Operation: Smile Brighter

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and Colgate® Optic White® Express White.  All opinions are mine alone.  #OpticSmiles #CollectiveBias

Operation Smile Brighter

The last two years have been full of transformations for me.  I’ve lost around 50 lbs, become much more active than I used to be, made a multitude of changes in my personal life (separation, a new home, a boyfriend – just to name a few) and I am far happier with myself and who I am than I have ever been.

One thing still bothers me though… While I love seeing my smaller body in pictures, I tend not to smile as brightly as I once did.  My teeth look so yellow!  I imagine most people don’t notice, but I do.  It’s time to make a change.  I want to look at pictures of myself enjoying my new life and I want to be happy with what I see.

What Causes Stains on Teeth As I’ve gotten older and life has gotten busier, I find myself leaning more and more on old friends… Coffee, tea, soda and wine.  Life is tiring, and I enjoy the comfort and pick me up I get in a glass of coffee or a can of soda.  And when life does slow down, there is nothing quite like relaxing with a glass or sweet tea or having a glass of wine with dinner.  I know all of those indulgences have stained my teeth through the years.  TIP: Drinking staining beverages through a straw can help reduce the staining effect on your teeth.  It won’t stop staining all together, but it will reduce it.

Does Coffee Stain TeethI’ve tried other products and methods through the years to whiten my teeth, but they’ve all been either too messy, too time consuming or just too complicated.  I don’t have time or space for anything else complicated in my life, but brushing?  I do that every day already.  Less hassle makes Colgate® Optic White® Express White perfect for me.  Whiter teeth in just 3 days by brushing?  Sign me up!  In combination with paying more attention to what I induldge in, how I induldge in it (see the tip above about using a straw) and brusing more frequently than twice a day, I hope to see major changes soon!

Brush with Colgate Optic WhiteI found an array of Colgate® Optic White® Express White products in various sizes on a huge aisle display at Walmart. Easy enough!  Colgate® Optic White® Express White Toothpaste has 2 times more of the professionally recommended whitening ingredient (vs. Colgate® Optic White® Sparkling Mint Toothpaste), making it a quick solution to my yellow teeth problems.

Where To Buy Colgate Optic WhiteI’m a few days into the process and I already feel more confident about my smile.  I’m looking forward to seeing my smaller body and my brighter smile in pictures as I make and capture new memories with my kids, my boyfriend and our friends & family.  I cherish the photos I have of my life and I want to look back at them and be happy with what I see.  Seeing myself smile, and smile bright, is important to me.

How do you feel about your smile?  Do you show your teeth confidently, knowing they are health and look their best, or are you hiding your stained teeth like me?

Posted in Beauty & Fashion, Health/Wellness | 5 Comments

5 Ways To Live Greener In 2015 Without Breaking The Bank

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it’s Energizer Eco Advanced.  All opinions are mine alone.  #BringingInnovation #CollectiveBias

Ways To Be Green in 2015When most people think “green” or “eco-friendly”, they also think “more expensive” and that’s not necessarily the case.  There are quite a few simple changes you can make in your every day life that will not only make for greener living, but will also save you a few bucks!

Land-O-Lakes-Saute-Express1) Ditch paper plates.  You can buy inexpensive, shatter-proof plates at places like Walmart for a few dollars.  They will last virtually forever and take just a few seconds to wash by hand or can be tossed in the dishwasher with your other dishes.  You save money by not buying paper plates week after week and you save the environment by keeping paper plates out of our landfills.  When the occasion calls for paper (like a party – let’s be practical), opt for plates made with recycled material.

2) Say goodbye to paper towels, at least most of the time.  I have kids, I get it. There are some messes that need to be wadded up and tossed in the trash, but for day to day tasks (like drying your hands after washing, etc), paper towels are just a waste!  Just like paper plates, paper towels are expensive, they go fast and they fill up our landfills.  I use bar towels most of the time (white or tan) and you can buy a pack of 6 for about $5.  I probably have 15 or so.  I use them for just about everything, then just toss them in the wash with my other towels.

Recycled Batteries3) Pay attention to your energy consumption.  This is one area where you have nothing to loose and only savings on your energy bills to gain!  How many rooms in your house have lights on right now, but there’s no one in them?  How many chargers are plugged into your wall that don’t have devices actively charging attached?  If they’re plugged in, you’re consuming energy.  Turn off lights when you leave a room and unplug those unused chargers.  For battery operated devices, opt for recycled batteries like the new Energizer Eco Advanced batteries (the first batteries on the market to use recycled batteries/materials) and make sure to turn off devices or remove the batteries when not in use.

http://mamamommymom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Laundry-Soap.jpg4) Make your own cleaners and/or laundry detergent (tutorial below!).  A 68 load liquid detergent runs between $10 and $15 dollars.  You can make about 4 times that much for under $5.  It’s safe, you control the chemicals, it cleans really well, is safe for HE washers and it saves you a ton!  You can also make our own all purpose cleaner for about $1 verses the typical $4 bottle from the store.  Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and distilled water.  You can add a few drops of essential oils for scent.

5) Shop thrift or re-Purpose before you shop new.  Yes, thrift shops can be full of junk, but they can be full of treasures too!  You can often find new with tag clothes at a fraction of the tag price, great deals on furniture pieces and home decor items and you can pick up mix-match pieces from time to time to make things like this great treat stand or other awesome crafts (check out all of the inspiration you can find on Pinterest!)  Shopping thrift or re-purposing items you already have will save you money and keep all of that awesome stuff out of our landfills.

**See the tutorial for DIY Landry Detergent below!**

Homemade-Laundry-Soapa BIG pot

1 bar Fels Naptha Bar Laundry Soap

1 cup Borax

1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

Water

Containers to hold 4 gallons of detergent (I use 4 Mainstays Gallon Canisters)

Starting with your pot and your bar of Fels Naptha, you need to get the soap into meltable pieces.  The easiest way to do this is with a veggie peeler, straight into the pot.  Think of it as shaving a block of cheese.  It will take you a few minutes, but it’s worth it as the soap will melt quicker this way.  If you don’t have a peeler, you can use a grater or simply shave the bar off with a knife.  Both of those options result in slightly larger pieces of soap, thus taking longer to melt.

Once you’ve shaved down your bar of Fels Naptha, add 8 cups of water to the pot and give it a stir.  You’re going to bring this to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the Fels Naptha soap is completely melted.

Once your soap has liquified, add in the Borax, Washing Soda and an additional 8 cups of water.  Stir until mixed and continue to simmer until everything has dissolved and you have one cohesive liquid.  Once that has happened, remove the mixture for the heat and allow it to cool slightly.

Once the detergent has cooled enough to handle, split it evenly between your containers.  At this point, you will then fill the remaining space in each container with water.  Seal your containers and shake them vigorously to mix.

You will need to let your detergent ‘cure’ for about 24 hours before use.  You’ll notice it thickening as it sits.  Use 1-2 tablespoons per load (based on the load size).

Where To Buy Energizer EcoYou can learn more about the new Energizer Eco Advanced, Energizer’s longest lasting alkaline ever by visiting BringingInnovation.net or pick up a pack to try for yourself (just like I did!) at your local Walmart.  PRO TIP: Don’t wander around the electronics section for 20 minutes like I did… just look for the convenient Battery Centers near both entrances.  You’ll find that Energizer Eco Advance is available in both AA and AAA.

Enter the GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards!

GuiltFreeEnergy Giveaway – $1,000 in Gift Cards

How do you live a greener life?  What tips and tricks can you share with us to help us save money and save the environment?  Share you tips with us here or on Facebook!

Posted in For the Home, Life in General | 11 Comments

Strawberry Milkshake Shots

Strawberry Milkshake ShotsYour typical milkshake is probably better suited for Summer, but these… these milkshakes are good all year long!  Not quite suited for the kiddos, these Strawberry Milkshake Shots are for the 21 and up crowd, but you could make the kids their own by leaving out the vodka.

Strawberry Milkshake Shot DrinkThey aren’t very potent, but that’s by design.  They’re so fun to drink, and tasty too.  Keeping the alcohol content low lets you enjoy quite a few of these Strawberry Milkshake Shots without worrying about over-indulging.

Strawberry Milkshake Shots
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Alcoholic Beverage
Serves: 6 Shots
Ingredients
  • 3 oz Pinnacle Strawberry Shortcake Vodka
  • 3 oz Strawberry Daquiri Mix (Use the kind with real strawberries - not all syrup)
  • 3 oz Milk (Use at least 2% Milk - The higher the fat content, the creamier the shot)
  • Whipped Cream (Optional)
Instructions
  1. Mix the three ingrdients together.
  2. Pour into shot glasses.
  3. Top with Whipped Cream.
  4. Drink!

 

Posted in Food, Recipes | Leave a comment

Growing Up Fairytale: An Ever After High Marathon

This post is sponsored by Netflix. As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I receive complimentary Netflix streaming. We were Netflix customers for years before becoming members of the #StreamTeam. All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Girl in snowYesterday was a snow day for most of us here in NC.  Another snow day.  There are some school districts around us that have been out for almost 2 weeks.  For a Southern state, this is way more winter weather than we’re used to seeing.  We don’t have weather that keeps us out of school for two weeks.  Well, we didn’t.

North Carolina Snow FunThe kids did enjoy getting out in the snow for a bit yesterday.  It was excellent snow for packing snowballs and building snow men.  We only got a few inches, but between the kids and the dogs, they tore it up!  The kids built 4 or 5 snowmen between our yard and the neighbor’s, then chased each other around with some massive snowballs.  But, being Southern, we don’t last too long out in the cold… even the kids.  Within an hour, they were done.  They were all done.

The sad part of NC snow fun is that it takes us longer to get dressed/get undressed and clean up the mess than we typically stay outside.  Go figure.  Once the kids shed their wet duds, they split off in pairs (we had neighborhood kids over too) and all headed off for warmer entertainment.  Two of the girls settled in for a Netflix marathon of Ever After High, so I broke out a box of cool goodies our friends at Netflix sent us to help them have their own little viewing party!

Netflix Ever After High Though BubblesOf course my daughter’s thought bubble say “Omg!”  That’s her general attitude most of the time – be it dramatic, exasperated, ecstatic or otherwise.  The girls played with fortune tellers, story cards and other fun goodies (like Ever After High dolls!) and even acted out some of the scenes from the show.  It was super cute, and of course they had no idea I was watching them.  Parents have to be stealthy.

Netflix Ever After High Play DateSpeaking of parents… remember your favorite fairytale characters?  They are parents too!  That’s how Ever After High came to be…  a boarding school for teens destined to follow in their famous parents’ fairytale footsteps. Only this is high school, and that spells drama. Some, like Apple White, Daring Charming and Blondie Lockes, embrace their “happily ever afters,” while others, like Raven Queen and Cedar Wood, choose to rewrite their stories — which could change the fate of every one else at school.

Netflix Ever After High Fortune Teller

Are your kiddos over Winter or are they craving more of the white stuff?  Mine are done and done, anxiously awaiting the warmer weather of Spring – which in NC feels a lot like Summer!  What do your kiddos enjoy watching or doing inside to beat the boredom of Winter?

 

 

Posted in Entertainment | 3 Comments

Do I Want To Build A Snowman? No, No I Do Not

I woke up on time this morning, early even.  Woke up the kids, jumped in the shower, shuffled everyone around to ensure we were ready to head out the door ahead of schedule (yay!). Then my phone rang.  It was the school… “Due to the inclement weather, school will be operating on a 2 hour delay.”

What?!  What inclement weather?  Then I looked outside..

Border collie in snow
Where is Elsa?  She and I need to have a little chat. It’s late February and this is the South. We should see one big event a year, my kids should miss a few days of school max. Bing, bang, boom – now give me my 70 degree weather. But no. No, no, no. My kids did not see a full day of school last week, and as it looks now, yesterday may have been their only full day this week. Heaven help me. Plus, I need milk and bread. Legitimately. Do you know what snow in the South does to our grocery stores? It’s like going into a war zone. A milk and bread poor war zone.

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(null)Seriously, y’all.  I need groceries and the thought of going to the store scares me.  How long can my kids live off frozen nuggets and apple juice before child services gets involved?  I think I have a chicken breast and pasta sauce too. Maybe we’ll make it (after I hear “I don’t want that” about 15 times.)

And I’m out of wine.

image

 

Posted in Life in General, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Why I Bought My 8 Year Old A Cell Phone

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and it’s advertisers, the T-Mobile Simply Prepaid™ plan and Samsung Galaxy Avant. All opinions are mine alone. #ChangingPrepaid #CollectiveBias

My eight year old has a cell phoneWhen I got married in 1999, I said I would do it once and never again.  Of course, I also assumed that my once would be forever.  Fast forward 15 years and now I’m the mom of two cute kiddos and in the middle of a divorce.  Things don’t always end up the way we thought they would.

Being the kid in a divorce situation is hard.  I would know.  I’ve been there too.  I remember being with my dad and wishing I could talk to my mom, and vice versa.  We could call each other, but people didn’t have cellphones and it was a chore to catch everyone at home at the same time.  Most weeks were spent without a connection to my other parent. It was hard.

Things have changed a lot since then.  My ex-husband and I both have cell phones (who doesn’t these days?) and we’re always available to our kids whenever they need us – except those times when our kids aren’t with us… School, staying with grandparents, etc… But I never want our kids to feel like they have to go through one parent to get to the other.

Little Girl on Cell PhoneI’ve considered getting my 8 year old daughter a cell phone for a while, but the thought of committing to a contract on something I that didn’t know if it would work out or not, it scared me to death!  A cell phone contract is a HUGE commitment, one that I just wasn’t ready to make.

After much begging on the part of my daughter (“Mom, I NEED a cell phone!”) and some research on prepaid options, I gave in – but not without a compromise: I picked the phone, I picked the plan and she has to prove that she’s responsible.  If she can’t handle it, I stop paying for it and the phone goes bye-bye.  I couldn’t do that with a contract plan, but I can with this…

Samsung Galaxy Avant TMobile Simply PrepaidIntroducing T-Mobile Simply Prepaid™.  These plans give you the tools to stay connected for just $40 dollars a month with 4G LTE data with unlimited talk and text.  No overages, no credit check, and annual service contract required!  You pay as you go.  Don’t settle for second-rate prepaid wireless.

We went shopping at Wal-mart to see what options we had as far as phones and plans.  We chose the Samsung Galaxy Avant, a pretty cool Smart Phone with all of the typical bells and whistles.  The cashier grabbed our phone for us, we got two months of prepaid cards, paid for our purchases and were out the door.  No standing around, no crazy waiting to get the phone set up.  I did that all at home in about 15 minutes.

Samsung Galaxy Avant Set UpWe’re a week in and my daughter and I have very much enjoyed being able to send each other a quick text, if just to say “I love you”.  She and her brother spent a good 30 minutes on the phone with her dad the day we came home with it.  She’s been very responsible with the phone and following the rules I put in place, and I love knowing that if she needs me, she knows I am only a phone call or a text away.

Text MessageDo your children have cell phones?  How old were they when you made the decision to keep them connected and what type of phone/plan did you set them up with?

Posted in Life in General | 13 Comments

Traits of a Attractive Man

What makes a man attractive?

That’s a loaded question, one that will change at many points throughout your life.  Age, hormones and circumstances all come into play.  So, on my drive to work a few days ago, I caught the morning show I listen to discussing some new survey that was published regarding the what makes a man attractive outside of looks and personality.  What the answered amounted to were money, and I call foul.

man walking on icy roadMy, how things have changed.

There might have been a point in my life where money would’ve made a man more attractive, but that ship sailed a long time ago.  I’ve done the nice house, nice car, nice clothes thing before and it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.  After you get a little life under your belt, it doesn’t take long for most of us to realize that money doesn’t mean as much as people like to think that it does.  There are far more important things in life, and as far as my man goes, money was no where on the list of things that attracted me to him.

photo (2)So, what makes a man attractive – ya know, looks aside?

1) Having his priorities in order.  This varies from man to man, but I can tell you that the number one spot should never belong to himself or to money.  With my man, I am not first, he is not first.  His kids are first.  His family is second.  I come in somewhere around third and I’m perfectly content with that.

2) Maintaining a relationship with his family.  I don’t necessarily mean that I expect to live in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, but I think the way a man treats the people who are in his life by blood and not by choice speaks highly of the kind of person he is and wants to be.

3) Having realistic expectations of life with kids, jobs, pets, etc.  You could give me a man of Ian Somerhalder quality looks, a sparkling personality and a fat bank account, but if he expects life to be without hiccup or bump in the road, he’s not even going to turn my head.  Life puts enough pressure on us and we put enough pressure on ourselves without having our other half pushing us to be perfect and have everything around us be perfect too.  My life is chaos and I need a man who gets that.

10958604_1375362199447078_1675815511_nIt’s not about the money, ladies.

Would I have loved a new pair of earrings or a diamond necklace for Valentine’s Day?  Sure!  Who wouldn’t?!  I’m not crazy, ya know.  Did I get either of those?  Nope.  Does it matter?  Nope.  Is what I got better?  Yep.  An $8 or $9 miniature rosebush from the grocery store was what I got from my Valentine and it was perfect.  Not something extravagant or the type of thing that he knew I would want to run out and show off, but just a little plant.  Something he bought days before, watered and took care of, then gave to me knowing that I had seen it at the store and admired how pretty it was.  He took his daughter with him to the store and they agreed on it together.

Ladies, that is what makes a man attractive, not money.  If you’re looking for mister right and you’re hung up on looks or money, odds are that you’re not going to be happy with what you find in the long run.  Forget about the cars, the clothes, the nice houses and expensive dinners.  Sometimes happiness comes in the form of an $8 plant and dinner at Cracker Barrel.

Posted in Life in General | 9 Comments

Last Minute Valentines Day Gifts Under $25

Valentine’s Day… It’s practically here!  My kiddos are easy – they just want chocolate, and lots of it.  Most of your significant others won’t be quite so easy to shop for.  I read an article a few days ago that said the average American spends $177 on Valentine’s gifts. Wow.  Yeah, I’m not sure that’s going to happen for most of us (I think somebody is skewing that statistic) but I did find a few pretty cool items you can get for under $25 ( and, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can have most of them delivered to your door by Friday!

These monogrammed leather glasses case is geared toward men, but I think it’s pretty cool myself.

If you have an art lover to by for, this unique print would beat colorful, constant reminder of how much you love each other.

Everyone needs a pocket knife.  You can get all kinds of amazing designs (knives can show your personality too!)

If you have a hubby who spends a lot of time at his desk, he’ll get a kick out of this mousepad.

For the jet setter, this leather luggage tag is both practical and gorgeous.

For the wine lover, a practical and useful gift.  I want on myself!

For the coffee drinker, mugs are always fun.  I love the color changing mugs!

For the writer or lover of hand written cards, a wax seal to stamp their letters and envelopes if fun and unique.  I’ve always wanted one.

If your man enjoys a glass of whiskey now and again, these are a pretty neat substitute for ice cubes.  You could really use them in any drink though.  They give you the chill of ice without watering down your drink.

What fun or creative gifts are you giving for Valentine’s Day this year?  See something you want on this list?  Share it on Facebook and maybe your significant other will get the hint!

Posted in Life in General | Leave a comment

Win Grace Thomas, The Newest American Girl {Giveaway}

If you’ve been hanging around for any length of time, you know that we’re a little bit American Girl obsessed.  (Evidence here, here, here and here…. there’s a whole section devoted to them under the Crafts & Hobbies tab up top.)  Needless to say, my girl is ready to bring Grace Thomas home.  The new American Girl store just opened in Charlotte this past fall, and she’s quite aware that we don’t have to spend 4 hours in the car to get there anymore!  She’s going to have to earn the money to buy Grace Thomas, but you can win one for your little American Girl fan!

American-Girl-Giveaway

If you’d like to check out American Girl yourself you can by clicking HERE .

GIVEAWAY- Winner will get an American Girl Doll (Grace Thomas and her book)

Open to US Residents and Canada Residents. (If American girl does not ship to your area- you will be given the money via Paypal instead) Must be 18+ years or older. Giveaways ends March 1st at Midnight EST. Once the winner is chosen, they have 48 hours to reply via email. If they do not reply another winner will be picked. We’ll announce the winner on our Facebook page.

Good luck, and don’t forget to share with your friends and family!  Maybe the ones that don’t have AG fans of their own could win Grace Thomas for you!

This giveaway is sponsored by these awesome blogs:

Mama.Mommy.Mom.
It’s me, debcb!
Life Anchored
Simply {Darr}ling
Lipgloss & Crayons
This Girl’s Life Blog
Geniabeme
Lauren McBride
Daydreaming Beauty
Whimsy & Hope by Sarah Halstead
My Mommy Brain
Beauty in the Mess

Please stop by their sites to check out all of their awesome articles!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Posted in American Girl, Current Giveaways, Giveaways | 102 Comments

Sibling Rivalry: Tips To Make Sharing A Bedroom A Success

This post is sponsored by Netflix.  As a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I receive complimentary Netflix streaming.  We were Netflix customers for years before becoming members of the #StreamTeam.  All opinions are mine and mine alone.

Tips-For-Sharing-A-BedroomAfter my husband and I separated, one of the biggest adjustments for my kids was the change in our living arrangements. When you’re not accustomed to apartment life, losing the freedom of a house can be a huge change. Besides the immediate need for a reduction in noise level (I don’t want to be *that* neighbor), finding space for all of the people/things becomes a problem. The first big hit, the kids have to share a bedroom.

I guess we were lucky that the boy and the girl are only 2 years apart in age. I can’t image trying to have two kids with a wide age span crammed into the same space. There are days that I’m not sure my two will be able to tolerate it much longer, but there are a few things we do/have done to make the situation a lot more “liveable” for all of us.

First, find a theme/color scheme that everyone can agree on.  Don’t ask them what they want, but offer a few choices – and offer them to them separate from each other.  If you ask them together, you’ll never get them both on board with the same plan.  My kiddos are SUPER into Minecraft, so we are doing cube shaped toy storage (love those milk crates you can get at back to school time) and green (grass) and brown (dirt) linens.

Second, create a space within the room for each child’s things.  The closet is divided with storage space for each child, they each have their own bins for their toys and bed spaces were established with a set of bunk beds.  If you don’t want your stuff messed with, keep it in your space.

Third, limit or eliminate fighting over television by utilizing tablets.  Let’s be honest, most kids have a tablet these days. Both of mine do.  To squish the fighting over who’s going to control the remote, we just don’t do traditional television in their room.  The kids usually watch a show or two on Netflix before they head to bed.  They can use headphones and both watch exactly what they want.  I also love that I can monitor what they’re watching by logging into our account.  You can’t hide from me, kiddos!

Fourth, make sure each child gets some “alone time” in their shared space.  It’s a great way to spend time with your kids one on one too.  I’ll usually send one to enjoy something alone in their room (a little down time) while I do something with the other.  After a bit, we switch and the other kid gets some time alone/together time with mom.

Inevitably, fighting over the space is still going to happen, but it is possible to limit it to the bare minimum.  If you have kiddos sharing a room, what do you do to keep the sibling love flowing?

Posted in Apartment Living, Entertainment, Parenting | 4 Comments