A Modern Day Fairy Tale: February 2018

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tips and Tricks to Help Your Lawn and Garden Shine This Spring

Spring is finally right around the corner. And after months of cold nights, heavy snow, and harsh winds, your yard and garden area are probably looking a little sad. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to get your lawn and garden ready for the warm seasons.
If you're one of the 90% of Americans with a yard who think it's important to make sure your yard is well-maintained, then this article is for you. This article is a compilation of some great tips you can utilize to help your garden bloom.

When the snow finally thaws and the sun begins to shine again, it's important to do a thorough inspection of your lawn area. When looking at your shrubs and trees, look for broken or damaged branches. These should be taken care of before spring comes into full swing to allow your foliage to grow properly. Furthermore, you should test your soil to ensure it has the necessary nutrients for your spring plants.

Additionally, during this inspection would be a great time to clean out your gutters. Gutters should be cleaned twice a year and after winter is a great time to do so. Brutal winter winds can cause all kinds of debris to get caught in your gutters and cause inefficient water drainage.

Fertilizing is something you may want to consider too. However, the need for fertilizing will depend on the results of your soil tests. It's important to ensure your plants and grass have the proper nutrients needed to thrive. Additionally, when you apply fertilizer will depend on the type of grass and plants you are growing. But slow-release lawn fertilizers are typically the best type to apply on your grass no matter the type.

And speaking of grass, it's important to rake your lawn early on in the spring season. In order to help high traffic areas on your lawn breathe easier, you should poke holes and break up the more dense areas of the lawn. This is also a good time to apply grass seed to any bare patches throughout your lawn. When adding seed, consider adding a nitrogen fertilizer to give the seeds an extra boost. If you live in a particularly dry area, it's important to remember to keep your lawn watered to promote proper growth. All of this lawn care preparation will help make sure your lawn is prepared to handle the hot summer ahead.

In the early spring months, you should mulch your flower beds and the base of any trees in your yard. While mulch makes your landscaping look nice, it also helps retain moisture. This, in turn, keeps your plants healthier and also acts as an insulator for their roots. One of the great things about mulch is that it comes in a variety of colors so you can choose a style that goes well with your home's exterior and the vegetation you plan on planting.

When it comes to choosing which flowers, shrubs, or trees you want to plant this spring, there are a lot of factors to consider. One of the first things you should consider is the climate in your area. Some plants and flowers thrive in direct sunlight while others need to be kept in a cooler temperature. This is important to think about so you don't have a bunch of pretty flowers that begin to wilt because they don't do well in direct sunlight.

Along with the climate, you should know which pests your plants will be subjected to. Wildlife, insects, and animals can quickly destroy what you worked so hard on. Because of this, you may want to plan for fencing or other deterrents depending on the type of pests in your area.

Additionally, you should have a landscape strategy before you begin to buy seeds and plants. Which areas of your lawn do you want to plant in? And how long is this project going to take you? If you're planning a massive landscaping overhaul, you may want to consult a landscape professional or your local nursery for some advice.

Once you have a plan in place, now comes the fun part -- buying and planting your new flowers, shrubs, and trees! Fortunately, it's pretty easy to buy seeds nowadays. In fact, seedlings can be ordered from a variety of suppliers and come ready for planting. Or if you have a local nursery nearby, that's a great place to start as well.

When planting, it's important to consider the time of the year. If you're wanting to get all of your planting done at once this spring, you should do some research and figure out which plants do best during the spring. Believe it or not, there are plenty of plants and trees that should be planted during the fall season. So ask your gardening pals about the types of flowers they usually plant during spring.

Another important factor to consider is growth. Hopefully, with the right water, sunshine, and a little TLC, your plants will bloom to their full potential. This is important to consider when choosing where to plant what. If you don't read the height and growth information before planting, you may end up with extremely tall, overcrowded shrubs covering up your windows.

With 75% of respondents to a Harris Poll survey for the National Association of Landscape Professionals agreeing that they think it's important to spend time in their yards, landscaping is an important task. So whether you have the greenest thumb possible or are just getting started with bringing your yard back to life, it's important to take your time in planning your landscaping.

Hopefully, this article provided some helpful tips to help get you started this spring. With a little research and a lot of patience, your lawn will be looking beautiful in no time.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Activated Charcoal--- What's That About? {A Carbon Coco Review}

**Product received for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

Let's talk activated charcoal!

Chances are--- even if you're only just venturing into more natural living and particularly natural beauty--- you've heard of this must have beauty wonder. It can be found in many products from masks to face washes and more. But today, I want to talk about my personal favorite way to use activated charcoal: to whiten teeth.

I know, I know... charcoal? In your mouth? A black toothpaste to whiten teeth? This doesn't make any sense! It cannot possibly work!

Trust me, I feel you! I felt the same way too.

Then I tried it. Now, it's no secret I love my coffee and this among other things led to some slight yellowing of my teeth that I must admit, I am just not comfortable with. From whitening trays to toothpastes--- even oil pulling, I had tried various methods out there to brighten my smile and give me more confidence with my teeth with no luck. So I thought... why not? I ordered myself some charcoal toothpaste and gave it a go.

After just one use I could actually see an improvement. The more I used it, the better it seemed to be. I'd never gotten such quick results with any other method, that's for sure. Still, it wasn't without it's downfalls. First of all, the toothpaste that I first tried tasted awful... yes, it worked, but the taste... yuck! Still I liked the results, so I thought I'd try an activated charcoal tooth powder instead. You simply dip your brush in the powder, brush, rinse then follow up with your toothpaste of choice. Easy enough. But I found that the powder that I'd purchased was a little rough on my gums. I have sensitive gums anyway, but the abrasive powder was just too much. Eeek! There had to be a better option.

Enter Carbon Coco.

Made from 100% certified organic coconut shell charcoal, Carbon Coco not only brightens your smile, but also improves your overall mouth health.Our medical grade activated charcoal powder removes toxins, stains, and plaque from your teeth through a process called adsorption, in which activated charcoal binds with these particles and flushes them out of your teeth and mouth.The super finely milled polish won’t damage your enamel or gums and also contains bentonite clay, a natural ingredient that helps remineralise teeth plus a hint of lemon myrtle, which has gentle and non-acidic antibacterial properties.

I was recently given the opportunity to try out their Ultimate Carbon Kit featuring both their tooth powder and tooth paste. Here's how it works:

  1. Wet your toothbrush. The kit included a toothbrush with bamboo bristles that I must say is the softest toothbrush I've ever used. For sensitive gums, this is a must.
  2. Dip your toothbrush in the powder. 
  3. Start brushing. Now I must admit, this is going to look insane! Your mouth will turn black and you might just find yourself wondering if you've lost your mind. Keep on brushing. 
  4. Spit and rinse.
  5. Now, use the toothbrush, just as you would a regular toothpaste.
  6. Rinse and spit.
Now, like I said, using this style of product was not new to me... but my experience using Carbon Coco was completely different than that from other products.

First up, the polish. As I said, others I'd tried in the past were very abrasive and could be a little painful. I do know that this is in large part due to my sensitive gums, but still it made for a less than pleasant experience. Carbon Coco was certainly less abrasive. It still did the job, but felt much more gentle on my gums and teeth. I'm not sure if its a finer powder or if its the added bentonite clay... or maybe just the soft toothbrush included. Either way, I loved it.

Next, the tooth paste. It claimed to have a spearmint taste, but having tried others that claimed to have better flavors that... well, fell short, I was skeptical. But I was pleasantly surprised. It actually did offer a very refreshing spearmint flavor. I loved it. I was also surprised that as I started brushing, the black paste actually creates a white foam--- which is not typical in my previous experience. Truly interesting to watch, and much more pleasant than that crazy black foam.

The results? I honestly am again at a loss for how this stuff works, but I know it does. Yes, there is some whitening--- not bright white, but an improvement--- but beyond that my mouth just FEELS better. My teeth feel cleaner, my breath fresher... you get the idea!

I was already a believer in activated charcoal for oral care, but Carbon Coco made me truly fall in love! Want to learn more or try it for yourself? You can shop and connect at the links below:

Visit the Website.
Follow on Instagram.
Like on Facebook.

Have you tried activated charcoal? Did you love it? Hate it? I'd love to hear your personal experiences in the comments below.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Lucky You! It's a Paparazzi Giveaway! {Giveaway Hop Event} #LuckyYou2018

 You found our giveaway hop. Lucky you! We're celebrating March with prizes. Enter to win on the participating blogs linked below. The hop ends 3/12. Good luck!


 Do you ever wish you were lucky enough to win the lottery?

How often do you find yourself making a wishlist of all the things you would treat yourself to if only you could be that lucky! (Or made the move to buy a ticket!)

But with Paparazzi, you can treat yourself to a pretty necklace without feeling guilt! New to Paparazzi and wondering what all the fuss is about? Here are a few quick facts:

  • Everything is $5. Or almost anyway! We do offer a small collection of fancier statement necklaces called the Zi Collection valued at $25, and a kids collection at just $1, but we're most known for our extensive selection of $5 Jewelry! 
  • Everything is lead and nickel free. Most (though not all) people with sensitive skin can wear Paparazzi with no issues at all! 
  • Everything is limited. See something you love? Once they are gone, they're gone, so grab them while you can. 
  • New items every week day. Don't see something you love today? Come back tomorrow for all new pieces. With new items released every day of the week, there is always something new and fun to see.
  • All necklaces include matching earrings. As thought a $5 necklace wasn't a great enough deal, why not throw in a pair of earrings too!? Awesome. 
  • Rings fit most sizes. All rings feature a stretch band that allows them to fit most sizes. So much easier than find the correct size, right? 

Ready to experience Paparazzi yourself? You can shop and connect at the links below:

Shop My Website.
Join My Group.

And one lucky reader will will a jewelry set. Enter using the giveaway form below:

Disclosure: Hop host Savings in Seconds and participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who don't deliver prizes.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Luxury Quality Watches At An Affordable Price: Introducing Vincero Watches

**I was compensated for this post. This post also contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Ah, spring is in the air! As I look outside, I see the sun shining and the very beginning signs of green grass and tiny buds on the trees. Don't you love that?

One of my favorite things about the seasons changing is that it means that its time to start refreshing the wardrobe! I love fashion so it's always fun for me to shop for new spring looks, or to restyle what I have in my closet to make it fresh and fun. Of course, that also means mixing up the accessories too!

For many, their must have accessory is a great watch! So, why not mix that up for spring too!?

Now, I must admit... I have a love/hate relationship with watches.

I love the idea of a watch. I hate being late, so having the time right where I can see it whenever I need to is of course fantastic. But when it comes to style, I am more than a little picky. It seems every watch that I find that is a style I like and would wear would cost HUNDREDS upon hundreds of dollars. Clearly my taste is more than my budget. While I think a watch is one piece of jewelry that is great to splurge on, I also have to be more reasonable with my budget. Still, I want that luxurious fashion... so, where can I turn to?

Introducing Vincero Watches!

Vincero offers handcrafted, luxury watches at a fair price that is much more affordable. Take a look at a few of the gorgeous pieces:

Now, I love high quality items at a great price, but for me it really does come down to style. I don't care how nice the watch looks or how great a deal it is if I won't actually wear it. And for me personally, Vincero has the perfect style. They're classy. These pieces could easily been worn to work or to dinner and still look great. They're modern. They seem to offer the perfect blend of classic watch styles with modern touches making them both trendy and timeless. I personally am obsessed with this rose gold trend as of late, so I love the rose gold options available. They're versatile. Aside from being great for any occasion, they also give you a lot of options to choose from. Choose your favorite metal, face style and strap to best suit your style. And if you like to mix it up, you can even purchase additional bands to change out to best suit your look of the day. Personally, I love this! Like I said, I love fashion and I love mixing things up so I love that I can get a whole new look, without buying a whole new watch... making it an even more affordable option. And they have great options for men too! So you can treat the man in your life to a great watch he can wear for many years to come!

The prices are already better than luxury watches I've seen elsewhere, but you know how much I love an even better deal! And Vincero offers some great ones! For example, take 10% Off For First Time Customers. Spending more? You can also take advantage of 15% Off All Orders Over $200!

Looking for a luxury watch without the insane luxury price tags? Vincero is definitely worth checking out! 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Gift Buying Guide (While on a Budget): 4 Expert Tips

Background image created by Freepik

Today’s economy makes it difficult for us to buy gifts for loved ones that we feel they truly deserve. No one wants to “settle” on a gift when they believe their loved ones deserve the world on a silver platter. However, gift giving on a budget is incredibly challenging, and many of us feel intimidated trying to live up to the task.

When maintaining a budget while shopping for gifts, here are four important tips to remember, from experts:

1. Pay in Cash
2. Watch for Sales and Deals Well Ahead of Holidays
3. Give “of Yourself”
4. Shop Alone for Gifts

Budgeting is a little different for each person, so these tips are just the tip of the iceberg when dealing with gift-giving on a budget. However, these four tips come right from the mouths of financial experts and professionals.

#1 – Pay in Cash

Financial experts recommend paying in cash rather than with cards when trying to stick to a budget. Repeatedly using credit cards will simply cause your debt to pile on itself rather than truly allow you to stick to a budget. Once you set your prices for the gifts you plan on purchasing, your best method of sticking to it will be physical cash.

Professionals say that holding actual cash gives you a better idea of exactly what you are spending. Of course with cards you are aware of what you are spending, but it is said that seeing the cash leave your possession and then seeing your remaining funds make you less likely to overspend. Sticking to your budget becomes a lot easier when you can physically see the budget in your hands.

#2 – Watch for Sales and Deals Well Ahead of Holidays – and Right Before

Budget experts consistently recommend looking out for deals. Anyone who has ever had to stick to a budget will tell you that deals will be your ultimate tool. However, we all know that around holidays, prices will feel like they are soaring far above what we can afford.

Here is the thing, though: keep checking for those deals. If there are specific gifts you have in mind for family and friends, continue to look out for deals as the holidays get closer. Within a few days of major holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, stores will often have big blowout sales or even just some great discounts prior to the holiday for last minute shoppers. These deals will be some of the best you will find.

On the other end, you also want to start checking for deals early. Big holiday sales will begin up to a month or more prior to the holiday, just before the prime shopping time for whatever holiday it may be. These sales will probably be a lot more widespread than sales closer to the holiday, but both of these times are good to keep in mind when looking for deals to fit in your budget.

In addition to watching for holiday deals, another way to ensure that you don’t end up wasting money on a worthless product is to check review sites. Mattress reviewers Review.org, music gadget reviewers GadgetsPage, web hosting services reviewers Mambo Server, casino game reviewers CrispyGamer and Casinor online gambling reviewers are just a handful of review sites that will not only give you insight into the various costs and features of the services and products they review but will help steer you away from items that would end up being a waste of time and money.

#3 – Give “of Yourself”

The best gifts are the ones that come from the heart. This means that you want to think carefully about what kinds of gifts would be most appreciated by the recipient. You want to stray away from generic gifts that will only end up being re-gifted or thrown into the back of a closet. Gifts with a personal touch like a distinguished watch for the gentleman in your life or even an appointment with a laser eye technician are gifts that will show you really thought about what gift could be most meaningful—and useful—for the one you’re giving to.

The value of homemade and heartfelt gifts cannot be understated. Many experts say that those of us who need to stick to a tight budget should consider things like buying in bulk to personalize gifts.

Bulk buying for personalization can include purchasing a box of white mugs and painting them with individual messages and pictures. Other items that buying in bulk might be good for are t-shirts, photo albums, and other smaller items that are easily customizable.

Simply put, “giving of yourself” just means putting your heart into the gifts you give. Even small gifts will hold more meaning if they come from a heartfelt place, and your wallet will be just as thankful as your family and friends.

#4 – Shop Alone for Gifts

This tip is a little less concerned with the actual physical money, and more to do with shopping habits. Experts say that shopping alone will decrease your impulse to overspend, as no one will be there to distract you from your gift mission. Develop a budget, then go out on the gift hunt alone to stick to your financial guns.

Watch Your Spending!

Above all, once you have created your budget and split it amongst those you need to purchase gifts for, be sure that you stick with it. Nearly everyone has some trouble maintaining a tight budget, but with the tips you see above combined with a vigilant watch on your own spending, you will be able to stick to your strict budget and come away with some amazing gifts. 

Bible Journaling 101: Using Tip Ins in Journaling

**Post contains affiliate links. All thoughts are 100% my own. 


If you've watched my Illustrated Faith unboxing videos, chances are you've heard me use this term a lot. In fact, I've probably said it in just about every single one. And if you're an active journaler, you probably new exactly what I was referring to. But those who are new to this type of journaling might have found yourself thinking...

What on earth is a tip in!?

In the history of book printing, a tipped in page is a page that was not originally printed in the book, but is printed separately and attached later. And in journaling- be it Bible journaling or otherwise, it's pretty much the same concept. It is essentially a mini page added to your page that you can use for additional journaling, notes or even images.

How do you tip in a page to your journaling page?

Adding a tip is perhaps one of the simplest journaling methods out there to learn. First decide where you want your tip in to go. Using washi tape, tape down whatever it is you're tipping in, flip open and do the same to the inside. This creates a little hinge that allows you to flip it open and closed. Like I said, super easy!

Why use a tip in?

In journaling, there are many reasons to use a tip in. These can include:

  • Extra room for writing. Sometimes you just need more room to record your thoughts or notes than the margin of your page will allow. Use tip ins for extra writing room.
  • Adding memories. Maybe there was an important event or a moment in your life that you want to journal about. You can tip in photos or other paper mementos to better record these memories. 
  • Keep journaling more private. Now, that might sound like a silly reason, as most of us do think of journaling as more private and traditionally it usually is. But I love sharing my Bible journaling as a way to share the Bible with a new audience,as do many others. Tip in can allow me to share my pages, while still giving me that space for my thoughts. 
  • For visual interest. Let's be honest, one of the great things about art journaling is that it's a creative outlet, and have fun with art. Sometimes you don't need any other reason to add a tip in other than just for a fun look! 

What can you use for a tip in?

There are endless possibilities on what can be used as an appropriate tip in. You can purchase actual tip ins created just for that purpose or any piece of small paper, cardstock, etc will do. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but feel free to think outside the box:

  • Journaling Cards. You can purchase cute cards made just for journaling or keep it simple with an index card too... painted or plain, whatever you prefer. 
  • Photos. As a bonus, you can even use the back of the photo for notes too! 
  • Postcards. While this post focuses more on Bible journaling, this can be a fun idea if you're journaling your travels... tipping in a post card from your trips. You can still do this in your Bible journaling as well too! 
  • Scrapbook Paper. Use a Silhouette to create unique shapes, or just make simple squares, it doesn't matter. Using scrapbook paper can be a great way to add in some fun colors and patterns to your pages, and can be found at great prices too! 
  • Project Life Cards. While these cards may have been created for a completely different type of journaling, they can work really well as tip ins for Bible journaling as well. 
  • Tickets, Programs, Etc. Maybe you attended a Christian concert or a conference that inspired a journaling page... you can tip in those tickets just as you would a photograph. I have seen people who have incorporated wedding invitations, baby announcements, and even funeral programs into their pages. What a beautiful way to remember these moments. 
  • Devotional Cards. In the most recent versions of the Illustrated Faith monthly devotional kits, one of the biggest changes was the switch from a devotional booklet to devotional cards. I must admit, when I first saw this change, I wasn't the biggest fan, and I'd heard feedback from some of you that you weren't sure about them either, but after giving it a chance, these have become some of my favorites and I love using them as tip in. Each card is about the size of a postcard and features a short devotional. Some have a little room for writing, others do not. I love creating two page spreads with these. On one page I will tip in the devo card, on the opposite I will do more personal and creative journaling. I love these because I can VERY easily just flip open these cards and reread and see exactly what I had read that inspired the page--- much easier than referring to a separate devotional. Though I was uncertain about them at first, this has truly become my favorite way to journal lately. (You can check out all of the Illustrated Faith Monthly Devotional Kits here.)

Now you know the what and the how, now it's time to get started adding those tip ins to your journaling. Be it in your Bible, your planner or just you every day journaling, tip ins can be a great way to add space and interest to all of your pages.

Find great supplies and inspiration from Illustrated Faith here:

DEAL ALERT: Now through Monday, you can save $20 off your purchase of $60 site wide PLUS get free shipping when you use the code 20DOLLARS at checkout! Now is a GREAT time to stock up!!

Do you use tip ins in your journaling? What are your favorite ways to do so? New to journaling? What other techniques and tips would you like to read more about?

Sunrise, Easter Surprise! {A Kids Book Review and Giveaway} #EasterGiftGuide

**Book received for consideration. Post contains affiliate links. All thoughts are 100% my own.

As a child, I remember getting up every Easter Sunday before the crack of dawn and heading to church. It might have been a holiday, but there was no sleeping in for us. We had to be there in time for that Sunrise service.

As much as I loved those Easter Sunday celebrations at church--- the beautiful songs, the cute dresses, the egg hunts--- I did NOT like those early mornings. I never did quite understand why Easter morning services were to be any different than every other week. Oh sure, I knew the importance of the holiday... but what did getting up SO early in the morning have to do with anything.

As I have grown and thought more about it, I completely understood the significance of sunrise services. Now, I know that it was to signify Mary finding the tomb empty on that morning as the dawn was breaking. While I must admit I am quite glad that my own church does not partake in this tradition, I do now at least find the beauty in it, and it makes me think about what the first Easter morning when Jesus had risen must have been like.

Today I'm sharing a sweet new children's book that celebrates just that- Sunrise, Easter Surprise!:

A lively Easter board book depicting the joy that spread with the news of Jesus' Resurrection
All of creation is alive with the news: Jesus lives! From chirping birds to chattering rabbits to buzzing bees, the pages of this Easter board book spill over with joy. With cheerful verse and lighthearted-yet-reverent illustrations, Sunrise, Easter Surprise! imagines Jesus' Resurrection from the perspectives of those who might have seen and heard of it first: the sun as it rose, a flower as it bloomed, and the first people at the empty tomb. This exuberant Easter book offers even the littlest listener a better understanding of what the Resurrection means to all creation: new life through Jesus. Ages 2-5.

This book is absolutely adorable! With each turn of the page, we see another beautiful spring scene--- from new flowers, three crosses, bunnies, sheep, buzzing bees... it all weaves together beautifully to set the scene of that beautiful morning when the tomb was discovered to be empty. Now, I can't speak for all kids, but I can say that my daughter loves CUTE. So seeing those images helped to spark her interest. Match that with its fun rhythm, it certainly draws them in and makes learning about Jesus resurrection more enjoyable.

If you have a toddler or preschooler in your house, this is certainly one book you'll want to check out this year. It is available to purchase now at your favorite Christian book retailers.

And one lucky reader is going to win a copy Enter using the giveaway form below:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Why I Cook With My Kids {+ An Introduction to KidStir}

***Product received for consideration. Post contains affiliate links. All Thoughts are 100% my own. 
When I was first married at nineteen years old, I like so many in my generation, had no idea how to cook. I mean, I wasn't completely clueless, but well... My husband and I always tell the story of how we had rice nearly every day in that first year of marriage because it was one of the few things I knew how to prepare. It was only after he was deployed and across the globe that he finally told me he didn't like rice. 

Bless his heart.

But seriously, when it came to cooking, I was completely out of my element. And I'm certainly not the only one. So many never learned to cook before venturing out on their own, and with so many takeout options and convenience meals, many never bother to learn. After our little rice experience, I made the decision then and there that I was going to teach myself to cook, and when he arrived home from that deployment, I did just that. There were some failures along the way, but throughout the years I've gotten quite comfortable in the kitchen and have even gone from just knowing how to follow a recipe to being able to adapt and even create my own--- even if they are SIMPLE recipes.

As a mom, I decided that one thing I really wanted to accomplish was to teach my children at least the very basics of cooking and so over the last few years, I've done just that. I want my kids to know where their food comes from. I want them to appreciate the work that goes into it. I want them to develop healthy eating habits. I want them to be prepared to cook for themselves and their families when they venture out on their own. Teaching them to cook can be a great way to do all of these things. It's also a great way to have fun together too!

My daughter in particular has taken a liking to it. At just 4 years old, she insists on cooking anything and everything she can. She cracks eggs, mixes ingredients, deshells shrimp, snaps green beans... like I said, whatever she can get her hands on. She's got french toast 100% down and truly only needs me for the actual cooking. She has her own aprons and cookbooks and everything. She loves it.

When I learned about a subscription box for kids that's all about cooking, I knew it would be right up her alley.

Introducing KidStir.

Kidstir‘s mission is to educate, engage, and empower kids about good food and cooking while spending meaningful time with their families. They offer a subscription service for monthly, home-delivered cooking kits that provide hands-on food adventures for children. Their creations are tested with real families to ensure that everything is fun, learning-filled, easy to use, and absolutely delicious. Kidstir has been lauded by Food Network, Parents, FamilyFun, All Recipes, Better Homes & Gardens, Inc, NY Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News, Sirius XM, CoolMomPicks, SheKnows, BabyCenter, BeliefNet, Grandparents.com, Dr. Toy, AblePlay.org, Special Needs Magazine and more!

That sounds pretty amazing, right? When you subscribe, each month you will get a fun new kit to experience together. Each box includes the following:

  •  A special cookbook binder to collect all your monthly recipes, foodie pages, games, activities with first order
  • 3 step-by-step recipes covering all food groups
  • 3 educational foodie pages
  • 2 kid-sized cooking tools and themed activity materials
  • A digital and printed shopping list
  • 3 fun games and puzzles
  •  An e-newsletter packed with recipes and printables
  • Binders containing 12 chapter dividers: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, appetizers, salads, sides, soups, bakery, drinks, desserts, celebrations
  • Two year subscription to FamilyFun, Parents, or EveryDay with Rachael Ray Magazine (with subscription). 
Take a look inside February's 'We Heart Dinner Kit'.

What I love about this kit is that it truly does TEACH. It's not just something designed to make kids feel like they're cooking, but they are actually more in depth recipes but in a fun package that kids are more than capable of picking up even at a young age. The recipes are easy to follow, and fun to prepare. And the tools are great quality kitchen tools for all ages.

It's also a great price! You can purchase kits for as low as $12.95 when you get the 12 month subscription (the best price) or $15.95 for a monthly subscription. For some fun learning with the kids? That's certainly worth it in my book! And it's certainly worth the smiles too!

Want to learn more? Visit here to get your subscription started now.

Do you cook with your kids? What inspired you to start? What are your favorite meals to prepare together? How can KidStir help? Stay tuned for more topics on cooking with kids and even more fun brought to you by KidStir. 

Tasty: Latest & Greatest {A Cookbook Review}

**Book received for consideration. Post contains affiliate links. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

I love cookbooks.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes it's much more convenient to head to Pinterest or Google to find recipes for my weekly menu. I find the latest and greatest oh what's how right now.

Still, nothing can beat a cookbook in my hand.

Today, I'm excited to share a new cookbook that gives me the best of BOTH, Tasty: Latest & Greatest---

Tasty, Buzzfeed's popular cooking brand, delivers both comforting and healthy weeknight dinners for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike, plus treats like ice cream, chocolate desserts, and rainbow recipes galore. You’ve been mesmerized by their top down recipe videos, but there’s still something about having a tangible album of edible deliciousness at your fingertips. Enter: TASTY LATEST & GREATEST. This cookbook is just that: 80+ winning recipes, anointed by fans like you, that have risen to the top of the heap, powered by likes and comments and shares and smiles and full bellies. They represent how you’re cooking today. Whether it’s a trend-driven dish like a pastel glitter-bombed unicorn cake or a classic like lasagna, every recipe has staying power. Now you can deliver on the promise of a great dish whenever the urge strikes. Get ready—your cooking is about to go viral.

This cookbook is AMAZING. It is packed full of a variety of recipes. There are some more classic comfort foods like Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. There are some sweet treats like Caramel Rose Apple Pie. There are age old classics like Slow Cooker Beef Stew. There are best ever recipes like the Fudgiest Brownies Ever. There are trendy recipes like Fidget Spinner Cookies and Chocolate Galaxy Bark. The list goes on and on and ON.

I love a cookbook with a lot of great photos and this one certainly has that. Now, not every page or recipe includes a photo, but there are enough that it still captures my attention. They're bright, they're vibrant... just the way I like them! Some recipes include step by step photos as well, which is always helpful to me, being a very visual person.

If you love a good cookbook, and want to stay up to date with the best recipes RIGHT NOW, this is one cookbook you will want to add to your collection. It is available to purchase at your favorite book retailers.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Celebrate Girl Day with An Ellie, Engineer Prize Pack Giveaway { A Giveaway Hop Event}

Welcome to the Love Every Moment Giveaway Hop brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers!
Each giveaway has a value of a minimum of $15, however some are worth much more. Be sure to enter to win all of them because there is no limit to how many you can win. GOOD LUCK!


***Book received for consideration. All thoughts are 100% my own. 
When I was in elementary school, one of my favorite classroom activities was doing science experiments. They didn't have to be fancy, but there was something about sucking an egg into a bottle or creating a volcano and making it explode that was always very exciting to watch. I certainly wasn't the only one who felt this way. Students would flock around to see what was going to happen. We all loved it--- boys and girls alike.

But did you know that by the time most girls reach middle school, they have lost interest in all things STEM? And even less plan to purse a career in the field- despite being the fastest growing career field out there? Despite my enjoyment of science even through high school (okay, I find it fascinating even still) and decent enough abilities in math to become a tutor in such, I must admit, it was not something that occurred to me to pursue beyond just finding it interesting. For me, I just had my mind elsewhere. For other girls it can come down to stereotypes and feeling that as a girl, they cannot pursue such a male dominated field. After all, women make up only 24% of the STEM workforce.

Tomorrow, February 22 is Girl Day--- a fun part of National Engineers Week that is aimed to encourage girls in their interest in engineering. If this is a path that girls are interested in, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot and this day is a great way to let them know this!

I am excited to share a new book that serves as a great reminder for tween girls, 'Ellie, Engineer':

About the book: Ellie is an engineer. With a tool belt strapped over her favorite skirt (who says you can't wear a dress and have two kinds of screwdrivers handy, just in case?), she invents and builds amazing creations in her backyard workshop. Together with her best friend Kit, Ellie can make anything. As Kit's birthday nears, Ellie doesn't know what gift to make until the girls overhear Kit's mom talking about her present--the dog Kit always wanted! Ellie plans to make an amazing doghouse, but her plans grow so elaborate that she has to enlist help from the neighbor boys and crafty girls, even though the two groups don't get along. Will Ellie be able to pull off her biggest project yet, all while keeping a secret from Kit?
Illustrated with Ellie's sketches and plans, and including backmatter with a fun how-to guide to tools, this is a STEM- and friendship-powered story full of fun!
About the author: Jackson Pearce lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is the author of a series of teen retold fairy-tales, including Sisters Red, Sweetly, Fathomless, and Cold Spell, as well as two stand-alones, As You Wish and Purity. As J. Nelle Patrick, she is the author of Tsarina. In addition to The Doublecross and The Inside Job, her middle grade novels include Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures, co-written with Maggie Stiefvater. Visit her at www.jacksonpearce.com and @JacksonPearce (Twitter and Instagram).

This is such a fun story, with just the kind of character I would have enjoyed as a young girl. She's fun, she's smart and she knows what she loves! She loves her pretty skirts and her fancy pink towel, but she loves building too.

I think often when we start speaking on topics such as this, the conversation can turn from allowing girls to be interested in whatever interests them, which is a GREAT thing--- to somehow giving the implication that 'anything boys can do, girls can do better'. It goes very quickly from girl power to putting boys down--- and I don't mean in a playful 'girls rule, boys drool' kind of way. And to be honest, I'm not a fan of that attitude. I was very happy to see this book is not at all like that. It truly is a story of friendship, a story of fun, a story of an engineer who enjoys fun projects, and just so happens to be a girl. It truly was a great story just to remind girls that be it makeup or be it building, they can enjoy whatever makes them happy...heck, they can even enjoy both!

If you have a tween in your life who enjoys STEM, this is a great read! If you have a girl in your life who loves reading stories of friendship, this is a great read for them too!

You can learn more and connect at the links below:

And one very lucky reader is going to win a prize pack including a copy of the book AND 
a custom DIY Ellie-branded toolbox, designed to be easily assembled Ellie-style, as well as some simple tools and an instruction booklet! Enter using the giveaway form below:

If you’re a blogger looking to connect with brands: Join The Hopping Bloggers database and get started today! If you’re a brand looking to work with a network of professional bloggers: Check out the creative campaigns The Hopping Bloggers has to offer!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

How to Make the Most Out of Your Small Backyard

Thanks to countless reality shows on channels like TLC and HGTV, home improvement is having a bit of a moment. Then there are the home magazines, online blogs, and YouTube stars giving the public great examples on how to update their homes. Hardscaping, shiplap, open layouts, and house flipping are all buzzwords one will hear when encountering any type of home improvement source.

However, a focus shift has begun to happen recently from interior to exterior. The outside of a house is becoming just as important as the inside. People are adding new shutters and trimming their hedges to create an irresistible curb appeal. You know what else homeowners are updating? Their backyards. About 64% of homeowners that are upgrading their outdoor areas are putting the work into their backyards.

One major motivation for renovating homes is to create more entertaining space. The Houzz Spring Landscaping Trends Study found that 83% of the people who responded think about their backyard as “an ideal entertaining space,” and better utilizing your backyard space is a great way to add more entertaining space to your home.
Even if you have a small backyard, your outdoor entertaining dreams can still come true. You just have to know how to correctly utilize the space. Here are amazing tips how on to do just that to create the perfect backyard oasis.

Appropriate Sized Furniture and Structures
What is an outdoor entertaining space without a seating area? Even though you may have a big family, it may not be the best idea to create a dining area fit for 12 people. Built in tables and islands are a great way to utilize that space without overwhelming the area, while still adding awesome piece. On the same note, you want to watch out for huge plants and foliage. Don’t let a 10 foot wide towering tree overpower your backyard space.

Carry Your Interior Design Schemes Outside
One way to make your backyard look bigger than it is is to create a seamless, flowing design. If you carry out themes and colors from the inside out, it will all feel like one big space instead of choppy, separate spaces. Using the same design and colors will make the backyard feel like just  another living space, instead of a backyard.

Make Everything Functional
Before you start buying furniture pieces and outdoor rugs, you have to decide what exactly the purpose of your space is going to be. Do you want an outdoor kitchen type feel? Maybe a fireplace will suit your fancy. Whatever you do, it has to be functional when you are dealing with limited space. It may be best to stick to one main functional item, unless you have the space to split it in two.

Draw In the Eye With Lighting
Having appropriate lighting is a great way to play tricks on the eye. Many people use their outdoor entertaining spaces after sunset in the summertime, so lighting is necessary. Use light features to draw the eye to main focal points. Backlights set behind structures can also add depth to the space.

Know How to Landscape Your Space
Landscaping is one of the most important aspects of making an outdoor space look great. If you have too much or overgrown landscape, your space will look crowded and sloppy. If you don’t have enough landscaping, your backyard will look bare. The best way to landscape a backyard to is play with height. Because you don’t have a ton of horizontal space to work with, the only place to go is up. This will cause the eye to venture to heights that would normally not be seen otherwise. This is similar to the effect that high ceilings have in small rooms, and how they make them feel bigger.

Hang Everything You Can
One way to create more space for your backyard is to hang things. Utilizing vertical spaces not only make the space appear to be taller, and there will be less clutter on the ground. Hang things like plants or small artwork. This will make the space pop, and it will leave you with more ground space than you had before.

If you are looking to create a backyard oasis but feel discouraged because your yard is small, cast those worries aside! There are so many things you can do to utilize your space. If you feel overwhelmed and that you can’t do it by yourself, consider hiring a professional. You wouldn’t be the only one. Harris Poll did a study recently for the National Association of Landscape Professionals, and it showed that 67% of people in the United States agreed that hiring a professional for landscaping would allow them to have a nicer yard.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Introducing Bette's Box of Blessings: Delivering Christian Blessings Every Month {+ A Deal}

**Product received for consideration. Post contains affiliate links. All thoughts are 100% my own. 

I love a good subscription box, don't you?

So often when we make our way to the mailbox we are greeted by nothing but bills. More people wanting more money... where's the fun in that!? But a subscription box? A new box of goodies that arrives each month with new surprises--- it's like having a birthday every single month. Certainly makes going to the mailbox a lot more enjoyable, doesn't it?

There are many great subscription boxes out there. Some offer you samples of the latest and greatest beauty products. Some offer fun cooking supplies and recipe inspiration. Some offer craft supplies to keep your projects new and fun. No matter your hobbies, your likes or your dislikes, there truly are subscription boxes for every one!

Today I'm excited to be sharing a new subscription box that I am absolutely loving: Bette's Box of Blessings.

Each month Bette's Box of Blessings will contain Christian resources that will help you grow and share your faith.  Every item in every Box will not only be a blessing to you, but each item also makes for a great gift that can also be a blessing to your family, friends and acquaintances.

The best part? Each Box has a retail value of over $60, offering you a significant savings when you sign up.

Now that's a blessing!

Sign up today! A new Box of Blessings ships every month by the 21st.

A box of blessings? I like the sound of that! So, I was excited to try it out myself. Take a look inside one of their most recent  February box:

The theme for this box – Friendship - comes from John 15:13, where Jesus was teaching His disciples and said: “Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Have you ever had the sad experience when someone you know has a horrible life experience, like a bad report from their doctor or the sudden death of a loved one? The tragedy is so profound that you are paralyzed in fear not knowing what to say and afraid that you might do the wrong thing. So you either avoid the situation completely or give that common offer “let me know if I can do anything.” The aim of this box is to take that fear away… Includes the book Just Show Up, the Never Unfriended perpetual calendar, the CD Battles by Rita Springer, a pack of Sticky Prayers notes, and a pack of Colors of Compassion greeting cards by Dayspring.

Every item in this box perfectly seemed to incorporate that theme of friendship. The book is one that I had personally read before, and truly is a must read on the subject. I have highly recommended the book to others in the past, so it was great to receive a spare copy to pass along. Part of the fun of this Blessings box, I was able to pass on the blessings to others. Never Unfriended is another great book about friendship that I had read and loved so I very much enjoyed the perpetual calendar based on the book. Each day we are given wisdom and scriptural references all about friendship. It's a great reminder for yourself, or another great one to pass along to someone who could use some encouragement. I was not familiar with Rita Springer before receiving this box, but as a Christian music fan, I am always on the search for great new CDs. I loved getting to try one out that I might not have reached for on my own otherwise...and I loved it!

Praying for your friends is perhaps one of the greatest things we can do for them, so the included prayer sticky notes were a great addition. You can use these in your Bible, your planner--- even on your mirror to remind yourself to prayer for those who are important to you. Aside from that, they're also super cute. And finally, the cards! Another great way to pass along those blessings to your friends so that they too can get something aside from bills in their mail box.

This box truly is a great way to strengthen our relationships with our friends, and through God too. When we build those friendships on a foundation of faith, I have found they tend to be deeper than many others in my life. Other boxes include topics of thankfulness, God's plan and more--- all filled with products aimed to offer encouragement and bring us each closer to God.

With so much negativity, I think with all need that little extra bit of good news in our mailbox each month.

At just $29.99 a month, this truly is a great deal--- as most boxes have approximately $60 value in product inside! You can buy month to month to check it out first, or prepay for up to six months for an even greater deal. Ready to get your own subscription started? You can learn more and get started here.

And I know you all love a great deal as much as I do! Use the code FAIRYTALE to take $5 off your first box! Head on over to take advantage of this amazing deal.

Do you love subscription boxes? What are your thoughts on Bette's Box of Blessings? How could it help you strengthen your relationship with God?