no more bellyaching

Forget complaining. Find joy in every moment.

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What Do You Have to Say about That?

I love getting great deals. Samples, coupons, subscription boxes that give you wayyyy more value for your $$. For instance, Birchbox consistently delivers $20-30 worth of products for $10. BeautyArmy lets you pick 6 high quality samples for $12/month, and if you don’t like the samples they’re offering that month, you can skip it. My most recent box of love is the FabFitFun VIP Box. Holy Moly! You get one every season, so four boxes/year, and for $49.95 (for spring) I got more than $175 worth of products. That’s my kind of a deal.

You know what I love even more? Getting things for free. Seriously. There are sites that will give you free products in return for sharing your opinion on social media. That’s it. Try, tweet, post a coupon, that’s it. A few FB friends might get annoyed, but let’s be real: Sharing info about great products is being a good friend. And they can always unfollow 🙂

I wanted to share a few of my favorites because people often ask me how I find these products:

BzzAgent is a great site that rewards you for taking surveys, trying products and sharing with your friends. I just joined a few months ago and have all ready gotten to try Quaker Warm & Crunchy Granola–which is my new breakfast favorite, btw–and delicious new Special K Coffeehouse Breakfast protein shakes. After you try the FREE products, you talk about your experiences, share coupons and reviews with friends on social media and in person. Easy, right?

Smiley360 is one of my favorites. You take a quick survey to see if you’re a good candidate, try the products, and share through super easy tools on their site. You don’t even have to make up your own tweets! I have been fortunate to discover some amazing new products through Smiley360 “missions” including OxiClean Extreme Power Crystals™ Dishwasher Detergent, Centrum Flavor Burst multi-vitamin chews, Fiber Choice Fruity bites, Arm & Hammer Clump and Seal Cat litter, Bic Mark-It Permanent markers, my new favorite obsession: Nature’s Bounty® Hair, Skin, & Nail Gummies, and MORE. Honestly, that’s a lot of free stuff just for sharing my opinion, which is something I all ready love to do. For Free. Ask my husband and kids.

ExpoTV is a little bit different. If you love making vines, then this is for you. You can upload reviews of products you use and earn points. Or, when you are part of their Tryology program, they send you a product, you try it and upload a video review. While, I’m no celebrity spokesperson, I wrangle my favorite 13-year-old, a smartphone, and talk for 1-2 minutes about the products I’ve tested. And I’ve gotten to test some great products from: L’Oreal, AirWick, Crayola, Clear Care, and even some new products that aren’t on the market yet.

If you love a great deal, getting free stuff, and sharing your opinion, check these sites out! Questions? Ask away. I’ve got one for you: Where do you find your favorite deals?



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Subscription boxes aren’t just for Grown-ups!

Hello, friends! I took a break from blogging to spend time with my three little lovelies who were home for Christmas break–and extended Arctic freeze break due to the frigid temperatures in Ohio. Hope you all had a great holiday and ready for an exciting 2014!

As you know, one of my favorite inventions is the subscription box. I love my Birchbox, adore the Box of Happies, and am LOVING my newest indulgence: Beauty Army. My college sophomore gets a Birchbox and Bonjour Jolie box every month–mama love can come wrapped in brown paper–and this month, my littlest love joined in on the fun, when her elf surprised her with a Kiwi Crate!

I, er, the elf checked into lots of different kids subscription boxes before settling on this one–decided by virtue of an awesome promo that gave me one box free!

Although from order to receipt was a looooonnnnngggg wait, I attribute that to December being way backed up with Christmas shipments. It arrived in perfect time, though, on a day she was feeling ill, and gave us plenty of fun activities.

Her box theme was Polar Expedition and had several different snowy crafts included as well as a booklet containing more ideas. She made a polar bear headband, two little polar bear gloves with a ball (sticky with velcro) to play catch, and some window clings. Additionally, she got an adorable snowflake cookie cutter and a very nice pair of scissors, which she loved. I might add, they cut very well, unlike some kid scissors.

While she is 7 and probably at the top of the age range for a box like this, she really enjoyed it. The headband and gloves she made completely on her own. The window clings–which employed 3D paint and glue–required some mama-assistance, but they worked and she was OVERJOYED.

Although we didn’t utilize this (my 13-year-old son did play sticky ball catch with his sister) a nice feature for those with little ones close in age is the option to add an extra set of materials for a sibling.

Overall, we were thrilled with our first Kiwi Crate. At $20/month, for a 3-month subscription, it’s cheaper than a trip to Chuck E. Cheese, and the fun lasts much longer.

Do you have a favorite subscription box? Do you want to read about a WHOLE bunch of them? Check out my friend KW’s AMAZING blog!wpid-IMG_20131219_123533.jpg

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Save The Ties for A Pinterest Project

Next Sunday, June, 16th, we will celebrate fathers. For many, Dad is our first love, hero, friend, confidante, and playmate. He’s the guy who sometimes lets you skip a bath when Mom’s not home. He’ll shoot you a conspiratorial smile when you jump off the swing even though Mom said it was “too dangerous.” He’ll walk you down the aisle and give your kids candy when you’re not looking. He’s one of a kind, and he’s irreplaceable. He’s also really hard to shop for.

We try to pick out the perfect gift for this special guy avoiding the stereotypical pitfalls of ties, wallets, and cufflinks—I never really got cufflinks. Often, however, dads’ interests rarely lend themselves to a quick stop at Walgreen’s or a florist shop. So here are a few ideas to help you pick a winning gift for the important dads in your life:

  • BEER I’m not gonna pull any punches: The dads in my life like beer. So a sampler pack of craft beers definitely conveys the message: “You’re important to me!” And for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, a Home Brew kit says, “Hey, man, Anheuser Busch has nothing on you!” Cheers, Dad, you rock.
  • BARBECUE On any given summer evening, dads everywhere are perched over a grill preparing some culinary delights for their families. There’s something about fire that most men like. Anyway, help him channel his inner Bobby Flay with some cool tools, if he loves to grill. And if he doesn’t, take him out for some barbecue he didn’t singe his eyebrows making. If you choose this option, don’t forget the Kios DS–on the off chance somebody overindulges.
  • BACKYARD Lots of guys like to hang out in the backyard they spend so much time mowing, mulching, and landscaping. Whether relaxing in a hammock or playing cornhole, he will surely enjoy reaping the rewards of his hard work on the yard. Depending on what the men in your lives like: Set up a badminton net and challenge them to a game or just offer them a comfy chair and a cold beverage.
  • BALLS As in sports, friends; it goes with the B theme. Is your man a sports fanatic? Does he have your name tattooed on his arm, or a sports team logo? If you shamefully chose the latter, don’t be embarrassed, men can passionate about sports. Don’t fight it; embrace it. Get him tickets to see his favorite team. Perhaps get him a new jersey to replace that ratty one he wears for every game. (NOTE: don’t throw the ratty one away as it may hold some superstitious mystical powers, and if you pitch it, you’ll see a whole new kind of crazy.)
  • BIRCHBOX Maybe the man in your life is not the hunter-gatherer, football-watching manly man. Perhaps he really likes to maintain his appearance, has as many products in his medicine cabinet as you, or really just enjoys a good moisturizing shave cream or a great hair product. Or maybe he just likes to look his best hunting, gathering, and watching sports. If this sounds like the man in your life, perhaps a Birchbox Man subscription is right for him. They offer a variety of products to keep men looking, feeling, and smelling great.

Now, I have to go buy some gifts! What are you getting the men in your life?


What’s In Your Mailbox?

I love learning about new things, healthy foods, must-read books, makeup that takes years off my face, and of course anything that will take the frizz out of my hair. My Birchbox subscription has been a delightful source of enlightenment, and now new subscription boxes are popping up addressing all sorts of different interests. My friend over at Must Have Boxes does amazing and thorough reviews of beauty boxes, so check her site out, but I just wanted to mention a few that have caught my interest.

  1. Birchbox. Although I love beauty products, I’m far too frugal to spend a lot of money trying out all the latest trends. However, for $10 a month, Birchbox lets me try high end wrinkle creams, hair defrizzers, makeup and so many more products that I would probably never have tried if they hadn’t arrived in an adorable custom-curated box on my doorstep. The arrival of my Birchbox is the highlight of my month.
  2. Conscious Box. Their tagline: “Discover the purest and most sustainable products
    on the planet—every month” pretty much says it all. They offer unique vegan, gluten-free, eco-friendly, green products for $19.95/month. What a great way to discover new products and companies that are making a difference in the world. Hebron USA’s Florax DS was featured in a gluten-free box.
  3. BarkBox. Do you have some furry friends who deserve special treatment? Or a hard-to-buy-for friend with a pampered pooch? BarkBox could be the answer. For as little as $19/month, your pup is treated to its own box each month filled with treats, toys, and other canine goodies. Plus, 10% of the proceeds go to a local shelter or rescue, so while you’re treating the dogs you love, you’re also helping others who may not have a loving human.
  4. Cravebox. This was actually the first subscription box I tried. They seem geared toward moms and working women. I recently ordered “Book and Beauty,” as the name drew me right in, and I just received notification that I’m getting another called “Bikini Ready.” Let’s hope it helps! The boxes range from $12-15 and you pick only the ones that interest you so you don’t necessarily get one each month. My first box had lotion, conditioner, some Biore samples and a book, but I’m really looking forward to the next one.
  5. Birchbox Man. This is a great idea for the, uh, well-groomed man in your life. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really for my man. He rarely wears a tie, which he got in his first and only box, and while he liked the cologne and manly smelling lotion—he usually settles for my girly stuff—it just wasn’t a worthwhile investment for $20/month. His $20 would have been better spent on fishing bait or beer. So if your man is more manly than metro, I’d suggest skipping this one.

Have you tried subscription boxes? What is your favorite? Any that you would or wouldn’t recommend?



NMB–40 Goals for 2013

Well, it’s a new year, time for a clean slate, a do-over, the chance to right wrongs, make changes, and do better. Maybe in 2013 you plan to join a gym, write a book, travel around the world, run a marathon, climb Mt. Everest. Whatever your goals are, I pray you achieve them. Since I’m big on accepting responsibility and making lists, here are some of my goals for 2013—I picked 40 because I’m going to be 40 in a few weeks—will you all help keep me accountable?

  1. Listen more.
  2. Yell less
  3. Read all the books I’ve downloaded
  4. Paint my kitchen
  5. Take my kids to more movies, plays, performances
  6. Plan a girl trip with my best friend
  7. Complete the Joy Dare
  8. Count 1000 blessings
  9. Accept my body
  10. Go to the gym more—see 9
  11. Be 40 and fabulous
  12. Don’t say mean things about anyone. Ever.
  13. Go to the beach
  14. Plan another Disney vacation
  15. Make Hebron USA a household name
  16. Make sure every special woman in my life has a Birchbox
  17. Pay off debt
  18. Clean out the garage
  19. Declutter my house
  20. Stop taking things personally
  21. Always follow through when I say I’m going to do something
  22. Never pass up an opportunity to say something kind
  23. Publish something
  24. Visit my brothers
  25. Take my kids to New York City
  26. Sacrifice more
  27. Write every day
  28. Spend more time being silly with my little ones
  29. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything
  30. Give more to charity
  31. Volunteer more time
  32. Find more silver linings
  33. Accept people for who they are not who I want them to be
  34. Forgive
  35. Let go of any bitterness and resentment
  36. Don’t delay joy
  37. Love wildly, freely, and without abandon
  38. Finish reading the Bible
  39. Catch up on my scrapbooks
  40. Run a race with my whole family

There we go; it’s all out in the open. What are your goals for this year?

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NMB-Glitz it Up

All that glitters is evidently in style this holiday season. I had to check my surroundings while shopping the other day to be sure I’d walked out of Justice and into a grown up store because everything was still sparkly. I am not even going to try to hide my enthusiasm about this trend.

Twinkle, Twinkle

I. Love. Sparkly. My daughters are girly-girls who love glitter and glitz—though the little one can usually be found glitzing up a mud puddle. A reformed tomboy, I now bedazzle baseball and football shirts and wear them to my son’s games. Embrace your inner princesses, ladies. Sparkly nails, shoes, dresses, and makeup are HOT this season: My Birchbox had an adorable little sample of a “lumanizer” to add shimmer to your cheeks, eyes, and lips.

I Like My Studs Human

What excites me a little less is the stud trend. Surely you’ve seen handbags, shoes, jeans, bras, you name it adorned with little studs. The combat boots with studs are cute in a reliving-the-horrific-punk-phase-from-the-late-80’s way. You won’t catch me sporting any studded footwear, I’m sticking with my rainboots. But if this is your thing, I am thrilled for you. Borrow my Bedazzler and stud away.

Wrap it Up

Scarves remain a timeless accessory as well as a way to keep the cold air at bay. And thanks to some cool tutorials, I am learning many exciting ways to tie them. Sort of. I am watching the video, but my husband is tapping his foot at the door, and then I’m flustered twisting, wrapping and suddenly I’m strangling myself so I revert to a slip knot and go. BUT I do aspire to try at least a few of these techniques soon.

Tip Your Hat

Also, the cute fedoras from summer that fashionistas were wearing from the beach to the club have transitioned into winter, made of wool instead of straw. Again, I’m excited about this trend, because not only does a fedora add a cute stylish element to any outfit, it hides hair that isn’t cooperating and wrinkles. If you have perfect hair and no wrinkles, congratulations; you can pass on the fedora.

I’m pretty excited about cold weather fashion. What do you want Santa to bring you?