Monday, March 30, 2015

Momma Mondays: Children's Consignment Sales: F-It or F-Yeah?




The spring consignment sale season is in full swing around here, and I know a lot of you are probably wondering if it's all worth it. That answer probably depends on if you're consigning or just buying, but I thought I'd share my experience as a first-time consignor at the Just Between Friends sale. While Lori and I both live in the Philadelphia area, JBF is a national sale, so you can probably find one in a city near you.

Last September, Lori and I went to the JBF sale for the first time and while it was a bit overwhelming (we've never seen so many toys in one room) and we had to wait at least a half hour in line to check out, we got a ton of great deals like a Lands End winter coat for $7, a brand new Gymboree Christmas outfit including dress shirt, sweater vest and pants for $6, Nike sneakers for under $10, a Mrs. Potts Halloween costume (that was for Lori!) ... the list goes on.

Someone was selling a QUADRUPLE F'ing stroller. 
After hearing how a lot of people I know sold hundreds of dollars of clothes and toys, I thought why didn't I do this? So for the spring sale, I signed up as a consignor and tackled the giant bins of baby clothes that have been sitting around our house for years. Here are my consignor pros and cons (this is all based on the Just Between Friends sale only):

Pros:


  • $$$ Obviously this is the big one. Consigning is a great way to earn extra money, especially for extras like vacation, summer camp, dance/music lessons or whatever you're saving up to do. My goal was to sell enough to cover what I bought, and based on my estimated check (it takes a few weeks to arrive) I did that, plus made an extra $30. Honestly, I thought I'd make a little more, but since I earned what I set out to make, I'm happy enough.
  • Clearing out space: This is especially important if you live in a small house/apartment, or you're moving and don't want to bring every single onesie your kids have ever worn with you. If you're not using those old clothes and toys, why leave them sitting in your attic or basement taking up room? I didn't have time to sort and tag all of our clothes, and some of the nicer or sentimental items I wanted to keep, but I did make a pretty good dent in what we have stored, and now I have room to put the larger sized clothing away that's been sitting in the back of the closet.
  • Early access to the sale: Because I was a consignor, I was able to go to the sale a day earlier than the public. This means a much bigger selection and a lot of the higher end brands are still there. JBF also gives you a pass to bring a friend. I was able to purchase a ton of spring/summer clothing, including a bathing suit and rash guard, two Ralph Lauren dress shirts and a polo shirt, four or five pairs of dressier shorts, several Carter's polo shirts, two pairs of Keen sandals (one brand new), a pair of Pediped sneakers for $3.50 (they retail for $55), a Phillies jersey, a couple of Gap tees, a Disney Princess tea set, and a toy vacuum. Grand total: $116! My friend Gena bought a ton of stuff for her three kids and spent just under $250, which included a $100 Joovy double stroller. Only con of presale: no kids, so because of this Lori couldn't come. Even though I got there at noon on presale day, a lot of things were already picked over, so Lori opted not to go during the public sale and I just grabbed Nolan some shoes instead. 
They give you a handy rolling rack to bring your clothes from the car.

Cons:


  • It takes a lot of time: Yes, you have to sort through all of those clothes, toys and baby gear, but you also have to go online and enter them into the JBF tagging site, which entails writing a description, deciding on a price, choosing whether you want to reduce or donate the item, etc. Then you need to print the tags, which also means formatting the margins correctly to fit tags on the page (my printer kept F'ing things up). Once you print them, you have to cut out all the tags and either safety pin them to your clothing or use a tagging gun. Finally, hang them up and make sure your hanger is facing the right way so it looks like a question mark. I was selling about 90 things and it took me several weeks to tag all of my items, doing small batches at a time. Plus, you really can't do this if you have a baby/toddler who gets into everything, especially with pins, scissors and a sharp tagging gun around. I mostly waited for naps or bedtime, or weekends when my husband was able to keep him occupied. 
  • You'll need to spend some money upfront: I bought the tagging kit from JBF for $30 which included a tagging gun, tagging barbs, 100 hangers, and cardstock to print the tags. I figured I didn't have time to run around town looking for these different things, and it was just easier to get it shipped right to me. I also had to separately buy safety pins, because you need to attach bottoms to tops with pins, and if you have something like a dress or sleeveless top that could slide off the hanger, you'll need to attach those to the hanger with pins. I know many people ask local stores for hangers, but our Carter's store wouldn't give me any, and again, I don't have time to be looking all over creation for free hangers. It was easier to just purchase them.
  • You'll be making the drive to the sale site at least three times: If you don't live super close to the sale location, this is kind of a pain in the butt. You have to go to register and drop off your things, then again if you want to attend the sale, and then finally to pick up anything that didn't sell (if you're not donating them). It's not a terrible drive for me (15 minutes) but if you're not around the corner, this can be a consideration. 
  • You have to do a lot of the work yourself: Once you get there, and check in, they give you a huge rolling rack to take to your car and you have to actually go and hang up all of your clothes, walking all over a massive warehouse looking for the racks with your particular size, or tables selling the type of toy you have, etc. If you don't have a lot of things, this shouldn't take too long, but if you do ... and if you made the mistake of bringing your kid ... you'll be there a while. Plan on being there about an hour from parking to leaving. Same routine when you pick up your clothes, but you have to search through the racks for your stuff. I donated everything except five or so things that were more expensive, and honestly I'm not sure it was worth it to drive back there.
    Helping hang stuff, aka pushing the rack like a maniac, before the sale.
The final verdict: F-yeah! There were definitely some things that annoyed me, but overall, the money I earned made it worth it. Just go into the sale with realistic expectations, don't take it personally when certain things don't sell (or sell for way less on the 50% off day), allow yourself PLENTY of time to prepare your items (at least a month - I'll actually allow myself several for the fall sale), and don't force yourself to sell anything that you'd regret. Oh yeah, and get a sitter! 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

It's the last Friday of March! Can we get an F-yeah?? As usual, here's what we're loving this week.


Lori's picks:


Vinylux Weekly Polish
I think this brand has been around for quite some time but I was only introduced to it a few months ago. It's a sister brand of CND's Shellac which is a gel polish that requires UV light (don't worry, Vinylux is UV-free). I love a good gel mani but sometimes I can't get to a salon to get it done so Vinylux is a nice option. Vinylux is available pretty much everywhere from Ulta to Amazon to even Wegman's.

You apply it like regular nail polish (sans base coat) and then put a coat of their Weekly Top Coat and then in 8 minutes, you're dry and good to go for a week. When it's time to remove, just use your regular nail polish remover. No soaking or foil wrapped nails. It's definitely not as good for a chip-free manicure as gel, but it definitely gives you a longer chip-free manicure than regular polish. They just released a line of summer colors that I might have to run out and buy.



Sabatino's Roasted Garlic and Basil Chicken Meatballs
Kristin and I are big fans of these meatballs. We buy them at Costco for around $10 but there are so many in the package you could feed an army! I've used them for a bunch of meals but my favorites are meatball heroes (or hoagies if you're from Philly), spaghetti squash and meatballs, and meatball pizza. They're great on their own or in anything you can think of.  You don't have to cook them so that gets an automatic F-YEAH from me.



Leah Remini: It's All Relative
For some reason I feel like this show flew under the radar when it was on its first season, which is an f-ing shame. It was on TLC and I don't think it was well advertised. This is one of my picks this week because they just announced it will be back for another season starting this summer! YAY! If you've never seen the show you can watch a few clips here.  Stacey Carosi and her family are hysterical and I challenge you not to laugh your f-ing a$$ off during every episode.




Kristin's picks:


Sheila G's Brownie Brittle
Do yourself a favor and run, don't walk to the nearest Bed Bath and Beyond to grab a bag of these. For $3.99 you can indulge in the "rich brownie taste with a cookie crunch," and who can argue with that? They're made with natural ingredients and there's only 120 calories per serving, so not too terrible in terms of sweets. The salted caramel are my favorite, but they have other flavors like chocolate chip and toffee as well.



Pioneer Pet Raindrop Water Fountain
When our cat started demanding to drink out of the kitchen sink, we said F THAT and got him a water fountain. It did the trick and stopped the annoying faucet meowing, but I hated the old fountain we had because it was so loud, annoying to clean and had a million pieces. We had it for about a year until it broke in February. We ordered this one from Amazon and two weeks in, I can say it's definitely quieter, smaller and easier to clean than the old Drinkwell fountain (well, my husband cleaned it, but he said it was easy!) The stainless steel design looks much nicer in the kitchen, too.

Bonus: you can see my kid trying to climb up the cabinets in the reflection!

Claudia Bradby Maya Amazonite Heart Pendant 
I'm not shy about my love for Kate and Pippa, and through following my Kate blogs I became a fan of Claudia Bradby Jewellery. Back in the day, before she was a duchess and all, Kate wore one of their necklaces, and loads of other celebs are fans, including one of my favorite authors, Sophie Kinsella. Anyway, I entered a Valentine's Day contest to win this necklace, and didn't think much of it when I found out someone else had won. Well, luck was on my side because the woman who won never emailed them to claim her prize, and when they selected a new winner ... it was me! I've worn this every day since it arrived on Monday. Love that it's turquoise, which is basically a neutral in my book when it comes to jewelry. I also won a really nice book called Royal Love Stories, which I haven't had a chance to crack open yet. Thanks, Claudia Bradby!! 







Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Try it Tuesday: Cauliflower Pizza

With it being Lent and all, we try to be meat-free on Fridays. Making fish or ordering a pizza from the same place every week gets old, and in an attempt for something a bit healthier I decided to try a recipe that I'd made once three or four years ago (pre-kid) for cauliflower pizza dough. 

It probably sounds gross, but it's really good! No, it doesn't have the same consistency as regular pizza (hard to eat it with your hands - use a fork!) but you'd never know it was made from veggies. 

ingredients:

1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 tsp garlic salt
olive oil (optional)
pizza sauce, shredded cheese and your choice of toppings

steps:

I'm going to summarize here (you can find the full recipe at Eat. Drink.Smile). 

Basically, you just put the cauliflower into a food processor - Magic Bullet shout out! - and "rice" it until you get about a cup full. After that, plop that cauliflower in the microwave for 8 minutes. 

While it's cooking, throw some shredded cheese, the egg, and oregano, garlic, and salt in a bowl and stir it up. Mix the cooked cauliflower into the cheese/egg mixture, and then spread it out on a baking sheet, shaping until it forms a circular dough. 

Brush the dough with some olive oil if you want to help it brown (I did) and then pop that baby in the oven for 15 minutes at 450. Once it's done, spread pizza sauce on top (I used the jarred stuff) and shredded cheese. The original recipe says to put it under the broiler but I just put the pizza back in the 450 degree oven for another few minutes. Voila!



Attempt #1


So, I set out to make this one Friday night two or three weeks ago, and a few things combined to make it a disaster. 

Mistake one: Never underestimate how long it's going to take you to make a recipe. Yes, I'd made this before, but it was so long ago I hadn't remembered how long the prep took. It really shouldn't take *that* long to make, but give yourself some leeway the first time with any recipe. Which brings me to ...

Mistake two: Don't use frozen cauliflower. I didn't start making the pizza until almost 7:00, and then realized that I only had frozen cauliflower, which meant cooking it in the microwave for a little bit in order to thaw it out to rice it. Then it took FOREVER to rice enough in the Magic Bullet because it was so hard. By the time everything was in the oven, it was after 8 p.m. and we were starving.

Mistake three: NEVER USE WAX PAPER. I'm sure some of you are laughing at me right now, but in my hurry to get this ready, I grabbed a roll of wax paper thinking it was parchment paper. This was mostly out of laziness, since I didn't want the pizza to get stuck to the cookie sheet and then have to clean off clumps off burnt crust. Well, you can imagine what happened. The pizza (which tasted great, btw ... at least the tiny bits we were able to rip off) got pretty much glued to the wax paper. Since the wax paper was melted to the crust, we couldn't even peel it apart. So after an hour of work, and all of the wasted ingredients and money, this F'er went in the trash and we had to eat Trader Joe's bagel bites and ice cream for dinner at 8:30 p.m. 


Looks appetizing, right?

Attempt #2


The following Friday I was determined to make the pizza recipe again. This time, I started early! I also sprayed the baking sheet down with Pam's new coconut oil spray (recommend) and then made the rest of the recipe as before. Again, I'd forgotten to buy fresh cauliflower so I had to make do with the frozen. But since I knew what to expect, it went faster this time. The only setback was the dough was a little bit soggier - probably because I added a little bit of water in the Magic Bullet to try and get things moving around a little easier than the first time. 

This time, we could actually eat the F'in pizza. And it was good! Success!!! 





On a scale of 1-10:

Will my kid trash my house in the amount of time it takes to make this recipe? 6
He was sleeping the first time, and the second time my husband was home, so I can't fully rate this one. However, it takes some time, and ricing the cauliflower means using a food processor for a while, and who knows what they can get up to while that thing is buzzing away! 

Will I need a bottle of wine and/or shots to get through this recipe? 4
If you F it up like I did, then yes. However, it's not really that bad otherwise. 

Will my sink be overflowing with dirty dishes? 4
Not really. I used a bowl to cook the cauliflower, another bowl for the egg/cheese mixture, and the Magic Bullet, then a few spoons and whatnot. 

Is this edible? 9
If a toddler likes it, that's the ultimate approval! 

F-YEAH or F-IT? 
F-YEAH. Just don't be an idiot and use wax paper! 
Monday, March 23, 2015

Momma Mondays: Surviving Winter With a Toddler


With winter being a not-so-distant memory, we thought that we'd share some of our favorite cold weather/rainy day activities. When it's too gross to go outside and you're sick of your kid throwing every single toy he owns in your living room, try one of these toddler-approved ideas!

Ikea
If you live near one of these Swedish gems consider yourself lucky. Ikea is a great place to kill some time and energy, give you new scenery and let your kid run f-ing wild while not worrying they're going to break something. I mean, they want you to 'test' their products and who better to do that than a rambunctious toddler? Once you burn off some energy running around and slamming every drawer in the joint, head to the snack bar and get yourself a $1 frozen yogurt. You deserve it. We're petitioning for a bar to be added. We'll keep you posted on that. *fingers crossed*

Bonus: Occasionally Ikea has "kids eat free" days. Free swedish meatballs? That I don't have to cook or clean up after? Sign me up. Also, head to the kids section of the store to 'test' out some toys, beds, play kitchens and mini chairs.



Mall play areas
Especially on cold, wet and/or snowy days, the mall is the perfect place to go. There's tons of new stuff to see, there's changing tables (Nordstrom has the best baby-related amenities), food courts and indoor play areas that are free. You could easily spend half a day at the mall with your little one and exhaust them (and your wallet).



Painting in the tub
I thought this was the greatest f-ing idea. I bought washable paint and rather than sit on the edge of my seat watching my kid 'paint' my entire living room I thought I'd just put it in the bathtub and he could go apeshit finger painting. It's a contained area and all I would have to do was rinse off the paint. Too bad I did this and my kid wanted NOTHING to do with it. WHAT. THE. F. Anyway maybe your kid will like this. Washable paint is a breeze to rinse off in the tub and down the drain it goes. It's something new to do in case you don't feel like watching another Bubble Guppies or Thomas episode.



Kids gyms
In Philly there are a few independent kids gyms but there are also national gyms (Kidville, Gymboree etc.) that might be in your neck of the woods. At the gyms I go to, they have open gym times where you pay X amount of money for 45 minutes of jumping, running and bouncing. When cabin fever sets in, I know where to go for 45 minutes where we'll have a lot of fun and get some exercise. They said it's 'for the kids' but we all know you come out sweating like a pig chasing around your kid.

Also, there are indoor playgrounds that are actually swingset stores! They're open to the public and for a small fee your kids can run around on the play equipment like maniacs. Near us, Rainbow Swingset in King of Prussia and Superior Play Systems in Norristown come to mind.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds: Spring Edition


Happy first day of Spring! Pass me a Claritin. Here are a few things that have gotten us in the spring spirit even though it's snowing (!!!) in Philly. 


Lori's picks:


Trader Joe's Daffodils

Every year around springtime something magical happens. Trader Joe's sells 10 stems of daffodils for $1.49. From my experience they are usually right when you walk in. They look like they're dead or on the verge of dying, but bring them home and stick them in some water and practically overnight they will bloom and bring a smile to your face every time you look at them. Tip: grab 2 or 3 bunches for a big, bright effect!



Vest
With warmer weather comes less coats, layers, hats, mittens, etc. If you're a mom of a toddler you are probably already perpetually sweating (yes, we see you nodding) so we know that less is more in the clothing department. The vest is the perfect solution to the warmish weather on the horizon. It has pockets to shove some snacks and tissues in and gives the right amount of warmth.

Frugal Spring find of the week (possibly the year!)

When you walk into Anthropologie and see this, you grab it and ask questions later.


Luckily this cute little jacket was my size and is the perfect addition to my warm weather outerwear. The coloring in the pic below is off but since no one can agree on "the dress," (more info here. And for the record, it's gold and white - although my husband and Kristin will vehemently disagree with me on this) I said F it, I'm posting a horribly distorted picture. Back to the jacket. It has great lacy details, tons of pockets and a hood (good for those surprise spring showers that better bring some f'in flowers) You can find some great deals at Anthropologie if you really try. And I always try.


Jacket by Hei Hei
http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/search/search.jsp?searchPhrase=Hei%20Hei#/

Kristin's picks:



Spring wreath
This little turquoise wickery thing was in the $1 spot at Target (although it was $3, don't get me started on how everything's no longer $1 in that section). At first I thought it was kind of thin, but then again if I wanted a big, full wreath I'd spend $20 on a fancy one at Michael's, wouldn't I? After digging through my ribbon drawer - yes, I have a ribbon drawer *cough* Monica Gellar  - I found a nice one to match it that's been sitting around since 2007 when I bought 5 rolls for a bridal shower and never used them. Then I attached this paper flower which was also a $1 Target find. I think it looks decent enough. If it doesn't, F-it!




Bare Republic natural mineral face sunscreen
As a redhead with super pale skin, I'm definitely a sunscreen connoisseur and wear it year-round, at least on my face. Now that spring is here and we're spending time outdoors again, I need to get back into my sunscreen routine. I switched to natural brands a few years ago after finding out what kind of crazy chemicals are in your average sunscreens. I'm a fan of Kiss My Face products, but I'm always willing to try something new, so of course I was intrigued when I spotted this new brand at Target (Yes, Target ... AGAIN). 

Anyway, I'd heard good things about Coola sunscreen but it's quite expensive ($32 for the face sunscreen) and I've never actually seen it in a store. I'm guessing Bare Republic is Coola's "made for Target" brand because it doesn't appear to be available elsewhere. I bought the SPF 30 face sunscreen and I'm loving it so far. It goes on really light, more like a serum - and in fact the texture is almost a little oily. Not in a bad way ... it's just not the typical sunscreen texture, and it melts into your skin instantly. I can't stand thick, white, chalky sunscreen - Badger, I'm looking at you!!!! - so this was a huge bonus in my book. We went to the park for about an hour on St. Patrick's Day when it was warm and sunny and my face didn't get pink. Plus, my skin is super acne prone, and this hasn't made me break out as of yet after a week, so I'm giving it an "F yeah." 



A look at some of the Bare Republic products (face is on the left)

That's it for this week! Happy Friday and happy spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The D-Word: How to Survive Disney with a Toddler


No, we're not talking about diarrhea (although we wouldn't blame any mom who jumped to that conclusion.) This is about the OTHER D-word.

DISNEY.



Love it or hate it, you've probably been to Disney World and/or Land at least once in your life. And if you have kids, welcome to your preferred (or at least easiest) vacation destination for a while. Now I've always loved Disney, and went many times over the years (my husband and I even went twice in one year without kids). But I'm big on travel in general, and most of our vacations pre-kid took place overseas. So I admit being one of those people who said "GOD I don't get it when people go to Disney World every year on vacation. Why not see the actual world???"


Then I had a kid. Ha ha ha, twenty-something you.

First of all, it's the one place that you can guarantee your child isn't the only one acting up. In fact, there's probably a bunch of other kids worse than yours, so yours looks awesome in comparison. While we were lucky that baby's first flight (at 18 months) was a smooth and stress-free one, if he flipped out, he wouldn't have been out of place. Plus everything in Orlando is tailored to kids. No worrying about finding child-friendly restaurants or things to do ...  everything is geared toward families.

We also have family in Orlando, so it makes sense to head down south and get some QT with the relatives (and Mickey) when we feel like getting away. Since I just put the deposit on our house we're renting for our trip later this year, I've definitely got Disney on the brain this week. So here we go: How to survive Disney with a toddler.


The first and most important tip: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS. Repeat after me five times. Seriously. Forget about the Disney World commercials with the smiling families hugging characters and wiping away a tear as they watch their kid twirl with princesses. Not saying you won't have these moments (you definitely will) but there's also going to be tantrums. And it's most likely going to be hot as F and you're going to want to kill one of your family members at some point on the trip. Toddlers are small dictators and if you set foot on Disney property thinking that you can do every single thing on your list, you're going to wind up pissed off. Go into the vacation with lower expectations, and you won't be disappointed.

Loosen up with the scheduling
This goes back to "lower your expectations," and is probably a somewhat controversial viewpoint for those of you hard-core Disney people. But we don't plan Fastpasses in advance, and usually only book two or three ADRs for the entire trip (advance dining reservations, for those of you not obsessed with Disney FB groups/forums). We've been plenty of times, and frankly, I don't care if I miss a certain ride - except for not riding the Maelstrom one last time, I'M STILL PISSED ABOUT THAT.

But I digress. Not being locked into some rigid schedule allows us the freedom to go where we want, when we want. Which is so important when you have a toddler whose mood changes by the second. You might miss some of your dining reservations, or have to change park plans last-minute, but the key to enjoying travel to any destination with a toddler is flexibility.

Yes, there are sometimes things we don't get to do because of a long line, but we're go with the flow type of people. And if we don't have an ADR, we'll grab a quick-service meal (shout out to Columbia Harbour House!) or sometimes we cook at home, or eat at a local restaurant near the house we rent. Of course, if you're on property, and don't have a car, obviously your options are different/limited.

Anyway, my point is that the world will not end if your child needs to leave the park and nap and you miss your afternoon Fastpasses. If you're "running around with a clipboard like Danny Tanner," in the words of our friend Amy, it might not go how you planned. Just sayin' :)

He was obsessed with Jasmine. MEN.
Schedule a break 
I know some people who go back to their resort for a mid-day break to swim/relax/nap every day. We didn't do this the first day of our trip last year, and let's just say it didn't go very well. It was 90 degrees, and by dinner time small fry was flipping his shit, and I was throwing up from a dehydration-induced migraine. The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom, and around 3:00 or so after a monumental tantrum in line for the Haunted Mansion, we said THAT'S IT. We stayed at the house until 7 p.m. or so and went back to the park for dinner, rides and fireworks and it was probably the best night of the trip. We didn't have the ability to do this every day, like at Universal, since it wasn't close enough to come back, but if you can, a break is helpful for everyone. Also schedule a "day off" if possible. We had a late breakfast at Kouzzina (RIP), walked around Downtown Disney, then hung out at the pool the rest of the day. The next day everyone felt refreshed and recharged and ready to tackle the parks again.

Get yourself a bigass bag
My husband carries a huge backpack filled with water bottles, snacks, diapers, changes of clothes ... and I always bring a Kipling crossbody bag. They don't sell this style anymore, which is a shame because it has about 5,000 different compartments. I'm barely exaggerating here - I've never seen a bag with so many sections. We just throw our bags under the stroller or hang them from the handle. Which brings me to the next point.

... and a bigass bag hook
Save your back and shoulders and hang all your crap that won't fit under the stroller - or that you need easier access for - from a stroller hook. You could spend $6.99 on a Mommy Hook from Babies R Us ... or do what I did and get a giant carabiner from Home Depot (roughly 3 bucks), which is the same f'ing thing.



Buy a pair of Fit Flops. This is important, people!! The average person walks about 8 miles a day in Disney World. Would you go for a casual 8-mile walk or run at home in your cheap plastic flip flops? (or at all, but that's me). I don't think so. I don't really do sneakers, especially when it's hot, so I turned to the ever-reliable Fit Flop (which I used to think was ugly as sin, but then I felt how comfortable they were and said F-it!) I walked all day in the parks with zero pain in these, and that tells you a lot, because the prior trip I was actually in tears from how much my feet hurt in my fancy gold sandals. Never again! Do yourself a favor and head to Nordstrom Rack, you can grab a pair for about 40 bucks as opposed to $100 full price. Lori and I wear these F'ers all summer long!

Fit Flops & Kipling bag in action at Hogsmeade

Bring or rent a decent stroller
I have an umbrella for short trips at home, but I'd never bring it to Disney World. You need to be able to turn on a dime in the middle of crowds, and your kid will probably nap in it, so it has to be comfortable and recline. We have the Britax B-agile and I highly recommend.

Leashes are your friend
Judge away, but I've got a leash and I'm not afraid to use it. My kid is a runner, and while he'll occasionally hold our hand and walk to go into a store or whatever, he bolts about 75% of the time. We have this Skip Hop monkey backpack harness and it works a treat on those rare occasions when we have to remove the small fry from his stroller, aka standing in line for rides. Ugh. Bonus: you can put small toys/snack/etc. inside.

Drink, drink, drink (water, that is)
Walking around all day in the heat and sun isn't good for anyone, so make sure you and your little one are drinking a ton of water. If you're indulging in an alcoholic bev, this is especially important (Drink around the world fans, I'm looking at you). Instead of paying roughly $4,000 in bottled water over the course of your vacation, a Brita water bottle is a great, eco-friendly alternative. Lori brought one of these on her trip last fall and loved it. You just re-fill it in a water fountain and can ask anyone at a quick-service restaurant to fill it with ice.

Get a first haircut!
The Harmony Barbershop has an awesome first cut package that's actually affordable. When we went, it was $18 and included the cut, a certificate, mouse ears embroidered with "my first haircut" and a little pouch with hair in it. It costs more than that for a kids' cut around here in Philly, so that's an F'ing good deal.

The barbers are so great with kids (obviously - it's Disney)

Don't be afraid to stay off-site
I'm sorry, but ain't nobody got time to be crammed into a little hotel room that costs 300 bucks a night when you're dealing with a toddler. Last year, I originally booked a room at the Dolphin, which would have cost $1,600 for the trip. Then I kept thinking about having to sleep in the same room as an 18-month-old who would literally wake up at the sound of a plastic bag crinkling, and started looking at rental properties nearby with 2+ bedrooms. I ended up canceling the Dolphin and we rented a huge townhouse five minutes away from the parks for under $600 for the entire week last year. Yes, you heard me right. Maybe when he's older we'll go back on-site, but right now I'm kind of spoiled having separate bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, washer/dryer ... and let's not forget the lanai. How else can I pretend I'm in an episode of Golden Girls wearing a floral kaftan with shoulder pads and/or sequins? HOW? Plus, you know, saving $1,000. That's also key. We found our house from Homeaway.com.

Check out the other parks, too
I always hear of people who "don't want to leave the Disney bubble." That's not an option for us, since A) We have family to visit and B) We're big Universal people, so even if we stayed on-site at Disney, we would rent a car or take a cab to Universal for at least a day. If you're a Harry Potter nerd like me, you've got to see the HP parks at least once! It's a nice change from Disney, especially if you like roller coasters. That being said, there's almost nothing to do with toddlers at Universal, and if we were going alone it might be a different story. They have a rider-swap option like Disney World, but my aunt isn't a huge rider - and has been to the parks a million times anyway - so she usually just sat out with our son. We stick with the Universal parks but people seem to love LegoLand for toddlers (never been) and then there's always Sea World, etc...

Remember the magic
This sounds corny, but it's true. The fine folks at Disney know what they're doing and I can guarantee you'll probably end up crying at some point on the trip. Our "this was totally worth it" moment came whilst watching the Wishes fireworks the night of the Haunted Mansion fiasco. Seeing your kid smiling and clapping and looking in awe at seeing fireworks for the first time is definitely a moment you can't put a price tag on ... or when he hugs Tigger grinning ear-to-ear when you expected him to flip out. In the end those are the moments you're going to remember forever. And why people keep coming back again and again.

Because those F'ers brainwash you. I'm sure of it.




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Try it Tuesday: Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice


Every Tuesday we're going to scour Pinterest and the interwebs to bring you a new recipe direct from our kitchens (settle down now!) The other night I went to my food pinterest board and picked out this recipe for Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice from Pinch of Yum. Actually, I'm lying. I picked this out LAST Wednesday because I knew I was going to be going to the grocery store ALONE on Saturday so I made sure to plan ahead what we were going to have for dinner this week. If you're wondering, it was as glorious as it sounds.

"The only thing I've ever successfully made in the kitchen is a mess." ~Carrie Bradshaw



Ratings (1-10):

Will my kid trash my house in the amount of time it takes to make this recipe? 8
This takes a lot of time for a dish of rice. Then again, this is coming from the person who buys Trader Joe's frozen rice that takes 3 minutes from freezer to table.

Will I need a bottle of wine and/or shots to get through this recipe? 4
This recipe is not really difficult, but at the same time it's not a quick 5 minute side. 

Will my sink be overflowing with dirty dishes? 3
I only used 6 things that needed to be cleaned to make this dish: Cutting board, colander, knife, skillet, spoon, dish to hold rice, which in the grand scheme of thing is nothing. My problem with cooking (aside from thinking about what to make, how I'm going obtain the ingredients without my toddler throwing himself on the floor of the grocery store, etc) is how much of an F-in mess it makes. Luckily for me I worked out a little deal with the hubby where I plan and buy the ingredients to make the mess meal and he cleans it up. I'm not SOULESLESS (see: http://foodfashfamfun.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-most-dramatic-rose-ceremony-everbut.html) so I try to keep the amount of dishes to a minimum.

Is this edible? 5
It was definitely edible, but nothing outstanding. It's nice that the vegetables are part of the recipe but it wasn't anything I'd make again in the foreseeable future.

F-YEAH or F-IT?
F-IT! Go to any grocery store and get frozen rice. Microwave and enjoy.


The finished product. Meh.
Nolan enjoyed it

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Momma Mondays: Toddler Essentials


Last week we discussed new mom must-haves. This week we delve into the scary world of toddlerhood. Here are our picks for toddler essentials!

A Backpack and/or small crossbody
When I am out, I am usually always chasing my toddler around wherever we are (library, grocery store, park, museums, etc.). When I was pregnant I bought a diaper bag similar to this that is basically useless. It's cute, but it's not functional especially for the stage we are in now. I need to have both hands free to wrangle my kid while he's thrashing around.

Last summer/fall, I would spend a lot of time at our neighborhood parks and playgrounds and I would always leave my wallet in our stroller. I'm sure the parents at the playground are pretty honest. It's the kids you can't trust. That's when I decided to get a small crossbody that could just hold my wallet and phone. I knew that it wouldn't get too heavy and (theoretically) it would always be on my person.

The past few months, I spent a lot of time at the Please Touch Museum thanks to winter weather. I made the mistake of bringing my diaper bag in there with me once and I wanted to throw myself in front of the carousel. Trying to chase my son around with a bag flapping off my shoulder was too much and my shoulder hurt from toting it around. I left the stroller in the car because to be honest, the main point of bringing him there is to exert as much energy as possible so he sleeps like a log. Anyway, the next time I went I learned my lesson and brought my husband's backpack that's definitely seen better days but at least I had my hands free. I have since bought this backpack in a different pattern (and half the retail price). It's roomy, nylon and has side pockets for both mine and my son's water bottles. We took it on a trip and it's perfect for our everyday needs.

Handvac
If you've been around a toddler long enough you know they're F'ing slobs. Every meal looks like a war zone and there's crumbs in every crevice of your house/couch/car/body. Enter the handvac. If there's one thing I use every single day, it's this badboy. I registered for this when I got married and it always looked pretty sitting in it's cute little charger. I used it once in a while but once my kid started eating real food this thing got put through the ringer. If you don't have one and have a tiny human on the verge of eating real food, go buy one immediately. You think you'll have time to drag out a vacuum cleaner, plug it in and use it? F-THAT!

Changing Station Genie
Although I'm filing this under an essential, I don't have one and I don't necessarily think it's mandatory but would be very handy to have. If I am running out and don't want to bring my entire backpack, I could just grab this. The real challenge here would be making sure it had diapers and/or wipes in it.

Bubble machine
Bubbles are the bane of my existence. My kid loves them but I hate them. Not to mention I suck at blowing them. I hate getting my fingers soapy and quite frankly it's a lot of work to repeatedly dip and blow enough to keep up with his demands. Browsing the aisles of Buy Buy Baby today I stumbled across this. A lazy mom's dream! At $12.99 I figured it was worth a shot. I just opened up the back and popped 3 AA's in and off it went. Bubbles galore. I'm going to give it a shot outside and if it craps out on me, F-it, I'll go back to the old-fashioned way. Until then I'm going to sit back and watch my son try to catch endless bubbles and be happier than a pig in shit.

What are your must-haves for the under 4 crowd?
Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

TGIF-it! This week seems like it's been dragging on forever, hasn't it? Here in Philly, we've been having some crazy warm weather - it was around 60 a couple of days! - so it's been a nice change at least.

We're back with a few of our favorite things, from mascara to cardigans ... and the ugliest pair of pants you've ever seen. If you're new to the blog, you can catch up on last week's finds from our snow day. Here we go!


Lori's picks:


Frizz Creams
For many, many years I have used Biosilk, but over the past few weeks and my drugstore wanderings, I've acquired 2 new frizz creams to try out just to mix things up a bit: Loreal's Advanced Hairstyle BLOW DRY IT Thermal Smoother Cream and Suave's Luxe Style Infusion Smoothing Lightweight Weather Proof Cream.

As a self-proclaimed Frugalista, I refuse to buy things at the salon and am always on the lookout for something fairly inexpensive and these 2 creams fit the bill.

Both smell fantastic and definitely delivered on the frizz control. As a person with out of control curly, frizzy hair this is my main concern. (whaaaat!? an asian person with curly, frizzy hair? yes, we exist...see: Christina from Grey's Anatomy) They both retail for around $5, but L'oreal's seems a bit less sticky and gave me a smoother finish so the winner here is L'oreal. I will definitely be rotating that with the Biosilk from now on. Or until I find the next best blowdry/frizz cream. Do you have any favorites I should try?



Physician's Formula Eye Booster Instant Lash Extension Kit
Maybe you've heard of or tried Younique mascara. Kristin busted out her kit last weekend and I was immediately intrigued. Yes, the mascara comes in a case not unlike a sunglasses case. Fancy! She applied it in front of me and a bunch of our friends and the result was eye-opening (pun intended). In true Frugalista fashion, I went out and bought Physician's Formula's counterpart for half the price (retail price approx $14.95) and tried it and was astounded. I've been a fan of all of Physician's Formula's products, especially their knockoff of Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick (Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips) for quite some time. After several broken Bricks, I said F-IT, I can't be blowing $50 every time this thing cracks!

Back to the mascara. There's a bit of a learning curve as the fibers are quite loose and can fly about, but the result was impressive. I've been blessed in a lot of areas of my life, but eyelashes are not one of them so I'm always looking for something easy, cheap and effective. This kit will be in my makeup bag for a while! If you've tried Physician's Formula and/or Younique, what do you think?


Kristin's picks:


Bobeau fleece wrap cardigan
I'm not gonna lie, when I first saw people talking about these in a Facebook group, I pretty much thought it looked like a tent-slash-nursing cover. Then I saw a few friends wearing the wrap in person and thought they weren't that bad ... but when I went online to buy one, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I figured it would look like a giant sack on me since I'm so petite, but when I was in Nordstrom and spotted a rack of them with a big 30% off sign, I said F-it! and tried one on. Yeah, I'm totally a convert now! This wrap is SUPER soft and warm. Perfect thing to throw on and wear around the house, to the gym, running errands, etc. I prefer to wear it open, but I'll button it sometimes if I'm really cold. I've got "Heather Blue Mazarine" (random color name) and I'm considering getting a second one, probably in gray. They're currently on sale for $39.90 at Nordstrom.


Mine is in the wash so I said F-it and used the picture from the Nordstrom site. Sorry! 

Galvin & Galvin London Kids 2-in-1 shampoo and body wash
This one was a Target clearance shelf find and it smells SO good. I'm a sucker for anything banana-flavored or scented and this passes the test for me, since a lot of banana stuff smells weird/fake. I also like that it's certified organic (and no sodium lauryl sulfate! I'm a little bit crazy about that) and helps support The Prince of Wales Foundation. Leave it to me to find something royals-related in F'ing Target.




Lastly, this is a find ... but not exactly fab. More like FUGLY. Anyway, I'm walking past the women's clothing section at Target the day I bought the body wash, and what do I see but a pair of acid washed, elastic waist (and leg) Hammer-esque pants. For the love of all that is holy, Target! I should have tried them on for the photo opportunity, but I do have some dignity, people.



That's it for this week! If you have a fab find that you want to rave about, feel free to let us know in the comments. Have an f'ing fantastic weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Most Dramatic Rose Ceremony ever...but not really

Photo: ABC

The moment we've been waiting for finally arrived last night ... The Bachelor finale! Sadly, this was the highlight of our week month. Normally Lori watches this days, sometimes weeks later on her DVR (Kristin is fairly dedicated about watching it live) but this was a special occasion that needed to be celebrated by watching live and suffering through commercials. Way to take one for the team, L! 

Within minutes we were promised something that's never been seen before on The Bachelor and that "the entire country will be talking about tomorrow morning." This better be good, Harrison, we thought. About two hours and 45 minutes (and a proposal … and a lot of bumbling speeches by Chris) we finally found out the MOST DRAMATIC SURPRISE EVER was that there’s going to be not one, but two Bachelorettes!

And both of them looked really f-ing pissed off about it. So pissed that Britt forgot her signature fuchsia lipstick. The whole thing was pretty awkward, especially considering some of the audience actually booed Britt about a minute before. Fake smiles and crickets all around.


From what we can gather, the 25 “eligible bachelors” will decide on the first night who they want to stay: Britt or Kaitlyn. We have to give a shout out to one of our favorite Bachelors, Sean, and agree with pretty much everything he says on his blog today. Worth a read. We get that they're trying to be DRAMATIC, but it seems pretty F'd up overall. 

Anyway, we’re team Kaitlyn, but we think the guys will pick Vanessa Lachey Britt because she’s really hot with a touch of crazy. We shall see. May 18 is on our calendars, but we're feeling iffy about the whole fiasco. Not iffy enough to forgo our keys to the fantasy suite, obvi. 

Back to the finale:

Now we know these girls are under the Bachelor spell and think everything is hunky dory and they're in love and they'll love him no matter where they are … but let's call a spade a spade. Chris lives in Arlington, Iowa, population 429, where the nearest Target and Starbucks is 56 miles away. 56. Aside from picking corn, what are these people going to do for fun? (Oh wait, going to Target and Starbucks isn't everyone's idea of fun? Nevermind ...) 

That being said, Whitney is the perfect candidate for the job because she’s sweet and enthusiastic and truly seems like she’s all about being a wife and mom. From that wedding crasher date ages ago, Kristin thought Whitney would take home the final rose. And while we might not be cut out for rural life, we’re sure she’s going to be just fine on the farm. In fact, she seemed super excited about it, as she told us 437 times last night. Congratulations, Whitney and Chris! Your babies will be so cute (as we also heard a million times yesterday). Will we see a TV wedding on the farm?? We hope!


  • Whitney’s necklace game was on point this episode, especially the one from the “meet the parents” date. Need it now.
  • During the lunch with Whit and his family, it seemed like Chris was thinking the same thing as us: She needed to turn it down a notch (or 5) during that dramatic toast (see above photo). People can definitely fall in love quickly, but you've known him for 3 minutes. You're not that in love with him. Chill the F out.
  • How cute are Mr. and Mrs. Soules? Seriously! Loved his mom's keepin it real speech with Becca, which brought back memories of a similar convo with Andi ...
  • When Chris is talking to Becca, we all know what he's thinking. *VIRGIN VIRGIN VIRGIN!!!*
  • Also on the note of Becca, it really wasn't that bizarre she wasn't in love with someone she'd known a couple of months and had spent minimal alone time with ... just sayin. We wish she would've pointed that out instead of stressing out that she "wasn't there yet."
  • Of COURSE Neil Lane knocks on Chris's door #productplacementcentral
  • Becca could basically be a supermodel, but why was she wearing that crushed velvet dress?
  • We’d also like to give Becca the “class act” award for not bawling like a lunatic in the rejection limo. In fact, she seemed almost relieved …
  • We were 85% sure that the Proposal Barn would catch on fire due to the sheer amount of Pier One lanterns and candles covering the joint. WOOD BEAMS, people!
  • Cute proposal, but we were kind of distracted by those jeweled cuffs on Whitney’s dress, circa 1993. Digging the off-the-shoulder thing going on with the top though, and the fun updo!
  • The part with Chris’s parents talking about them making babies … yeah just a little bit awk.
  • Juan Pablo the cow = hilarious/random

Speaking of Juan Pabs...One final thought, ABC. You F'ers really dropped the ball on not using 'SOULES' in any promos, ads, previews, etc. How many weeks did we have to hear about JUANUARY? Soules had so much potential. Here are some taglines and ideas that would've been gold:

"Will Farmer Chris find his SOULES mate?"
"Broken hearts and SOULES" 
"Who will leave broken hearted and SOULES-less?"
"Gotta have SOULES"
And to quote Jesse McCartney, "I want you and your beautiful SOULES"...could've been the theme song, could've had him play while Farmer Chris slow danced with a lucky bachelorette in the middle of a crowd, could've been his one-way ticket to a spot on Dancing With The Stars. The possibilities were endless. F-It. Too late.

Countdown to The Bachelorette showdown, aka The Bachelorette Hunger Games is on. 







Monday, March 9, 2015

Momma Mondays: New Mom Must-Haves (and nots)


Every Monday we're going to talk all things mommy and kid. Whether it be favorite products or things to do with your bambino. This past weekend we attended a good friend's baby shower and it got us thinking what our new mom must-haves are. Here are both of our top fives!

Lori: 


1) Ergobaby (or any baby carrier). I was talking about the Ergobaby today and saying how much both my son and I love it. We've used it since he was about 3 days old and have continued to use it up until a few weeks ago when we went to Florida. It's great to travel through security and on the plane since Nolan is still a lap infant. It allows me to keep my hands free and I'm truly convinced they lace this thing with some sort of drug that puts my kid to sleep every time he's in it. I wear it around the house, on walks around the city,  to carry him to the car, while I was shopping or just cleaning the house. The motion of walking is instantly soothing (at least in his case). "They" say that skin to skin contact is good and I've also read that babies learn a lot by seeing your facial expressions by being in the carrier from a young age so those are just a few more advantages. In the almost 2 years since Nolan's been born, a new model has come out and if I ever have another baby I think I might just spring for the new one (it allows you to have baby facing out when you're carrying them in front as opposed to the 2 options of baby facing in when you're front carrying or back carrying on the model I have.). If you live in the Philadelphia area, Cloth has a baby carrier rental program that helps figure out what carrier works best for you and your baby. Genius!


ergobaby in action at 1 week old

2) Fisher Price Rock N Play Sleeper. Kristin and I can both agree on this one since she lent me hers after her son grew out of it. Light, portable, and babies love it. Simple enough to move from room to room and perfect to put in the bathroom while you take rush through a shower. Once they start rolling, it's game over and you can begin crying because you need to start thinking of creative ways to wrangle the little monster long enough so you can look presentable enough to step foot out of the house.


3) White noise machine. It doesn't have to be a proper machine. It can be an app (there's tons of free ones) or an old radio set on a fuzzy station for all I care. I'm no baby expert but for 9 months, they hear whooshing in the womb, your heartbeat, and they're all curled up nice and cozy in there. When they're thrust into the real world and we expect them to sleep in silence it can sometimes be problematic, They're (literally) out of their element so a little background noise to help calm them down or play while they're  drifting off to dreamland (hopefully for a very, very long time) wouldn't hurt. And if you find it doesn't help sleep at all, just turn it off, delete the app or throw the machine out the window. We live in a city where there are occasional constant sirens and drunk people roaming the streets so any machine that can drown outside noise out and soothe my kid is good in my book.

Buy here

4) This one is a must have-not...the Diaper Genie. I know, it looks so sleek and sexy. Don't do it. Please. I was warned of this when I was pregnant and I ignored it. Babies go through a lot of diapers and they all go to the same place. Changing the special diaper genie bags, aka overpriced plastic bags, gets old and like Sweet Brown said, "Ain't nobody got time for that." Kristin has the Diaper Dekor and it's the same shit, different day (literally).



5) Nosefrida, aka snot sucker. I know, it sounds gross. It sounds gross because it is. Essentially you are blowing your kid's nose for them because they lack this talent until god knows when. As I mentioned earlier, my son is almost 2 and I still use this thing so hopefully they start to learn to blow their own nose by the age of 3. Wrestling a 25 lb. child down to try and suck his nose out is a workout. F-THAT. Kristin bought this as part of her shower gift yesterday because everyone needs one of these suckers ... pun intended.

pieces L-R: mouthpiece, tubing, lid, filter, main sucking part
The filter prevents any, for lack of better word, snot from going up through the tube, through the mouthpiece and into your mouth. Unless you have no suction control of your mouth and have the suction power of an industrial Hoover, there's no way in hell snot is touching your lips. I've used this thing 1000 times and it hasn't even gone halfway up the main tube so don't worry.


Kristin:


1) Aden + Anais swaddles. This was the other part of my baby shower gift for our friend, because I used these every day for the first year or so. We had two packs (so 8 total) and ended up washing at least one blanket every day because inevitably he'd get spit up on it. Some kids don't like to be swaddled (Lori used these more as a general blanket), but mine LOVED it. I was all about the swaddling because it was the only way he'd sleep. These also come in handy when you want to cover up your infant carrier if it's cold/sunny etc. 

Sidenote: Prince George was wrapped in the bird-print blanket when he left the hospital. I may or may not have tried to purchase that one (even though we were way past the swaddling days), but it was sold out ... so I settled on the bib. Shockingly, this is the only George-related purchase I've made to date. Well, other than the commemorative teacup. Don't judge.

2) Boon lawn drying rack. Two-plus years later this thing is still taking up space on my countertop, and I love it. So much more fun than a boring old drying rack and it fits tons of bottles, sippy cups, lids, whatever. Plus there's attachments for nipples/bottle parts that look like little trees and flowers. CUTENESS! Oh, and you can throw the whole thing in the dishwasher, too. I'm sure I'll use it as a general drying rack whenever he doesn't use a sippy cup anymore. 

In case you can't tell, we're going through a (year-plus-long) Frozen phase here.

3) Zip-up sleepers. What kind of jerk decided that baby's pajamas should snap all the way up? Seriously?! When I gave birth, they didn't really have many sleepers that zipped, except in larger sizes. When I was just shopping for our friend's baby, I noticed tons of them, even in newborn. Good for you, Carters, for finally realizing that people want zips. Thanks for making me feel like an idiot in the middle of the night when I couldn't even walk a straight line, let alone match up 1,000 snaps on a leg hole. F-that! 
Long live the zipper!

4) Furniture/TV straps. This one is on the serious side, but very important. I never realized you were supposed to anchor your dressers, bookshelves and whatnot to the wall until Lori sent me this website last year. After crying hysterically, I immediately went into a panic and bought these anti-tip furniture straps and TV straps from Amazon. My son is a climber and gets into everything, and I can see how easy it would be for him to open a dresser drawer, climb on it, and the entire thing to come crashing down. Kids are crushed to death every year by dressers and TVs toppling on them - so scary. Please, please secure your furniture!
It was hard to get a good picture, but this is the back of our TV anchored to the wall.
5) My must-have not is the Bumbo seat. Ours was a hand-me-down from family, so it wasn't a big deal that I didn't use it more than two or three times. But my kid wasn't a fan, and if I wanted to strap him into something, why wouldn't I just put him in the bouncer, or rock n play, or whatever? I know some people absolutely love the Bumbo and will disagree with me, but it was one of those things that didn't work for us, and I'm glad I didn't waste $40 on it. 


What are your new-mom must haves? Share away in the comments!