Things I Bought and Liked – All Under $40!

There have been a few things I found this fall that have made me feel like have SCORED in the staying-sane-and-keeping-myself-and-small-humans-alive department (#winning). Some I have found in random shopping trips or browsing online, one was a stocking stuffer (ULTA, you hooked my husband up!) and a couple came on recommendation. Here they are in no particular order😁:

Corduroy Jumper

This cute corduroy mini-jumper has been one of my fav fall purchases from Birds of a Feather (BOAF)! I felt like I was having a mid-life crisis with this purchase because of the length, however I made all the girls at BOAF promise that I didn’t look like I was an old person trying to look young. 😂 I had an extensive convo with Jill (many many pics and texts) about how to style this and what kinds of places I could wear it. I’ve been so focused on building up my professional wardrobe, that I have sadly forgotten my fun, casual wardrobe. I was able to wear this to a concert for a parents’ night out! I paired it with a black mock turtleneck, black tights and leopard print flats. You could also add booties or a white ribbed shirt underneath.

Ice Roller

Don’t get me started about this. This $12 item has brought me so much joy in the past two weeks. I have been using it first thing when I wake up to “de-puff”. It also is great for headaches. I keep this in a plastic bag in the freezer and have it ready for use. This is so worth it – go get yourself one.

Benefit Hoola Matte Bronzer

This little bronzer packs a huge punch for its size. It is super pigmented, so you only have to use a small amount to create a bronze goddess look, use as blush or to contour. This size is great to travel with too! 

Firearm Kids’ Clothes

If you are a fan of Mini Boden, you will love Firearm. I’ve found some great dupes for half the cost! Best of all…it’s all available on AMAZON. The fabric is soft and breathable – enough for my two year old.😅

Universal Thread Booties

These adorable cut out booties are TARGET dupes for the more pricey Free People ones. They are only $32.99 (and there is a BOGO 50% off going on right now)! They are comfy and very on trend for Fall.

As a fellow (working) mom, I hope some of these ideas help you to stay chic, have $$ in your wallet and generally make life easier!

Xx,

Lauren

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The People You See in the Airport and Other Entertaining Ways to Pass Time

At some time or another, we have waited at the airport, subway, for a bus or even just in the Starbucks or school pick up line. I think we can all agree that WAITING SUCKS! What is the first thing we do when we are presented with a wait (besides uttering four or five choice words)?? Pick up our phones, right?! We start scrolling though social media like a boss (you are MINE Snapchat filters!).  However, sometimes we are in areas with little to no (free) access to the internet – cue people-watching! During my last few kid-less flights (because we all know this isn’t happening when you are wrangling tiny people) I noticed a trend in the groups of people I saw in the airport. They might look a little different, but they all follow these general categories –

People You See in the Airport:
  1. Judgy old people – This is the couple or group of friends that finds something wrong with everyone around them: “those people are too loud”, “why so much luggage”, “that muffin top isn’t going to stay in those jeans for long”, “there are seats all around here [*there actually aren’t], why is this boy sitting right next to me”. Of course they are loud and everyone can hear them. Depending on your mood (and how close you are sitting to them) these people are some of the most entertaining ones.😜
  2. College/Grad students – They are always talking about how busy they are (HA! Get back to me in 10 years), what exams are studying for and what paper they have just written. They love talking about their coffee addiction and you’ll hear: “UUGGGHHH, I need a double espresso mocha latte…I haven’t had a coffee in hours”.☕
  3. Emo high schooler – This kid is wearing all black, has hair in their face and is scribbling in their journal or drawing some dark picture. 🧛‍♀️ 🧛‍♂️
  4. People with headphones – They like to pretend that headphones makes them or everyone else invisible, leaving them with no situational awareness. Someone needs you to move your giant bag so they can wheel grandma through the aisle? “Sorry, I neither see nor hear you.” (I have to admit that I am a recovering earbud wearer – they are basically an accessory in D.C.) 🎧
  5. Exhausted business travelers – These people get really irritated (somewhat like my toddler)  when anything delays their mission of getting home (*raises hand*).😴
  6. Over-packers – Its one thing to over-pack your checked luggage (it only harms your back and your wallet), but it is quite another to over-pack your carry on! There is always that girl – and I say girl because it’s 9 times out of 10 a girl – who has so much junk stuffed in her carry on and personal item, plus the 4 to 5 things she is holding, that you are praying that you don’t sit next to her on the plane, because you know that shiz is not going to fit under her seat and will most definitely be spilling into your personal space.👜 💼
  7. Food on the plane – Now I know that it is a necessity sometimes and anyone wearing a military uniform gets a pass on this one, but the people that bring STINKY FOOD on the plane…shame on you, just shame.🤢
  8. Overly friendly mid westerners – Ok, I know what you are thinking, don’t you live around the friendliest people ever? Yes, but while I appreciate courtesy and a friendly smile, I’m usually not looking to make a life long friend and bare my soul to the person sitting next to me on the plane. Sometimes people are interested in convo, sometimes they aren’t – check the body language, people.😂
  9. Over/Under dressed – Just recently I was on a flight with a guy in a full (and I mean full) Gucci get-up. It wasn’t gaudy and believe you me, I took note and appreciated e.v.e.r.y. piece. There are also always those people in their PJs. It’s a jungle out there.😎
  10. Family with kids – God have mercy on your souls. I know your pain but, have also already inserted my earplugs/headphones.🙏

Other Ways to Pass Time:
  1. Zulily – Do you all know about this site?? I think most people think babies when they think Zulily – but not so! You can get everything from Egyptian Cotton Sheets to Swimsuits (for the whole family to yoga mats and kitchen appliances.
  2. Shop It To Me – If you love bargain shopping but hate surfing the web 24/7, Shop It To Me does the work! It is a completely free, daily shopping update for the clothing, shoes and accessories you love. You pick your size and favorite brands, and Shop It To Me searches hundreds of online stores  to find your favorite items on sale in your size.
  3. Poshmark – This is an easy way to buy and sell your fashions! There are over two million sellers and millions of shoppers. I have sold and found tons of great items on this site. Use the code: LAUR_SAV to get $5 when you sign up!
  4. Virtual Library – I have recently rediscovered the awesomeness of my local library! There are tons of books that you can “check out” virtually and read them on your kindle/iPad/phone. If you live in Ohio, check www.clevenet.org. It has one of the most expansive virtual libraries.
  5. Ebates – The Ebates Cash Back Button gives you Cash Back while you shop! It even applies coupons automatically at checkout so you’ll always get the best deals. I was really skeptical of this at first. How does this work? Is there some type of bot that follows my purchases? What are they getting out of this? Well, I have to say, I have regularly been receiving checks since signing up! Sign up with my referral code and you will get $10 right off the bat: Ebates.
  6. Ted Talks – Want to learn about your sleeping disorder? Need some parenting advice? Want to know what it’s like to go undercover in North Korea? Plus tons of other interesting videos? Check out Ted Talks. They are some of the most interesting and inspiring videos of varying lengths.

What are your favorite ways to pass time??

Have a great vacation and here’s to all those entertaining co-travelers!🍹

Lauren

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Packing Hacks and Must Haves for Family Vacations

I have noticed that there are two camps when it comes to packing for vacation. Those who pack everything and the kitchen sink and those who try to take as few bags as possible. I generally fall into the first category. 🤪 This leaves John to try to juggle at least 4 or 5 bags while I wheel the kids through the airport. In this scenario, we usually (A) break down and pay one of the porters to help us, (B) John hurts himself (and is grumpy the rest of the day) or (C) we rent one of the carts (which you can never find where to put them when you are done).

If you’ve been following the blog this year, you know that one of my resolutions is to travel more. So far, I’ve been to the mountains of WV, NYC and now sunny Florida! After each trip, I vow to pack less. Besides the packing and lugging it through the airport, there’s the UNPACKING!😭  This trip I dove in and tried minimalist packing!!

As you all are probably aware, traveling with kids really makes you want to curl in the fetal position changes the game. So, one big caveat to this minimalist packing experience is that I knew that there were (easily accessible) laundry facilities at our condo. Here’s what my minimalist packing looked like for a 4 year old:

Here is what it looked like for my 1 year old:

All-in-all, I was super happy with the experience. It really did streamline our check-in (yay Southwest – and yes, I did sit next to the window; if anyone was getting sucked out it was going to be ME!) and we generally had everything we needed. Believe it or not, we didn’t even use everything we packed! While, I’m sure my over-packing days aren’t over, I am going to try my darnedest to pair down my packing. There really is something to be said for simplicity (especially when you will be spending the majority of the time in a bathing suit).

Just to clarify, the items above are just the clothes portion of the packing. After all of our travels with a baby, baby + toddler and two toddlers, here is my MUST HAVE non-clothing packing list (click on the pink links below to get a better look at the product described):

Pack ‘n Play – If you have a baby, this is the numero uno crucial item. We were lucky because one of my mom’s friends had a smaller pack ‘n play that she gave us after our son was born. This was awesome to take to grandmother’s house and also to travel with! If you can, find a smaller one than your large one with the bassinet and changing table, you will be glad you did. This Costco one is only $50! Not only is is smaller, but lighter! Your baby won’t know the difference and you can have a little peace of mind bringing your own. Another option is to use the one at your hotel or condo. I was weirded out by that with my oldest, but the poor second child has used the hotel’s several times, after a clorox drench wipe down.

Toddler Cot – This might sound weird, but we got this idea after seeing our kids sleep so well on the cots at school. Our kids were introduced to cots at 18 months (or earlier) at their “school” and there’s something about them having their own space. It’s smaller than a pack ‘n play and if you can get away with it, it’s less to pack (it can even fit in a suitcase)! This Regalo one took the cake. It comes with a case and a sheet  – win/win.

Car Seat Cover – We like the J.L. Childress brand for the car seat travel bag. It is durable, can be worn like a backpack and fits most car seats. It’s always a struggle to figure out what will be less of a hassle – taking car seats or renting them upon arrival. What we’ve found, is that if you are renting a car, rent the seats. If someone is picking you up at the airport, take your own. There is nothing worse than being trapped in a rental line after a tiring flight with cranky kids, when everyone just wants to get to the destination.

Umbrella Stroller – We love the UPPAbaby 2015 G-Lite Stroller. Anyone who knows my husband, knows that he researches like crazy to get the best deal. This stroller has proved to be great for ages 1 – 4 (we don’t have anyone older than that, ha). The best part about this stroller is that the shade has an extra extender part, that keeps the sun off the kids. I also love the mesh back and it has a strap so you can carry it over your shoulder. It is crazy lightweight and worth every penny. It made it across the Pacific Ocean and back and still looks brand new.

Stroller Cover – This gate check stroller cover has been super durable and it prevents parts from going missing or wear and tear to the stroller.

Sippy Cups – I seriously might have all the sippy/insulated cups ever created and sold in the U.S. market. When traveling, my fav and go-to is the CamelBak. I like these because they hold a lot of liquid, can clip to a stroller hook and the spout can fold down to be less exposed to whatever gross stuff it might come into contact with. The runner up is the Thermos Funtainer. This is a little heavier and not as convenient to hook to a stroller or backpack. However, the spout is completely covered and it does keep things cold/warm longer.

Sunscreen – Toddler tested, mother approved. My son tans really easily and we haven’t had a burn (knock on wood). My daughter is super fair, like her Dada, and I was pretty frantic about finding a non-toxic sunscreen to provide crazy coverage, without tons of re-application. Here’s what I found, Babyganics. We applied this once in the morning and once in the afternoon and girlfriend didn’t get pink! Hooray!

Bumpers – These hiccapop bumpers were recommended to me by a friend (thanks Brittany!) and whoa!! total GAME CHANGER. Forget lugging those bulky plastic or metal bed rails/guards around. These take up little space when rolled up and have treads that keep them in place under the fitted sheet. Not only are these great for traveling (*read – you don’t have to drag the toddler cot around all of the time*) but, they are also great when transitioning your toddler to a big bed. Buy them, you won’t regret it.

Packing Cubes – I can’t stop talking about these.  Here’s the latest review: packing cubes.

Things to NEVER forget (and might be best in a carry-on):

Blankie

Favorite Stuffed Animal

Sound Machine

Tablets/chargers

Snacks/drinks for take-off and landing

Time Savers

  • If you are going to be somewhere for a week consider ordering essentials: diapers, wipes, formula, baby food from Walmart and have it delivered to your room (2-day shipping 🙌 ). Amazon Prime works for this too!
  • Walmart has free grocery pickup in tons of locations now. You just order online and they will load your groceries for FREE! Here is a $10 coupon to try it: Walmart Grocery Pickup
  • Many grocery stores offer free shipping to your room/condo if you order over $50 (which is super easy with 4 people).
  • If you want to stay in one night and don’t want to cook, check with GrubHub or Seamless. These services deliver from tons of participating restaurants.
  • Look really strung out and desperate in the airport…lol. TSA usually has mercy on our souls and lets us through a shorter line.

Many of you have asked me for these tips, so I hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any favorite products you can’t live without when traveling. I love hearing new ideas!

Happy Vacationing!

XOXO,
Lauren

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‘Rent The Runway’ And Steal The Show! High Fashion, Low Cost!

 

I’m normally a planner!  I love having a schedule and creating to-do lists.  I like mapping things out in my mind and checking off my tasks – especially if it’s something really big and important!  But as luck would have it, this year we decided to go to the Museum Ball at the last minute.   When I say last minute, I mean FOUR days before the ball!  FOUR. DAYS.  I was absolutely, one hundred percent unprepared.  I didn’t have a dress, shoes, hair appointment….nothing!  I quickly started scrambling; browsing every single dress website that I could find.  I knew what I was looking for – I wanted full length with long sleeves.  I kept running into the same problem over and over.  All the dresses I liked were either $350 – $500 (ohhh sweet Jesus! I can’t even.) or they wouldn’t ship until next Month (yeah, thanks but no thanks.)  After hours of searching, I finally decided to try Rent The Runway!  I quickly found several dresses that I loved….but this gold beauty caught my eye immediately.

 

I debated back and forth most of the day, trying to decide if I should try Rent The Runway.  I knew several people who loved RTR, but I also knew how very picky that I am (finding something flattering for this c-section x 2 tummy isn’t always an easy task!)  But I weighed my pros and cons and decided that I would take a chance this time.  If you all know me, you know I was really living on the edge by doing this.  I mean, what are the odds that this dress will fit and that I’ll actually like it?!?  Ironically, I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be.  I guess I realized that it was my only option at that point.

So here’s how it works if you’ve never used Rent The Runway before.  You get to pick your dress in two sizes (in hopes that one of the sizes will work.)  As a first time user, you also get to pick a back-up dress.  You can rent the dresses for either 4 or 8 days, depending on how long you’ll need them.  They overnight the dresses to you (you typically get them the day before your event.) At the end of your rental, you take the dresses back to the UPS store and overnight the dresses back to RTR.

This process is SO perfectly streamlined.  It’s like a well oiled machine.  The dresses ship/arrive in an extremely heavy duty garment bag (they do not come in a box or typical shipping bag.)  The dresses are neatly packed deep inside the garment bag.  Once you are finished with your dresses, you pack them back into the garment bag, zip them up, change out the shipping label (they even provide the return shipping label for you!) and overnight them back to RTR.  I’m not kidding, it’s really that simple.  Aren’t these bags SO neat?!?!

 

 

When you’re scrolling through all the dresses on RTR, you’ll notice that there are TONS of reviews for each dress (pictures included!)  It tells you on there what size formal gown each person wore compared to their regular clothing size.  It tells if they sized up or down or if they felt that the dress was true to size!  It also tells the person’s height, weight and chest size.  This was particularly helpful when trying to decide on a dress size!  I normally size up a size or two when buying a formal gown, but nearly every review I read on my gold dress said that it was true to size.  I went out on a limb and ordered my true size and the size up.  But, just like everyone else, I ended up wearing my regular size.  I feel like the reviews were EXTREMELY helpful in picking out a dress!  Total game changer.

The dress I chose was technically a high neck with a low cut back. However, I noticed that one user reviewed that for short girls, it worked best to wear the dress backwards (seriously, who would’ve even thought about that?!)  But let me tell you, she slayed in that dress.  She was my total inspo.  Just like me, she was approximately 5’2″ and curvy.  So when my dress arrived, I decided to try the dress both ways and she was totally right.  The dress was so much more flattering when worn backwards!  (That’s probably more cleavage than I’ve ever shown in my entire life {YOLO!  Your welcome, husband!})

As for their customer service, I can not praise RTR enough!!  When my dresses arrived, they had sent the wrong back-up dress to me.  In my panicked state, I called and talked to the sweetest guy at customer service.  He told me how sorry he was, that my backup dress had accidently sold out so they just sent me something similar (it wasn’t really similar at all, but I couldn’t be mad at him!  ha!)  He found my original backup dress in a size down and he overnighted it to me for FREE!!!  So now I’ve received four dresses for the price of one – how amazing is that?!?  And sure enough, it arrived on time – before noon on the day of the event.  And although I ended up wearing my original gold dress, I can not tell you how thankful I was that he sent me my backup dress!

 

Here’s the cool part: if you absolutely fall in love with your rented item, you can purchase it.  The website tells you the rental fee vs. the purchase price.  My rental fee was $80 but full price for the dress was $700 (I might faint!)  Although i’ll never splurge and spend SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS on a formal gown, that dress was totally worth it.  It made me feel like a princess – and that was really fun for a middle aged momma!

In case you’re on the fence about trying Rent The Runway, here’s a Glitter Jungle Coupon Code for $30 off your first rental!

 

It was approximately 900 degrees in there!  I went full on Hollywood star and did a hair change mid gala.  Thank god for bobby pins and complementary hair spray!  I should’ve just brought that backup dress and had a wardrobe change as well (don’t even think for a second that I didn’t debate it! ha!)

Happy Shopping my friends – you’re going to look fabulous!

XOXO

Jill

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V-Day Gift Guide: Super Unique Gifts You Can’t Miss!

Who doesn’t like getting a gift? I realize that there are other “love languages” out there, but let’s be real, no one is going to to turn down a present picked just for them!!  If you are looking for some unique options that will up your gift game from chocolate and flowers for your parents, sibling, boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, and friends, keep reading!

Capitol Market

We stopped by this market on our way back from Aerial Yoga for some fruit and found a huge selection of tasty treats and drinks! There is something for everyone here. You will find everything from delicious candy, wine, coffee to cheese, meats and fruit. There is something for everyone here!

 

 

Birchbox Subscription

While this isn’t a new idea, Birchbox had evolved with the times and have started curating more personalized boxes of makeup, skincare, nail care, and fragrance options. I absolutely LOVED receiving these boxes each month with new beauty products to try. These start at just $10/month and now have them for the GQ men in your life. 😉

 

UE Wonderboom

This little waterproof, super portable, bluetooth speaker will change your life. The sound quality is awesome. This is a must-have for anyone with kids.  You can easily carry this speaker from room to room for dance parties and sound machine noises. It is also especially good for traveling.

 

Packing Cubes

For your organized friends (or ones that need some organization in their lives), these packing cubes are AWESOME! They are totally worth the less than $25 price tag. I used these when packing my kids for Disney and it was super helpful.  They come in several different colors, which makes it easy to identify whose clothes are in the suitcase!

 

Mousepad

While this might not be the most romantic gift you’ve ever given, I can say that this is one of the best mousepads I’ve ever used! My husband, who spends the majority of his day at the computer, recommended this to me and I haven’t turned back. It is super responsive and under $10! Your techie friends/family will thank you!

 

Silicone Ring

In addition to our Acro Yoga and Aerial Yoga adventures that you’ve seen, these rings would definitely be great for weight training or crossfit workouts. I got my husband one and he says it is super comfortable and would totally recommend it. These are less than $25!

I hope these unique gift ideas will be a great paring with the fun/romantic/crazy night you have planned with your boo or gal-pals!

XOXO,

Lauren

P.S. Make sure to check out the Sushi Bar at Capitol Market – they have some of my favorite grab-n-go treats (even my kids approve!)

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A Few of Saxby’s Favorite Things – Dog Products You’ll Love

Saxby is our first, our fur child.  She is my (un)registered emotional companion. She has gotten me through a bar exam, two pregnancies, numerous cooking disasters, and plenty of other highs and lows. If you are like me, one of the best parts of the day is coming home to a very very happy little animal who, seemingly, has been waiting by the door for you all day. Saxby is high energy and very athletic, so I have made it my mission to find toys and products that will stand up to this schnoodle, while not killing myself trying to entertain her.

In honor of her upcoming birthday in August (#5, I can’t believe it!) I’ve compiled a list of her favorite things and added in a few of my own.

 

The Kong

This has been one of our best investments.  Saxby has used this since she was a puppy. We put a teaspoon of peanut butter inside the Kong and stuck it in her crate when we were training her.  She always seemed happy to “go home” when it was time for us to go out or for her to go to sleep.  Now, she will chase and bite the Kong mercilessly. No cracks or wear to speak of!

 

Dingo Twist Sticks

These Dingo Twist Sticks have been a great treat for Saxby.  She loves them and they take a little while to eat, so it keeps her busy.  These especially come in handy when we have company and don’t want Saxby to jump or lick.  The Dingo Sticks will distract her enough to stop barking when the many Amazon boxes are delivered to our front door.

 

Racquetballs

This was an accidental find.  John and I like to play tennis and one winter, decided to try our hand at racquetball. After I crashed into the side of the court repeatedly and John got beaned in the back several times, we gave it up.  Our two attempts ended in a literal ROFL situation.  We got dirty looks by the veterans at the club in northern Virginia, and needless to say, we quit. Saxby reaped the benefit of this #epicfail. These balls are super durable and don’t get coated in the same amount of grime that a tennis ball does. We’ve only been through two cans of these balls in the last five years.  (The first three balls went missing over the fence…oops.)

 

Lean Treats

We got these from our vet’s office.  Saxby loves them and they are great for training.  We used these to get her to wipe her paws before she comes in the house, dance, sit, stay, lie down, and speak.  She used to be able to differentiate between her toys when she was a puppy.  These treats were crucial in having her bring us “Pinky”, “green rope”, and “bone”. (These toys have all gone by the wayside or are chewed up.)

 

Bubbles

This was also a coincidental find. My son loves bubbles. One evening, I was blowing bubbles for him and Saxby started chasing them too. Two-for-one! Entertainment for the kids and the dog – major win.

 

Harness

This is the first and only harness we’ve owned.  It is awesome. Not only does it prevent that horrible choking sound your pup makes when she pulls, but also evenly distributes her weight.  The Worthy Dog brand is top notch. I’ve made a few repairs, but it has been a good buy.

 

Doggy Bags

I got this set up at Marshalls, but have linked another option above.  This makes clean up after your pup easy.  No one likes another dog’s poo in their yard.  Don’t be that person; take a doggy bag.

 

Chew Toy

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law dog-sat during one of our vacations and Saxby confiscated their dog’s Nylabone. This particular one is great for very active chewers. There are little grooves on the sides of the white part which also help to keep teeth clean.

 

Brushes (Slicker and Comb)

We use the slicker comb (blue handled one) to go over Saxby first.  This gets out all of tangles and dead hair.  We then use the comb (yellow handle) to get more stubborn tangles and matted fur.  These are super effective and keep her looking well groomed.

 

MOVOFLEX

Saxby’s vet recommended these homeopathic supplement for joint discomfort.  Saxby is regularly contorting herself when jumping to catch balls, ropes, frisbees, etc. Also, she occasionally slips on our hardwood floors while chasing or being chased (by whom I’ll never tell). Our vet recommended this product and it has been awesome.  There are different formulas for small, medium or large dogs, so check with your vet before you use these.

 

 

Saxby and I hope you and your pups love these products and want to hear all about your favorite products!

XOXO,

Lauren

[Affiliate links included]

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