09.08.2012

Favorite Baby Shower Gifts


After attending Janelle's baby shower last weekend, I've been thinking about my favorite baby shower gifts.  When in doubt (and if your budget allows), getting  a "big" gift off of their registry is always great.  All those big items really add up!  If you know they'll be covered by family and friends, then these are my favorite non-registry options.

 

{Click on the products to find the source}

 


Freshly Picked Moccasins The Wrap Aden + Anais Swaddle Blankets Chewbeads Teething Necklaces Sophie Lee Marie Onesies Board Books

 

1. Freshly Picked Mocassins- These seriously are the best shoes when babies are first starting to walk. Rilo wore hers for a good 6 months before they were finally too small.  They stay on little feet unlike most shoes which is a huge bonus.  Plus they are the hippest of the hip...I mean Mason Kardashian rocks them!

 

2. Solly Baby Wrap- Unlike other wraps, this one is lighter and stretchier plus comes in the best stripes and colors.  I absolutely love to wear my babies, especially in the first few months.

 

3. Aden & Anais swaddle blankets- Any mom who has used these can attest that these are the best.  Big, the perfect weight and they get softer with use.

 

4. Chewbeads- I got to check these out at the H.O.T. Product Party and I love the idea.  Jewelry that babies can chew on safely? Genuis!  I have a big order of these on the way as we speak.

 

5. Sophie- I don't know what it is about her, but all babies love to chew on Sophie!

 

6. Lee Marie onesies- I adore these onesies!  They are handmade from fun vintage fabrics and I love the contrasting binding.  Definitely not anything you see in stores!

 

7. Board books- You can't go wrong with anything Sandra Boynton or the "In My..." series.  The ones shown are some of our favorites!

 

Other great options include diapers (or cloth diapers), wipes and gift cards.  I always include a little outfit but I like to get clothes that are 12+ months.  I think most people get a ton of smaller sized clothes and then they hit 1 year (which goes by SO quickly) and you have absolutely nothing.

 

Do you have a favorite gift to give?  What about a favorite baby gift you've received?

 

 

26.07.2012

Favorite eBay Knockoffs


Today I'm sharing 3 of my fave eBay knockoffs! The JCrew Bubble Necklace, the Zara Plaited Bag (that Olivia Palermo has been spotted with) and colorful iPhone chargers. Just be sure to check the sellers ratings before you buy and remember that since they are likely coming from China, shipping will take around 2 weeks! {Click on the images to take you to the links}
 

J Crew Necklace Zara Bag iPhone Charger

 
Do you have any favorite eBay knockoffs? I'd love to hear about them!

03.07.2012

Online Grocery Shopping


 

I recently started using Peapod (associated with Giant grocery stores) to do my online shopping.  And boy am I in love!  I have always felt that grocery shopping was such a waste of time.  No matter how quickly I try and get it done, it always takes me at least an hour.  The first time I tried Peapod, it took me about 15  minutes.  Now that I already have ordered, I can pull up past orders and easily click items that I get weekly.  I like to use the search feature and type in what I'm looking for...I can type much faster than I can wander through aisles!  I haven't done a direct comparison myself, but from what I've read, some products online are slightly more expensive, some less and some the same.  In the end, I think it balances out.  I'm pretty versed in product prices (I should really get on Price is Right) so I've been able to judge when I should skip something or when it's a good deal.  Most companies have a delivery fee, however you can generally find codes online to receive free or discounted delivery.  Also, if they are coming to your area already, you can save money by selecting a delivery time close to when they'll be in the neighborhood.

 

When my groceries arrived, they were even placed on my counter for me.  Everything was cold that was supposed to be cold and the produce was absolutely fantastic!  I didn't have any damaged items and received everything I needed.  Consider me sold!  I'm going to be so sad when we move back home for the sumer because we don't have a service like this in my area.  Boo!

 

Here are the 5 reasons I find online shopping to be a win:

 

No more grabbing random food items because you're hungry or because you see them sitting there in front of you.  I figure by not buying the 2+ extra products I would normally buy on impulse, the delivery fee becomes null.

 

Do you only want to spend $100? $200? $346.92?  You can add and remove items in your cart until your total is exactly what you want it to be.  It makes sticking with a monthly budget MUCH easier!

 

 

Even when I head to the store with a list, I still end up forgetting something on the list.  Now you can make sure you have everything on your list.  You are even able to change your order until the night before delivery!

 

Do I need to say anything else?!?!?!  This is by far my favorite part.  Instead, we can go play at a park or do something that they will actually enjoy.  I'm also finding that with two, I have to shop at certain stores who have cart accommodations for me.  Out here in the DC area, there aren't too many!

 

Am I the only who bring their coupons and forgets to use them nearly every single time?  Now there is a special area on the online checkout to input the coupon codes so you can't forget.  I also like that it shows me all the weekly specials on the home page so I can quickly see if there is anything I need already on sale.

 

Have you given online grocery shopping a try?  What did you think?

 

*This review was done on my own...I was not asked or compensated...just really, truly loved it!*

25.06.2012

Creamy Lemon Oat Bars


I stumbled on this recipe for Creamy Lemon Oat Bars on Simple Daily Recipes.  I'm normally a "must have chocolate or I don't care about it" dessert girl, but I was feeling a little adventurous yesterday and made these bars instead.  I thought they were really delicious and a perfect summer treat, even without any chocolate.  I made one small change to the original recipe so I'll post the recipe here.

 

 

Creamy Lemon Oat Bars

 

  • 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Heat oven to 375ºF degrees. Spray 8x8 inch pan with non-stick cooking spray. Mix the milk, lemon zest and lemon juice in medium bowl until thickened; set aside. Mix remaining ingredients in medium bowl until crumbly.
 

Press half of the crumbly mixture in pan; bake about 10 minutes or until set.
 

Spread lemon milk mixture over baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crumbly mixture over the lemon milk mixture, press down gently. Bake about 20 minutes or until edges are golden brown and center is set but soft. Cool and serve.

13.06.2012

Let Your Kids Play: Park Playground Tips


 

 

We spend a whole lot of time at parks, even in the winter.  Sometime we even go to two parks back to back, because we're crazy like that!  I feel a little silly even writing this, but I overhear and see a lot of the same things from parents each time we go.  There is so much going on at the park for your toddler besides just a time filler!  So I thought I would offer some (seemingly) simple tips to parents with toddlers, that will hopefully make the park not only fun for you and your kid(s), but a learning experience too!

 

No seriously, let them run!  I can't tell you the number of times I hear parents saying "Don't run!" at the park.  In fact, I've heard it at nearly every park I've been to.  There are so many places that kids probably shouldn't run...the pool, church, inside the house, etc.  But the park should not be one of them.  If not the park, then where?

 

 

 

Here's where I am probably way more lax than most.  I want Rilo to try anything!  She is fearless by nature but also by nurture.  If she wants to try it, I want her to try it too!  Whether it be the two story slide in St. Louis (seriously, St. Louis has the craziest slides, see the picture at the top), the rock wall, the sand pit or the monkey bars.  Of course that doesn't mean I don't help her or spot her or watch her, but I let her try whatever she wants.   Yes, Rilo may get messy or there may be some bumps and bruises along the way, but there is so much more happening when she tries new playground equipment.  She is learning gross motor skills, problem solving and boosting her confidence all at once.  She's also learning what she is capable of doing and what she may not be able to accomplish for a few years.  You should have seen the look on Rilo's face the other day when she figured out how to climb the rock wall (that was much taller than me) all by herself.  She was so proud and I was too!  I think sometimes as parents we get stuck in the "no and don't" rut and the park is a great place to try and get out of it!

 

The playground is a great place for kids to learn social cues, make friends, observe behavior and interact with kids of different ages.  Unless I see inappropriate/dangerous behavior, I love to let Rilo meet new park friends and play on her own with them.  I sit back and observe and see what we can work on together at home.  Right now, she most definitely need some work on taking turns!  But she has mastered asking someone's name and telling them her name in return.  And these are the types of things I learn from simply watching her play at the park!  We often talk on the way home about the things we saw and the interactions that happened and whether they were "nice" (her favorite word) or not.

 

 

What about you?  Any good park tips to offer?

23.05.2012

Diaper Bags


When I had Rilo, I bought a Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack as my diaper bag. I really liked it...it had a lot of space, a fold out changing pad and backpack straps, which I found super convenient when I was carrying Rilo + a million other things. After carrying that around for a year and a half, I went back to a regular purse.
Now with Collier I'm in need of a new diaper bag again. Really, any large purse will do, but I hunted down some of my favorite actual diaper bags. I've fallen in love with the line by Timi and Leslie (no.2 and 3). I love the accessories and designs of all their bags.

 

Here's what I look for in a bag.  1. Lots of room...snacks, books, blankets, bottles, etc. plus all your normal purse items are all going in this bag. 2. Pockets, and preferably some zippered pockets to store things I don't want to dig around for.  3. Diaper changing pad (you can purchase these separately but I find it convenient to have one with the bag).  4. Stroller straps (or some way to hang the bag on my stroller)

 

{Click on each image to visit the source}

 

Petunia Pickle Bottom Timi and Leslie Timi and Leslie Kate Spade JJ Cole Perry Mackin
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16.05.2012

Image Map Tutorial


 

I've had some questions about how I've been creating my posts where the images or text is clickable and takes you to the original sources (like the post from yesterday). All you need to do is create an image map, using a free website called Image-Maps. It's pretty easy once you've done it and really only takes me an extra 5-10 minutes now! I don't know about you, but I find it much easier to click on the image as opposed to searching for the link below the whole post.

 
This step-by-step tutorial holds your hand the whole way through, but if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or send me an email at bri@collectedblog.com. I hope you take this and use it! Pin, tweet and FB away because in my opinion, this is pretty awesome!!