Minecraft Birthday Party

In my family of five, we have 3 June birthdays. It’s a fun, insane, and expensive way to kick off the summer! At the same time, my middle child is at the age where a birthday party is a must.

For his 5th he wanted a Minecraft birthday. Lucky for me Minecraft is one of the most Pinterest friendly parties around. It didn’t take long for me to find some free print outs and a cake that was easy to recreate for my boy. It only took a little TLC to make the free printables available on the internet look impressive to his little 5 year old eyes.

Now there is a ton of Minecraft party games to add more fun to your party. We just had a small lunch time party, so we kept it super simple and took off to the the trampoline park after to get some jumps in. I will link the site where I found the printable below.

IMG_20170528_105201For the cake we used cake topper printables. We cut them and lined them with card stock, and placed a toothpick between the two layers. The whole thing is constructed with layers of chocolate cake, brownie, rice crispy treat, and icing. I found tons of inspo for this cake on Pinterest and created one based on several I had seen.
20170527_204328We also surprised him by creating a nether portal on his door with a balloon and streamer Enderman standing guard. All of these supplies are dollar store stuff! He absolutely loved it and it added some excitement to his day.

You will notice that his sign says ‘birthday party’ instead of ‘happy birthday’, but he can’t read and the printable that said ‘happy birthday’ was not free, so mom went with the freebie! I used a hole punch and some green ribbon to string each sheet together and it looked amazing!

 

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The food was a blast to create! We printed mine craft cards and lined with card stock for labels. My husband and I had so much fun picking out ‘Minecraft food’ from Wal-mart. We had things like pretzel sticks, slime ball grapes, and gold macaroni and cheese. You can use anything that resembles the label.

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I have thrown quite a few children’s birthdays in my time and this one was in the top three for ease and cuteness! I downloaded the printables from a site called Catch My Party. They have tons of options from large or small parties including invitations.

I hope I’ve provided a little inspo on budget friendly party ideas for children! The internet and a great dollar store are my best friend for these events and now that June is almost over, I need a party break!

XO,

Alicia

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Perfecting Primers to Make Your Pores Perfect?

Winter is brutal on my skin.  I have very dry skin and in the winter it becomes a disaster!  I have tried everything from Aveeno Eczema to Johnson’s Baby Lotion to fix the disaster that is my skin.  The major downside to winter skin is my pores are much more noticeable.  Ugly skin if awful y’all.  Awful!  I put three “pore minimizing” primers to the test hoping they could help my dry skin with huge pore issues.

For this round of testing I grabbed “prestige” brand pore minimizing primers and gave them each at least a three day trial run.   The three are: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Pore Minimizing, Benefit Professional Face Primer and Makeup Forever Skin Equalizer Primer – Smoothing.   Good luck remember the names of those three… they’re all super long and wordy!

Perfecting Primer Review

Makeup Forever Skin Equalizer Primer – Smoothing:
Best smelling!  Matte finish for the oily skin ladies!

MUFE was my first prestige cosmetic brand love affair.  I fell in love with their original formula HD Foundation in the mid 2000’s.  Despite their foundation issue, I have faith in their brand which made me very hopeful this primer would be my new ride or die for smoothing/pore perfecting.  The first thing that stood out from the other two primers was the scent.  This one has a very citrus scent.  It reminded me slightly of Pledge or another cleaning product.  Thankfully once you apply it and it dries the scent disappears.  If I had oily skin I believe this would have been my go-to pore primer but I don’t.  I have very dry skin.  The mattifying effect it had on my skin made every line and dry skin flake much more noticeable.  I would strongly suggest thing one to someone like Autumn who has oily skin, but this leathery skinned gal is going to pass on using it unless I miraculously wake up tomorrow with brand new skin!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Pore Minimizing:
Meh, buy the original!

My ride or die “regular” primer is Smashbox Photo Finish primer.  I love their original formula so much that I really convinced myself this would be the winner of these three primers.  I wanted it so badly to be the winner.  It disappointed me.  I have used this primer daily for almost a month because I purchased the travel size which is larger than the other “deluxe samples” I used.  In my heart I truly believe if I kept using it we’d fall in love with one another.  I do not hate this one.  It doesn’t make my skin look horrible but it also doesn’t improve the texture like advertised.  I don’t notice my makeup looking better or it lasting longer as I do when I use the original formula.  Overall, I would skip this one and purchase the original if you’re wanting a truly superior formula.

Benefit Porefessional Face Primer:
Ride or die pore minimizing primer.  You MUST own!

Let’s chat about my ride or die.  The one I always grab off the shelf when my skin isn’t as smooth and beautiful as I wish it would be.  My true love that I really thought might let me down against the other two but proved it’s my pore prime soul mate… Benefit’s Porefessional Primer.  I adore this primer.  It’s my go to if I don’t grab Smashbox Photo Finish (the original; not the pore smoothing!)  This seems to be the only one I tried that doesn’t make my skin very matte.  They do make a matte version for everyone with oily skin.  My skin continues to feel moisturized vs moisture zapped.  It also does a fantastic job of filling in  my pores and toning down the leather situation I have going on.  If you’re new to primers or don’t like the silicone fill of many makeup primers this is your holy grail!  I cannot praise it any more.  Benefit produces a fabulous product.

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15 Outstanding Baby Products You Need Immediately!

Things have been a little quiet around here lately! On top of the busyness that come along with the holiday season, both Alicia and Autumn welcomed new additions to their families! Alicia welcomed baby Anderson at the beginning of December and Autumn welcomed her twin boys, Landon & Colton, mid-December. Today Alicia and Autumn are sharing some of their must-have baby products!

Hi everyone! I’m Alicia and can’t wait to share some of my favorite baby products with you. Here’s a picture of my little guy, Anderson!
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  1. The Snug Bug 4 Pack of Baby Swaddles– These are the perfect muslin blankets for swaddling and covering your baby in warm weather. They come in 4 really pretty white and grey prints that are perfect for baby boy girl. I love that they follow the minimalist trend that is so popular right now. They are quite large so you can continue to swaddle as your baby grows. I will be giving them as baby gifts from now on because I love them so much.
  2. A&D Ointment– My go to baby booty ointment for diaper rash prevention. I use this every diaper change with all three of my children. It protects and nourishes sensitive skin and it is easy to wipe off! I have it on subscribe through Amazon Prime!
  3. VTech Baby Lil’ Critters Soothing Starlight Hippo – This hippo is a nightly life saver with 4 settings, volume control, voice activation when baby cries, and 100 combinations of soothing sounds, songs, and stories. It is the best crib toy we have used over the years and caught our babies attention even at 4 weeks old. It is so soothing I’ve considered using it for myself!
  4. Initials Inc. Diaper Bag– hands down the best diaper bag I’ve used. Solid construction and fabric allow the bag to keep it’s shape. The straps are all padded for comfort and there are plenty of pockets and elastic straps inside. Initials Inc personalizes free of charge. The biggest plus is that my husband does not mind carrying this bag because of it’s classic design.
  5. Noodle & Boo New Born Wash and Baby Balm – I splurged on Noodle & Boo Newborn Wash and Baby Balm one day while feeling particularly emotional about my last baby getting older by the minute. These products are a little pricy but worth every penny. The scent is like bottled newborn and his skin looks amazing after every bath. It’s great product line for babies with easily irritated skin. As if a newborn could glow any more!
  6. Eddie Bauer TrailGuide Jogger Travel System – If you are on the market for a light weight travel system, this set is perfect. It solves the problems I have had with previous joggers with an ultra smooth ride for baby and adjustable handle bars for us tall people! It also has an easy to use break bar that locks both wheels simultaneously with out the need to bend down. The carrier is super lightweight and the built in neck support keeps my newborns head up perfectly. No need to purchase additional neck support.
  7. LILLEbaby Carrier – I received this carrier as a gift, to use as an alternative to our travel system when taking the baby out on the town in Savannah. I was a little intimidated, but after a few YouTube videos, I was able to get the system down easily. It has been a lifesaver while grocery shopping with my toddler! It allows you to carry baby in 4 positions. We used it when baby was a week old (baby must be over 7 lbs) and he was super comfy. I have had zero back pain so far during use because construction is padded and supportive. Lille Baby is super supportive so for baby also, keeping his hips, legs, neck in a supportive and safe position.

 

Hi all! Autumn here! I’m so excited to share some of my favorite baby products with you! First, here’s a recent photo of my sweet boys! You know I have to show them off!
15936961_10100121419117656_2522544072903676867_o(Yes, they’re fraternal and look nothing alike!)

Let’s get started!!

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  1. Honest Co. Wipes
    I’ve always been a Pampers gal. I love their diapers and their wipes, Pampers was the only brand I used with my daughter when she was small. A friend of mine LOVES the Honest Co. and got me a pack of their wipes for my baby shower. I’ll be honest, I expected them to be an overpriced version of Pampers wipes. Boy was I wrong! I am OBSESSED with these wipes. They’re larger than regular wipes, clean better, and really leave babies bottom clean with just one wipe. Even my husband commented on how great these wipes were. Yes they’re expensive but you use fewer and they clean better!
  2. Johnson’s Head to Toe Baby Cleansing Cloths
    These bath wipes are amazing for nights I don’t give the boys a bath in the sink! They smell delicious and are super easy to use. Being boys, they frequently pee all over themselves and everything else during diaper changes if I don’t get them covered quick enough. These make it super easy to clean them up without having to give them a bath!
  3. Blooming Bath
    Sticking with the bath theme, I HAD to share the Blooming Bath! I use this to bathe my boys and it makes bathing little babies who don’t have great head support so much easier! It fits right in the sink and my boys absolutely LOVE it! Babies are so slippery when wet and this makes things much easier.
  4. Gerber 3-Ply Prefold Cloth Diapers
    There’s not much to say about these cloth diapers other than we love them. We use them as burp cloths and they are SO much better than a traditional burp cloth! We have them lying everywhere around the house because they make cleaning spit-up so much easier. They’re thick and super absorbent. Definitely a must-have item!!!
  5. Aden & Anais Swaddle Blankets
    I became obsessed with A+A when my daughter was born. Seriously you guys, I think we had 15 swaddle blankets? (Something I am not proud of, haha!) I love these blankets. They’re extremely soft, breathable and large enough to easily swaddle baby! We double swaddle our boys at night and these blankets are perfect for that, we don’t have to worry about them overheating because the blankets are so thin!  They also are great to throw over a carseat or stroller in the warmer months!
  6. Blue Booger Sucker
    If you’ve ever had a baby, you know those booger suckers they give you in the hospital are the absolute best. We asked the nurses for extras so we wouldn’t have to worry about losing them once we got home. I don’t know what it is about these bulb syringes but they are phenomenal. Ask for extras before you leave the hospital and take every one you see in your room! (I am ordering a NoseFrida to try and will review that soon.)
  7. Dr. Browns Bottles
    Another item I thought was an overpriced hype! My daughter was super gassy and these bottles did nothing for her. One of our little guys has silent reflux and is extremely gassy. One night I went to CVS at 11:30 out of desperation to pick up a pack of these bottles to try. Low and behold they REALLY helped him! I’m a believer now. And for those of you who are worried about cleaning all of the parts, it’s really not that bad. After every feed we just throw them in some hot soapy water to soak and wash at the end of the day. It makes washing MUCH easier and faster!!
  8. Snuza Hero Mobile Baby Movement Monitor
    My absolute FAVORITE baby product! My twins are extremely noisy sleepers. They’ve been in their own room since they were 7 days old and the primary reason I was able to do that is because of the peace of mind these monitors give me! I had a Snuza with my daughter (it’s still working and we use it nightly) and decided to compare other similar products when I found out I was having twins. I decided to stick with the Snuza mainly for the mobility factor! I love that I can send these monitors with them to the babysitter or they can wear them when they nap in the pack n play during the day. I could not sleep without this item!

I have so many items I couldn’t live without but these are definitely a few of my must-haves. I’ll be blogging about my must-have items for twins soon so stay tuned!!

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Hello Fresh, I Think I Love You! | First Box Review

Before the holidays I signed up for my first Hello Fresh box and promised I would review.  I’m just now getting around to making this blog happen.  Better late than never though, right?  Let’s dive into this… (Don’t give up until the end.  There’s $40 off your first box!)

When I signed up I decided to try out the Classic Meal box.  Hello Fresh also has a Family & Veggie box.  I decided to go the Classic route because the Family meals didn’t overly appeal to me (lots of soups and sandwiches) when I checked out past menu options and vegetarian was out because I LOVE meat.

Within 4 days my box arrived.  I was nervous about the fact that I would not be home when a box full of meat arrived.  The week it was delivered we were experiencing unseasonable warm temperatures and I had visions of spoiled food stinking up the entire neighborhood.  Luckily Hello Fresh knows what they are doing and packages the items ingeniously so they stay fresh.  Each meal comes boxed individually with seasonings, produce and other non-perishable items while the items that need to be refrigerated are located at the bottom of the large box with ice packs.  I loved how neatly it was all packed and easy to store.  I stacked the boxes neatly on my refrigerator until they were ready to use.

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At first glance the portions look very small.  I chose the two person meal plan which was plenty for my husband, three year old daughter & myself.  We kicked off the week with a delicious chicken recipe which included carrots, zucchini and rice.  In my family I am the pickiest eater and even I loved this one.  It was delicious and only took a little over a half hour to prep/cook.

The second meal of pork chops with a cherry glaze, potatoes and broccoli was my favorite.  The cherry glaze was the best I have ever tasted and I plan on making it over and over again.  Finally the third day was a beef on spinach with a pasta/rice and red pepper.  I’m not going to lie to y’all… this dish absolutely disgusted me except for the meat.   My husband & daughter both liked it.  In defense of the recipe, I have major issues with food texture and the idea of warm spinach really weirded me out.

And now for the less than pleasant news about day four: when I went to open the produce for the fourth day it was starting to spoil.  Ick!  I should have planned accordingly and checked on day 1 to see which items may not make it through the entire week (even though they’re supposed to!)  A quick call to Hello Fresh made me a true believer in the company!  They apologized for the issue and immediately credited me $20 for the meal.  I used a coupon to purchase this box and didn’t pay near $20 per meal.  They could have prorated the credit but they didn’t.  The entire interaction proved that their customer service is top notch! hello-fresh-first-box-review

Obviously I love the convenience, customer service and food from Hello Fresh but the fact that my daughter absolutely loved helping mommy cook made me fall madly in love.  Each day when we came home from work/school she immediately picked a box to make that evening and helped me prep (as much as a three year old can) our meal.  She loved washing and drying the food, and sneaking bites of the items she could safely eat when raw.  hello-fresh-first-box-review

If you’d like to give Hello Fresh a try hop on over via this link  for $40 off your first box!

As always in the interest of honesty, I was not paid for this review.  I paid for the Hello Fresh box myself but utilized a coupon from a friend!  This blog includes affiliate links.

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I Washed My Hair 4 Times In An Entire Month | How To

Autumn here and I’m getting 100% real here with you guys today. I HATE washing my hair. In the words of Mr. Grinch, “Hate hate hate, double hate, loathe entirely.” It really is that bad y’all! I used to be an avid washer. I washed, dried and either straightened or curled daily. Despite using product to protect my hair, I still had TONS of damage and split ends. My hair was also extremely oily if I skipped a day of washing!

About a year ago I discovered dry shampoo and my world was forever changed. I’ll admit, I was extremely skeptical. There was NO way I could go without washing my hair. I decided to give it a go and see what would happen. I washed my hair on a Monday and Tuesday morning threw my hair up in a bun while I showered. Got out of the shower, sprayed my hair with some dry shampoo, styled and went about my day. By Tuesday evening my hair was a greasy mess. I decided to go ahead and try to alternate washes every other day. After a very LONG few weeks, I noticed my hair was less greasy by the evening of day 2!

Fast forward to a year later and I am only washing my hair once a week! I get asked about my hair ALL the time so I thought I would share some tips I have learned along the way when it comes to using dry shampoo.

1. Use dry shampoo before bed!
If you only take one thing away from this blog, it’s this!! Using your dry shampoo before bed really does make all the difference. I used to use dry shampoo in the mornings while I was getting ready. My hair would look pretty dull throughout the day. When I started using dry shampoo at night I noticed my hair was MUCH shinier and softer in the mornings. The dry shampoo will absorb all of the oils as you sleep so when you wake up, you’re ready to go!

2. Don’t be afraid to try a different brand!
I see so many people who only try one brand of dry shampoo and quit because they felt it didn’t work. I have used 5 different brands over the past year and the last brand that I tried has been my favorite. I’ve tried everything from high end dry shampoos at Sephora to drugstore dry shampoos. Some of them were terrible, some have been great. My personal favorite right now is Batiste! I can find it at Wal-Mart and it’s under $10!!

3. Spray, rub and then brush!!!
When using dry shampoo, spray the product onto your roots, rub it in and then brush it through your hair! I have pretty dark hair and with this method I don’t have issues with the dry shampoo leaving a white residue on my head. Also, brushing the dry shampoo last helps distribute the oils it absorbed from your scalp down to the ends of your hair!

4. Give your scalp time to adjust!
Every time I post about not washing my hair for a week I hear the same thing… “I could never do it. My hair is so greasy I have to wash every day!” Let me tell you, my hair used to be oily and flat. I washed it every single day, sometimes twice a day if I was going out at night. I understand your struggle greasy haired girls!!!

It took my scalp a few months to completely adjust but it did adjust. Your scalp produces oil on a supply and demand basis. If you’re constantly washing your hair and stripping your scalp of those natural oils it produces, what will happen? Your scalp will produce more oils because it thinks you need more. You have to train your scalp by slowly increasing the days between washing.

In the beginning, there were many days I wore a hat or my hair up because there was so much oil! For two weeks I washed every other day, weeks three and four I washed every three days, weeks four and five I washed every four days. I would use dry shampoo on the nights I didn’t wash. Now my scalp has adjusted and I wash every 7 days and usually only have to use dry shampoo once or twice in between.

You have to give your scalp time to adjust, it won’t happen overnight. It’s a process that can take months!
I get asked a lot what my favorite dry shampoo is and I have to say Batiste! I’ve tried everything from high end to low end and the Batiste is my favorite. It smells great, works well and is only around $7 at Walmart! You can find it at pharmacies and also Ulta!

Dry shampoo has made life so much easier for me. I have extra time in the mornings (ie. more sleep) and my hair looks so much better! Since I’m not washing and drying every single day, my hair is shinier and has tons of volume. I also have less split ends and my hair is healthier in general! I will sing the praises of dry shampoo from the rooftops!!

Here are days 2-7!

dry hair tutorial

dry hair tutorial

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Play! by Sephora | October 2016 Box Review

I’m not going to lie to you, I have been waiting on this box to arrive for almost a year.  I (Kelly) am a subscription box addict and also their biggest critic.  I signed up for Birchbox back in 2011/12ish when subscription boxes were becoming all the rage.  I then bounced back and forth between Ipsy & Birchbox.  Both boxes disappointed me because they weren’t fulfilling my needs.  I didn’t want to receive drugstore products in my box.  I could buy those as Ulta or CVS for $6 if I wanted to try them.  I wanted to receive the products that I would never try unless I had a chance to sample them prior to dropping $40+.  I wanted my prestige brands!

When Sephora announced their new Play! boxes I was immediately in lust.  Sadly they were limited to larger cities and I live in small city.  I waited… and waited… and waited some more until finally the email arrived (almost a year later!) that I was chosen!  It was my turn!!!

My first box arrived and it was fabulous!


Play! by Sephora is a monthly subscription box featuring deluxe sample sized products.  The box costs $10 a month and includes a handful of prestige brand cosmetic and beauty product samples.

Cost: $10 a month in the US

Shipping: Included in your monthly fee.

What’s Inside: The October box included an adorable satchel (is that what you’d call that?) that said: Lipstix & Chill.  Plus FIVE deluxe samples of prestige products.

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Flash Photo GlossThe Estee Edit:
I absolutely love a good lip gloss.  The shinier the better!  Estee Edit’s new Flash Photo Gloss does not disappoint!  This stuff is very shiny.  The product boasts that it has blue micro pearls which give your teeth a more white appearance.  I didn’t see a magical change in my teeth color when I put it on, but I also wasn’t on set with a professional camera and lighting.  That could definitely make a difference!  This gloss is very thick and tacky.  If you’re not a fan of sticky gloss I would definitely steer clear.  It’s not my favorite gloss in the world and I don’t think I would buy it again.  If you’re in front of the camera for a living this could be worth adding to your makeup collection!

Skin Dew Hydrating Essence Mist & Setting SprayFarmacy:
I’m not going to lie: I haven’t used this sample yet.  I absolutely love setting spray but I don’t use it enough to purchase full size bottles.  When I get my hands on a sample sized bottle I save it for my night time makeup or special events.  I did spray a bit on my face to smell/feel it and the first impression was fabulous.  I think Urban Decay Up All Night setting spray will always be my ride or die setting spray but if you are a fan of the Farmacy brand this one could be a great alternative.

Bamboo Creme Frappe Skin Reviving Fresh GelErborian:
Say that name three times fast.  Really, do it!  If you could do it then you’re better at speaking than I am because that’s one very long name.  When I received this sample Autumn instantly commented how much she loves this brand.  I cannot remember having ever used their products in the past but her positive input excited me.  This product does not disappoint!  It does exactly what it promises: moisturizes, absorbs quickly and has a light feel to it.  I really love this one enough that I have put it on my list of possible moisturizers to purchase in the future.

Side note on moisturizers: I have found that once you find what type of moisturizer works/you love that it makes your life much easier when hunting for the perfect moisturizer.  I love a glycerin based moisturizer.  Almost every moisturizer I try and instantly love has glycerin as one of its top 3 ingredients.  Alicia taught me to pay attention to the ingredients in the products you love/hate and beauty product shopping will become simple.

Always on Matte Liquid LipstickSmashbox:
I am not a fan of lipstick or anything matte.  I feel like most matte makeup makes me look more washed out and pale than I am but I didn’t hate this one!  The applicator has a little bowl built into it to ensure you receive the perfect application and it stays much better than most lipstick.  I still have to pile on some gloss to give it some shine.  Chances are pretty much zero that I would purchase a matte lipstick but if you love matte this is probably the best one I have tried recently.  Maybe someday I’ll grow up and learn to love lipstick, until then I’ll stick with my Nars gloss.

Regenerating Mask with Rare Prickly Pear Seed OilChristophe Robin:
This stuff is amazing y’all!  I am on a quest to have healthy hair after a unfortunate event in July 2015 with my hair and a lot of bleach.  Recently I have been using Living Proof hair care and I decided to throw this little gem into the mix.  Every time I use this on my hair it smells amazing throughout the day, it styles better and looks healthier.  The price makes me want to cry a bit but I may actually purchase a full size of this item if I keep loving it as much as I do right now.

Mon ParisYves Saint Laurent:
I am without a doubt the worst person to ask for perfume recommendations.  My nose couldn’t decipher between apple and strawberry scents if it had to and my idea of whether a perfume is good is if I like how it smells.  I don’t hate this one which is a huge plus.  I tend to hate most perfume.  I wore it for a day and the scent stayed with me.  I will most likely use the rest of the sample and move on.  It has a bit of a musk scent to it and I’m a fan of light and airy fragrances.  I give it a A+ for staying power.  If only I loved the scent a but more.

Review:  I’m pretty sure you’ve already gathered that I absolutely loved this box.  It is by far the best box I’ve received from a subscription box service thus far.  The products are all items that I will definitely give the samples a try!  There was nothing in the box that I immediately re-gifted to another of the mom’s to try which usually happens with my subscription boxes.  This is a definite win for me!

Box Value: Approximately $44!  It’s a bit tricky on some of the products to figure out the retail value of them but the value was enough that I felt it was $10 well spent.

Want to Try?  Due to high demand Play! is currently on a waitlist status.  Hop on over to get your name on the list.  It’s absolutely worth the wait!

Disclosure: The opinions expressed in this review are my own.  I do not receive compensation for reviews.  This post may contain external affiliate or review links.  Kelly paid for this subscription.

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Quick and Easy Trendy Baby Bandana Bib | How To | Pregnancy

Hey guys! Alicia here! I am killing time as I wait to go into labor with baby Anderson and decided to do a bit of sewing for him. This is a quick and easy handkerchief bib pattern that will fit a baby 3 months to 12 months of age. Here is the link to their tutorial which includes a printable pattern from Project Nursery.
I decided to use cheap hand towels from Wal-Mart and flannel baby blankets to make my bib, but you can use anything as long as the materials are absorbent. I of course had to make a Mickey for obvious reasons.

baby bib tutorial

Be sure to cut the fabric folded against itself lining the folded edge as instructed on the pattern.

Place the fabrics with the front facing each other and sew around the edges leaving a space to turn them right side out once complete.

baby bib tutorial

Flip the bibs right side out and sew the final edge. The original tutorial suggests uses snap buttons to secure the bib on baby, but I used some Velcro that I had on hand.

baby bib tutorial

These are so cute and the perfect hand made gift for anyone expecting!

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A Mom’s Guide to Surviving Election Day | How To

It’s hard enough to get through a normal day as a working mom but lately we’ve had the added insanity of listening to the non-stop bickering on Facebook about politics.  Unless you live under a rock you’ve seen the train wreck that is the current election year.  Let’s be honest: it’s gotten ridiculous.  Don’t believe me?  No worries!  We have this gem to prove the ultimate weirdness involved in this election.

Be proud of yourself Mom!  You made it through the social media election crap storm without losing too many friends (hopefully.)  November is here!  The end is drawing near.  The final step is surviving Election Day; which ultimately could be harder to survive than the zombie apocalypse.  Keep your head up, eye on the prize and follow our survival guide!

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Photo credit: Autumn Branscome Photography

Step 1: Wake up!
You made it through Monday!  Another beginning of the week success is under your belt. The rest of the week is a breeze… except… wait… what is that nagging thought in the back of your head?  Ugh, it just hit you… it’s Election Day!

It’s time to do your duty to country and cast your vote, but first you have to get the kids dressed, off to school, grab a coffee, vote, then head off to listen to political water cooler chatter ALL day long.  Survival today is going to require coffee.  Go ahead and get yourself a cup, throw whatever clothes you can find that are relatively clean on yourself and the kids, and get out the door.  Trust me, you’ll look more put together than some of the characters you will see today.  Election Day tends to bring out more interesting people than you would find during a trip to Walmart.

Step 2: Drop the Kids Off.
For a brief moment as you pull up to your child’s school you wonder why there’s so many adults parking and walking into the building. Then it hits you… it’s Election Day!   You forgot that not only does Election Day mean the talking heads on your television argue all day long but it also means Maddi’s school is closed.  *pounds head against car door*  Quickly, text everyone on your babysitting list.  Chances are they are all still asleep because they don’t have school either, but it’s worth a shot.  When that fails, it’s time to “Mom up” and realize you are taking Maddi with you to vote.  At least the baby’s daycare is still open… you hope.

Step 3: Pre-Voting Child Pep Talk.
It’s time to vote in one of the most polarizing elections of the year and you have a kindergartener chomping at the bit to see what all the fuss is about.  A pre-voting pep talk is a must if you’ve decided to walk into the lions den with him!  A quick chat to ensure he understands how to quietly stand in time, not scream anything obnoxious, stay in your voting booth and be quiet should ensure your sanity.  Because those talks always work so well, right Mom?

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Photo credit: Cate Waters

Step 4: Enter the lions den.  Go Vote!
You’re half way through the parking lot when you hear a couple debating which candidate is the best to win.  You whisper a silent prayer that they keep the conversation PG-13 because you cannot handle another conversation where you have to convince your child that the the P word is referring to an adorable kitten and not a woman’s anatomy.  Yup, this is what the election has done to you as a parent.  You’ve been reduced to explaining to a 5 year old what the P word is… and maybe bending the context a bit.

Being the organized woman you are, you decided weeks ago how you would vote for each election and even researched the candidates to be ready.  A quick punch and you’ll be on your way is the hope. Maddi starts to ask a thousand questions so you explain to him how you are going to pick the next President today mentioning the two main candidates are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Instantly in a bout of excitement, Maddi screams, “Vote for Donald!  He’s friends with Mickey!!!!”  A head pokes out from the next booth over with a disapproving look. Roll your eyes, grit your teeth, punch that ballot and move it momma!  You can explain to Maddi later that Donald is in fact not the duck who is Mickey’s friend (or is he?), and you shouldn’t share who you plan to vote for if you want to have friends.

Step 5: Survival.
It never fails, as soon as you step outside, your mother-in-law calls to tell you she can take Maddi for the day. Thank You Grandma!!!  A quick trip to drop him off helps re-normalize your crazy so you can swing by Starbucks and get yourself a fancy schmancy coffee and prepare for the water cooler chatter at work.

You finally make it to the office proudly displaying your “I voted!” sticker when the 23-year-old intern pops by your desk to say “Hi!”.  She displays her equally shiny sticker for you to see and points out brightly that you are in kindred spirits. Ha!  Little does she know that you’re not in the same league.  She spent 10 seconds voting and chugged her caramel macchiato in peace afterwards as she drove calmly to work.   You smile politely knowing that in the next 10 years she’ll go through the pure insanity you just went through and she’ll have earned her wings.

Keep your head down, get your work done and push through the day.  Do you best to not fall into the trap of debating at the water cooler.  As your best friend always reminds you, “Don’t wrestle with pigs, you get dirty and the pig enjoys it.”  Your time will be much better spent Pinning ideas for dinner.

Step 6: Pick up the Kids.
You survived!  The day is simple now: Pick up the kids, cook dinner and relax. Maddi runs out of his grandma’s house and screams, “Mommy I decided I like Hilwary!  She’s prettier! And doesn’t have orange hair!  Grandma said Donald isn’t friends with Mickey.  She doesn’t even think he’s allowed to go to Disney! Grandpa said Hilwary wouldn’t know if she had Disney tickets because she can’t keep track of her mail.”  And just like that you feel your anxiety level rise as you roll your eyes so far back you can see your brain.  You rush Maddi to the car, thank your mother-in-law and call your husband to pick up dinner and bring it home, there is only one word to describe today, DONE!

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Photo credit: Amanda Greer Photography

Step 7: The End is Near.
The children are finally in bed.  Grab yourself an iced tea, wine, beer, or Vodka and settle on the couch to watch as the end approaches.  You survived Election Day!  You showed your child an example of doing his civic duty and supporting this great country.  The results are coming in and reality is you have no control over them at this point.  You mutter a prayer for the country and smile knowing that in four years you’ll have two little people making your day hectic.  Hopefully by then Ms. Peppy Sunshine Intern will have a child or two and bring you a caramel macchiato while you sit in solidarity knowing that surviving this election fiasco as a parent was an adventure.


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Photo credit: Kelly Broyles Photography

A note from HtKS moms:  Thank you so much to everyone who has already voted in this year’s election and to those who will vote tomorrow.  We know this election has been a bit of a circus and while we poke fun of it in this blog, we also strongly believe in the freedom we have to vote.  A freedom that many of our loved ones have fought to preserve.  Please take a moment tomorrow to vote even if it means some embarrassing moments with your little Maddi.  Voting is very important and teaching the future generation to vote is crucial.

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Trick or Treat!: Easy & Fabulous Costumes for Kids

If you’re like the four of us then you have a deep love for Halloween and costumes but you also have a very busy month of October!  October is the busiest month of the year for photographers which makes Autumn & Kelly half insane during the month!  Jenn & Kelly both have littles with birthdays in October.  And Alicia’s kids are still settling into school.  October is pure insanity.  As much as we would love to have elaborate costumes for our littles the reality is that probably won’t happen on most years.  That doesn’t mean we cannot be creative though!

We present to you our fabulously simple yet oh-so-fabulous costumes of 2016.

Miss A (Kelly’s Daughter): Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy
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My theory on Halloween is rather simple: Until my child is old enough to battle me on what she wants to be I control the costume.  Ha!  Sorry, not sorry.  Since she has red hair I tend to play it up on Halloween.  This year her Aunt Jenn & I thought it would be hilarious to turn her into Lucille Ball.  I did not anticipate that half of the younger generation would have no clue that I Love Lucy or Lucille Ball ever existed.  I am fairly confident I found the root of all our world’s issues!  We need to bring back Lucy!

A photography client referred me to the lovely Amanda from Segsworth Designs  to create A’s Lucy costume.  For $35 she made a stunning blue dress with white polka dots, a apron and headband.  A quick trip to Target for a $2 mini-whisk plus grabbing a small bowl out of her toy food and we were ready!  It took us a few extra days to teach her to yell “Ricky!”  But she finally got it down.

Miss H (Autumn’s Daughter): Aurora
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My girl is obsessed with princesses! Her current obsession is Aurora so of course, we had to be Aurora for Halloween. I’m a big thrift shopper and actually found this costume on a Facebook yard sale site for $12. I found her tiara and wand on the clearance rack at Claire’s Boutique for $10 making the total spent on this outfit $22!! Since I didn’t spend a lot on this outfit I didn’t feel bad about letting her wear it to school for the day! I think she’s the most beautiful Sleeping Beauty ever! 😉

Miss E (Jenn’s Daughter): A Piratehalloween-pirate-costume

Being the Pinterest addict that I am, I’m usually all about the DIY costumes. However, this October was a little crazier than usual for my family so I decided to settle for the quick and simple route and go with a store bought costume. I searched online for costume options before I went to the Halloween store, but this cute little pirate costume for $20 was too adorable to pass up. Is she not the cutest pirate you’ve ever seen? I found the little spyglass you see in the picture on Amazon for $3 to compliment her costume.

I decided that my husband and I should dress up last minute (as of 9am on Halloween). It took some persuading, but he agreed if it was “just a t-shirt”. TMNT sounded like something he would be ok with, so I ran with it. Not to mention, it was one of our only options left at the Halloween store. I added the mask in last minute and that took even more persuading (men!), but thankfully he agreed to wear it for the picture.  I’ll call that a win!

Mr. M & Ms. K (Alicia’s Littles): Darth Vader and Princess Leia from Star Wars
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Our Halloween theme was led by Max this year. He picked Darth Vador early on and the rest of us jumped on board. Kiley is 12 this year, which means she wanted the candy but did not care much about dressing up. So I found a low key Princess Leia outfit on Pinterest and copied away!

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Beauty Battle: Shampoo

Very few things bring out opinions like beauty products.  Women will battle until the end to prove that their favorite lipstick, mascara or foundation is the best.  Don’t believe me?  Ask your best friend what her favorite beauty product is and tell her you hate it!  She’ll give you the 90 reasons why you’re using it wrong, you need to try it again or you bought the wrong shade.  Devotion to beauty products is unwavering.  The ladies at HtKS have decided to battle it out for you!  We’ll share our favorite and least favorite items and if we have a difference of opinions on one we’ll battle it out.

 The Item: Shampoo Beauty Battle: Shampoo Generic Value

Autumn’s Pick: So I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t wash her hair. I wash once a week and use dry
shampoo in between! (I’ll be blogging about that next month so make sure to stay tuned!) I’ve always been a huge fan of Biolage Matrix shampoos and conditioners. I love the smell of them and love the way they make my hair feel but I DON’T love the price of them or how hard they are to find in my small town though. I have to drive at least 30 minutes to be able to purchase! By the time I spent money on gas and the shampoo, it just wasn’t worth it to me.

I was chatting with my hair stylist and she told me that Sally Beauty sells a generic version of Biolage Matrix shampoos (The brand is called Generic Value Products). What?!? I had to go check it out!! Sure enough, I found the generic version of my favorite Biolage shampoo (Ultra Hydrasource). The icing on the cake? It was only $7!!!

For $7 I could definitely give it a shot. I bought the Generic Value Products Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioning Balm and took them home to give them ago. You guys, I was SHOCKED! This stuff was exactly like my beloved Biolage!!! The GVP shampoo smelled the same, felt the same and lathered the exact same as the Biolage!! I started looking at the bottles and noticed on the back they have a comparison of the Generic Value Product Hydrating Shampoo and Matrix Biolage Ultra Hydrosource Shampoo. 99% of the ingredients are the same!!

I know some of you are probably thinking of the Suave version of Biolage that Walmart and drugstores sell. This is NOT the same stuff. The GVP products are have a much more creamy and thick consistency compared to the Suave version. If you’ve tried and love the Suave brand, give the GVP brand ago. You’ll be shocked at the difference!

If you love the Matrix Biolage shampoos, definitely give the Generic Value Products brand a try! You can use those savings to splurge on more GVP products. They make generic shampoos, conditioners and styling products for brands like It’s A 10, Kenra, Paul Mitchell!

Beauty Battle: Shampoo Living ProofKelly’s Pick: About a month ago I noticed that my hair was falling out in an alarming amount.  My doctor
immediately tested my thyroid and the results came back with no issues.  It seems my hair was just unhealthy and deciding to shed… a ton!  I had been kicking around the idea of trying out Living Proof‘s Perfect Hair Day (PHD) line after receiving a sample of their 5-in-1 styling treatment and loving it.  The hair loss pushed me to stock up on some Living Proof products to try.

Living Proof is all about using science to improve your hair.  They even provide you with a questionnaire based tool to determine which products best fit your need.  I settled on the Living Proof PHD shampoo.  The first week of use I didn’t love it.  It was just a shampoo to clean my hair.  The second week I noticed that my hair was shinier, in better shape and wasn’t shedding as badly.  I almost always purchase “salon quality” shampoo but typically it’s whatever is on the latest and greatest sale.  This is the first product I will spend full price purchasing because I love it.

The perk: A little goes a long way!  I have been using a 2 ounce sample for two weeks with a ton remaining.  I am using the entire Living Proof line – shampoo, conditioner, 5-in-1 styling treatment and nightcap treatment which could be contributing to the product’s success.

Try Living Proof today by saving $10 at Ulta using my referral link!

Jenn’s Pick:  When it comes to shampoo, if it’s on the shelf at Target I’ve probably tried it. Most leave my hair feeling dry, flat (thank you volumizing shampoo), and greasy. Since I’m still searching for that perfect shampoo/conditioner combo (or maybe because I like to try new products with pretty packaging), I change shampoos frequently. This week I’m using Pantene Pro-V Color Revival shampoo and conditioner. My thoughts? It’s just ok. It does the job without leaving my hair feeling too greasy, but I don’t feel like my hair color is being “revived” by any means. To get that added shine, I just resort to a coconut oil hair mask and it works every time.

Jenn’s Diss: The Not Your Mother’s Haircare Line’s Way to Grow Long & Strong Shampoo (wow, that’s a mouthful). Kelly recommended that I try this shampoo on one of our many Target trips, so I took the plunge. I tried this shampoo for a solid two weeks thinking the results would get better. Much to my disappointment, things only got worse. I can describe this shampoo with one word. Yikes.  Stringy and greasy hair for days, ya’ll. My recommendation? Just stay away.

beauty-battle-suave-shampooAlicia’s Pick: My favorite shampoo is a cheapy but a goody! Here is the details on my hair type and washing habits. I have wavy to curly thick but moderately fine hair. My scalp is on the dry side and I do tend to have some frizz.

I don’t color my hair often. I had balayage done about a 6 months ago and it is still going strong.  I also don’t wash often. One to two times a week max, but I use dry shampoo in between washes.

On to the good stuff! I love Suave Professionals Mint and Rosemary shampoo. It is a dup of Aveda Rosemary Mint and sells for $2.94 for 28 ounces at Walmart. The mint is so cooling on my scalp and the scent is not artificial smelling like a lot of hair products. It does the job and cleans my hair without leaving a residue or drying it out. It is a quality shampoo without the bells and whistles at an amazing price!

The Results: It doesn’t look like there’s a standout winner amongst us this time.  We each have our favorites however we definitely have a battle on whether Not Your Mother’s Hair is amazing or meh!  What say you internet?  Have you tried it?  Whose side are you on the love it (Kelly) or hate it (Jenn)?

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