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DOSH App: Save Money on Your Favorites in Travel, Dining, and Shopping Every Day

You may have seen how I like to be a thrifty shopper in one of my latest articles -- all about my favorite consignment shop -- if not, read that as soon as you're through here, because I'm saving LOADS of money there too! 
Now, back to DOSH -- this app has me getting $$$ back on so many of the things I already purchase (and get deals on) -- yes, cash on top of savings. Cha-ching! It's one of those things I can "handle" on my busy mom balancing schedule. Why? Because it's a no-brainer. It takes about a minute to get the app and connect your cards. Not only do you get paid to connect cards and join, you start seeing cash coming in quickly. Even better? You don't have to wait for high cash-out minimums -- just $15 in cash-back and you can decide if you want that money or if you want to keep building it in your account, or if you want to donate to your favorite charity. So simple!


Doubling Up Savings 

If you're a points-minded person, you already use your favorite earning cards for your dining, travel, groceries, etc. Wherever you can, you're using your best points card, right? Well, imagine a world where you're using the same card, but getting a percentage of your purchase back in cash, along with the points you earn. That world is the one you will live in when you use DOSH. Again...so simple!
I like shopping local, and eating local -- DOSH will show you the participating stores, hotels, restaurants, etc. in your area when you search and you can choose where to patronize and where to save! 

Couponers, Rejoice!

Like the Sunday paper? Or Target's Cartwheel app maybe? Coupon clipper through and through? (I think that's still a thing, right? We still have paper coupons in the middle of nowhere here in the Midwest, and I still proudly hand over a fistful!) However, sometimes, not having to work for your cash back is best. DOSH doesn't need to scan any barcodes, there's no paper coupons exchanged (and bonus: no litter created or recycling needed!), no promo codes, no mail-in rebate programs. None of it. It's just there when you create an account, connect your cards, and start getting your cash back.


Check in, Cash out

Y'all know I love to travel. My suitcase is nearly always packed. If I'm not on the road, I'm planning the next trip. Check out the hotel offerings in your DOSH area -- you can change the location or use the default -- Chicago, New York, etc. The app clearly shows you what the DOSH rate is for check in and how much cash you'll get back in the transaction. So, again, the points/miles, the savings, and the cash back. You know how much better those soft, white hotel linens feel when you're getting paid a little bit of cash back to be there? Pretty good. If you don't believe me, plan a getaway for the weekend and watch the "Congrats! You've got $XYZ from a DOSH Merchant" messages stack up!
Download the app. Tell me how your savings are rolling in. All you have to lose is the money you're not getting back right now...

Disclosure: I'm a DOSH influencer. All opinions are my own. 

Every Mile Mattered ~ Nichole Nordeman

I remember being too busy to get my video clip in for Nichole Nordeman's "Slow Down" video. Then, my MUMS group played the video one day and it was so moving to hear and see all the videos of fellow writers and bloggers set to the sound. I was REALLY sad I'd missed putting my child's tender moments to music (which I know I COULD do in iMovie or something, but NEVER will!)



So, when I got the chance to preview her newest album, "Every Mile Mattered" -- I knew I loved her voice and wanted to hear more! I wasn't passing it up this time! 

I really like the tracks "Lean" and "Dear Me" but the title track "Every Mile Mattered" has hit me closest to home lately. It's absolutely telling of where I have been in my life and as with the draw of music in general, it's cathartic to hear emotions set to beautiful sound. And, since I'm no poet, hearing what I was feeling sung eloquently was even more satisfying. Nichole's voice is ethereal and really puts me in a Zen place.




For more on Nichole Nordeman:

Official website – http://nicholenordeman.com
Buy links – ITunes http://capcmg.me/emm?IQid=b
Spotify http://capcmg.me/emm.sp
Amazon http://nicholenordeman.com

She has a book “SLOW DOWN” coming out in August, pre-order here:
http://slowdown-book.com .

Check out Nichole’s blog http://nicholenordeman.com and sign up for newsletters!

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary CD as a FlyBy Promotions influencer.

Should You Charge a Friend? A Question from a Cleaning Lady

I'm a stay at home mom. That means, very little "side hustle" income opportunities. So, I have a friend who needed some cleaning done. He was going to hire someone to do it, and I wanted to take a stab at it. He said he'd pay me. So, two days of scrubbing and cleaning all the bachelor evidence out of his house. Fridge. Floors. Under the beds. Floors again (like eight times.) It was a lot of work, but I felt good helping a friend. He paid me, but I charged him less than the going rate -- about $8 less per hour than I'd charge a random client.



My question to you is....DO YOU EVER ENGAGE IN MONETARY TRANSACTIONS WITH FRIENDS?? Would you charge your regular rate? Would you do it for free!? I'm curious!


I also have a secondary thought on this -- it's been my MO since I was a teen, working as a weekend housekeeping attendant at a local resort. I LOVED cleaning the cabins. It was fun to get to know the fishermen and they always left a great tip. But it was also fun to clean the cabins which were relatively bare to begin with. Fast forward to present day? I LOATHE cleaning my house. Cleaning up after three little piggies lost it's appeal almost instantly and de-cluttering is the bane of my existence. I could have really used this Ozeri INSTAVAC Earth Green Nesting Food Storage Container set while figuring out what to do with the 637 lids which fit no container in the kitchen! It's a great idea for bachelor organization OR getting my own family a little more organized in the kitchen! I'll be excited to tell you about it in my upcoming review. 

Do you have the same issue? Loving to help others clean but hating swamping out your own pigsty!?


This post was prompted by an offer to review a complimentary set on my site, but I had this legitimate dilemma just last week. So, it seemed like a fun topic for me to discuss with you guys! All opinions are my own. 

Never Go Shopping with Kids Again -- Even for Back to School!

I used to relish the idea of shopping -- trying things on, whiling away about three or four hours going from retail store to boutique and perhaps even for a pretzel or smoothie at the food court. After two kids and several hundred public tantrums, I care very little for shopping outside the home with my children in tow. Worse yet, if my husband is watching them, I always feel rushed and thus do not enjoy my time in the aisles either. However, I've found the Holy Grail of online shopping and I'm addicted. (In the best, healthiest way possible!)


Swap.com - The Largest Online Consignment and Thrift Store

I've been using Swap.com for a while now -- almost a year -- and they've been around for FIVE years--when I got the opportunity to work with them, I couldn't resist! I cannot believe I didn't know about the site sooner, which is why I'm excited to share it with all of you. It's seriously the best thing in shopping -- even better than Amazon Prime and you KNOW I love my Prime!



The End of the Mall

I have never been a complete mall rat. I grew up without a mall -- and the mall we did have was 75% Menards and the rest was Kmart, Fashion Bug and Maurices way back in the 90s. So I didn't feel a deep desire to rush over there, even when I could find a ride to go 20 miles for the trip.

I'm not a shoe addict. I don't keep up with all the latest trends and fast fashion. I did have a phase where I loved shows like America's Next Top Model -- but other than that, I'm no fashionista. However, starting in college -- I did enjoy an outing every few weeks to try things on and walk around, maybe grab a smoothie at the food court and make a few purchases. I'd not only hit my steps like a boss at the mall, I'd also find it was an enjoyable day IN when it was raining or if I had an event coming up I wanted to freshen up for.

You want to know what made this less relaxing and suddenly hellish? Bringing kids.



School Clothes for Kids, On the Cheap

I've tried garage sales. It seems in 750 open doors and driveways, I find EVERY sale with girls items. It's rare to hit "boy sales" and so after an exhaustive day of striking out (unless I wanted a 2T dress...then I was in business!) I would go home with a stray pair of jeans or a few shirts and feel like the day was mostly wasted.

Consignment stores (in my area) are hit or miss too. Some have virtually NO expectations for what people can bring to sell and it shows (and smells, at times.) It's also time-consuming digging through the racks and racks of stacked-in, packed-in clothing. Again I'd feel like only once in a while would I strike proverbial gold with a find.

There are Facebook sales groups, sure. But who wants to meet in the back alley with a stranger? Nope. Not me.

With just a few cousins, we didn't even have the hand-me-down card to play.

Still wanting to save, I FINALLY found Swap.com.



Why Swap.com ROCKS for kids school clothes shopping this back to school season:

- Shop in your yoga pants with a huge mug of coffee
- create email search alerts for your kids' size and style
- tons of sales and promo codes to save EVEN MORE money
- name brands at HUGE discounts
- New With Tags items everywhere
- returns are easy - try it on, send it back, keep it (all easier than even two minutes in a store with kids!)




You can even score backpacks, books, accessories, outerwear, and socks. There are very few limits on what you can find (we even found a few toys which were hard to find in stores because they were from an older cartoon movie!)

Swap.com ships to you and each box comes with individually wrapped goodness for the whole family. It's easy, safe, and saves time (and tons of money.) Yes, this is my new thrifting haven -- shopping at the largest consignment site on the web!

What are you looking to save on this season? Have you tried Swap.com? If you haven't, I'd love for you to try it and use this link to save 20% on your first purchase! 



Disclosure: I was commissioned by swap.com in a partnership to produce this article. All opinions are my own. 

Let the Money Roll Back in with Easy Cash Back and the DOSH App

This post is sponsored by Dosh but all opinions are my own. 

Everyone likes a good deal. And, if you've been around here very long, you know I'm not a crazy coupon lady. I am the scatterbrained chill mom who sometimes manages to clip the coupons AND bring them to the store AND pull them out at the checkout line. For that, Mercury needs to be in retrograde or something, I'm sure. It's great for those who have mastered this skill -- but for me, it's time consuming and it doesn't come naturally nor does my rural selection of three stores lend itself to success in the couponing world. That doesn't mean I don't want to save money though!




That's why I have been loving DOSH -- remember, that newish app I mentioned in this post a few weeks ago? Well, I've been able to play with it a little more, and I can vouch for the fact that it's NOT like couponing at all. It's SO easy. Effortless, really.




I'm going to put it out there plainly -- I'm not really an app kid. I've been steadfast in my resistance to pounce on the latest trends and tech, and that includes all the apps like ibotta and even Target's Cartwheel (which I've used a few times successfully.) Again in a real-life example, I'd rather use my Red Card and save small and steady on EVERYTHING than spend my precious (read: priceless) time hunting for the coupons, apps, and deals for each specific purchase I make. 

This is precisely why I like DOSH. It is an app which gives me cash back on things I already do and purchase. Namely, restaurants, airfare, and hotels, to satiate my travel bug. We have a few cards which give us rewards or points or some kind of kickback (generally travel-related as well) and with DOSH I can have my points and some cash too -- it's like having your cake and your ice cream and eating both unabashedly!



Frankly, I almost NEVER give emails reaching out about apps a second look. I just don't want to waste more time learning new versions of old apps. Sorry. I spend enough time between work with three screens, my phone, my iPad, and my laptop plus television to not need an excuse to have more screen time. But DOSH seemed different and unique and something even I could pick up easily! So, I checked it out. I'm so glad the folks at DOSH reached out to me!




Sign up -- it's a FREE app and if you don't mind, I'd love for you to use my referral link (HERE) because I will get a small kickback, which ultimately keeps me posting and finding fun things to share with you! I greatly appreciate your support in these small ways! There isn't much to it - sign up, jump right in by looking for offers in your area. 

I'm working alongside other travel writers and bloggers to expand the businesses which are included in every region to create even more ways to get that dolla dolla bill back in your wallet using the app.

Look forward to good things from DOSH! You’ll get $5.00 Dosh cash just for signing up. Adding additional cards to your account profile means more Dosh credits. It's easy. If I can figure it out, so can you! Since it's in Beta, it's getting better every day, too! Go, save on!

Saving Money (REAL Money) with this new app -- so EASY!

Everyone seems to like saving money. Weird, right? Well, I'm too impatient and disorganized for mileage and points and credit card offers. I'd end up in the hole with fees or I'd lose track of points. It's just not for me. Couponing is hard when you do not get newspaper subscriptions OR you are so rural the stores you can choose from don't allow "doubling" and rarely have the deals advertised. One new app has changed the way I'm able to save REAL money -- not points, no coupons...just money.


That app is DOSH.

DOSH is new to the industry but is growing quickly. The app is still evolving to become more user friendly and simple, but download it now to see if you like it! I implore you -- it's SO easy. You simply load your cards (which you probably use daily) and then see what offers are available to you. Use the cards for your purchases and watch as your DOSH wallet instantly grows.

If you'd like to give me a little love, USE THIS LINK when you sign up, so I might receive a little kickback for telling you about the app. :) 




Easy Peasy DOSH Wallet

What's Awesome: When you buy something with your stored card in the DOSH app at merchants like restaurants, stores, and airlines that offer deals through Dosh, you get an automatic cash back rebate. Pretty much INSTANT! And, unlike some incentive programs, you can "cash out" your wallet at just $15.00. You can also donate to your favorite charity right in the app!

If you're a traveler especially, this app is for YOU. Hotel stays can be $100 or so in cash back! That means more money for more travel. Win. Win. Win. I hope you will join me in trying this app and saving some basically free money. It's out there for the taking!





Disclosure: I'm a DOSH influencer, so spreading the word about this app (which I'm still getting to know but loving in the process) is a partnership. All opinions are my own. 





Le Tote - A Fashion Rental Service You MUST Try!

Disclosure: I was able to experience Le Tote on a complimentary basis in order to get the scoop on what to expect. 

Maybe you've heard of it. Maybe you haven't. Maybe you are like I was...you "don't care enough about fashion to check out a rental company or a stylist prepared subscription." Yeah, I used to LIVE in t-shirts and jeans. If the weather was hot, I'd really switch things up and put on a plain tank and shorts. Add a few sweatshirts and you have my full repertoire of fashion options. 




Enter Le Tote

It all started with my friend Rachel who I saw on a video wearing a gorgeous dress. She must have been getting a TON of compliments on the dress because the video was education-related and even featured her adorable twins. But, what did everyone notice? The dress. So, after what I'm sure was an exhausting day telling everyone where her dress was from, she put out a disclaimer: "Meanwhile, the dress is from Le Tote." 

I'd maybe heard of the service from a Facebook ad or in passing elsewhere, but I fell in love with the dress and thus HAD to check our Le Tote. Of course, like many clubs and sites, you can't access all the fun until you are a member. So, I found myself "customizing" my first tote as a new member shortly after the initial interest.

Before we go too much further, I have promotional discounts for $25 off your first tote (using this link) which means savings for you and a little Le Tote love for me which is always appreciated! If you do try it, let me know how you like it!

My Profile and My Closet 

I've actually filled out a profile or two for fashion sites on a whim. Wanting to know what it's all about when a friend posts a picture of her new blazer. I must say, the profile wasn't terribly different with Le Tote, but I did actually take my measurements this time. I'm glad I did. 

Fun Fact: Le Tote stylists measure each garment, so you get the best fit!

After filling out some generic questions about my style and my climate, etc. I moved on to clicking hearts in the upper righthand corner of the items in collections which I liked. These would become the pieces in my closet. 


I LOVE that you get a text message and an email when your tote is ready to be customized or confirmed. It takes roughly two hours I've found from the time you drop off a tote at the Post Office to send back to Le Tote until a new tote is ready for customizing. The above is what I was sent to confirm for my very first tote. I swapped three of the pieces for others in my closet.

Fun Fact: If you wait each hour to check your closet, items are checked in and may become available to you if you're patient!

I also really enjoy the ease with which you can purchase items in your tote. I have purchased four items in the last two months. I've also been savvy and checked around the web for "better prices" -- they typically aren't out there! A lot of the styles you will find in Nordstrom but the prices are right around $10-20 more elsewhere than with your Le Tote member discounted price. The other factor is that many of the garments cannot be found elsewhere. I've looked. Le Tote gives you a truly unique fashion experience.


The pink box comes via USPS and takes three days on average. So, if you submit your confirmation of a customized tote on a Monday or Tuesday, you should get it by Saturday. If it's a Wednesday or Thursday, it's likely to take until the following Monday. [Believe me, it's the hardest wait if you land on the Sunday (no mail) day!]

Inside the Le Tote box will be (all of your selections, obviously) but also a clear bubble envelope with your jewelry on cards and a white return envelope. With these important items is also a small flyer that shows you the cost of your entire tote if you love it all and the individual item specifics. 


Fun Fact: You don't need to do laundry! (If that is something you just cannot handle the thought of, you CAN do laundry if you wish!) But, I personally love that I can wear everything when it arrives and send it back when I'm done. So easy! I've not had any items in two months arrive smelly, stained or gross.

A few things -- click on each garment to see the "Best Fit" stylist tips -- they have been spot on for me. If it says "might be tight in the bust" you can count on it -- at least I can. So consider the tip a good one! 

Make sure you don't lose the contents of your box -- you'll need it for shipping the items back! 

You can keep things as long as you want, you'll just continue to be charged your monthly membership fee. However, when you send back your tote, if all items are not inside, it will be assumed you couldn't part with them and you'll be charged. Brightside? You're the proud new owner of something new and cute! 

You can't just keep one item longer, return the rest, and wait until your next tote to return your super fun find. Sorry. Would be cool, but nope. Either buy it or bag it! 

This is just a little primer to get you introduced to Le Tote. I'm positively addicted. It's especially fun since I'm in a rural area and we cannot just slip down to Lord & Taylor or even Target for that matter. Sure, there's Amazon and other online shopping -- but they aren't looking out for me, measuring my blouses, now are they?! 

Seriously folks -- it's so fun. It's like a grab bag and trick-or-treating rolled into one and I cannot get enough. 

Disclosure: I was able to experience Le Tote on a complimentary basis in order to get the scoop on what to expect. 

Leaf Tessellations - A Summer Craft Activity for Outdoorsy Kids

Looking for some warm weather activities to help prevent the summer slide and keep kids engaged? Do you have outdoor explorers who love nature crafts? Here's an activity you can do which is low-prep but high fun.

Leaf Tessellations 

Summer is here, so get those kids outside! An outdoor craft is just the ticket for keeping multiple ages occupied and outside. This leaf-centric printing activity introduces geometric thinking into your child's day through creative visual play, with tessellations!  [In the words of our fave character Wallykazam's friend, Gina giant: "it's a giant word!" 



Tessellations are repeating shapes that form a pattern without overlapping. Think of the repeating hexagons of a honeycomb design or square tiling for a kitchen floor. Popularized by the famed artist M.C. Escher, these mathematic wonders can help your child to discover concepts that range from geometry to spatial expression. Now, it's time to go pick some leaves... 

What You Need: 
  • Construction paper
  • Thin cardboard (try reusing an old cereal or shoe box)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Tempera paint in two different colors
  • Paint palette or washable paint tray
  • Thick paint brush
What You Do: 
  1. Ask your child to choose a leaf shape. You can accompany your child to the backyard or a park to collect their ideal leaf/leaves. Or, they can come up with a special leaf shape of their own. Keep in mind that in a tessellation there should be no gaps or overlaps, so the shape should be able to fit snugly next to a copy of itself. Have your child use a pencil to draw their leaf shape onto the cardboard.
  2. Cut the shape out of the cardboard. Repeat to make one more identical leaf shape.
  3. Pour two different colors of paint onto a palette or washable art tray. Try summer beach shades, lake colors, or your child's favorite colors.
  4. Your child can now dip one of the cardboard leaves into one color of paint. Coat one entire side. If needed, he can use a paint brush to coat the leaf completely.
  5. It's time for your child to start stamping! Press the leaf onto the construction paper to create a print.
  6. Repeat the painting steps with the second leaf, choosing a different color.
  7. Press the second leaf onto the paper directly next to the first print. Be careful not to overlap the leaf prints!
  8. Repeat back and forth with the two different colors several times, and then move on to a second, third, or even fourth line.
  9. Set aside the painted paper to dry.


With this nature inspired activity, you'll add some fun (and learning) into your list of family crafts this summer. Your mini-mathematician can get hands-on with some very abstract ideas by creating his own unique leaves for this printing process project. 

Remember--try not to destroy trees and plants in your collection efforts. Try the flowers in your garden or perhaps weeds you will be pulling or mowing anyway before you start yanking on the splendid oaks in the backyard. 

Disclosure: This post was brought to you by Education.com. There was no monetary exchange involved, nor was any compensation of any kind received. I simply thought you'd like this activity! 

How to Plan a Perfect Day at Your Local AZA Zoo with Stonyfield

Disclosure: I received complimentary admission and coupons to purchase Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers. I am a part of the Yo-Getters Stonyfield Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.

AZA Matters

Since childhood, I've always considered zoo careers and animal-related work the best work in the world. It's not wonder the zoo is one of our favorite family outings! Being a wildlife professional today, I try to teach my kids about animal husbandry and ethical treatment of animals in captivity. For instance, we do NOT do circuses. So when I had the opportunity to learn more about AZA accreditation and the local zoos and aquariums in our area which were part of this recognition of positive efforts and practices, I had to take the opportunity to learn more. We had about six sites in our tri-state area which were listed by the AZA as accredited. We decided to venture out to the Minnesota Zoo, even though it was several hours away, because we'd never been there before as a family and they were also offering weekend "sneak peeks" at the new Kangaroo Crossing exhibit.


Zoo Days - A Family Favorite 

I lived in a town without a zoo. We'd have to plan a weekend outing or at least a long day trip to get to the nearest zoo, which was about three hours away. It was run by the city and it was okay, but not anything like some of the zoos we've now been fortunate to visit. It is only recently that I realized maybe the zoo was not great for many reasons, one of them being the lack of AZA accreditation. We've grown into a zoo and waterpark family. If either are in the mix, we're sure to have a good time. If BOTH are on our itinerary, we're stoked and everyone is happy and exhausted from fun by the end of the getaway! 

Our toddler stays happy because there are so many sounds, smells, and sights to keep him busy. Our older child, a Kindergartner is able to use concepts he's been learning to apply them to what he sees. Wild Kratts knowledge spills over like floodwaters at this point. Gotta love Wild Kratts! 

Planning for a Day Out

Even in the spring time, our crew needs to wear sunscreen -- perhaps especially in the spring time. We tote along our double stroller -- judge me if you want -- but our six year old gets tired and whiny and while he walks MOST of the time, we found out at Disney that it's just easier to bring the B.O.B. duallie and let him ride sometimes! 

Stonyfield Squeezers and Zoo-friendly Snacks

Eating at any zoo can be expensive. Before we leave home, we allow the kids to grab around $15 from their banks and use the "grandparents fun money" for a gift shop purchase after the day is through, as a last stop and only IF there was all-day good behavior. So that actually solves the "gimme" and "I want it" whining.

Next, to curb costs we try to pack at least a small cooler or bag with mostly healthy portable snacks just as we would for a hike or other outing. This is where Stonyfield really saves our bacon, everytime. The Squeezers freeze well and after a few hours of strolling make a fantastic treat, still cool and sometimes a tad slushy (which the kids love) inside the cooler. The healthy snack is a perfect pick-me-up and cool-me-down grab-and-go option. (How's that for hyphenation overload?!)

So, if you go to the zoo this summer, consider making it an AZA accredited zoo. Also, if you want to ensure a healthy, cool snack that packs up easy, go for the Stonyfield YoKids Organic Yogurt Squeezers! Seriously! They are the best thing ever when you freeze them before a summer outing!


Disclosure: I received complimentary admission and coupons to purchase Stonyfield YoKids Squeezers. I am a part of the Yo-Getters Stonyfield Ambassador program. All opinions are my own.

Be Here. Now. Finding #TheWholeYou (Again.)

It's no secret of motherhood -- sometimes you get lost in the pick-up/drop-off, make breakfast, wash clothes, plan vacations, keep the house reasonably clean... mode. It's mom mode. It's easy to forget about nurturing yourself. As I've been on a journey of self-improvement in 2017, I am devoting May to bettering myself for the sake of my kids and my own sanity.

Morning Meditation


In May, each morning I've started my day with amazing free trade, organic, sustainable shade grown coffee. I am a bit of a coffee snob, as you already know if you've been here before! I tiptoe out of the bedroom wing of the house and after I get my coffee, I venture out to the patio. (Now that it's spring. In the winter I'll have to tweak my routine just a bit!) I sit down and the paving stones under my bum have just begun to warm in the early morning sun. I set the coffee down, get into a Lotus position, and just try to enjoy the very moment I'm in. I think about my lungs filling with fresh air. The sun kissing my cheeks in the crisp morning air. I think about the stones. I think about the birds and frogs I hear. I sometimes think about what the day holds and what I need to do and it gets noisy in my head. Then I remember these precious few moments are MINE. For me. To ground myself and preserve a little bit of Amanda before I need to punch in as "mom." I quiet the noise and recenter my soul, just before I hear the pitter patter of little feet and sleepy requests for cereal and yogurt.


Simple Snacking



The yogurt part of the above makes the transition from being just ME to mom a little easier. I keep a drawer in the refrigerator FULL of Stonyfield YoKids Strawberry Organic Yogurt Squeezers for the kids to scavenge at will. I don't limit this yummy, healthy snack. If they eat 12 in a day (which has yet to happen) so be it. We try to keep fresh fruits and vegetables cleaned, cut and available for little hands too. The kids are able to independently get delicious, healthy food and I have no worries about added dyes or chemical mysteries when I know Stonyfield is what's in my fridge! [Incidentally, the Squeezers are MY personal favorite too -- so we always get a few boxes at a time!]

Sustainable Style


My recent splurge in the self-care department which nourishes my soul in a different way than the yogurt is allowing a few fashion comforts each month. prAna is my latest favorite and is filling up my closet slowly, replacing fast fashion with earth-loving, comfortable hemp and other soft, sustainable fibers. 



My latest love is from the prAna Spring '17 collection of hemp clothing. I love the Chetan capri bottoms (I chose coal color - some may like the small patterned pair better) as they are form-fitting and cozy. They are rather warm -- though they are a spring item -- so I wouldn't recommend them for hot yoga or a summer afternoon run. However, they are perfect for my morning ritual and keep me comfortable through the task of morning drop-offs and errands. 

When I'm not worried about the little things in life, it's much easier to take care of me. To take care of what matters. When I'm centered and my whole self is taken care of, I'm a much better mom and citizen of the universe. 

Disclosure: This post was part of a partnership with Stonyfield Organics and prAna. All opinions are my own. 

Attention Minnesota Kids - The Best Twin Cities Summer Camp is here! [+ 50% off Discount Camp Code]

Summer camp time! An exciting time in your child's life, if you're like me and you remember a childhood of pouring over camp brochures and the flyers for community education, happily boarding the swimming bus each crisp morning and going to make bracelets at the local park in the afternoon with your local club.

So, when I had my first child, I REALLY wanted him to be in and experience everything. I impatiently wanted until he was able to go to a half day camp for one week of the summer when he was four. I was literally the first person signed up, to ensure one of 17 spots in the course. Overzealous? Yes. Regretful of my zeal? Never.

Summer camp experiences are some of the best moments you can give your kids outside the home if you are able. (Spoiler alert - below, you'll find a HALF OFF code to make it a little easier to make it happen!) I'm a huge supporter of letting them experience things they normally may not in school or at home. It's a way to have a taste of hobbies and interests kids haven't been exposed to OR a way to get them a little extra brain time during the summer holidays. It's never a bad thing to expose kids to new things. Robotics is a popular, modern option for kids which I never had access to as a kid. Perhaps, with one week of robotics camp your child might find interest in what could lead to a whole new outlook on life, careers, and their future. Profound, I know! 

First off -- Save by signing up with this code -- HALF OFF ya'll!!

My Readers SAVE 50% Off STEAM Science and Robotics Summer Camps
Use Code:  USFG1750 


Summer Day Camps - Where Fun, Thinking & Learning comes to Life


THE DETAILS

- Robot / Science / Engineering / Day Camp / Challenges

- Camps Girls and Boys - Aged 7 to 17

- Robot Camps offered during June, July and August

- Hands on Learning, First Time Beginners to Intermediate

- 1 week (5 days) long

- Days: Monday to Friday Time: 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

- LUNCH: Campers bring own lunches and drinks

- CAMPERS RATIO: 1 Instructor to 11 participants




For The Current STEAM Science and Robotics Camp Special Offer Click on the Exclusive and see where this adventure could take your kids! Sign up today!


Disclosure: This post and exclusive offer is made possible by a partnership with US Family Guides and S.T.E.A.M. Camps. 

Cows helping Penguins... It must be World Penguin Day and Stonyfield is in on it!

Exciting news! Stonyfield YoKids is sponsoring the AZA SAFE (Saving Animals from Extinction) program; together on a mission to help save endangered species. As part of a year-long effort,  Stonyfield will not only be contributing funds to field work but aiming to drive kids and their families to see animals and conservation projects first hand at zoos, aquariums, and on the ground where the research is happening.



Stonyfield is supporting The Association of Zoos and Aquariums SAFE program to educate families and help save animals from extinction. 


Now when you buy two specially marked YoKids multipacks you can get a FREE kid’s ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket to a participating AZA Zoo or Aquarium and meet endangered animals (including penguins) face-to-face. 

Offer valid till 9/30/17. Other restrictions apply, visit stonyfield.com/azasafe to learn more.



Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield Organics and AZA. 

The Kitchen Gear That Proves Adulthood (What Mom Really Wants as a Gift)

When you're twenty-something, you don't usually dream of fine dishes, extra time to stretch in the morning, or a night serum. This all changes when thirty hits. Maybe not immediately, but in your thirties, you'll realize a few divine secrets of adulthood, as Gretchen Rubin terms them.



The Secret to Great Cooking


Here's one you know if you're a thirty something person or a foodie or groupie of the Julia Childs fan club..."Good food is made possible by using good cook ware." It's true. I must have spent a few years in college eating Teflon seasoned grilled cheese and I remember clearly macaroni and cheese with black flecks in it when I hadn't used pepper!

Even back then, I was vaguely aware that real adults didn't eat stuff like this. My mom had never served me food garnished this way. But on the list of things that I cared about at the time, my crappy pots and pans which I'd abused with metal utensils and scraped free week-old messes, cookware did not rate high on the list. 

Now that I have a family to feed and depending on genetics and fate could well be at my mid-life point, though I like to think I'm not there yet, I have different priorities. I'm sure you do too.



Advice from a World-Class Chef


While traveling in Florida, we had a rare luxury--an upscale dining establishment right on our resort property, which we'd been invited to check out as a family. I was writing about the resort for a national outlet and as such was invited to chat with the chef after we settled into our open-air seating. She told us what menu items she recommended and where some of the foods were sourced (locally.) She offered a tip as well, and to pare it down to the simplest terms: "good food is created using good tools." Chefs generally have access to some of the bells and whistles which you might not find in a household kitchen, sure. They have wide expanses to prepare and plate. They might have the coveted stainless steel sinks and counters and other kitchen amenities you'd flip for. However, bringing gourmet to your own table doesn't have to be a dream.


Pampered Chef Blues


I first found anodized aluminum and learned to love it when I was a consultant for Pampered Chef. I did truly feel like I was using some higher caliber cookware when I got my consultant kit, which included a good-sized hard anodized aluminum executive chef pan. Shiny new adulting toys! I would painstakingly put a flannel cloth between my pans as to not scratch them up in storage. My family was instructed that they were not to even glance at my new pans while holding a metal utensil.

However, I also found that to earn my "free" expensive executive fry pans, I was actually ordering a ton of other kitchen gadgets I "needed" and thrusting my new "business" on my family and friends. I didn't like me in that capacity. So I stopped. No longer a consultant, I simply couldn't justify the prices for things I'd lived without for so long. (Egg slicer? I can actually do it by hand, thanks!)



The Best Quality Cookware for an Affordable Price


Then, I found Revere pots and pans (again.) When I moved in with my fiance, his father had passed down some awesome (I mean awesome) stainless steel pots. They were rad. No more furry textured peeling, scratched Teflon to eat in my food. The copper bottoms were pretty but I really only noted them because I'd never seen bottoms of pots look like that. We also used a lot of cast iron at that time, in the pan department. It's worth noting we STILL have those Revere pots with the copper bottoms in perfect condition, NINE YEARS and 9,855 meals later!

After the longevity of my pots which still reside in my cupboard and grace my stovetop impressed me so, I decided to look to the World Kitchen umbrella of brands for our replacement pots and pans.



Revere® Clean Pan™ 10-pc Hard Anodized Aluminum Non-stick Cookware Set


This set retails for $199.99 -- and is 10 pieces! I love this option because it's the same great quality as what I first discovered with Pampered Chef, but with a manageable price tag for the everyday chef too! We've been enjoying our new pots and pans for a little over a month now. The large stock pot (6.5 quarts) is an especially surprising component I didn't know we needed until we started using it! We have a slightly smaller one (5 quarts) and having two is fantastic for chili night (chili in one pot, corn in the other) or for boiling crab, brats, really anything! Pasta galore! We had run into a handful of times when two stock pots would be nice and now we have that luxury.

Another great feature I didn't know I'd need until I had it is the elevated, ergonomic handles. The pots and pans both have handles which not only connect and nest but also are a few degrees higher than older standards and feel SO fantastic when you need to flip an egg or pour off water. I won't be able to happily go back to the "straight" handle! The interlocking handles elevate the pans to add a bit of safe space between the bottom of one and the bowl of the other -- for me, the neurotic perfectionist, this means I don't have to spend 25 minutes and half of my wash clothes lining each pan and placing them "just so" and ever so gently into my cupboards! Win!

I really like the angle and shape of the body of the pans too. They are slightly more well bowl shaped for better pouring and less "egg-overboard" accidents!



Still Going Strong!


We've tried meats, seafood, eggs, pancakes... pretty much all of our staples and have had great results with the pans and cook pots. As a stay-at-home-mom I spend SO much of my time cooking and cleaning up after cooking that I love having quality cookware. Revere has raised the bar and met my expectations again and really, being mom (or dad) in the kitchen, you deserve the best tools for the job, just like a carpenter and the coveted titanium hammer! (Or so I've heard!)

There are plenty of occasions to spoil mom with something she really wants -- Mother's Day gifts, Christmas shopping, birthdays... Or just a little gift from you to you! This is such a practical, long-lasting non-stick set, I don't know how we ever cooked with lesser tools! Cooking is enjoyable again when you start out on the right track with quality tools.





Disclosure: I was provided a complimentary set of Revere cookware for the purposes of this article. As always, my opinions are my own. 


B Corporations and Healthy Families - What You Need to Know

You can already feel good about life as you're eating your Stonyfield 100% Grassfed Organic Yogurt each day. You know it's good for your kids when you give them the Squeezers they are requesting for their school lunches. But, did you know Stonyfield is a B Corporation? If you haven't heard of that designation before, you're sure to be interested in the implications of being labeled as such.



What is a B Corporation? 


Officially, "B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency."

This means you know the products are made in a sustainable way. You know the companies aren't labeling the product as organic only to find it chock-full of GMOs and pesticides. You can feel good about your family using and consuming these products AND you can feel good knowing the Earth is just a little better for it too! (What better time to do small things like purchase from B Corporations than now? Every little bit of effort we can make can combat changes to environmental policy and work toward greening our planet for our kids and the future!) 

B Corporations are growing in number--over 1000 and counting exist today! You can check out this site to learn more and find many B Corps businesses to proudly support. Here is a list of the B Corps we love and have had great experiences with:

Badger
Stonyfield
Preserve

Pukka
King Arthur 
Pete and Gerry's
Method
Purely Elizabeth
New Belgium Brewing


Disclosure: Some of the above brands provided a sample to try. I am part of the Stonyfield Yo-Getters and thereby was able to participate in this post. All opinions are my own. 

Making Saving for Travel A Little Easier with Groupon Coupons

This content is sponsored.

It probably does not come a s a big surprise to you that we are ALWAYS trying to cut corners and save money so that we might have a few extra dollars to put toward all of our roaming. Well, what I've found lately is by saving small (or big -- even better) on my day-to-day purchasing I am able to really sock it away for fun stuff.

The snippet above was simply taken from page one of MANY pages of the Groupon coupon site! You can search by store, so it makes the task really easy. Certainly I take advantages of in-store savings cards (not credit cards, just club cards) and I have the Target Cartwheel app on my phone. But did you know that Groupon can help you further, with coupons for Target too? Many of these offers can be accessed with your phone or printed and then used WITH other discounts (again I'll use Target) -- combine Groupon coupons with a Cartwheel offer AND your 5% Redcard discount? Well, you're checking out with some deep savings, my friend! 


Right now, even Saks Fifth Avenue has 42 coupons to save on the high end splurges you might be interested in! In case you missed it -- there are plenty of actual travel-related booking sites with coupons too. So, not only am I saving with 10-40% off coupons on many random day-to-day purchases, socking away those extra pennies and dollars, I can also save when I go to book a trip! CheapOAir and Priceline are just a two of the sites you can usually find on Groupon. In fact, just by signing up for CheapOAir email newsletters you can cash in on $20 when you book a flight! All of these seemingly small savings really add up big and lead to things like going to Disney World for spring break (and staying at the Grand Floridian) and even small allowances for things like the upcharge to hold an alligator or an extra ice cream bar during a particularly sunny day! Groupon gets the job done folks -- it's so easy to save every time you shop. Almost any store you patronize you will find can be the key to saving money for the best moments in life by simply saving on the things you buy regularly. 

This content is sponsored.

The Betty Rocker Make Fat Cry Challenge - Day Seven

I'm a week in and I have to say -- I haven't lost a thing. BUT I feel amazing. And I haven't been eating clean. In fact, it's likely the polar opposite. I MAY have discovered dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels at ALDI and well....

But the point is I feel great. It's so easy to fit this workout in my schedule.

Start Your Own FREE Challenge! 


I hope you out there will join me! It's FREE. Just based off of the first week I've had a better workout each day in 15 minutes than in 45 minutes with Turbo Jam or Zumba videos I've used in the past.

There is no money back guarantee, because there is no money exchanged! This is a legitimately free workout program! I LOVE IT. I'm not working with The Betty Rocker. She really doesn't know I exist, I'm sure. But, I think you'll love it because I do!

Here's Bree's site. Who is joining me? I'd love to have some accountability buddies or just folks to talk about the workouts with!

Go kick butt!

I'm hoping this week I'll eat better, maybe see the scale move a bit, and feel better in my day-to-day life.

The Betty Rocker 30 Day Make Fat Cry Challenge - Day One

Wow. So did Day One of The Betty Rocker 30 Day Challenge -- WHOA. I'm so out of shape. 15 minutes with Bree kicked my BUTT. It felt super good to be DONE with a crazy cardio (for me) workout without using anything but my special Ryka studio shoes (to save my feet on the carpet) and my computer. I guess technically I used my Roku TV to listen to a workout station on Pandora too.

Start Your Own FREE Challenge! 


I hope you out there will join me! It's FREE. Just based off of DAY ONE I've had a better workout in 15 minutes than in 45 minutes with Turbo Jam or Zumba videos I've used in the past.

There is no money back guarantee, because there is no money exchanged! This is a legitimately free workout program! I LOVE IT.

Here's Bree's site. Who is joining me? I think this might be what helps me kick the baby weight and get healthy. No resolutions. No New Years failures. Just motivation to use the body I have TODAY and make it better for TOMORROW! :)

Go kick butt!

PS -- I'm going to admit something horrific and I hope it will be different in 30 days----

I'm starting Day One at 191.7 lbs! Ack!

The Beginner's Bible - A Great Place to Start for Kids

I recently received the opportunity to check out a copy of The Beginner's Bible and I have to say -- I'm loving it even as an adult.

You see.....

We put our children in a private Christian preschool. If you were a germaphobe helicopter parent with control issues like I am, you'd know this was one of about three options for my family. If I could afford private education, I think I would given our locale and options. Alas, that's another post for another day. So, we had our first child in a Christian three year old room and then on to the four year old room. I had TWO gripes with the school, both were addressed in mediocre ways BUT it was a trade-off for being a text message away from my son at all times AND all the time and energy and love which the teacher devoted to the kids.

1) Not enough outdoors time. I reminded the teacher God's beauty can best be captured in the simple moments outdoors and the kids were outside the next afternoon.

2) Inappropriate (IMHO) Bible for the Kids Bible Stories and Verses. This will likely be met by much controversy and near-blaspheming by many out there. I *think* the kids Bible the teacher used followed the Awanas themes and verses -- though I cannot be sure, as we've never gone to Awanas. However, the Easter story was really disturbing for our child (lots of gore and blood and graphic thorny crown/cross pictures, etc.)

Seeing The Beginner's Bible made me cry out with joy. I wanted to reinforce LOVE as the main theme when teaching our kids about God, but it was hard for their little minds to break away from the graphic pictures to hear the message that was unlikely to hit home from the illustrations. This time around, each night we read together from The Beginner's Bible and the more difficult concepts are met head on much more appropriately for early learners and very eloquently explained.

The pictures are perfect for the preschool set and put things into simple terms which even reinforce the "meat and potatoes" of each lesson for adults too!

I couldn't be happier with this book. It's EXACTLY what we were looking for after our experiences the first time around! We're prepared now as our second child becomes aware of God's message.

To learn  more:

Official website:  www.TheBeginnersBible.com
Trailer / book trailer: http://bit.ly/2aZoqnN
Link to Amazon (non-affiliate!) Simply for your purchasing ease! Currently $12.88 on Prime!



Disclosure: This post was made possible in partnership with FlyBy Promotions. Consideration was provided but all thoughts and stories are my own.