DIY Growth Chart

Awhile back I convinced my hubby to let me use a leftover board from a stair renovation for a small DIY project. What I love about using leftovers is that it is basically FREE!! I had the remainder of the supplies on hand too. So what if you didn't have all of these supplies on hand? This would still be an inexpensive project... $10 is my guess.

Below is the list of supplies and recommended steps. You'll have a cute growth chart in no time... or in less than two days. :)

1 wooden board, size doesn't necessarily matter. I used a board that was 1/8" thin and was cut to about 5'h x about 8"w.
1 small tin of wood stain or paint
A sharpie or other marker to write on the wood

1. Sand board to smooth the edges. Use lower grit sandpaper and work up to a finer grit.
2. Stain or paint the board and give it proper time to dry. I waited 24 hours for the stain to dry.
3. Once dry, lightly mark (I used pencil) the board with the appropriate measurements. Since my board was 5' and I wanted it to record taller heights I planned on mounting the board 1' off the ground and that means the board measures up to 6'.
4. Use the marker or paint to mark the board over the pencil marks.
Optional: Add a monogram, your family name, a quote, or a bible verse to personalize it!

And there you have it! An awesome, basically free, growth chart to stop time on those little ones that are growing faster than the weeds. :)



DIY Dry Shampoo

Hi there! This evening I spent some time in my lab, *ehem* my kitchen, replenishing my favorite beauty DIYs. I ran out of body wash last week. Before you judge, I have been using my husband's body wash since mine ran out... did you think I was just not washing?! I ran out of dry shampoo this morning and I have about one dollop of makeup remover left. It was a good time to take of all of it! I realized when I was in my lab that I have not yet blogged about my dry shampoo. This dry shampoo has been my go-to for second day hair for well over a year. I seriously cannot live without it (hence an emergency lab session the same day I ran out). So now I am blessing all of you with it's amazingness. :)

A little bit of history on WHY I don't wash my hair everyday and the evolution of my DIY dry shampoo. I have oily/greasy hair. It is a pain! I could barely go 12 hours without my hair looking like a grease mop. Not only that but the oil weighed down my hair. Over time I researched it. I researched dermatologist, stylist, and user recommendations and reviews of how often to wash hair and what to do with your hair between washes. I slowly moved away from washing my hair everyday (A good time to jump start this was maternity leave... not going to work gave me time to experiment. Plus who has time to shower with a newborn?!). This meant trying out dry shampoos.

Most all store bought dry shampoos were (1) leaving my hair white and cakey (2) not great smelling (3) expensive (4) filled with just plain crap. If I haven't said it a thousand times on my blog... your skin is a sponge! Take care of it knowing that all products soak right in.

Disenchanted with store bought dry shampoos I started experimenting with homemade concoctions. My first attempt was with rubbing alcohol and some powder (I tried to block this out)... FAIL. Pinterest made me do it! Ha. Don't believe everything you see on Pinterest unless it comes from a valuable source, like say, Purposeful Productions. :) I found a few recipes using items I have in my kitchen. I love recipes like that because if I can eat it I surely feel comfortable using it on the rest of my body. I did end up finding something that works great....So on to the recipe already.

This is really simple. I am not even sure I can call this a "recipe".

- Small container (I use an old foundation container)
- A makeup brush

- Cocoa powder
- Arrowroot powder
- Rosemary essential oil (optional)

Mix 1:1 of the powders. Add 5 drops of rosemary essential oil per 1/4 cup of dry shampoo. Shake to mix all ingredients.

Ok yeah... told you it was simple!

A few tips/tricks to note:
- If you have dark hair... use more cocoa powder
- If you have light hair... use more arrowroot powder. Experiment to find the right ratio for your hair.
- I use rosemary oil to stimulate hair growth. It is optional. I cannot confirm or deny it's helped with hair growth because that is difficult to measure but I still use it.
- When applying it to your hair less is more. Lightly dip your makeup brush in the powder, tap most of it off, then brush it along your roots by sections. Once you have sufficiently applied the dry shampoo to all sections of your hair, let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Brush your teeth, finish applying your makeup, be patient young one. Then comb through. Reapply to any oily spot if needed.
- Here is an interesting article from NPR on washing your hair... check out the link at the bottom. An article from 1908 about washing your hair. Too funny.

And yes. You will smell of chocolate deliciousness when you shower next! :)

Want to know what else I was mixing up in the lab? Check out my posts on DIY Makeup Remover and DIY Body Wash.

If you try this out come back and let me know what you think. If you try any other variations I would love to know!



FMD Phase 3: Shamrock Shake Recipe

A long day of running around with my two beautiful kiddos, workout, business, and then dinner at the pool... all to be capped off with the most delicious dessert. Oh and the best part? It has no sugar or sweeteners added AND it has veggies. Seriously, it was almost too sweet for me and that is saying a lot because my sweet tooth is about as big as they get! I am definitely making this one again. :)

I saw this recipe over here at detoxinista and knew I needed to try it. I LOVE (I don't know how I can emphasize that more ha!) shamrock shakes. March is the only month of the year I patronize McDonald's because I need at least one each year. If there is a legitimate substitute I am going to be all over it. St Patrick's Day 12 months of the year!!

The verdict: YES. YES. YES. It is a winner! :)

I am working on this Fast Metabolism Diet and Phase 3 is perfectly timed for the weekends, to indulge a little bit but you have to find healthy alternatives like this one. So here's the breakdown for this recipe:

1/4 avocado
1 cup Almond Milk (I use unsweetened)
5 dates pitted
1 handful of spinach
1/4 teaspoon of peppermint
1 big handful of ice

Dump it all in the blender and blend until it is smooth. Here's a tip from my wonderful sister... soak the dates for about a half day to soften them. They will blend easier! I accidentally spilled a little more peppermint in the blender so it came out almost too sweet but it was definitely delicious.

So go run out to the store now if you don't have all of these ingredients and treat yourself to something sweet without feeling guilty about it!

Have a great weekend! :)



Fast Metabolism Diet: Week 1 Review

So I made it through the first (of four) week of the Fast Metabolism Diet and I think like most changes there were positive and negative so this second week I am trying to put an upside spin on those negatives. Here are my thoughts on each of the phases:

Phase 1: Fruit & Carbs
This was a pretty easy start. Who doesn't love fruit all day? I love fruit and carbs are decently easy but keep in mind it is not the carbs you might think of... it's gluten free and no added sweeteners. I turned to organic brown rice, quinoa, and sprouted grains. I tried this recipe on Haylie Pomroy's (creator of FMD) website for brown rice flour tortillas. Yuck. Seriously gross. But overall, the phase was pretty easy. Here are my phase specific tips:
- Plan your cardio right after a snack/fruit to feed off of that boost in blood sugar. If I didn't then I got lightheaded.
- Keep it easy if you have to pack a lunch. I found individual microwave packs of brown rice that cooked in 3 minutes.

Phase 2: Veggies & Protein
I imagine this phase is difficult for about 90% of the people attempting this diet. It is pretty difficult to eat almost only vegetables and protein for two days straight. I literally forced myself to eat on that second day but started finding some hacks that worked pretty good. Here are my tips:
- Use your seasonings!
- Make a dressing-less salad less dry with fresh lemon or lime juice.
- Find a jerky that you love. It is so worth it for those snacks. The jerky protein bars I tried were not good! But it is probably just personal preference. See picture for reference.

Phase 3: Healthy Fats
The weekend is so difficult, especially over the summer. We are on the go and have parties and barbeques (we're just that popular... hoping you are picking up on my sarcasm!) and it makes it hard to stick to this regimen but I found myself dedicated to at least making better choices. For instance, we had a boating outing with our small group and I stuck to only two gluten free items and one gluten free beer, Omission. It was pretty good! And I only had one. :) On Sunday after church we went on an impromptu shopping outing and the food court had zero options (big surprise) so I went with what I thought would be the path of least damage and got a fruit and non-dairy smoothie. I do believe they added sweetener but wasn't positive. It is something I need to nail down for the next weekend! Here are my tips:

- Stay on top of your meal plan... carry your snacks with you. A little baggie of raw nuts is perfect.
- Don't be afraid of one cheat... be afraid of one cheat at every meal or even one a day. When you give yourself slack you just fall back into old habits.
- Make yourself something "sweet" and tasty. This is a great phase to feel like you're treating yourself. I made a PB Chocolate shake for breakfast Saturday morning and it was perfect. Recipe to come!

A picture of my son making friends with all of the mannequins when shopping on Sunday... He is pretty funny! "Anoter fake person! Take a piture pease." He was making friends everywhere we went. :)

Here is a link to my meal plan from last week. I tried updating it to reflect what I actually did so you would have an idea. But it should be used for just that- ideas. I will post my meals each week and you can see what I did to help with your own meal planning. I highly recommend trying new things each day and finding favorites that you can plug in later. I worked up Week 2 meal plan with a couple of favorites but still incorporated new ones. I want to come out of this with meal options that the family will love and that I can continue to make without reverting back to old habits.

Overall the first week was a success. I am going to slide this in at the end because I don't like it to be the main point or highlight. This diet as, I mentioned earlier, is more focused on eating right and getting your body back on track over weight loss, though it is likely to be a positive consequence. I lost about 8lbs in those 7 days. I feel pretty good, have energy, not starving, and I love that I am losing some of my squishiness haha but most of all I am starting to feel better about saying "NO" to sweets. That is my number one goal here!

Let me know if you decide to try the diet, if you have questions, or if you have ideas for that crazy phase 2!



Fast Metabolism Diet: Getting Started

A lot of changes in the last two months! I have accepted and started a job at a defense contractor doing a similar job that I previously did before I was a full time mom. AND my husband is now a full time dad. It is always difficult during transitions but it's all been filled with blessings! That is the reason, though, for my lack of posting. It's been busy working out a new groove, a new routine. Now that I am settling in I want to share about a new "diet" I started.

Let me start off with saying that this "diet" is less what you think of a "diet" and more of encouraging good choices. A diet, based on the dictionary definition, is "food or feed habitually eaten or provided". What you normally eat can be a good diet, a bad diet, a weight loss diet, or a lean diet. It is not just weight loss but it can be! In general, based on the normative American diets, we generally associate a diet as an action to lose weight and eat healthy. The Fast Metabolism Diet is very similar. The goal is not to lose weight per se but more on the side of eating healthy. The premise behind the FMD is that you reset your metabolism, clean out your system, and have a fresh start. While I need all of those things I also read that people stopped having sugar cravings (mine are so awful) and maximized their workouts.

I started the diet this past Monday (July 6) and it has gone surprisingly well so far. I am on day 6 of the 28 days and on day 2 of phase 3 in the first week. A mouthful there right?! So here is the basic premise of how it works.

There are 3 Phases in each of the 4 weeks for 28 days total. Here are the phases broken down:

There are phase specific exercises to do as well.

Phase 1: Cardio... goes well with all of those carbs!
Phase 2: Strength Training... to pair nicely with your protein.
Phase 3: De-stress Activity... which matches the laid back weekend attitude!

For me I focused on running for phase 1 cardio. Some options are intervals (help you recover if you aren't a runner just yet), elliptical, spinning, or just plain running! On phase 2 you can pick a strength workout to try. Since you are only doing strength once per week you will want to do multiple muscle groups during your workout, more dynamic strength training. There are plenty of at-home, body weight workouts on YouTube. For phase 3 my choice is yoga but meditation, quiet/no tech time, a massage will all work too.

Every week you follow this routine with a few other rules and it helps to reset your metabolism, get rid of your sweet tooth, and give you more energy. It is also an opportunity to get your regular diet back on track.

Here are a few more rules:

1. No caffeine
2. No alcohol
3. No sugar or sweeteners (with two exceptions)
4. No gluten
5. No dairy
6. Eat 5 times a day
7. Eat within 30 minutes of waking up
8. Eat organic produce and nitrate free meat (when possible)
9. Drink half your body weight in ounces every day
10. Do the phase specific exercises

I know I know. No one likes rules but these are for your benefit. So if you are dedicated to making a change then jump in... if you're not then you might not be ready for this yet.

I will post some recipes and a recap each week + menu for the next week. Hopefully that will help spark some ideas if you are interested in trying this out. Let me know if you try it and how it works for you. Keep in mind it is important to plan ahead. When you have to eat every 3 hours you need to be ahead of the game. Also, meal planning and prepping is key.

Tomorrow I will post on my review for week 1and the meal plan I used (with links to recipes). I'll give some information on what my results have been too.... You won't want to miss it. I've been surprised!

See you back here tomorrow! :)



DIY Perfume Rollers

It was about three years ago that I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first, a boy. At that time I was deciding on nursery decor, diapers, wipes, baby bubble bath, diaper creams, etc. I have been accustomed to reading food labels and checking ingredients but then I was starting to take notice of the labels and ingredients in other items. I was concerned when I found out what was in these baby products! I also became concerned with what was in my own products. It's been a long, slow journey over the last three years but I have faded out most all of the major store brand items in our home. I say slow because I would basically run out of window cleaner and then make a homemade recipe or run out of face lotion and replace it with my own cream and the same for body wash, makeup remover, and now I finally have a replacement for perfume!!

I used to wear perfume everyday until I learned of the hormone disrupting ingredients and negative affects on babies that are found in most store bought perfumes... that's scary! In a world where miscarriages are more and more "normal", I take it seriously when I find these types of ingredients in my products. So for the last three years I have not used perfume, not once. I swore it off and got rid of all of them! 

I recently fell in love with the scents of a couple essential oil blends and thought they would make perfect "perfumes". The great part is the peace of mind that I get knowing that the perfume is safe! The essential oils are thoroughly tested and they are certified pure therapeutic grade. 

Here is the recipe and supply list for you to make your own!

DIY Perfume Rollers:
- 25 drops of an essential oil blend
I chose a citrus blend and the uplifting blend but some other good options are relaxation blend and the women's blend. It just depends what type of scent you prefer. The citrus blend is a sweet citrus with vanilla. The uplifting blend is a flowery scent, without being too flowery. The relaxation blend is calming with lavender mixed in the blend, also flowery. The women's blend is a warm, musky aroma. 

Fractionated Coconut Oil (or you can try this one as well)
1/3oz Roller Bottle (a bulk pack is your best bet but there are options for buying less too... I use rollers for a lot of essential oil recipes!)

Remove roller top. Add essential oil drops. Fill with FCO and replace roller top. Now roll on and enjoy! 

I roll mine on my wrists and neck and behind my ears. I have found that mine lasts about 4 hours until I can't smell it on my wrist anymore. A good time to reapply and that is also why I like the roller bottles... they fit in my wallet clutch and are great for on the go. :)

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils please contact me!



Toddler Plate Art For Picky Eaters

The weather has finally turned to summer! It happened just like that and now I'm gearing up for boiling hot, humid Missouri summertime. :) Today's post is going to focus on something you can do all year. It takes just a minute and you will get better as you go. Also, it is one of my top recommendations for getting my picky son to eat!! Check out our plate art...

From the top left (across and then down): Cat from Puss and Boots, mouse, St Pat's good luck clovers, "smile" face, Wilson (Cast Away ;)), and a puppy dog.

Pancakes are really easy to work with and I use kitchen shears to cut it if needed. I also make a lot of faces. I try to do characters if I can so that my son gets even more excited about eating a fruit or veggie because it's Grover's nose! :)

Or a snowman's belly...

A shy goblin's eyes...

And lots and LOTS of faces!!

I also use holidays for inspiration (see St Pat's plate above!) like this Valentine's Day lunch- Heart Pizza!

I've had a lot of practice so my "art" is much more refined now but it didn't always start out there... don't be discouraged if you don't think you are creative enough! Everyone can make a smiley face!! :)

Here are links to more plate art ideas for inspiration:

Gourmet Guerilla (in German but the pictures are great)

Feeling inspired? I promise a toddler won't stick up their nose at any fun design you make... they will love it! Let me know if you try it out and if it gets your picky little one to eat.



DIY Wood Drink Cooler

A couple years ago my in-laws celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary which is such a wonderful thing to celebrate! We were excited to do something fun for them and when we ran across this cooler, we knew they would enjoy something similar.

They have a great backyard with a pool and throughout the summer we all spend a lot of time there. My in-laws also host many pool parties so a cooler would come in handy but we figured for what they would use it for it needed to be bigger. We considered one large/long cooler or two coolers. In the end we decided to use two coolers because water/soda can be separated from adult beverages.

My hubby was the brains and the brawn behind this project and I put some finishing touches on it. :) I first showcased his wood-working skills here when he built an awesome patio table with built-in drink coolers.

Using the link above as a guide, he designed it to be two coolers pulled together with extra support in the middle so that the extra weight of the coolers would be supported when filled. We bought these coolers from Wal-Mart and used the ship to store option. We also used 2 hinges, 2 casters (for the legs on 1 side of the stand), 1 large handle (on the opposite side of the casters to help transport it easily... like a rolling cooler), and 2 small handles (1 for each lid) which we purchased from the hardware store. Lastly we added a bottle opener and cap catcher as well as a towel hook so that you can wipe your drink off and go! The cooler stand was oil protected when it was finished which should last 2-3 years.

My husband separated the cooler from the lid as they would be attached to the stand. The tops would be encased with wood and hinge open. We kept the cooler lid as part of the design to keep items cold inside the coolers since the wood lids would not.

He measured out the wood and pieces individually and put this together as he went since he is basically a handy man genius. I am sorry we don't have plans to supply you but maybe this can be used as an idea or a special project for the handy man in your life!

Overall it turned out great and has been quite useful at the pool the past couple of years! They even bought a grill cover that fits over the top to help protect it even more.

And who can deny how awesome this looks.... :)

Pretty awesome, right?!



Traveling with Kids: 4 Ways to Save Money on Family Vacations

Today wraps up the third and final post in my mini blog series on Traveling with Kids! This last post focuses on ways to save for your family vacations and not have to go into debt either. Some of these may seem obvious but hopefully you find and learn some new tricks.

Here is the round up of all the posts in this series:

And now we'll jump into the good stuff! :)

1. Accommodations

I know this is a given but you will save so much money by crashing with friends or family if they have the space. I say "if" because if you're all cramming into one bedroom that may not be so enjoyable... just be realistic about it. The nice thing about saving money on lodging by crashing with friends/family is that you can also enjoy a few fun things on your trip and, of course, not go into debt! We always offer to treat our hosts to dinner one evening as a thank you for their hospitality.

If you are heading to a destination where you don't know anyone then check out many hotel and deal websites for the best lodging at your destination. Here are some of my favorites:
Another option is to rent a house at your destination. You can find condos and apartments for rent too. Some have a seven day minimum and you have to pay attention to cleaning fees but this can be a great option for more space. Even better is to recruit another family to go and rent a house with you! It would save money and you can make memories together. Here are some great sites to check for house rental deals:
Lastly, when purchasing anything online check out Ebates first. Many times they offer cash back on a purchase you were already planning on making! Last year I received over $150 cash back on purchases I was already planning to make and I simply used the Ebates referral link to the site I was buying from. You can sign-up now and receive a $10 gift card to a retailer of your choice (they give options like Kohls, Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target) when you make your first purchase through Ebates. Super easy way to save on not just trips but ALL online shopping.

2. Travel To/From

If you have a couple kids then driving is the cheapest option, even with gas prices. You can drive to Florida from Missouri (that's where I am) on 2-3 tanks of gas which means you are looking at less than $300 roundtrip. Use a gas price app like Gas Buddy to find low prices near your stops to help save a couple more bucks each tank.

If you have little ones that can sit on your lap (under 2) then that is a way to make flying more affordable. You should know that there are safety risks with a lap infant during flight but we have had lap infants for more than eight flights with zero issues. Check out many airline websites to find the best price including independent deal websites and airline specific websites. Here are some deal websites I have used in the past:
And definitely use Ebates for these purchases too!
3. Food

Go to the store and pick up breakfast and even dinner items (like sandwiches) which will save a ton. I suggest dinner because dinner out is much more expensive then lunch plus you will likely already be out and about during the lunch hour so you will be more likely to eat out then. If you rented a house then eating is very easy because you can cook or grill... just make sure they also have a dishwasher so you don't have to spend time cleaning up! :)

Another option to save on food are local deal websites. You can look up deals in advance and some even offer instant deals. Just pay attention to the fine print (how, when, where you can use it) and make sure it doesn't expire before your trip! Here are some deal websites I recommend (which you can also receive cash back through Ebates with as well):
If you are wondering what places you should try when you're there then I suggest searching top food places on TripAdvisor. I always find good food and good attractions there!

4. Activities

This is where you make your memories so I understand wanting to spare no expense but consider how you may be able to save money doing the most amazing things and ones that are already on your bucket list. Most activities have deals, you just have to take a little time to find them. :)

When I am preparing for a trip I ask around, people you have traveled there and/or live there are great resources for attractions that are "must see". They also might have connections to local discounts! Additionally, they can likely make recommendations on what NOT to do... things/places that are not worth the time and money.

I also check TripAdvisor for the top attractions for that destination. Once I have a list of things we want to do with the price we narrow them down to the top attractions that we can reasonably fit in during our trip. It's amazing how putting it on a list with price can help clarify and direct you.

You can search in advance for deals for the places you want to visit while there. Google can be overwhelming but it is also really helpful. If you want to go to the San Diego Zoo just type in a quick search "San Diego Zoo discounted tickets" or something similar. In less than 15 seconds I was able to find $6 off each ticket up to 6 tickets. If you are a family of four that would save you $24 (I've always been good at math ;))! That's a quick lunch out to eat. And any money saved is helpful.

Another option for zoos, science centers, museums, etc is that if you are a member at your local attractions you may qualify for reciprocal benefits at many others across the country! Awesome! So here is how our St Louis Zoo membership reciprocal benefits work- based on the list at this link you can receive free or 50% off admission tickets. Additionally, if a zoo is free to the public sometimes they offer discounts on food and/or merchandise at those locations. There is a pretty extensive list! Our St Louis Science Center offers the same benefit as do many of our museums. It is worth checking into before your next vacation if you are interested in visiting one at your destination. A word to the wise though- if you are used to St Louis' amazing (free) zoo and (free) science center than you may be disappointed when you go to a different one! It's happened. Ours are pretty fantastic! :)

As well as these tips here are some deal websites you can check out to purchase attraction tickets in advance:
Soooo who's ready for vacation?! Now that I have completed this series I am definitely ready to start planning our next one!

Do you have any other tips to share? I would love to hear them!



Traveling with Kids: 15 Tips for Navigating Air Travel

Welcome back for day two of my three day Traveling with Kids mini blog series. Here's what will be covered:

Today's post is focusing on navigating air travel with kids.... as if it's not already stressful! :) Here are 15 tips I found useful when traveling with my two little ones last summer. I hope you find them handy too.

1. Pack Snacks... Lots of them

I packed a large amount of snack items for the airport and the flight because 1) it's a way to corral everyone 2) hangry is a real thing and I try to avoid it for everyone 3) Airport food is the worst for the budget!

I packed chips in soap containers for the kids because I knew that if they got crunched it would be a nightmare to eat in a tight space. I also packed pouches for decent nutritional value, fruit snacks, suckers (when you need them to just be quiet for 5 minutes ha!), snack bars, and I also packed sandwiches. We were flying throughout the day so the sandwiches were our lunch and a huge budget saver. I snagged condiment packs from a fast food place before we went and packed mini appetizer utensils that can be tossed after using. They were a big help and didn't take up much space!


2. Bring NEW Books

I say NEW emphatically because they need to be able to keep your kiddos' attention for a couple minutes and ones they know by heart can't compete with the sights/sounds of a plane.

3. Prepare Activities

I bought a pill holder and put little goodies in each slot. My son got to open a couple every 30 minutes or so as long as he was good. I cut up individual stickers, put little candies (M&Ms fit perfectly), and these pop out sponges.

Check out these 10 Tips from Delicious Baby too.

I also grabbed some sticker books and coloring books to try out while on the plane. I will say that if you are sharing a seat with a little one (allowed for kids under 2) then putting the tray down might be difficult.... No surprise there considering how little space each passenger gets!

4. Use a Car Seat Rolling Bag

I bought one of these on Amazon and it was a big help not to lug it around. Plus I had one seat for each kid! It would be impossible to get around if I wasn't able to roll it and stack things on it too. I bought one bag with wheels and stacked the second on top in a separate bag. It worked out nicely. 

5. Run and Explore as Much as Possible Before Boarding

Wear your kids out. Yup it's that simple. Play games, explore, run around, and keep them stimulated. We counted gates... ran up and down the wings counting gates and looking out the windows at planes. The HOPE is that when you board the plan they will be worn out and may, if you get lucky, take a nap. 

6. Wear Your Baby and/or Toddler

I have an Ergo and a Beco carrier which work great for babies and toddlers alike. Seriously you will want a carrier to help you get through the airport hands free (or at least hands on bags and strollers instead of kids). I have also worn both at the same time which is the ultimate workout (55#) and I am completely hands free! My 2 year old will go up on my back for a little bit and it's nice to not have to worry about where he might run off to while I am checking in at Security. You can wear a baby during your flight too but it is not allowed during take-off and landing. This worked great for my 4-month old to nurse and sleep for most of our flights. 

7. Change Diapers and Go to the Bathroom Right Before Boarding

Have you seen the sorry state of those teeny tiny bathrooms on the airplanes? I have changed a blowout diaper in there and I wanted to cry. The changing table is small, the bathroom is small, and it already stinks in there! Obviously nothing ever works perfectly but we usually make a bathroom trip when they call first class seats and finish just in time to board during family boarding before they call the group seating. 

8. Have a Tablet Loaded with Movies/Games

We have a small tablet with a flap case which my husband preloaded with some movies. I did a quick sew job on a tray cover and added a zipper where the tablet flap could slide in. It worked pretty great! If you want to make your own I suggest a fabric that does not stretch and a zipper that is at least one inch longer than the length of your tablet. I added ribbons to the bottom to make sure it would secure to the tray. Here's the tray measurements I went by: 10" x 17". Width is a little more important than height for this project.

The handy thing is that this tablet holder doubles as a tray cover since they are one of the germ-iest places on this planet... no lie! They NEVER get cleaned. 

9. Pack Lavender Essential Oil

I brought a small sample bottle of lavender essential oil for when we needed to calm down and de-stress. There was one point on our return flight that my son was just done with traveling and really, so was I! He was clearly discontent and crabby and I knew we were minutes from a meltdown and we were only five minutes into our 90 minute flight. I whipped off his socks and shoes, rubbed lavender on the bottom of his feet, and put his socks back on his feet. He was asleep in less than two minutes and a meltdown was narrowly avoided!!! I'm not lying and was a believer of lavender essential oil after that. Plus the plane smelled wonderful. :)

If you are interested in learning more about Essential Oils and/or would like to try a sample please email me for more information!

10. Make Sure You Have Drinks for Take-off and Landing

Little ears have trouble with the change in pressure as the plane lands and/or during take-off. One of the best ways they can alleviate the pain is by drinking. I brought a sippy cup for my son and bought a bottle of water once we were through Security.... DO NOT use airplane water. They recirculate water and it is not guaranteed to be filtered or even sanitary. I barely like to wash my hands with it. My daughter nursed and that worked perfectly too!

11. Bring a Travel Buddy/Partner

If you can bring someone to help you out then you really should. Honestly, I would not have made the trip with two kids under 2 if I didn't have someone to help me. It would have been so much more difficult, doable but hard. It was also nice to be able to switch kids every once in awhile... we sat apart. They get a change of scenery and don't get tired of just hanging out with mom. 

12. Have Treats for Those Around You on Hand

This isn't necessary but it is a nice gesture. I would only bring them out if my kids were being monsters... crying/screaming. Just a little something to let those around me that I do care, I feel terrible that my child is being a monster, and that I hope their flight/trip isn't completely ruined by a screaming child. I didn't actually have to get these out at any point (thank you Jesus) but they were in my carry-on and ready to go! I kept it simple with Ghiradelli squares. I had about 10. And since I didn't need to give them away I went ahead and ate half as a reward to myself for keeping it all together. ;)

13. Talk to Your Gate Agent

Your gate agent can be really helpful throughout the boarding process. As soon as we found our gate I would check in with him/her and ask a few key questions:
  • Do you allow families to board early? If yes, when?
  • Do I need a tag for the item(s) I gate check (i.e. stroller, carseat)?
  • Is the plane running on time? Helps to know how much time you have for #5.
  • If you are putting your little ones on your lap (did not purchase them a ticket) then that is a perfect time to ask if there are any open seats. If so you should ask to have them for your child's car seat. These days it is rare, unless you are on a red eye, to find a flight with open seats but it has happened twice out of a total of eight flights with our little ones. It is so much easier and safer to put them in a seat in their carseat. 
  • Lastly, ask them how their day is... They deal with so many people who only care about themselves all day so it is a great opportunity to brighten someone's day, especially if they just helped you through all your questions!
14. Bring a Stroller + Travel Bag

A stroller is useful for a couple of different reasons. 
  • You can strap your child in
  • If your child is walking you can load it up with all of your crap
  • It's useful at your destination too!
The bag is used to cover it to keep it safe when you gate check it. Sometimes things get tossed on top of it and that is just an added layer of protection. My advice- take a cheaper stroller. If it gets broken, oh well. I still liked a cup holder and basket at the bottom but found a lightweight, cheap stroller second hand that worked great and I didn't care that it got beat up on our trips.

15. Keep Your Child's Immunization Record Handy

This is especially important if you are bringing a child that will sit on your lap and does not have his/her own ticket. Most airlines require it though not all request it and/or verify their age. For our eight flights we got checked 3x. That's enough to make it a hassle if you don't bring it. Plus a piece of paper doesn't take up much space. You can also bring a birth certificate but I prefer the shot record because it doesn't cost to replace it. :)

Phew... that was a long post! Thanks for sticking it out with me!! Let me know what you think of these tips and check out the other two posts in this series:



Traveling with Kids: 5 Tips to Prepare

Last summer my two kiddos (4 months and 22 months at the time) and I, along with my mom, flew to San Diego to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and new 6 week old niece! I know going anywhere with these two is a chore so I prepared for weeks (if not months) for this trip. I am doing a short blog series on traveling with kids that will focus on the following:

For this first post in the series I will show you what and how I packed as well as some tips for you to use on your next trip.

Luggage is such a pain, right? You have to literally "lug" it around and on some airlines you have to pay anywhere from $25-50 to check luggage one way! Eek! Luckily for this trip the cheapest airfare we found was through Southwest Airlines and they don't charge checked luggage fees for the first two pieces. I knew I was just going to pack up one big bag for all of us so this was perfect for us.

5 Tips to Prepare for a Trip with Little Ones:

1. Make a List... or 8 of them!

About two weeks before the trip I started formulating my lists..  I had about six by the time the trip came along! I had a pack list for each person, a list of activities for my son on the flights and the trip, my Amazon.com list (I'll explain this later in #5), a list of fun things to do when we reached San Diego as well as budget, and a list of other carry on items. The packing lists were so crucial for my sanity and for ensuring a more relaxed trip.

Random Tip: Before you actually narrow your packing lists and start packing, check to see if you can do laundry at your location. If you can do laundry then you can pack less and save some space in your suitcase. If you can't then I would pack at least two extra outfits per person. It sounds like overkill but it's happened a few times that trips have been extended for weird unforeseen reasons and no one likes to put on dirty clothes. For this trip since we were staying at my sister's condo we were able to do laundry.

2. Pack Capsule Wardrobes

For the clothes I made up a capsule wardrobe for each person. A capsule wardrobe uses a few coordinating pieces that create a variety of different ensembles. These are the only way to travel if you are carrying all luggage on the plane with you or if you are cramming a lot into one piece, which was my plan since I would have carseats, a stroller, and carryon bags.

Random Tip: A mesh bag is great for those beach vacations. They don't catch/hold sand and dry in no time. It's easy to find the sunscreen at the bottom of the bag too!

I packed both reusable and disposable swim diapers. Did you know you can wash and reuse disposable swim diapers? Here's the dish!

3. Use Compression Bags

Most of the clothes were packed into three bags that are similar to vacuum bags. The difference is that these bags don't require a vacuum (excellent if you are not sure if your location will have a vacuum). You simply roll to push out all the air and then seal shut. This way the clothes take up less room and are protected from sunscreen or face wash busting out all over them. You can get them on Amazon in a value pack if you're interested.

Amazing, right? All of the clothes from the four pictures above fit in just half the suitcase!! Don't worry you will fill the rest with shoes, diapers, and other extras.

Random Tip: Use a wet bag for your personal hygiene items... then when you get to your destination you can use it for wet beach clothes!

4. Shower Caps for Shoes

I added shoes in to the suitcase using shower caps. I have this weird thing about dirty shoes touching clean clothes and the shower caps are a pack of 8 at the dollar store. I reuse them too for our trips! I just keep them in the pocket of the suitcase for the next trip.

Random Tip: As you can see I stuffed my baby girl's hair bows in my shoes along with some socks so that they wouldn't get smashed.

5. Send Bulky Things to Your Destination

I didn't pack too many diapers because I sent them to our destination! I sent a few other things as well... extra cups, utensils, a pack of wipes, sunscreen, snacks, etc. The nice thing about Amazon Prime is that your order is delivered in 2 days. I sent a pack of diapers for my son and a pack for my daughter. I also sent reusable swim diapers and a SPF hat for my daughter since I realized last minute that I didn't have one. Lastly, I included some of my son's favorite snacks, pouches and a pack of take and toss cups so I didn't have to bring a bunch and/or wash them constantly. It worked out nicely!

If you are staying with friends/family then shipping to them is no problem. Same with renting a house or condo at your destination. If you are staying in a hotel call them in advance and inquire about how packages get to guests. Most will accept the packages and ensure they get delivered to your room but you want to be sure.

Overall my packing was on point. The nice thing is that almost every place you go there is a store to pick things that were accidentally forgotten so don't fret too much about it.

I hope you found a few useful tips for your next trip and stay tuned for the next post on air travel and navigating the airport and the planes!

<- Kassy ->


Homemade Miracle Cream

Beauty supplies and products have such a huge market. These days there are a million to choose from and they range in price from dirt cheap to outrageous. The issue I have is that I hate to buy something and it fail or not give me the results I expected. The other issue is that some of these proven results products are more expensive than my gas for a month. And I can't convince my husband that it's worth it!

I recently researched what ingredients are good for our skin, anti-aging, smoothing, balancing, brightening, and curing (for those scars and marks). Some of the most simple ingredients, or at least natural ones, were items I had on hand so I made my own "cream" from some stretch marks (hello, two babies in the house) and wrinkles, my section scar(s), and acne scars. I tried out a combination of three of the items I researched and to my surprise it has been AMAZING! Seriously. I will spare you gross or awkward before and after photos of my section scar and stretch marks but please know that I would not be recommending this unless I really thought it was a winner. If you have the same results as me then you will be so excited and will never pay an arm and a leg (and a foot and a ear and a nose) for other creams. Why not try it? It's super easy and if it doesn't work you aren't out much except about 30 seconds 1-2x a day.

The ingredients are simple, there are only three and I have included some information, reasons why, and where to find them.

Coconut Oil:
- What does it do? It acts as a natural antioxidant. Oxidation is identified as a factor in skin aging! That means if applied to your skin it will help fight the oxidation and therefore fight skin aging. Second, coconut oil is known for being a great skin moisturizer. Restoring moisture in your skin will help with fading unwanted stretch marks! Also, it contains a lot of Vitamin E naturally within the oil. Vitamin E is something additional I add to the recipe because of it's amazing skin benefits and is discussed below.
- Why do I like it? Easily accessible, relatively affordable, and multi-functional... besides all the health benefits!
- Where do I buy it? You can get coconut oil almost anywhere these days! Even Aldi carries it!! Here's what you should look for: organic, virgin, expeller pressed coconut oil. The organic indicates reduced amounts of possible toxin absorption via your skin. The virgin means it is less processed and "extra" is a marketing term. :) The expeller-pressed indicates it is pressed by a machine (physically refined) rather than chemically refined by a solvent extra like hexane. When you are eating something or putting it on your skin it should be high quality, right?

Vitamin E Oil:
- What does it do? Vitamin E is an excellent vitamin for hair, skin, and nails... in fact it is included in many hair, skin, and nails supplements! It is similar to coconut oil in that it is an antioxidant which makes it effective in anti-aging.
- Why do I like it? It gives this cream and extra boost of the amazing vitamins already in coconut oil. Vitamin E added to coconut oil makes the coconut oil a little smoother and easier to apply as well.
- Where do I buy it? I first bought mine in capsules and just broke the capsule and squeezed out the oil. This was a lot of work but I knew that the oil was pure. I found these capsules that were d-Alpha which indicates that it is Vitamin E in it's natural form. You will also find dl-Alpha which means it is a synthetic, man made Vitamin E. Also, when looking for Vitamin check out the IUs (international units) and the ingredients. Sometimes, to save cost, companies will dilute the Vitamin E with another oil. Look for only alpha-tocopherol. This would also effectively lower the IUs. The higher the IU the more effective it will be up to the recommended daily value. The recommended daily Vitamin E value for adults is about 22 IUs. You will get vitamin E in some foods as well, like coconut oil. Here's a link to the pure Vitamin E oil, d-alpha tocopherol. You can see that it is 14,000 IUs in the whole bottle. A little bit goes a long way when it is pure!

Frankincense Essential Oil:
- What does it do? Frankincense has been prized as a precious oil, dating back to the days of Jesus! It is known for it's anti-inflammatory properties as well as skin rejuvenation. The frankincense is a go to soothe the skin but can also be used to relieve stress.
- Why do I like it? It is a secret weapon! A little goes a long way and it smells nice too. There are so many positive benefits to including frankincense health wise as well.
- Where do I buy it? Just like everything else I have listed above or that we have a choice in buying, there are levels of quality. I've said before that if you are putting it on or in you then you need to pay attention to the quality and essential oils are no different. I believe there are a handful of companies that sell high quality essential oils and after my own personal research I decided to focus on one company. If you are interested in learning more about Frankincense or essential oils in general then please email me!

So here's a rough "recipe" for my Miracle Cream...

1/4 C Coconut Oil
15 Capsules Vitamin E Oil, oil removed and capsules discarded or 1/2 teaspoon of oil
5-10 drops Frankincense Essential Oil

Warm coconut oil... I use a cup of warm water. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small, glass container. Why glass? Essential oils are strong! Essential oils can eat through plastic or any synthetic for that matter, it's safer to just stick to glass. Let sit for about 4 hours. The cream will go from liquid to solid and feel more like a cream.

Apply using fingers to problem areas- wrinkles, stretch marks, scars, etc- in a circular motion until the cream is fully blended into your skin. And that's it! I put mine on before bed and/or after I get out of the shower to keep that skin hydrated.

I have changed my recipe a little each time. I'm always trying something new! Some other variations I have enjoyed are to mix other oils. Some people don't like coconut oil for their skin which is ok because everyone's skin is different. Other good options to try are jojoba and almond. Both great for your skin as well. I will say that changing the oil will change it's consistency. Coconut oil is solid below 76 degrees so it feels more like a cream than an oil. It will work either way though! Another variation is to add other essential oils like lavender and geranium to your cream to give it additional benefits or aromas.

Are you going to try it? If you try it please come back and let me know what you think! Take your own before and after photos to help you see what your results really are. :)



DIY Make-up Remover- Just 2 Easy Ingredients!

I ran out of my make-up remover awhile back and figured I would make my own, of course. :) I asked around for good ingredients and surprisingly I got a lot of the same recommendation. Coconut oil! Lucky for me I have it in my pantry all the time.

I tried it and it was amazing. I would take a dollop on my finger and rub my eye lids with it. It makes a mess and you look like you had a rough night or have been crying your eyes out but then you simply wipe it all away! It is so easy and good for your skin I might add.

I like to do some double duty with it though. Make-up remover and eye cream in one. I had some Vitamin E oil on hand and I know the amazing benefits of it so I added that to the coconut oil for an added boost. So far I have been loving this mixture.... It removes eye make-up with ease, is good for the skin around your eyes- antioxidant rich and moisturizing, and so easy to make!

Here's the How-To:

1 1/2 tablespoons virgin, expeller-pressed coconut oil (<- A good deal when added to your Amazon Subscribe and Save!)
1/4 teaspoon Vitamin E oil
A small dish, bowl, squirt bottle, or a condiment/shot cup (which is what I use!) to store it in

Mix. Ha! I told you that was easy!!

Dab a little on your finger, rub gently over your eyes where you have make-up, then wipe away with a soft cloth (I sewed squares of scrap flannel to use which I wash and reuse). You will not want to use a washcloth as they are too rough and the skin around your eyes is sensitive! This is shelf stable for a looong time. You will use it up in about 1-3 months depending on how often you wear make-up.

As always, if you try it, come back and let me know what you think! I would love to hear from you.

Thanks and check back tomorrow to find out the recipe for my Miracle Cream.... I use it for wrinkles, scars, stretch marks, etc! :)



Girl First Birthday Gift: Something Old and Something Blue

I shared here that our daughter turned ONE last month. ONE! ah! We celebrated her first year with a Pink & Gold Sweet Baby Girl First Birthday Party which was a blast. Along with the normal gifts of toys, books, and clothes we decided to get her something that she will hopefully cherish for many years to come.

I had heard of giving a handkerchief to your daughter as a gift when she is young. Later the handkerchief would be her "something old" on her wedding day. I loved the idea so we did something similar. I found a cute handkerchief with blue flowers embroidered on it.

I also found a local embroiderer who would put her first and middle names on the handkerchief leaving room for a last name to be added at a later date. She was so affordable too! $5 and had it finished in no time. Here's her Facebook page.

Once I had the handkerchief ready I wrote a little poem to go with it...

As we celebrate your first year,
We give you something to wipe a tear.
When the day comes to say "I Do"
You'll have something old and something blue.

I hand wrote the poem on a piece of card stock and put that in a frame with the handkerchief. It's something she can keep in her room or wherever until she gets married. At that point she can carry it with her or sew it inside her dress for her wedding day. I hope that someday she will love and cherish this gift even though she may not understand it now!



Pink & Gold Sweet Baby Girl First Birthday Party

It's really hard for me to imagine that my baby girl is already ONE! I am always telling new moms that the age-old saying "the days are long but the years are short" is age-old because it is true! And my kids keep proving that with every birthday that we celebrate. I think back to the day she was born and how nervous, yet excited we were to meet her. She was born five weeks premature. Mostly healthy but needed help breathing. She spent time in a special care nursery until she could breathe on her own. Luckily, with the nurses help she was able to breathe self-sufficiently by about 24-30 hours after she was born. She was actually a pretty good size baby considering she was premature. She weighed in at 5lbs 15oz and she was 19" long.

One thing I remember was that she was a grunter. She would grunt when you were holding her and moved, she would grunt in her sleep, grunt as she ate, grunt when we were burping her. We guessed it was because of her breathing issues at birth and they faded fairly quickly. It seemed like forever because it was so loud and she slept in our room so we got even less sleep... if that is even possible! Ha! It's kind of hard to remember all of the details because it happened fast and I was medicated but she was a beautiful baby and we have grown to love her to pieces!

I wasn't lying- she was an angelic baby! :)

A great trip down memory lane as we celebrate her first year. She turned ONE February 20th and we celebrated it adequately with lots and lots of food (her most favorite thing)! We planned the party to be a family get together on Sunday, February 22nd but on Saturday my son and I came down with a stomach bug. It was ugly! But thank goodness it only lasted 24 hours... unfortunately we counted four so far that we infected. :/  We cancelled the party and rescheduled for this past Sunday. Luckily one year olds don't remember or have their heart broken over cancelled birthdays!

She seemed all smiles on the day her party was supposed to be... and to think this wee little one didn't catch the bug that everyone else did! Lucky lady (and lucky mom).

Enough sick talk and on to the party, the fun! :)

For her party I didn't really plan a theme just kept it to a couple coordinating colors. I picked gold because I was able to find some decent deals on gold items right after New Years Ever. I picked pink because I found deals on pink items right after Valentine's Day! Planning ahead is always my number one budget saving tip. Here is the breakdown of all my party planning, links, prices, and how-to's included!

Party Information:
- Sunday Brunch, 10am
- Family Only... about 15 attended

My lovely and talented sister, Kim, created a first birthday invitation. I used the design as my inspiration for the party! I edited the below image so that our address is not out there for everyone to see. :)

She hasn't set up an Etsy shop, though I've been bugging her about it, but like I previously mentioned, she is talented! Kim is a Graphic Design major at Missouri State University in Springfield.

[I send evites for almost all of our parties. They are easy, track RSVPs, track comments/questions, and save a little time and money. I use Celebrations.com and love it.]

Tissue Paper Tassel Garland DIY using this tutorial. I have done this in the past... so quick, simple, and cheap! $5 in tissue paper and the rope was something I already had. This DIY took about 1-2 hours.

"Happy 1st Birthday" Banner DIY. No tutorial because I simply cut the letters, glued on the banner pieces, and then glued to the rope to hang. $8 in paper supplies but I had the rope on hand. This DIY took about 3-4 hours since I cut it all by hand!

Vintage wooden highchair painted white... this was just something fun to do for pictures and to go with the rest of the party decorations and colors. It was pretty old and beat up but it turned out nice. It was $12 at Goodwill and I used the paint and supplies we already had to fix it up. This DIY took about 4-5 hours over the course of three days, allowing for drying between coats and about one week of drying before use.

"ONE" banner for the highchair was also a DIY. $1 and it took about 30 minutes.

Table coverings... I am not really a fan of plastic table cloths but there is no denying that they are cost effective! The pink and gold plastic table cloths were $3 total plus I found these beautiful lace like cloths to go over them to make them look more refined. :) They cost me $2 each so the total for table coverings was $7. There was no time involved in this one... quite simple!

I printed pictures of her throughout her first year and glued them to a poster board in the shape of a "1". It was a nice walk down memory lane.

Since the party was a brunch we served some breakfast foods as well as lunch foods. Pancakes, bacon, yogurt, and granola for the breakfast foods. Mini sandwiches, chips, veggies, and fruit skewers for the lunch foods. In line with loving on our sweet baby girl for her first birthday everything was heart shaped (or everything that I could make to be heart shaped).

I cut out paper hearts and glued them to cake pop sticks to help keep the pancake stacks in line.

We served raspberry lemonade and coffee for the non-morning people. We had hot chocolate with strawberry heart marshmallows too.

I made the birthday girl an extra large "smash cake" to devour... it was a healthy version with bananas. Here is the recipe. The "frosting" was a mix of pureed strawberries and greek yogurt. It was a hit for sure!

In all the food and drink was about $65. I spent an hour at the store and about four hours prepping the food the day before and morning of the party... with help from my wonderful husband of course!

The outfit she wore was actually something I bought on a kids buy/sell/trade site. It was $2 and in perfect condition. :) I washed it as I would anything used and that's about it. The petti-romper was bought with a gift certificate for Etsy. Very cute!

All in all the total spent for the Pink & Gold Sweet Baby Girl First Birthday Party was $99 and about 15 hours of work... that is aside from the endless hours of Pinterest-ing I did to get ideas and inspiration! We had about 13 people at the party not including the birthday girl. It was a small gathering of just family but we still did great with the budget for time and money.

I really enjoyed putting this party together. I love party planning so now I guess I am off to plan the next one!

Come back tomorrow to see the heartfelt first birthday gift we gave her... I think you'll really love it!!