Star Wars™ Viewing Party

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AwakenYourTastebuds #CollectiveBias

starwarsviewingpartyGrowing up, I was never a big Star Wars™ fan. (gasp, I know) I do remember seeing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in theaters but that’s pretty much where my exposure to the franchise ended. My husband, however, has always loved the whole series and has brought me to the dark side converted me into a fan. 

DSC_0353DSC_0343

Alex has been sharing his excitement for the series with me by showing me all of the old movies. Of course, with two little ones keeping us busy (and a certain someone who has a tendency to fall asleep anytime a movie comes on at home…hint: it’s me), watching all of the movies is a slow (but fun) process.

We still have a few movies to go, and with not much time until the new movie comes out, we are going to have to marathon it if we want to catch up. So, instead of our usual stay-up-late-after-the-babies-go-to-sleep routine, I decided to set up a movie marathon station in our living room stocked with breakfast goodies so we can get a nice early start on our movie-watching.  

I found everything I needed to set up my Star Wars viewing party at Walmart. Since our party is going to start bright and early, I picked up some breakfast essentials to awaken our tastebuds: a few boxes of General Mills cereal and a fun box of Star Wars™ Go-Gurt.

starwarsinstore

I also picked up some [Death Star] donut holes and [Princess Leia] cinnamon buns to add to our spread. 

Because we were going to be in it for the long haul, I wanted to make sure we were extra comfortable in the living room with no reason to get up for anything. Our TV sits on top of a big bookshelf, which I decided would be a perfect party headquarters. 

DSC_0351

DSC_0339

I started by pulling everything off of the shelves and then lining the insides of each shelf with black poster paper. Then, I filled the shelf with all of our delicious goodies and some pillows and blankets for easy access. 

As a special treat, I made some frozen banana light sabers. Want to make your own? Here’s how:

  1. Peel and slice a banana into thirds
  2. Cover banana in yogurt
  3. Roll banana in cereal of your choice
  4. Place banana on popsicle sticks
  5. Place light sabers onto plate, cover lightly with saran wrap and place in freezer until yogurt hardens
  6. Remove from freezer, serve and enjoy!

DSC_0337

banana

I love that this franchise is making a comeback. It’s so fun to see fans of the originals share their excitement with Star Wars™ newbies like me. Make sure you check out all the different ways you can #AwakenYourTastebuds here!

Will you be seeing the new movie opening weekend? Which Star Wars movie is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below! 

Continue Reading

Daily Wellness Reminders

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeHealthyForEveryPartofLife #CollectiveBias

DSC_0007 copy

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself getting pulled in a million different directions this time of year. My mind is constantly running through my never ending to-do list which is exhausting so, in an attempt to free my mind of some of the clutter, I created a daily wellness reminder sheet to keep on my fridge. 

The sheet helps me visualize the four main roles in my life (wife, mom, friend and self) and highlights some of the ways that I can stay on top of my wellness game for each of them which frees me up for playdates and date nights.

friend

Building and maintaining friendships is so important for your overall wellness yet one of the hardest things for me to do. I’ll be the first to admit that I get so wrapped up in taking care of my family that I tend to do things like forget to respond to text messages in a timely fashion, failing to give my friends the time and attention that they deserve. (sorry, friends)

This is something that I definitely want to improve on and I plan on doing by focusing on staying in touch both online, through snail mail and in person.  

self

As a mama, it is so easy to neglect self-care. I’m not talking about the basics like brushing your teeth and washing your hair (although, some days if I get my teeth brushed before noon it feels like quite the accomplishment), but about taking time to make sure your spirit is happy. It may not get to happen daily, but I love when I have a few quiet minutes to just sit down and dive into a devotion. 

Another way that I can take better care of myself is by, well, taking better care of myself. I know, it sounds like a no-brainer but a lot of times I find myself so busy taking care of everyone else that things like taking my vitamins and taking care of my skin slip my mind which is why I love having these reminders on my wellness checklist. 

EMERGENC

I recently picked up some Emergen-C to help me pack in the Vitamin C that I know I am lacking. It’s quick, easy, and delicious plus it helps me with my daily water intake. I love when I can kill two birds with one stone. Cheers to more healthy days, more healthy nights!

mom

The dictionary defines mom as “one’s mother” which is so simple it’s almost comical. I tried again and looked up mother and was told that it is “a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.”

HA. Yes, they are both accurate, but we all know that there is a lot more that falls into the mom category. My definition of the word would include a few more things. Things like mess cleaner, food preparer, tantrum soother, boo-boo kisser, mess cleaner, laundry doer, mess cleaner and ummm mess cleaner. 

12246830_865420344083_2595131490046660865_n

I’ve been working on allowing myself some grace in this category because, try as I might, I am not – and never will be – super mom. There are always things that are going to fall through the cracks (graham cracker crumbs, I’m looking at you) but I do try to focus on a few things that help me feel like a better mom. 
wife

It’s so important to me that Alex and I provide an example of a healthy, loving relationship for our children and I work hard to keep up my end of the bargain. Lucky for me, Alex makes it easy and I love being his wife.

One of the best things, I think, that we can do for our marriage is to keep dating each other. 

Our dates don’t have to be fancy or expensive to be enjoyed. Just yesterday, we picked up donuts on the way home from church and had a donut date while Lyla napped and it was perfect. But as much as I love our at-home dates, sometimes it’s nice to get out of the house, just the two of us. 

On the off-chance that we have planned a date that involves leaving the house without baby, and have gone through the trouble of setting up a sitter, I want to make sure that we are feeling our best so that we don’t have to cancel.

In a perfect world, nothing would interrupt date night but sometimes a long day at work (or long day with a busy, nap-skipping toddler) can bring with them pesky headaches and/or muscle aches that make enjoying your date night a little more challenging. If you find this happening to you, I suggest keeping an Advil Tablet Vial in your purse or glove compartment of your car – that way you have easy access while out and about. You don’t have to worry about it working either because it’s full of the original round tablets that have been providing safe, effective pain relief for over 25 years. 

While on our dates, I always try to listen intently. As a mom, it’s sometimes hard for me to push back thoughts of how things are going back at the house and give my full attention to my husband but I know that it is super important and it’s a skill I continue to work on. 

And, since all good dates end with a kiss, I make sure that my lips stay soft and kissable. I’m a total sucker for good lip balm and ChapStick Total Hydration does not disappoint. I love that it’s 100% natural and instantly smoothes and moisturizes my lips. 

By focusing on my overall wellness in each of these categories, rather than hard specifics, I feel like I am an overall healthier person. 

DAILYWELLNESS

I found all of my wellness products on my last trip to Walmart. What are some of your date night essentials? How do you keep on top of your overall wellness? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

PicMonkey Collage

** I created the images above using free clip art from Angie Makes 

 

Continue Reading

DIY Thanksgiving Wreath

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HappyThanksGathering #CollectiveBias

THANKSGIVINGPREP

I love Thanksgiving. The food, the traditions, the nostalgia – all of it. It’s the perfect kick-off to the busy holiday season and something that I look forward to every year.

Since getting married four years ago, I have been telling my husband that I can’t wait to host Thanksgiving dinner. Unfortunately, between not having a big enough space and our traveling to see other family, I haven’t had my chance yet.

This year, I will be much too pregnant to travel off-island and we have a home large enough to host family and friends so it looks like I’m finally getting my chance!

To say that I am excited is an understatement but I’m trying hard not to go overboard with the planning and preparation.

My main goal when doing any kind of hosting is comfort. No matter how great your kitchen and decorating skills are, your guests will eventually forget what you served them to eat, but they will always remember how you made them feel. That’s why creating an authentically warm, relaxing, and comfortable environment is key.

I feel most at peace in my own home when things are tidied up. I know that my guests will feed off of my energy, so I will be spending some time sprucing up the main living areas of our home before the big day to make sure that I am able to relax.  The last time I was at Walmart, I picked up a few of my clean-house essentials: Scrubbing Bubbles® Toilet Cleaning Gel, Scrubbing Bubbles® Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner and Windex® Original Glass Wipes. (Bonus: there is an awesome rebate going on right now which saves you $5 on your holiday photos)

PRODUCTS

Clorox-in-store

Cleaning up the house, especially when you have a meal to plan/cook is a big job but with the right cleaning products and some holiday tunes turned up nice and loud it’s a big, fun job.

brother-cleaning

^My brother kindly demonstrating how easy and fun cleaning the bathroom with the Windex® Original Glass Wipes is. Isn’t he the best?

After the house is clean, and before I get to cooking, I’ll make sure that our house is decorated festively for the occasion with some traditional items and a special Thanksgiving wreath.

FULL

We all know to expect the “what are you thankful for” activity at the Thanksgiving dinner table but none of us likes to be put on the spot, right? I know I don’t. I think this is especially true when sitting around the table with strangers or a new group of people. (think your first Thanksgiving with your significant other’s family or maybe a group of your parent’s colleagues) but also applies to those dining with family and loved ones that they see all of the time.

Even though I have SO much to be thankful for, and love spending time reflecting on them, my naturally introverted self sometimes cringes at situations like these. To combat that awkwardness, and to make sure that all of my guests feel comfortable this Thanksgiving, I created this wreath that we will incorporate during dinner time.

close-up-wreath

The wreath is already hanging above our piano. Underneath, I have a box with pre-cut “thanks” circles and some pieces of leather cord. The idea is that from now until Thanksgiving, anyone who comes into my house can write down what they are thankful for and tie it onto the wreath. Guests who are here only for the day will have their opportunity to write down what they are thankful for while they are mingling and waiting for our meal.

THANKSGIVING-WREATH

During dinner, I will remove all of the circles from the wreath, divide them equally amongst our guests and we will take turns reading off what we are all thankful for. Of course, anybody can share more if they are so inclined but I believe that by having this anonymous way of sharing what we are thankful for will ensure that all of my guests feel comfortable, welcomed and pressure-free.

Sounds great, right? If you want to make a Thanksgiving wreath of your own, please feel free to download this free printable which gives you twelve “thanks” circles per page. Once you have the circles printed and cut out, punch a single hole into the top of the circle, cut some string and lay those items out with some pens.

I have so much to be thankful for this year – our wreath is going to be pretty full by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. I’m looking forward to it! That and, of course, the food. You can find more #HappyThanksgathering inspiration here. 

 

Continue Reading

Five Essentials for Baby Number Two

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyLittleRemedies #CollectiveBias

5essentials

Now that we are [mostly] settled into our new place, I have finally started to get things ready for Simon’s arrival. As nervous and anxious as I am to give birth again have two babies under the age of two, the more I think about having a sweet little newborn to snuggle on, the more excited I get.

The first few weeks at home with your newborn are so precious. As hard as it is to adjust to the new (non)sleep schedule and to figure out your new norm, those sweet baby snuggles and newborn coos make it so worth it. Being the total homebody that I am, I totally cherish those first few weeks holed up at home with my family just loving up on our little ones and soaking it all in. 

Instead of focusing on some of the big ticket items, I’ve started my baby prep with the 5 essentials for baby number two’s first few weeks at home. Thankfully, I only had to make one stop at Target to pick up all of the essentials that we didn’t have on hand already – I was able to find everything on my list super quickly and was even surprised to find a new Little Remedies® product that I knew I had to try. 

must-have-1

[1] I’m pretty sure I read in the “rule book of new babies” that sweet, snuggly outfits are essential to taking care of a newborn and, since I am a rule follower, I’ve made sure that Simon is ready to go with some comfy little ensembles. The shirt is actually one of Lyla’s old shirts. It was always one of my favorites so I kept it on hand for her little brother. I picked up the sweatpants from Target and wish they had them in my size – how comfortable do they look?!

must-have-2

[2] I can’t say enough good things about these Little Remedies® products. When Lyla was little, she had a lot of tummy problems that caused her discomfort. I was so hesitant to give my tiny baby anything besides breastmilk but felt comfortable giving the Little Remedies® Gripe Water a try since it was free from any artificial dyes and parabens. It always seemed to do the trick and I make sure to recommend it to all new moms and moms-to-be. 

In case our Simon has the same tummy trouble as his big sister, I wanted to make sure that we had the gripe water on hand instead of having to make a special trip to the store. When I was at Target picking it up, I noticed the new Little Remedies® Advanced Colic Relief and decided to pick up a bottle of that too. A mama can never be too prepared!

must-have-3

[3] Long days (and nights) at home call for lots of snuggles on the couch so I’m making sure that I have blankets easily accessible all around the house. I much prefer “real” blankets to receiving blankets as they grow with the child. (and because I have a slight obsession with blankets. Sorry, babe!)

must-have-4

[4] Our laundry pile seems to be never-ending no matter how many times I downsize our closets and it’s only about to get worse as we add another person to our family. So, to (hopefully) cut down on the number of times I have to change little man’s outfit, and therefore cut down on the number of laundry loads I do per week, I am going to give these soft bibs a try. I never really used any kind of bib with Lyla but looking back, I definitely should have. 

must-have-5

[5] Pacifiers! Like so many parenting decisions, the decision on whether or not to give your baby a pacifier is pretty polarizing. We introduced the pacifier to Lyla while she was still in the hospital and it didn’t have any negative effect on her breastfeeding habits. Today, she will still take her “wubby” in the car and in her crib at nap/bed times and we are totally ok with that. 

target-in-store-photo

The fun people at Little Remedies® are asking all you mamas out there to reach out to them on social media! Either tweet them @LittleRemedies or post on Facebook using the hashtag #LittleRescue to receive tips and advice from pediatricians and nutrition experts on how to sooth your sweet babies as well as to get special offers and product samples. A few lucky moms will even score an in-home visit from the Little Remedies® rescue team complete with delivery of Little Remedies® Gas Relief Drops, Gripe Water and NEW Advanced Colic Relief Drops. 

baby-simon-blocks 

 Thinking about heading to Target soon to stock up on the Little Remedies® products? Make sure you take advantage of the 20% off Little Remedies® Advanced Colic Relief Drops using Cartwheel and get a $5 Target Gift Card when you purchase any two Little Remedies® products (Gas Drops/Gripe Water) — both deals expire 10/17/2015

You can also check out the Little Remedies® website for more coupons, free samples, fun videos and a chance to win an in-person rescue from the Little Remedies® rescue team. 

Those are my 5 essentials for baby’s first few weeks at home. What would you add to the list? 

 

Continue Reading

A Gift for Mom

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #EatASNICKERS #CollectiveBias

snickers-basket-hero

Moms give up so much.

It’s something I always knew but never fully understood until becoming a mom myself. 

Really, it starts as soon as we find out we are pregnant. Right away, we start making little lifestyle changes – we switch up our diets, stop some of our favorite activities and are forced to find new sleeping positions. 

Once baby comes, we give up restful nights, adult conversation and sometimes our careers. 

As our babies turn into toddlers we give up clean houses, quiet car rides and our sanity (kidding…mostly). 

messy-house

^^ If Lyla is awake, this is what our kitchen probably looks like.

Of course, there isn’t anything that I wouldn’t give up for my children. Being a mama is the most rewarding experience and I love being able to stay home with my sweet Lyla girl but, that doesn’t change the fact that some days are just downright exhausting. 

Most days, I use Lyla’s nap time as my time to catch up on our never ending piles of laundry, or to do the dishes, or to work on posts for the blog but I am really trying to allow myself time to slow down and enjoy some “mama time” before mister Byrd comes along. Because this time around, I know what I’m getting myself into with a newborn. I know that those sleepless nights are just around the corner again. I know that any “mama time” that I can get now is extra precious because soon it will be so hard to come by. 

DSC_2428

Luckily, I have an awesome husband who understands my need for “mama time”.  So when he gets home from a long day of work, he offers to take Lyla and Rocco out on a walk and I whip out my “mama time” basket. 

My “mama time” basket is exactly what it sounds like! It’s where I keep a bunch of my favorite things so I don’t have to spend precious alone time searching around the house for something to do. 

Inside my basket I have…

magazines | lotion | nail polish | lip balm | nail polish | a notebook (toddler scribble free) | water | a couple of SNICKERS® bars

DSC_2419

It’s crazy how rejuvenating a half hour of uninterrupted nail painting, magazine reading, note making and SNICKERS® eating can be. 

I highly suggest that every mama here makes one of these baskets for themselves – whether you have young kids at home or not! Not a mama? Make one for the favorite mama in your life – it really doesn’t take a lot of time and I promise that they will appreciate it.

Next time you are at Walmart, pick up a few of their favorite things — some magazines, a book, maybe a nice scented candle — grab a cute basket to house it all in, and when you are at the checkout stand, don’t forget to add a few SNICKERS® bars because really, you can’t go wrong with all that chocolate, peanut, caramel and nougat goodness. 

photo (14)

Be sure to check out other great SNICKERS® ideas and to take the quiz below to find out who you are when you are hungry. (I got rebellious..haha)

 
Continue Reading

Caramel Apple and Pecan Pie Marshmallows

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BakeInTheFun #CollectiveBias

caramel apple pecan pie marshmallows

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a busy week here at the Byrd house. We moved into our new place and have been spending every minute getting it unpacked and feeling like home.

Well, almost every minute. 

I’ve also been spending some time getting acquainted with our new kitchen and, judging by how these caramel apple and pecan pie marshmallows turned out, I think we are going to get along just fine. 

Making your own marshmallows is incredibly satisfying. I first tried last year and was so surprised that I didn’t need any special kind of equipment or anything. Just a few pots and pans and my stand mixer. Don’t have a stand mixer? Don’t let that discourage you! You can totally make your own batch of marshmallows using an electric hand mixer too and, when you are done making the marshmallows, you can come back and enter the MARS Bake In The Fun Sweepstakes for a chance to win your own! 

 

MARS Bake In The Fun Sweepstakes

 

To make these caramel apple and pecan pie marshmallows, you are going to start by gathering your ingredients. You will need: Mott’s® Apple Juice, 2 packets of unflavored gelatin, a package of a Pillsbury™ Moist Supreme® Cake Mix, granulated sugar, confectioner’s sugar, caramel, vanilla extract, cinnamon, salt and a package of M&M’s® Pecan Pie. 

I had the gelatin and sugar already, but was able to find everything else at Walmart. 

bakeinthefunDSC_2412

In a bowl, combine 2 packets of gelatin mix with 8 Tablespoons of cold apple juice and set aside. While that is setting, grease an 8×8 pan with butter and sprinkle with a coating of confectioner’s sugar. 

DSC_2351

In a saucepan, combine 1/3 cup of cold water with 1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar. Stir, over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the gelatin mixture to the pan and whisk until boiling. 

Once you have that mixture boiling, pour it into the bowl of your mixer and let cool for about 10 minutes. When cooled, add 1 tsp vanilla extract along with 1/4 each of salt and cinnamon. Start mixing on medium speed for about 10-15 minutes, or until mixture is white, shiny and thick. 

DSC_2370

At this point, your kitchen will smell perfectly fallish. You can thank me later. 

Pour your marshmallow mix into your pan, sprinkle with more confectioner’s sugar and put into the fridge to set for a few hours. Oh, and make sure to call dibs on the spatula before anyone else beats you to it. Again, you can thank me later. 

Once you have let them cool completely, it’s time for the fun part! 

I suggest cutting them into squares before you add your toppings. Once cut, drizzle a bunch of caramel sauce on top and then add a whole lotta M&M’s®. When they look something like this…

DSC_2406

…you’re done. 

Now, you could just leave these alone and eat them as they are. Or you could take it to the next level and turn them into a filling for a nice, fall s’more. 

Yep, I went there. 

DSC_2411

Get one of these bad boys sandwiched between two layers of a Pillsbury™ Moist Supreme® Cake and you’ve got yourself a little slice of fall heaven. 

You’re welcome. 

Tons of other bloggers are sharing their favorite fall recipes here and I know that I am looking forward to trying some of them out while breaking in our new kitchen. Which one would you try first?

DSC_2402

Continue Reading

DIY Ocean Sensory Bottle

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FuelTheirAdventures #CollectiveBias

diy-sensory-bottle

“The days are long, but the years are short.” 

I have been hearing that saying for as long as I can remember, but never has it been so true than at this stage in my life. At sixteen months, Lyla is busier than ever. She has developed a full personality, knows what she likes/dislikes and isn’t afraid to let us know. Most of the time, she is the sweetest of sweeties but some days she decides that the best use of her time would be to see how crazy she can make me (half-kidding).

ocean-sensory-bottle

To help combat those long days, I try to come up with different activities for us to do together. Sometimes we find ourselves at the park or the zoo, other times we pile up on the floor to build puzzles and read her favorite books. 

Every once in a while I like to switch things up and try something new. This time, that something new was a DIY ocean sensory bottle. Sensory bottles have been popping up in my Pinterest feed like crazy lately thanks to the “picked-for-you” option so I figured the internet world was trying to tell me something and I gathered the materials to make our own. 

sensory-bottle-materials

To make our sensory bottle I used water, baby oil, blue food coloring, glitter and some sea shells/beads. I went with the ocean theme because the ocean is one of Lyla’s favorite places but it would be really easy to customize your bottle to fit other interests. 

Assembly was quick and easy – we just poured equal parts water and baby oil into an empty water bottle, shook in a few drops of food coloring, dropped in our ocean-themed treasures and were good to go! 

As always, the hardest part of this activity was clean up. By the time we are done with our activities Lyla is immediately ready to move on to the next thing so, usually, I am torn between cleaning up our mess or chasing her tiny tornado of a self. This time I was determined to clean up, so I came prepared with every moms secret weapon: food. 

in-store-danimals

Dannon-Play-60-smoothies

Last time we were at Walmart I picked up some of these Dannon Danimals Smoothies for us Lyla to try. There are the perfect size for an afternoon snack and for little hands to hold while mommy’s are busy cleaning up. 

fuel-their-adventures

Not only are Dannon Danimals perfect for fueling Miss Lyla’s adventure time with mama, but they are a nice option for older kids as well. I have a feeling the Strawberry/Cotton Candy flavor packs are a big hit right now (and only available for a limited time at select Walmarts). Pack them as part of their lunch, have them ready for an afternoon snack, or bring them along to any of their extra-curricular activities and your children are sure to be fueled up and ready to tackle anything. 

Speaking of tackling, there is an awesome contest going on right now that gives your child the chance to win a Play 60 Field Day with NFL Pros for their entire school. All they have to do is find the hidden “Golden Bongo” pouch in specially-marked Danimals packages. Pretty cool, right?

daddy-lyla-danimals

Danimals-yogurt

As it turns out, I was too busy snapping photos of my sweet girl and giggling with my husband to get the cleaning done right away however I am totally ok with that because even though these days are long, the years are so SO short and I don’t want to miss a second of them. 

I’ve shared how we fuel our adventures – what are some ways that you fuel yours?!

Continue Reading