks like 3EyedBear no longer offers the Harry Potter colors, but they have other cute owl colors, some that are more natural, so could still work for a Harry Potter themed wedding. Otherwise you may to have to contact them to see if you can get the templates I used. 

If you aren't doing assigned seating, these would still be cute for decor!


6) Table Markers


Since we did assigned seating, I chose to label the tables after places in Harry Potter. The bridesmaids table was Beauxbatons, groomsmen were Durmstrang, and our table was Hogwarts. The guests sat at a variety of locations, such as Hogsmeade, 4 Private Drive, Diagon Alley, etc.



7) Invitations & Thank You Cards


To cut costs we skipped sending Save The Dates and just sent wedding invitations, which I had made. I also made our Thank You cards as well.

At our bridal shower, we had gotten a Harry Potter wax seal kit, which I used to seal the Thank You cards I sent out. I wish I had gotten some sooner to use on the wedding invites as well as the results were pretty cool!



8) Origami Cranes


Being half Chinese, I wanted something from my Asian culture at the wedding, and in the Asian culture there is a tradition that anyone who folds 1,000 cranes will be granted a wish (source). I ended up making 988 cranes, while my husband only made 12! We strung the cranes on string and used them as various backdrops. We had so many, we ended up decorating the cake table and guest book table with them as well!

You can find a tutorial on how to make them here.




9) Wish Tree Guest Book


We wanted something more unique and fun than just a boring guest book, so we chose to do a wish tree! This was really simple to make. All you need is some sticks, river rocks, and a pot. We picked out some fun looking sticks, bunched them together and set them in the pot, you will have to hold them. Then pour in some river rocks around the sticks till you have enough that they don't move out of the position you want. 

For the wish cards, I made a template in Microsoft Word and printed them out on 4x6 note cards, then used a hole punch to punch hole at the top so I could run some string through. On one side people could write whatever wedding wishes they wanted for us and on the other side I had made a contact info page so we could get addresses for sending out Thank You's. 


10) Origami Lucky Stars 


I made a bunch of the cute paper stars to use as vase fillers. I also used them to cover up the rocks on our wish tree, which you can see in the photo above. You can find a tutorial to make your own lucky stars here.

***

Those are just some ideas on what you can do yourself to cut down on wedding costs and how you can throw your own Harry Potter theme wedding! Now for what most of you are probably looking forward to, here are some more photos from our wedding!

I had asked the bridesmaids to bring their favorite Harry Potter book!


September 29, 2017

How To Survive a Long Car Ride With a Baby

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Last month we took our baby, 8 months at the time, on a long car ride down south to visit my family. This was our first long road trip with our daughter and things went way better than we expected. I think we got lucky when it comes to babies and got one that is totally chill (for the most part). She did get fussy at times, usually when her diaper was dirty or she was hungry, but she never wailed in the car.

According to Google maps, the trip down would take 6.5 hours with no stops and the trip back home would take 9.5 hours with no stops. We stayed with my cousin for a night on the way down before driving another 3 hours to visit my grandpa, but we didn't stop anywhere on the way back home, so the trip down would have been the same as the trip home had we not stopped for a day. 

Let's just say that with a baby and a dog, we had to stop a few times for diaper changes and feeding, which added about 2 hours to the trip, so the way down ended up taking close to 8 hours (going to my grandpas the next day only took the suggested 3 hours as we did that drive with no stops) and getting home took close to 11 hours.

I had originally planned on flying down to avoid these long drives, but the hassle of getting to the airport and on a plane, plus the cost of flying, just made driving make more sense and we will most likely drive down again next year. 

Here are some of my tips for surviving a long car ride with a baby:

1) Rest Areas Rock!


Rest Areas are way more baby friendly than gas stations and fast food places. The bathrooms are always cleaner and the changing tables way nicer, at least in our experience. There is almost always a family restroom, which will allow dad to change baby's diaper if you need a break. However, if your baby is like our baby and hated the public bathrooms, Rest Areas are great because there is plenty of seating, so you can always change your baby outside on a table instead, weather permitting of course. The availability of seating also makes feeding your baby easier than being cramped in the car.

2) Ready Mixed Formula Makes Feeding Easier & Faster


If you are not breastfeeding, I highly recommend getting the ready-made formula for the car rides so you do not have to deal with mixing bottles in bathrooms, making feeding time faster.

3) Cereal Puffs Help Keep Baby Calm


If your baby is old enough for solids, then you will want to bring puffs! Our daughter loves puffs, so I made sure to bring two containers, one in the diaper bag and one in her suitcase as a backup. Whenever she began to get cranky and we were not near a rest area, I would dig these out and hand her a puff at a time. It was the perfect distraction and helped keep her calm till we could give her a proper meal at a rest area. Plus she gets to practice feeding herself!

4) Bring Disinfecting Wipes & Paper Towels


Maybe it's because I am an over packer or just a great planner, but my husband was thankful that I had thought to bring these items! Babies are messy and thus, will make messes so you will want these in your car to clean up those messes. We also used the disinfecting wipes and paper towels to clean the pack n' play and her toys while we were staying with family. 

5) Soft Toys For Baby In The Car


We only let our baby play with soft toys in her car seat as if we happened to get in an accident, it would be less likely to hurt her. I would make sure to choose toys that your baby loves or even give them a new toy at this time so they are distracted. We had a stuffed animal that she loves to snuggle and a rubber teether so she had something to chew on. 


6) Have Someone Sit Next To Baby


My husband and I took turns driving, but instead of sitting the passenger seat, the one not driving would sit in the back with the baby. This provided a distraction for her and gave her someone to play with. It also allowed us to see her so we knew when she was getting cranky. This made it easier to know when to look for a rest area.

This is the one thing I think that prevented her from wailing in the car. The only time she actually cried during the trip was in the bathrooms when getting changed due to the loud noises of flushing and hand dryers. 

7) Make Meals Ahead Of Time


This was one mistake we made on the way down. We had to stop at fast food places to eat, which takes a lot longer, especially since we had a dog with us, so we had to order food, then stop at a Rest Area to eat. 

For the way home, we decided to make sandwiches in advance, which was the best idea ever. This allowed us to avoid stopping as we could eat in the car or we only had to stop at a Rest Area, no extra stops at restaurants. Plus it's also healthier, so wish we had thought to do the same for the way down.

8) Do Not Commit To Anything


With a baby, you have to be flexible which is why when my cousin asked if we would like to do dinner with them, we chose to not commit and replied with we will join you if we can make it, but do not wait for us.

The stress of traveling with a baby is enough, do not add to it by making plans to arrive at a certain time. I guarantee you will not arrive and your family and friends may be upset because they are waiting on you.

We, of course, as predicted did not make it to dinner and everyone was okay with that as we had let them know in advance that we would most likely not arrive in time to join them. We had our own quick meal and then met everyone at the house instead. There was no stress or pressure on our end to arrive at a certain time, making the trip worry free!

September 22, 2017

5 Reasons Why I Don't Wear Make-Up

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I would like to start off this post by saying that I am not against make-up, nor do I judge anyone who chooses to wear make-up. Make-up is an art and it can be fun.

My main issue with make-up is when people depend on it in order to feel good about themselves. A good example of what I am talking about is episode 9 of Last Man Standing (Attractive Architect). For those who have not seen this episode or do not watch the show. Here is a little recap:

Eve takes all the make-up in the house and hides it to make a point to her make-up obsessed sister, Mandy. Mandy is then forced to go to school with no make-up and she basically tried to hide her face from everyone. She is so dependent on make-up that she feels ugly and can't function without it.

She learned that without make-up, people think she is smart and a lot of "nerds" try to talk to her, which she considered a bad thing. In the end, she comes to this conclusion:
"I learned something really important today. Life is beautiful. But it’s more beautiful when you’re beautiful." Mandy (The Last Man Standing). 
This episode left a bad taste in my mouth for many reasons. One, you shouldn't judge someone based on how they look. Two, women should want to be seen for more than a pretty face. Unlike Mandy, I would rather be seen as smart and successful rather than attractive and dumb. My final reason is my number one reason why I don't wear make-up, which you can read below.

1. Make-Up Does Not Make You Beautiful


We should not need make-up to look and feel beautiful. In fact, I actually find those who do not wear make-up to be more attractive than the ones with painted on masks. The best kind of make-up, in my opinion, is the kind where you can't tell the person is even wearing make-up, but at that point, it's kind of like why bother putting on make-up?

If you are so dependent on make-up in order to feel good, it's an addiction. Make-up may not be as damaging to the body as drugs or alcohol, but it definitely can affect your mental health and affect your self-esteem, especially if you depend on it to cover whatever flaws you feel you may have, which I can assure you, you don't have any. We are all beautiful in our own, unique way.

If you are so focused on one "flaw," then you may have Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BBD) and should seek help.

If you use make-up to attract the opposite sex, then you have a problem. Honestly, do you want some guy who only wants you because of how you look with a painted on mask?

When I first started getting interested in make-up (yes I have worn it in the past), I was in high school and it was my younger sister who actually was interested in first, which got me interested. My mom did not wear make-up, or if she did I could not tell and I never saw her put it on. I do know she owned some tubes of lipstick, but again, I do not remember ever seeing her use it!

If my mom had been more into make-up, I am sure it would have impacted me sooner, which is why I am more hesitant now to even consider wearing make-up as I do not want my daughter to feel she needs it to be pretty. I want her to love the way she looks, so by seeing how confident I am in my own skin, I am hoping she will learn as I did from my mother, that make-up is not needed to be beautiful.

The last time I actually remember wearing make-up was on my wedding day back in 2012. I do still keep a cosmetic bag lying around. However, all the beauty products in there are probably expired and should be tossed, so even if there was ever an event I felt the need to hide a zit for, it probably wouldn't be a good idea to use it. I am actually considering digging it up and throwing it out as I am typing this post.

2. Time Consuming


As soon as I started putting on make-up, I began to realize it was not worth the time for me. For one I had no idea what I was doing and no one to really teach me, so applying make-up took me a good 30-45 mins in the morning just to make sure it looked okay or at least what I thought was okay, which often ended up with me looking well, just like me. I did play around more with eyeshadow as I loved the colors.

Like I said in the intro, make-up is fun as an art, but I just didn't think the art was worth my time. I am still amazed at what some people can do with it though. A good friend of mine actually has a beauty blog and her make-up is amazing, so I highly recommend checking her out at The Minnesota MUA!

For those interested in what the average time spent on make-up for a woman is, well here is what a survey found:
"Women spend an average of 55 minutes every day working on their appearance... That amounts to 335 hours every year — or an entire two-week vacation — lost to their looks, according to the TODAY/AOL Ideal to Real Body Image Survey released Monday." (Source)
To me that is time wasted. I have better things to do than paint my face every morning, only to wash it off before going to bed and starting again the next day. Personally, I would rather take that two-week vacation than wear make-up.

3. Expensive


Make-up is just not cheap.
"A new survey from SkinStore.com reports that the average woman wears about $8 worth of makeup and skincare products every day. That adds up to almost $250 a month and well over $200,000 in a lifetime." (Source)
I don't know about you, but I can find a ton of other things I would rather spend $250 on or better yet, save that up for a dream vacation!

Source

4. It's Uncomfortable & Inconvenient


I have attempted to wear mascara and it sucked when I couldn't rub my eyes in fear of smearing it everywhere, or even a tearful yawn could be a disaster. I did eventually get waterproof mascara, but even that would rub off. In the end, I ditched it.

Eyeshadow was also a pain for this reason, but not as bad as Mascara.

I could never do lipstick or lip gloss. I wiped it off immediately. Having something sticky on your lips is just unpleasant. Plus then you have to worry about leaving lipstick stains on your glass or smearing it while eating. I think our wedding day was the only day I managed to wear lipstick, but I had it done at a Salon, so the quality was probably a lot better than what I had on hand.

I have tried face creams to hide blemishes and various other products, but the sticky textures annoyed me and so I never did them again. I couldn't do powders as they rub off if you touch your face.

Make-up was just a hassle I was not going to put up with on a daily basis and so it became more of a special event type of thing, and now I never put it on. Like I said, I think the last time I worke make-up was on my wedding day.

5. Animal Cruelty


Many make-up products are still tested on animals to this day. Sure you can go out of your way to find cruelty-free products, but a lot of the time those can't be trusted either as cruelty-free can just mean the actual product hasn't been tested on animals, but the ingredients in them may have. You can read more about cruelty-free labels on MSPCA's website.

I guess if you aren't concerned about testing on animals, this may not matter to you as much, but it is an added bonus for me for not wearing make-up.

***

Some important things to note is that I do wear nail polish and shave my legs. Nail polish is something I throw on maybe twice a year? If you can't tell, I don't like wasting time on things that I don't think are important. 

The last time I remember painting my nails was a week before the baby was born. There is not much you can do when pregnant, so this cured my boredom. I can't say I never have gotten my nails professionally done, but it's only been three times in my life so far. Once with a group of friends for prom, once for my cousin's wedding as I was a bridesmaid, and once for my wedding. I have never gotten my nails done on my own, but if a group of friends ever asks then I would totally go for the social aspect of it.

As for shaving. I have debated stopping altogether, and I admit this is one of my insecurities and I blame society for that. Body hair is totally natural and in Europe women are allowed to have it! I do hate doing it so I do only shave once a week and just wear leggings or jeans on the days the hair starts showing up. I wear shirts with sleeves when the armpit hair starts showing up as well, no tanks on those days!

The only area of my body that I shave and think is worth shaving is the bikini area. I have irregular cycles, so when I get my period, it is heavy, having no hair down there really makes keeping it clean a lot easier. I do not do it for looks because no one should be looking there without my permission! And no man should ever demand that you shave for him nor should you feel obliged to shave for any man! 

I do wish I could be more confident in this area, but I don't think I could handle being that woman pointed out on a beach full of freshly shaved women for her hairy legs and armpits. I admire those women who are confident enough to do so though and applaud them! I hope to be able to one day join them.

Shaving actually costs a lot less than wearing make-up. My husband and I did the math and it came to about $14 a month, so a lot less than make-up. Now if you're doing more than just razors and shaving cream, like going to get waxed or laser hair removal, then that might raise that number quite a bit.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pexels.


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September 8, 2017

Surprizamals: A Review

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for an unbiased, honest review. In no way did the discount affect my review of the product. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

What are Surprizamals?


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Surprizamals are cute little plush toys that are 2.5 inches tall. They come in a wide range of creatures from seas animals, woodland critters, to the cool and mystical characters like the Yeti or unicorn! However, you never know which one you are going to get as they are hidden in a ball, so it's always a surprise! 

Surprizamals are for ages 3 and up, so our currently 8-month-old daughter is too young for these. However, we allowed her to help us in the opening process (you can see photos below). Don't worry, she was fully supervised by my husband and me. She enjoyed pulling out the new creature and feeling how soft it is.

The Surprizamals are super soft! I was really surprised by just how soft they were as I figured this was just another one of those cheap toys, but they are actually very well made!

The critters are very cute and I can see these making great stocking stuffers for young kids or as party favors! These would be a fun toy to collect. I know younger me would have been all over these, even now I keep one of the narwhals we got on my desk as it is too darn cute!

Each Surprizamal plush has a cute tag with their name, birthday, and favorite colors, very similar to beanie babies. 

Surprizamals have different tiers of rareness as well, one which is unknown! We got lucky and got a rare Yeti! The rest of our critters were commons. There are also ultra rare ones. My husband was bummed we didn't get the mystery one as he wanted to know what it was!

They also come in different series, the ones we got were all part of series 4. The different series have different characters! So collecting them all would be a fun challenge!


If I had to find a downside to these cute plush animals, it would be that the Yeti can't stand up on its own! The rest of the ones we got sit nicely, but the Yeti is too top heavy so he just falls over. He would be super cute on my desk as well. I might have to find a way to prop him up!

I guess another downside is you can't pick which one you get, but I guess that is part of the fun! It can also be a bit costly though if you are trying to collect them all as you are bound to get repeats. We got 2 narwhals out of the 5 Surprizamals we received, so only a total of 4 different critters. This is why I think they would be more of a fun gift every now and then, something to stuff in an Easter basket or Christmas stocking.

Now if you have multiple kids or they have friends that get hooked on these, then they could always trade, which could add to the fun!

Also these might make great rewards or prizes for kids!

Though these are geared towards kids, I personally think they are adorable and plan on decorating my desk with these little guys, so if you know someone who is a kid at heart or just likes cute plush animals, then this would make a great fun gift for them as well! 


Where can I find Surprizamals?


They retail for only $4.99! You can find them in select stores, such as Walmart, on the Surprizamals' website, or even on Amazon!

Our Surprizamals