Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts That You’re Overlooking ~ Refresh Your Soul

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was provided with copies of the Refresh Your Soul Materials pictured (Deny Yourself by Lisa Chan, Waiting in Wonder, and Prayers for Every Day–all from different companies) so that my soul could also be refreshed and I could pass along the goodness to you! All pondering, happy feelings, and fabulous pictures are my own!

Being a new mom is wonderful, exhilarating, breathtaking. It’s also exhausting, draining, and overwhelming. And you swing through these seeming paradoxes on a moment by moment basis which ads to the crazy of it all even more! That’s why I think that it’s *so* crucial for all new moms to make sure that they don’t let their spiritual walk slide during this time of life–which is just oh SO easy to do! Here are 3 sweet gifts to help Moms feed their spirit when they need it most!

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Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking ~ Big Brother/Sister Gift Ideas

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was provided with the oh so darling Crayon Roll from Country Baby Etsy Shop  and the uber cute book is affiliate linked to Amazon–all great “don’t forget” tips, pictures and thoughts are , as always, my own!

Becoming a big brother or sister is hard work–especially if you’re not the “baby” of the family anymore! Having mom be preoccupied with a new little one can be hard on toddlers and preschoolers, and seeing them get all the toys and gifts doesn’t help matters!

Because of this I always try to include a Big Brother/Big Sister gift anytime I go to a baby shower! It definitely doesn’t have to cost a lot or be extravagant–just a little something to let the older child know they’re loved will be super appreciated by everyone! Here are my favorite Big Brother Big Sister Gift Ideas!

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Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking ~ Mama’s Emergency Kit

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was provided with a pack of BabyGanics Hand and Face wipes to clean off Tyler’s adorable yet always dirty face. All amazingly clever ideas, pictures, and messy babies are my own

Today’s gift idea of giving a Mama’s Emergency Kit is super practical and super fun!! I had the most amazing MOPs group in Boston and they always had the most clever, practical crafts–this is one of the ones we made and it has come in handy *so* many times since then! It’s small enough to stick into your purse or leave in your car glove box.

I tried to find where they printed off this beyond cute insert for the baggy but couldn’t find it–you could easily make one for yourself using PicMonkey and free stock people or if I get enough interest I’ll create a new, downloadable one–so let me know if you’d like me to!

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LEGO®Kid Fest 2013

Leagalese Disclosure Nonsense: Woot woot, we’re being given tickets to attend LEGO®Kid Fest 2013, how cool is that? Read on to see how you can come too!

Being super sentimental I still have a ton of the toys that I grew up with. I kept them over the years and now that Amber and Tyler are getting to be old enough to play with them I’ve been gladly opening up the boxes and passing them along.

Hubby has never been as sentimental as me, so he has almost none of his childhood toys left–with one exception. Him and his brother’s biggest love all through the childhood (and way into being teenagers) was playing with  LEGO® sets! Their parents still have this HUGE plastic tub filled with thousands of  LEGO® Men, Horses, Ships, and Bricks! Recently while she was babysitting for me my Mom in Law hauled it out and let Amber and Tyler go to town! Here is the picture she texted me, haha!

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Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking ~ Origami Owl, Sue Csira

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was provided with the steal your breath gorgeous Origami Owl Locket and gift certificate so that I could bring you this awesomesauce Baby Shower Idea. All pictures, gushing, charm ideas, and cute baby toes are my own.

I don’t know if it’s just me but it seems like every time I turn around another friend is announcing their pregnancy or the birth of their baby. While this makes me totally happy (and distracted–there’s nothing like an album of maternity or newborn pics on FB to totally derail an hour of planned work, haha) it also means that there is a steady flow of baby and baby shower gifts that need buying!

While registries are always a good idea and tiny outfits are hard to resist sometimes it’s nice to break out of the footie pj box and get a new, useful baby gift that will stand out from the crowd–so for the next five days I’ll be bringing you  Five Unique Baby Shower Gifts You’re Overlooking!

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Matchbox® Heroes Wanted™

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: Matchbox® is so awesome that they hooked up with MomSelect to spread the word by sponsoring my blog post about their epic Heroes Wanted Sweepstakes! All dirt roads, wishing for the days when I was 6, ridiculously cute hero kiddos, and over emphatic exclamation points are my own!

Some toys are just instant classics that have lasted through the years–I love buying toys for Amber and Tyler that me and my brothers and sister loved playing with!

One of these are Matchbox® cars. My brother had tons of them–like all little boys should! I definitely got in on the action too, however! My favorite memory of playing with Matchbox cars is when we’d go out to my Grandma’s house, beyond the fence, into the sand. We’d build up a whole city and roads for the cars to drive around in and play for hours! Now Tyler is into all and everything with wheels–so now I’m slowly building up a Matchbox® car collection for him!

Firemen are favorite Super Heroes in our house!!

Operation 10 Weeks to Short Shorts

Here in Texas it’s about to get hot—really hot. And that means that soon my staple wardrobe of jeans and a loose, comfy t-shirt or blouse with boots isn’t really going to cut it any more. No in the 100 degree 100% humidity days of Texas a tank top and shorts are the only way to cut it. In fact we’re planning on going to a big pool & volleyball party at Bob’s uncles place in the middle of June (not to mention all the zoo trips, splash park adventures, etc that we’ll be doing/attending during the summer).

Hmmm…a volleyball and pool party. To me that says that everyone is going to be parading around in swimsuits and cover ups, and right now there’s no way I’d be comfortable parading around all day in short shorts let alone a swimming suit (even modest ones!!)
So—Operation Short Shorts has begun to get me into Texas apparel ready shape!
If you’ve been following my slim  & trim journey at all over the past 3 years you’ve picked up on the fact that I know what I need to do-I just have a hard time actually doing it. I’ve tried several different things: websites, apps, a reward jar, etc.—but none of it ever “sticks” and while my friends have gone on to get down past their goal weights I’m still stuck at “stuck”weight—only dipping below it when I fell super sick for several weeks in a row!
The party (and the thought of my flabby arms, Jiggly thighs, and love handles all on display) are great motivation though! I can look pretty hot right now because I know how to wear clothes that strategically hide my flaw areas so it’s hard to get motivated—there is no such luck in summer wear, however, so it really is time to get into gear!
I’ve decided to break it into bite-sized pieces and implement all the things I know I should be doing. I’m giving myself one little goal to focus on each week and then I’ll build upon them each week. This way I’m tackling it one baby step at a time. I’m not giving myself any “goal” weight to have as I know it’s going to be hard to lose weight—but I also know that once I get these good habits into place it will help me to get where I need to be and improve my health overall! So here is the break down of what I’m planning on doing—starting this week!
My “before” picture taken last week

Best Laundry Detergents for Sensitive Skin

eczema, eczema free, tips for dealing with eczema
Look at those cute, eczema free legs!!


Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was sent some super great smelly fun Purex to help get my juices flowing (and laundry clean) for this post. All eczema babies, smelly good loving hubbies, and stunning pictures of, gasps, a laundry room are—as always, my own!
As you all know by now Amber has eczema. Though it’s caused by many different factors and each varies for each person who suffers from it, a big cause of it can stem from the chemicals, dyes, and fragrances in laundry detergent and fabric softener.
Once I figured out that our detergent was what was causing Amber’s flare ups to really increase I stopped using it right away—but then I was left with a dilemma—was there anything other than the way too expensive baby detergent I could use?
Thankfully there was! And many companies like Purex are listening to us and creating affordable Free and Clear detergents. Soon I switched all our laundry into “free and clear” mode and switched from liquid softener to vinegar and dryer sheets.
There was just one problem—while the free & clear did a great job and left Amber’s skin breakout free there was no scent to our clothes anymore. Now, depending on your personal preference this might actually be good news all around, but hubby and I both love good smells—we both love and wear perfume and cologne, light candles daily, and use good smelling sprays and diffusers in the bathroom. So after awhile hubby started reminiscing about the days when our towels smelled good to—instead of smelling “like nothing”
 Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash Detergent, laundry detergent, laundry soap
Apparently the Purex masterminds eavesdrop on us because shortly after this discussion took place I heard about Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash Detergent. It looks, smells, and washes just like the traditional kind of detergent—but with no artificial dyes and being hypoallergenic I can use it on all of our laundry, and it hasn’t broken Amber out!!
Tip: when trying to figure out what your child’s eczema triggers are, or when trying a new product with any type of smell be sure to use it on something like one blanket or a load of towels first. This way if there is a reaction it will be a mild one and you can know to stop using it before a real flare up happens.
Finally, I can have sweet smelling towels and a rash free girl all together—and it doesn’t get much sweeter (smelling) than that!!
Remember The Purex® brand is teaming up with Honey Bunches of Oats and Outrigger Hotels and Resorts to launch a monumental prize giveaway: The 2013 Tropical Trio Sweepstakes!
One lucky winner will be sent on a tropical paradise vacation to Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach! Enter to win a chance to spend your days relaxing underneath the warm, Hawaiian sun and your nights exploring Waikiki’s never-ending nightlife.

Even better — One Lucky Reader of mine will get to try New Purex Natural Elements Tropical Splash Detergent for themselves!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Nicole Elliott

Easy Fish Fillets With Mango Salsa

So by now it’s no secret that I have a thing for Gorton’s Seafood. I’m so hooked on their Popcorn Shrimp that I’ve blogged not once, but twice about how much we love it!!
While I could gush on about that one product I decided to venture out this time and see what other great product Gorton has to offer–especially right now that they’re offering 20 products at 200 calories or less!
When I saw this huge package of fish fillets at Walmart I knew it would be perfect for us! As you know I love my “cheat night” meals and with fish fillets there are a ton of different easy, fast meals you can make! Though this isn’t one of the featured 20 for 200 I knew I could take it and put a healthy, tasty twist above my usual mayo-packed fish sauce!
What I came up with was a super simple, super easy mango salsa! Here’s the recipe!

Easy Fish Fillets With Mango Salsa

8 Gorton’s Fish Fillets
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 Mango, diced finely
1-3 Cuties diced finely
1-2 cups strawberries diced finely
Chopped Pecans
Cook Gortons Fish Fillets according to package. While they are baking finely dice all of the fruit and add it and orange juice to a sauce pan. Bring to low boil and allow the juice to thicken. When the fish is fully cooked top with warm mango salsa and sprinkle pecans on top.
Super simple and super tasty! This was a *huge* hit with the kids who felt like they were having dessert for dinner! The mild taste of the pollock pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the sauce and the crunchy breading balances well with the nuts.
According to Tyler it’s “Yummmm!!!!!”
Gorton’s is doing a fun weekly challenge on their Facebook Page that you should definitley check out–each week they put up a new challenge and you can enter to win a year full of seafood! (Yum!) But even better–

One Lucky Reader will win an Amazing Gorton Package including 5 Full Value Gorton Product Coupons, a branded spatula, oven mitts, and an apron!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure Nonsense: I was given the same awesome sauce prize items included in my oh so lovely giveaway. All obessions, great recipe creations, and awesomesauce photos are my own! As always the way to my heart is through my tummy–but only if the food is good!

Nicole Elliott

Happy National Licorice Day!

Today is  National Licorice Day! I bet you didn’t know that! Unless you’re a really hard core Red Vine fan, that is! Licorice always makes me think back to childhood road trips. My mom would always bring along a package and we’d snack on it on the way to where ever we were off to-usually camping, fishing, or a wrestling tournament!

Now I love passing on the joy to my own kiddos–and the red vines have been a big hit with them. Even “Princess Belle” really enjoyed the new Natural Vines® I have to admit that I snuck a few and I like them even better than the original! They’re very soft and sweetly chewy–yum!!

Here are some fun Licorice Day facts for you!

1)      More than 30,000 tons of Red Vines® are made each year—or more than 400,000 miles of licoriceenough to wrap around the Earth more than 16 times!
2)      In 2011, U.S. licorice sales topped $359 million, a 6.56 percent increase from the year before. It is part of the non-chocolate candy market, which had total sales of $6.87 billion.

3)      Black licorice is 50 times sweeter than sugar, and derives its botanical name from the Greek words meaning “sweet root.”

4)      Celebrities love Red Vines! Ryan Gosling, Snoop Dogg, Joshua Jackson, Jennette McCurdy and Magic Johnson are all fans of the classic licorice brand. Betty White even credits them with keeping her 91 years young.

5)      American Licorice Company has been producing in the San Francisco Bay Area for 33 years, and its Union City, Calif., factory values process before automation: The old press that delivers the dough to the first floor is still there, the second floor cook room has large kettles that fill the dough into the old large spiral ovens before being checked for quality and packaged. It also has production facilities in La Porte, Ind.

Happy Munching!! Remember you can pick up a package of Red Vines®, Snaps®, Sour Punch®, Super Ropes® and Natural Vines® candy pretty much anywhere candy is sold!!

Do You Love Licorice? Tell me your favorite Licorice memory! 

Legalese Disclosure Nonsense: I was sent the packages pictured so I could celebrate National Licorice Day to it’s full potential–yes, lucky me–I get candy in the mail, it always makes me happy!! But all sweet princesses, candy induced memories and close up tasty shots are my own!

Nicole Elliott