Category Archives: Reviews

Gift Guide: Holiday Party Hosts – Under $30

It’s Holiday Gift Guide time! 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! A time when the halls are decked and everyone is celebrating. The warmth of spending time with family and friends is everywhere! Which can only mean one thing… Holiday Parties! Did you know that when you attend those parties, you should be bringing a Host or Hostess gift? It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, but something to let them know you are thankful for the invite and for them hosting.

However shopping for or coming up with ideas for a host can be difficult. That’s why I am here! I have a list of 8 great gifts that will please just about any host.

Gift Guide- The Host - Baby Doodah

 

  1. Fred Cool Shooters – Shot Glass Mold – How awesome would it be to make your own shot glasses out of ice? This could be a lot of fun if you knew your host liked to try out different mixed shots, or even if they just enjoy doing shots. A totally unique gift, one that your host is unlikely to have.
  2. Technicolor Salt and Pepper Shakers – Everywhere you go, people are likely to already have salt and pepper shakers, but most people ALSO typically just buy the basics, nothing fancy or fun. Enter these babies!! They’re cute, colorful and would look fantastic on just about any counter top.
  3. 2015 Paper Source Academic Paint Chip Calendar – Everyone needs a calendar in their home, and lots of people wait until after the holidays to go out and get one. Why not fill that gap? Get them this fun and funky calendar! Every month is a different color, so it’s sure to match any home.
  4. Grow Your Own Bonsai Trees – Okay, this one may require your host to have a bit of a green thumb, but think about how much fun they would have growing and nurturing their own bonsai from scratch.
  5. Betty Glass Teapot – This is a beautiful teapot! It would be lovely for someone to receive this and have it sit on top of their stove. Obviously, you’d want to get this for the host who enjoys tea, but it’s an affordable option that looks like it costs WAY more than it does.
  6. Record Coasters – Yup! Record coasters, which are REALLY made out of vinyl. These would be perfect for the host that has an affinity for records or music, or even someone who just loves to have an eclectic collection of items in their home.
  7.  Blockprint Charcoal Napkins – Any kind of cloth napkin would be a great gift for any host, but if you go with this set you’re sure to match the color scheme in your hosts house. Black, white and charcoal, match EVERYTHING!
  8. Bananagrams – If your host is a word lover, then this is THE perfect gift. It’s fun and easy to pull out whenever people are around. You’ll get the chance to see what funny words everyone comes up with.

Every single one of these gifts is under $30. I wanted to create a list that had beautiful, fun and unique gifts but DIDN’T break the bank. Check them all out!! I’m sure you’ll be quite pleased.

And don’t forget! It’s already December 2nd, don’t wait to start making your shopping list and buying your gifts. Do it now before it’s too late and you’re left scrambling to pull something together at the last minute. Shopping is so much MORE fun, when you take the time to savor and not rush!

If you’re looking for some ideas on how to fill your toddler’s stocking this year, check out my post with some great toddler stocking stuffer ideas.

Your turn!

What gifts have you given to hosts, or received as a host, in the past?

I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

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Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, this does not change the cost for you, I simply receive a portion of the sale. Thank you for helping to support my family!

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Looking for a quick, easy and FREE way to get your news? Check-out theSkimm and sign-up for your daily email box delivery of the world’s news, plus if you share your birthday, you get it listed at the bottom of the newsletter on your day. It’s like celebrating with thousands of people!!!!

Saving Energy when Living in an Apartment

Thank you to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post and helping to support my family.

When you live in an apartment, you might think that it’s difficult to save money on your energy bills. You don’t always have control over things that can save you money. By default, your apartment may come with older appliances, if you don’t own the place, it can be difficult to have those removed and replaced with your own newer Energy Star options. However, today I’m going to share some ways that you CAN save money, even when living in an apartment.

Saving Energy in an Apartment - Baby Doodah - Tips on how you can Save energy, even while living in an apartment.

Tips to Save Energy when you Live in an Apartment

  1. Turn the lights off when you leave a room. This one is kind of a given, and probably something you’ve heard for as long as you’ve been old enough to turn off lights, but it’s effective. Less lights that you leave on, the less electricity you’re using, thereby leading to more energy saved. If you’re leaving a room, just flick the switch.
  2. Change the type of light bulbs that you use. One thing you can change is the type of bulb you use in all of your lights. My advice is if you’re not currently using Energy Star light bulbs, you run out and grab some and switch all your lights out. It will save you money and even better, they last longer!
  3. Switch Out Your Thermostat – Obviously you need your landlord’s permission for this one, but if you don’t ask, you’ll never know – and it can be a pretty easy fix. If you have an old school thermostat, that you cannot program, you’re losing money. You can switch it out for any basic programmable model, or this beauty, a Nest Learning Thermostat. By getting setting a thermostat to adjust when you’re asleep or away, you can save money on your energy bill. Pretty simple, huh? (If you’re interested in the Nest Learning System, stay tuned till the end on how to enter a giveaway.)nest_cooling
  4. Unplug power cords. Here’s another easy one, but one that can lead to a pretty big chunk of power usage – all of those power cords and battery packs that you leave plugged in when not in use, burn about 15% of the energy that’s flowing into your house. After you’re done charging your phone, unplug the cord and put it to the side. Do yourself a favor and lower your electric bill!
  5. Skip the bath. Look, I love baths as much as the next guy, but they use a TON of water. Keep the baths to a minimum and just take quick showers instead of a daily bath.
  6. Cover your windows with plastic. Trust me, I know. I resisted this, too. It just doesn’t have the same lovely appeal that a fresh, clear window does BUT it will keep the heat in AND your energy bills down. This is especially useful when you live in an older home with really drafty windows. Remember, your whole goal is to keep saving energy.
  7. Use a draft stopper. I think if you were to stand by someone’s door in the winter time, the draftiest and coldest part would be down at the bottom. All that cold air is getting in and your precious warm air is going out, stop this from happening by using a draft stopper. You can find some cute ones all over the place.

There you have it, my top tips on saving energy. There are some really easy and practical fixes that you can put into effect TODAY!

In the meantime, if you’d like to win a Nest Learning Thermostat, Direct Energy is giving 5 systems away. Direct Energy is committed to helping their customers build a smarter home, and thus cut down on their energy usage – which can save you, the customer, time and make your lives easier. Currently they’re offering the opportunity for anyone to learn more about creating a smarter home by visiting their Facebook page, or exploring their Comfort and Control Plans.

Their Comfort and Control Plans, 24 or 36 month plans offer fixed rate price stability, and a Nest Learning Thermostat (a $249 value) at no cost to you. AND, they’re giving one of these away – all you need to do is CLICK HERE, fill out the information and then enter to win.

Your turn!

What ways do you try to save energy? Share in the comment below, whether you live in an apartment or in a home.

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A Day in the Life – healthy choices

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalanceRewards #CollectiveBias

Day in the Life - healthy choices

It can be really hard to get motivated to workout, eat healthy or get enough steps in each day. I am constantly looking for new and fun ways to keep myself motivated. A huge motivator for me has always been rewards, I love rewarding myself and I love being rewarded via contests or competitions. I just love the thrill of competing! Today I’ve found a new way to keep myself motivated, and I’m VERY excited to share it with you!!

If you’ve ever shopped at Walgreens you know their customer loyalty program is called Balance Rewards. With Balance Rewards you earn points for everyday purchases you make, as well as setting up some prescriptions for auto-refill, getting certain immunizations and NOW for setting goals, taking steps, losing weight, maintaining your weight and taking your measurements, through their healthy choices program.

THIS. IS. HUGE.

Walgreen's healthy choices2

Walgreens Balance Rewards work up to be essentially free items. Those points that you earn eventually turn into rewards that can be used to purchase items. That means that when you walk, weigh-in or track some of the other items in Walgreens healthy choices program, you’re earning points that will eventually be used for stuff you need. So awesome!!

My Day in the Life with healthy choices

The moment I heard about this app, I downloaded it and began using it. The first thing I did was set up some goals, I went with basic ones, like hitting 10,000 steps a day and losing 25 lbs within 3 months. I wanted to make sure my goals were achievable and fun to meet. Your options for goals are limitless, so no matter what you’re trying to achieve you can work towards it with the help of the healthy choices program.

Every morning I open the app, enter my weight (and earn my points), enter the hours that I slept the previous night (you do not earn points for entering your sleep) and then head to make my coffee.

While at work, I try to ensure that I’m getting up from my desk every hour to hour and a half to take a quick walk around the building. My steps add up quickly, which all get entered into the Walgreens app at the end of the day, to earn more points!! I love it, I’m constantly looking for new ways to get my steps in. So, I’ll march while I’m folding laundry or while Emmett is playing in his sand box, I’ll take laps around our yard, anything to add them up!

Walgreen's healthy choices

However, in addition to my walking, I’m also doing a PiYO workout. I’m loving it, but some of the moves are pretty intense and require you to bend or move into positions that my body is not quite ready for. So what did I do? I went to Walgreens and got myself a yoga block. Yep! Walgreens sure does carry these, and it was super affordable, too. In fact, I don’t know if you’re aware, but Walgreens has an entire section dedicated to diet & nutrition.

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Since I’ve been doing my PiYO with the yoga block, I’m able to get into deeper stretches and put myself into positions, I couldn’t get to before. My posture is better, and my form and alignment are getting more and more accurate. I love the way I feel! I feel like I’m doing so much good for my body.

And, you guessed it! I add my PiYO workout into my Walgreens Balance Rewards app and earn even more rewards that will go towards stuff I need around the house. My workouts are going to save us money!! How can I say no to that??

Walgreen's healthy choices1

One last thing I want to mention, and for me, it’s a big one! You can link your RunKeeper account with the healthy choices program. That means, that any workout you complete with RunKeeper is then communicated with Walgreens earning you more points.

So here’s my recommendation: Work to get healthy, eat better, exercise hard, and download the Walgreens app and sign-up for the healthy choices program. I’m pretty sure earning points towards items you need is enough motivation to get you up and out the door, or up and on the treadmill. Do it! Go now! :)

Your turn!!

What are your favorite ways to get yourself motivated to workout?

When you download the Walgreens app, please share how much you LOVE it, in the comments below!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BalanceRewards #CollectiveBias Thank you for helping to support my family.

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How to Track Your Food

How to Track Your Food

I know that I’ve mentioned it a great deal, but I suffer with Binge Eating Disorder. My continued healing is a constant process that I’m not sure I’ll ever master, but hope to one day.

On my journey, I’ve tried so many different things. Starving myself, eating at very specific times, diet pills, you name it and I’ve likely tried it. What I have found that works very well for me, is a little green notebook that goes everywhere with me. In that book I write every bit of food that goes into my mouth. I take a bite of my son’s toast, I write it down, a slurp of the chili that will be served for dinner, goes in the notebook. Everything. What it’s done is created a strong sense of awareness of my food choices.

How I Found My Little Green Notebook

I got the idea to keep a food journal when I read the book, The Compound Effect (affiliate link) by Darren Hardy. It’s a book about making small changes over long periods of time and how those changes can “compound” into HUGE things. I loved the book and so many of the tips that were offered, but one in particular stuck out to me. He suggested that if there is one area of your life that you want to correct and that you just can’t seem to get a handle on, to track everything in regards to that area.

For instance, if you constantly overspend, use a notebook and track your finances. Every tiny purchase goes into that book. The whole point is that the more frequently you pull out your notebook and write down what you’re going to do, the more likely you are to see where your money is going that it doesn’t need to. Eventually that new found awareness will hopefully lead to you curbing your spending. You’ll see where the gaping holes are in your budget and reel it in, which could lead to large amounts of savings. He also mentions that you’ll eventually get sick of having to pull that notebook out, which will likely lead to you doing everything within your power to not spend money (in this case).

In my case, where I needed to reel it in, was my eating. I knew wholeheartedly what I needed to do to lose weight, move more, eat less. But, I just couldn’t find the focus or drive to do it, everyday, I’d whine and complain to Seamus that I wasn’t losing weight, that I was just gaining and that I hated myself this way.

I read The Compound Effect and it was like a window opened, it was a breath of fresh air. Success WAS possible! The day I read the section of the book about having a notebook to track EVERYTHING, I went and bought my green Moleskin (affiliate link). I wasn’t great in the beginning, I’d throw it in my work bag in the morning and maybe remember to pull it out around lunch time and then I’d fill in breakfast and lunch and in the evening forget to add in dinner.

When I started carrying it around, everywhere – sitting it down on my desk at work, on our end table at home, and then on my desk at home, is when I started becoming successful. Now, I rarely forget to write in it, beacause it sitting there immediately in front of me is a constant reminder to enter my food. It’s worked too! I still have slip-ups, but I am SO much better about the food I’m eating, because I do not want to write down that I’m eating crap. I love it!

How I’m Tracking My Food

You might think that this is probably a million times more difficult than just entering your food to My Fitness Pal, or a similar site, right? Well, I’d agree if I were tracking calories. My goal with this is to eat mindfully – meaning, eating when I am hungry, and only until I’m full and then choosing healthy, whole, clean foods 80% of the time. And, I need to be honest, it’s working! Between working out, eating well, drinking my Shakeology and writing down what I’m ingesting, I’ve lost 14.2 lbs and it feels DARN good.

I don’t have a fancy formula. I enter the date at the top of the page, then each time I eat something I enter the time in which I ate it, and then amounts of food I ate. I try to measure most things, but there are definitely times when I don’t. So I’ll just enter the food. Since I’m working on eating mindfully, I rarely overeat. When I do overeat, there’s almost always something else going on mentally, that I need to address.

This is REALLY working and I’m so so happy to share with you, readers!

Your turn!

So, tell me, do you track your food? If you do, how do you do it?

Have you ever considered going back to paper and pen and seeing if you have more success?

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Looking for a quick, easy and FREE way to get your news? Check-out theSkimm and sign-up for your daily email box delivery of the world’s news, plus if you share your birthday, you get it listed at the bottom of the newsletter on your day. It’s like celebrating with thousands of people!!!!

I’m linking-up with Peas and Crayons, join us!!

Our Movie Night & Popcorn with Family

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret, but my opinions are all my own. Pop Secret now has an app called Perfect Pop (more about this in the my post).

family-movie-night---baby-doodah-1Seamus and I are movie lovers through and through. Before we met, we’d separately rent movies from Blockbuster (so sad that it’s no longer around), and then once we started dating one of our most common dates was to the movies, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Emmett is totally into movies. :) He loves them! We’ve watched a handful of different ones, kind of testing out what he likes, but I’m ecstatic that he loves them too. Movie night in our family will rock!!

It should also go without saying, that the snack that you eat along with your movie is AS important as the movie you choose to watch. We’re purists, so our number 1 movie night snack of choice is popcorn. We love it! The hotter and fresher the better!

Family-Movie-Night---Baby-Doodah

Here’s the problem – so many times when you go to pop your popcorn, you’ll hit the popcorn button or just listen closely, thinking you’re timing it just right. You’ll stop the microwave, open the bag of pop corn and sure enough, the kernels are burnt! Ugh! Am I right!?

I have a solution for you!

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The Perfect Pop app created by Pop Secret. Who knows popcorn and how to cook it better than the popcorn company themselves?

Anyhoo – it’s super simple, you download the FREE app onto your phone, place your un-microwaved bag of popcorn in the microwave, place your phone by the micro (with the speakers facing it), hit start on your microwave and app at the same time, and watch it work.

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It’s seriously so cool! The app listens to your bag popping, but also provides you with fun trivia and an image of your bag slowly popping. I know it’s not magic, but it seems almost magical! LOL The image on your phone has little kernels that pop at the nearly the same time that your real bag is popping. The app told me specifically when it was finished, but I was still apprehensive, it’s really hard to get that perfect bag of popcorn, but it was perfect! Literally! Not one burnt kernel, and nearly all of the kernels were popped, leaving very little to be thrown out (other than the bag).

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Even Emmett approved!

Please excuse our messy house and the booboo on his head (he fell at day care).

Please excuse our messy house and the booboo on his head (he fell at day care).

Needless to say, as Emmett continues to get older and more into movies, I’m sure we’ll be sharing more and more of our popcorn with him (the kid loves it).

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Here’s my advice, if you love popcorn and you love free apps, try Perfect Pop and prepare yourself for delicious popcorn, and be sure to add in your favorite movie too, for a family movie night.

Your turn!

Did you try the Perfect Pop app? Did it work for you?

What’s your favorite movie of all time? We need some new ones to add to our mix!

signatureThis post is sponsored by Pop Secret, but all opinions are my own. I love popcorn and I love the new Perfect Pop app.

Additionally, if you’re interested in completing a survey about popcorn, please click here!

5 Awesome Gifts for the Tech Dad

Gift Ideas for the Guys in your Life that Love Tech (technology)

Fathers-Day-Tech-Guide---Baby-Doodah

My husband loves technology, anything he can get his hands on. He’s not obsessive, but if there is something new that comes out on the market that he wants to try out, he’s very persuasive and has reasons why we may need an item. With Father’s Day around the corner, what better day to spoil him (or your tech lovin’ guy), than Father’s Day?

Top Tech Gifts for Dad

1. A New Big TV

Most guys love TVs, whether they use it to watch their favorite sporting events, play their high action video game or watch the newest comic book remake. If you have the means, why not splurge and get your dedicated dad a brand new high tech TV. I’m sure he’ll be grateful, and then even you get to benefit from the new beautiful TV. 😉

2. A Micro 3D Printer

Okay, so it’s not quite ready for purchase yet, but how cool would it be to buy your husband/dad/brother/uncle this printer? I’m not as into technology as my husband is, but I think this would be so awesome to have in the house. “What’s that Emmett? You’d like a new ball to play with? Sure! Give me just a bit and I’ll MAKE one for you!” HAHA So awesome!

3. JLab Ear Buds (affliate link)

My husband loves listening to music or different talk radio shows, but the typical iPhone buds drive him crazy. They fall out and the sound quality is just alright, enter JLab. We came across these one time when they were on sale through Woot.com years ago, and we gave them a try. We’ve been in love ever since! Any time we lose or break a  pair of head phones, we replace them with some version of the JLab buds.

4. Google Chromcast (affliate link)

Seamus ordered this for himself for Christmas, but I would highly recommend you buy this for the tech dad in YOUR life, if you don’t already have it. It is awesome! You blog it into the USB drive on your HDTV and connect through your home’s wifi and will allow you to stream online videos or music, through your phone to the TV. It works with iPhone, Android and Windows phones. This works especially well when Seamus wants to show me a YouTube video he came across and we don’t feel like staring at the small screen on his phone. Get this (plus it is super inexpensive)!

 5. Philips Wireless BlueTooth Speaker (affliate link)

I’m a huge fan of the Philips company, whether it be their electronics or their Philips AVENT line, they never disappoint. Seamus has been wanting a wireless speaker for our house for a long time, there’s just no where to safely plug-in a strereo. This would be a great item to fill that void!

I’m really excited about Father’s Day being right around the corner. It’s always nice to be pampered on Mother’s Day, but I want to return that favor to the love of my life, the best husband and father around… Seamus!

Your turn!

What are some of your favorite tech gifts?

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If you want to start your Monday off on a generous foot and want to support cancer research, donate to my ride. I’m riding for Roswell Park Cancer Institute and their Ride for Roswell. Anything will help me reach my goal, and further advance cancer research. Just click HERE to donate.

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