Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DIY Felt Tree {for under $10!}

Like every other stay at home mom I meet, I struggle to find that perfect balance with our days.  I typically spend an hour every day tidying, then another two hours deep cleaning (every day is a different room; I HIGHLY recommend this too! Its so much easier to maintain a guest-ready house than it is to let it go to hell and then catch back up), an hour or two prepping and cooking all three meals, at least two hours of outdoor play and with the pups (usually more, I mean c'mon its beautiful outside!), and then a couple hours of one on one time with our son.  Some days there's more cleaning, on other's hubs is home so I only have to clean a fraction (yay for three sets of hands on deck!) so play time is tenfolded.  Finding a nice balance and routine has made me ten times happier and far less stressed.  Its truly been wonderful.  

Another thing that I've just really fallen in love with lately is spending some quality time with our son and doing a craft a day. I used to be a mom who tried to do everything and ended up not really being present like I should be, so doing only one good craft or discovery play a day has really help change that. Getting mostly off social media has helped a ton, too -wink-

I've really impressed myself with some of the ideas I've come up with too, so I'll be sharing them with you all whenever I find the time! :) Below is one I did a few weeks back on a whim.  All you need are:

Black felt - 1 yard ($3.97)
Brown felt - 3/4 yard (2.98)
felt leaves - package of 40 ($0.99)

We honestly got three packs of the leaves for a variety of shapes. Each package includes all the different colors, so you can buy just one and still have a beautiful and colorful tree :) 

Our son adores playing with his tree, and with all of the leaves leftover we have been ab le to create fun counting and spelling games! I free-handed the tree itself, so you can make it as thick or thin of branches as you'd like.  We plan on adding a big pumpkin with different shapes he can use to arrange its face and a turkey with numbered feathers to interchange with this tree and his Christmas tree later.  Let us know if you decide to try this craft! Tag us in it on Instagram: @Brittchelette

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Our Birthday Card Was on Sprout! [Here's What We Did]

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links.
So, we're guilty of leaving something on for background noise during the day.  Whether its Pandora or the television, typically something is on (albeit at a low volume; we don't just sit in front of it all day!).  Something we stumbled upon that our son just absolutely loves is Sprout.  I'm sure a good bit of you already know about this magical channel, but its fairly new to us.  Its become our go-to for those 15-30 minutes I need to prep and cook breakfast, lunch, or dinner during the week, and it works out as a great balance for screen time for our toddler.  Not too much, not too little.  It goes beyond just toddler shows, though; they truly engage your child (not just zombify them in front of a screen) and our son loves to play along with the co-hosts' different gigs.  The different bed time songs are some of his favorite lullabies, and he can't brush his teeth without a few renditions of the tooth brush song.  Its great, we love it.  So, naturally when we learned they celebrate your child's birthday right there on Sprout, I just knew we had to give it a shot.   

(FYI, there will not even be an attempted professional staging of pictures for this post. It was a very last minute 'hey, this would be a fun post!' idea as I was literally grabbing my purse, stuffing the poster into the shipping package, and running out the door.)

We try to do at least one 'real' craft a day (beyond just coloring or painting), so we typically have a lot of supplies already.  Plus, one of our bedrooms is my craft room. Because I'm a craft hoarder.  And because my husband is my enabler. So, you know, that helps -wink-. But, if you want a realistic cost estimate for our poster below and to estimate what yours will cost if you reproduced something similar from scratch, here's a price list:

Poster Board - Dollar Tree $1
PomPoms - Dollar Tree $1
Letters -  Dollar General Alphabet letters (2 packs; 6 full sets) $3
Pictures - Walmart (1-hour; much cheaper option if you have a week to wait for them) $4
Glitter stars - Walmart (red, yellow, blue) $4
Glitter scrapbook paper - Hobby Lobby (came from theme sets)  so like, $.50 for 4 sheets individually
Glue Dots 3-D embellishment - Hobby Lobby $3 (scrapbook section)
Purple glue stick - Walmart $0.25 (woo back to school sale!) 
Construction paper - Walmart $.25
Shipping package - Walmart $2
Shipping - USPS $4
Total: roughly $23

But, we all know that's ridiculous. Most of these things go on sale or clearance throughout the year for $.25 or less (especially if you go to Target, we don't have one anymore -sobs-), so I would consider that $23 a fee for procrastinators who want less stress. Its like a convenience fee.
Keep in mind, most of that was already in my stockpile.  Because I'm a hoarder and pass up Target clearance. The only things I actually had to buy for the project was the poster board, the shipping package, and the shipping itself ($7) so use what you have on hand to save save save!

Once everything was gathered, printed, and ordered/picked up, it was time to work on our project!  Here's some tips I learned along the way, as well as from other bloggers:

1.  Engage your child in the project
 Like, seriously...include your child! Yes, more than a few things were 'messed up' with curious and sticky toddler fingers while we were creating our birthday card, but it is for them after all.  Talk to them about what each item is and what its for.  Let them glue the letters on. Trust me, the glue will disappear (for the most part!). Talk about their favorite characters or let them pick out what they want on the board.  Our son colored-in some of his favorite characters and was so proud when he saw them on the board. It doesn't have to make sense or coordinate; Sprout is so well in-tuned with toddler behavior and encourage their individuality and unique personalities.  I promise you, they'll love it! Sure, those awesome over-the-top cards are pretty neat, but the ones you do together are so much more memorable.

2.  Add their favorite Sprout characters.
Let the hosts know why your child likes Sprout so much.  Pick out a few of their favorite characters and let them color them in.  Not only is it something Sprout likes for the cards they do select for special birthday songs, but its another thing to get your child excited about. While you don't have to restrict it to Sprout-only characters, it is going on Sprout TV, so it would be nice to include one.

3. Be wary of card/poster size.
Obviously you want something big and bold so its actually viewable on television, but you have to consider how you're going to mail it there to.  We folded the average poster board in half and still had to fold it in half once more to get it into the package to ship.  We included some tape in case anything fell off from the trip as a result, but you don't want it a crinkly ole mess after you worked so hard on it.  
UPDATE: Ours looked fantastic on the show, even though it was folded again to fit in the package, and then dive-bombed four times at the Post Office after I told our son to be very careful with it. I did write 'please be careful, fragile poster!' on the package to encourage the lovely postal workers to be gentle, but toddlers can't read, and so the two probably negated each other.

4. Plan a good month out in advance of the actual birth date.
They say ship a minimal two weeks prior on their page, but lets be honest: it'll probably sit there, you blank-staring at it, for at least two weeks before creativity takes you by the reigns and you tear into it. I know that's what happened with us! We shipped it (embarrassingly) late at only 15 days before his birthday and it'll be in-hand at their P.O. box only 11 days before his birthday.  Wouldn't be too stressful if you didn't consider this is a nation-wide television program that runs all day long.  There's millions of viewers.  Millions. There's so many birthdays and cards they have to sift through daily that the sooner you get it in, the better.

5. Get extras.
Whether its poster boards, pictures, or coloring pages, extras are super awesome to have.  Since our toddler helped us, more than a couple pictures were messed up by the stars. You see, apparently you can't just take the stars off the face in the picture.  You just can't.  Once they're down, they're down.  They become one with the picture.  So, it was a huge stress-relief to have backup pictures to just tape right on top :)

Don't overlook that! You will not see your card on television without it, period.  No matter how pretty or sweet or how many heart strings it pulls, it ain't getting on there. Nada. So, print it off and tape that sucker right there on the back, SIGNED, before you ship it off and realize you completely forgot it in the printer paper tray.  THIS HAPPENS A LOT. So, do it now. Luckily the address is right there on the form, too.

7.  Say thank you.
They have millions of viewers, with likely hundreds trying to have their card shown probably every day.  I'm sure its an incredibly stressful job and no one wants to break any children's hearts, so (even if you don't get on), send a little thank you and remind those magical souls behind the scenes how much we appreciate them and their hard work at keeping Sprout rolling.  I can't remember my exact words, but it was something along the lines of:
 'Thank you all for all that you do. We truly understand that not everyone's card can be shown, and singing along with the Birthday Song will be more than enough for our son.  We know your job is probably more stressful than we will ever know, so we just wanted you to know how much we appreciate all of you for bringing Sprout TV into our home.  Thank you!' 
And we sincerely meant it. There's a great saying that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you don't know, and I feel like appreciation is something that's not expressed enough nowadays. Its all gimme gimme gimme. Well, not every one's getting on, and someone's child's heart is going to be broken, and they have to do this every. single. day. I doubt they hear thank you enough for what they do.  Say thank you, but for the love of Sprout don't do one of those guilt-trippy thank yous along the lines of 'Thank you SO MUCH for putting our child's birthday card on TV! They worked SO HARD on it and you've just made them SO HAPPY!'. 

It was also a great opportunity to use any stationary that our son has 'outgrown', like the coordinating thank you cards we got with his first birthday invites from Tiny Prints (he just turned three LOL).  They don't know any different, right? We love stationary and always have a lot on hand, but if you're wanting to start a stock of thank yous we highly recommend Tiny Prints, Minted, and Shutterfly.  Each have great coordinating designs for the front and back of their cards, too. Tiny Prints just rolled out with some really fun, color-in thank you cards and stationary for children if you have kiddos who adore coloring.  We love Minted for their fun shapes and high-quality paper; if you're wanting something a little more budget-friendly, though, Shutterfly has a wide range of stationary and are always offering promos for 40%, 50% or 10 free cards (so make sure to sign up for their emails). Not going to lie, we had a little bit of annoyance with Shutterfly and their customer service recently, but they corrected the issue and we're going to honestly continue using them.  Companies get busy, so if you ever have a problem, don't hesitate to contact them on any of their social media platforms.  That's basically how we all communicate nowadays, anyways.

***If you would like any of the following discounts, leave your name and email in the comments below (as emailname at server dot com; don't use @ or '.com') and I'll send it out to you! Its a unique code and can only be used once***
Tiny Prints: $20 off your order 
Shutterfly: 101 free prints  

So, there you have it! My husband swears I'm the most organized, disorganized person you'll ever meet, so I'm not even going to pretend like I have everything under control.  I winged it, used my best judgment, and gave myself grace. We were the first birthday card read which was super awesome, because we had a million errands to run that day and I was worried I would have to dig through a day's worth of DVR to maybe or maybe not find it.  From what I saw, it runs during the Sunnyside Up Show (and then repeats throughout the day.  If you don't want to risk missing it, record the whole day and fast forward through them. They don't notify you on whether you'll be on, what time, etc) which is from 8-11AM CST for us. 
Best of luck!  

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, July 20, 2015

HALO Promotes Safe Sleep from the Start {+ a HALO Bassinest and Sleepsack giveaway!}

Disclosure: We received complimentary product in exchange for this sponsored post and promotion.  We also only promote companies we truly believe in, that have products that we believe will be beneficial to our readers, and have wonderful customer service.  Since we choose what is shared with our readers, we ensure the best, most well-rounded companies!

So, for any of you that know me in real life and have been on the receiving end of one of our many gifts, whether it be for a baby shower, welcome home baby gift, or holy crap they left me alone with a baby HELP! gift, you would know I like to go big or go home.  Maybe its because as a mommy blogger, I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly as far as baby gear, companies, and whatnot goes, but I know what you need.  Like, I know. I'm not going to give you that gift that is a pain and a half to return or exchange because you'll never use it or its completely impractical, just like I know what people really want and need (when they think they want something else that is a total clunker). 

I'm going to add a Sophie la Girafe to your gift basket that'll save yours and your teething child's sanity, not a $4 teething toy that only gets the front or sides (but not those killer back molars!).

I'm going to add a My Brest Friend breastfeeding pillow to your basket (and probably a Mombo too), not the Boppy that everyone swears by.  Boppys are terrible.  Well, they aren't really, but they're like that throw pillow that just annoys you and disappoints after you've slept on the real thing; Boppys are excellent baby loungers, but they're only popular because people don't know any better and don't know there's soo much better out there.  Go ahead, try breastfeeding in a My Brest Friend then in a Boppy.

I'm going to add a HALO SleepSack to your basket.  I could name off ten other sleeping bag brands and that still wouldn't cover them all, but trust me they're great.  They're so great, it was the first we chose to snuggle our own son in within the first hour after birth! They have so many fabric options that you're guaranteed to find one that fits your individual wants and needs.  They don't have just five basic designs and then do different color variations among those, there are tons (plus new designs every season!).  They offer ready-to-go gift bundles that look superb on a registry or gift bag (just saying -wink-), and the quality is there.  They're so well made that we'll be using the same SleepSacks for multiple babies; no loose threads, ripped stitches or fabric holes, or unsticky velcro here! We love them, and know you will too!

Now, a great product is only as great as the company, right?  Let me introduce you to the (friendly!) masterminds behind HALO:
HALO Innovations is dedicated to putting the health, safety and well-being of babies first. In fact, over 1,400 hospitals use HALO® SleepSack® wearable blankets through the HALO Safer Way to Sleep Initiative.  The HALO family of products, including HALO SleepSacks and SleepSack Swaddles, SwaddeSure and the best-selling HALOBassinestTM Swivel Sleeper, help children from newborn to toddler age sleep better and safer.

Safe Sleep Tips

  • Place baby to sleep on his or her back at naptime and at night time
  • Use a crib that meets current safety standards with a firm mattress that fits snugly and is covered with only a tight-fitting crib sheet.
  • Remove all soft bedding and toys from your baby’s sleep area (this includes loose blankets, bumpers, pillows and positioners). The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests using a wearable blanket instead of loose blankets to keep your baby warm.
  • Offer a pacifier when putting baby to sleep. If breastfeeding, introduce pacifier after one month or after breastfeeding has been established.
  • Breastfeed, if possible, but when finished, put your baby back to sleep in his or her separate safe sleep area alongside your bed.
  • Room share, but don’t bed share. Bed sharing can put a child at risk of suffocation.
  • Never put your baby to sleep on any soft surface (adult beds, sofas, chairs, water beds, quilts, sheep skins etc.)
  • Never dress your baby too warmly for sleep; keep room temperature 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Never allow anyone to smoke around your baby or take your baby into a room or car where someone has recently smoked.

HALO has always been passionate about 'Back is Best', and now they want to bring awareness and promote their new campaign: Safe Sleep from the Start.  There's no better time to practice safe sleep than the beginning, so be sure to checkout HALO for more great advice and products to give your own precious little safe sleep from the start.

Oh, and be sure to enter their super duper awesome giveaway! You can win their new Bassinest AND a SleepSack! Its like winning the sleep lottery.  
Be sure to enter here

We love Halo and know you will too! They post helpful advice for new parents, great giveaways (and often!), and you'll be on the frontlines when they announce awesome new products like their new Bassinest!

Disclosure: We received complimentary product in exchange for this sponsored post and promotion.  We also only promote companies we truly believe in, that have products that we believe will be beneficial to our readers, and have wonderful customer service.  Since we choose what is shared with our readers, we ensure the best, most well-rounded companies!

Liked this post? Be sure to VOTE FOR US on Top Mommy Blogs so we can bring you more great reviews, posts, and giveaways! All it takes it one click of the picture below, and you've voted! That's it! Thank you, The Buddy Doo Team
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Monday, May 4, 2015

Going Reusable One Product at a Time: Sunsella Silicone Cupcake Liners Review!

Disclaimer: I have received free product to review, but all comments and opinions are my own. I only recommend products I believe would truly be of interest and a good fit for my readers.

We've always been huge fans of all things reusable, 'green', or 'less' in the artificial ingredients and toxins department, so we've started a new routine of taking one item a week and replacing it with something better for ourselves or the environment.  We've had great success so far with our our coffee creamer, reusable 'swiffer' dusters, and even reusable coffee filters I sewn from muslin.  This week, we chose silicone cupcake liners because we've been encouraging portion control (which lets face it, is all out of whack in the great U.S. of A.), sensory play, and fun bento lunches.  There's a million to choose from nowadays and I really wanted some that were true to color.  I've had a few friends receive various brands and were disappointed when their colors fell flat, so after some research I stumbled upon the vibrant Sunsella Little Gems and crossed my fingers I found a winner.  Just look at those colors!!

It didn't take long for Buddy Doo to fall absolutely in love with them.  As a toddler, he loves sorting everything he touches; adding a pouch of gummy snacks to the liners kept him busy long enough for mommy to actually finish her coffee while it was still warm - a huge win in my book!  It amazes me what toddlers find fun and intriguing; He stacked and unstacked, sorted the gummies by color with their matching liner, played with the table apples, and then matched the liners themselves. We chose them for portion control in our lunches and snacks, and for cooking our different favorites (like homemade blueberry muffins or meatloaf and mashed potato muffins!), but the way he was having fun you would've thought they were intended as another toy.
I wish I would have thought to snatch a picture of our lunch date at the park as these little gems truly sparkled against the stainless steel of our PlanetBox bento lunchboxes. Even though our bentos had separate containers and the little gems weren't entirely necessary to separate the food, I love adding them because their color adds that little something that make homemade lunches a little more cheery.

We love these and are so glad we tried them.  They're so versatile, and clean up is a breeze! We make a lot of food from scratch to cut back on waste, so it just makes sense to redo the tools we cook with as well.  

More about Sunsella Little Gems:

Make healthier, low fat baking with no more sprays, greasing or oiling required!

No more mess or waste, your baking will pop right out with professional looking crinkled edges. 
Do away with food sticking to paper and aluminium baking cups and cupcake liners.

No More Throwaway Paper or Foil Muffin Cups!!!

Other benefits of Sunsella Little Gems include...
- Evenly distributes heat for perfect moist baking
- Dishwasher, oven, microwave and freezer safe 
- Reusuable and durable
- Space-saving stacking
- Fun and vibrant colors
- Easy to clean
- Resists stains and odors 
- Many other uses beyond baking
- Meets FDA standards and BPA free
- High quality silicone with no nasty fillers

Use as food dividers in kids lunches (bento lunch boxes) eliminating the need for 
separate plastic bags to divide and contain food. Also great for controlling serving sizes.

Our baking cups can also be used for...
- Food dividers in kids lunches (bento boxes)
- Portion control
- Making frozen treats
- Making gelatine
- Fun and colorful desserts
- Teething infants
- Fill with treats at kids parties
- Art projects and creative displays
- The options are endless!

BUY IT:  Right now you can grab your own set of liners for 20% off at Amazon with coupon code: JJORSB8D
That makes them only $6.40 shipped if you have Prime :)

Disclaimer: I have received free product to review, but all comments and opinions are my own. I only recommend products I believe would be good for my readers.
Liked this post? Be sure to VOTE FOR US on Top Mommy Blogs so we can bring you more great reviews, posts, and giveaways! All it takes it one click of the picture below, and you've voted! That's it! Thank you, The Buddy Doo Team
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