Soap Making For The Weekend

This whole soap making idea has been something I’ve been sitting on for about 6 months and after a week of making soap I really wish I had started long before this. I’m a crafty mom and I love making things to put around the house. Which explains the 10 or 11 fall floral pieces around the house. I’m the kind of person who gets an idea and runs with it, and eventually I slow down but the first few months I’m focused on that craft. I got in to deco mesh wreathes a year or so ago and we ended up with 9 or 10 deco mesh wreaths around the house. Luckily with soap making it’s quick, easy to clean up and the finished product makes a great gift!

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A few weeks ago I bought a soap making starter kit from Michael’s. I finally decided to give it a try after my wife bought me a How To Book on soap making a few months earlier. The starter kit sat on the kitchen counter for a few days, then it moved to the credenza in the living room. I kept putting it off until my niece finally pushed me to make it with her. I was expecting a huge mess to clean up when we were finished but that wasn’t the case, which may be why I enjoy it so much. Fortunately I work somewhere that has dried herbs and essential oils so getting the ingredients was easy, my boss just gave them to me in exchange for some custom soaps. Also, the starter kit wasn’t expensive either after we used a weekly coupon. I believe my total for the starter kit was only $10.

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The starter kit came complete with a soap mold tray, 3 bottles of dye (red, blue. yellow), a bottle of cucumber melon scent, 1 lb of clear soap base and 1 lb of white soap base. It has everything you need to make soap, you don’t have to have essential oils or dried herbs to make soaps but some people may choose to like I did. The instructions were clear and easy to understand although we kind of did our own thing from the start. I used a recycled glass jar to melt the soap in and a small spoon to stir with. The soap is already marked where to cut so it was easy to measure and it only took 30 seconds in the microwave to melt the soap. We really enjoyed creating new colors and experimenting with different herb and essential oil combinations. I had some silicone trays sitting around so we made little soaps too.

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We enjoyed making soaps so much the first time that we went out to Michael’s a few days later and picked up 8lbs of soap including she butter, olive oil and goats milk soap bases. We spent the weekend making soap for my niece’s grandmother whose birthday is coming up. I love seeing my niece have so much fun in something so simple, it doesn’t happen often because now she is almost 19 has so many other things to do. We used the dried herbs from my work and essential oils from Karma Organics. My favorite was definitely peppermint herbs with peppermint oil and jojoba.

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The Best Coffee at The Best Price

If you are in the market for a coffee that has a bold and delicious taste, look no further than Brooklyn Bean Roastery. They’ve got everything you’re looking for and a few things you didn’t know they even made.

This dark roast extra bold is a deep, rich coffee and doesn’t have the burnt taste of a French or Italian roast. It’s very, very smooth for a dark roast and usually is the very first cup I have in the morning. It is like a slightly stronger version of the Green Mountain Dark Magic K-Cup and I think it’s miles ahead of any of the Starbucks grinds. Sometimes I make it by using 6-oz setting on the Keurig machine for a slightly stronger brew but a regular 8-oz cup of this is really very nice. It makes a good, smooth, and excellent cup of coffee. 

I am very fussy about Hazelnut. For years I bought my coffee exclusively at Dunkin Donuts. Always bought it whole bean. The only Hazelnut I liked. Smooth and subtle, not sweet and overpowering. After we moved out of New England and to an area where there was no Dunkin Donuts I had to do some looking around for a new hazelnut coffee. So for months I shopped online trying this coffee and that. Some were OK… Others were terrible. I’d just about given up on finding one that I really liked. Actually I had given up. Until Brooklyn Bean reached out to me about reviewing for them. And I figured well what have I really got to lose at this point. I loved it! The coffee was better than the Dunkin Donuts coffee I had been drinking for years and wasn’t sweet and overpowering like many others I had tried. It even tastes great with no cream or sugar and like the Extra Bold roast, it didn’t have a burnt taste to it.

I decided to take a clip from their Quality page on their website.

“…We have 5 separate quality control checks that are done with each batch of beans. Everyone knows that good coffee starts with good beans so the physical characteristics of the roasts are analyzed to look for consistency in the beans for a uniform flavor. After roasting, special attention is given to the grind. The grinding process is extremely important to the end taste of the coffee- too coarse and it won’t brew properly, too thin and you can get a bitter, acidic taste. Supervisors monitor the grinding process and inspect the ground before it and be ready for packaging.

Two points of the packaging process are scrutinized for absolute perfection 1) the filling portion: all cups must get exactly the specified amount of coffee grounds in order to preform properly in brewing and 2) the end product: The single serve pods pass on a conveyer belt and are hand checked for physical defects. Every cup that has even the slightest imperfection is set aside and does not get boxed for shipment. Once the product is produced a sample can be taken from each lot for brewing -the aromatics are evaluated and the tastes are tested (Our Favorite Part!) to ensure it meets BBR standards.”

Their standards are excellent, their coffee is top of the line and their selection is unmatched by their competitors. To learn more about Brooklyn Bean and their line of coffee visit their website.

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Where To Find The Best Gift For A Babyshower!

Can’t think of anything to get for your friend’s upcoming baby shower? A car seat canopy makes the perfect gift for a new mother. A what?  A car seat canopy is made of two sided fabric and has Velcro straps to attach to your babies car seat handle. It then drapes over the seat completely covering your baby. Every mom out there has struggled to do this with a blanket before. The problem with a blanket is that the blanket keeps falling off. It falls to the ground and gets dirty or it falls in your baby’s face making her cry. A canopy that is secured to your carrier can’t fall off.

A car seat canopy has a bunch of practical benefits.

First and probably best reason for using it is they protect your baby from bad weather. It gets very hot down here in the south during summer months, having a car seat canopy provides shade for your little bundle of joy. In the winter months when you have to go out in the cold just bundle your baby up and then cover with the canopy and he or she will be fine. 

Second, it keeps the inside of the car seat dark so that your baby can nap. Naps are a blessing! It also makes it a bit quieter. Your baby will sleep longer in a dark and quiet environment.

Third, car seat canopies protect your baby from germs.  There’s nothing that can compare to a sick newborn. The canopy keeps your baby covered and blocks the germs. This is a very effective way to isolate your baby from the germs from other kids.

Fourth, it blocks your baby from the wind. Babies have such sensitive skin that can really be dried out by the wind. Babies also can get dehydrated really fast by the wind. The best prevention is to keep them covered and out of the wind.

The last benefit is that it keeps your baby away from curious children who are a bit too rough for a newborn. Innocent little children sometimes are too rough for a baby, but by keeping the baby out of sight you can keep most of them away.

If you are looking for a high quality canopy at a reasonable price look no further than BayB Brand. Their extensive line of products includes more than just car seat canopies, have you ever heard of Baby bean bags? Possibly the cutest and best invention ever made for your baby. BayB Brand Bean Bags were created by two dads who were looking to make a better life for their families. All products are sourced, tested and hand assembled and filled in their USA based facilities. 

I’m really hoping someone gets us this bean bag!

One thing I really love about the car seat canopy that was sent to me by one of the owners was the fabric that lines the inside of the canopy. It is a polyester minky fabric that is soft and snuggly and comfortable to hold for your baby. Many of the canopies also have matching blankets that you can order as well. I love birds so of course I chose the owls, so now I’m just hoping for a girl since the canopy and blanket are both pink!

P'kolino Luce Convertible Crib - Wood/White - BayB Brand - 1

BayB Brands offers everything you need to assure your little one rest easy, they even have cribs and child sized furniture like sofas and lounge chairs. 

 

P'kolino Little Reader Sofa - Red - BayB Brand - 1

Is this not the cutest thing ever?

 

To learn more about BayB Brand and their line of products visit their website or connect with them on Facebook.

Posted in Baby, baby shower, carseat, carseat canopy | Comments Off on Where To Find The Best Gift For A Babyshower!

Love Your Vacuum, Love Shark

Today I will be reviewing a new vacuum that was recently released by Shark. I’ve gone threw a variety of vacuums over the years and I haven’t found one that can compare with the Shark Powered Lift Away. After reading this article, you’ll know what are its main strengths, its few weak points and of course where to get the best deal. The Lift-Away proves to be a high quality vacuum cleaner and a floor-care product that offers great satisfaction. The materials used are far superior to prior Rotator versions. The design is completely new, although it continues the same principles and follows the same lines as older Shark vacuum cleaner models.

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I think it’s important to note that the Lift Away comes with a 7 year warranty and it not only offers a superior clean but is also a decent price that the every day family can actually afford. My main reason for sticking with the same old beat up vacuum for so long was that the only rooms with carpet in our last 2 houses was 3 bedrooms. Since our move we have a bit more to vacuum even though it’s only the bedrooms and the office, but the Lift Away does more than just carpet. It also has a separate head for tile and hard wood.

Features

  • Input power

1200 watts which is standard in this field

  • Suction power

The Lift Away  has a great suction power: 270 Air Watts. Compared with the nost recent Dyson which only offers 240 Air Watts, the Shark is better and cheaper however it still falls behind some Phillips and Kirby vacuums.

  • Filtration system

Shark really paid attention to the filtration aspect this time around. The Lift Away offers HEPA filtration paired with Anti Allergen Technology. The pairing ensures no airborne particles escape the vacuum.

  • Weight

Compared to many other vacuums the Lift away is significantly lightweight weighing roughly 15lbs.

  • Warranty

7 year

  • Usability

The stretch hose is 7ft long and the handle has been designed to provide an ergonomic grip to further increase the agility and ensure the safety and comfortability of your arm as you work on the surfaces. The 30ft long power cord allows you to clean large areas with ease.

The Lift Away has some great features that other vacuums I’ve had in the past didn’t offer. The first one I would like to mention is the LED lights on the vacuum head that ensures you wont miss anything hidden under the bed or table. The Lift Away is a great  vacuum for pet owners as well and cleans up all the dust bunnies that collect from our 2 dogs and 2 cats. One of my favorite features of the Lift Away is the swivel head and self propelled motor that makes vacuuming easy and comfortable. And did I mention it is also significantly quieter than any other vacuum that I’ve used?

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The only downside to it was when we were learning to change vacuum heads and general use we would press the wrong release buttons but that was more my fault than design flaw because I never read directions.

There’s really nothing bad I can say about the Shark Lift Away because I loved everything about it including the color.  The Lift Away is available in Blue, Plasma Blue & Green. To learn more about the line of products visit their website at Shark.com

 

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Public School & Peaceful Parenting

It’s been a month since our little one started school and what a rough month it’s been so far. Problem after problem whether it be not completing class work, fighting, or general bad behavior in the last month we have seen it all. But one thing we definitely noticed was that punishment, yelling and spanking were only making it worse.

A back story on our tiny terror.

Little man has always been bossy and sometimes he’s downright mean for no apparent reason. He’s very independent and always has been ever since he first learned to crawl he has been on the go, never needing us for anything more than a meal. He’s not a cuddler, he doesn’t like being affectionate and always has to have the last word. While he loves being around other kids you can often find him playing alone happy as can be, you see he loves being around other kids he just doesn’t want to play with them. He’s been like this for as long as I can remember. He’s easily annoyed and has a short fuse, he’s not a morning person and he hates sitting still. I knew public school wasn’t going to be easy but I never imagined it being this hard.

After just 12 days of school we were called in for a parent teacher conference because our son had no respect for his teacher and no desire to do his school work. Despite talking to him every morning before he got on the bus, he still came home with some type of mark on his chart. His school uses a daily color chart to show parents how their little one is doing and what needs to be worked on at home. 10/12 days he came home with a mark on his sheet. The color chart goes a little something like this. See below.

color-chart

At the start of the day every child has a clothes pin on green, depending on their behavior they can either move up or down. Our son only ever moved down, for almost 3 weeks this behavior continues but steadily got worse. We tried everything to get him to behave but nothing worked. Spanking didn’t work it only made him go to school and hit, bite or kick other children which resulted in a 2 day suspension the first time and a bus suspension the second time. Yup it happened twice! Talking to him about his behavior didn’t work, the next day he would go in to school and immediately start acting out. Punishing him by taking things away didn’t help, he would go in to school and act out from boredom until he was removed from carpet time. After meeting with his teacher we all agreed that the color chart just didn’t work for him, so we suggested a sticker chart instead. He can earn multiple stickers every day and once he reaches 5 he gets a prize from his teacher. It’s been 2 weeks and he has filled up two sticker sheets, but it took more than an incentive to get him to act right.

Our house is loud, constantly. I am a very verbal person and loud from growing up in the north so sometimes it sounds like I’m yelling and I don’t even notice because it’s just the way I talk. My wife on the other hand is completely opposite from me. She is very soft spoken and hardly ever raises her voice, but when she does everyone hears it. Whether it be loud music, loud video games, loud movies we are always living life very loud, until recently. After meeting with a therapist she gave us a little insight in to the mind of our almost six year old. Not only was I loud but I was also very particular. Everything has a place; shoes belong lined up in a neat line along the wall, toys go in toy bins according to category, there is nothing out of place in our home. Well except for our bedroom, it looks like a tornado ripped threw our bedroom! Our little one had no control of anything in the house, even in his room. I hadn’t noticed that my high expectations for cleanliness in our house took away any control that our son had. He needed to gain some control and I needed to give more than I previously had. We started turning down the volume, whether it be in the car, watching tv or just talking we are trying to keep a low calm volume when dealing with our son. No yelling, which can be so hard because I am a yeller, and keeping a calm tone has really helped him in school. Last week he came home with 2 greens, a blue and a yellow. It’s a great start.  Although it still bothers me to see shoes on the floor and race cars sitting on my dining room table for days on end I owe it to my little one to be understanding and allow him to have more control.

It’s not just my house, it’s his too. 

Posted in Awareness, Education, Family, Home, Kid, kinder, MommyFail, public education | Comments Off on Public School & Peaceful Parenting

Saving Tips for Michael’s

Michael’s just so happens to be one of my absolute favorite stores. I spend a fair amount of money there on a regular basis buying everything from holiday decorations to floral pieces and scrap booking items, but did you know about these super saving secrets?

Michael’s is always having some type of sale, but one of my favorite things that they don’t advertise is grab bags. Once or twice a month they will clear out all of their 80-90% off items and put random things in shopping bags, tie them shut and sell them for $2. They put just about everything in these bags from seasonal to scrap booking and everything in between. There’s no limit to how many bags you can purchase at one time so I often end up walking away with 5-10 bags.

Have a friend or family member who is a part of the Michael’s team?

Michael’s gives it’s employees a discount card for 30% entire purchase which only excludes clearance over 70% off. Michael’s employees aren’t allowed to buy grab bags so if you plan on using their discount card make sure that you don’t have grab bags on the same transaction. Also, there’s always coupon sheets behind the register so if you forget yours or just don’t have one always ask your cashier if they will scan their coupon for you. They don’t have to do this for you, so if you’re nasty to them chances are you will pay full price.

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Where to Find Free Images For Your Website

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If your looking for websites that give you free photo’s to use on your website then look no further! I love adding photo’s to my posts although it can be hard to find just the right one, but with these sites it’s a little easier.

Free Digital Photos

Freedigitalphotos requires a credit but makes it easy. You just copy and paste and their quality of photos is great.

StockVault

Over 13,000 free stock photos.

Free Stock Photos

Download free images to use for professional or commercial use.

Unsplash

These photos are amazing. Mostly scenery.

PhotoGen

High-resolution images available for free download, no sign up required.

MorgueFile

These aren’t usually very high quality, but I still use them from time to time.

Mayang’s Free Textures

Free texture library with over 3,800 free high-res textures available to download.

Every Stock Photo

Search engine for free photos – membership is free.

BigFoto

Great variety of free images, sceneries etc.

Free Pixels

Free stock photography for any use.

Photopin

Photo Pin is a free tool that helps bloggers and designers find beautiful photos for blogs and websites using Creative Commons licensing.

FreeFoto

Over 3,000 categories and over 100,000 images! A link back is required for some.

Free Range Stock

Free membership, full of high-resolution free stock photos and textures. Images are at least 2400 x 1600, and can be used for personal and commercial use.

Geek Philosopher

Beautiful photos! Required to post a link back/credit.

ImageBase

Free high resolution photos and PowerPoint Templates.

Turbo Photo

Download over 2,000 free stock images.

Posted in Blogger | Comments Off on Where to Find Free Images For Your Website

Farm Life Update

It’s been a few months since we moved from our small house in the suburbs to a large piece of land far out in the country. The space is nice but we highly underestimated the work that is required to keep up such a large property.
We also should have done a lot more research on the creatures that would be coming in to our yard at night. To be more specific, coyotes, foxes, armadillos, and hogs. Our flock took a big hit which left us with only 5 hens and a bantam pullet. We lost 4 hens, 3 bantams and 14 chicks to stray dogs and wild critters.
We also made enemies with one of the five neighbors on our street after his pack of dogs tried to attack my son while he was riding his bike. Ordinarily I would have taken it up with the neighbor directly however his dogs were running at large and are known to be dog aggressive and human aggressive so I had to contact the police. The neighbor left his gate open that day and after the dogs ran back in to the yard I walked over to close the gate, however a very protective pup met me before I was able to do so. Ever since the neighbor has been leaving his gate open daily. Next time his dogs get out will be the last time.
You may have seen my post last week about my little one starting school and my strong dislike for his teacher. Well now I have a reason for not living her, it’s been one thing after another. Most recently she sent home one of my sons art projects with a note on the back saying “Make sure colors make sense. Have you ever seen a blue lion?”. That sent things in to a bit of a downward spiral considering my wife is an artist and my sons favorite book is The Blue Lion.
Although we have had many things go wrong since the move we truly love our life out here in the middle of no where. Things can only get better right?

Posted in byc, DIY, Education, Family, Home, Nature, Outdoor, public education | Comments Off on Farm Life Update

Paper Trax Review and Giveaway

If you have a little one that loves cars chances are your little one has seen the Hot Wheels wall tracks, maybe you even purchased the wall tracks for them! If you did then you are all too aware of how easily they fall off the wall, the pieces that disappear never to be seen again, and the difficulty of putting them on the wall to begin with.

Say goodbye to complicated directions and tracks that don’t stick to the wall and say hello to Paper Trax!

Paper Trax was created for the owners 18 month old son who inherited a goldmine of matchbox cars from a neighborhood child who outgrew them. He hadn’t had cars before and quickly got bored with driving them around on the floor with no tracks. Owner and creator of Papertrax grabbed a cereal box, folded it some and figured out how to attach it to the wall. Thus the idea of Paper Trax was born.

Paper Trax Toys: Dino Pack

My son loves all things transportation related and has had his fair share of wall tracks in the past. Usually they don’t last more than a few hours on the wall because they are too heavy. He has had his Paper Trax on his wall for almost a month now and not a single one has fallen off the wall. The tracks are light weight and made with durable cardboard and folded perfectly for maximum strength. Did I mention they are 100% recyclable?

If you would like to learn more about Paper Trax visit their website!

Giveaway!

Prize: Winner will receive a set of Paper Trax from papertraxtoys.com

Start: August 11, 2016

End: August 29, 2016

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Home, Kid | 1 Comment

Where Will Pokemon Go Take You?

It’s been nearly a month since Pokemon Go made is debut in the US. I was one of the first people to download it once it came out but didn’t play much for the first week because the idea of leaving the house to play a game on my phone in the middle of summer wasn’t very appealing. It wasn’t until my niece and sister-in-law Jenn downloaded it that we really started exploring.

We really dove in to Pokemon go and even dedicated days to go hunting for 7-8 hours at a time. My sister in law would drive while I operated her phone and mine, my niece would sit in the back with my son with a large lunch that I packed the night before. What would usually take an hour to reach the playground at Front Beach took us 6 hours because we would constantly stop to battle gyms and catch PokeStops. After a couple weeks of playing we started reaching out to other players and participating in Pokemon related events.

Pokemon Go brought us to the lighthouse where we sat in the median with dozens of other players and laughed as we battled gyms and joked with other players. One of our favorite places to play is at a large playground with a splash pad and fishing piers. We’ve met people, exchanged contact info and even met people from our hometown in Massachusetts.

Although I have lived in the south for almost 6 years I didn’t know where many things were. That all changed after playing Go. I learned where many things were because they are PokeStops, I even know where things are that my wife doesn’t know about! Downtown is one of my favorite places because it has close to 50 PokeStops in 3 miles. Last weekend we went to a PokeCrawl and walked 6 miles from a blues bar to the beach.

If you haven’t downloaded Pokemon Go what are you waiting for?

Posted in Family, Kid, KidTech, MommyTech, Outdoor, Pokemon Go | Comments Off on Where Will Pokemon Go Take You?