Friday, September 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 68)

--- 1 ---

We're going away this weekend with family.  I'm looking forward to a nice getaway and some relaxation.  This will be Lucia's first trip away from home that isn't to a family member's house.  Babies have so much stuff.  Girl babies have even more, because we just had to bring a darling pair of shoes to match each outfit.  Yes, had to.

--- 2 ---

David didn't get the position he interviewed for recently.  It's been over four months since he graduated and nine months since he started looking for jobs.  We didn't think it would take this long for him to find a job, but we have faith that there was a reason this job wasn't right for us and a better opportunity will soon come up.

--- 3 ---

Now that we know we won't be moving anytime soon, we can settle in at my parents' house.  I've been putting some finishing touches on Lucia's room.  When we find the time, we will be repainting our room and putting up some pictures and other decorations.  Right now, there is some "interesting" 80s wallpaper (I don't know how I survived high school in this room!) and the only decor is the map art I made for David for our anniversary.

--- 4 ---

I saw a few friends this week.  I thought that once I moved back, I would be seeing friends all the time, but I started working and just haven't had the energy to do much.  I definitely feel like I've been in "survival" mode.  Seeing my friends has made me realize how much I've been missing and I'm going to set aside some time every week for some "friend time", if not in person, at least a phone call.

--- 5 ---

Last night, I made apple compote.  I've never made compote of any kind before, but I just looked up a recipe on Pinterest and it came out great.  It was awesome with angel food cake and vanilla ice cream.  And it made the house smell like fall.
--- 6 ---

Speaking of fall, I took out my boots and sweaters tonight.  It seems like almost everyone I know is so excited for autumn, but I'm more of a summer girl. Although I will admit that there are certain things I love about fall: I love fall scents, the colors of the leaves, crock pot meals, warm lattes and apple cider, and pumpkins.

--- 7 ---

Someone loves her new slide:

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Protect Your Identity with LifeLock

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LifeLock Facebook for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever had your identity stolen?  It seems like I have few friends and family members who haven’t had fraudulent charges on their credit cards or bank accounts at least once in their lifetime.  Thankfully, that has never happened to me (although it has happened to my husband right after we got married and hadn’t yet combined our accounts).  However, I know that there is a real possibility that I could be a victim of identity theft at least once in my lifetime.  In 2011, 11.6 million adults were victims of identity fraud.  That amounted to $18 billion lost.  That’s scary! 


Do you want to know what is even scarier?  The percentage of social media users (that’s you!) who are victims of identity fraud.  In fact, 10.1% of LinkedIn users have experienced identity fraud.  8.2% of victims are social media users who have “checked in” to locations with their smartphone.  If these statistics describe you, you may want to look into protecting yourself with a service like LifeLock.  And that might not be as scary as how easy it is for professionals to figure out your passwords.  How hack friendly is your password?


LifeLock alerts its members to potential identity theft threats and provides recovery services if identity theft occurs while a member.  One of my favorite LifeLock services is help cancelling and replacing credit and debit card if you lose your wallet.  I know very few people who haven’t lost their wallet at sometime in their lives and the process of cancelling all your cards can be a difficult and time-consuming process.  By the time you realize your cards are missing, you locate the numbers for your banks and credit card companies, someone could have spent hundreds, even thousands, of dollars of your hard earned money.  Recently, my mom left her credit card at a gas station on the way to work and there were already three purchases made with it by the time she noticed it missing during lunch and called the credit card company.  Imagine if you had various credit cards and no help from a company like LifeLock to help you quickly cancel them.  If you are serious about protecting your family and future from identity fraud, look into LifeLock memberships.  You can learn more by visiting LifeLock on Facebook

AmeliaIZEA |

What are your experiences with identity fraud?  Do you worry about your social media use increasing your risks of becoming a victim of identity theft?

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Take a Peek: Lulu's Room

Today I want to share a few of the little touches I recently added to Lucia's nursery.  As many of you know, I planned a ducky themed nursery for my baby long before she was born.  Since we didn't find out if we were having a boy or girl, I wanted something that could be gender neutral and was oh-so-adorable.  (To check out her crib and bedding, click here.)  When we lived in North Carolina, her room was fairly small and much of the space was used as storage.  Now that we are living with my parents, there is plenty of storage in the basement so Lucia has a room all her own!  That means I finally have the space to make her room cozy and adorable.

Shortly after we moved here, I helped my mom clear out and organize all the kitchen cabinets.  There were a few odds and ends in there that were destined for Goodwill including this little fish bowl:

It was filled with ugly green pebbles and had a peach bow tied around it (very 80s).  I had previously seen this cute little ducky jar and planned to make one for Lulu's room, but once I saw this little fish bowl, I knew that some of Lucia's many rubber ducks (decorations at my ducky themed baby showers) would love it in there. Originally, I planned to put the ducks in water, but that meant I would have to constantly be filling it.  My mom thought of putting them in blue tissue paper, which led to my idea to use shredded blue paper.  I may put more shredded paper in there eventually, but that's all the blue paper I had at the time.

Before we moved from NC, I bought a wooden letter "L" from a craft store for only 25 cents.  It was painted white and I knew that I wanted to do something a little fancier with it.  I had planned on painting it, but then came across this post using Mod Podge to put scrapbook paper on letters.  Genius!  The back doesn't look as nice and there are a few imperfections if you look up close, but overall, I love the way this came out.  And since I coated the paper with Mod Podge with horizontal strokes, the texture makes it look like I painted the stripes on!  Doesn't it look so adorable with Lulu's Precious Moments prayer doll leaning on it?

Here are the two decorations on the top of her bookshelf?  That top shelf of her bookshelf has since been filled with books.  My mom and I are huge admirers of classic chidren's literature so Lucia will always have more books than she can read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ten Minute Tuesday: Moving Back Home

Rachel, who blogs at Testosterhome, initiated a little thing called "Ten Minute Tuesday" last week.  I came across it a little to late to participate last week, but it seems like the perfect addition to my blog.  Here's how it works.  You look at the clock, you write for ten minutes, then you stop.  Simple, huh?  

We have been living with my parents since we moved back to Colorado.  I get a lot of questions about how it's going and I think people expect that we don't like it.  It's true that we are living here out of necessity, but for the most part, I enjoy it.  When I was a child, we lived in the same neighborhood as my grandparents and I loved it!  But it wasn't enough for me, I wanted my grandparents to live with us.  I read about cultures in which it was traditional for several generations to live in the same home and it sounded amazing!  I still love the idea of children living in the same home as their grandparents and I am so happy we are able to provide this for Lucia, even if it is only for a short while.  When my parents come home, they are overjoyed that they are able to play with their granddaughter (Lucia seems to like it too!).  Most nights, David and I are able to cook together (something we loved to do when we were first married) while my parents play with the baby.  Obviously, we are very grateful to be rent-free while David continues to look for a job.  

Is it always easy?  No!  My parents are respectful of our privacy, but living in close quarters with anyone has it's challenges.  For us, one of the biggest downsides is the limits on entertaining.  It's just not possible to have friends over whenever we want, to plan dinner parties or large get-togethers while living with others.  Another downside: we can't make the house "our own".  We are lucky in that we have a room for us, a room for Lucia's nursery, and a jack-and-jill bathroom that connect the two (so we can move between them without having to step out in the hallway).  But those are the only spaces that are "ours" to decorate and organize as we wish.  My parents have been very generous in allowing us to paint our rooms and decorate them as we like, even though we may only be here temporarily (David helped my dad paint Lucia's room and we have yet to do ours).  Stil, we have boxes of pictures and decor in the basement that I look forward to putting up in our own home someday. 

There are other benefits I am enjoying associated with "being home", however many of these don't have to do specifically with living in my parents' house, just with being in my old hometown.  Most of my friends still live here or have moved back to the area after having adventured out of state.  I'm so happy to know I won't get lost when driving around town - I know all the side streets and the back ways which is a relief after needing the GPS for every trip the past two years.  There are little things I missed as well - getting my hair cut by the same person my mom and I have gone to since I was in high school, listening to my favorite local radio stations and djs, knowing where to go for the best _________ food (Mexican, Italian, vegetarian, you fill in the blank).  Since I didn't know my husband until college, I enjoy driving around town with him and telling him memories about each place we pass.  These are memories I look forward to sharing with Lucia as well. 

Have you ever moved back home with your parents?  What did/didn't you like about it?  

Have you ever moved back to your hometown?  What did you enjoy about being back?  What do you miss about your hometown?

Monday, September 24, 2012

GradSave $10,000 Scholarship Sweepstakes

Have you heard of GradSave?  If you have children and are wanting to save for college, you might want to check it out.  It is a great resource for getting contributions for your child's college fund from family and friends.  They can contribute to your child's GradSave account, then you link it to a 529 college savings account (tax-free!).  David and I are so excited about the GradSave account we just set up for Lucia, because we have many family members who send Lucia money for holidays.  Now we can direct them to her GradSave account.  (You can even share your little one's account on Facebook and Twitter!)

Right now, GradSave has a $10,000 Scholarship Sweepstakes!  Go enter!  As my mom always says, "Someone has to win and there is no reason why it can't be me."  Wouldn't that be a wonderful addition to your child's college savings?  Click here to go to the entry form.  See below for the nitty-gritty sweepstakes details.

Eligibility. If you are an individual legal resident of the United States (except for the State of Rhode Island) or the District of Columbia and are 18 years of age or older at the time of entry, you are eligible to enter the Sweepstakes. Our employees, their immediate family members (spouses, domestic partners, parents, grandparents, siblings, children and grandchildren), and our affiliates, advisors or advertising/promotion agencies (and their immediate family members) are not eligible to enter the Sweepstakes.
Prize. We will award one (1) Grand Prize Scholarship that will be payable, at the option of the winner, either as (i) a deposit of $1,000 per year for the next 10 years into a child’s college savings fund ($10,000), or (ii) an up front payout of $4,000, which represents the present value of an investment in a college savings fund for a 1 year old with withdrawals starting at age 17 and a 6% compounded annual rate of return on such investment (This just shows you how a college savings fund grows…); provided that, if the winner is a resident of the State of Florida or the State of New York, such winner must select the upfront payment of $4,000.  In the case of a single payout option (i.e., option (ii) above), Actual future value of scholarship may vary based on the return rates of your particular college savings fund and/or the age of child.Odds of Winning. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Certain promotions will be held where additional entries will be awarded as prizes for action, which may include liking us on Facebook, entering free photo contests, etc.  Check our home page at for more information on these free promotions.

This is a post sponsored by GradSave.  See disclosure policy.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Saturday Steals

This Saturday, my mom and I went to two garage sales and a large children's consignment sale.  There wasn't much that Lucia NEEDS right now, but if the price was right, there were a few things I had been wanting to get her and it's always nice to stock up on clothes for the future.  (If you notice, I also bought some items that are too small for Lucia to fit into or are clearly for baby boys.  No, I don't have any big announcements, but I can't pass up a great price on items we will [hopefully] need someday for a future son.)
I've been meaning to write a post about how (and where) to by used baby items to offer some of my tips and trick.  But I can't pass up the opportunity to say that garage sales tend to have the cheapest prices and consignment sales tend to have some of the priciest, so you have to look really well to find some truly great finds at consignment sales.  Many consignment sales run for several days and on the last day, many of the items are at a steep discount.  At the sale we went to, sellers could mark whether they wanted their items to go for 50% off on Saturday, so many of the items weren't that great of a deal before, but they were awesome prices at half off.

I love reading posts of bloggers' thrift store savings (read any of Katie of NFP and Me's "thriftaholic" posts and you'll be addicted too!), so I thought I would share (just a few of) of my favorite Saturday finds:

Blue velvet holiday dress
Luli & Me
Originally $120
Paid $1.50

Dress and long sleeved onesie (new with tags)
Originally $44
Paid $7

Quilted overalls and long sleeve onesie
Janie and Jack
Originally (approx.) $70+
Paid $4

Winnie the Pooh sleeper
Originally  (approx) $15+
Paid $.25

Four pairs of brand new tights
Gymboree and The Children's Place/Baby Place
Originally $35
Paid $4

Five pairs baby boots & shoes
Various brands including Gymboree, Baby Gap and Carter's
Originally (approx.) $80+
Paid $6.75

Baby boy's nautical shoes (new with tags)
Originally $10
Paid  $2.50

Pumpkin costume
First Moments
Originally (approx.) $20+
Paid $1.50

Flower costume
Princess Paradise
Originally $30
Paid $3

Ladybug costume
Originally $20
Paid $2.50

Monkey chair
 Originally (apprx.) $15+
Paid $2

 Ten Counter Bead Maze
Originally $40
Paid $5

Rock and Trot Rocking Horse
Melissa and Doug
Originally $120
Paid $7

Little Tykes
Originally $50
Paid $2

 Total original prices $669+
Total paid $49
Savings $620+

Um, yeah, I think we had a GOOD day.  Keep in mind, this was less than half of what we got.  We spent about $110 total and came home with a ton more clothes (included much needed pajamas), some puzzles and toys, books, and a few other brand new items we plan to give as gifts.  Of course, I never would have spent full price on any of these items, so we didn't really "save" $620, but it's nice to see a price comparison anyway.  I was especially excited about the rocking horse.  I had been planning to get Lucia a rocking horse for Christmas, but was looking at ones for about $40.  I never imagined we would be able to get her such a nice one (and it makes trotting noises!).  The little monkey chair was perfect too!  The last few times we've taken her for her monthly portraits, she's absolutely loved sitting in the toddler size chair and I'd been thinking she needed her own.  She loves it!

Have you had any good garage sale/thrift store/consignment sale finds recently?  If so, I'd love to hear about them!  Leave a comment and let the world know what a thrifty shopper you are!  (Tips welcome too, I have great garage sale skills but I'm lacking in the thrift store department).

If you like this post, you might also be interested in my Baby on a Budget series.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday (Take 67)

--- 1 ---

One of my fellow Catholic bloggers, Jenna of It's Just Called Spicy, is awaiting the arrival of her first baby any day now.  She's starting to really feel the full-term frustration (also known as "I want to see my baby now!), so won't you pop over to her blog and leave her some encouragement and advice for waiting out those last few days? She recently wrote a post recapping her pregnancy; if you haven't checked out her blog before, that would be a great place to start!

--- 2 ---

Recently I've purchased a few new wardrobe items (at deep discounts) and I'm starting to feel like I finally have a grown-up wardrobe.  I've tried to buy dresses, skirts, shirts, and cardigans, that can be mixed with various pieces.  Areas where I am still struggling: accessorizing and doing something with my hair more than blow drying it or putting it in a pony tail.  I was proud of myself a few weeks ago when we went out for my grandparent's 60th anniversary and I actually styled my hair.  And I didn't even follow a tutorial, I made it up as I went.

--- 3 ---

Lucia is sick.  Again.  She hasn't had any big illnesses, but she has had a series of colds for the past month that haven't quite gone away.  She was up all night with a stuffy nose and a nasty cough.  David took her to the doctor's today and it is just a cold but at least now I have some piece of mind.  This was the first time she's been to the doctor's for an illness and not a well baby check up.  Today was a long day at work worrying about her (and exhausted from being up with her last night).

--- 4 ---

I had a few really great classes this week.  It's taken a while to figure out what activities and classroom management methods are best for each grade level but I feel like I'm finally getting the hang of it.  I've also found a few great resources online, include a really neat numbers packet for younger elementary that the first graders ate up today!

--- 5 ---

Did you see Lucia's nine month post from earlier this week?  If you didn't here's a sneak peak.  (Now head over and check out the rest.)

--- 6 ---

I wrote a prayer for working mothers last week.  I had been looking for one but just couldn't find one I connected with.  Have you ever written your own prayer? (One to say regularly, not just a one-time-use prayer?) This is definitely a first for me. 

--- 7 ---

I am hosting an online Thirty-One show with 10% of sales going to the American Thyroid AssociationMy mom, one of my best friends, and my husband's cousin are all thyroid cancer survivors and I decided to host a fundraising show in their honor.  If you are interested in learning more, read my review of my "teacher bag", learn about this month's promotions, or enter the $25 Thirty-One giveaway.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thirty-One Giveaway

Thirty-One offers the most beautiful household organizing products, bags, and purses.  To see my review of their Organizing Utility Tote (my "teacher bag"), learn about Erin's current promotions, or order from my fundraising show (with FREE SHIPPING and 10% of the sales going directly to the American Thyroid Association), click here.

Enter below to win a $25 credit from Thirty-One Independent Consultant, Erin Ringwald. Contest ends 9/28. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check the right sidebar for other ongoing and upcoming giveaways!

My Teacher Bag: A Thirty-One Review

every teacher bag needs an umbrella
When I graduated from college, my parents wanted to get me a very special gift.  Thinking of my future career in teaching, my ideal gift was a teacher bag.  The problem: I couldn't find a "teacher bag" anywhere.  I scoured the internet, I searched stores, and came up with nothing.  Fast forward two years and I finally have a teaching job and the need for a teacher bag.  But this time, my search was fruitful, thanks to Pinterest.  I simply typed in "teacher bag" and came up with several images, although almost all were the very same bag, the Organizing Utility Tote from Thirty-One

6 1-inch binders, 2-inch binder & more
The Organizing Utility Tote is amazing!  It's everything I could ever want in a teacher bag.  (It would also make a great craft bag or weekend trip diaper bag.)  I took the advice of several other bloggers and put an open top file box inside it (I purchased this one from Staples online), which made it much easier to keep it's contents organized.  (Otherwise, it is a spacious bag, so I could imagine easily "losing" items in it.)  Not only do I use it to bring items to and from school (including the six one-inch binders I have for the various grades I teach), but I also use it as I travel from class to class when I teach elementary school in the afternoon.  Being a traveling teacher requires that I have everything with me for the entire afternoon - that's where the side pockets really come in handy.  I put my number flashcards, pens, keys, and even a plastic cup filled with my 100 numbered popsicle sticks (they seriously come in handy for every game we play!).  The tote is very high quality, so I don't have to worry about it wearing out or breaking and not lasting me the school year (or several).  And the best part of this bag? It's so cute!  I've had a serious love affair with gray recently - clothing, accessories, decor - and this bag was the perfect indulgence!
If you haven't heard of Thirty-One, here is a brief run-down in the words of Erin Ringwald, my Thirty-One independent consultant: Thirty-One is a faith-based company that is all about empowering women. Based on teachings from the Bible and Proverbs 31 in particular, Thirty-One encourages women of all walks of life to come together and find a safe place to grow as individuals, all the while offering their customers quality products to help simplify their everyday lives

Large Utility Tote
I am so pleased with my first Thirty-One purchase that I'm already thinking of the next products I'll get.  Right now, I am particularly smitten with these Large Utility Totes which would be perfect in Lucia's bedroom or her future playroom. I also love these Mini Utility Bins. (Can you tell I'm on an organizing kick?)

One of the best aspects of Thirty-One is working with independent consultants.  I ordered my bag through consultant Erin Ringwald and she has been a delight to work with - emailing me at every step of the way to tell me when my product was shipped and checking to make sure I received it.  Independent consultants can offer their own promotions in addition to those offered by Thirty-One.  Erin organizes fundraising shows, donating part of her own commission so that 10% of each purchase goes directly to the recipient that the show's hostess chooses (families in need, children's sports teams/schools, charitable organizations, etc.).  She has set up an online fundraising show for me, with 10% of the sales going to the American Thyroid Association.  My mother, one of my dearest childhood friends, and my husband's cousin are all thyroid cancer survivors and I'm hosting this show in their honor. 
Buy it: If you decide to purchase Thirty-One products through my show, the benefits extend much further than the 10% donated to thyroid disease research.  The Thirty-One company special for the month of September is 31% off an item for every $31 you spend.  Once you spend $31, add any item to the order and get 31% off that item. No limit!  To top it off, if you order through my show, Erin is personally offering free shipping for your order!  Check out Erin's Thirty-One consultant page to see if you love Thirty-One products as much as I do and to take advantage of Erin's amazing promotions.

Win it: Erin is also offering a $25 credit to giveaway for one lucky readers.  Click here to go to the Thirty-One giveaway.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FREE Working Mother Magazine

As you all know, I recently went "back to work" for the first time since Lucia was born.  I have to be perfectly honest, it's been difficult.  It's a huge struggle to leave Lucia every day, even for a job I enjoy.  The greatest comfort I have had is from other working mothers that know what I am going through.  I saw this offer today for a free six month subscription to Working Mother magazine and it seems like a godsend.  I need all the advice and tips I can get.  I signed up and thought there might be other moms out there interested too.   It is completely free, compliments of - you don't have to put in credit card information when you sign up - just your name and address.  It would be really nice to send to any working moms you know as well.  You can sign up for your free subscription to Working Mother magazine here.

This post contains affiliate links.  I only promote products that I personally believe in and would use myself. See disclosure policy.

My Nine Month Old

My sweet Lucia Rose is nine months old!  I can say without a doubt that this past month has been filled with milestones and memories.  As my husband likes to say, Lucia is a FUN girl and her little personality is just beginning to shine.  And this month it's become clear that she truly is a "girl" - much more toddler than baby.  

This past month, Lucia has really started slimming down.  She's getting long and lean; I'm sad to see her chunky baby thighs go.  How is she making this transformation?  Well, by moving, moving, moving.  I can set her in the middle of the room and in less than a minute she's crawled to the furniture around the room and pulled herself up.  That's right, she's pulling herself up on everything in sight, furniture, boxes, her crib.  Sometimes all she uses to steady herself is a few fingers on one hand.  She's getting to be quite the daredevil and I imagine that she will be standing on her own quite soon.  It's so strange to think that a month ago, she still hadn't quite gotten the hang of crawling and she couldn't get into a seated position on her own.  Now she crawls at lightning speed, pulls herself up on furniture, lets go, falls down, sits back up, rolls around, giggles, pulls herself back up, in sixty seconds or less.  She's a fireball, that girl!  Another new activity: dancing!  Put on music, and Lulu will start swaying, shaking her bottom and bouncing around.

This months was a huge months for language development.  Lucia now says seven words: hi, dada, dog, mama, ow (when she falls down or bonks herself), wow, and that.  "That" is always accompanied by pointing (or poking).  We attribute this to David, since he's always pointing at objects and asking her "What's that?"  It nearly killed me to hear my baby say "dog" for weeks before she said "mama", but since "mama" is now her favorite word, she's more than made it up to me.  She has associated me with the sign for "milk" for quite a long time now, so it's not as if I've been ignored.  She has two distinct "milk" signs now: the traditional sign means "milk" and the same sign done with both hands very enthusiastically (often accompanied by the word "mama") mean she wants me.  She does the sign for "more" regularly now when she is eating (before it was hit or miss), but hasn't added any new signs this month.  

Now that I told you Lulu's favorite word is "mama", I have to add that her favorite person is Mama!  I think part of this has to do with the fact that I've started working part time this month and she misses me.  She clings to me when I'm home and often will cry when I set her down or when someone else tries to hold her.  My poor husband and parents, they feel so undesired!

Making their debut this month: two new teeth for a total of four.  From what I've read, it's typical for the two front teeth on the bottom to come in first (they did), and then the two front teeth on the top.  Lucia's not typical.  She's getting her front right tooth in on the top and then the one to the right of that.  It looks so goofy but so cute.  Not so cute: her bite packs a real punch now!

Now for the "cuteness" updates: Lucia makes the most adorable "O" mouth all the time.  She often does this when she's pointing at something, when she is startles, when she says "wow" because something is just so new and exciting.  She also has started to get very cuddly.  If you remember, last month I said I missed cuddling with my baby.  She was just too active and couldn't sit still long enough for me to get in any cuddles or love.  In the past few weeks, she's becoming a complete snuggle bug.  In the middle of playing she's lay her head down on my chest or shoulder.  Sometimes it lasts just a moment, sometimes longer.  It is so sweet and reminds me that my baby will always need a little bit of love from mama.  

Cuddling with her is amazing, but my absolute, hands down favorite new addition this month is this: when someone asks Lucia for a kiss, she puts down her head so she can get a kiss on the top of her head.  It never fails: ask her for a kiss, and she'll drop her chin and won't raise it back up again until she's gotten a kiss or two!  I've noticed she'll sometimes drop her head forward without being asked and will wait for you to kiss her.  That's right, my baby found her own way of asking for kisses!  I love my girl!

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Farm Rich Review and Giveaway

Last Sunday, my husband was craving some "football snacks" for the first Broncos game of the season, and specifically requested jalapeño "poppers".  I was recently given two coupons from Farm Rich to try their products for free and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.  I checked out their website to find the nearest store that carried their jalapeño peppers and sent him off with the coupons and the instruction to pick whatever snack he wanted with the second coupon.  Farm Rich has over a dozen different snack foods available so I was excited to see which item he would choose.  He came home with his much-desired Jalapeño Peppers and the Stuffed Pretzel Bites.

My husband made about half the bag of each product and it wasn't enough.  We live with my parents, so there were four adults eating the snacks and they were gone very quickly.  Everyone enjoyed the pretzel bites (they were perfectly soft like a fresh soft pretzel from a sporting event), but the star of the afternoon was the jalapeño peppers.  My parents buy cheese stuffed jalepeño peppers for all our big snack occasions (parties, sports games, etc.) so you could say they have a "discerning palate" when it comes to these snacks.  I told them that I needed to review the products and they were more than happy to give me their opinion that they were the best jalapeño peppers they ever had! (My husband and I agreed.)  Why did they taste so much better than those we've had in the past?  They weren't greasy like others usually are and you could taste the quality of the ingredients.  We would post pictures, but they were all gone before I had a chance to snap one! 

If you would like to try these or any of the varieties of Farm Rich products, there is currently a coupon on the Farm Rich website for $1.50 off two Farm Rich products.  Or, enter below for a chance to win two coupons for FREE Farm Rich products.  Contest closes September 24th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check the right sidebar for other ongoing and upcoming giveaways!

I received the necklace mentioned in this post to facilitate my review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are 100% mine.  Please see Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Small Concept Shop Spotlight

As soon as my husband and I were expecting our first child, I simply fell in love with baby boutiques, little shops lovingly curated to bring together only the most adorable and classic baby items.  What a refreshing change from the big box stores with rows and rows of nothing but cheap plastic.  Once Lucia was born though, I found myself turning to online shopping because getting out of the house with a little one is much easier said than done!  I lamented the loss of boutique shopping, until I discovered that boutiques existed online as well.  

Small Concept is one of those sweet online baby and child boutiques.  It's run by Julie, a woman with a great love for little ones and a bittersweet background behind her business.  Here is her story in her own words:
Last year, I made the monumental decision to leave my salaried position of 12 years and venture into the entrepreneurial world. I also lost my husband of 30 years to a long battle with cancer. I suppose you could say that now, more than ever, I understand the importance of pursuing a career path that you’re passionate about-- and I’m very passionate about children, especially my own children and grandchildren. I’ve learned that life is short and precious, which is why I chose to devote my time to a business that revolves around my love for children.

The Small Concept mission is simple: to provide quality products and deliver only the best in customer service. We offer great brands like Tea Collection, Appaman, Deux Par Deux, Magnificent Baby, Wonder Boy, and much more. In addition, we recently introduced maternity wear to our collection-- specifically, Lilac Clothing and Olian Maternity.

What an amazing foundation to build a company upon!  A love of children and a desire to follow her passions!  Check out Small Concept's adorable online boutique to see how Julie has brought her vision to fruition.  Some of my favorite items are the P'kolino Puzzle Stacker (oh, how I adore wooden baby toys!), the Tea Collection Hanji Floral Wrap Dress, and the Ah Goo Baby wipes case.  They also have some sweet and stylish maternity clothes, but since we aren't planning any new little ones soon, I won't let myself browse those pages too much!  As a cloth diapering mama, I also appreciate that Small Concept carries cloth diapers.  It's so convenient to shop for cloth diapers while shopping for other adorable items for my little one.

Small Concept gave me the opportunity to select a few items for review.  I chose the Itzy Ritzy Wet Happened?™ Zippered Wet Bag (in avocado damask - so cute!), the Thirsties Duo Fab Fitted diaper, and the Thirsties Duo Wrap.  I believe that you can tell the quality of a shop by the quality of products they carry, and was so excited to try these out.

in her Thirsties Duo Wrap
I've previously mentioned that I'm a huge fan of Thirsties for several reasons: the company is from my hometown, their diapers are made in the USA, and  they have a strong commitment to be environmentally friendly.  Their Duo products are "two-sized" meaning that there are only two sizes  that together should serve baby throughout diapering.  I prefer this sizing to one-size diapers because the fits is so much better (meaning more comfort and less leaks!), but I don't have to buy four or five different "sized" diapers (expensive!) Lucia has been fitting the the larger Duos since she was five or six months, and they look like they will fit her through potty training.  We are huge fans of fitted diapers, so we've had many to compare them to, and these truly stack up with the best of them.  They feel soft for her delicate skin and are absorbent enough for overnight (Lucia, however, is not a heavy wetter, so we don't even put doublers in it).

The Duo Wrap is fabulous.  We've used it with a variety of fitted diapers and with prefolds, and it works great.  No notable leaks to report.  One of our biggest issues is that we bought some rather bulky fitted diapers of a different brand (the Thirsties ones are fairly trim) and many of our diaper covers won't fit over them.  The Duo Wrap does, however, so it's used constantly in our cloth diaper rotation.

so cute!
Of the three items Small Concept sent me, the Itzy Ritzy Wet Happened?™ Zippered Wet Bag is definitely my favorite.  Unlike the diaper and cover, which is part of a larger rotation, this wet bag is used on almost a daily basis.  Aside from the adorable pattern, I love the size of this wet bag.  My other wet bag barely fits two diapers so it only can be used for a short outing.  Until recently, we used disposable diapers when we went out, but I really can't justify paying the money for them anymore.  Since we are using cloth diapers out of the house, we need a wet bag that can handle multiple diapers when we are gone for the day visiting family or running errands.  This one is up to the task.  We took it to Lucia's swim lessons on Tuesday and when we came home it contained: a cloth diaper, her wet swimsuit, my wet swimsuit (NOT a little bikini - a one-piece with a skirt, so quite a bit of material), and her wet towel.  I think wet bags are an essential for every mom with little ones, not just those who cloth diaper, for wet cloth, spit up messes, etc.  It's one of my favorite items to give as a baby shower gift, and this will be my go-to wet bag to gift for the future.

I was so pleased with these products, and in turn, Small Concept.  Julie selects only the best baby and children's products and it's so refreshing knowing that you can buy anything in a shop and it will be high quality.  I highly suggest Small Concept for the next time you need a baby gift or for your own online baby boutique shopping needs. 

I received the cloth diapering products mentioned in this post to facilitate my review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are 100% mine.  Please see Disclosure Policy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Erin Condren Giveaway

I have been a huge admirer of Erin Condren products for a while now.  They are beautifully designed and perfectly practical.  Since starting my teaching job about a month ago (can you believe we are on the fourth week of school already), I've had fun searching the internet for the most useful and adorable teaching products and wasn't a but surprised when my search brought me to  Here's a peek at some of my favorite teacher products:

lesson planner

And some of my favorite "other" products:

photo trays
recipe cards is offering one Catholic Newlywed reader the opportunity to win a $25 credit for the products of your choosing.  Enter on the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check the right sidebar for other ongoing and upcoming giveaways!


Prayer for a Working Mother

This Sunday night, as I prepare to start a new week, I'm seeking God's assistance to guide me through the hardship of leaving my daughter for work.  I wrote this prayer to guide me and thought it might give other working moms as much peace as it's given me.

My God,
You have blessed me with abundance.
You have given me the gifts of a husband and child(ren).
You have have blessed me with gifts and talents
which I use to care for my family;
among these is the ability to work to provide 
for their material needs.
Grant me the patience to balance work and family,
the peace to leave the difficulties of the job at the door,
and the energy to care for my family when I return home.
Lord, watch over my family while I am away,
keep them healthy and safe.
When I am with them,
give me the grace to be Your Love in their lives.
In all that I do,
in work and at home,
may I glorify you
and be the Light to those around me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sponsor Spotlight: It's Just Called Spicy (& cheddar bacon dip recipe)

I am delighted to introduce you to Jenna, the winner of my ad space giveaway.  Jenna also happens to be a sweet blogger friend of mine.  She has the most adorable blog, It's Just Called Spicy.  Isn't that just the most amazing name?  You know with a name like that, her blog is a bundle of fun.  And guess what?  She is expecting her first bundle of joy in a few weeks!  After you get done reading Jenna's post below (and making her scrumptious cheddar bacon dip recipe), won't you go visit her blog and leave her well wishes for the little one? 

Hey there friends of Catholic Newlywed! & Thank you Mandi for letting me share a little bit about myself today on your awesome blog!

I'm Jenna and I blog over at It's Just Called Spicy

The above picture is me and my hubs! My blog covers an abundant amount of topics from faith, family, out sweet baby that is expected to be here any day, cooking, link up parties, event planning, couponing, crafting, movie reviews, book reviews, and giveaways! 

I'd love you to stop by and say hi sometime! 

Anyways, today I thought I'd share with you a recipe that I have shared before over at my blog! Due to my pregnancy and the expected birth of our sweet little boy at the end of September, I have been craving this one lately!

Cheddar Bacon Dip in a bread bowl! Yummy!


1 round loaf of Sourdough bread, 1 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 t. Worcestershire, 1/2 cup chopped green onion, 3/4 lb cooked crumbled bacon, Bread cubes and crackers for dipping!


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut the top of the bread off and hollow out, leaving a shell. Cut the removed bread into cubes for dipping later!!! Next in a large bowl mix with a fork, softened cream cheese, sour cream, & Worcestershire sauce. Stir in bacon, and onion.

Spoon mixture into bread bowl. Wrap the bread bowl in foil and place on a cookie sheet or pan. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour. Serve with crackers and bread cubes...Enjoy the delicious-ness!

I couldn't end this post without sharing a few preggo pictures... 

Over at my blog, I've shared the journey through pregnancy and even some projects which I've incorporated to make life easier when baby arrives like my sweet baby clothing dividers! You'll have to check it out if you have a little one or a little one on the way! Our little man is almost here and I can't wait to see his sweet face.

I also host a weekly Link Up Party for bloggers to share their favorite posts of the week with one another. It's a fun little party and you can meet lots of new friends in the blogging community! So if you are a blogger, come by and check it out..if you are not a blogger, you can still find some great reads!

And lately, I've been blessed with the opportunity to host a few cool giveaways... You can click here for my latest giveaway! I'd love you to enter.. who knows.. you could win!
Those are just a few of the happenings on my blog lately, you'll have to check it out for yourself to get the whole 4-1-1 on It's Just Called Spicy!

That's all for today! Thanks again to Mandi for letting me share a little bit about myself & my blog! Make sure to make that delicious cheddar bacon dip and save some for me! haha.