Apron Full of Giveaways 10.28.14

October 28th, 2014

Green Chevron-Polka Dot Kid's Apron via Etsy

Source: Kelleen Kreations,  $23.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Do You Really Need That Degree? College Loans, Options, and Savings

October 27th, 2014

From our money & finance contributor, Kelly Whalen.

College debt has reached an all-time high in the United States. Collectively, we owe over a trillion dollars in student loan debt. Yes, trillion with a capital T. It’s actually over $1,200,000,000,000. Ouch.

Is that degree really worth it

Student loan debt is unlike most other debts though in that it is nearly impossible to get rid of, known as forgiveness or discharge. This means even if you fall on hard times, lose a job, or your life circumstances change drastically it’s extremely uncommon to have that debt wiped away – you’re pretty much stuck with it. For some adults this means they will be carrying debt from choices made in their teens and twenties well into their middle age and often they’ll still be paying off those debts while paying for their children’s education.

When considering our finances it’s important to look at the impact student loan debt has since many readers are impacted by college debt. It’s likely you still owe for your college education if you have one (and often even if you don’t have a degree!). Others may be considering college costs for their children whether they’re toddlers or getting ready to head to college. Finally, there are many adults who go back to school when they change professions or need additional education to improve their earning power.

Since there are a lot of scenarios to cover here I’ll break them down, and you can head to the subsection that applies to you.

Already in Student Loan Debt

You already have a degree and the debt to prove it. While you may owe anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands the advice to not get into debt doesn’t apply. You need solutions and advice on getting out of student loan debt.

Consolidate

If you have multiple loans look into consolidation. You can consolidate loans with your spouse as well. This may allow you to get a lower interest rate or lower monthly payment, but it also makes it easier to manage than several loans.

Pay More than the Minimum

While it’s common sense, paying more than the minimum means you will pay it off sooner. Some ways you can ‘find’ more than the minimum in your budget include: slashing expenses (like dropping cable or getting a cheaper cell phone plan) or adding any pay raises to your loan payment.

Work a Side Gig or Second Job

Need to earn extra money to meet your loan payments or increase your payments to pay it off quicker? Get a side gig or work a second job to earn extra money to put towards your college loans.

Investigate Options

If you’re really struggling financially like having no job call your student loan company before you skip a payment. They may be able to hold or defer payments or offer some other options to help keep you from defaulting on your loans.

Getting Ready or Going to College

If you or someone in your family is headed to school or back to school for a degree it’s the perfect time to consider all the options.

Do you Really Need That Degree?

While a college degree is still statistically going to increase your earning ability over time it’s not always a necessity in every profession. Some professions simply don’t require a degree, and many trades are desperately seeking qualified and well-trained individuals.

Additionally, the job market has changed drastically to allow small businesses with little overhead to thrive. In an age of consulting, freelancing, and startups a degree is nice-but it’s not exactly a requirement. Depending on your skillset you may not have the need for a traditional college diploma.

Check Pay Rates and Rental/Home Prices

Whether you’re going back to school or headed to college for the first time you need to consider the cost versus the income you will earn in the future. While we all know there are no guarantees of future income checking pay rates in your area and investigating the cost of housing will help you get a general idea of what you’ll have to spend on student loan repayment.

For instance, it doesn’t financially make sense to spend $150,000 on a degree if the average entry-level earnings are $35,000 per year and average rentals cost $750/month.

The math would show you it would take an awfully long time to pay back your loans, and in the end it’s unlikely to be worth the added stress and costs when you could get a solid education and degree for 1/4 that cost.

Exhaust Scholarship and Grant Options

Grants and scholarships are plentiful, but it takes some hunting and some time to getting the most money you can for school. If you dedicate the time upfront though you could end up saving thousands of dollars. There are scholarships and grants that are high value and competitive, and there are smaller scholarships and grants that are for less money and more obscure.

Consider Starting Small

Instead of diving into a 4 year college with big expenses consider a local, smaller school to get your initial credits out of the way. You could even consider an online education if you’re an adult or need to work full-time to fund your education.

Saving for Future College Costs

Saving for your children or family members who you hope to help go to college is a great gift, but you have to consider all the options before you start saving.

It’s vital to be sure you aren’t locking up money that is needed for an emergency fund or for retirement first and foremost.

However, if you have a healthy emergency fund and are (mostly) on track with retirement savings here are come options to consider:

529 Plans

529s are a great option since they offer no taxes when withdrawn for qualified education expenses like tuition. Many states also have no tax on withdraws.

There are two types:

  • Pre-paid plans: You pay for college costs at today’s rates even if costs go up when your student goes to school.
  • Saving plans: Savings plans are based on the stock market with a mix of investments that get more conservative as your child nears college age.

The downside: Funds that aren’t used for college are taxed fully and a 10% penalty is tacked on. While it’s hard to tell when they’re infants, it’s not exactly ideal if Junior decides not to go to school or ends up with a full scholarship.

Roth IRAs

Roth IRAs are a retirement savings vehicle, but they also offer the option of withdraw for college expenses. This can offer the best of both options for families who need to get the most out of their long-term savings.

With a Roth IRA you can use funds for educational expenses OR retirement meaning if your child doesn’t need all the funds you can continue to grow them for retirement without paying penalties.

The downside: Current Roth IRA limits mean you can only save $5,500 each year or $6,500 if you’re over 50 in these accounts.

Note on investing for college: You can encourage family members to add to your little tyke’s college fund (for instance in lieu of gifts for the holidays or birthday presents). For instance grandparents can gift funds to each child, currently you can give $14,000 per year without penalties. 

When Should You NOT Save?

If you’re in debt or struggling financially saving for college shouldn’t even be a consideration. High interest debt (i.e., not your mortgage or your own student loans!) should be tackled before you consider saving for college. If you’re paying 14.99% on your credit cards the math is against you saving for college costs…for now.

Parents often make the mistake of saving for college funds over retirement thinking they have less time to ‘catchup’ on college education costs, but if they aren’t maxing out their retirement savings they could be in major trouble later in life.

While it is a great goal to make sure your children enter adulthood debt-free it shouldn’t come at the cost of your own savings and financial stability-that will impact your children now.

What it comes down to is this–take care and consider all your options whether you’re paying off college costs or saving for your children’s future.

What are your thoughts on student loan debt and college savings? Do you still owe for your education or are you worried about financing your children’s education?

 

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Sundays With Writers: The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

October 26th, 2014

Sundays With Writers

Debut novelists hold a special place in my heart. I particularly love novelists that never give up and those that spend years crafting the most perfect book. When I finished the final pages of The Art of Falling, I knew that I needed to reach out to the author. What sealed the deal though was Kathryn’s Q&A at the end of her book that really gave me pause. She is talking about one of those scary topics that we often dance around. She talks about suicide and how it impacted her personally and how it was reflected in the character of her book.

Robin Williams certainly brought the topic of mental illness to the forefront this year. I can honestly say that reading through my Facebook feed that sad day, I was disturbed by the reactions of people and the things they said about it- I think mental illness is still something so few of us understand.  For me, I just hoped that in these sad moments, people would find courage to seek help and that it might bring to light the struggles of the mentally ill.  I keep my heart pretty guarded on here, but I am no stranger to mental illness or depression. I think that is why this book touched me very deeply.

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

In Craft’s novel, we get to take a glimpse behind the world of dance with new eyes. All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

 I am completely enraptured with the dance world and this really brought to life the struggle of a dancer and body image. What unfolds is a beautiful story of the unlikely friendships that pull her from her depths of despair, a mother who refuses to let her give up on her dreams, and finding movement again when confidence has been lost. Beautifully told and rich characters make this novel a fast page-turner that I just could not put down. I can’t wait to read more from Kathryn Craft! 

Grab a cup of coffee and settle in for this beautiful and heartfelt interview today with this week’s featured author.

Kathryn Craft

It is such an honor to feature your debut novel, The Art of Falling, on our site. I understand that this novel was eight years in the making. So very few people could dedicate themselves to one project this long- what an incredible feat.  Why did you think it was important to see this work through and did you have any doubts during this process that you would finish it?

Thanks so much for having me, Amy! Even as a teenager I used to say that “perseverance” was my middle name, so I guess I’ve always had that kind of intense focus—and I’ll tell you, as a writer that is a very handy quality! I can think of three ways to answer your question, though, and combining them galvanized my commitment.

The first is the reason I wrote this story to begin with. After my first husband committed suicide seventeen years ago, when our sons were just eight and ten, I got caught overly long in the grief stage of anger. I knew the way to emerge from it was to forgive him, but that required empathy for him I couldn’t conjure. He was 54, depressed, alcoholic, and financially reckless, all attributes unfathomable to a 40-year-old, responsible optimist. I needed to create a female character from my world who might be pushed to the point of such despair—and Penelope Sparrow was born. Penny is a dancer who blames her body for the ruin of her dream dance career, yet who survives what should have been a deadly fall due to the miraculous strength and resilience of that same body. I could relate to her. In the backstory, had I taken away enough of what she loves for her to consider suicide? I wasn’t sure—so I wrote the novel to find out.

But healing from a horrific event takes time. Years and years of time. Early readers could tell you that Penelope, like her author, started out a much angrier character. I knew my anger would be healed when agents started telling me she was now a woman whose arc they admired. A lovely side benefit was that my storytelling skills improved along the way.

Second, once the characters started coming alive to me, I knew I would hang in there with them for the long haul because I loved them. They never stopped sharing their secrets when I pushed them for more. They were troubled and brave—and honestly, I miss them since publication! I wanted to do right by them, and make sure their story was told.

The last reason was ridiculously pragmatic—I wanted something to go in my author’s bio! I was a dancer, choreographer, and dance critic. I was a biology major and I have a master’s in health and phys ed. The world of this book both surrounded me and lived in my body. I was the person to write it, and had credentials to back that up. I really felt this needed to be my debut title.

Penelope’s suicide attempt and your own life had some parallels. Why did you feel suicide was an important topic to explore? Has this process changed your own feelings about suicide and those who struggle with depression? Have you found writing this story to be therapeutic in your own journey towards understanding?

Therapeutic, yes, but I’m not done writing about suicide yet. My second novel, The Far End of Happy, due out in May 2015, is based on the true story of my husband’s day-long standoff against a massive police presence, novelized to feature the points of view of the three women closest to him as they await word and try to sustain hope. Our decision to choose life, every day, is just so elemental that calling it into question presents a fascinating array of story problems. Real world problems with no easy answers, as my next novel will show.

Case in point: I just happened to reveal my cover for this second novel on the day beloved comedian Robin Williams was found dead by his own hand. The outcry on social media was immediate: we need to offer a more sympathetic ear to those who are depressed! Wouldn’t that be nice if mental illness could be so easily solved, and people were that willing to be transparent? What I know now, from life experience and writing two novels, is that neither of these things are true. Like most subjects, once you delve into them deeply, you become more painfully aware of their complexity.

Yet still I strive to write novels that resolve on a note of hope, what I consider to be the most critical component for a joyful life. This is the great calling of the storyteller: to rearrange the chaos of real-seeming events in order to create order, understanding, and change.

Kathryn Craft

Kathryn Craft dancing- source Barnes & Noble

You are a former dancer, choreographer, and critic so I know you know firsthand how harshly critical and taxing being a dancer can be on the body and mind. Penelope’s struggle with her own body image issues are a big focus in this book. Did you ever struggle with these issues yourself as a dancer? As a critic, did you struggle with reviewing other dancers knowing what it is like to be on the receiving end of criticism?

Despite my academic exploration of its inner workings and movement, our bodies ultimately are a mystery that can be influenced but not controlled. I think all dancers struggle with this to some extent but since I hadn’t experienced Penny’s specific issues I drew on other ways my body disappointed me to find that emotional connection: fair skin back when tan was “it,” fertility struggles and miscarriages when I desperately wanted children; inducement and flagging contractions when I wanted to deliver naturally; graying hair and wrinkles when I still struggled with acne (I mean come on, is that fair?). Yet despite the human body’s betrayals, there is no creation more magnificent. I wanted to write about that conflict.

Early on, as a critic, I had to own the fact that I was not criticizing other dancers; I was expressing one woman’s informed opinion about a work of choreography and its execution in a way that would be evocative for the reader. Otherwise, how could I have had the hubris to set fingers to keyboard for publication? I’m also a developmental editor, so I continue to use my critical mind, sharing my informed yet very personal assessments. This sensibility helps me as an author to establish an even keel as I read what others say about my work.

When Penelope decides that she can’t do dance anymore she takes a job as an aerobics instructor and then later a short-lived position in their family’s candy factory. What is one job you have had in your life that could not have been a worse fit?

Fun question! Had to be secretary. Imagine a dancer, confined to a chair all day. I used to fill in at my neighbor’s manufacturer’s rep firm, taking orders, filing, typing letters, and making coffee. Okay the talking on the phone part I could do (hello, I’m a woman). But I was a creative filer, my lack of touch typing and the resulting syncopation constantly had my boss shutting the door between our offices for his sanity, and since I didn’t drink coffee at the time—let’s just say it typically sat there all day until it burned. I resigned with a misspelled letter typed halfway upside down. My ex-boss has it to this day and will whip it out for another round of laughter when I visit.

The relationship I loved the most was the one you created between Penelope and her mother. There was such a good balance of the real love and strain of mother and daughter relationships. Were the scenes between them difficult to write especially when it comes to Evelyn’s own weight issues and Penelope’s growing insecurity that she is like her mother?

Heck no! The great fun of being a novelist is letting rip confrontations that you would never dare allow in real life. It was fun to let them butt heads, especially surrounding the turning point that many mothers and daughters struggle with: seeing each other as adult women. That said, it wasn’t all giggles, of course. I too find some of their scenes deeply moving.

Since you have been a dancer, choreographer, and critic, which of these characters, in the book, do you relate to the most?

Each of them carries a spark from me, for sure. To reduce inner conflict, can I plead the fifth?

I think it has to be the critic—any creative with a critical bone in her body knows how hard it is to turn off the critic! Plus, she’s the most misunderstood. She is a creative too—her art form is derivative, of course, but it is an art form (something we forget in this world of “everyone who can bestow a star rating is now a critic”). She is an advocate for dance excellence, and this one has a personal cause as well that is as worthy as my reasons for writing the novel.

Plus who am I kidding? I have to say the critic. If I don’t, I’m afraid of what she’ll write about me…

I’m obsessed with dancing and all things dance so I must ask, what is your favorite song to dance to and where is your favorite place to dance?

While on your basic wedding event dance floor, my absolute fave is “It’s Raining Men” by the Weather Girls. That song tickles the hell out of me and it’s such a great beat, with all the building swirl of a storm on top. My favorite non-traditional place to dance? Grocery store aisles! (Yes, you’ll now recognize me…)

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be?

Ah, the dreaded one book question, asked of a multiple-book lover! Since I know nothing about the reader, including why he or she reads—and given my answers to the question about critical subjectivity—I’ll assume your real question is “What book could someone read that would reveal the most about you?” You said “book,” not “novel,” for which I am grateful, since novels are such delicious slices of life it would be like asking if you could only taste one food what would it be. So I am going to go the nonfiction route and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. A brilliant life guide that I’ve read many times, my sensibilities are all over its pages.

You can connect with Kathryn Craft on GoodReads or on Facebook! I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!

 

 

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It’s the 3 Little Things (GIVEAWAY!): New Glasses, Apple Scented Luxuries, & Fitbit Glam

October 24th, 2014

It's The 3 Little Things

Happiest of Fridays, friends! It is a happy Friday, indeed, because I get to share a giveaway today of one of my favorite things! I have been hearing a lot from people that this is their favorite feature. I am so happy that this is loved by you as much as I love sharing it.

Here is what is making me happy this week!

Method Honeycrisp Apple

Honeycrisp Apple Method Fun

I don’t know how I got on the magical Method mailing list, but I am always so excited when I spy one of their boxes on my front step. This week’s mailing included some items from their new Honeycrisp Apple line of products for the Fall season. I can’t tell you how good these smell and, as always, they look beautiful on my countertops and sink too. You must find this and then spray everything in your home with it. In typical Method fashion, it smells delightful, but isn’t overpowering.

DIY Fitbit Flex Bracelet

My New Fitbit Leather Cuff

Ask anyone that has seen me this week and they will tell you that I have been wearing this cuff every single day. I REALLY did not like the look of the plastic bracelet and had been searching on Pinterest for something that I could use to hide my Fitbit away when I wanted to look a little more polished. On a girl’s trip to Chicago with my friends, we started brainstorming an idea for this and then my friend, Andy, offered to help me create this project and let me photograph her tutorial.

First of all, it was a crafting match made in heaven although such hard work. It is really terrible to go to your friend’s house, drink coffee, take pictures, and craft together. What a DRAG! Secondly, I came home with my bracelet and haven’t taken it off unless I head to the gym and need my utilitarian version.

I told you how crazy I am about my Fitbit, but I am afraid I am taking it to another level. If you haven’t read David Sedaris’ essay on the Fitbit, I am pretty much like that. I even demonstrated to my husband how I can loop around our house three times while I microwave my lunch for a few extra steps. I started walking on the dusty old treadmill to catch up on my shows and get in my steps- no more couch potatoing over here. If I feel like the number should be rounded up, I might pace a bit in front of my bed.

One more thing for me to get obsessed about. Yay!

Coastal Derek Cardigan Glasses

New Glasses (For Me AND You)

I absolutely love Coastal and shared how much I love my frames that I snagged from them earlier this year. You can always spy them in our Sundays With Writers series as my header.  They saw that they were on the happy list and asked if they could send me another pair of my choosing and wanted to give away a pair to one lucky reader. I got to select one pair from their Exclusive Collection (and you can too!) to update my look. I settled on these Derek Cardigan 7039 Glasses in black. I love the bamboo arms on these, that adds a unique modern touch. I have gotten so many compliments on these and they couldn’t have fit my face better.

The company always includes a really nice case and a little eyeglass kit to care for them. I am, most of all, impressed by their affordability.

Scroll down below to enter to win a pair from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection and see for yourself what a treat their glasses are!

Three Things I Wore From My Fashion Capsule. I will unveil the next capsule on November 3rd to hopefully inspire you on your own fashion capsule journey. After going through my stuff, I am debating on the number of items I will have in this one since it is just one cold season- stay tuned.   Did you read what I am learning from this project? You must!  Grab more inspiration on my Fashion Capsule Pin Board.

stripes + moto jacket + scarf + boot socks + brown boots

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Brown Boots (6PM- Naturalizer/ Subtle Chevrons Scarf in Rust (purchased- Flourish Boutique)/ Faux Leather Jacket (purchased- Marshall’s)/ Love a Little Lace Boot Socks in Mustard (purchased- Flourish Boutique)

stripes + belt + utility jacket + rolled jeans + booties

H&M Black & White Striped Top (owned- Goodwill)/ Seven Skinny Jeans (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Brown Belt (owned- Maurices)/ Eyewear (Coastal)/ Black Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)/ Utility Vest (owned- Groopdealz)/

green loose cardigan + black dress + tassel necklace + burgundy tights + camel colored booties

Forest Fairy Cardigan (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Little Black Dress (owned- Flourish Boutique)/ Burgundy Tights (owned- Target)/ Tassel Necklace (owned- Groopdealz)/Leopard Print Belt (owned- Target)/ Camel Suede Booties (Madden Girl- DSW Shoes)

3 Things YOU Loved This Week (you, lover of MomAdvice things, you!)

Homemade Playdough Recipe

14 Free Home Management Binder Printables

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Recipe Series

Giveaway

Enter below to win one pair of glasses from Coastal’s Exclusive Collection of frames. One lucky winner will receive a free pair of glasses. This giveaway ends on October 31st! Happy browsing!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Freebie Friday October 24, 2014

October 24th, 2014

freebie friday Happy Freebie Friday, everyone! We would like to thank Couponing 101 for assisting us with our freebies each week for loads of deals, savings, and freebies!

This week on MomAdvice you can learn how to make a homemade pumpkin pie spice from Diana Bauman or diy a fantastic leather cuff to hide your Fitbit bracelet! You will not want to miss my Sundays with Writers interview with Andy Weir about The Martian – it may just make you a new fan of science fiction if you’re not already! And did you see this adorable felted mini pumpkin tutorial? They add such a unique fall look to your decor and would make sweet gifts, too. On this week’s edition of  It’s the 3 Little Things I’m sharing what’s making me happy and hope you’ll share yours, too!

Our regular feature,  Amy’s Notebook, is filled with lots of inspiring DIY, food, decorating, craft ideas, and fun reads, and be sure to check out all the contests you can enter on our weekly round-up of great giveaways!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Health & Beauty
Entertainment
This Week’s Freebie Events: October 25 - 31
25th - Barnes & Noble: Halloween Storytime and Hands-On Learning Events, times vary
25th - Lakeshore Learning: Create a Spooky Sweets Holder, 11 am – 3 pm
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Amy’s Notebook 10.22.14

October 22nd, 2014

DIY Mona Lisa Halloween Costume via The House That Lars Built

Source: The House That Lars Built

 

Isn’t this Mona Lisa Halloween costume brilliant?

Sound of Music costume that makes me wish I could still make my daughter wear what I wanted her to wear for Halloween.

Free spooky Halloween art decor – quick and easy.

Netflix fright flicks you probably haven’t seen.

Wonderful DIY idea for a folding screen using bifold doors – especially love the graphic floral print!

Pumpkin Spice tea latte – can you have too much pumpkin spice? I think not.

The 60 second bouquet.

Best Cuts for Pot Roasts via The Kitchn

Source: The Kitchn

 

The best cuts of beef for pot roast.

Smart ideas for making money while decluttering your home.

10 best pumpkin goods at Trader Joe’s – must.get.to.TJs.

50 of the best DIY gifts.

Could you go one year without buying anything new?

How to easily make an antiqued wood photo backdrop.

Loot Bag for Girls via 5 Minutes for Mom

Source: 5 Minutes for Mom

 

Love this candy-free loot bag idea for girls.

With our future kitchen remodel on the brain, this all-white kitchen reveal is inspiring.

I love the pops of color in this white and grey kitchen makeover, too, with fun before and after shots.

I survived a weekend with the cult of Oprah- hilarious.

Learn a new knitting technique: purling the Eastern way.

Down Syndrome & sibling relationships- so beautiful.

amys_notebook

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, and thrifty ways to spruce up your home. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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Last Day: Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap + $10 Credit

October 21st, 2014

ePantry

I am so thrilled that so many of you have taken advantage of the offer through ePantry I offered this week! Today is the last day you can take advantage of this offer through MomAdvice.

Use this link to get a $10 credit to shop and a free bottle of Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap.

Sign Up

Simply sign up for an account with ePantry using this link .  ePantry is giving all new customers a $10 credit + a bonus FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap. Take advantage of this offer through today only.

Answer A Few Quick Questions

These questions help them to know what types of products you love, how many people are in your home, and what scents you love.  This helps give a rough estimate to how often they need to ship your favorite items right to your door.

Fill Your Cart

You can add your favorite items to your cart or allow ePantry to make some selections for you based on the questions you answered.

Check Out

Just for this first order, your order must be $30 or more (but that includes the $10 credit), so that is basically saving you more than 30% on household products you use every day!

Here is what I put in my cart as an example of how much you can save!

ePantry

Once you use my referral link you will see a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s  Scented Hand Soap, a holiday exclusive,  with your purchase. You do not need to add this to your cart, as my link will automatically do that for you!

Here are a few of my favorites I chose (just as an example- choose whatever you like!). I have a Method Clementine Dish Soap, a Method Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner, 3 Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soaps, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Lavender Toilet Cleaner, 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Bathroom Cleaner, a 2 piece Reusable Kitchen Wipe Set, & 1 Mrs. Meyer’s Hand Soap. Total cost just… $23.25

That is  NINE household products for just over $20 out of pocket, which works out to roughly $2.58 a piece. What a steal! 

I hope you won’t miss out on the savings- happy shopping, friends!

 

 

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial

October 21st, 2014

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

This month I bought myself a Fitbit Flex and I have been absolutely loving it for exercise motivation, tracking my sleep, and its handy silent alarm feature. I did not, in fact, love the plastic bracelet that the Fitbit Flex came in. A plastic bracelet doesn’t really fit with my style and I didn’t want to wear it when I went out. Today’s tutorial is a fun way to dress-up your Fitbit with a stylish leather cuff alternative. This DIY Fitbit bracelet is beautiful and can be created for less than $10 and is done in just 5 easy steps.

I cannot take the credit for this amazing tutorial. My sweet friend, Andy,  let me come to her house and photograph how she made this for my blog. She was the genius behind this awesome idea and I can attest to both its durability and how well the Fitbit slides and hides inside this cuff. Although this is created for times when you are not working out, I did test it in my cardio dance class to make sure that it would stay secure. After one hour of jumping and dancing, the Fitbit was happily secure. I would still recommend sticking with your plastic bracelet for workouts, as it is more breathable, but this should stay secure if you use it in your daily activities.

DISCLAIMER:

You need to test your own bracelet to make sure that it is secure and that your Fitbit stays inside. I am not responsible for a lost Fitbit if you create this and it is not crafted securely. It is your responsibility to make sure that your Fitbit is securely fastened.

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

Supplies Needed

Leather Cuff Bracelet (found at Hobby Lobby for $5.99 in the jewelry supplies)

Hemp Cord

Brown Embroidery Thread

Embroidery Needle

Scissors

Brown T-Shirt (old or thrift store purchase would be perfect for this!)

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

1. Thread your hemp cord through an embroidery needle and use this to create a design in the holes of your choosing. You can ladder it up, as we have shown, or even just sew it back and forth to create your design.  You can also add beautiful details with crimp beads to your design. Continue weaving the hemp cord until you are at the end of the bracelet.

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

2. Once you are finished with your design, knot it on the back and then weave the end in so it is no longer loose.

3. Next cut your shirt sleeve with the hem still intact to create a fast pocket for your Fitbit. You want this to be longer than your Fitbit so that it can slide securely towards the back of the pocket, as pictured above.

4. Using embroidery thread, stitch the pocket securely down the hemmed side with embroidery thread and securing one end to close it, leaving that others side open to slip in the Fitbit. If you want double security on this, you can attach a little velcro on this open end to close your pocket and to make sure that the Fitbit does not come loose. 

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

5. Finish by knotting and securing the end of the embroidery thread, reinforcing and feeding it through one of the ends of one of the hemp stitches for double-security.

DIY Fitbit Bracelet Tutorial from MomAdvice.com.

I hope you love this fashionable DIY Fitbit Leather Cuff Bracelet as much as I do. I get so many compliments on it and no one can believe that this beauty is handmade and housing my Fitbit. This goes so well with my personal style and you can make it all your own with your own fun details. A big thank you again to Andy for sharing her fabulous tutorial with MomAdvice. Happy crafting, friends!

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Apron Full of Giveaways 10.21.14

October 21st, 2014

Linen half apron via Etsy

Source: Boheme Decor,  $30.00

 

Welcome to our Apron Full of Giveaways! I hope everyone is having a great week this week! As we do each week, here is our round-up of giveaways for our readers. We hope that this is beneficial to you and your family! Please let us know if you guys win anything- I love to hear the success stories!

Below are the contest links-if you are hosting a contest please link it up below. Sorry, we are not giving away the aprons just showcasing them! Please put your site name and then what type of contest you are hosting. For example, “MomAdvice (Kid’s Movies).”

Good luck to each of you!

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Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice

October 20th, 2014

From our food contributor, Diana Bauman.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com In the Midwest, the fall is probably the most stunning time of year. The weather has cooled to a relaxing temperature and the vibrant colors of reds, yellows, and oranges are emerging in the canopy of trees while slowly taking their turn fading to brown and falling, one leaf at a time, to the ground below. It’s brilliant, heartwarming … comforting.

Of course, when the change in creation starts to become evident that yes, fall is here, it also signals to every woman that it’s time to pull out boots, scarves, chunky sweaters, and leggings. Yes, I love the fall. It’s also during this time of year that I’m sure every stew, soup, and treat is filled with pumpkin. Oh yes, I love to incorporate pumpkin into my dishes during this season and with the farmers market still open for another month, I’ll usually buy about 6-8 pumpkins and keep them in the coolest part of my home where they’ll last me into the winter. Pumpkin bars in January, oh yeah, stocking up is worth it!

With everything pumpkin during this time of year, of course one is going to need pumpkin pie spice. Now, one thing, pumpkin pie spice does not have pumpkin in it. Instead, it’s called pumpkin pie spice simply because it’s the blend of spices that is traditionally used in pumpkin pies. The spice blend can vary by brand but it’s usually a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Me, I like to add a bit of cardamom as well.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

I’m sure many of you may be thinking, why make your own when you can buy it already blended. Well, you can make a bigger batch for less money and you can grind your own nutmeg and cinnamon for an even brighter flavor profile. One of my favorite things about making my own spice blends is that I can also add or omit spices just like the addition of cardamom in this recipe.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com

The pumpkin pie spice is very versatile. You can, of course, use it to spicen up your pumpkin pies, to sprinkle onto roasted pumpkin and other squashes, to incorporate into pumpkin custards, or to sprinkle onto coffee.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice | momadvice.com Really, you can use it in so many ways. So, this year, why don’t you give homemade pumpkin pie spice a try. I’m sure you’ll love to have it on hand during this comforting time of year.

Homemade Pumpkin Pie Spice
Author: 
 
Pumpkin pie spice is a simple combination of sweet smelling spices including cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and cardamom.
Ingredients
  • 2 tbls ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ ground allspice
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, Mix all spices together and store in an air tight container for up to one year.

Have you ever made your own homemade pumpkin pie spice? Tell me, what kind of dishes do you like to add pumpkin pie spice into?

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