Minecraft for Kids’ Bedrooms – Do we have to?

Yes, apparently we do. People always told me not to change my kids’ bedroom decor every time they get super interested in something new because it changes so quickly and so often….and they were right. Except for this Minecraft thing. One of our kids is absolutely crazy about the game, the toys, even imaginary play. This has gone on for quite a long time and I suppose it is time to refresh his room anyway, so when I mentioned this he naturally tells me he wants all the Minecraft.

Minecraft is relatively new to my level of parenting, therefore I really had no idea where to look to find things for his bedroom that weren’t completely tacky or would overtake the natural serenity of a five-year-old boy’s room (riiiiight). But, after several days of searching, I was able to find these options for Minecraft for kids’ bedrooms. So, if you are searching for something similar, feel free to read through and see if there is anything you (I mean, your kids) may like.

Target has a Minecraft Collection??

I go to Target at least once a week (yea, I can be that person) and I am pretty sure I’ve never seen any Minecraft bedding there. But it looks like my Target skills are weakening because it’s there and according to my son, he’s seen it a million times. There are throw pillows, cushions, Creeper and Sheep pillows, lamps, piggy banks and of course, a comforter and sheet set. I could not find any curtains, however, so you may need to look elsewhere for those or just use something solid that will match the other colors.

Depending on your bed size and other needs, you will probably spend over $75 because this isn’t one of those “bed-in-a-bag” deals and you will be buying everything separately. All the reviews were either 4 or 5 star for the sheet set and comforter. Negative reviews complained that they wished there was a different design on the underside of the comforter and another said that the stitching did not hold up well.

Options from Walmart

Not surprisingly, Walmart has many options of comforters for a kids’ Minecraft inspired bedroom. There are also pillows, blankets as well as a throw pillow of whoever this Steve guy is as well. (Ask your kids, they will probably know immediately). Some comforters are not bad at all for the price and if you change your kids rooms around often, a cheaper version may not be such a bad idea.

Reviews of these vary, but the set pictured here has nearly 5 star reviews and costs around $30 for the twin size six piece set. It doesn’t define very well what is included, however it looks to be the comforter, sheet (fitted and flat), pillowcase, throw pillow and a tote for….I’m not really sure what? But for $30, that’s not bad at all.

Minecraft Creeper Bedding Set on Amazon

If your kid digs the Creepers, here is a pretty good priced set on Amazon that features these guys. It includes a comforter, fitted and flat sheet and a pillowcase. It is also a Prime item, which means you get free two-day shipping.

The only negative reviews were those that were missing items in their shipments and one person said theirs fell apart in the wash. The remaining 90ish reviewers were extremely happy with this product. Many cited the sheets and comforter as being very comfortable and that their kids loved the design.

Do you have a Minecraft bedding set?

If so, where did you buy it and how much do you and your kids like it?? Make sure to comment below and let us know. Good luck on your decorating endeavors!

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Happy summer, ya’ll! I feel like it has been forever since I have posted something, sorry about that! We took a long family vacation and it was AH-mazing, but I am glad to be home and back to doing all the normal things. I am so behind on laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and to top it off, I started a new class this week (only 3 more to go for that degree!) so I am feeling overwhelmed today.

I know Father’s Day is basically seconds away but I wanted to get in a quick post on some great last-minute gifts for all those fathers in your lives. As a matter of fact, my mission today is to pick up a few of these myself so I can get them in the mail and hopefully delivered before Sunday!!

Digital Tape Measure

In my household, this gift may actually be a gift for me in disguise. For some reason, my brain doesn’t comprehend measurements. I am terrible at “eyeballing” something and estimating its height, weight, depth, whatever….but, of course, my husband is usually pretty spot-on with it. I also have trouble using a tape measure correctly (I won’t go into the morbid details or past complete and utter screw ups).

There are tons of different brands and sizes out there but it looks like this Bosch Blaze Laser Distance Measurer is a great option and in a price range that many kids could easily swing with the savings in the piggy banks. It will measure up to 65 feet, has a back lit display and is small enough to fit in your pocket. Batteries (2 AAAA’s) are included and includes a wrist strap and a limited three-year warranty. Most of the reviews say how easy this is to use (score!), lightweight and makes a quick job of measuring just about anything. Some negatives reviews claim the LED screen is a bit hard to use unless you are looking at it straight on and others had defective products.

Speak Plus Dash Cam

This gift is for the traveler in your life that needs a safer way to get from Point A to Point B. This dash cam provides driver assistance, lane departure warnings, has Amazon’s Alexa built in and uses Garmin for turn by turn navigation. The navigation is really cool, in my opinion, because you can just speak your destination and the Garmin tells you where to go from there. It includes live traffic updates for those in big cities or traveling the busy interstates as well.

Reviews are mixed, as you might expect, due to the mixed emotions about Alexa from the general public. However, positive reviews claim this product is easy to install, well-made and has excellent picture quality. Negative aspects include some users stating the product is not easy to use at times and that it overheats at times. However, some newer reviewers claim that the overheating is due to an older version and that this has been solved by a new Firmware update. I’ll leave that to you techies because I have no understanding in that area (sorry, y’all!). If you purchase one, let us know how it works because I may be interested in one for myself.

SelectTech 560 Dumbbells

If your husband or father is anything like my husband, he will love these pick-a-weight dumbbells. This particular product, the Bowtech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells are super convenient and made by the reputable Bowler company. The basic idea is that by just turning a dial, you can choose your weight and simply complete your workout. The idea of only one dumbbell apparatus lying around my garage as opposed to eight (which is our current situation) is kind of a dream come true for my cleaning and for my poor toes that have been stubbed more times than I care to admit while walking through to the outside fridge for a bottle of water.

Some reviewers said these get jammed sometimes but others claim they work perfectly fine. I imagine it has a lot to do with the amount of use or the occasional defective product. Most reviewers rave about the amount of space this product saves as well as the excellent quality of the weights. Some reviewers were actual trainers and they claimed this was a great product.

Harry’s Razors

I have talked about Harry’s before but I think it deserves mentioning again because, seriously, how convenient is a company that sends your razors however often you want at a great price? We LOVE this company and we are so happy with the customer service as well. They are willing to help with any questions or problems you may have and their products are truly top-notch. Check out their plans and products and let me know if you agree.

Side note: Target also sells Harry’s and occasionally, I will pick up something if we are desperate…so that is another option for you if you are against subscription programs.

Happy Father’s Day!

I hope all the father’s have a fantastic weekend and are showered with whatever manly (or not so manly) gifts that you desire. Now, please excuse me as I frantically search for a few of these items, pick out some greeting cards and make a mad dash to the post office to stand in line for an hour only to get to the front of the line and have my kid exclaim loudly that he has to poop. Wish me luck!

PS. Feel free to comment with any ideas you may have for Father’s day because I could use some!

DIY Home Security System Reviews – Protect America

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Hey, y’all! I wanted to post a quick review on the security system we currently use at our house in case anyone was looking for a DIY home security system rather than one of those companies that come in and install for you. Those are great options, for sure, because they will do it all for you and most times come back until they get it right if there are ever any problems. However, if you are a fellow DIY-er like we are, you may appreciate this system.

For the past four years we have used Protect America and it is truly a very simple install, even if you have no idea what you are doing (me) or are a little more advanced in this type of thing (my husband, or so he thinks). The basic idea is that you call in or place your order online, let them know how many doors and/or windows you’d like to secure as well as if you would like motion detectors and security cameras for in or outdoors. We did all the above because the price was great for us and the install seemed super simple.

Order Process

I researched a ton of security companies and systems and landed on Protect America after a lot of deliberation between my husband and myself. These days, the order process is quick and easy. You can either call the toll free number, build your system online or request a free quote.

In order to build a system online, you will just enter your zip code on the first screen and continue through to answer questions on which system is best for your home. You can begin with the basic, complete or complete plus package and add on from there if you need anymore window or door sensors, etc. All packages include a touchscreen control panel, motion detector, yard sign, key chain remote, 24/7 monitoring and the Smartphone app with Interactive Alarm Control (awesome for people like me that forget to turn the alarm on when I leave the house).

Once you have chosen your package (details below), you can add on any extras needed for your particular taste or needs and then fill out your address and payment information to check out. Your items come very quickly and then you will set up all of your password info via telephone with a representative. All the reps we have dealt with are extremely helpful and take you step by step through the set up/install process.

Package Contents

The basic package protects up to 3 doors and windows, the complete package protects up to 6 and the complete plus package protects up to 14. Video surveillance can be added for an additional price and will add a bit more to your monthly monitoring fee (about $5 more) as well. You can add more window/door sensors, motion detectors, glass break detectors, fire/environmental protectors, doorbell cameras and key chain remotes as needed to your packages.

The packages range from $130-$150 with a three-year commitment and will increase if you choose not to sign a contract. We signed the contract because we planned to stay with the company for at least a year to try it out and we renewed after that for three years because we loved it so much. They even offered us a $200 Visa gift card for renewing which was a pretty good incentive for a renewal. The monthly rate ranges as well depending on your package but starts around $32 and can go up as high as you choose depending on your add-ons and region.

Set up and Installation

We were able to get our system installed in less than an hour, however we did not have video surveillance when we first signed up. Once we had placed our sensors on the doors and windows, we called in and set the professional monitoring up over the phone.

It really was that easy and within one evening we were set up and good to go. No installation appointments or strange people coming in our house to set anything up for us, we did it all on our own and paid less than $150 to do so. Now, we pay our monthly monitoring fee and have no worries about our home security.

Smartphone App

As I mentioned, with the app you can also set your thermostat, lights and other smart home add-ons. Another perk to the app is that you can turn the alarm off when you pull up to your house. I loved this because at the time we first got the system, we often had three kids running to open the door and with so much chaos when the door was opened, it was difficult to get to the panel to disarm the alarm. With the app, I would disarm it as soon as I pulled in and then we could walk in without having to trip over all the kids and dogs in order to stop the siren from sounding for the entire neighborhood.

A great way to secure your home…

This was one of the best decisions that we ever made for our family and home. The app makes everything so easy to control and monitor, especially if you have smart home additions. We love everything about this system and would purchase it again in a second.

If you have any questions, suggestions or comments make sure to leave them below and tell us what you think!

Looking For Front Porch Furniture?

We have this nice front porch that is fairly large and looks out into our culdesac, we absolutely love it but it is utterly bare. I have thought about tossing a few temporary chairs out there (you know, the ones you take to a kids’ baseball game that fold out). But, if I do that I know I will get comfortable with those and never replace them with nicer furniture. And so, the porch remains bare until we find something perfect to fill it with.

We purchased an awesome set a couple of months ago for the back porch that has four comfy chairs and a table/fire pit from Home Depot. We love the chairs but my husband has yet to put the table together so I cannot attest to that part of the set just yet.

So, I am on the lookout for some front porch furniture and I imagine some of you are as well with summer on the horizon. Take a look at some of these finds below and let me know what you think. Also, if you have any suggestions be sure to comment and show us what you have found as well!

Conversation Sets – Large & Small

I came upon this set at World Market called the Praiano Outdoor Occasional Collection which has many options available and even better, it is on sale right now. Easily mix and match to make the perfect outdoor conversation set to fit your needs. A perk for this set is that both tables, side and coffee, double as storage as well so you can easily place your cushions inside during bad weather or the off-season. Purchasers that reviewed this set gave every item between 4.5 to 5 stars (out of 5) saying the chairs are deep and wide, comfortable and of nice quality. Negative reviews seem to center on the cushions with comments on issues with water resistance and easy staining.

Rocking Chair Sets

I love this set of rocking chairs from Plow & Hearth, it would look great on any porch or patio! The Claytor Folding Eucalyptus Outdoor set comes with two rocking chairs and a side table with your choice of color (black, ivory or brown). All pieces are made from eucalyptus and resin and can fold and moved for easy storage. According to my research, eucalyptus is a sustainable material and will last a good while. All reviews were five stars except one that was four stars. Reviewers stated that this furniture was sturdy and comfortable as well as easy to assemble. Others were excited that these pieces are easily folded and stored during winter.

Outdoor Dining Sets

We actually own this set from Home Depot. It is perfect for us because we love to cook hot dogs and s’mores with our kids so with this set, we can all sit around together and cook over a fire right in the middle of the table. The Hampton Bay Highland 5-Piece Fire Pit set comes with four chairs and a table/fire pit that can be natural gas operated and comes with a weather resistant cover. The cushions are great because they are water resistant. I have come out may times after it has rained and you can actually see the water beading on top of the cushions. It is not 100% resistant as the cushions will get a little wet, however you can shake off the excess water and the remainder dries very quickly. The chair bases are made of aluminum and are meant to bounce a little but not rock. They lean back just a tad which makes them very comfortable. We are very happy with this purchase and will likely use this set for many years to come.

Unique Outdoor Lounging

I love finding unique and interesting items and the internet never fails to deliver. I found this really cool double chaise lounge on Hayneedle and I am definitely imagining myself laying out by the pool that I don’t currently have, sipping a fruity drink and relaxing the day away. Right now the price is under $300 so this is a very real possibility for those of you with a pool in your backyard. The reviewers stated that this was incredibly comfortable once it was set up, however some said the instructions were not very clear so assembly could be somewhat difficult.

Happy Summer!

I love being outside during the summer when it isn’t too hot here in central Texas. Watching the kids play in the sprinklers and yelling at them to stop shooting Nerf gun bullets into each other’s eyeballs, it’s like a dream I tell ya. But the best part is having a great set of furniture to enjoy while being outside sweating and yelling. Be sure to comment below and let us know your most favorite thing about summer and where you shop for your outdoor furniture. I hope you find one of these products helpful in making your summer a great one!

Best Electric Scooter for Kids – For every budget!

This past Christmas, our 10 year old asked for an electric scooter. Actually, she first requested a hoverboard which we quickly decided against because it seemed like an ER visit waiting to happen. Once we let her know that the hoverboard wasn’t going to happen, she settled on the electric scooter (thank God). So, we set out to look for the best electric scooters for kids of all ages that were fun but also had some safety features as well.

Razor E300

I had only ever known of one brand of scooter (Razor) before I started looking into buying an electric one but, much to my surprise, there are quite a lot of other brands out there. Two of our kids have had regular scooters made by Razor and they have been excellent. They have never broken or bent, we have never had to change the tires or replace any piece on them so we were happy with the Razor brand.

The E300 is one of the electric models made by Razor and is for older kids (and adults, if you’re feeling adventurous) because it goes up to 15 mph and is 250-watt so it is a little more powerful than what is recommended for younger riders. It includes two 12V rechargeable batteries which last up to 40 minutes of use and is 25″ in height and a width of 16″. Other features include a kickstand, handle acceleration and a rear brake. The recommended age is 13 and up with a weight limit of 220 lbs. You can pick this one up on Google Express by clicking here if you are interested. This model received 4.5 stars out of 5 on most sites and most everyone that positively reviewed it mentioned that it was easy to assemble and that the initial charge took about 12 hours. Some also said it was a sturdy scooter and larger than they had thought it would be, confirming that it is best for older kids. Negative reviewers did not like how heavy the item was and complained that it was too bulky to carry, they also did not like that the battery life was only 40 minutes.

I am going to quickly mention the E100 model as well as it is a smaller, less powerful version of the E300 made for kids 8 and up. It comes with speeds of up to 10 mph and a rechargeable battery life of approximately 40 minutes. It has a 100-watt motor and is 22″ in height by 7″ in width. The scooter includes a kickstand and a twist grip acceleration and the brake is also hand operated. Check it out on Amazon, this was the best price I could find for E100. Of the nearly 2,000 reviews, it received 4 stars and many of the negative reviews were due to a faulty product that had to be either returned or exchanged. Over 80% gave this model 3 stars and up and most cited ease of assembly and a well-made product.

Glion Dolly

This one is on the higher end of the price scale but it has a lot of bells and whistles that the others do not. Its top speed is 15mph and can go for up to 15 miles on one charge. With airless tires, a pedestrian bell and the ability to fold and roll when not in use, this is certainly a class act. The folding mechanism can be foot activated in 1-second and the scooter can be accelerated and stopped with the twist grip. Weighing in at 28lbs, it is easily rolled or even carried when needed. Adults like this scooter for public transit for that reason and many reviewers claim it is easy to take everywhere in a big city.

Another plus on this one is that it only takes 3.5 hours to charge, which is nice for impatient kids who want to ride their scooters like, yesterday. This model mentions that it is for riders 16 years and older so I would purchase this one for a teenager or perhaps a senior who is off to college in the fall. This would be a great way to zip around campus quickly and not run the risk of being late to class due to a long walk or traffic.

Reviewers loved the folding apparatus and the sturdy build of the scooter. Others mentioned that the brakes are very strong and one even mentioned going down a hill at full spend and still being able to stop the scooter quickly. The very few negative reviewers said the scooter was too loud and that it sometimes takes up to three attempts to start.

Maxtra E100

This electric scooter is a little more budget friendly and is for the 6 and up crowd. It includes a kickstand, rechargeable battery and will run for up to 60 minutes on a full charge with speeds up to 12mph. A perk of this scooter is that it folds up for easy storage and is lighter than other electric scooters. The company that makes this scooter also offers a 1-year free part replacement warranty, which is super attractive to parents. Safety features include the ability to place the scooter in low, medium and high speed modes depending on the age and/or ability of the child. Acceleration and brake are controlled by the right and left handles, respectively.

Reviews were quite impressive for this scooter, especially those that used Maxtra’s customer service. According to those comments, the customer service was exemplary in that it responded to issues efficiently and got replacement parts or scooters out ASAP. Also mentioned was the ease of assembly and that the product was well-made and easy to operate for children.

Scoot!

I am sure it goes without saying to make sure you purchase pads and helmets for your kids before they take to the streets on their new ride. Ten miles per hour may not sound that fast, but one of our kids bit it on her scooter once and she got skinned up pretty good. Luckily, she was wearing a helmet so the most important parts were unscathed and she got back up and was zipping around the culdesac in no time.

All of these scooters have great reviews and, depending on your budget, any of them would be great purchases. Let us know in the comments if you own any of these and what you and your kids think of them so far. Have a great week!

Best Camping Tents for Families – It’s that time again!

Who’s ready for camping weather?!

I won’t lie to you, the thought of camping does not excite me as much as eating chocolate, getting a maid or finding a million dollars in my pocket. It doesn’t even rank up there with the excitement of finding five dollars in my pocket, but in all reality it isn’t too bad of a weekend trip. Especially when you have a few little ones that really enjoy nature. Oh, and did I mention, it’s super cheap!

We have recently been going out on the weekends and hiking some pretty neat trails throughout Austin. If you have ever visited or lived here, you are probably aware that nature is kind of a big deal around these parts. All of our kids seem to enjoy being outside (as long as it isn’t too hot, too cold, too rainy, too cloudy…you get the idea) so on those “perfect” days, we typically try to spend a lot of time outside. Hiking has become one of our favorite past times to do together and personally, I really love it.

After a few weekends of hiking, we decided to try spending a night at a campsite but soon realized we had absolutely nothing in the way of camping. We started looking at some sporting goods stores around and did some research to find out what types of items we would need to camp out overnight. Naturally, a tent was one of the big ticket items we needed to decide on and it took us quite awhile to settle on one. There are so many to choose from; single room tents, multiple room tents, tents with rain gear, tents with a screened porch area…the list goes on.

Since there are so many options to choose from, and we did quite a lot of research ourselves, I thought I would pass along some of our awesome finds in case you all are looking to “naturize” yourselves, too!

Core 9-Person Instant Cabin Tent

While a bit on the high side (a little over $200 currently), this 14′ x 9′ tent will hold up to 9 adults and looks to be quite roomy with a center height of 78 inches. It also has advanced venting so that it draws cooler air inside from the ground and releases the hot air up through the mesh top. A nice little addition for those of us in warmer climates.

There is also a room divider which makes this a fantastic tent for a larger family or those with older kids that like their privacy. The rainfly cover is also with a heat sealed tape that will keep the gear attached in the rain and wind. Also, included are pre-installed telescoping poles which will make set up less time-consuming.

Coleman Carlsbad Tent with Screen Room

I love listening to the rain or sitting out on a covered porch and watching a storm pass by so this tent spoke to me because it has a lovely screen room attached to the main area of the tent, making it essentially a 2 room tent. There is a 4 or 6 person option, I will go with the 6 person option for this review since we are discussing family tents and usually bigger is better in that regard.

This tent has a “Fastpitch” design that pitches in about 7 minutes and measures in at 10′ x 9′ with a 10′ x 5′ screen room which is plenty of room to spread out as it will fit 2 queen air mattresses in the main area. This version also claims to reduce 90% of sunlight which should keep it fairly cool on the inside and also has corner welds to keep water out of the bottom if it rains.

Reviewers are saying its dark room technology is helpful in getting a good night’s sleep and that this tent holds up extremely well in bad weather. Many also cited that the quality was excellent for the price (around $190). However, negative reviewers mentioned that the color of the Rainfly gear made it very visible to bugs and a few said that the tent leaks on occasion in heavy rains.

Coleman Elite Montana 8-Person Tent

This is another highly rated Coleman brand tent that will cost around $160 but is large with room for up to 8 adults. It’s 16’x 7′ and one of the largest on our list, it fits three queen size air mattresses and stands at 6′ 2″. It comes in three colors as well as an included LED tent light with three settings and the poles are color coded for easy set up.

Reviewers like the large capacity of the tent and that it could comfortably fit a family of 4 or 5. Most said that the tent remained totally dry in rainy weather but there are also a few that said the tent tended to leak, especially on the floor. One user suggested laying a tarp down under the tent before setting up to ensure there was no leakage. I have always been told to do that with any tent, especially when bad weather was a possibility so that could be an option.

Timber Ridge 10-Person Tent and Budget Friendly

The last tent on our list is more affordable at around $75 and will fit up to 10 people. With a center height of 80 inches and dimensions of 14′ x 10′ it is definitely a good size but I do question whether 10 people would sleep comfortably inside. However, if this is simply for a larger family of 5-6 that includes children, I would imagine it would suffice just fine. It comes with a room divider as well for privacy, when needed and set up is pretty standard.

Many reviewers said that the temperature inside the tent stays cool even in 80-90 degree weather. Others said it took about 20 minutes to set the tent up and that the poles are well-made and heavy-duty. Some said that the tent will sway in heavy wind but that leaking does not seem to be a problem unless there is a tear in the material or a window/door is not zipped up properly. For those on a budget or just looking to spend a minimal amount on a larger tent, this one should definitely be on your list to check out.

Take the kids camping!

If you haven’t tried it, I would definitely suggest just an overnight in your backyard to get you accustomed to sleeping outdoors and then maybe try a state park or local camping site (just in case you need to make a quick exit). With kids, unexpected things come up on the regular so it’s good to practice before you try an entire weekend out in the wilderness. We have some friends that go for weeks at a time (not my cup of tea but to each his own) but I think a long weekend is just perfect.

Do you have any tips on finding a good tent for those with or without families? What about tips for camping in general? Leave your comments or questions below and maybe we will see you out there one of these days!

What is the Safest Crib Mattress – and where to find them

When I became pregnant with our son, I remember being a nervous wreck whenever I would think about being apart from my baby at night. How would I be able to sleep knowing my child was not near me, that I couldn’t protect him because he would be more than three inches away?

I did the stupid thing and performed a lot of Google searches on the horrors that could befall an infant in the middle of the night. Anything from SIDS to suffocation, you name it, it could happen and in my mind it would happen. The mind of a combined anxiety sufferer and mother is often riddled with more “what ifs” than most could probably imagine.

Although there is a great deal of new information coming out about SIDS in recent years, at this point there is still no known way to prevent it. Many people confuse SIDS and suffocation, thinking they are one and the same. However, they are both separate conditions caused by totally different things.

While I was doing this research, I came upon a crib mattress that I found to be a wonderful substitution for the typical crib mattress. One that would allow baby to breathe through the mattress, even if the child were to get stuck laying on his or her stomach, face down and be unable to roll over. It was called the SafeSleep mattress and after much deliberation, we purchased it and used it up until our son moved to a big bed.

Was it necessary?

For us it was necessary and for many other children and parents out there, I am sure it is. I was more able to get the sleep that I needed as a new mother knowing that my child would be safe in his crib. It was for my piece of mind and his safety and I truly could not put a price on either of those things. I am sure he would have been safe on a regular mattress, but the level of confidence I had in our SafeSleep mattress was what gave me the assurance that I could sleep soundly (or as soundly as a mother can).

Easy to clean.

An added bonus to this mattress is how easily the top cover comes off and is easily cleaned. The design of the mattress means there are no sheets, they aren’t needed, so you just need to remove the soft cover as the rest of the mattress is made of wood and is hollow.

The amount of blow outs, spit ups and puke that went onto that mattress would likely blow your mind, or not if you have kids already. All I know is that I could have the dirty cover off and a new cover back on and ready for him to go back to bed in a matter of seconds. From there, you toss the cover in the washer and go back to getting some Zzz’s. End of story.

You can still customize it.

One thing that you kind of forgo on this mattress is the ability to get those cute sheets and blankets to go with the baby’s nursery. Which, frankly, was something I had been looking forward to most of my pregnancy. Fortunately, you can choose different colors for the top part of the mattress as well as the color of the wood for the bottom so you aren’t totally out of luck.

We purchased an extra topper for those middle of the night changes so we wouldn’t have to wait on it to be washed before we put him and ourselves back to bed. It was a life saver to be sure!

Pros & Cons

These mattresses fit a standard size crib (51″ x 27.25″ x 5) which is nice, however, we did find it a little difficult to get it into the crib at first. It may take some finagling to get it in there just right but once it’s in, you are good to go.

The mattress is hygienic in that you need not worry about bed bugs or dust bunnies or any other weird germ-y thing inside the mattress because the only think inside is air. Since the topper is washable, you can clean it quickly and easily anytime you want. It has been said that fiberfill mattresses can retain some carbon monoxide as well but with this crib there is no possibility of that occurring.

According to the website, you never have to worry about your child becoming too heavy for the mattress. Apparently, he or she will be come too tall for it before they become too heavy. I have laid on it myself (over 100lbs and that’s as much info as you get) inside the crib and it held just fine.

The topper is made of a 3D open-celled fabric that dries over 60% faster than cotton. Therefore, if the baby happens to throw up on the topper it will dry quickly in the even that no one wakes up to notice.

There is a 60-day money back guarantee with free return shipping, no questions asked.

The price, probably the hardest pill to swallow, is a bit on the high side. Typical crib mattresses run somewhere in the range of $50-$150 depending on the quality you prefer. This particular crib will cost you about $299 for both pieces and an additional $109 for a spare topper if you so choose. However, you can catch their sales on occasion and also add it to your registry in hopes a friend or relative may purchase it for you.

You can pick up this mattress at www.abcsafesleep.com and like I mentioned, keep checking back to see when or if they are offering a sale or discount code.

Is it worth the price?

This was honestly the only thing that we had to purchase ourselves. We were so fortunate to have amazing friends and family that totally set us up with all the baby paraphernalia we needed so we were OK with purchasing the mattress. I also caught a great sale when we bought ours so it wasn’t quite as much.

As for quality, everything the website claims, we found to be spot on. It was easy to change the topper, saved us time when we had to wash it and we never had a problem with him sleeping on it. We were also able to gift it to my brother for their first child after we were done with it, however you could easily sell it and make some of your money back. Either way, I would not go back and change our decision to purchase one of these mattresses for anything.

Let us know if you have any experience with this mattress and/or if you have a different breathable mattress that you can review for those searching for one! 

Meal Kit Delivery Reviews – Blue Apron vs Home Chef

Before I begin with my review on these meal kit delivery services, I should probably let you know that when I first heard about these things I did a massive eye roll. I did the same when I heard you could have your groceries delivered as well. But, guess who now participates in both activities?

Yep.

So, why the initial snobbish disdain, you ask? Because, I thought I should be “Super Mom” 24/7. I could handle working full time, taking care of the kids and animals and husband and still plan what to eat, when to eat and when to buy the things we eat. I did not need someone to deliver all that to me and I certainly did not need someone to pack it all up in a nice little box with instructions on how to cook it.

I still don’t need it, but by God, I want it and I am no longer afraid to admit that sometimes, I need a little help. That simple question, “what’s for dinner?” would weigh on me (and my husband) unnecessarily for years. I remember coming home from work one evening (later than usual) to a house in disarray because my husband had picked up the kids, had to go to the store, spent who knows how long there trying to decide what to make for dinner, then came home and cooked it. All of this took about two hours and he was unbelievably stressed after it all plus he got virtually no quality time with the kids or me.

I totally identified with that, I’ve been there more times than I could count. My husband really is Super Dad in the flesh, so if he was stressed to the max, I knew we needed to try something new. Cue the idea of trying a meal kit delivery service.

Blue Apron Review – Delicious with a side of customer service!

Our first try was with Blue Apron, I had read as many reviews as I could find and this was the one everyone raved about. We got the first two weeks for free, the third week was half price. After that, we received three days worth of meals with two servings each for $59.94 (six meals at a little less than $10 each). You can refer others and get that price knocked down as well, if you choose.

When you first sign up, you give your info (yes, credit card info as well) and let them know what types of things you and your family does or doesn’t care for and then pick your first week of meals. You choose from roughly eight recipes every week, they have vegan options as well and you also choose the day you receive it. I did not love that you couldn’t get delivery over the weekends or on Fridays but it seems that is their policy so we get our deliveries on Tuesday.

Blue Apron also has an easy to use app that allows you to pick your meals three to four weeks out, you can also skip a week (or weeks) anytime you want to. There is no limit to how many times you can skip a week. The app also allows you to contact customer service at anytime and make changes to your profile information.

Our very first week, I learned to cook something new and my husband and I were pleasantly surprised with how delicious everything tasted. Just about every recipe we have tried was absolutely delicious. I can only recall maybe two or three that we did not care for. The flavors and ingredients chosen always go so well together and the recipes are easy to follow.

You truly make everything from scratch, the meats are of excellent quality and the vegetables are always fresh. As a matter of fact, every recipe has had fresh vegetables as a part of the kit and we have been eating much healthier because of that simple addition.

We have had a few issues with Blue Apron, one being that we moved and changing our address took a couple of times to get it right which meant one of our deliveries went to our old address once. However, customer service credited us for a free week ($59.94) because they do charge before they ship.

Another time, our box was missing one recipe and they also included a recipe that was not what we had chosen. We were promptly credited for the two meals we were missing. In my opinion, customer service is top-notch. Their reps were always quick to respond, understanding and willing to help in order to make the customer happy.

Home Chef Review – More choices, flexibility + organization!

We decided to give Home Chef a try about three months in to using Blue Apron because I wanted to check the costs of other meal kits. The sign up process was essentially the same as with Blue Apron and delivery days were also during the week and not available on the weekend so we started alternating weeks between Blue Apron and Home Chef.

The first week of Home Chef was free but then we paid $30 for the second week and then the full $60 for the third. Kits arrived with fresh veggies and everything was to be made from scratch. One difference between the two was that with Home Chef, each recipe came in its own bag. Blue Apron ships all of its ingredients together inside a box and you have to sort it out on your own between the recipes. Not a big deal but having them already sorted was a bit of a time saver.

When choosing your meals on the Home Chef app (similar to Blue Apron’s), there are upgrades available. For example, if you wanted a steak of better quality, you could choose this and pay a little extra per serving. There were also options to have lunches or desserts included in your kit for an additional fee. We never did this as I felt the cost was a bit much ($7.99/serving approximately for lunches) but they did look good.

When it comes to taste, we prefer Blue Apron over Home Chef. Home Chef’s recipes were good but they just weren’t great. The combination of flavors and ingredients were a bit more basic and would probably be great for families with younger kids or individuals that are picky eaters. For the same price, we have chosen the taste of Blue Apron’s recipes and have therefore paused our Home Chef account.

To those of you still on the fence…

I know there are a million ways to save on groceries; coupons, weekly ads, weekly-advance-frozen-whatever else meal prepping…all of these things would be marvelous if I had the time to do it. I will make a quick comment on the fact that the companies send you exactly the right amount of every ingredient that you will need. Therefore, you are not going out for an entire bottle of soy sauce when you only need a teaspoon. And I feel like that saves us money and from being wasteful.

I am not sure that I could say for sure whether these kits save you money or not. For us, it is probably about the same but that is something you will have to decide for yourself via your own finances and how stressful (or not) dinner time is for you.

We don’t order every week, sometimes we take a month off if we are out of town or just don’t want any of the recipes on the list for that week. The weeks we do use the kit are significantly less stressful and I always know the food will be fantastic.

In the end, it’s your choice on consistently using something like a meal kit delivery service but I would suggest at least trying it out to see how it fits into your routine. You may find that it works for you or that it just isn’t in your budget. I am sure we will try some other companies in the future and I will be sure to write about those when we do.

Do you agree or disagree with my reviews on Blue Apron and Home Chef? Are there any meal kits you have used in the past or use on a weekly basis? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

 

Graduation Gift Ideas for Girls – Maybe they won’t hate it.

So, my husband’s little sister is graduating from high school in a few weeks and (full disclosure) I am dreading the gift part. I have no idea what to buy her because I feel like this is one of those big gifts that kind of defines which person you are in someone’s life.

Like, if I buy her a book about “the road ahead”, I’ll be known as that sister-in-law that is super serious and sentimental about everything and always brings something practical to gatherings, like napkins and paper plates or something. Or if I give her a poo emoji plushy I am automatically dubbed as the one she calls at 3am when she needs a ride home after partying too hard.

Honestly, I don’t want to be either. I always forget the napkins and I absolutely despise being woken up between the hours of 11pm and 8am. Am I making too much of this? Yea, probably. But, whatever we get her I want her to use it and I also want her to love it. There just aren’t a whole lot of things in life that fit both of those categories, especially for a teenage girl about to embark on a new life journey (ah…I was the sentimental one right there, did you see that?).

After all of this pondering, I went on a search to find out what everyone else gets in these situations and I think I may have found a few winners. Let’s see what you think…

Something to wear…

A little keepsake that doubles as jewelry has long been a favorite gift for graduating seniors in high school and college alike. And, why not? It is something that can be worn every day for as long as you wish yet, still remains a special sentiment once you take it off for the last time.

There are truly hundreds of options of jewelry for graduates and each one would be a great gift for someone. I happened across this bracelet made by Alex and Ani especially for graduates. It looks like they were available last year as I was able to find some 2018 bracelets and they have made them again for 2019.

They are available in silver, rose gold and yellow gold and include the year charm as well as the graduation cap. The rose gold is a little more expensive than the others but I think it’s because this color is more popular right now. On Amazon, you can get these for $26.99 in the rose gold and $20.99 for silver or yellow gold. The reviews are few on Amazon but all five stars with buyers stating they love the look and its ability to expand.

Oh, the places you’ll go!

A set of luggage is always a practical and fun idea for graduates. For most, they are likely headed off to college or maybe a graduation trip with their friends. What better way to send them off than with a stylish set of spinners?

This set that I found on Ebay is by Rockland and is called the Melbourne 2-Piece Spinner Set. It comes in a large variety of colors and the smaller one is perfect for carry-on while the other piece would be large enough to carry whatever she needs for week-long vacation.

Reviews were great with an average 4 out of 5 stars on eBags out of 106 reviews. Positive reviewers stated that these are great gifts for the younger generations, they are sturdy and reliable and have plenty of room inside. Negative reviews stated that the handle loosens after use and that the wheels are not best for having to go up staircases.

Girl on the Go…

I found this little gift set at Things Remembered and it seems a perfect gift to give any graduating senior who loves their phone (so basically, all of them). It includes earbuds, a travel case, phone clip and a portable power bank with USB cord. The pouch pull tab and phone clip can both be engraved to add a bit of personalization to the gift.

The full cost is $37.50 right now (it’s on sale so buy it now!) which includes the option to buy online and pick up at your closest store in order to forgo shipping costs. If you decide to personalize all available areas (front and back of pull tab and phone clip) this will add $19 to your total.

There aren’t any reviews yet, I believe this may be a new item so I will check back in a couple weeks to see what the masses are saying. Also, use code A290 through 5/15/19 to get 15% off and this should be combinable with any other coupons or promotions going on when you link to the site.

Consider the Hope Chest…

I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post and I will say it again here because it really is a great idea. Get your graduate a chest or trunk and tell your family and friends to buy them items for their future dorm or first place. These are things that you would have to buy before they move off to college, typically, like kitchen items or bedroom furniture and decor.

It will save you some money and will give others a super easy idea for a gift. For the chest, you could go as extravagant as this cedar chest on Amazon or something as simple as a storage trunk, depending on your kid and your budget. I was gifted a super nice cedar chest in middle school and still have it to this day.

And that’s all, folks!

I plan to keep searching for other ideas but I personally think we will likely buy one or more of the gifts above for our graduate. There is no guarantee any of these will fit the bill perfectly but I think we may be close.

What do you all buy for the graduates in your family or circle? Any ideas for those of us that are still clueless? Drop a comment and join the conversation!

Tuscan Style Bathroom Mirrors – The Best for Your Money

 

Tuscan Style

Today’s blog comes as a request from one of our readers whom requested we be on the look out for some Tuscan style bathroom mirrors for her new home. I am always happy to oblige someone when they ask me to do some shopping for them and even more so when it is for home decorating.

The Tuscan style has a typically rustic, yet elegant trademark and hails from an Italian descent (think earthy colors, lots of stone and iron). Textures and colors are very rich and the lifestyle is quite easy going and laid back.

Which such a plethora of contrasting elements, many designs are not always easy to find on the cheap side. However, I believe I have found several options for our reader and anyone else looking to spruce up their bathrooms with some beautiful Tuscan inspired mirror designs.

Decorative and Elegant

Excelsior Wall Mirron

If you are going for the more ornate, decorative bathroom, you could go by way of this Excelsior Wall Mirror made by Bassett Mirror Company. You can find it on Houzz.com in gold for $175.86 plus shipping and it also comes in a silver and gold leaf finish for $228 plus shipping.

The mirror is simple yet extremely elegant, therefore is not intrusive. It is a good sized mirror at 28″ x 45″ and would be just the right size to go over a vanity in the bathroom.

Reviewers stated the mirror stands out remarkably well without being too loud. Some mentioned it was not difficult to hang nor too heavy but that the vendor had done an excellent job with the detail and design. Others mentioned that Houzz.com had the best price across the internet and that the customer service is top-notch.

Simply Rustic

Rustic Style Mirror

If you are going for a more rustic style bathroom, you might want to consider this Rectangle Wood Tuscan Wall Mirror from Wayfair. While it seems simple, the straight and sleep design gives a bit of a modern feel yet the dark wood leans towards being a bit masculine. For bathrooms with darker paint on the walls, this mirror comes in an ivory color which would look fantastic on top of a rich colored wall.

The price is reasonable at $283.99 with free shipping for either color (24.5″ x 20.5″) and the prices increase with size. Reviewers gave this item 4.8 out of 5 stars with many saying the mirror was even nicer in person than could be seen online. One reviewer called the style “clean yet distressed” and another said the item was packaged very well for shipping purposes.

Round and Simple

New Moon Mirror

Sometimes a round mirror is exactly what a bathroom vanity needs to break up the space and make the area look a little larger. This New Moon Mirror from Shades of Light would likely do just that. It has a thin, dark frame that would blend easily with a room filled in Tuscan style and wouldn’t overpower the space. The size is 30″ x 30″ and would look excellent over a single vanity against a muted or brightly colored wall.

The price for this one is $260 plus shipping and is a new design, therefore it has no reviews just yet but I felt like I had to include it on the list because I absolutely love it and the diversity it would bring to any room.

Beautiful and Eye Catching

Hitchcock Butterfield Mirror

Finally, if your bathroom is in need of a focal piece, this mirror from Overstock should be on your list of mirrors to check out. The Hitchcok Butterfield Tuscan Villa Copper Mirror (that was a mouthful) starts at $206.49 for the 27.5″ x 37.5″ size. The wood and antique copper finish makes this a mirror that will definitely be the focus of all your guests while hand washing or freshening up.

There were no reviews on Overstock but there were several other retailers selling this same mirror who had great things to say. Several reviews included a more in-depth description of the frame design as they claim it was difficult to see in pictures. According to them, there is intricate braiding and beading along the outside of the frame and that putting a light near the mirror will bring out the different tones in the wood. All reviews were over four stars for this one.

Take your pick!

Any or all of these mirrors would be perfect accent pieces for a Mediterranean or Tuscan style home. You could put larger or smaller versions of these in different spaces to pull off a magnificent and budget friendly interior design that isn’t too showy or too plain. I am not sure about you but just writing about Tuscan desgin has made me want to jump on a plane to Tuscany and soon! I could do with some relaxation and wine drinking, laid out on a hammock…

But, enough with the daydreaming. It can only end in disappointment since my bank account will inevitably say “not today, Satan”. I’ll just take my kid to Legoland instead, which is kind of like Tuscany just without the relaxation and hammock lounging…with about 25,000 other kids wanting to bring home more Legos (hey, I have a solution to that one! see my previous blog, ha).

Anyway, do you have any certain stores that are your “go to’s” for home decoration or specifically mirrors, to help our readers out? Let us know in the comments what you think about these options or if you already have something similar in your home that fits well in this genre.

I will leave you with the following quote which I think embodies the Tuscan style and way of life perfectly:

In America, one must be something, but in Italy one can simply be.” ― Pietros Maneos, The Italian Pleasures of Gabriele Paterkallos