5 Shopping Tips You Should Embrace This Holiday Season

5 Shopping Tips You Should Embrace This Holiday Season

The holidays are coming again – it is that time of the year when the likes of Amazon and eBay welcome their Christmas and holiday shoppers.

Before you go all out to play Santa Claus, though, there are a couple of things to take note of. Today, we are going to be sharing tips on not just how to get the best deals, but staying safe and having a great experience while shopping online these holidays.

 

Create Strong Passwords

If you have to create an account before you start shopping, you should do so with a strong password. You don’t want to leave your account at the mercy of hackers who could log into your dashboard and cart away a lot of goods, leaving you to pay for it.

When creating your passwords:

  • Ensure it is a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters.
  • Numbers and symbols should be thrown into the mix.
  • Avoid the use of passwords based on birthdays, pet names, the name of your child and other things that could easily be guessed about you.
  • Limit one password to one account. Don’t attempt to repeat a password you’ve used elsewhere on your shopping account.

 

Avoid transacting on public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are generally unsafe due to their lack of encryption. With the right tools, a hacker could sniff around your internet traffic and find out what you are doing.

They could use such opportunity to hijack sensitive information such as your login and credit card details. With that, there is no telling what they could do with such information.

 

Use a VPN

If you simply cat resist the temptation of logging on to that coffee shop Wi-Fi, we totally understand. However, make sure you don’t do so without some form of protection in place.

By protection, we mean a VPN. These pieces of software will encrypt your traffic data and make them invisible to anyone who might be sniffing around your network.

But that’s not all. You can also use a VPN to find deals and secure your payments better when you shop.

For the first part, the VPN will help you beat all forms of dynamic pricing and price discriminations common to Amazon and eBay. You would also be able to get in on promotions and discount sales happening in other regions since the VPN allows you to access the web from different locations. Finally, the fact that a hacker can’t see your internet traffic makes your payment details even more secure.

 

Report Credit Card frauds QUICK

Credit card frauds are ubiquitous these days. Your account might be accessed by someone other than yourself. If you any notice fishy activities on your account, report it within 2 days lest you lose your rights to a reimbursement. Check with your credit card company beforehand to understand the report procedures so you can react quickly should the unlikely event happens. If the report is made in a timely manner, your credit card company will have you covered.

 

Have a list

The holidays are a time of excitement, but we don’t want to get too buzzed up here. Create a shopping list of all the essential gifts and purchases you plan to make. Look the list over and over again to be sure you have what you need, then commit to it.

Once you get on Amazon and/ or eBay, ensure you keep to that list as much as you can. That is the only way to ensure you don’t over-spend and buy things you’ll regret getting in the end.

PS We hope we’re on that list too. haha.

 

Conclusion

And there you have it. Keep these hacks at hand and you’ll never shop amiss this season.

Guest Blog: TechWarn

How to limit screen time but still have mom time.

How to limit screen time but still have mom time.

How do we stay connected in life with the people who matter most? How do we maintain a healthy balance of networking and real-time? For as long as I have had kids my friends and family give me the hardest time about “never answering my phone.” Here’s the deal, I have to be on my phone so much for work, especially as an entrepreneur its easy to get sucked in to always having the need to be reachable, always being on top of trends, always posting at ideal times for engagement, and ya all this is exhausting.

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There are ways to balance it and keep it in check because big picture here…..Your children are  watching you and will mimic your behavior. I notice on days I’m extremely overwhelmed or busy, my go to is the tablet to occupy my children because it’s the simplest method. Does this mean its right? Absolutely not.  I mean there are days that our entire house just needs time to veg and that’s totally okay but other days it’s a constant struggle to limit tablet or “screen” time for the entire family. I mean think about it….You walk into a restaurant and nine times out of ten the people sitting directly across from each other are not connecting and enjoying each others company. They are doing what? DING DING you guessed right….scrolling the good ol Instagram or Facebook.

So what are ideas to entertain little’s when you have to do chores or work? I have you covered Mama Bear – I’ve put together a list of ideas that are a sure-fire way to give you an hour here an hour there throughout the day. Lets dive on in!

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  • Slime or Plato – I have a little tray with toys and sensory items and a mason jar filled with slime or plato on hand at all times. I set my kids up at the table and let them go to town.
  • Arts & Crafts – My daughter LOVES to paint little creations. I will often give her 5 or 6 colors of paint with some fun colored construction paper and let her little imagination run free. We make pictures for Santa or what candy land will look like. I often will give her a “task” and she has to create it.
  • Outside Time – We are so blessed to live in the country with a big yard and places to explore. My kids love their trampoline time, Nerf wars, or just riding around in the coldasac on their bikes.
  • Bug Hunt – We have a little net that the kids often explore and find lizards, bugs, butterflies, and put them in the bug net and then create a “habitat” for their finds.
  • Hide & Seek – On a rainy day there’s nothing more sweet than hearing 1, 2. 3. ready or not here I come!
  • Interactive Toys – My Absolute favorite brand of toys for my kids is @mybtoys! They are all interactive and imagination based. The attention span my littles have with these toys is beyond compare. My B Toys has items for all age groups my kids are in right now which is huge for them each to have something special to play with and have individual time. This is especially important when they are in the “I’m bored” “he hit me” “She bit me” needing to be separated hours of the day. Below I’ve included links of my favorite items this company has!
  1. Wonders Above (newborn)
  2. Sounds So Squeezy (newborn)
  3. Magical Mellow ZZZ (newborn)
  4. Illuminating Whale (newborn)
  5. Owl be Back (Newborn)
  6. Symphony Music Maker (My Big Kids LOVE THIS)
  7. Marble Palooza (Another big kid fav)
  • Go for a walk – Nothing is more refreshing than a park play date connecting with other mammas, or a nice little hike with the dog. When my kids are completely stir crazy this is my go to!
  • Tape Laser Tag – This is one of my favorite rainy day activities! Take some masking tape or ribbon (Really what ever is handy at home that you can make “beams” with will work.) I use the hall way and create a maze the kids have to get through, which creates so many giggles.

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  • Bored Jar – Take a mason jar and some popsicle sticks. On each popsicle stick have the kids write activities they like to do! Examples : Paint nails, play tag, jump on bed, clean room, read a book, have a dance party, etc. When they start in with “I am bored Mama” have them draw a stick out of the bored jar and do the activity!

Lets make a commitment to connect more – Lets make a commitment to be more in the moment – Lets make a commitment to do the best we can loving what is right in front of us and tangible. We never know what tomorrow is going to hold so lets hold on tight to today and the memories we can make.

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Summer Books that Inspire

Summer Books that Inspire

Getting lost in a good book is everythingggggg! With writing my first book coming out next month, the more I read, the more I feel inspired to write. Go figure?

What better way than to share with you besties my favorite reads so far this summer!

Audible is amazing but there is just something special about turning an actual page for me! When my kids are splashing around at the pool I love to relax and just get indulged in a good read.

Okay lets get to it…Here are my absolute favs this year.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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Girl, Wash your face

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168 Hours

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The 5 Second Rule

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The Alchemist

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Crush It

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What are you waiting for? Lets get lost together!!!!! These will make you want to tackle the world when you are done! Here is to some serious mama motivation.

Inexpensive DIY Classroom Graduation Gifts

Inexpensive DIY Classroom Graduation Gifts

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Every year we try to do something special for my sons class mates! This year he wanted to do graduation gifts and we found the perfect creation that his friends will be over the moon for! Best Part – I made 28 of these for under $20! Naturally, I had to share our DIY creation with you other mamas!

Quick Supply Run – (or order if your like me and survive on Amazon Prime.)

  • 2 Gallons of Elmers Glue (This was for 28 and I had just enough glue.) – Elmers Glue
  • Borax
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Shaving Cream
  • Some fun little toys to add in at the end. – Plastic Fishies
  • Plastic Containers, Mason Jars, Zip lock Bags.

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Now for getting started!!!!

  1. In a large bowl pour 2 cups of elmers glue and shaving cream to top the glue area (About a quarter of a can.) Mix together and add food coloring.
  2. Once mixed add 1/2 cup of water and continue to mix til a whip cream texture.
  3. Once your satisfied with the consistency, add in 1/2 cup of water with 1 tsp. of borax. (Tip: Place borax in measuring cup and make sure water is running HOT before adding in so the borax gets completely dissolved.)
  4. Pour into bowl and start kneading with your hands to squeeze out extra water. Be patient with this step work with the slime until it feels not too sticky! (If it is stickier or slimier than you prefer just add a little shaving cream to the slime.) I whipped out the roller and let my little guy roll it out just for fun.
  5. Once everything is perfect go ahead and equally divide up into jars or bags. We created an assembly line where I would place the slime in and my son would pick the toy and put in each package. Repeat steps 1 – 5 until you have as many slime gifts as you need.

 

Our finishing touch was adding some fun ribbon and printing out little sayings that said “Sliming into Second Grade.” You can get as creative as you want with this step!

That’s it! Simple & Sweet Entertainment that the kiddos will love you for!

Happy Crafting Friends.

Easter Baskets on a Budget

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Easter Baskets do not have to cost a ton to be absolutely magnificent. Lets cut to the chase, the kids are after the candy and the eggs. Every thing else is just a perk!

Lets dive in to some thrifty ways to make every one excited on Easter Morning!

  • Skip the packaged grass  – Use a paper shredder and some colorful construction paper you have in the craft stash.

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  • Get items such as sidewalk chalk, peeps, toys, coloring books, crafts etc at your local dollar store.
  • I love to get my little’s seasonal socks, I hit up the Target bulls eye dollar section and always find the cutest bunny themed socks, headbands, and fun extras to put in their baskets. (You can usually get the giant bubble wands here as well for $1.00)
  • Don’t be afraid to sneak in a few necessities. Does your little need something? Add it in as a perk of the basket!
  • Play the golden egg game. Put $5 in one Golden Egg and candy, change, etc. in the other eggs. The golden egg winner gets the big bucks! In the basket plan a scavenger type plan to find the Golden Egg, add little notes and hints in the basket to help the little’s along the way on the great golden egg adventure. (Lets be real…scavenger hunts are awesome sauce and every  kid LOVES them!)

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  • Re Use your baskets. Michael’s, Target, Wal-mart all have clear out sales after Easter to get rid of last seasons products! (This is your time mamas!) I got a $40 tutu princess basket last year at Michael’s for $10 which I reuse yearly. (You can also DIY and make your own!)

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  • Make your own slime! On the blog we have a super simple recipe you can conjure up in less than 15 minutes and this year slime is everything!
  • Make your own Peep Habitat – You can get all the ingredients at the dollar store and make this for under $5.

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~Happy Easter~

Shipping

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Over the years I have read several how to articles learning the ins and outs of what works for different businesses and hand-made companies. I kept seeing a shipping station repeatedly in blogs and articles and thought it was something worth investigating a little deeper. When the Holiday Season hits for most makers it’s as if you are struggling to stay above water, especially for a one man show.

An ultimate goal of every maker is to stay organized, have fun, and love what you do. I created a shipping station OUTSIDE of my office in the garage so it was out of sight and out of mind when I was creating. When I finish an item I simply place it on the table and at the end of the day I go out and package everything up. Packaging is a job within it self (if you’re doing it properly.) It’s crucial to have something visually stimulating and exciting for your customer to open up. Often times I will go with seasons and add little trinkets, ribbons, shred, etc. This is also a branding trick and customers are more likely to remember all the extra effort you put into their order. You took the time to make it special. That is why the shipping station is so crucial it gives you time to focus on one thing….SHIPPING….

It’s a known fact most creative people are “squirrelly” type personalities, so having focus, direction, and guidance is crucial. I wish I would have started this years ago, so here I am screaming it from the ROOF TOPS – create a damn shipping station! Have all your bubble wrap, ribbons, boxes, tape, and goodies to add in all in ONE SPOT! (Also toddlers can’t steal your trinkets this way! hehe)

Now let’s get to shipping!!!!

No really…

Go Now….5.4.3.2.1.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

Store run: 

  • Stalk of Celery
  • 3 tbs butter
  • 1/3 cup of Olive Oil
  • 1/2 onion thinly chopped
  • 1 pound of wide egg noodles
  • 5  cups milk
  • 1 can of drained artichoke hearts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan

Lets get cooking ladies and gents……

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Start boiling water in a large pot and add noodles for about 2 minutes or until al dente, drain the noodles and return to the same pot.

In a separate pan heat oil in a heavy pan on medium heat. Add onions and 3 stalks of chopped celery with salt and pepper. Cook for 4-6 minutes than add in flour stirring for about a minute. Add milk until a smooth texture and let simmer for one minute.

Add mixture and noodles together. Add in tuna, artichoke hearts, and salt and pepper. Mix it up well. Place in baking dish and sprinkle over the top with parmesan! (I also added mozzarella for some extra zing!)

Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown and bubbling on top!

Enjoy~

The Moment it Happened.

December to August in my house was Chaotic, Hectic, Busy, Non Stop, and Confusing. We all hit these times in our Mommy or Career Lives where we have to sit back and pull the reigns. In my case I needed to completely halt them! I have always had goals and ways to reach them, but when you are on the move non stop with no time to be in the moment because you are consistently planning or running it makes life fly by and messy.  While running late which had become a new usual for me, on my way to football practice (which my son was begging after day 4 to not do), with the baby crying in the back from being over tired, listening to “Little Sprigs” podcast on conscious parenting and being in the moment it hit me like a TON OF BRICKS…. Not like a pillow case blow, but literally made my head hurt to the point I turned the car around. I have been running so fast for so long I am missing what is important in my life. Lets rewind a little….About 3 weeks ago, I started to get some serious anxiety just around life in general. I was like the 2-year-old that still hears back round noise and feels the ‘missing out” so can’t sleep. I had my hands in way to many jars with absolutely no direction or focus. I needed to get clarity and focus. I knew a few things so I began to write…..

  1. My children needed me to be present and not always stressed out about what was to come next. Children feed off our feelings and absolutely need us to be present and in the moment with them.
  2. I was so stressed out over work and never getting any thing done I had become in a habit of being in ‘catch up’ mode.
  3. My health and taking care of myself had become non existent and on the back burner. (I even went to the doctor thinking I was sick and got informed that stress can be hidden and sneak up on you with out you realizing it, thus showing signs your “sick.”)
  4. I was trying to be supermom, super woman, super wife, super career with no strategy or organization.

Now lets fast forward…..I started this blog over 30 days ago and have since made some serious dedication to organize and re strategize my entire existence. I failed a few times but here is a list of things that so far, have been serious game changers in balance, freedom, simplicity and over all happiness.

  • I laid out my children and I’s clothing in outfits on hangers for the entire month. No more out fit arguments in the morning, no more sweats and a tank top for me everyday. The best part…. all we do is grab a hanger and the entire outfit is ready for the day.
  • DO THE DISHES….No matter how tired you are. Do the dishes and a quick clean on your kitchen the night before. There is nothing more stressful than waking up and the first thing you think is “oh shit I have cleaning to do from yesterday.”
  • Stay on top of laundry. I have one basket in our entire house that holds exactly 1 load of laundry. When that basket is full, I take it to the washing machine, wash it, dry it, and put it on “out fit hangers” immediately.
  • Write everything down immediately. I have major mom brain and commit to a hundred different things and then forget deadlines. I have two things I write in, my planner for events and scheduling, and then a little notebook of daily to do’s in accomplishing my small and big goals. Every day I work towards something.
  • Handle it. Once. If something needs to be done, do not procrastinate just get up and handle it. Pick up the phone and handle it. Than its done and not lingering on to your next day. Something that once would take you 2 minutes turns into an hour of finding things, sorting things out, making it right. Handle it.
  • Meditate. Pray. Breathe. Repeat. – several times throughout the day.
  • Throw it away. If you havent used it in over 6 months, get rid of it. Having too much stuff makes it impossible to feel de cluttered and free.
  • Plan. Far far far in advance. I’m a dive head first type of girl so this is my biggest struggle. I had on my to do list to plan my September Palette & Paint class. Instead….I planned the dates and booked the location through January. This creates more room and freedom with 1 phone call and a contract.
  • Check List. I Framed cute little Morning and Evening to do’s for my littles so they know whats happening and when it’s happening. Children thrive on STRUCTURE.

These few little things have helped me in a big way over the past month and I hope you can take just one thing that helps you too live more balanced and happy!

#momminainteasy

 

Spice Cabinet Makeover DIY

This year the motivation for me is to switch it from “chaos coordinator” to a more peaceful pace. The first step for my family was decluttering and organizing. Since we are in the middle of a remodel, what more perfect timing! This idea, I just fell in love with. The best part….It took me less than an hour to complete! I can never find measuring cups in my drawers. Even when I neatly stack the spoons and cups some how my children seem to hide them, play with them, use them for science projects and than they vanish! This hack is a life saver and KID REACH FREE! YASSSSSS! Mom – 1.

  • Take your cabinet OFF THE HINGES. (Wood glue will slide and glide and you will say naughty words if you skip this step.)
  • Lay it on a flat surface! (I used my cricut and cut out a 8”, 6”, and 4” cut out of a mason jar than lined it with sharpie to create the perfect lid and top I wanted! (Best part sharpie comes off with a magic eraser if you oops it!)
    • Next I Cut out the measuring cups using a 10” and 8” cut. – If you do not have a Cricut the custom cuts can be found at http://www.sealedwithakissgift.com for $50.00 with the entire kit to make this!
  • Make sure you measure your pallette planks before you begin the gluing to make sure everything will close properly!IMG_5628.JPG
  • Next step CREATE! I laid everything out and measured to make sure my vinyl was in equal measuring distance to look right on the cabinet! Then I placed my vinyl. I used Gorilla Wood Glue for the Planks and let them set for 1 hour before messing with the next step! PATIENCE IS CRUCIAL HERE! If you start hanging and nailing things on the pallette before the wood glue is dry you are at great risk to crack your cabinet.
  • Next I took a hammer and placed nails (you can use hangers too) I chose nails because the holes in my disney spoons were just too teeny tiny to fit! MAKE SURE YOU BEND NAILS UP if you choose to do nails! (Other wise every time you open your cabinet things will fly at you!)
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  • After the wood glue has set you can re hang your cabinet and set all your measuring cups and spoons up! So easy, simple, and cheap! Looks like a million doallars! (If you have kids, they cant hack your silverware drawer any longer!)
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Happy Crafting Friends!!!!!