Stain Fighting 101

People warn you about a lot of ways that your life will change after having a child – the most common warning being that sleep will be few and far between (babies doesn’t sleep in on the weekend?). As a result, I was fully prepared for sleepless nights and less me time when my first child arrived. What I wasn’t expecting or prepared for as a new mom? The requirement of becoming the master of all stains!

Kids can be relied on to create a consistent flood of stains. With a baby, formula stains are the ultimate nightmare leaving the sweet baby clothes I washed and hung so carefully before the baby was born with a slight yellow tinge. The amount of OxiClean I’ve gone through in the past two years is absurd (new moms to be: add OxiClean Max Force Spray to your registry!)

Now that we’ve moved into toddler days, our little one doesn’t stop moving and there’s no keeping him out of kitchen cabinets and, well, everything.  We still deal with the clothing stains on a daily basis, but our new walker now creates stains around the house too. We’ve had milk and juice stains on just about every possible surface of our house, but carpet has proven to be the most difficult area to remove stains from. If you’re like me, this stain removing guide that I came across in one of my many stain-related Google searches will be your best friend moving forward as you continue your journey to becoming the master of all stains. With tips from some of the top cleaning bloggers, the guide has great recommendations for remedying common household stains and often utilize safer cleaning products to do so which is important with little ones around! I wanted to share the recommendations for colored drinks since these have been some of my most used – you can check it out below!

 

What parts of parenting have surprised you? What are some of your tried and true methods for getting rid of kid stains? Share below in the comments!

 

Having a Kid Costs…..How Much?!

Diapers, daycare, and all that food- the cost of having a child adds up- fast. Kids are expensive. The question is, exactly how much will that bundle of joy end up costing you in the long run? According to the U.S. Department of agriculture, one child will cost you $233,610 (excluding college costs). With people financially planning years in advance for the birth of their first child, couples of all income classes are realizing the infinite expenses that come with having a child. The worst part? Child related costs keep going up. The U.S. Census Bureau stated that the cost of childcare has double in the last twenty-five years. Having kids is a major strain on the wallet, and if the trend continues, costs are not slowing down.

With expenses on the rise, families are feeling trapped within a strict budget. School’s out for summer, and kid’s boredom levels can reach an all time high. Trips to the waterpark, escape rooms, and amusement parks can add up fast. But fear not! Family focused sites such as CertifiKID can help you channel your inner extreme couponer. Finding discounted attraction tickets can result in some serious budget friendly fun for your kids this summer. Having kids is no excuse to stop looking for the next adventure.

While a family trip to the movies can be a nice escape from reality, keeping your family active this summer should be a priority as well! CertifiKID offers family friendly DC coupons and discounts on activities all around DC that allow you to soak up some sun – which I will be using this summer when we visit friends! But, if you are an out of towner, there are plenty of great deals in other cities like Atlanta, Chicago and NY, to name a few. However, if a city you live in isn’t listed, there are plenty of other local discount sites, like this one in Nashville.


So, whether you’re on vacation or looking for an afternoon to escape, there are plenty of companies that have your back in helping you not break the bank and not let you get weighed down by budget concerns. Some of my personal family favorites around us include visiting the Water Mine Family Swimming Hole, taking a trip out to the Great Country Peach Farm, or swinging through the trees at Go Ape’s TreeTop Adventure ropes course.

After all that family time, peace and quiet will be at the top of your list. Already looking forward to back to school? There are plenty of sites that offer discounts on summer camps- from golf to fencing, to take your kids off your hands for a couple of days. By searching in the right place for deals- and keeping a smart budget, this summer can be the best one yet for your kids!

Halloween on the Cheap

autumn-black-dark-decoration-41200

I’m a planner – so, even though it’s only September 12th, I am already planning for Halloween. It’s probably because I have a toddler now and I can’t wait to put him in an amazingly cute costumer. But our neighborhood is THE place to be for every kid within a 10 mile radius – so that’s another push to get my planning in gear! Last year was a bit of a budget disaster, so this year I’m trying to keep within our budget

I’ve decided to follow a few tried and true budget hacks for this year!

Tips To Save Money On Halloween:

  • Candy, most months I can get by without even a thought of it – but when it comes to Halloween I ALWAYS have sticker shock. Most stores increase their candy prices because they know people will pay it. How can you charge $10 for a bag of chocolate?! So, this year I am going to shop for discounted candy – and I found this out (last year) if you shop the DAY OF, and can get some pretty good deals that way too.

 

  • Baking is another way to supplement your candy supply! Try baking a few dozen cookies or a big pan of brownies, and individually wrap them.

 

Toilet Paper Mummy

  • Get your DIY on! The Ficken’s are going to work together this year and pull in a few neighbors to help get our craft on.  Simple every day household items can be used. Toilet Paper and Paper Towel Rolls can go a long way! It’s also a great way to bond with the family and teach the kids teamwork. #toiletpapermummies

 

  • So, since I didn’t buy any decorations last year, I plan on buying them this year (after 10/31) for next year. So many stores slash theirprices once the holiday is over! I love shopping the Halloween 50-75% off salesand then storing them for next year – its takes the hassle out of planning what to do next year, love it. That’s how we shopped for our Christmas decorations as well – now I just need to find a place to store everything!

 

  • And lastly, if you are like me and didn’t buy any decorations or costumes last year – you areprobably going to have to pay retail for a costume this year. Or if you can sew, go ahead and get started on finding designs! However, if you aren’t a seamstress de’jour, then I would suggest searching for discounts before you start looking for that perfect costume. Places that I love to browse before I shop online are promocodesforyou.com, they have a great selection of Spirit Halloween coupons to choose from. You can find many more online coupon sites like this, just Google it.

 

I hope these tips help you get started on your Halloween fun, at a discount. I think the greatest tip is always planning first – that way you don’t go overboard at full retail! Have a great Halloween, everyone!

Feeding Your Baby

Newborn

So, everyone knows all of the health benefits of breastfeeding. We are bombarded with the information on social media, in the news in the books we read as pregnant moms – and the mantra ‘breast is best’ is drilled into our conscious and unconscious minds. However, I’m here to just write an article on feeding your newborn baby – however you can safely.

Yes, there are definite benefits to breastfeeding  and is recommended at least for the first 6 months of life – but there are also benefits to NOT breastfeeding if it is crippling the mother in a way that is impeding her ability to love and care for the child. I breastfed for 7 months, but I still had to supplement with formula at least once a day. It was hard, probably one of the harder things I’ve ever done, but ‘breast is best’ kept playing on repeat in my mind every time I wanted to give up.  As Dr. Max Izbicki and countless others point out, breast milk contains antibodies that protect infants from certain illnesses, such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory illness, and allergies.  This is definitely true, and honestly aside from Jack’s condition, he was clear of any additional illnesses and infections that other infants sometimes get. However, I know plenty of friends and family members that were formula fed from the start, and they were perfectly healthy and grew to be a perfectly healthy adult. Even more recent studies show minimal if any differences between siblings who were breastfed and those who were formula fed.

The benefits of breastfeeding are out there (and it’s totally cheaper), but no one can prepare you for all the things that happen to the mother when breastfeeding! It is a serious commitment and sacrifice. There’s sore, sometimes bleeding nipples, the possibilities and probable issues like clogged ducts, sleepless nights (because you are the only source of food), mastitis, engorgement, and I mean just throwing this out there – no margaritas yet either ! 🙂 Oh, and what if your baby doesn’t latch and you have to pump instead. . . so much pumping. . . and there is so much to clean! All that to say, breastfeeding isn’t all rosy and delightful for every mother.

So, before you feel bad for wanting to turn to formula or at least supplement with formula for those night feedings, formula is NOT BAD and you’re not a bad mom for feeding your baby formula. With formula you won’t always be on the clock, other family members can help feed the baby, and at night sometimes those precious extra hours are so important. There is a lot of stuff to lug when going out (cooler, extra formula, bottles, bottled water, etc.) but you also won’t be strapped to a pump when returning to work – so that’s a plus. And, even if you think you won’t, you will still feel close to your baby. Snuggling them in the crook of your arm and staring into those beautiful eyes is as close as it gets 🙂

So, I guess this post is just to lay it all out there, and to reassure the red-eyed, sleep deprived mother trying to do what is best — no matter what you choose, it will be the best for you and your child.

Hugs to all the mothers out there!

 

 

 

 

 

How the Drinking Scene Varies from Northern Virginia to Nashville

Beer on Barrel

White Wine

Whether you’re going out for a night on the town, or looking to relax on a Sunday afternoon, the rise in local breweries and wineries has created a cultural shift in the drinking scene in cities all around the United States.

Cities like Nashville are home to some of the best music, food, and drinks in the southeast. With nineteen breweries alone, finding select craft beers is no challenge. Instead, the biggest challenge is trying to select which craft beer you should enjoy first! However, if you’re looking for something a little stronger, Nashville is also home to some of the best local bars that provide hand-crafted cocktails and a wide-assortment of whiskey. To help narrow the choices down for you, here is a list for some of the best bars in Nashville that offer some of the best drinks.

If it’s wine you’re looking for, look no further than Northern Virginia. Virginia has been crafting wine for almost two centuries and is the 5th largest wine producing region in the country! There are more than 180 wineries to choose from. With so many choices, it’s hard to narrow it down,but here is a list of the top ten wineries in Virginia.

No matter which direction you decide to go, the success of local craft breweries and wineries is taking over the country, and it doesn’t look like they will be stopping any time soon. So grab a buddy or two, and enjoy this new shift that local crafters are supplying, and remember to always drink responsibly.

 

Source for images:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/focus-photography-of-footed-glass-half-full-199294/

https://www.pexels.com/photo/clear-wine-glass-66436/

 

Fast Food – Sometimes It’s a Neccessity

FranchiseOpportunities proves Subway is best

I don’t eat fast food often. In fact, very rarely. . . but there are times when it is in fact, necessary. Like, when you’re driving to your parents house 12 hours away with a toddler sleeping in the backseat. Or when you’re in a travelling band and the only food the band wants to eat is fast. . . and greasy, and you really don’t have time to argue. Thank the Lord that is all behind me now – at 34, I can’t take that greasy mess 🙂 #20somethingscaneatanything

That said, Subway has always been my ‘fast food’ of choice. Don’t get me wrong, during my college days, a 2am burger from McDonald’s was in order. . . but for the most part I try to keep my “drive-in” consumption to a minimum.

But. . . my husband and I have VERY different views on the subject. In fact, Dave is so against Subway that when we do in fact travel together, we have to get off on exits where there is at least one other fast food option than a Subway. #sillymarriedlifeproblems In his own words, I quote, “Worst thing to get if you have to drive? Anyone? SUBWAY!!!! It smushes all the meat out of the bread with every bite! Anyone else care to comment?”

So, there, now you understand his absolute distaste. However, just to poke him a little more, I just sent him this survey from FranchiseOpportunities.com which proves, Subway is in fact the healthiest option. . . therefore, I will not be choosing any other fast food joint. He’s just going to have to live with this decision;-) In fact the percentage of menu items under 500 calories at Subway is over 97%. That’s pretty awesome in my book. subway percentages

Even though it doesn’t bother him, I will be sure to bring it up during every holiday family drive we have! #nagging

Cleaning House

So, I am almost through with reading the book ‘The Magic of Tidying Up’ by Marie Kondo. The book speaks to how to put your space in order that will change your life. . . . yeah, for real.
I tidy up all the time, maddeningly. . . .but with a 13 month old, it just feels like the job is never done. The book, ‘The Magic of Tidying Up’ definitely helped me discover a new perspective on keeping a clean house. My friends and family can attest . . . that has always been a struggle for me.

This book really got to the heart of why keeping clutter around you is a negative way to live, no matter how many times you organize and reorganize. Using the method described in the book helps you really take stock of what you do or do not need in your home.

So, what is Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method?

  1. First step – Start by discarding, then organize. I mean women, I know you know what I mean, we can collect a lot of clothes, shoes, makeup, the list goes on. Even though the book title talks about tidying up. . . it starts with removing things. Like shoes, ladies. . . I just found this study that 8.2% of women in the US own more than 50 pairs of shoes. . . I’m not that bad -but I could stand to toss a few! Who needs that many?!
  2. Organizing – but organizing can’t be done without discarding first.
  3. It’s about conscious decisions. Kondo describes how to physically declutter your house, but you need the right mindset needed to stay tidy forever.
  4. It stresses tidying (decluttering) at once. . . don’t break this step down over days or weeks – one fell swoop and a ton of garbage bags will not only lighten your house, but your mind as well.
  5. Fahgettabout all this storage stuff.  “Putting things away,” Kondo writes, “creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” Just toss it first, then organize. If you need to keep it, Kondo favors “ultimate simplicity” in storage. Items should be stored together, storage areas can’t be scattered, and stacks (of anything) are to be avoided. . . yeah, I’m trying to follow this one.
  6. Tidy by category, not location. Sorting through your clothes is good. Start with one thing, then another. Clothes first, then shoes, then books, etc. When discarding things should be done in order. Begin with clothes, followed by books, papers, miscellany, and mementos. Within those categories, there’s a further breakdown, for example, in the clothing category, you move from tops to bottoms, jackets, socks, and so on
  7. Don’t think about it as ‘throwing it away’, but thinking about what you really want to keep.  Take each item, ask if it brings you joy – if not, throw it away. . . and as my stepmom says – take a picture of it, and let it go.

     

    Now on to things I can’t really hop on board with. . . . 

  8. This lady is big on folding – good for her. So, I’m sharing her values, but I tossed this one to the curb. . . who has time to fold three people’s laundry – not this chica.
  9. Kondo also advocates disposing of all papers, docs, books and photos. Sorry, no can do, lady. I love my books and my pictures 🙂 But, if you don’t have such an affection for yours – throw ’em out!

So, in all – good book. Good pointers, and good inspiration to start tearing through my closet 🙂 I’ll let you know how I’m doing in a few months. Wish me luck!

New Year’s Resolutions!

Happy New Year, everyone!
Today I am full of the Resolution spirit, even though I didn’t make ANY resolutions for the New Year. I just don’t believe it playing inside society’s lines when it comes to my own personal resolutions. So, it’s taken me a bit, but I really do want to accomplish things this year. I want to read more, travel more, be healthier, lose weight, etc. . . . so I’ve put a list together of things that are helping me with my own resolutions, and could help you too!

 

  1. Read More. Ok – so, I really don’t have time to actually sit down with a book, and when I do I’m typically asleep in minutes. . . so – I “read” by listening! Audible.com is amazing. I can cook, clean, exercise – and ‘read’ a book at the same time. If you are a multitasker who wants to get stuff done, as well as expand your mind – Audible.com is for you! It’s not cheap – but they do have 30 day free trials frequently so you can at least download one book to see if it’s worth it for you.
  2. Move More. I love apps – and apparently so does everyone else! So, I’ve downloaded a few apps to help me get motivated to move more! I have the Runtastic App, which helps track runs (more honestly slow jogs these days). I’ve also downloaded a Tabata App, called Tabata Pro that is a quick easy tool that you can use anywhere, for any length of time to get in some quick workouts!
  3. See More. Our household loves to travel, and we also like to travel cheaply! We have a few trips planned this year and a few apps that are helping us plan! We love our SWA app (it will ping us when low cost fares become available), but there are also others like the iExit app and Spotify to get us through road trips!
  4. Give More. So, tithing and giving to charities is part of our families monthly expenditures. It’s something that we do graciously and cannot imagine not doing. Some families tithe each year, some tithe 1%  and some tithe 10%. No matter what the percentage, to us, giving is something we love to do. We love knowing that we are in a small way helping others, growing others and being a blessing to others. There are so many charities to give to, you can take a quiz here to find out which works for you and your family. And if you are a non profit organization, DonateMate is a great and easy way to set up ongoing donations.
  5. Breathe More. So, I’m not completely on the bandwagon yet – but I am becoming more intrigued with meditation and I am striving to just breathe more and try to de-escalate stress when it comes on. A great book that looks into this is 10% Happier, and they also have a great app as well. Take a look – read the book and maybe just download the app. If you’re interested in trying to clear your mind and looking for ways to de-stress, this could help!

 

So, for now, that’s it. I’ll return to this in 2018 to see if any or all of these were helpful in 2017 and fill you in! I hope everyone has a happy and blessed 2017! 4232721700_1cde7cfe62_b

4 ways to update your home’s look in the new year

 

Grey Walls Living Room Ideas Dark Gray Sofa Red And Yellow for Gray Sofa Living Room Ideas - Furniture and Dining Table

The new year is always a time for change and a time to look for improvements. If you’re not happy with the look of your home or you simply want to freshen up the decor, here are some hassle-free ways to get that new feel.

Add something natural

A quick, easy way to make a room feel brighter is to add a plant or a bouquet of flowers. HGTV recommends several flowers in a single-style, arranged loosely in a cylindrical vase. Consider a mix of open and closed buds for a more natural look.

 

Add vibrant color through accent pieces

A vibrant color can show off your personality and add character to a space. Don’t be afraid to try something new! Pillows, rugs, and decorative accessories are all good options. To top it off, vibrant colors really stand out in photos — so feel free to show off on Instagram.

 

Cutdown on the clutter

A great way to start the new year is with a clean home. Think about ways to reduce the clutter in rooms you spend a lot of time in. Hiding cords, putting away paperwork or DVDs, and putting shoes into a woven basket are all easy ways to pick up and make your room feel more breathable.

 

Add new hardware

Changing out the hardware on drawers, cabinets, and doors can subtly enhance the look of any room. A change to the pulls or knobs in the kitchen can instantly change the appearance and add some character. There’s seemingly limitless options to fit your style and your budget.

There’s plenty of ways to upgrade your home or just get a new feel if you’re tired of the same old stuff. Do what’s right for you and for your budget and enjoy the results!

 

Header Image Courtesy of: modern-homedesign.com

Side Gigs, Anyone?

So, we’ve been toying with the idea of a side gig to make a few extra bucks (not like we really have that much time on our hands), but our thought it to create a hobby we love and make some money off of it.

I know, I know – I’m sure you can’t stand the pyramid marketing tactics thrown at you everyday on social media or by your personal friends – I’m not talking about that. . . I’m talking more about homegrown, local franchises

Local Honey FranchiseOpportunities.comSo, Dave and I love good food. We love it more if it’s organic and locally grown. There are some franchises (Farm-to-Table franchises) that take local produce and livestock (hello TN farms!), seek out potential entrepreneurs like cheese makers or beekeepers so that more people can benefit from the farm to table approach. Both healthy and stimulating local economy.

There are also handmade good franchises. Even if they aren’t truly “handmade” by the franchisee, these products are really big right now. Things like clothes, jewelry and accessories are huge hits. Retail is no longer king, and people like shopping local and finding unique pieces (ta-ta Loius Vitton, hallelujah!). Essentially this business venture is both DIY and a solid business model.

Here’s some more awesome concept franchise ideas that I found too – so if you’re interested, take a look!