Navigating the Wild World of Motherhood
It’s rather shocking to think I’ve lived in Texas for over 12 years and I don’t own a pair of cowboy boots. I may be from Virginia, but I’m just not a cowgirl. I’d describe myself as more of a misguided East Coast, West End girl. (Thanks for the validation, Pet Shop Boys.)
What’s even more absurd is until last night, my boys didn’t own a real pair of cowboy boots either. Over the years they’ve had plenty of Western themed parties and events, but I’ve just never felt compelled to get the whole ensemble. Now at the ages of seven and four, they were more than ready to pick out a pair of cowboy kicks. We took them to Cavender’s and they had a blast choosing the most awesome pairs of Ariat boots. My young buckaroo went for the tan and purple (yes, real men wear purple boots), and my older son got the same style with red. The gal who helped us find the “perfect” boots was really sweet and helpful.
What’s funny about shopping for cowboy boots in Austin? Walking through the parking lot, I noticed a huge pickup truck with gun racks and rims parked next to a Prius. Lol. Austin – home of the eco-friendly cowboy.
Summer is best known for relaxing poolside, sipping a frosty beverage and enjoying lazy days. Wait, it is? Then why is my summer a completely chaotic, unorganized journey of madness. Okay, it’s not that bad. Not yet. As the mom of two youngsters, pool safety is a major concern. And getting my little guy (who has the mentality of a stubborn teenager) to willingly wear floaties or a life jacket is a battle.
I kept seeing these little cuties at the pool with nifty flotation devices. After some online research, I found out they are called Puddle Jumpers by Stearns. It’s like a life jacket combined with floaties with an adjustable strap and buckle in the back. It’s not a bulky or uncomfortable. Shockingly enough, I ordered one for my youngest son at the beginning of the summer. Yeah, I’d normally do it three days before summer officially ended. Anyway, I bought it at Leisure Pro and we took it for a test drive today. LOVE IT.
Here’s more about it:
- The Patent Pending design allows free range of motion and great stability while in the water.
- Choose from the green frog, the orange smile, the blue lion and the red ladybug.
- The Puddle Jumpers life jacket is U.S. Coast Guard- approved, and is also a great confidence builder for kids who are just learning their way around they water.
They sell them at Target and Toys R Us, but I found the best selection and prices online.
What’s your favorite summer toy for 2011?
I haven’t drooled over stuff for little girls in a while, so I feel it’s time to identify some super-duper cute things. Remember, I’m a prissy mom of two boys. Indulge me, okay? Plus, I’m including cute stuff from Etsy and nobody can gripe about that.
Dagmar Daley Vintage Bathing Suit - $58 at Arte Bebe
Get a load of this vintage bathing suit. Is this adorable or what! No, that wasn’t actually a question. It comes in sizes 18 mos up to 4 years.
Misha Lulu ‘I Love NY’ Dress – $58 at Arte Bebe
This amazing tank dress will certainly make anyone who sees it crack a smile. It’s full of whimsy and nifty fabrics – perfect for a summer party! This dress runs small, so order one size larger.
Mini Boden Patchwork Applique Tee – $30 at Nordstrom
It’s pink and it features a hen or is that a rooster? Either way, it’s cute and funny.
Lovely Ladybug Bodysuit – $22 at Etsy Shop Peaceloveandkids
What beats a handmade, stunningly simple bodysuit featuring a sweet ladybug and fluttery wings? Answer: Nothing. Anyone with a baby girl up to 24 months is a lucky winner.
Sea Glass Tank - $28 at Etsy Shop bchildrenswear
I love this whimsical tank with stitched blue squares cascading down the front. It’s a soft American Apperal tank with hand-stitching – with love – for girls size 2T – 6Y.
Remember when hanging your child’s name in wooden letters became standard procedure in the nursery? I loved them, but was totally appalled at how expensive they were. So, I decided to do them myself. I pranced my very pregnant self into Hobby Lobby and feeling overly confident in my own new DIY Martha Stewartness, I proceeded to buy a ridiculous amount of stuff. With a basket full of paints, stickers, tiny wooden doodads and thingamajigs, I realized they only had 2 big wooden “E”s and I needed three. It was craft chaos. Long story short, I finished those letters TWO YEARS LATER. But my real point is isn’t it funny how you think a Do-It-Yourself project will save you money and it ends up costing the same if not more?
Well, drop that Prada screwdriver, you diva! Here are 9 Helpful Tips for Saving on DIY Projects from consumer savings expert, Andrea Woroch:
1. Big Box Vs. Small Stores
For the frugal consumer, shopping smart is always a logical first step. When you’re shopping at the big-box like and Lowes, there are always deals going down.
The two heavyweight retailers are highly competitive and both stores offer price matching with an additional 10-percent discount on identical products advertised at a lower price at any competing store. Both stores also post weekly sales, discounts and rebates on their websites so you can be prepared before you hit the store. Not to mention, you can always find for these home and garden giants.
On the other hand, locally owned home-supply stores, like Ace Hardware, often provide email sign-ups that allow you to receive special deals on the same items you would find at the big-box stores. While you may not be able to purchase sheet rock, the smaller places may carry everything from plumbing supplies to finishing notes for your home.
2. Tester Cans and Used Paint
Next to buying a nice area rug, painting is probably the easiest way to change the look of a room. Unfortunately, home improvement stores are aware of this and they like to make you pay for it. There are definitely ways to get around the high prices though.
If you only have a small space to paint, there’s no need to invest in a whole gallon of paint that’ll inevitably take up space in the garage or closet. Ask about small tester cans that can often be found for $5 or less in a variety of colors.
The word is starting to get out on used paint, too. When people order large amounts of custom paint, they often order too much. This paint gets returned to the stores, but the merchant can’t put such cans back on the shelf with the rest of the paint. If you’re in the right place at the right time, you might be able to get gallons of paint for around $5. Not all stores will have used paint, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
3. Buy Lumber in Bulk
Working with lumber can be intimidating. It requires precise measurements and cuts, or you’ll end up wasting money and materials. Prices vary by lumber grade and wood type, so be aware of what materials are required to get the job done.
4. Generic Vs. Name Brand
There’s an incredible variety of nails and screws available, but how much of a difference is there really? nails and screws are often up to par with the name brands, but cost significantly less. In some cases, the only difference between a generic and the brand name is the box!
The same can be said for pipes and plumbing fixtures. Unpackaged fixtures in a bulk bin can have the same quality as their packaged counterparts on the shelf, but cost much less. Longevity is also something to consider when working on a plumbing project. Copper pipes and PVC pipes typically give you the most bang for your buck, lasting up to 60 years.
5. Caulk Singles
Caulk certainly won’t be the most expensive item on your home improvement list, but it’s useful for patching up holes and sealing cracks. Often when people buy a tube of caulk for a small project, they end up making a mess of it and throwing half the tube away.
If you want to keep some caulk around for projects that spring up, try out some caulk singles from General Electric. Much like the fast food ketchup packet, they’re enough for one project and cut back on waste and mess. Watch for coupons to home centers like the Home Depot that offer General Electric’s caulk singles.
6. Government Rebates
Now that warm weather is finally on the way, you can replace your old windows and doors with more energy efficient ones. While it’s a big project, it may be worth it when you save on heating costs next winter.
In an effort to reduce energy consumption, the federal government is continuing to offer tax credits when you install certified windows, doors and skylights. The credits aren’t as generous as last year, but you can still get 10 percent-off for $200 worth of windows and skylights and a rebate of up to $500 for doors.
7. Buy Reconditioned or Rent Power Tools
It’s hard to justify buying an expensive power tool, especially when you know you’ll never use it again. If you live the DIY credo, Home Depot rents such power tools as power washers, paint sprayers, chainsaws and buff sander. By renting, you’ll get the professional finish you want without having to cut corners on expensive equipment.
Many power tool manufacturers have online outlets where they sell reconditioned tools at a discount. These tools are certified by the manufacturer, so you have a guarantee they’ll work. You can save even more when you use a Bosch Outlet coupon or a Bostitch Outlet free shipping code for discount power tools.
8. Used Hand Tools
The garage sale may still be king for finding good deals on hand tools. Many people don’t enjoy inherited tools and are willing to part with them for next to nothing, compared to new tools. Wrench sets, hammers and screwdrivers made by quality toolmakers like Craftsman and Stanley can stand the test of time and are as good today as they were 30 years ago.
9. Working Together
No one escapes a little home maintenance from time to time. If you and a neighbors are working on similar projects, sharing the cost of renting a wood chipper or cement mixer can save both of you time and money.
While skilled friends and family don’t necessarily enjoy manual labor, they can be coaxed into it with the promise of good food, drink or a labor exchange to be named later. Working with friends gets the job done faster and is usually much more fun.
As a media expert source, Andrea Woroch has been featured on NBC’s Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ABC News NOW and many more. Follow @AndreaWoroch on Twitter to receive daily savings tips!
PB Inspired Wood Wall Art
I’m in love with this huge piece of handmade heaven. Thanks to Craft Gossip for keeping me knee-deep in eye candy. Wondering who created this cool art? Check out the Polka Dot Umbrella.
Custom Canvas Gallery Wrap
This is certainly my favorite way to display our most cherished family photos. For the past two years, I’ve been ordering large Canvas Gallery Wrap pieces from Gallery Direct. Their prices are competitive and they do lots of great discounts. In fact, you can get 50% off any order until 3/31! I just ordered a new one of the kiddos for our entry hall. It’s easy to upload your hi res image and see exactly what it will look like. Fun, easy & affordable. Perfect!
Photo Clip Frame
Get a load of this nifty decorative piece of wall art made for wall art. What a genius idea! I like stuff that multitasks, don’t you? The Photo Clip Frame is made of a 23″ square, wooden frame with metal bars the clothes pins hang from. Nine handpainted clothes pins are included.
Stuck in another Shopaholic Mommy phase? Well, here’s a toddler clothes fix for you that will carry your fashionable tot from winter into spring. Believe it or not, I may be a cardigan sweater cynic, but I’ve found three cardigans for little girls that I just love. And since I can’t omit my boys, I’ve found a few cute pics for the lil’ man too.
How much fun is the nifty cardigan pictured above? Your little girl can hop into spring with this adorable and playful lightweight zip-up sweater. The Takeout Stripe & Ruffle Cardigan features bold stripes and a splash of contrasting orange details. It’s available at Nordstrom for $25.
I’m a sucker for toddler clothes with attitude. How cool is this double sleeve tee from Gymboree? It has cut-out applique letters that say it all – “Man of Your Dreams” – and isn’t that just perfect. Luckily this shirt doesn’t come in adult sizes or my husband would want one too. Ha! It retails for $16.95.
Believe it or not, I’ve found another swoon-worthy cardigan sweater. This is just as lovely as can be. It’s the Corsage Cardigan from Gymboree and isn’t it a beauty? It features features ruched sleeves and a sweet flower corsage. Comfy cotton offers extra easy wear. New for Spring $35!
I have to say, I really like this Bad Hair Day shirt t for a toddler. These goofy little character shirts get too babyish for bigger kids, but this one makes me laugh. My kids wake up sometimes and I can’t fix their bedhead for the life of me. This would be the perfect shirt for those days. Find it at Gymboree for $10.
I’m loving this super-comfy knit Heather Gray Cardigan. I love the ruffle details and the satin tie in the front. It’s the perfect color and fabric weight for any little girl on the go. I think this could be a favorite for mom since it’s the perfect accessory for chilly days. Find it in a ton of sizes at Chasing Fireflies for $48.
Which one is your fave???
It’s always sad when Halloween ends. The neighbors take down the 12-foot-tall, inflatable, black cat. The pumpkins find their way into a pie or possible just a big trashcan and the candy wrappers pile up. My kids frown when they drive by homes at night and don’t see any orange lights on the porches. Yes, the scary fun is over.
There’s still some magic in the air as Thanksgiving and Christmas are near. And that’s why I just love this Golden Fairy Tee and Glitter Dragonfly Wings from Chasing Fireflies. It’s festive, but in a subtle kind of way. (It’s far less subtle than my son running around in his Buzz Lightyear pack with wings and flashing lights.) I think this Fairy Tee is pretty and special. Wouldn’t that be a great outfit for little girls in their holiday cards? I’m all for anything that isn’t green and red. Did I mention I’d like one of these myself?
I’m not sure where I’ve been, but this is the first time I’ve ever received a CrewCuts catalog from J. Crew. This catalog features their kid’s collection for youngsters in sizes 2-14. I’ve gotta say, this is one of the most intriguing catalogs ever. Yes, I realize I used the word “intriguing” to describe it. The photography is stunning. It’s just so fresh and clean, it’s impossible not to flip through every page. Trust me, I get a bazillion catalogs in the mail as a mom blogger, but this one of the few I actually sit down a read. (This is NOT a aid advertisement either.)
The looks are cute and the clothes stand alone, even when they aren’t in the ultra-hip outfit on a super-cute child. Take a look:
I love the girl’s vintage bow tee with the silky, drapey bow on the shoulder.
This glam little shimmer top dress is so cute. Wish it came in my size!
My boys rarely dress up, but if they did more often, I’d love to see them sporting these cool poplin Bowery pants.
In addition to the clothes, Crewcuts has some rad shoes. Get a load of these metallic sneakers for boys. Love!