Monday, November 24, 2014

Looking for beautiful gift ideas? Shop Heart of Haiti and support a worthy cause.

* I am a member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and expressed opinions are my own. * 

causes, support, charity, contribute, Macy's, Haiti

I met the fine people of the Everywhere Society this fall at Type-A Parent Conference. Their booth in the conference expo included a number of products from the Heart of Haiti line at Macy's that they support. As soon as I saw that they were planning an upcoming campaign supporting this effort I volunteered myself as a participant.

I learned that Macy's representatives made their way to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and realized that despite the devastation there were people there creating gorgeous pieces and art and these people belonged to an artist community that was itching to bring their products to the marketplace. Macy's was able to launch a product line at certain stores (I love that NYC and Brooklyn were among them!) and Macys.com. At this point, so many years into the program, Macy's has found their efforts supporting over 400 artists.

All you need is 30 seconds to watch this video and it will inspire you to make a purchase that gives back. My words can't take the place of the artisan herself explaining to you what these purchases mean to her and her family. Take a moment and watch.



Now, I'll be honest, I had my eye on the Blue Circles Papier Mache Vase I received to review and discuss immediately. It was gorgeous. It IS gorgeous. But this campaign is so important I would have done it regardless of what I had the chance to review.

home decor, shop for a cause, support charity, Haiti

This beautiful vase is hand-painted and includes a glass insert to guarantee functionality beyond it's beauty. I took a picture of the insert, but honestly you just need to look at the vase itself - because the insert is just a glass cylinder and the outside is where the true beauty is. Just look at it!

Along with this vase Heart of Haiti has so many more items that could suit your style and represent your generosity with a purchase. I've spotlighted a few of them for you below and the links are beneath the collage for easy research.


Heart of Haiti Decor


Heart of Haiti also has some beautiful holiday decor for your home that you're going to want to check out immediately. Again, links for each item are below the collage.


Heart of Haiti Holiday Decorations


I really can't decide which I want to buy, I think I am going to need to get the papier mache heart (the red one) and it's only $8.00! I also have my eye on the angel votive holder - because it's simply beautiful and I have a thing for angels in my holiday decor.

For details on how Heart of Haiti is supporting artisans and their communities you can head on over to the Macy's website. Macy's has other programs that support people across the globe and you can find products supporting those causes and Heart of Haiti on their Gifts that Give Hope page.

You can also find out more about Heart of Haiti by liking their Facebook page or following them on Twitter. Heart of Haiti is a beautiful choice if you're looking to do some good with your holiday shopping. I hope you'll consider some of these products as you plan your gifts for the holiday season or as you try to spice up your own decorations with something new this year!

* I am a member of the Everywhere Society and they provided me with this product for review. All thoughts and expressed opinions are my own. * 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Free Write: Thanksgiving is coming and we're staying home

It's 11:06 PM and I have a few minutes to get in my NaBloPoMo post for today.

And the same few minutes to mesh with Jaime's Stream of Consciousness post for the weekend. Link-up, I mean. And I'm totally stealing her "button" but I think she'll be okay with it since I'm directing you guys to her place and encouraging you to go there next week and link up. Or this week, since we're still allowed.

So, right now it's POURING outside and my daughter was awake as of 20 minutes ago.

My oldest dog is upstairs asleep, as is the younger one (she's crated) and the girl cat. The boy cat was walking around carefully down here - he doesn't trust us, despite our rescuing him from a life on the streets as a wee kitten. I mean, come on, now, bud, we're here for you!

Today I went grocery shopping - we did - as a family. We stocked up for Thanksgiving because we're doing it home, the three of us. This might be the first year we've cooked at home since our daughter's first T-Day. We normally hit Boston Market, or as in recent years, Golden Corral. Last year we were in NY as Chanukah was LITERALLY the day after Thanksgiving so we did T-Day with my SIL's family and then went to my brother's for Chanukah and it was rough and sucked but it was also great to be with family.

My daughter is struggling this year as we saw my mom a few weeks ago and said, "See you in a few weeks!" and so my kiddo is thinking that we have to do that and why aren't we and all that stuff. And I get it. It's sad. It's hard. It's hurting. It's rough to not spend holidays with family sometimes.

Just can be rough. And more so on the kids because they hear stories from friends who are traveling and whatnot. So they want to know why they aren't doing it, too?

But we're smoking a turkey (breast) and I'm making sweet potato casserole and mac-n-cheese and some sort of veggie, I think the husband will sort of steam-grill carrots and yum. And then I'm making a pecan pumpkin dessert I found on Pinterest that isn't pie.

And I'm at 5 minutes now so I'm done and ready for bed. Or reading. Or both.

And I totally did fix a few typo-s in this. Because I'm me. So whether I hit a stream of consciousness or not I'm not going to let that sort of stuff slide. So there.

Join me - there's still time - head over to Jaime's for the linky. 

free writing, just write, stream of consciousness

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Navigate The Blogosphere: Let's Talk Facebook

social media, facebook for bloggers, how to utilize facebook to your advantage

If you know me well enough or have known me for an extended period of time, you probably know that I have an addictive personality when it comes to virtual worlds.

I'm the highest posting member on my mommies' group - and I really haven't posted there regularly in about two years. Ehem. Still owning my crown, though.

So when it came to blogging and social media I honestly avoided Facebook for a really long time.

A REALLY. REALLY. REALLY long time.

Twitter? I loved Twitter. But Facebook? Nope. No. No thank you.

But  eventually, well, you already know. I caved because everyone said if you wanted to truly promote your blog you had to have a page for it. And if you wanted to promote in the right way you needed to engage on that page. And have fans. Likes. Whatever it was and is called - amiright?

And I so wished FB would let me just create a page all by myself. But would it?

No.

A big fat no at that.

And you can't join groups if you're not a person, either. Though that doesn't stop the spammers from trying. Ugh. Don't get me started or that will lead me to explaining why my Instagram account is set to private for the last year - give or take.

Anyway, I eventually joined Facebook.

I created my blog page.

It took me forever, but I got to 1K likes. And I'm even at the 2K+ mark these days. It's shocking.

But I started using it to my advantage. I started joining groups that meshed with me as a blogger and in doing so made connections with supportive and incredible people who helped promote my work honestly and helped connect me with the kinds of people I need in my bloggy world.

So why - you will wonder - did I spend some time today removing myself from a handful of Facebook groups?

Okay, fine, maybe you're not wondering - but I'm going to tell you anyway.

Sometimes I just let myself get pulled in. I feel wanted. I feel connected. And so I need to stay in these groups because I think they're where I need to be.

And then I realize. Oh - I haven't used that group in quite a while.

Or that one.

Or that one, either.

And so I start to drift away.

Not the ones that I run - although I've shut down one or two of those in my time. And not the ones that my friends have created - I don't disappear from those without warning.

But sometimes I'm in these "blogging" groups FOR bloggers, and I find I'm not really getting much out of them. And so I slide away. Because I know that nobody will really notice I'm gone.

And you know how FB tends to tell you about all these groups that all of your friends are in and you should join or be interested in and sometimes you even click through and believe it?

Granted, sometimes it is true. But other times? It's not worth the hassle.

Don't put that pressure on yourself. You don't need it. At. All.

So let yourself ignore those little so-called friendly reminders. And leave the groups that aren't working for you. It's okay if you're already Stumbling posts with colleagues and other writers in a blogging group you thrive in to leave the one that's just focused on StumbleUpon because you're not really using it as much as when you dove in head-first to that group.

And you can permit yourself to weed out the friend requests you've accepted because they had 20+ mutual friends of yours. But you know what? If you don't know who the heck they are and don't even want to wish them a happy birthday when you get the reminder? You're probably not meant to be Facebook friends. It'll be no sweat off either of your backs, I promise.

And then when you finally whittle down the groups you want and a handful that you're holding onto for the sake of future use or for relaxed connections and less stressful interactions, you'll find that Facebook lets you move your favorites and gives you a chance to access them quickly by moving them up on your sidebar.

Facebook, groups, pages, management, favorites

And once you've got it all organized you'll find that managing your page or pages will be so much simpler. And to do that - you've got to pay attention to this part.

Use the scheduling tool.

Yes. I'm serious.

I'm not a big fan of scheduling things. Not posts. Not tweets. Not FB, either.

Generally speaking.

But if you're looking for more engagement on your Facebook page - and who isn't, right? - you might want to consider this.

And if you're looking to share posts that friends have written? The scheduling option is perfect for that. And if you're not looking to share posts that your friends have written? You need to be. Check out a post I wrote for SITS a while back that explains why supporting other bloggers is good for you.

Now - so you know what I'm talking about I've created a little graphic for you to check out.

And once I share that I have to stop. Because it's 9pm and I'm tired. And yes, I know, it's early, but I'm tired. So it's time to stop writing.

Facebook, scheduling, posts, pages

It's pretty self-explanatory, but if you need more details just let me know. I'm happy to help clarify what I am talking about.

Since sometimes I finish the conversation in my head. And if I do that, well, you're not going to hear the other half, are you?

And on that note I'm going to head up. Not to sleep - but to be offline and to read and to whatever else. Or - who am I kidding? To check Facebook. See ya there!

Friday, November 21, 2014

I've got an eye on what you need to cozy up for the winter!

I recently had the opportunity as a Wayfair Homemaker to go shopping over at Wayfair.com and I couldn't wait to dive into their pillows and throws. 

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to buy because I am a bit of a blanket addict, but eventually I figured it all out and today the last of my shipment arrived. 

I'm going to start with that item first because I HAD to get it. Unfortunately I wound up with the teeny tiny version, because I wanted to buy some other things, too - and so here you have it - my Central Park throw. 

cozy, throw, NYC, snuggle-worthy

It's so pretty. And it's perfect for when I'm feeling homesick. Because Central Park! Snow! New York City! Come on. What more could I ask for? And actually - honestly - I think it might come along with me as I head home for the holidays. It's kind of the perfect size for traveling. Seriously. 

And then I bought this really squishy cozy pillow to go with it that my daughter has stolen from me several times. Except I told her she had to wait so I could take some pictures of it first! The life of a blogger and all. And sadly, one of my dogs has developed a bit of an interest in this pillow, so I'm trying to keep it off limits so I can continue to snuggle with it happily. 

throw, pillow, couch, decor, comfort

I also got us the cutest and coziest of blankets to leave on our couch for those chilly nights we seem to already be having in North Carolina! I kind of love it already and might want to buy a few as gifts - it perfectly matches our couch, but seems neutral enough it would go with anything. 

cozy, fleece, throw, hearts, decor

Lastly, I need to let you in on a little secret. It's a secret because part of the purchase is a holiday gift for my daughter - and so I'm hiding the other part so as not to let anything slip. 

Now - take a look at what I bought ...


Because - seriously - how could I not, right? 

I absolutely had my eye on a good handful of other things on the Wayfair site. Especially when it comes to holiday decor. Some of these items would be perfect year-round, as well, but bring a bit of brightness and sparkle for the holidays. They just got in some adorable Chanukah decor and I'm wishing it was there earlier because I totally would have stocked up.

pillows, canvas art, Christmas, Chanukah, decor

I especially love that fox canvas - how cute is that!?!

Now, for you (and me) we can still do some shopping, but we have to move fast. Wayfair has a coupon code available right now for you to save 15% off of ANY pouf, pillow or throw. 

All you have to do is head on over to Wayfair.com and enter code WFPTP15 between now and November 24th and you'll save on your purchase. So hurry on over! You'll find stuff for yourself, and some great options for holiday gifts, as well. Now don't forget - if you see my daughter you say nothing about that blanket for the cat-looking character who isn't really a cat, okay? 

Happy cozying up, everyone. Stay warm!

* Disclaimer: This post is a compensated post written by me on behalf of Wayfair.com. All opinions are strictly my own. * 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some great holiday gift ideas for your kids!

* Disclaimer: I was given a compensated opportunity to check out Stone's Education Superstore in Raleigh recently. All observations and opinions expressed here come from me or my 7-year-old daughter. Compensation ultimately led to some shopping on-site. That's how cool this store is. *

Stone's Education Superstore has a new location these days, and when you pull up into the shopping center where it is located you're in for a shock - honestly - at least you were if you were me. 

This store is HUGE. 

There is no other word to describe the first impression. It's gigantic. 

We walked in and found ourselves immediately greeted with their Frozen display. Smart marketing move on their part. My daughter immediately made her way over to the Frozen "snowballs" and engaged. Honestly, pretty much anything on this display would be a perfect surprise for your Frozen-loving kiddo this holiday season. 

And heads up if you're going to be in the Triangle area over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend you might want to consider heading over on Saturday the 29th because one Frozen princess is going to be on-site. (Peek at the picture below to find out who!)

Frozen, Olaf, Disney, Anna, Elsa, toys, meet Elsa

One of my favorite things walking through Stone's was the toys they had that reminded me of my childhood. Of course, hula hoops are a staple for kids and I think my daughter loves them more than I did when I was younger! Although she (thankfully) didn't test them out at the store this time, she was too busy interacting with so many other toys ... more on that later. 

But what I was excited to see was the "old school" games like Twister, Boggle and Simon! We've spent a lot of time playing Simon on the iPad, but the real game? How fun was that when we were kids, right? And the spirograph? I kind of wanted to get one for myself - since I'm being 100% honest here. And the section of toys for the little ones included so many fun and creative options, including Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head!

hula hoops, Twister, Mr. Potato Head, Boggle, Spirograph, Simon, games, childhood

Now - on to the more interactive part of our visit. What's really cool about Stone's is that it's totally encouraged for your kids to play with the toys there. They have demos for their ride-on toys and my daughter didn't pause before testing several of them out. 

This ride-on scooter called The Original Flying Turtle by Mason Toys was her favorite. Unfortunately I can't find this on their website, but I'm going to show you a picture anyway because it's on-site and you need to go check it out. 


Next, this small toy was one of my daughter's favorites. You wouldn't think it would be impossible to tear her away, but with this remote control vehicle at the front of the store it was kind of difficult to get her to move past the entrance and into the aisles to check out other things. 

toy superstore, holiday shopping, interactive play

There were so many other toys she thought were loads of fun - but honestly - we walked out of there with three books and a calendar/planner for me. 

Check out the Reading section of the store. Choices available for all ages and reading-levels, and a place to cozy up and read!

reading, children's books, stuffed animals, day planners, teacher supplies

Honestly, I took so many pictures of the amazing products at the store I could probably keep going. My daughter had the best time and didn't really want to leave. If she hadn't been with me I'd have probably done some holiday shopping of my own ...

In the meantime, as you can tell, Stone's is really kid-friendly and does give you an opportunity to do some shopping while your children engage throughout the store. Their selection is never-ending, and this doesn't even touch on the available inventory for teachers, homeschoolers and parents looking to enhance their children's education at home. 

I definitely recommend you stop by Stone's Education Superstore, or head online to check out what they have that you might need this holiday season. And don't forget - no matter how cold it is - someone's coming to visit all the way from Arendelle on November 29th!

* Disclaimer: I was given a compensated opportunity to check out Stone's Education Superstore in Raleigh recently. All observations and opinions expressed here come from me or my 7-year-old daughter. There are affiliate links throughout this post. 
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