Monday, May 16, 2016

What's in my purse? + Purse Organization Tips

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

what's in my purse and purse organization tips

Our purses are the vehicles for all we carry with us daily. Here are my tips for purse organization: 

Empty it every night. 

Make a habit of emptying your purse every night. This keeps you from accumulating a lot of junk. Make a routine of getting rid of receipts, empty snacks wrappers, etc. each night, maybe right before bed or while dinner is cooking. Be sure to check your wallet for wayward receipts as well. 

Have a designated receptacle for coupons. 

I hate to crowd up my wallet with coupons. I also don't like them getting crumpled up all over my purse. I have a designated coupon container that I can carry daily, or grab just when I'm headed to a store. 

Have a designated feminine product receptacle.

Feminine products can end up all over your purse and become hard to find if you leave them loose. Put all your feminine products in their own container to keep your purse organized. This also allows you to grab just your feminine product bag when you go to the bathroom and not your whole purse.  

So, what's in my purse?

what's in my purse

1. Mini Notebook

If you have a small notebook on hand you avoid writing things down on scraps of paper and carrying scraps of paper around that can get lost easily. 

2. Coupon Holder

I use a recipe card holder for my coupons. This is a good container for coupons because it has separated sections that allow you to organize your coupons based on type. So not only do you get your coupons out of your purse, you also categorize them so they are easy to find. 

coupon holder

3. Feminine Product Holder

I use a small makeup bag to hold my feminine products. This is good because I can easily remove the bag when I don't need them with me, and the bag is cute to carry on it's own to the restroom. 

The new Extra® 35-stick pack offers durable, recycled packaging so your gum doesn't get smashed in your purse. The bulk package also allows for you to have more gum so you're never without a stick or feel like you can't share. With 35 sticks I only need one in my purse at a time, but I do have a backup Extra® Gum Polar Ice® flavor that I keep at home. The new Extra® 35-stick pack can be easily found in your local Walgreens. 

5 & 6 - Keys and Wallet
 Don't leave home without your keys or wallet! A good key organization tip is to audit the various membership keys on your key ring once a year (New Year's Day is a good time to do this!) and get rid of cards for stores you no longer shop at or memberships you no longer have.

Keep your purse organized and grab an Extra® 35-stick pack today!


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Easy Sensory Stations for Toddlers

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

I love things to be neat, clean, and tidy. After having my daughter I had to concede that kids will be kids and that comes with messes. Messes can be fun, and as a toddler exploring her world I want BabyCakes to be able to have time exploring freely even if it causes a mess.

When cleaning up those messes I have to be particularly careful of what products I use. I don't want her playing on surfaces cleaned with harsh chemicals, and her pediatrician has recommended sulfate-free laundry detergent for the whole family because of her eczema. Currently we use the new sulfate-free all® Fresh Clean Essentials™ Fragrance Free.

Because it is very easy to acquire way too many toys I like to take a less is more approach to playtime with BabyCakes. It's fun to re-purpose toys and household items for different kids of play. On weekends I like to make up sensory bins for her to engage in solo exploratory play. Creating a DIY sensory station is a easy.

Dry Station Recommended Items: 

Uncooked rice, beans or pasta
Squishy toys
Squeaky toys
Fuzzy toys

Wet Station Recommended Items: 

Mini water balloons
Sponges or sponge paint brushes
Bath toys

For both the wet and dry sensory stations lay out a plastic table cloth on the floor. This makes for easy cleanup. You can skip this step if you are able to have your sensory play happen outdoors. This particular spring day was very rainy so we brought the play inside. 

Use two separate bins or bowls to hold your items. For more than one child you'll want a container that is more horizontal. 

I do not recommend doing dry and wet stations at the same time. That usually results in everything being a wet station. 

These stations provide a fun time with items from around the house. They also encourage solo play time.

Knowing that I have sulfate-free all® Fresh Clean Essentials™ on my shelf I don't mind some messy play, including the occasional bib free popsicle.

Because you can purchase all® Fresh Clean Essentials™ online at it couldn't be easier to keep it in stock. Pick up your Fragrance Free or all® Fresh Clean Essentials™ Fresh Scent today for powerful clean without the harshness, and to preserve the color of your clothes.

Be sure to follow the directions for use on the packaging exactly.

Monday, May 9, 2016

San Diego Girls Getaway: A Recap

I just came back from a fantastic girls trip to San Diego. It was everything I needed: no work, very little responsibility, and reconnecting with my college friends.

My flight from Philadelphia was smooth. It was LONG, but without problem. I took a nap, played sodoku, listened to Lemonade and watched a couple episodes of Grimm.

After touching down we headed to In and Out Burger, my first time trying it out. I ordered a Double Double with Animal Style fries. The burger was great. The fries not so much. 

The calories from that meal didn't even count because afterwards we headed to Cedar Creek Falls Trail for a two hour and forty five minute hike. It was awesome,  challenging, and beautiful. At the end of the trail is an awesome waterfall.

Although we didn't think about it when we were planning it our trip fell on Cinco de Mayo. After we showered up from our hike we set out in search of margaritas and Mexican food in honor of the occasion. We headed down to Old Town, which was packed, so we went downtown to Las Hadas for food and drinks.

The next morning with the grogginess that comes with jet-lag and drinking late into the evening we headed to El Salvadoreno for an amazing El Salvadorian breakfast. I was introduced to papusas (handmade corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, meat, beans, and yummyness) and fried yuka. Both of which I loved.

After breakfast we headed out to La Jolla Seal Beach to see seals and grab tacos at Taco Stand.

Next up was Mission Beach, where we got an Air B&B for the evening. We hung out on the beach listening to Lemonade and chilled.

On our final day we started out with donuts for Donut Bar. I got to try the French Toast Donut, which was really good.

After breakfast we walked through Balboa Park which was just as gorgeous this time around as it was the first time I saw it.

Our last stop after having a great lunch at Barrio Star was the Cabrillo National Monument. This spot has the most amazing views. We went down to the tide pools and walked around the visitor's center.

It feels like there is nothing wrong with the world when you can take in all the beauty of nature. I had an amazing trip. I saw beautiful things, ate delicious food and got to be with wonderful people. Many thanks to our gracious host Tsion for filling our time with great experiences.

We've decided we have to make our Girl's Getaway an annual occurrence. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

4 Tips for Keeping Marriage Alive Post-Baby

Many couples grow apart after having children. Being new parents and parents in general comes with stress and stress is hard on relationships. Hubs and I have navigated parenthood thus far with only minor disagreements. I'm not a marriage expert but I know what has worked for us. Here are my four tips for keeping marriage alive post-baby. 

Revel in and appreciate seeing your partner in their role as a parent. 
I love seeing Hubs with BabyCakes. Seeing him interact with her as a father makes me love him in a whole new way. Enjoy seeing your partner bloom into their new role in life. Don't leave your appreciation for just Mother's Day or Father's Day. 

Split the Burden
BabyCakes is the best burden I've ever had. We love her, but she takes work. As a couple you have to split up the work so neither person feels like they're going at things alone. This doesn't mean splitting diaper changes down the middle, or alternating  early mornings (unless that works for you!). What is most important is that each person plays to their strengths and puts in work in the ways they are best at. I do the majority of diaper changes and morning wake-ups, but Hubs entertains her while I'm cooking and handles the evening routine when I have rehearsals or work late. 

Have Dates
Having a baby  gives you much less time with each other as a couple. You have to make time for yourselves outside of your familiar settings. We don't have much family in the immediate area so our dates are limited but my sister-in-law has been gracious enough to give us a date night every other month or so. We also found a great date-night babysitter on that we use occasionally. Don't be constrained to the traditional notion of a date. We enjoy taking a half-day of work and going to breakfast at a diner together after we drop BabyCakes off at daycare. Some quality time together that doesn't cost us anything additional in childcare. 

Set Couple Rituals
Because babysitters do get expensive quickly, set in-home couples rituals that you can do more often and are free of cost but offer designated time together. We have what we call "Parents Lounge," which is our basement after the baby is sleep until we go to bed. We're two floors down from her so we don't have to worry about waking her up. We can watch TV, have a drink, play games and just chill together.

Communicate in Fun Ways
Make sure you talk about things that aren't related to the responsibilities of housekeeping, parenting, work or other obligations. Talk about TV, movies, games, music, pop-culture. We send each other emails, texts and videos during the day. Life can be heavy so take an opportunity to enjoy light conversation. 

I love our little family, but we can't neglect how it all started, me and him. 

How are you keeping your marriage alive post-children?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

7 Apps that Keep My Life Together

My phone is an ultimate resource for me. Interestingly enough, the thing I do the least with my phone is actually talk on it. I don't talk on the phone very often, but there are several apps that I use daily to keep my life together.

Stigma. Stigma is a journaling app that allows for short form journaling through your phone. It also creates a mood cloud based on your entries showing you what you write about the most - which equates to what is troubling you the most, or making you happy. You can also set up notifications to remind you to journal. I really like being able to make quick journal entries about what I'm feeling and using the mood cloud to assess my emotional state. 

Wunderlist. Wunderlist is a list app. I love it because you can have shared lists, so Hubs and I can simultaneously add items to our grocery list. This is also helpful if we split up in the store, because we can see as the other person checks off items. Wunderlist also syncs across devices, so I can add things from my computer and see them on my phone, and vice versa.

Google Docs/Sheets. These two apps make for easy on-the-go access to my documents via my phone. I can see budgets, or work documents wherever I am.

Google Photos. Google Photos makes the list because it automatically backs up the photos on my phone. This allows me to delete photos from my phone's storage, but still be able to access them easily. Prior to using this back-up method I had so many photos on my phone I had to delete photos to be able to take new ones. Google Photos also has an Assistant function that reminds you to back up photos, automatically creates collages from similar photos, and shows you the photos you took a year ago on the current date. 

Kindle. The Kindle app is a great way to have your Kindle books with you all the time. Even if you have a Kindle you probably don't carry it around all the time. I love when I have unexpected downtime and I'm able to whip out my phone and continue reading a book. The reading quality is really good. You can manipulate the lighting and text size for what is most comfortable for your eyes.

Google Calendar. It is supremely important for me to be able to update and view my calendar on my phone and desktop. The synced Google calendar is perfect. And because I'm a Gmail user I get the added functionality of being able to add events from invitations I get via email, and things like flight and hotel reservations are automatically added to my calendar from receiving my email confirmations.

What apps can you not live without?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

1.5 Years As Momma

When I realized the other day that BabyCakes was 18 months old, and that 18 months was a year and a half I was taken aback. Somehow it doesn't seem like she's been with us that long, while simultaneously feeling like we've had her all along.

Her current vocabulary: milk, up, elbow, more, night night time, cheese, hot, thank you, uh oh, momma, and Caillou. She'll also repeat most words. She can point to her nose and ears when prompted. She loves being tickled. She sings along to songs (the introductions to Bernstein Bears and Caillou in particular). She also claps to songs. She shakes her head and says "no." She throws a mean tantrum. She likes to put her dolls in the highchair and feed them. When she gets excited she bounces and spins around in a circle.

She eats like a champ and has started to be able to spoon feed herself (I still have to load the spoon for her). She'll eat any protein or potato. Her favorite vegetable is collard greens. Her favorite toys are her little slide, a little toy oven and a toy seat set, and her Chica toy. She's not a cuddly kid at all, but she gives us occasional hugs and kisses, which we life for.

She can blow kisses.
She can draw (with some help from momma).
Her hair is so long at this point that I have to do it regularly.
Leaving it in her 'fro makes it tangled and it's always in her face.
Her smile and laugh make everything right with the world. Every day with her is so special. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

10 Comedies with Hilarious Leading Ladies

Last week I was fortunate enough to have a post published on SheKnows highlighting 10 women-led comedies worth binge watching.  I love a good comedy, and when that comedy has a super talented woman as the lead, I love it even more. These ladies are killing the comedy game, and most of them are writers and producers on their own shows.

1. Portlandia

The leading Portlandia duo is Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, who also created the series. It's a satirical sketch-comedy show that pokes fun at Portland culture. Armisen and Brownstein each play multiple amusing characters, including “Fred and Carrie,” whose relationship is based on Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, and “Nina and Lance,” a couple completely steeped in stereotypical gender roles, except Fred plays Nina and Carrie plays Lance, which makes for very funny segments.

Where to watch: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox

2. Broad City

Originally a web series, Broad City, which stars and was created by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, is a scripted show about two twentysomethings living life in New York City. The pair is always getting into sticky situations and adventures that lead them into bizarre entertaining situations, such as being accidently locked into the back of a moving truck or being stuck in a nightmare trip to the DMV for a new license photo.

Where to watch: Comedy Central website, Hulu

3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The premise of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, starring and executive produced by Rachel Bloom, is that successful lawyer Rebecca picks up and moves from NYC to the West Coast to pursue her childhood sweetheart, but after upending her life, she’s faced with the reality that her love has a new girlfriend. The most hilarious part is the musical numbers they break into, such as “Sexy Getting Ready Song,” which pokes fun at the process women go through to prepare for dates.

Where to watch: Hulu

4. Another Period

This historical satire follows the lives of the obscenely rich Bellacourt family and their many servants in turn-of-the-century Rhode Island. Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome play the main Bellacourt sisters in a look at narcissistic aristocrats and the poor people who serve them. It’s basically a really funny and less realistic Downton Abbey.

Where to watch: Amazon, Comedy Central website

5. Inside Amy Schumer

If you like self-deprecating humor with a feminist bent, uncomfortable sex talk and charmingly inappropriate insights, Inside Amy Schumer — a combination of stand-up, sketches and wild interviews with people on the street and topic “experts” — is for you.

Where to watch: Hulu, Amazon

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