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Don’t Miss the Fixer Upper Marathon This Saturday!

Well, I know what my DVR will be recording this Saturday!

HGTV has been allowing fans to vote for their favorite episodes of Fixer Upper,  and now viewers can settle in for the network’s first fan-driven programming marathon this Saturday, May 23, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Central.  In addition, fans of the series can live tweet with the show’s stars Chip and Joanna Gaines from 6 p. m. to 7 p.m. Central using #FixerUpper.

If you’re like me, you’ve gotten hooked on HGTV’s series Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna are kind, funny, and uber-talented; you watch to see the homes’ transformations, but you keep watching because Chip & Joanna are just so relatable. As a Texas girl myself, I love that they’re based in Waco – I foresee a trek to the Magnolia shop somewhere in my near future.

Beyond the beautiful designs and charming talent, Fixer Upper stands out to me because of the potential seen in less-than-attractive homes. It’s a great notion in an era where items are often discarded, and new neighborhoods are rapidly constructed. Initially these homes seem like lost causes, but time after time we’re shown that pretty much any home has the potential to be fixed up – and turned into something pretty spectacular.

Don’t forget: HGTV Twitter party with Chip & Joanna Gaines is this Saturday from 6-7 p.m. Central, using #FixerUpper.

Sterling Prevail Shower Door with ComforTrack Technology

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sterling for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

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With three kids in our house, we give lots of baths.  We’ve learned over the years that we can save a lot of time by washing everyone’s hair first (which always seems to be the hardest part of bath time – the kids hate getting water in their eyes, so they’re always a little whiny during hair washing and rinsing), and then focusing on each child one at a time to get the rest of them clean while the other two kids play.

We’ve gone through our fair share of bath toys, and after all of the different toys we’ve tried, we’ve learned that kitchen utensils (ladles, measuring cups, funnels, and colanders) make for the best bath entertainment. All three of our kids love making “soup” and other concoctions. You can find kitchen items at the dollar store and have some dedicated for bath play, and you’ll be all set.

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Three Tips for Sprucing up Your Space

We love our home, and one of my favorite things to do is to find ways to make it unique and special for our family. We’ve added a reclaimed wood wall and a large vintage-style chalkboard as just two ways of making our house our own.

Decorating is fun, but it can also be hard to find time to do lengthy projects. Since we’re so busy, it’s crucial for us to find ways to make an impact without having to spend a ton of time working on the updates.

Even if you don’t have a lot of time, you can still use these three tips to give your home some style:

1. Add style to necessities. Things like hand soap, salt and pepper shakers, and even Kleenex can impart your aesthetic. Kleenex Perfect Fit Tissues are one of my new favorites – they’re cute and compact, and they fit in well with our decor.

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If you want to snag your own Kleenex Perfect Fit Tissues, they’re available at your local Sam’s Club only through this month so be sure and get to Sam’s by May 31.

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Tips for Spring Cleaning Success!

Spring is the perfect time to clean up the clutter and dust that accumulates over winter and set yourself up for a productive remainder of the year! Tackle your project with the following three-step formula from Laura Stack, aka The Productivity Pro.

1.       Get ready… Before you begin cleaning, be ready to tackle the clutter.

  • Prepare for a spring cleaning spree. Start by labeling five large boxes: Put Away, Give Away, Store Away, Shred, and Trash. Select an area, such as a drawer, desk, or room to organize first.
  • Use a timer. Don’t view spring cleaning as an all-day task. Take an hour here and there to get the job done over several weekends. When you’re ready to begin, set your timer for 50 minutes. When it buzzes, use the last ten minutes of your organization session to handle the boxes: put things away, place charity items in the car, put items in storage, shred and toss out the trash.
  • Focus. Concentrate on organizing one area at a time. If you don’t focus, you’ll end up with multiple “half-organized” areas.

Donations

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DIY Dollar Tree Spring/Summer Centerpiece

Note: This is a partnered post with Dollar Tree. I hope you enjoy this DIY decor project – it is my concept, and all opinions in this post are mine as well.

Spring is in the air, and I’ve been having fun helping our home decor reflect the change in seasons. Our Easter decor is put away, and there aren’t any more holidays we’ll decorate for until the Fourth of July, so I was on the hunt for a table centerpiece that would work through spring and the first half of summer.

I don’t want to spend a ton on decor items, and it can be easy to spend upwards of $40 to end up with something cute, so I decided to shop Dollar Tree for some stylish and affordable options.

I knew I wanted something colorful, so a blue woven placemat jumped out at me as the perfect base for our centerpiece.

Next I looked at vases – they have a TON, which I knew because I’ve shopped their vases for an office party before. But I hadn’t seen these bud vases before, with a fun orange chevron print. The orange contrasts against the blue perfectly!

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Tips for Successful Apartment Living

Back when I was in college I lived in an apartment for two years. I’ve lived in a house for over 10 years now, but I’ll never forget my apartment days! Whether it’s a luxury apartment, or a vintage walkup, apartment living has its challenges — be it noisy neighbors, sketchy landlords, or that dude who keeps hogging all the dryers. Although challenging, apartment living doesn’t have to be a nightmare. In fact, there are several ways you can actually make apartment living pretty awesome.

Get in Good with the Landlord

This doesn’t necessarily mean sucking up to the guy, but rather keeping things on good terms with him and being the kind of tenant that landlords like. Look at it this way, in order to keep renting out apartments and make his money, your landlord depends on all of the units being in good condition. He also depends on the common areas looking good so that they look attractive to potential renters. Doing your part to keep your space in good condition, and not letting your living area spill out into the hallway will go a long way toward harboring good will with your landlord. For example, if you have a dog it means cleaning up after it when you go out for walks. It also means keeping your apartment clean to avoid vermin infestations, and using air fresheners so that cooking smells and other odors don’t drift out into the hallway, and it means keeping loud noises and other unpleasant sounds within the walls of your apartment. It also means reporting to your landlord if other tenants aren’t doing their part.

Be a Good Neighbor

Living in an apartment means that you have your own space, but you also have to share space with others. A log of the things you do to stay on the landlord’s good side would also keep you on good terms with your neighbors. No one likes to be woken up at 2AM by loud parties, loud arguments, or dogs that bark all night long. It’s also difficult to live with people who mess up common areas, like leaving spilled detergent spills in the laundry room, or treating the hallway like your personal ashtray. It also means respecting any assigned spaces. For example, if your building has assigned parking, don’t park in other people’s spaces, or block them in, even if it’s closer to your apartment and you’re only going to be there a short while.

Ultimately, cultivating good relationships with your neighbors means respecting that other people have to live in the same space and treating them the way you would want them to treat you.

Protect Your Stuff

You might be surprised to discover that if your apartment is damaged by a natural disaster, a leaky pipe, or a fire, your landlord’s insurance won’t cover your personal possessions. If it’s worth having, then it’s worth protecting. Renters insurance is kind of like homeowner’s insurance for renters. It doesn’t cover the property, but it will cover your personal possessions in the event that they are damaged or stolen. It can also protect you if a visitor is injured inside your apartment, something else your landlord’s homeowner’s policy might not cover.

Some landlords actually require that all renters carry insurance as part of the terms of the lease. This is designed to protect you in the event of an incident, and to protect your landlord as well.

Make Your Space Your Own

As a renter, you are often limited in how much you can customize your apartment, and those limitations depend on your landlord. Some places might have strict rules about how you hang artwork, while others might give you a lot of latitude for making changes, as long as you get permission from the landlord first. However, temporary changes are often OK with most landlords, as long as they are easy to reverse. For example, installing a luxury shower head is easy, and only takes minutes to replace if you ever move out and you can use non-marking adhesive hooks to hang your artwork. Instead of installing shelves, you can use pieces of furniture that can also double as storage.

It may require a little creativity, but by making your place your own, you will be more comfortable and more likely to stick around.

Keep Looking Forward

Keep in mind that circumstances change. That apartment that was really awesome a year ago could be too small and cramped now. Buildings change hands, and management, which can mean rent increases and changes to the lease. No matter how awesome your space is, keep in mind that you might have to leave one day. Every now and then check apartment listings in your area, to keep abreast of what’s available and what kind of rents they’re charging, long before you ever have to start looking. Keep some money set aside so that you can easily handle the deposit plus first and last month’s rent on a new place.

When it does come time to move, make sure you have satisfied the lease and that you give your landlord plenty of notice. That, and all the work you had done previously to be a good tenant, should go a long way toward getting you a good reference for your next place.

DIY Chalkboard

HowToChalkboard

If you saw my post about our DIY reclaimed wood wall then you know we’re on a sort of home decor kick. We’ve lived in our house for over a year and are finally getting around to adding personal touches to really make our house feel like a home.

At our old house we had a chalkboard border (also DIY) in the kitchen and we really loved it, so we knew we wanted to find a way to incorporate a chalkboard into this house, too. We decided the large wall in our dining room would be perfect. Once we chose the location, we got started by measuring the wall – we wanted the chalkboard to fill the wall but still have a bit of space around it. Then we went to Lowe’s and had a piece of masonite cut; we had another piece cut to make a smaller chalkboard for our friends at the same time.

To begin the project I laid the masonite out and primed it. I primed it with a magnetic primer, but I’d recommend getting a regular primer tinted black or dark grey. The magnetic primer was expensive and I was only able to get one coat on each board. I didn’t want to pay for another can, and ended up with virtually no magnetic hold to the chalkboard. Oh well – it did work well as a primer!

Masonite-Before

Masonite-Primed

After that I put one coat of chalkboard paint on each board. I made sure to keep the coat fairly thick, and one coat did the trick.

Chalkboard-Painted

We bought some baseboard molding and I stained it to match the rest of the wood in our house. It worked out well because I love the look of a dark wood frame around a chalkboard and think it evokes a vintage feel.

We let the chalkboard paint dry for 24 hours and then it was time to prep it with chalk. It’s the one instance you want to make your brand new project look not-so-brand-new!

First I used the side of chalk pieces to cover the entire board. You don’t need to worry about making it uniform (as you can see mine is quite haphazard) – just get good coverage.

Chalkboard-Drawn-All-Over

Then wipe the whole thing down with a dry rag. Here’s what ours looked like after one pass. I ended up wiping it down one more time to get it to where I liked it.Chalkboard-Dusted

Next it was time for installation. We screwed the masonite directly into the wall at both the top and bottom of the board, hitting as many studs as we could.

Chalkboard-Hanging

Once it was up, I took a wet rag and wiped down the edges so our frame could adhere to a clean surface.

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Next we used construction adhesive to secure the frame to the chalkboard. Brian did miter cuts on the corners of our molding strips so we ended up with a nice clean finished product (FYI you don’t need anything fancy to do this; just buy an inexpensive saw and miter box, and you’re all set).

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We used quick-grab adhesive but still decided to add finishing nails for more support. They’re small and virtually unnoticeable, but as with our wood wall I like the character they add.

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In some places the construction adhesive seeped out beyond the frame, so I used a toothpick to carefully clean up the excess:

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And voila! Our custom-made chalkboard. I love it and think it really makes the space. We’ll fill it with quotes, scriptures, birthday greetings and more.

DIY-Chalkboard-Finished

If you make your own chalkboard I’d love to see it! Send me a photo (my email address is on my contact page) and I’ll add it to this post with credit to you.

Get Your Bathroom Holiday-Ready with Charmin

Note: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Charmin. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

We love to have friends and family over, especially during the holiday season. And I love to decorate for Christmas, which you can easily see as soon as you walk in our front door. Getting the house ready for holiday entertaining is always a lot of fun for me, but in the past I’ve accidentally neglected a pretty important room – the bathroom!

Thankfully now I’ve gotten a handle on making our guest bathroom a welcoming spot for guests:

I mentioned in the video that I like to switch out our hand towel for one with a holiday influence – I also use a fun soap dispenser (my mom got us an adorable snowman that the kids love), I light a candle (bonus points for a cinnamon or peppermint scent) and I’ll even take surplus Christmas decor from elsewhere in the house to use in the bathroom. The Christmas tree seen at the end of the video used to be our tree topper, and now it’s a great accent piece on our bathroom counter.

Not only do I want our bathroom to look cute and festive, I want it to be a functional space that can get plenty of use without us having to worry about a clogged toilet in the middle of a party, so we use Charmin.

Charmin-Packaging

Did you know?

  • Consumers who buy Charmin ensure their plumbing will stay clog-free even during the busiest of times, such as the holiday season.
  • Charmin and Roto-Rooter, America’s largest provider of plumbing & drain services, have teamed up again this year to remind consumers of the clog-free and septic-safe guarantee that only comes with Charmin. Roto- Rooter plumbers recommend Charmin more than any other brand.
  • Not only does Charmin have Roto-Rooter’s stamp of approval to be clogfree and septic-safe, but it is also used by plumbers more than any other brand.

Charmin is one of those unsung party heroes – when it works well like it does, people don’t think to talk about it. But let me tell you, if you’re that house that has a clogged or overflowing toilet, you’ll be wishing you’d used Charmin instead.

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Stock up this Holiday Season with Healthy Essentials

Note: This post is part of the HEALTHY ESSENTIALS® 2014 program by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. and The Motherhood, who sent me a box of products and compensated me for my time. Opinions, experiences and photos shared here are all my own, and I hope you enjoy them. Third party trademarks used herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

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With the holidays right around the corner, the likelihood is good that you’ll be hosting company sometime soon. One of my favorite things to do when I’m preparing for guests staying with us is to stock up on any toiletries they might need. I set them out in a basket in the guest bathroom, and they’re able to have access to anything they might have forgotten.

If you’re wanting to stock up for guests or for your own family, now’s a great time, because I have a link to all sorts of savings on all the essentials! Just click here to go to the Healthy Essentials site and see all the coupons you can use on products like:

  • NEUTROGENA® Healthy Skin® Liquid Makeup, http://www.neutrogena.com/ – Silky-light coverage glides on for a perfectly natural look, while the exclusive blend plus Broad Spectrum SPF 20 work together to visibly improve skin’s luminosity, tone and texture.
  • CLEAN & CLEAR® Night Relaxing Deep Cleaning Face Wash, http://www.cleanandclear.com/ – With deep sea minerals and sea kelp extract, this purifying cleanser cleans deep to effectively wash away daily build-up – like dirt, oil and impurities deep in pores. So effective, this foaming cleanser even washes away dirt and oil you can’t see while calming aromas help wind you down – leaving you clean and relaxed. Oil-free. Won’t clog pores. Won’t over dry.
  • AVEENO® POSITIVELY RADIANT® Targeted Tone Corrector, http://www.aveeno.com/ – Helps reduce the look of stubborn dark spots, discolorations, and uneven tone to improve skin’s radiance in just 2 weeks. It is oil free, noncomedogenic and nonirritating.
  • LISTERINE® ULTRACLEAN® Dental Floss, http://www.listerine.com/products/ultraclean-floss – Shred-resistant dental floss stretches, flexes and slides easily between teeth. MICRO-GROOVES® Technology removes 2x more plaque than Glide® Mint Floss.
  • LISTERINE® ULTRACLEAN™ Mouthwash, http://www.listerine.com/products/ultraclean-cool-mint-antiseptic-mouthwash – The only leading mouthwash with an anti-tartar ingredient and new EVERFRESH™ Technology for a dentist clean feeling that lasts up to three times longer vs. brushing alone. Has the clinically proven plaque and germ-killing power of LISTERINE® Antiseptic.
  • BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages, http://www.band-aid.com/ – America’s #1 bandage brand covers all your wound-protection needs. BAND-AID® Brand Adhesive Bandages have covered and protected cuts and scrapes for millions of people over 90 years.
  • JOHNSON’S® NO MORE TANGLES® Detangling Spray, http://www.johnsonsbaby.com/ – Works to instantly unlock knots and tangles in wet or dry hair. Easy detangling and manageability. Gentle NO MORE TEARS® formula.

You can also find coupons for Splenda, which is perfect for holiday baking if you’d like to have less sugar in your final products!

Splenda

Be sure and head over to HealthyEssentials.com now to get started saving right away!

 

 

Libman Freedom Spray Mop Got My House Photo-Ready!

Note: I received a mop and kit from Libman to help facilitate my review. I was not compensated monetarily for this post, and all opinions are honest and are my own.

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As a blogger, I take photos all. the. time. And as a mom, I take pictures even more often, if that’s possible. But on the flip side, as a mom to three kids we inevitably end up with messes. Did I mention we also have two dogs? So, yeah. Messes are a part of our daily life.

Part of the reason we loved our house is that the majority of the flooring is hard surface – our office/game room has hardwoods, and then everything else besides the bedrooms is tiled. Since we’ve lived in this house, though, I’ve been on the hunt for the right product to make mopping an easier task. I am not a fan of housework, so it’s really vital for me to find ways to make it as painless as possible.

Folks, I’ve found a winner in the Libman Freedom Spray Mop.

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I was really curious about the name, and how exactly this mop could provide freedom – now I know it does this on several levels.

 

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Freedom from cords – I love this because nothing is more annoying than hauling around a cord with one hand while you clean with the other, and while you try to avoid tripping over the cord as well.

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The spray is just powered by a trigger that you squeeze – voila!

You also have freedom from disposable (aka expensive) cleaning pads. 

LibmanFreedomMop-Pad2 LibmanFreedomMop-Pad

We’ve used a mop in the past that does require you to purchase disposable pads, and it can add up quickly to purchase more and more! I love that this mop comes with two pads and you can just toss them in the washing machine.

And lastly, with the Libman Freedom Spray Mop you have freedom from expensive cleaners.

LibmanCleaners

Libman has their own line of cleaners that work really well, with a great scent (and I love the flip top for mess-free pouring):

LibmanFreedomMop-CleanerOpen

But, you can use whichever cleaner you like best (you could even use your own homemade cleaners!) – it’s easy to fill the reservoir.

LibmanFreedomMop-Open

LibmanFreedomMop-Refillable

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I hope you’ll give the Libman Freedom Spray Mop a chance – I think you’ll love it as much as I do! I’ve even got a coupon for you to save money on it, because I’m nice like that. And be sure and keep up with Libman on Facebook, too!

 

Diamond Candle Fall Scents are Here!

Note: I received a candle to facilitate my review. All opinions are honest and are my own.

I love candles and I tend to have one around for each season of the year, but fall and winter scents are my absolute favorite. Now that October is here I am more than ready to pull out a fall candle and have a nice cozy aroma wafting through the house. Our candle of choice right now? Caramel Apple Cider from Diamond Candles.

DiamondCandle-Fall

It’s got a really great scent to it that just screams fall – but of course, this isn’t just a candle. Diamond Candles each have a ring in them! It’s a lot of fun waiting for the candle to melt down enough to pull out the little foil pouch housing a surprise ring. You never know what style you’ll get, but I think the surprise is half the fun! Here’s the ring I got:

DiamondCandle-Ring

Here’s a little more about Diamond Candles:
Diamond Candles is on a mission to make home fragrance fun. We combine the scents of premium 100% soy candles with an exciting and fun RINGREVEAL™ experience. Our candles are handmade in Durham, NC and we release fresh, fruity, floral and exotic scents all year long.

Inside every deliciously fragrant Ring Candle, you’ll discover a surprise $10 ring packaged with a special code. Enter your code on our RINGREVEAL™ website to reveal if you’ve discovered a ring worth $100, $1000, or $5000. Lucky winners will choose their ring’s style and size from our exclusive ring collection.

Want to see for yourself? Watch our RINGREVEAL™ videos or go ahead and take the plunge and get your first Ring Candle today. Don’t forget to share a picture of your ring on Facebook and Instagram with #DiamondCandles and #RingReveal to be a part of the Diamond Candles story.

Be Prepared for Emergencies: National Preparedness Month Tips from Energizer #PoweringSafety

Note: This post was brought to you by Energizer, in partnership with The Motherhood.

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 EnergizerLogo

 

This month is National Preparedness Month, which is something I’ve thought about quite a bit over the years. Living in Texas, we get our fair share of storms and I’ve always made it a priority to think ahead and be prepared just in case. In case you haven’t thought about being prepared for a disaster, Energizer has shared some great tips for being ready for a natural disaster or other emergency:

  1. Create a plan. Have a plan with your family for what to do before, during and after severe weather. Make sure to practice your plan so you are ready for any situation.
  1. Keep a portable light in every room: When power goes out, you don’t want to go digging through closets or drawers looking for that flashlight. Energizer portable lights ensure you’re ready for any situation:
  • Weatheready®– Long lasting, practical solutions designed to keep you and your family safe during a weather emergency
  • Fusion Flashlights and Lanterns – Compact and versatile, Energizer® Light Fusion Technology products are compact, water resistant and provide impressively bright long lasting light
  • Headlights – Energizer’s powerful LED headlights are lightweight and versatile – perfect for keeping your hands free during an emergency situation
  1. Designate a place to seek shelter. Designate a meeting place for your family to take shelter. A basement or the smallest, most-interior room on the lowest floor is safest for severe weather and tornados. In the event of a tropical storm or hurricane, evacuate the area if instructed by local authorities.
  1. Make an emergency kit. Keep an emergency kit stocked with bottled water, canned food, copies of vital information, a first aid kit with prescriptions and an Energizer® Emergency Weather Station, which acts as a light, radio and charging station.
  1. Check social media for updates. Oftentimes communications can be limited during severe weather. Social media can give you the most up-to-date information from local government agencies and news outlets.
  1. Charge your devices. Make sure to charge cell phone and ensure that your radio and flashlight have fresh batteries. Energizer® MAX® with Power Seal Technology are long-lasting and are no leaks guaranteed.
  1. Stock your vehicle. Don’t be caught unaware in your car during a severe weather situation. Make sure to have an emergency kit with the essentials in your vehicle.

Some people may think it’s pointless to prepare, because the likelihood of something going wrong is pretty slim. I’d say, though, that being prepared is easy, so why not be prepared just in case? I’d much rather be prepared and not need it than desperately need it and not be prepared.

I hope you’ll also join me and other bloggers for a one-hour Twitter party on September 23 at 12 p.m. Central – Follow with the hashtag #PoweringSafety and keep an eye out for my tweets from @FrugalNovice!

Be sure and follow Energizer on Facebook, too, so you can keep up with their latest!