7 Ways to Keep Black Friday Fun & Festive

Deny Christmas as much as you want halfway through November, we all know it’s coming. I, for one, am OK with that. I love Thanksgiving too, don’t get me wrong, but to me it’s all part of one big wonderful holiday stretch. With the quickly approaching season are coming the Black Friday announcements and ads. Will you contribute to the madness?

Here’s the thing, shopping on Black Friday, does not mean you have be ‘mad’, or grinchy or just in it for the best deals. In fact, my experiences have brought fun and festive memories and I think that can be the case for anyone.

Some people are obviously in this only for the hot deals, and if that’s you then you should stop reading now. This is for the people who, sure, want a deal, but are also in it for the fun.

1. Wait until Black FRIDAY

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With the trend of Black Friday hours starting earlier and earlier, people will eventually wonder why we even call it Black “Friday”.  While I love Christmas, I love the entire holiday season and that includes Thanksgiving and even the events and days leading up to that last Thursday of November. Enjoy what Thanksgiving is and enjoy the time relaxing after that big glorious meal with people you love. Don’t rush through that special time just to go stand in line half of the holiday.

But also keep in mind the bigger picture beyond yourself and what shopping on Thursday means. By partaking in the early shopping on Thanksgiving Day, you are encouraging more and more stores to start their sales earlier, meaning over time, more and more people will be asked to sacrifice their holiday to go into work. I am so grateful to have always enjoyed a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving, but some are not so fortunate. It may not be a big deal to you to spend the end of your Thanksgiving shopping–especially if it’s with friends–but other people are spending it at work.  Those stores starting Black Friday earlier and earlier and eating into more and more people’s holiday weekends and one day it might affect you. (Like your kids not being able to come to Thanksgiving dinner!)

2. Don’t shop for yourself

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Make your outing is about what Christmas shopping should be about–giving. Shop for others. Sure, you might see something you just can’t resist, but for me, real shopping joy comes in being able to shop for others. Shop for your kids, your friends. Find joy in having an opportunity to shop for MORE people because you are find such great deals. Don’t just take advantage of deals for yourself. I once talked to a couple who had a cart full of toys. At first glance, it almost seemed extreme, but as we talked we came to find out that not only were many of the gifts for a child they had chosen from the Salvation Army Angel Tree, but their motive was so touching. They experienced a miscarriage during their parenthood journey and felt, had that child lived, they would be spending money on him every Christmas. They instead spend that same money on another child who is likely not to be gifted much. That is the spirit of Christmas shopping.

3. Add at least one goal to your list that is a charity buy.

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It takes very little effort to find a charity or event happening near you that is taking up gifts for children and families who would greatly appreciate gifts this Christmas. If you have children or young people shopping with you on Black Friday, this is also a great way to teach them the true spirit of Christmas and have them help pick out what gift(s) to buy that will go to someone else. Here are a few ways you can find others to shop for during the holidays:

  • Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army Angel Trees are just two that come immediately to mind.
  • You likely have local churches and organizations doing similar drives.
  • You may even know people personally who may not be receiving much, if anything, this year. Playing Santa for these people would be awesome.

4. Go with a group that loves Christmas as much as you.

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In one of my few Black Friday outings, I remember seeing a group at checkout that had matching custom-made Black Friday shirts. (And this was before graphic tees were the big hit they are today. Now you can get all sorts of fun Black Friday shopping tees.)  They told me how the late night/early morning shopping extravaganza was a fun tradition they had done together for a number of years. You could tell by their faces that the joy was in the shared tradition and not in any of the deals they were finding.

My first time shopping on Black Friday was about 12 years ago. It was long before I had kids to shop for, but I went with my cousin who did have young kids. She invited me along for her mid-night waking to drive 90-minutes to get to Lexington where she could hit up Toys-R-Us and the mall. I accepted the invite and had the best time and did not even have any shopping to do for myself. (I can’t even say I bought anything!) But it was such a fun experience. For one, she and I were at different states in life (college vs. motherhood), so it was quality time we never got together anymore, but it is still a special memory of driving in the dark, waiting in the cold, meeting interesting people, and just kicking off Christmas. My memory has nothing to do with deals and presents and it’s a great memory.

5. Do something festive with your time.

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You may be out for the purpose of shopping and maybe you are even shopping with major purpose. (Special deals for your family or your kids…) But with the close of Thanksgiving, it is sort of an unspoken but socially known rule that no one can give you a hard time about being in full-on Christmas mode. (Well, people can, but now you are on the winning side.) By no means do I judge those who play music or put up a tree before Thanksgiving, but for those who do complaining, they usually shut up after Thanksgiving. So Black Friday, beyond shopping, is the day the holiday season can officially begin, so celebrate the day that way. And I think most Christmas-lovers would say their love of the season is not about gifts and shopping. Here are just a few simple ways to spread holiday cheer when out and about.

  • Bring a bluetooth speaker and play Christmas music while you wait in line for your store to open. (You could sing, but if you are like me, you know that’s not going to brighten many moods!)
  • Bring an extra large carafe of coffee or hot chocolate to share with those in line around you.
  • Dress extra festive to really put on display your love for Christmas.

6. Don’t shop at all.

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I’ve always been blessed with a job that let me have the Friday after Thanksgiving off and Mingus has shared this blessing since we have been together. Some are not so fortunate, but if you do have the day, it does not have to be used shopping for it to be special or festive. The primary reason I have not done Black Friday shopping much is because of a family tradition that started a little over a decade ago that has become the main gathering for my parents and siblings for the holiday: Wood Day. My siblings and our families gather at my parent’s the night of Thanksgiving for laughs, leftovers and drinks and a toast to the holiday season. The next morning we are up bright and early with our warm clothes and work gloves to help my parents gather and split firewood for the coming winter. My parents heat their home with a wood-burning stove and while it just sounds like a bunch of work to most, it is always a fun day. With so many of us, an oftentimes other family friends showing up, no one is ever too stressed with work. We also enjoy good food, lots of leftover desserts and more time to catch up. With four of us siblings, all adults with our own lives and families, getting us all together does not happen often, but this is a set event we can count on happening each year.

Your ‘Black Friday’ tradition does not have to be even as elaborate as this, but making the day special can be a tradition. If you are blessed with a day of no work find a way to make the day special. Here is a list of ideas.

7. Don’t forget about Small Business Saturday

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While you may not get the big box deal prices, don’t forget that following Black Friday is Small Business Saturday, and it’s worth saving some of your money for this shopping event. This is a great way to be in the Christmas spirit with your shopping by spending money with businesses and people where it makes a real difference. These places are likely to run specials and deals, but you might also find some personal charm by hitting their brick and mortars–free coffee and door prizes. Shopping local and small is a way of giving back in and of itself. With today’s technology (social media, Paypal, etc.) it is easier for all of us to have our own businesses both on the streets and in our own homes. Find out from your area and your friends who will be participating in SBS and even if you don’t shop, maybe you can show up and/or introduce others to your friends’ businesses. (PS–> Look for a #shopsmall #shoplocal post in the near future!)

Graphic Tee Syle: Thanksgiving & Fall Collection

As someone who has been through 3 babies in 3 years, you can imagine I’m all about some comfort in my life. I’ll admit that since I am an stay-at-home mom, I get off the hook most days and can wear whatever I like. It is nice to dress it up a bit from time-to-time, but even on the occasions I am going out for non-major events (grocery runs, the park, doctor appointments) I like to dress nice, but still in comfort.

That is why I LOVE two major trends of today: leggings/yoga pants and graphic tees! I know, not everyone cares for graphic tees, but you have to admit they have gotten crafty and fun with the designs and sayings they sling. What’s even more interesting is the way fashionistas have taught us that even a t-shirt can be jazzed up to look classy. I’ve seen them paired with skirts of all styles, cute jeans and booties, blazers and flashy neck ware. I love it.

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Three Ways to Dress Up a Graphic Tee

And what holiday is more important than dressing comfortably than Thanksgiving when you want the freedom to eat to your heart’s content? Check out some seasonal fun below and know you have the freedom to dress them up or keep them casual. I would love to see some of your favorite fall-festive tees as well!

Thanksgiving Tees

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Feast Mode

 

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It’s Turkey Time

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I’ve Got My Fat Pants On
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Eating For Two
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This Isn’t Pumpkin Pie

Basic Thankful Tees

 

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Pumpernickle Pixie Tees

Pumpkin Spice Tees

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You Had Me At Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Fall Season Tees

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I’m A Happy Camper
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Tailgates & Touchdowns
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Adventure Awaits

Friday Fall Fashion Dreaming

This is coming a day late, I know, but it’s Friday night, and while I am a SAHM, I am also a WAHM, meaning my nights are spent working. I take Friday nights off. Tonight the hubs is gone and it’s just me. I had a GREAT day of just being home with the kids and now I’m winding down with a Netflix binge and I thought I’d dream-shop online. I LOVE fall-wear and this year it’s not about what I can and can’t afford (although, always a factor), but it’s more about my still-growing third-trimester belly and the fact fall will be nearing it’s end when preggo-body is gone. So my “dream shopping” is what I’d be looking to wear if I wasn’t pregnant.

As you may realize at this point, I’m a pretty casual dresser. Part of that is lifestyle (living away from EVERYONE, being a SAHM), but it’s also just my style. I like trendy but comfortable, particularly when it comes to warm-wear. This year, aside from a few baby/wedding showers, we don’t have any weddings or formal events, so I’m not even thinking that direction. But I do love sweaters. SO cozy. Hoodies have had my love since I knew fashion was a thing.

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Tunic Hoodie | Paneled Tunic | Duster Cardigan

Dressing it up a little more, without going to an extreme, I am loving some lace and floral and I’d definitely add some booties to my closet. (Not that a baby belly prevents shoe-shopping…)

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Print Blouse | V-Neck Tunic | Lace Top | Booties

The reality is, plain-jane shirts are more  than likely my daily attire around here, but it doesn’t hurt to feel cute while chasing crazy kids, right? I especially love the “Blessed” sweatshirt. The “Game Day” shirt can be customized to be any city you wish.

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Flowy V-Neck | Game Day | Blessed Pullover | Dolman Top

I also love to accessorize–but for me it’s not so much on jewelry. Don’t get me wrong, I love some bling, but I’m better at choosing my own accessories that are functional and letting someone (like my blog-partner Jo) choose my sparkle. Boots, vests, scarves, hats: things that keep me warm and can also dress up an outfit are up my alley. Take a plain white tee and jeans and add any of the above and you’ve got something totally new.

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Utility Vest | Beanie | Infinity Scarf | Boot Cuff | Slouchy Boots

I will note one item I am loving for fall that actually could work for my preggo-self and soon-to-be nursing self, are the flowy wraps and cardigans. These can be used to dress-up or down just about anything.

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Kimono | Button Wrap Cardigan | Stripe Cardigan

I know I didn’t include any dresses or pants on this list. I think I am so stuck on cozy leggings and harlem pants that I didn’t go there with pants and with no weddings, I don’t have dresses on my mind either. (And honestly, once it gets too cold, I steer clear of dresses.) I would LOVE for you to share your fall inspiration. Leave a comment and share links!

 

Review: Hosting an Usborne Books & More Online Event

If you have a Facebook account, no doubt a friend has invited you to some form of online sales “party”. I know I’ve gotten a million invites and I’ve helped with or participated in many Juice Plus+ events. This past I hosted an event for Usborne Books & More, a product I was familiar with but do not sell myself. These are my thoughts on hosting one of these and the books themselves.

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Thoughts on the Usborne Books & More products

Why check out these books? Working with someone directly on recommendations and learning about the books is great when there is a world of books out there. Here are some things I have come to love about Usborne after spending more time looking at the options and building a wish list.

1. Watching the Usborne videos is very beneficial

Whether you are live at an event or not, the videos are very helpful in understanding these books, especially some of the interactive ones. Additionally, it is worth searching YouTube for specific books you are interested in, as there tend to be video previews of many of them. Many of the shopping pages themselves do not have pictures of pages inside the books, but you can easily find these on YouTube.

2. Fair to Good Pricing on Books

If you ever shop books, you can easily see that the books you are getting are a great price. Even the very interactive books. Probably the worst part about buying from or hosting an online event is that you can physically see and feel and flip through books. (Or maybe it is good, because doing so would make buying them all irresistible!) Having kids of my own, I can vouch for easily accumulating too many toys, but books are something always of value and what I consider a quality gift.

3. The Interactive Book selection is great

Sticker books, wipe-clean books, busy books… The list goes on and on for the books Usborne offers that are much more than just standard pages if you want something that has more of a ‘toy’ or ‘game’ feel to it. Their lift-the-flap and touchy-feely books are even top of the line compared to many other options out there.

Thoughts on Hosting An Usborne Books & More Party

Despite the fact my consultant had trouble with her live stream at the event and then the website malfunctioned right as the party came to a close (meaning no one could shop!), the event was a huge success in my eyes. Here are a few reasons I think I had such luck.

1. Listen to the expert (the consultant)

Through my own experience in direct marketing with Juice Plus+, I know and can respect that there is a proven method how to do things. If you follow the process taught and used by those who have succeeded, you will succeed too. It’s easy to feel your own ideas will work better because you are “different”, but I know better. The work I have done over the past 8 years has also taught me that as unique as things can be, there are methods for success that work for everything. Because of this, I followed my consultant’s directions for hosting the party–all of which were very simple. This resulted in fantastic pre-party participation, great party attendance and wonderful sales (despite some technological difficulties!)

2. Personalize your invitations

Although, this is likely a part of #1, because my consultant told me to send personal messages to those I invited, I want to reiterate this step and the importance of your verbiage. My consultant made it super simple to do by writing this personal message for me; however, I took it a step further and I think this made a difference. I took the time to customize her text to my voice, and then used it as a base to send an even more personal message to those I invited. I did this because I knew some friends were more likely to have heard of Usborne than others; I knew some have children the same age as mine; I knew some had older kids; I knew some were now in grandparent stage while others were also teachers. I tried to say why I’d thought of that individual’s interest to let them know they weren’t just the next person on my friend list that showed up to be invited.

3. Don’t limit your invites

Even if you are afraid people will be annoyed or offended by your invite, it does not hurt to politely extend the invitation–as long as you are personally inviting them. I was surprised by some of the people who got back to me and appreciated the info because they had never heard of Usborne. I was also surprised to see some of the orders come through from people I did not expect to purchase from me.

If you are ever invited to one of these events–online or in person–at least attend to educate yourself on the selection of books. Kid books are an exceptional gift for all occasions and all ages. I will even say, if you are a book lover, being a consultant for this company would probably be worth looking into. (I am not one and do not know the details, so I am saying this completely of my own opinion and freedom.) Sharing a love of books would be an easy thing to do.

 

If you are interested, my party is still open until tonight (July 15, 2016). Feel free to check it out and shop. If you are interested in hosting an event to earn books for yourself, I would be happy to connect you with my consultant, Kelly Kremer.

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7 first impressions of Costco and wholesale memberships

I made my first trip to Costco this past week and thought I’d share my initial impressions and thoughts. I went as a guest with my cousin after asking to tag along primarily for the purpose of stocking up on items for our vacation in a few weeks. We’ll be road tripping it to Myrtle Beach, so car snacks are crucial and even good snacks for the week at the beach are important.

I was obviously overwhelmed and had to rein myself in, but it definitely got me thinking about whether or not I want to get a membership here or somewhere similar. For the record, Costco is 90 minutes away, so weekly trips probably aren’t in the cards. Here are some initial considerations about shopping at Costco.

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Shop with a purpose

I’d advise not shopping here without a list or a goal, unless you have gotten super familiar with it. (If you’ve been frequenting one for a few years, you probably know the ropes, prices, what you use, and what is worth it, etc.) I was regularly reminding myself of focusing on vacation snacks (or things that I knew we’d use immediately/quickly–like taco chips!)

It’s not the place to experiment with too much “new”

It’s exciting to find new foods that seem like will feed your family well or will be big hits, but keep in mind the amount of something you are buying–even if the underlying price is a good deal. It’s great when the taste-testers are out and you can actually try something before buying a box of 36 and hope for the best! Example: I saw several veggie burger varieties that sounded good, but it wasn’t worth buying a bulk amount on the chance no one would really like them.

Eating healthy can be easy

While there is plenty of “junk” food available in bulk, I was impressed with how readily available the healthy and organic options were. Given, I was drawn toward things I buy or look for anyway, but I was shocked when I’d pull something off and then check and find it was organic–and that the price was still so good!

Keep in mind what you have room to store

You can buy giant boxes of things at great prices, but you have to have a place for it! This is another reason to shop with a list or focus in mind. You’ll find a little bit of everything in your cart, and then you’re trying to figure out where in the world you’ll put it all.

Fresh Produce–If you’re close!

I didn’t price out all of the produce, but I definitely picked up some blueberries and strawberries because the prices were incredible. If I had a Costco close, I’d be regularly buying my fruits here for that kind of savings.

Comparison to Sam’s Club?

I haven’t been to Sam’s in quite awhile and I have never done a real family shopping trip there, so I won’t try to give an opinion on one compared to the other. If I decide to get a bulk membership, though, I will definitely feel out Sam’s as well (and see how healthy their options are–the healthy options at Costco are a huge plus in my book). One perk in my particular situation is that there is a Sam’s Club closer than Costco. Costco is opening in Louisville, which is nice, but it’s still not closer than the Lexington option.

Membership? Yay or nay?

I honestly see us getting a membership to a wholesale store like this at some point. We already buy several items through a food co-op. (Rice, oatmeal, etc.) As you may know, frequent grocery trips can damage the budget–too many impulse or unnecessary buys–and this would help that much more. We already do a lot of dry goods through the co-op. What meat we use we tend to get through sources other than traditional groceries. Many months our vegetables are sourced through our garden. A resource like Costco could help us keep better/longer stocked on staples like snacks, cereal, frozen foods, baking and cooking needs. Not to mention… We know I love to host friends a family and buying bulk for such occasions would be a plus!

Your feedback?

Tell me your experiences with Costco or a similar store in the comments:

  • How frequently do you shop there?
  • What was your primary motivation for the membership?
  • What are you favorite things to buy at stores like this?
  • What are you Costco vs. Sam’s Club thoughts?
  • How close to your home is the store?

10 Great [Kentucky] Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Guys get off so easy… Buying for a girl is pretty darn simple with a list of endless options from candy and flowers to jewelry, spa treatments and clothes. But when it’s time to return the favor, picking out a gift for a guy is tough. Father’s Day is one such occasion.

It’s not that guys necessarily expect you to go “big” for the holiday. Many are happy with small things or fun outings, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to try to do more. The problem is, many things guys are interested in come with a high price tag or the guy is so particular about the gift, you wouldn’t dare trying to pick it out on your own. I know that’s how I feel when it comes to tools with my husband. (A flashlight is a flashlight, right? Nope…not for him…So many details and specifics that make them different.)

Here are 10 ideas that will hopefully trigger great ideas from you. Only a week left to shop! (And don’t forget to include a nice note or card!)

FathersDay

Smaller Versions of the  Trending Big Brand Items

1. Yeti Drinkware & Coolers
They are all the rage: Yeti brand coolers. These suckers keep things ice cold for hours–days even. Even if you cannot spring for a cooler, the tumbler is a great gift.
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2. Big Green Egg
Another major “manly” brand that goes hand-in-hand with something many guys love to do (grilling) is the Big Green Egg. It comes in numerous sizes, and any guy who doesn’t mind to stand over a grill with a cold brew would love one of his own.
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More high end trending gift ideas for dads here.

A Play on His Favorites

3. Grill, Bar & Man Cave Accessories
Every guy has the place at home that is “theirs” or where they are most comfortable. They may not like to call it “accessorizing” like we ladies do, but they too like to fancy up their space. You know them best and the accessorizing may include handy tools and geeky gadgets or sports paraphernalia and favorite movie decor. Think about that space for the father your shopping for and what would help complete it.

4. Tickets
Check out area and regional shows and concerts coming to town… Sometimes we feel selfish taking time out/off  in addition to spending money to see performances we love. If your guy has a taste for this sort of thing, tickets for an upcoming show would be a great surprise.

More interest specific gift ideas here.

DIY & Uniquely Crafted Gifts

5. Bourbon Barrels re-made & bar gear
For the Kentucky gentleman, owning an old bourbon barrel, remade into something for your home or lifestyle is a perfect reflection of your roots. (Particularly if you actually drink bourbon!) You can buy the barrels and create something unique on your own or you can buy original, special gifts created from bourbon barrels.
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6. Pallet Board DIY ideas
Pallet Boards used to just be something you found sitting in a barn or warehouse, but today there are people who love to get their hands on them and turn them into something new and usable. Whether you are one of those crafty people or just like the look, they make for great gifts and oftentimes ones that are manly enough for a father.
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7. Cute crafts from the kids
Obviously, if you have little ones, you need to have them give their own personal gift to Dad. A lot of preschools and daycares do these kinds of crafts, but you may want to take the time to do one yourself that you can make more personal for your child’s relationship with his/her dad. Obviously Pinterest has a slew of ideas. The glove handprints are super cute for a dad who works outside a lot. If he travels a lot or has an office, something he can keep on his desk or carry with him is also a good idea.
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More great DIY gift ideas here.

Kentucky Specific Gifts

8. Kentucky Proud Gear
The site Kentucky for Kentucky is having a huge sale this weekend. Check out their site for some great gift ideas.
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9. Special events in your area
Check your area for special events taking place in honor of Father’s Day. Here are just a few in Kentucky:
Belle of Louisville Sightseeing/Father’s Day BBQ
Churchill Downs
Woodford Reserve
Father’s Day Train Ride
Kentucky Derby Museum “Doughnuts With Dad” Tour & Breakfast
Natural Bridge Father’s Day Weekend Adventure Campout
Check area golf and country clubs for special Father’s Day events as well.

10. Day-Of Outings and Fun
Some families and fathers like to keep it simple, which is sometimes the best way to celebrate. The great news is, everyone celebrates dads and you can easily find day-of fun in your area. A lot of restaurants host special meals or offerings for dads. In the past, Comfy Cow has offered free ice cream to dads. The Louisville Zoo is free for fathers, just as the Ali Center has offered in the past. (Not sure about this year in lieu of recent events.)  Check Dr. Google or local media sources for more deals in your specific area for places that host dads free or with special treatment.

Check out the vlog video where Jo and I discuss some of these (and other) ideas together.

Summer Essentials & Wish List

Summer is starting to show itself with some 70 and 80 degree days and we are LOVING it. Time to pack up the sweaters and boots and pull out the sandals and sun dresses. Here’s our checklist of essentials and a few wish list items for 2016!

Wardrobe

Sundresses and maxi dresses for days, my friends! What’s great about summer dresses is the fact many of the ‘in’ styles can be used for both dressing up and casual occasions. It’s just a matter of how you accessorize them.

T-shirt dresses are cozy and simple but with the right shoes and jewelry–maybe a cardigan–you can make them look perfect for fun summer gatherings that require a little class.

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Old Navy

Maxi dresses are a must in your wardrobe and the beauty is the array of styles and looks. Much like the t-shirt dresses, they can be dressed up or down, but they are always comfortable and cool for the warm weather.

Solids

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Color Blocking

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CiChic

Prints

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Luulla

Cardigans aren’t your first thought when it comes to summer-wear, but we’ve all experienced the frigid temperatures of a place that keeps their AC way too high. Or there is the occasion to dress up your sleeveless sun dress with sleeves. Cardigans are perfect for this. Your neutral colors are always handy, but bright colors that pop are perfect for summer. Check Nordstrom, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor for a great selection. (And don’t forget to check around for coupons, special offers or sales on these sites before buying!)

Shoes

Who isn’t always ready to add a new pair of shoes to their closet? Shoes are a key part of dressing up some of the above mentioned dresses to take them to the next level.

Wedge sandals are always a summertime win. With events from weddings and barbecues to horse racing taking place outdoors, having a a sturdy wedge heal makes getting around with a glamorous look no problem.

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6PM (Zappos)

Flats are always a great essential. The standard neutral colors are staples in a closet, but summer is the perfect time to add some sparkle, color or pizzazz to your flats.

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Ann Taylor

Flip Flops go far beyond cheap plastic shoes you slip on for the pool. In fact, you can even snazz up the pool these days with super cute flip flops. Perhaps a little on the high end (especially in cost) but you’ve got to have a wish list item, right?

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Tory Burch

Mules can make for a super cute summer look. Mix the open toe bootie with good jeans or dress for just the right look.

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Vince Camuto

Jewelry

Hot summer weather makes dressing comfortably and simple a necessity. Sometimes it’s just too darn hot to put on too many layers or something that isn’t super breezy and comfy. That’s where jewelry is the magic ingredient. The right necklace can spruce up anything from a plain dress to even a t-shirt. Take advantage of using jewelry to ad a pop of color.

Bauble Bar Benoit Y-Chain
Bauble Bar Ynez Y-Chain 

Swimsuits

Picking a new suit (or four!)  for summer is one of the most exciting parts of summer. Whether you plan to sit out at your own poolside, you’ve got a beach vacation planned or you’ll be hitting the lake on weekends, find the suit you feel most comfortable in. Solids are always a classy look and don’t be ashamed to go for a tankini. My post-baby body needs one and the styles available are beyond cute and flattering.

swimsuit
Victoria Secret

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Sunglasses

I’m notorious for buying a zillion cheap-o gas station sunglasses, simply because I love to mix them up constantly AND I’m terrible about losing them, but having a nice pair you take care of is a great way to go. Pick something classy, like gold, that goes with everything and can be worn for any occasion.

aviators
Ray-Ban Aviators

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Make-up Essentials:

Just because you’re suddenly outside 10x more and the temperatures rises, you don’t want your stunning glamorous look to change. While you may keep the same overall look, finding products that last all day and through water (and possible sweat!) are crucial. The Estee Lauder Double Wear accomplishes this and looks great on camera. Summer is also the time to add some pop to those lips but keep them looking smooth and moist. Nobody needs chapped dry lips out in the sun! Try  this Clinique lip gloss and for something fun, check out this Christian Dior Lipstick (Tromp L’oeil 123)

Nail Polish

Have fun with those nails this summer, girls! If you ever want to do something bright, fun and new, this is the season for it. Check out these current favorites: O.P.I.’s  bright coral “My Paprika is Hotter Than Yours”; L’Oreal’s purple “Royalty Reinvented”; and Essie’s pastel blue “Bikini So Teeny.”

We want to see your must-have and wish list items for the summer! To be honest, I also have on some new cozy running shorts and tanks. (Not that I’ll be doing much running excepting the kind that results in chasing kids!) Happy shopping, friends!

Maternity and Nursing Wardrobe Staples and Hacks

Not preggo or nursing and still want some wardrobe tips? Jump over to the Vlog to get Holly Jo’s tips wardrobe staples. 

Fun(??) Fact about ME: I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 years straight! Eek!

So, safe to say I know a thing or two about dressing for the need to fit one, the other (and occasionally both!)

Here’s the secret (especially you first-time moms): You don’t NEED to spend a fortune on a specially marketed maternity and/or breastfeeding wardrobe. I’ll admit, I did have an amazing friends/family who lent a lot of maternity/nursing clothes, cutting down on my individual shopping for any, but I still stuck to the essentials in what I did wear and what new stuff I bought. 

Before going on a shopping spree, take a look at this list and tips… Don’t go crazy and instead save some funds for that solo outing you’re going to need after baby arrives so you can use it to buy something cute just for YOU and just for FUN.

MaternityBFWardrobeHacks

The Staples 

Camis & Tank Tops – Call me crazy, but I can’t have enough of these. Wind. Rain. Sun. Snow. I wear them year-round. Through pregnancy and breastfeeding, tanks have been my life. 

  • They’re stretchy and comfortable, but fit tight enough to be worn underneath pretty much anything and everything.
  • They’re CHEAP. (Walmart, Target or any department store will have them in a slew of colors for next to nothing prices–so why not get every color??)
  • For maternity: Get a few in larger sizes. They will stretch kind of long, over your belly, and even if they stretch out too much to wear beyond maternity–you will get your money’s worth.
  • For breastfeeding: I find tanks with built-in-bras handy for around the house or even low-key outings in postpartum (when your nursing schedule is very unpredictable).

Leggings/Yoga Pants – Hallelujah for leggings and yoga pants being “in” right now! It’s a preggo ladies dream come true. Trust me, no matter the style, you’ll be sporting some elastic waistlines through pregnancy; this way you’re not alone and can still feel cute.

  • You can be comfortable at home, but not need a full wardrobe change to run out.
  • They can be dressed up or down: wear them with a hoodie or t-shirt; wear them with a nice sweater or even a cute dress.
  • For maternity: You may want to buy some that are actual maternity style OR accept that they will get stretched out (this is what happened with me). 

Accessories!!! – Yes, the exclamation points are necessary. I have a mild obsession with all accessories–from hats and scarves, to sunglasses and jewelry. Why? Because accessories are what can make a limited wardrobe go a long, long way.

  • They work in different ways through different seasons.
  • They can dress up almost any outfit.
  • You can mix and match so much that the same top can have a thousand looks, thanks to different accessories.

Maternity Wardrobe Hacks

Maternity

Don’t limit yourself to a maternity selection–a lot of it is too costly anyway. Look in your own closet or add to it by purchasing some things you can wear again next year, sans-baby bump. (Note, if you buy something to fit your normal size, it may not work in your final weeks or pregnancy, but some of these things will work through the second trimester.)

  • Maxi dresses/skirts – If you’re going to have a bump in the warmer months, Maxi dresses are your new best friend. Dressing while preggers is all about comfort, and don’t we all know that a Maxi is about as breezy and nice as it gets in the summer? 
  • Tunic Tops/Dresses – Great news about this one… There are awesome options for all seasons. Add a pair of leggings (also comfortable for maternity) and you are set! **These tops–not dress–are also handy for breastfeeding.
  • +1 Size – You have to be careful with this, but I found that buying certain tops in a size or two up worked out well. Let’s be clear: This doesn’t work with all shirts. A huge t-shirt? That won’t be so flattering. (Not that I didn’t wear my husband’s clothes from time to time!) A good example? I found some cute, women’s long-sleeved tees at Walmart and bought a couple in a size large and wore them into my third trimester. Since they were designed to be a little fitted, the arms fit nicely, but the large size accommodated for my belly. I wore a tank underneath to make sure my belly was fully covered.

Maternity items worth buying:

Pregnancy only lasts nine months and for some of those, you won’t even need maternity clothes, but there are certain items worth investing. Because, let’s be honest: you want to look cute [sometimes] while preggo… And sometimes you are NOT going to feel cute at all (and that’s OK), but embrace the moment and dress that bump. Here are a few things I was glad to have:

  • Jeans: Spend money on maternity jeans. For awhile you’ll get away with the whole rubberband through the buttonhole trick, but don’t ruin your favorite jeans. Invest in some that are comfortable and make you look (and feel) good.
  • Slacks/dress pants: Because I worked from home, I actually didn’t need these, but if you are working, you’ll want to be comfortable at work.
  • A cute dress: Whether it’s your own baby shower or a friend’s wedding, more than likely you’ll have at least one special occasion to attend during pregnancy. Pick out a cute dress for your bump. Check Zulily for some great deals.
  • Solid ruched tees: These come across as plain, but that’s the thing about solid, plain shirts: they can easily be jazzed up. The same black shirt can carry a hundred different looks with some of those accessories I mentioned. Having just a few maternity tees will go a long way.

Warning: I know you’re excited, but don’t buy everything too quickly… Pregnancy is weird and you might find certain materials and types of clothes drive you crazy. On top of that, you have no idea how your body will grow, so invest in things that fit and feel right. 

Postpartum/Breastfeeding Wardrobe Hacks

BreastfeedingLSM

So… I had a couple of nursing tops in the beginning of my breastfeeding journey, but I honestly found them more complex and frustrating than helpful. Perhaps I was too “cheap” to buy better ones, but seriously, who wants to spend their fashion funds on nursing tops? 

  • Wraps/ponchos/sweaters: These have been my best friend through breast feeding.  By wearing one of my tank tops under a wrap of some sort, nursing became much more relaxed for me and my babes when out and about. I did this a lot in the first weeks/months when I knew the nursing schedule was very unpredictable. (i.e.: Sometimes the only solution to a crying baby is mama’s milk!) The tank top, covered my midriff in areas other than where I had to lift it up (sometimes I could pull down), and I could use my wrap to more easily cover and adjust myself before/after wearing my nursing cover.
  • Cute Hoodies: Working out isn’t just for high school jocks, so workout clothes are available for everyone. On top of that, there are super cute ones. These are great in the cooler months. Leggings, a tank and a hoodie make for a cute, comfy outfit that is easy to take care of baby in.
  • Button ups – So many nursing tops have these secret buttons and zippers and snaps to help get your ta-tas out without being exposed, but, I say, why be so secret? Just wear a shirt that is SUPPOSED to have buttons. Again, I throw on a tank top under a button up and I’m off

Piece of Advice: Avoid wearing dry-clean only clothes or things that can’t be thrown in the washing machine. You’ll have enough on your plate and specialty washing does not need to be added to that list,. Trust me when I say that the chances of getting milk (and worse) on you on a regular basis are extremely high. 

Nursing items worth buying:

I honestly cannot think of a lot of MUSTS for nursing. The downside is… wearing dresses are kind of out of the picture, unless you do buy a special nursing dress. I, personally never felt the need for this. Here are a couple of things I was glad to have:

  • Cute Jammies: If PJ’s aren’t your life the first weeks after delivery, you are a superhero. For me, I was in the comfiest of comfy clothes, constantly and having something that felt cute and not 100% slouchy-mcslumpster was nice. This will also help you if you have company visiting the wee-one somewhat unexpectedly.
  • Nursing Bras: I have spent a fair amount of time in sports bras or the built in bras in my camis, but I don’t know what I’d do without having a nursing bra. One piece of advice, though: don’t buy more than one of these in advance. Your size is going to be unpredictable.

How did you go about not spending a fortune on maternity and breastfeeding clothes? The biggest struggle is simply that you will likely get tired of your limited wardrobe, but by the final weeks, you really won’t want to invest in clothes you’ll wear for a short period. Keep in mind this is a fleeting time in life, and when you look back, your wardrobe won’t be the important part.

Not preggo or nursing but want some wardrobe tips? Jump over to the Vlog to get Holly Jo’s tips wardrobe staples. You may be surprised by things you already own that can be used in new ways or dressed up. 

 

 

7 Bargain Shopping Tips: Keeping it Trendy

So my super-awesome-blogging partner in this LSM adventure is off and running and posted an EXCELLENT video on finding bargains and deals. I’m the slacker and am behind on blogging, but her tips are so excellent I HAVE to share some of the info here in a quick summary…

But watch the video, she can tell the best tricks there.

I know, I know… There are probably a zillion how-to’s on this topic, but seriously, if you want advice on it from someone, Jo knows and she gives you the top tips in less than 5 minutes.

 She’s the queen bee when it comes to fashion, style and making everything in her life look good (despite having a 2 year old and 5-month-old!)

BUT paying top dollar is NOT something she is into and you’d just never know it to look at her…her house… her kids… or anything about her.

If anyone knows that paying full price is a scam, it’s her. She worked retail at some high end stores and quickly learned how marked up items are to start, how deals work, and just how low the cost can be if you shop right.

Watching the video is best, but here’s a quick run-down on Jo’s tips.

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SAVVY & TRENDY DEAL SHOPPING TIPS

1. Look on pages 2 and 3 of your Google Search
Page one has sponsored Links…Sponsored = Someone paid money to be there = They want more money from you!

2. Use online resources to find any available coupons:
RetailMeNot.com
GoodSearch.com

3. Wait to shop on Thursday or Friday
Most companies will start a sale Thursday or Friday before the weekend.

4. Find free shipping deals
Look for a site with Free Shipping or wait for Free Shipping, as it’s a common deal.

5. Shop Brick & Mortar if possible
In-store shopping will bring for random but amazing deals because of needing to clear items out of stock rooms.

6. Use In-Store Coupons
Use the app Shopular to find in-store coupons.

7. Online Factory/Outlet stores
See if your favorite stores & brands have online factory outlets.

Here are some of Jo’s favorite brands & shops–and don’t let the big names scare you off… They all regularly have 40%+ Off sales, coupons and even free shipping deals:
J. Crew
Banana Republic 
Gap
Nordstrom
Dermstore

See the video on our Vlog here!

Happy Shopping!