Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Things First and Remembering to Date Your Spouse {Moon Pie Giveaway!}

**Disclosure: I received a promotional item in exchange for this post.  Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment and shipment.  See full disclosure below.**

First Things First (FTF) is an award winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
FTF is a resource that collaborates with and is supported by a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals.
FTF accomplishes it mission through meaningful media messaging and skill building classes.
Did you know:
• 24 million children are growing up in homes without their biological fathers.
• Only 30% of divorces are due to infidelity, addiction or abuse, 70% of divorces are due to couples feeling disconnected.
• Couples who manage to devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates, compared to couples who do not devote as much couple time to one another.
• Fathers provide unique benefits to their daughters through their active and positive presence from the time of birth all the way through adulthood.

So, what's one way to help your marriage when work, the kids, or everyday stress seems to get the better of you and your attention?

Date your spouse.

Something I've learned over the years of marital bliss is the importance of dating your spouse.  Between a very demanding Buddy Doo that has only ever slept roughly two hours at a time since birth, its hard for me to feel rested and focused at times.  Couple that with a husband who very selflessly works anywhere from 60-80 hour work weeks, out in the elements and in Louisiana's heat and humidity, its very easy to see how there are days we are both just burnt out by the time its just us.  Its important to remember that a strong marriage isn't strong because of mere compatibility, its strong because it overcame the toughest trials and tribulations together.  Those moments when you have to give your all into work, or into your kids in the more demanding first years of their lives, or in other stressful times in life, its important to remember your spouse.  Remember that person you fell in love with, the person you chose to spend the rest of your life with, the person that supports you and makes you a better person.  Yes, working pays bills, and your children do need a significant amount of your time, but finding a balance between it all is the most important.  Let's remember to put first things first.


Each household is only eligible to win One (1) First Things First Moon Pie Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.  Giveaway is open to US legal citizens 18 years of age and older, and begins 8/13/2014 at 2pm and ends 8/18/2014 at 11:59pm CST. Void where prohibited.

The prize will be sent via FedEx or USPS. No P.O. Boxes please. Please note that the assets included within this message were delivered to you to promote First Things First. Any actions (including contest and competitions) that you complete with the provided assets are your liability, and should comply with both local and international laws. Also, please remember to disclose that you are working with First Things First, or that First Things First supplied these materials to you if required by local law.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Really Happens When You Sign Up for a Subscription Box - Birchbox Edition

**Disclosure: contains affiliate links**
So, we're all pretty much familiar with subscription boxes.  Some are awesome, some not so much, and some are relationships that refuse to quit...i.e. won't stop charging you no matter how much you try.  The promo codes are very tempting, and why wouldn't you trust that blogger's blah blah box review where everything's sugar coated to encourage you to subscribe through their link, giving them so many more boxes for free or shop credit?  Not discrediting all bloggers, there are certainly some who are straightforward.  But, truth be told many more choose to 'glitter fart' (wonderful term coined by the Sir Jamie Grayson of TheBabyGuyNYC) all over their reviews and subscription box shout outs because it benefits them in more ways than one.
I've decided its time to check out these boxes and see what all the fuss is about.  After an absolute horrible experience with both Bluum and Conscious Box (both encouraged by other reviews), I knew I wanted to provide the low down of what happens after you've given your credit card info.  Bluum listened to my criticism and headed my advice and has changed for the better.  Way better.  I would actually recommend them now better.  Conscious Box, negative ghost rider.  Samples were terrible, shipping was terrible, customer service was the absolute worst.  Don't get me started on how many times they've charged me and I had to demand, DEMAND, a refund after I've quit...weeks and months after I quit.
First up: Birchbox
I was referred to Birchbox by my close friend Jossie of My Little Love Note, and it was exactly as I expected.  I honestly signed up simply because I had already filled out a Women's Health mag subscription card and was about to drop it in our mailbox, and she told me Birchbox was including a free year of Women's Health in their July box.  

Cost: $10/month for women's and $20/month for men's
Shipping: Fairly fast! I ordered my July box on July 27th (the cut off date to get the magazine included) and it arrived in my mailbox on August 4th! Just over a week is pretty phenomenal as far as subscription boxes go.
Customer Service:  I only interacted with customer service twice, both through Facebook, and they had my problem solved or question answered at an hour tops.  That gets a five stars from us.  They were sincere, courteous, and not stiff at all.
Box contents:  The box's value was 'there', but I wasn't overly impressed.  If you're looking to sample higher end products, travel a lot, or simply don't get to get out as much as you want and having a variety sent to your door instead works better for you, then Birchbox is right at the same level as other makeup subscription boxes and it'll fit well.  Its not necessarily better, but its not worst either.  At roughly $2.00-2.50/sample, it just wasn't something I would sign up for again.  
I was excited for the lotion and dry shampoo because they fit my purse perfectly, but the body wash samples were very small (even with receiving two, they were disappointingly small, one-use samples) and the eyeliner sample was a joke.  They promoted it as one of the highlights in the bag (and it certainly was, the color was magnificent and the quality, durability, and smudge-ability was exactly what I wanted), but the sample size was so small, so teeny tiny that I almost didn't even get to put it on the other eye.  I found their promotion of it deceiving since it was perceived to be bigger, at least more than one, singular use, and they left a bitter taste in my mouth as a result.  There was also a neat detox product in there that was fun to try, and on a better note I did like how all but the body wash samples were actual bottles or pens with lids.  They can easily be toted around whether while traveling or in your diaper bag or purse.

To give you some sort of scale to reference just how small this sample is: the entire box is just over the size of my hand with fingers together and flat (give an inch on both sides) and smaller than my Kindle Fire.  The dry shampoo that I love, the far left spray, is about the size of my index finger from the knuckle to the tip.  The eyeliner sample is about 3 inches long and the actual sample part of the eyeliner is maybe 2 millimeters. 
Overall: I'd give the box a 4 out of 5 stars solely on the fact that it included the one year of Women's Health magazine that essentially 'paid' for the rest of the box itself.  Without the subscription, I'd rate the box a 3 out of 5 stars.  It contained duplicates from other beauty and makeup subscriptions and was no better or worse than any other we've experienced.  Not a terrible subscription box, but just the same as all the others in its category.  While the box was sturdy and definitely upcycle-worthy, I prefer the bags you can actually use from the Ipsy subscription boxes.
Referrals: Now, something that makes certain boxes a game changer from others have been the credits or bonuses you get from referrals.  This is why many bloggers try to sway you into thinking that even though this month's box was crappy, or it was nothing they cared to use, that the boxes are typically positive experiences and that you'd want to subscribe.  For Birchbox, you get 50 points for every person that subscribes through your link.  100 points = $10, so its easy to see why people are so eager for you to sign up.  They have a great selection of the full-size, higher end products in their store and with only four referrals you can easily find something for you.  Free shipping is only with $50+ orders, but being that most items are $20+ it wouldn't be that difficult to achieve.

Cancellation: Yup.  The big one.  I may not have been overly impressed with the box itself, but the no-catch, no drawn out cat-and-mouse goose chase na-na-na-na-boo-boo-you'll-never-be-able-to-cancel tactics don't exist here.  You just simply click a button...  and your confirmation email is in your box shortly! High-five, Birchbox. High-five.

If you do decide to sign up, feel free to use my link here.  While I wasn't overly impressed, it may fit your lifestyle better. Plus, their customer service is superb.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bloominous: Satisfy Your DIY Itch and Let Your Event Bloom!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.
I'm a very creative and crafty person, so I wanted to make my own bouquet for our fun wedding in Las Vegas.  It was still very 'traditional' in decoration-terms, resembling a lot like the following pictures below, but it was satisfying and enjoyable creating my own bouquet and saving it for momento.  Not every one has been bitten by the creativity bug though, so thank goodness there's a company that provides it all for you while still letting you join in on the DIY craze! is something you'll want to bookmark if you're planning a wedding or hosting a big event in the future.  They're setting the standard for floral arrangements, and they're setting it pretty high!  What makes Bloominous unique (other than the obvious, of course)?
The Bloominous Difference:
Our DIY experts design collections that are not only beautiful, 
but are also easy to arrange yourself
Our flowers come straight from the farm, ensuring your stems
are fresh and cut-to-order
It's not just flowers, its the whole look - and you can
find it all here!
Our step-by-step pictorials make it easy to build a beautiful
piece in only 15 minutes
We dethorn and proportion your flowers to save you time,
you just have fun ;)
We carefully package and ship by air
to ensure freshness

They have many fun collections and trial packs to choose from, including the beautiful Vintage Cottage pictured above, and Party Pop featured below.  If you're looking for something for fun and nontraditional, they even have a gorgeous and bright Bohemian package!

Be sure to check out what they have to offer at, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Its that time of year again...don't break the bank on textbooks with

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post.  That being said, I do not review items, sponsored posts, or advertise on my page products or companies that I don't believe in or use myself.  I would rather pass up an offer than promote a product or company I don't believe will be beneficial to my readers.

Its that time of year again!  While I loved my four years at Louisiana State University, one thing I didn't enjoy was the final cost of all those textbooks.  I completed my degree in four years, that's eight semesters and eight times I had to purchase textbooks and workbooks.  I did the 'oh you don't really need to purchase textbooks' route (which was awful and millions times more stressful by the way!), the 'MUST.GET.ALL.THE.TEXTBOOKS!!!' route (directly following the semester without textbooks, naturally), the 'wait and see which you'll really need from the first day in class' route (which, by the way, worked really well in some classes since they said we didn't need them and that they simply had to put something down, and terrible for others where the book ended up being sold out and costing twice as much so that I could get it before the first exam). And finally, the most amazing thing ever: renting the textbooks.  Because college is a huge life lesson, and I apparently did something terrible at some point to earn some bad karma, the option to rent textbooks didn't occur until my very last semester of college.  Very last.  And even then, it was so new that it was only offered in certain textbooks/classes.  Boo.  

Hubby Doo and I at my college graduation :) Five months pregnant with Buddy Doo, too!

I averaged $900-1,000 in textbooks each semester of college at LSU.  That's $1,800-2,000 a year, times four ($7,200-8,000!).  On BOOKS.  Books that I only got a laughable $7-30 by the end of the semester when I tried selling them back!  Thankfully, I had a full ride to college with scholarships.  Unfortunately, not everyone does so I'm thrilled to remind you all of the affordable and practical option of renting your textbooks through!

Why would you want to rent from Campus Book Rentals?
-save 40-90% off of bookstore prices (how awesome is that? You get LESS than that when you try to sell them back at the end of the year, anyway)
-free shipping both ways (SCORE!)
-can highlight in the textbooks (seriously?!)
-flexible renting periods
-we donate to Operation Smile with each textbook rented (awesome!)

Alright, cool.  I'm liking what I see.  Now, what do I do?

Now, ready for something even more amazing?  Check out Campus Book Rentals new program


The RentBack program by Campus Book Rentals is revolutionary because its a profitable-for-you opportunity by allowing you to rent your own textbooks out to other students.  If you're like me and actually want to keep some (or all) of your textbooks, you can utilize this great service by letting rent out your textbooks to other students (at a pre-determined amount for each rental) over and over again.  This allows you to profit from each new rental on the same textbook, and once your book is no longer in demand you get it back. Its yours to keep and you get the money too!

And if you thought you couldn't love Campus Book Rentals any more, check out Operation Smile:

With every textbook rented through, a donation is made to the beautiful international charity Operation Smile!

Since 1982, Operation Smile has provided 22,000 free surgical procedures to children and young adults who otherwise would not have been able to afford/obtain it.  Its an international children's charity that helps children in low and middle income countries to obtain safe, quality medical care for challenges associated with the mouth such as cleft lip and palate. Every three minutes a child is born with a cleft.  While no one in my family or close to me has been born with a cleft or had to face any of the significant challenges and surgeries associated with it, I do know that it greatly affects those who have it more than just physically.  It deeply affects them emotionally too, and I'm grateful to learn of this charity and how its literally spreading beautiful smiles worldwide.  

So, now that you know why you should rent your textbooks from, be sure to check their website!  Don't forget to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter, too. :)

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