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Top 15 Gifts for Teen Girls in 2019

I  love to give gifts more than I like to receive them.  I spend lots of time listening, taking notes, scouring the internet, and walking through the malls.  This year I added a step to my research and sat down with my daughters and their friends to find out what their favorite things are and what they most would like for Christmas.  Happy Shopping!

Lululemon Black Leggings  $98

These are expensive but the quality is amazing.  These will be in your daughter’s closet for years!

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Lululemon Black Leggings

Anker Power Bank  $24.99

She will be the envy of all her friends when she whips out her portable charger.

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Anker Power Bank

LED Strip Lights $28.99

My kids got SO EXCITED when they mentioned these lights.  There are some that are controlled by your smart phone and some that come with a remote control.  They also come in different lengths.  Not too expensive and oh so cool!

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LED Strip Lights

Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette  $54

It’s a little on the pricey side but it is great quality and gives you all the basics for a natural look.  Urban decay also has smaller palettes and different shades too.

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Urban Decay Naked 3

Nike Air Force 1  $90

What’s old always comes back!  Kids are loving these shoes in so many different colors but you can’t go wrong with white.

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Nike Air Force 1

BirchBox  3 Month Subscription $50

My daughter has been begging for this subscription for months.

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Birchbox 3 month subscription

Sugar Tinted Lip Balm $31.75

There are many different colors available.  During the holidays, you can often find small gift packs too!

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Sugar Tinted Lip Balm

Voluspa Petite Tin Candle $10

These are amazing candles and they come in so many different scents and sizes.

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Voluspa Petite Tin Candle

Gift Cards – In any amount

Yes, They love to shop for themselves.  Gift cards to their favorite store, the movies, local coffee spot…

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Fuzzy Socks $18

Ok, I was a little skeptical about this one but it was a unanimous YES!  You can get these almost anywhere but here’s a cute pair you can find at Nordstrom.

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Leda Cozy Socks

Warm and Fuzzy Blanket $98

There is nothing better than getting snuggled up!  Like the fuzzy socks, you can find these cozy blankets almost anywhere.  Urban Outfitters has a great one on sale right now for $39, check it out, Amped Fleece Throw Blanket

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Ugg Bliss Fuzzy Throw

Rings and Necklaces $45 and up

Rings and necklaces are all the rage now…sorry bracelets.  Gorjana has beautiful jewelry.  Check out  www.gorjana.com you will find so much more.

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Taner Ring

Portable Speaker – JBL Flip $79.95

This is one of my daughter’s favorite things!  She takes it with her everywhere….even in the shower!

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JBL Flip

Concert tickets  – varies

You will be the COOLEST PARENT EVER if you give your daughter concert tickets to hear her favorite musician. Does she like Billie Eilish? She’s on tour right now!

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Ticketmaster

Fresh Hesperides Grapefruit Eau de Parfum Rollerball  $25

Rollerball scents are easy to manage how much you put on and this scent is light and fresh!

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Fresh Parfum Rollerball

Delicous Lemon-Rosemary-Garlic Chicken and Potatoes

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Yesterday was one of those crazy days.  If I was an Uber driver, I would’ve made a ton of money!  I spent the afternoon running around from the orthodontist to school pick ups to practices.  I finally walked in the door at 7:15 to a wonderful aroma…and dinner was ready.

I love to cook but let’s face it, most of us have crazy weekdays.  I found this recipe in Southern Living and let me tell you, it lived up to the hype.  I prepared the entire dish (steps 1 & 2) in about 15 minutes earlier in the day and put it in the fridge.  I followed the recipe except I doubled the chicken thighs because we love them and we are big eaters.  About an hour before I got home, I called my 13 year old and she popped it in the oven.  So easy.  So delicous.  A must try.  The potatoes were cooked to perfection.  And do not forget the French bead.  The sauce it creates is to die for!  We also had leftovers which will be great for my lunch!

The original link is here and I also put it below for quick access.

Hands on Time:  20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield:  6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 (3.5 oz) jar capers, drained
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 chicken legs (about 1 1/2 lb)
  • 4 skin on, bone in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 lb)
  • 2 pounds small red poatoes
  • Crusty French bread

Easy 3 Steps

Step 1  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Stir together first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Step 2  Place a roasting pan on the stove top over 2 burners.  Add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat over medium high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with desired amount of salt and pepper; place skin sides down in pan.  Add potatoes.  Cook 9 to 10 minutes or until chicken is browned.  Turn chicken and pour lemon mixture over chicken.

Step 3  Bake at 450 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until chicken is done.  Serve with sauce and French bread.

Enjoy!

 

15 Things I Learned from the Whole30

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One summer evening when we were headed out to dinner with friends I grabbed my “go to” black top…and it didn’t fit. I just about started to cry. Over the last several years, the pounds have been slowly creeping onto my body.   And as my 6th grader reminded me, a pound is 3,500 calories. Apparently, I’ve been eating and drinking a lot. I knew it was the middle of summer but I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had to get healthy.

When I sat down to write this the day after I completed the Whole30, I was ready to tell you that I would not be doing the Whole30 anytime soon. The first 5 days sucked. I was hungry. I couldn’t figure out what to eat. None of the recipes I was finding in cookbooks sounded good. I was avoiding social events so I wasn’t around wine. I was DYING without Natural Bliss creamer in my coffee. This was going to be a once, maybe twice a year reset.   I was happy to lose a few pounds but I was ready to get back to my wine and my coffee creamer!

Here’s what I learned on the Whole 30.

  1. There is sugar in almost everything…even the things we think are healthy. Read the labels!
  2. Organic doesn’t always mean healthy.
  3. Simple meals are often the best. Grilled meat and veggies rule!
  4. I should’ve done more research before I started. There are a lot of websites out there that recommend specific brands of foods that are Whole30 approved. I found great salad dressings, paleo bacon, and a coffee creamer alternative along the way.  My transition to healthy may have been easier if I knew about these items from the start.
  5. All almond milk and coconut milk are not created equal. 90% of almond milk and coconut milk on your grocery store shelves contain sugar.
  6. It is challenging to be social on the Whole30. I didn’t realize how many cocktails and glasses of wine I consume each month. I found myself avoiding social occasions.
  7. The best place to dine out on the Whole30 is a steakhouse. You can always get a steak and a sweet potato. I spent a week on the road and ate a lot of steak.
  8. A salad without salad dressing is not very good.   You can make your own salad dressing at home but on the road you are screwed. If you are lucky, the restaurant may have oil & vinegar. If not, you are eating a dry salad…yuck.
  9. I believe I have a dairy intolerance. My stomach feels so much better without it. Butter has milk in it…and I don’t like the taste of ghee. And cheese is in almost everything.
  10. I like to read labels now. And if I don’t know what an ingredient is, I don’t want to eat it.
  11. I have a lot more will power than I thought I had.
  12. My friends and family are very supportive…including my kids!
  13. I am training for a half marathon and I believe I need true carbohydrates in my life to run distance.
  14. I don’t miss bread and pasta like I thought I would.
  15. When the 30 days was over, my cravings were gone. I thought I wanted all the things I missed back in my life but I am happy without most of them.

Yes, I popped a bottle of Champagne on the day after I finished.  I lost a total of 7.6 pounds in 30 days and that was every reason to celebrate. It’s been a week since I finished and I haven’t gained any of the weight back.   I’ve had a little wine. I’ve had a sandwich. I’ve had butter. I’ve had dessert. None of it tasted as good as I thought it would and even made me feel not that great. I don’t think I will be as strict as I was on the Whole30 but I do believe I will adopt a Paleo lifestyle.

Have you tried the Whole30? What was your experience?  Please share!

5 Easy Tips to Save Money Right Now

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We are way into summer and some of you are probably getting ready to start school soon. It’s amazing how fast memories of laughter, lazy days and margarita lunches fade. As I cleaned out my wallet the other day and realized it was empty, I decided it would be a good time to attack the financial health of our home. This is something I’ve been avoiding. I pay the bills each month but don’t really have my arms around our financial health. This is such an overwhelming project to me so I am going to break it down and start small…where can I save some money.

Chances are if you have children, you are always trying to figure out a way to save money and cut costs. I don’t remember anyone ever telling me how expensive these little monkeys were going to be EVERYDAY.   I bet I save $30 if I don’t take them to Target with me!  Here are a few quick and easy ways to cut costs right now.

  1. Make a list of any subscriptions and memberships you have. Cancel what you are not using. My list is at 35 and counting. I am sure there is something I am forgetting. To date, I will save over $500 a year. I had an old email address was costing me over $250 a year.
  1. Call your cable company. They don’t advertise this but they change promotions every 6-12 months. You have to put it on your calendar and remember to call. I just called mine and reduced my bill by almost $35 a month…a savings of almost $420 a year.
  1. Clear the clutter! Sell your stuff on ebay, craig’s list, nextdoor, let go. I am sure you have lots of stuff around the house that you are not using. LET IT GO! Not only will you have some extra cash and you will feel lighter! So far this year I’ve made over $1,000 and I have a lot more stuff the sell.
  1. Shop your auto insurance. I have to be honest. This is one that I’ve been putting off but I am going to tackle it this month.
  1. Acorns! I love Acorns. It’s an app on my phone that I have set up to save $5.00 a week. You can also do round ups if you link your credit cards if you want to save a little more. It’s amazing how all the little bits really add up when you don’t pay attention to them. I set it and forget about it and now I have $536.77. That’s not too shabby.

If you found these tips helpful or can share some other money saving tips, please leave a comment!

The Ultimate Guide to Summer Road Trip Packing

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This is not our first rodeo. In 3 days (yikes) we are hitting the open road on our fourth summer road trip. After years of working out the details of what to pack, I’d like to share it with you. It may seem like a long list but that is the beauty of a road trip…you can bring more stuff! We like to be prepared and we like to have fun.  Plan to do laundry so you don’t overpack.  I usually do laundry every 3 or 4 days depending on where we are staying.  It’s not like doing laundry at home.  After all the time together, It’s actually a nice little escape to the hotel laundry room.

We each back our clothes in individual bags or suitcases. The rest of the items on this list go in laundry baskets, milk crates or duffel bags. Remember that your list may be different from our list. Every year we make changes to the list and how we pack the van.  One year we went to Yellowstone National Park. I read that you need to be very aware of grizzly bears. So on the list that year was bear spray. You can get it on Amazon. And yes, I carried it on every walk in Yellowstone but never needed it. In the section labeled Fun Stuff, this is what our family finds fun. Think about what you and your kids like to do and that’s what you should pack. You get the idea, tailor the list to your likes and your destination.

 

Clothes

Each person packs his or her own bag. The kids lay it out on their bed for final approval

  • 6-7 pairs of underwear/bras
  • 6-7 pairs of socks
  • 5-6 t-shirts or tank tops
  • 3 shorts
  • 1 jeans
  • 1 yoga pants or sweatpants
  • 2 bathing suits
  • 2 pairs of pajama
  • 1 pair of running/athletic/hiking shoes
  • 1 pair of water shoes
  • 1 flip-flops
  • 1 nice sandal if you want
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • 1 jacket
  • 1-2 “Nice outfit” sundress with light sweater for girls or shorts and collared shirt for         boys
  • 2-3 Exercise outfits (Ha! Just in case)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Belt (if needed)
  • Eva’s volleyball bag packed with all her uniforms, shoes and knee pads (we hit a                 volleyball tournament during our road trip, go Tstreet!)

Toiletries

Each person packs their own.  I double check the kids items before it goes into the suitcase.

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental Floss
  • Lip Balm
  • Moisturizer
  • Hair Brush
  • Shampoo and Conditioner (Mom packs big bottles for family for the trip)
  • Face wash stuff
  • Razor and extra blades
  • Shaving Cream
  • Deodorant
  • Hair Gel
  • Soap

Food

This is what I like to start trip with and we replenish along the way. We usually make sandwiches out of the cooler during the trip and sometimes breakfast and then we will go out for dinner.

  • 1 case of water
  • 1 case of special drink (Gatorade, IZZI, etc.)
  • Fresh Fruit (washed and ready to eat in plastic storage containers in cooler)
  • Fresh Veggies (cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas, yellow peppers washed and ready to eat in plastic storage containers in cooler.)
  • Sandwich makings (cold cuts, condiments, bread)
  • Healthy Snacks
  • 16 bottles of wine (This number varies based on how many days we are on the road and how much fun we are having.)
  • Tiger’s Food (18 individual baggies)
  • Tiger’s food and water bowls
  • Peanut butter and Jelly

Car Supplies (accessible)

  • Maps, travel books and hotel confirmations (I like to print these because sometime on the road you end up someplace with without internet.)
  • Tiger’s leash
  • Tiger’s poop bags
  • Snuggle Blanket for each child
  • Giant Cooler
  • Cooler to fill with wine
  • Tiger’s kennel
  • Trash bags
  • Wet wipes
  • 2 Rolls of paper towels
  • 1 box of Tissues
  • 1 Box of Large ziploc bags
  • 1 box of sandwich size ziploc bags
  • 1 large plastic cutting board (I use this to make sandwiches in the car)
  • box of plastic silverware
  • paper plates
  • ziploc Tupperware containers

Other

  • AAA & AA batteries
  • Wine bottle opener (very important to be easily accessible for the first night’s stop)
  • Two wine glasses/ or package of plastic glasses/cups
  • Flashlights
  • Emergency Road Side Kit
  • Tiger’s vet records (In case we board him one night)
  • Laundry detergent (I like the pods)
  • Stain remover
  • Laundry bag for dirty clothes
  • Rolls of quarters (this is for the laundry)
  • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • 5 Beach Towels
  • Small table (the one from Costco)

Electronics

  • GoPro
  • Selfie stick
  • Tripod (We never would’ve gotten that photo in front of Devil’s Tower without it.
  • iphone and iPad chargers
  • DVD’s (kids choose and pack)
  • Camera, lens, and chargers and extra memory cards if needed
  • Computer & Charging cord

Fun Stuff

  • Fishing gearV
  • Volleyball
  • Soccer ball
  • Frisbees for Frisbee Golf
  • Cards (and book on card games)
  • Scrabble
  • Liars Dice
  • Baseball gloves and baseball
  • Golf Clubs for Rob and Bob
  • Football

Personal Backpack

This is basically your carry on bag. Each person packs the things they may need in the car in their  personal backpack that stays within their reach in the car.   This includes all personal electronic devices, book, notebook, headphones, small toys, ect. This bag also includes a bathing suit and a change of clothes. Sometimes we pull into a hotel just to sleep and we don’t want to get all the bags out of the car. This way, each person walks in with what they need for the night.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you are headed out on the road and what you like to pack or how you pass the time on the road. And follow our family along the way on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrate The Father In Your Life

You are not my father…but you are the father of my children! Sorry Rob, I couldn’t resist.  So this is an inside joke between my husband and me. One mother’s day many years ago, my sweet husband dropped the ball. I mean REALLY dropped it.  I was so upset. There was no special breakfast, no card, no flowers and no gift. I was hurt and beyond pissed off. When I confronted him about it, he said, “You are not my mother.” We had a nice long discussion and let’s just say my mother’s day celebrations are much better today.

When you have small children, the responsibility of celebrating Father’s Day and Mother’s Day falls on the parents. The kids aren’t capable of organizing it. As the children get older, they begin to engage and most are excited to celebrate their parents. Rob and I usually sit down and discuss what our expectations are for the day each year. For me, it’s usually a day that I do not have to cook, plan a meal, clean or grocery shop. For Rob, it’s often spending time with the kids. My best advice to you is to have an open discussion. Don’t make each other guess what the other one wants. And whatever you do, do not forget to thank and wish your spouse a happy day. They are the father or mother of your children.

 

So with Father’s Day this weekend, have that conversation with your husband. If you don’t have time for that, here are a few simple and low cost ideas:

 

  1. Stock the fridge and pantry with HIS favorite drinks and snacks. Our kitchen is usually filled with the things the kids and I like.

 

  1. Does he have a hobby or something he likes to do? Let him do this today without any complaining or asking how long he will be.

 

  1. Is there a big sporting event he wants to watch that day? Get the sofa ready and let him watch it and even take that afternoon nap uninterrupted if he falls asleep.

 

  1. What does he like for dinner? Make a reservation. Cook his favorite meal. Buy meat for him to BBQ if that’s what he likes to do.  Just have a plan.

 

  1. Make sure the kids make cards and to top it off, you write a letter telling him why you think he’s such a great dad.

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Remember what goes around comes around. Pay it forward Moms!

I’d love to hear how you will celebrate Father’s Day this year?   Please leave me a comment and share your plans for the day.