Wednesday, May 4, 2016

An even BIGGER giveaway!

 So, what's in the box?  

Well...remember on Friday when Nordstrom helped me give you guys the chance to win a $300 Nordstrom gift card?  

Well, today we've sweetened the deal and made the gift card $500!


Holy cow!

This is my excited face selfie.  Don't worry my kids weren't around for me to embarrass them with it :).

So, instead of one $300 Nordstrom gift card for your favorite mama, you get $500 worth of Nordstrom gift cards.   #weloveyounordstrom 

You can give that to one mama or you can split it up between several mamas (because based on your comments from Friday...a lot of you have several special mamas in your life!).  Remember, this doesn't have to be YOUR mama...just a special mama you know (your sister, neighbor, coworker, friend, cousin, grandmother, etc).  

I have updated the Rafflecopter below with two new entry options.  If you already entered to win, you can now go back and add the two new entries.  One is to share this with your friends on Instagram and/or Facebook.  Let them know and maybe they'll split the winning with you?!  And the second entry option is to pin my Mother's Day graphic from my foodie blog today.  You just click on today's Mother's Day post and pin THE FINAL IMAGE on the post!  Easy!! Both entries are worth 5 points!

And as promised, here are a few more Mother's Day gift ideas for the moms in your life...because we could all use a few new ideas, right?

Call me crazy but gift sets are always a win for me (and my mom!).  They're priced better when they're in sets, so you get more bang for your buck.  Here are some of my faves...

This Clinique set is valued at $104.50 but selling for $39.50.  Yes ma'am!

Am I the only one who really loves Kiehl's?  I tried it for the first time once when we were on vacation (and I had forgotten my skincare stuff) and totally loved it!  This set would make this mama happy :).

And I told you on Friday that Viktor & Rolf was my absolute, when I saw this gift set, my heart soared a bit.

And here are a few more Mother's Day gift sets for you...

And then don't forget these picks from Friday...

One last thing before we get to the giveaway at the bottom... top in the first picture is this one :).  I wear it all the time because it's cute, it's flowy, it's a great color and it doesn't really wrinkle at all!  It comes in multiple fun colors!  Love it with my black jeans :).

Okay, don't forget to check out the two new entries for our $500 giveaway!  If you've already done the other entries, then you can go back and just do the two new ones (or do them all if you haven't already!).  To find the image to pin, check out this post today...

...and pin the final image!!

Happy Wednesday friends!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Apple Watch

So...this is my post about my Apple Watch :).

Things to note:
1. I am probably the worst person EVER to discuss an Apple product with anyone...because I'm not techy at all.  My friend Lori has to help me with my iPhone all the time.  The minute it starts acting up, I call her...which is more often than she would probably like.  Lori was among the many surprised by this purchase :).

2. "How do you like your Apple Watch?" is now the number one question trending on my blog, IG comments and email ;).  Okay, maybe not the number 1...but it's pretty darn close!  Since so many of you are asking, I thought I should probably share.

3. I'm really hoping some of you Apple Watch owners will share tips/tricks/advice because I know I'm not maximizing my watch to the any other info would be great!

Remember way back last April when I asked you guys if I should get a Fitbit or not?  I had been contemplating this purchase for sometime, so I did what I often do...I polled you guys :).  The response actually really surprised me.  The Fitbit is slightly polarizing with you ladies.  Some of you swore by them, some of you were not happy with yours, some of you didn't know what a Fitbit was...the response was fierce and all over the place.  And because the "do you love Fitbit?" answers were so diverse, I decided against it at the time.  I did have at least one person comment and another person email me that they would invest any Fitbit money I had into an Apple Watch instead...and for some reason, those comments stuck with me.

Fast forward to October...

...remember when we were in New York and randomly ran into two friends walking down the street in Soho?  Stephanie (in the middle) lives in NYC and our friend Laura was there visiting her.  Well, they had just come from the Apple store because Stephanie apparently had been flipping out over her Apple Watch so much that Laura had just purchased one too.  So, when we bumped into them, they were on an Apple Watch high...and apparently, it was contagious.

After we parted ways, I told Andrew that they had basically convinced me to get an Apple Watch.  His response?  You wouldn't know how to work it. #thetruthhurts #yetthetruthisthetruth

So, I once again, I put the Apple Watch thought out of my head.  Fast forward two weeks and...the speakers on my iPhone stopped working (I had no sound coming out).  I made an appointment at the Apple Store and took my phone in.  They do what they do there...they take your product that needs to be repaired in the back and then they park you on a stool next to some sort of Apple product...and as luck would have it, they parked me next to the Apple Watches where there was a video explaining the watch and how you basically can't live without it.  I sat there and watched that video play over and over and over again for 45 minutes.  And then I knew I needed one.  Product person placement works like that in the Apple Store.

So, the first week in December, I bought myself an Apple Watch.  I remember it clearly...I met Erika at the mall that day and I told her I was buying an Apple Watch...and she looked confused.  Friends, apparently my technology ineptness is apparent to everyone!  That being said, I bought myself a watch and took it home.

I went home...I opened the box (it does NOT come with instructions), I went online to Apple's website and watched every video they had on using your watch...and about 1½ hours later, I was obsessed with my watch. OBSESSED.

Andrew came home from work and saw my new watch, pretty sure he called me a dork and we sat down to dinner.  By the time dinner was over, Andrew wanted a watch too.  He had watch envy.  So, I bought him one for Christmas...'cause the watch is cool y'all.

You can send another Apple Watch little drawings, handwritten pictures, your heartbeat and, pretty much all day long, I'm sketching him a heart or a smiley face.  He's really good at drawing pictures and sending them to me on my watch.  He laughs because I can pretty much just draw a smiley face, a heart and XOXO.  I like to hold my finger down and send him my heartbeat.  It's easier than drawing a picture and it's sweet :).

Okay, that's how I ended up with the watch...this is why I love the watch...

1. I hardly ever look at my phone now.  It's weird but true.  The watch DOES NOT replace your phone...they work together.  My phone can be anywhere in the house (like at the bottom of my purse in my closet) and my watch will ring if my phone is ringing (and I can answer and carry on a conversation with someone from my watch), it notifies me of everything from email to text messages, FB notifications, Pinterest repins, Instagram likes...whatever you have it set for, it will notify you.  And it's so much easier and less distracting to glance at your watch on your wrist then check your phone or computer.  I even have mine set to notify me of Red Sox news.  So, during a game, if I'm not watching, I can still get quick notifications without having to look at my phone.  I don't know about you...but most of the time, I don't need to be looking at my phone.  I just hear it ping and I wonder if it's a client getting back to me about a vacation...when it's usually something like this... email that doesn't require my immediate attention.  I just glance at my wrist, see that it's not important and keep on doing what I'm doing (which at the moment is typing this post for you!).  And if I'm upstairs folding laundry and hear my phone ringing downstairs...instead of running down the stairs and across the house to see if it's a client/a doctor/my kids' school (you know, someone important that I need to speak with right away) I can just answer on my wrist...or, if I see that it's let's say my dad calling for the 12th time that day to talk about the Red Sox, I can hit "decline" and either call him back later or talk to him when he calls the 13th time ;).

So, the #1 reason I love my watch is because I am less interested in my phone now. #amen

2. I love the fitness app!  Okay, I'm totally into the fitness app on the watch.  It is constantly monitoring my heart-rate, tells me when I've been sitting too long (it will buzz and say that I need to stand up and move around), counts my steps (A-mazing!  I'm now totally aware of the days when I move less then other days.  Counting my steps daily has really helped my overall fitness because you know what...some days, I just don't move enough).  It counts my calories, measures distances for me (like when I walk or run), tells me how many calories I burned/steps I took/what my heart rate was in fitness classes...the app is so helpful!

3. Siri is my new bestie.  I don't really use Siri on my phone, but on my watch, I use her all the time!  I can be driving and while holding on to the steering wheel with both hands the whole time, I can just say, "Hey Siri, text Andrew that I'll be there in five." and bam, it's done without ever glancing down.  (I know Siri works like this on your phone too...but your wrist is just way more convenient than picking up your phone!).

So, these are the three things I love most about the watch.  I would say that if I could make any improvements to my watch they would be:
1. Longer battery life.  My watch works for about 1½ days (I charge it every night before bed and the battery is typically around 45%).  I wish the battery lasted two full days without charging.

2. I wish it were waterproof!  If my watch was waterproof, I wouldn't take it over.  I would shower and swim with it on :).

So, your watch face can be very basic (with just the time), you can put a picture on there (maybe of your kiddo along with the time)...there are a million ways to customize the watch face. I like this as my watch face...

#1: The date
#2: The red dot lets me know that I have a notification waiting for me (in case I missed it). I just swipe up to see what it is (an email/text/missed call/Red Sox score/etc)
#3: The time
#4: I have my fitness app info on the watch face to let me know how active I've been that day.  Calories burned (on this day, I set my active calories to 300), number of minutes I exercised so far that day, and number of hours I've been standing (it recommends you stand at least one minute of every hour, so I had done that at least four hours that day).
#5: My timer/alarms.  I bake and cook so much that I love being able to set the timer on my watch and then walk away from my kitchen.  This way, I know I won't miss my timer when my food is done watch will beep and vibrate!
#6: The battery life left on my watch.
#7: The current temperature.

You can click any of those options and it will open up and show you more info.  Like if you click on the temperature, it will open the weather app and show you the 24 hour forecast/7 day forecast/radar/etc.

If you press that top button on the right then all of my apps open up.  There are so many great apps! I have it synced with my phone, so that all of the apps on my phone that are Apple Watch compatible will automatically show on my watch.  If I wanted to, I could scroll through Instagram on my watch, get directions (the navigation/direction app is awesome! It vibrates every time you need to turn, so in NYC, it was super helpful!), you can sync music on here and then when you're out walking/running, you can hear songs off of your watch and don't have to carry your phone.  It syncs right up with your Bluetooth device.  Love!  Pandora plays through your watch, there's Twitter, my Bible app (for daily verses or looking up scripture), my Fox News app is on here (so I get notifications when something around the world happens right to my wrist), my Starbucks app is on here so I can pay right off my wrist when ordering a drink...and those are only a few!

Now, I'm old-fashioned and still use a regular planner instead of my planner/calendar on my phone...but that is an option too.  Andrew has his calendar synced with his watch so that he gets reminders, alarms for appointments and such right there on his wrist.  He can also scroll through and look at other dates as well (the whole app opens right up).

A few more basic facts before I finish...

1. There are two sizes of watches and I bought the bigger size because I like big watches.  The guy at the Apple store said the size I bought is typically bought by men instead of women...but I like my watches big so I purchased the 42mm case instead of the 38mm.  Same watch, two different sizes.

2. I bought the gold aluminum case (it also comes in silver, black and rose gold).  The aluminum cases are the least expensive options.

3. My watch came with a navy band, so I bought one white band and a taupe band to use instead (and gave Andrew my navy).  It's super, super, super easy to switch out bands!

4. I bought the Apple protection plan for my watch and I'm glad that I did because about four weeks after purchasing mine, it stopped working and Apple just overnighted me a new one.  I've had my new one now for over four months and haven't had a single problem.

Whew!  I think I've covered pretty much everything!

I hope this helps some of you out who are trying to decided if you need one or not.  Please feel free to leave comments below if you have questions and again, if you have an Apple Watch, please, please, please feel free to leave other tips and tricks that I left out!

Annnnnd...don't forget to check out my foodie blog today...

...for the easiest little pasta salad recipe ever!  My Bleu Cheese & Cranberry Pasta Salad will have everyone around you jealous during lunch.  It's just so darn good!

If you're doing our Every Day in May challenge, it's up today!  Click here to see today's challenge.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 2, 2016

When you need a book...on a topic

Okay...I get questions all the time about what to read for certain things?  Pregnancy. Faith. Raising kids. Adoption. And lots of other random topics.  So, today, I'm sharing some of my favorite books that I always recommend when people email me.  And as always, if you want to contribute to my list, please do so in the comment section!  In my opinion, you just can't have too many book reviews.

And pssssst...don't forget about this...

If you missed Friday's giveaway, click here to enter to win!

And one more thing...

...our Every Day in May challenge started yesterday on Facebook.  Follow along here.  I'll recap them each Friday, but to see the daily do something good for yourself suggestion, see my FB page.

I mean...holy pregnancy :).  This is me with Kensington (and my oldest and dearest friend in the world KARA!!).

When people ask me what they should read when pregnant...I always say these two...

I mean to tell you...The Girlfriends Guide to Pregnancy says it like it is (which often isn't pretty!).  I read it with both pregnancies...and loved it both times!

And then if you like blunt, honest, shockingly truthful... can count on Jenny McCarthy.  Belly Laughs is not only hysterical but helpful!  I found it to be very genuine and accurate (and slightly disgusting...but hey, pregnancy is sometimes yucky!).

So those are my two favorite pregnancy books.  Next up, child raising books...

Bringing Up Girls and/or Bringing Up Boys both by James Dobson
Pray Big For Your Child by Will Davis Jr.
The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
Loving the Little Years by Rachel Jankovic

...are all the ones I recommend over and over again.  There are a million great books on raising kiddos but I always come back to these.

If you need some good girl books that will encourage/inspire/uplift you (the ones you would recommend to your best girl friends)'s what I love...

Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs 
Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle
Nobody's Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet by Sophie Hudson
Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

If you need some books on faith...I have a big list :).

First of all, The One Year Bible is my favorite way to read through the Bible.  You can read it through in one year or inside, it explains how to read it through in two years.  Each day, the reading segment will only take you about 10 to 15 minutes if you're reading it through in one year.  I like the New Living Translation the best.  If you just want a good Bible to read (that's not broken down like the One Year Bible), then I love the Life Application Study Bible, also in the New Living Translation.

Okay, on to other faith-based books I love...

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken
The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel
Radical by David Platt
God is Able by Priscilla Shirer
So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore
Breaking Free by Beth Moore
The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
The Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen Kendrick

If you're looking for books on very favorite is Forever Mom by Mary Ostyn.  I believe I read 11 books on adoption before I read this one...and then, I felt silly because I really only needed to read this one book.  This author knows her stuff and covers everything.  Love this book!

I get asked a lot what I read when I was struggling with infertility and honestly, I didn't read anything besides my Bible and different Bible studies I was doing at the time (I did a lot of Beth Moore studies during that time).  I wish I had a great recommendation for you, so if you have one, please share!  I get asked this question all the time!

Whew!  So, these are my favorite topical books.  Again, if I missed something, please let me know.

  Tomorrow, I'm going to talk about something I get asked about all the time.  It's currently trending as my number one question via email (and often comments too)'s the one thing that makes people who know me go, huh?  Really?  She's so not techy at all?  This doesn't make sense?
Tomorrow, I'm talking about my Apple Watch :).

Check this out for Meal Planning Monday...

...or this...

...or my other yummy recipes for the week!

You don't want to miss any of them!  Click here to see them all!

Happy Monday friends!
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