Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Sprouts Farmers Market: Open for Business in Tampa


Sprouts Farmers Market open in Tampa Bay | The Champagne Supernova

Holy Cow! Me and Ole Bessie from Dakin Dairy Farms, a featured dairy product available at Sprouts Farmers Market.

Sprouts Farmers Market proudly sponsored this post. 

I gotta tell you.

I routinely work for large and small brands promoting their products in exchange for compensation.

Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself. Either will my ombre.

Sure, I would never push a product or service that I didn’t legitimately like.

Then, I was introduced to Sprouts Farmers Market and fell in love.

Never heard of them until two months ago when someone from their public relations team asked me to use my mom blogger skillz to help generate enthusiasm about them coming to Tampa and, specifically, their grand opening in Carrollwood.

(The Carrollwood Store enjoyed it’s grand opening today, February 22, 2017, and a location will open in South Tampa in May of 2017.)

I researched the company, felt their mission to make healthy, organic foods more affordable for families using local farmers and businesses, was in line with my own values and agreed. But I had never been to a Sprouts Farmers Market until yesterday when I attended a sneak peek for bloggers.

And I fell in love.

In case you missed my other posts, Sprouts Farmers Market is an organic niche grocery store chain that is based in Phoenix. It opened it’s very first Florida store in Carrollwood located at 15110 N. Dale Mabry Highway.

When I arrived, the store was immaculate and each department was easy to find, so I didn’t have to try to figure out where to go. (The interior is around half the size of a Publix or Sweetbay).

I took a tour and learned that Sprouts’ fresh produce department made up a quarter of Sprouts‘ total business, with the store carrying nearly 200 organic varieties. Best of all, the prices are roughly 25% less than conventional grocery stores because of the strong relationship Sprouts has with local farmers. For instance, I noticed customers can grab a carton of strawberries for $1 each and a pound of ground beef for $1.99 this week.

Pretty incredible.

My favorite area of the store was the cosmetics, wellness, and vitamin department. Most of the products were cruelty-free, vegan, and did not contain toxins like sulfates, parabens, mineral oil, and artificial fragrances. (I’m all into safer skincare.) Even Sprouts’ brand products smelled delicious and were reasonably priced.

Sprouts open for business in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

Collection of soaps and other natural beauty products in Sprouts’ cosmetics department

I purchased Sprouts’ brand shampoo for the girls’ and enjoyed bath time tonight when they got to use it for the first time. Smelled amazing.

Other features that I love about Sprouts is the fresh juice bar, the delicious salad bar (that even contains pre-made wedge salads, certainly unique), and the enormous selection of craft beer, many of it coming from breweries local to Tampa Bay.

Sprouts Farmers Market is now in Florida | The Champagne Supernova

Ready-to-go wedge salad in Sprouts’ fresh salad bar.

Sprouts Farmers Market makes fresh juices that are healthy | The Champagne Supernova

Collection of fresh juices made fresh daily.

Sprouts Farmers Market has a large collection of local beers | The Champagne Supernova

I’ll take all of them. Along with an IV to pump it directly into my blood stream after this crazy week at work.

If I didn’t have to pick up my kids from school, I easily could have spent a couple hours in the store checking out all of their delicious foods and unique brands.

I’m so excited to support this business and hope you’ll feel the same way. Check it out this weekend.

For additional savings, check out Sprouts’ Mobile Coupon program, which makes it even easier to save on Sprouts’ already low prices. All you have to do is download the Sprouts app for Android or iPhone, create an account, digitally clip your coupons, then scan the barcode when you checkout. Easy, peasy. Here is the link.

Cheers!

    Healthy Living: How to Save Money


    How to save money by shopping at Sprouts | The Champagne Supernova

    This post is sponsored with pride by Sprouts Farmers Market.

    Eating healthy, wholesome foods can be expensive.

    With the low price of value meals at popular fast food chains, it’s no wonder so many Americans are out of shape and not feeling their best.

    Fortunately, Sprouts Farmers Market makes it possible to save money while eating well.

    After all, “you work hard for the money… so hard for it, honey!”

    Saving money is easy, and here’s how to do it:

    Join Opening Day Fun. The brand-spanking new Carrollwood location of Sprouts Farmers Market will open to the general public on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, bright and early at 7 a.m. 

    The first 200 shoppers in line (yes, there will likely be a line!) will receive a coupon for 20% off their entire purchase. Don’t worry, the line won’t be that bad because everyone waiting in line before the doors open will receive muffins and coffee samples. Further, every 15th customer at checkout will receive a coupon book of Sprouts savings.

    Deals of the Month. Each month, Sprouts puts out a “Deals of the Month” flyer with additional promotions and coupons. These deals are often seasonally themed and have interesting recipes and tips. You can get these flyers near the entrance of your local Sprouts.

    Subscribe to the Email List.  Stay up to date on Sprouts’ weekly specials by joining their email list, which you can do here. When signing up for their email list, don’t forget to register to win a cool new bike.

    Tips for how to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

    Sprouts Brand Items. (These are my absolute favorite). Sprouts offers a private label brand which provides an easy, more clearly labeled and affordable way to purchase organic and healthy products. This private label brand offers a great selection of organic and natural products, as well as vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties.

    Bulk Bins. Fortunately for your wallet, bulk items don’t have the marketing or expensive packaging costs built into the pricing like your conventional brand items. There are tons of available bulk items including several varieties of nuts, beans, fruit, and dried rice… even chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth. Sprouts also carries 100 assortments of bulk spices for the baking enthusiast.

    Read the Weekly Circular. Every week, Sprouts shares details regarding promotional items in a weekly advertising circular. The circular contains clear images, prices, and product descriptions to assist customers in creating their shopping lists. These ads run for eight days, so when they “double up” on Wednesday, the week of distribution, it’s called “Double Ad Wednesday.”

    How to save money by shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market | The Champagne Supernova

      Grocery Do-Gooders: Sprouts in the Community


      Ways that Sprouts Farmers Market gives back to the local community | The Champagne Supernova

      Unlike many other grocery and retail chains, Sprouts Farmers Market isn’t just focused on spitting out products and churning a profit.

      It’s also concerned about being a good neighbor.

      The folks at Sprouts know the importance of supporting and giving back to the local communities where it has its stores.

      In furtherance of the objective of giving back to the local communities and small businesses within those communities, Sprouts participates in a local vendor program.

      Two local Sprouts partners include Clear Springs Blueberry and Dakin Dairy Farm.

      Clear Springs Blueberry– located in the nearby city of Bartow, owner Stan Phelps has transformed 18,000 acres of reclaimed phosphate mines into an eco-friendly farming operation. His mission was to use the land to improve the quality of life for nearby residents. Windmills and tail recovery systems have been installed to minimize ground pumping, which is a greener way to farm.

      Dakin Dairy Farm– based in Myakka City, the Dakin Family Dairy has been milking cows and producing delicious, wholesome milk since 1973. As a sustainable farm, Dakin applies their composted manure to over 250 acres of grass. This is because soil enriched with compost reduces water usage and fertilizer needs. How cool is this- grass at Dakin Family Dairy is watered with nutrient-rich water that is recycled from barns. Cows at Dakin Dairy Farm are fed and cared for as organically as possible, with their overall health being the most important concern. This is because a healthy, well-fed cow produces high quality milk- with all the added benefits that come from fresh grass!

      Get excited… other Florida-based brands that will be featured at Sprouts include Bavaro’s, Floribbean, Gator Hammock, Gaucho Ranch, Goldenrod Apiaries Honey, Humanitea, Kombucha Tampa, Mojo Mama, Old Florida Gourmet, Pirate Jonny’s, and Terrapin Ridge Farms.

      Not only does Sprouts support local vendors, but it also participates in a food rescue program.

      This is sick. Did you know that nearly 133 billion pounds of food is wasted every year in the United States. Food retailers are responsible for nearly 42 billion of those pounds. Sprouts believes we have an obligation to respect our communities and the planet through waste reduction initiatives designed to significantly reduce and divert our waste.

      Ways that Sprouts Farmers Market gives back to the local community | The Champagne Supernova

      What does Sprouts do to further this mission against waste? All groceries that are edible but not fit for sale are donated to local hunger relief agencies within the community. Most of these agencies are affiliated with Feeding America, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States. These agencies then distribute this food to people in need in our communities. The local partner for the Tampa region of Sprouts is Feeding Tampa Bay.

      In 2016, Sprouts donated approximately 18 million pounds of product through the Food Rescue Program to people in need. This equates to 15 million meals. 

      If Sprouts deems the food unfit for donation, it is either composted to create products used to enrich soil for agriculture and community gardens or it is provided to farms for animal feed.

      No waste there!

      I love knowing that when I shop and Sprouts, I’m investing in a company that gives back to the Tampa Bay community.

      Cheers!

       

        Sprouts Brand Products: Affordability without Compromising Quality


        Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

        This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. But I love them. So there’s that. 

        When I was a kid, I hated when my mother came home from the grocery store with “off-brand” items.

        At thirteen, I was stuck up and I didn’t even know it.

        Now as a working mom, I realize the value of a dollar and understand that when you pay more money for brand name items, you’re also paying for that brand’s advertising.

        “I work hard for my money… so hard for it, honey!”

        I also realize that buying grocery store brands doesn’t require you to compromise the quality of the product.

        Fortunately, with Sprouts Brand, I can always count on top quality and great taste. With more than 2,100 products to choose from throughout the store and new items routinely arriving, you’re bound to find new favorites every single time you go shopping.

        Below are some of my favorite go-to Sprouts products illustrating their great brand products.

        Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

        I use these organic cotton balls to safely remove makeup and this green chile mac & cheese suits even the pickiest of eaters.

        Unlike similar grocery chains, Sprouts‘ buyers search across the world to locate and try new products, including everyday grocery essentials and unique, seasonal items. In fact, they often customize flavor profiles and refine ingredients to suit Sprouts’ high standards for quality, taste, and value.

        Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

        I am a huge-huge-huge fan of natural body products made with safer ingredients. This Sprouts brand peppermint bar soap checks all of my health-conscious boxes.

        To ensure you feel confident with your purchase and have fun trying new things, Sprouts offers a 100% money-back guarantee.

        In other words, if you don’t love what you bought, you get all your moolah back.

        Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

        This spreadable cookie butter… to die for. The hot salsa can satisfy even the biggest spicy food fans.

        If you see a Sprouts label on a package, then you can be certain the product meets the strict quality control standards. Their private label brands offer a vast selection of natural and organic products, as well as vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO varieties.

        Learn more about Sprouts Farmers Market Brand Products | The Champagne Supernova

        This is one of the few grocery-store brand sriracha sauces that are truly delicious. The french fried onions make the perfect addition to any casserole, and I put the organic lip balm in my daughter’s backpack to heal her wintertime chapped lips.

        Sprouts has exactly what you need to accommodate nearly every recipe you can imagine. It’s truly a one-stop shop. In fact, you can find a variety of recipes and tips featuring Sprouts Brand products here.

        Cheers to convenience, simplicity, and savings.

          Mom’s Best Friend: Persil ProClean


          This post is sponsored by Persil ProClean, but all opinions are my own. 

          The struggle to keep my daughters’ school uniforms clean is no joke.

          They routinely come home from school with their clothes stained from whatever kept them busy that day.

          Grass.

          Markers.

          Glue.

          Leftover spaghetti that was in their lunch.

          While the stains symbolize the fun times they had at school that day, they also made me crazy because, until I discovered Persil ProClean, I couldn’t find a detergent that legitimately removed all the stains.

          I was always left with a faded stain that I hoped their teachers or friends wouldn’t notice.

          Until I discovered Persil ProClean, I was left with two choices: either send my kids to school in slightly stained clothing, or keep replacing their uniforms with new ones.

          Ain’t nobody got time (or money) for that.

          It wasn’t until my mother recently told me about Persil ProClean while she was attempting to remove the stains from my daughters’ uniforms that I had ever heard of it, let alone appreciated its cleaning power.

          Seeing was truly believing.

          To demonstrate the cleaning capacity of Persil ProClean with its powerful stain removing formula, I washed my kids’ clothes after making crafts in preparation for Game Day.

          Because isn’t this the ultimate stain-causing event?

          Before I discovered Persil ProClean, I would strip my kids down to their skivvies before they were allowed to get messy. After, I would just throw them in the tub.

          No harm.

          Now with Persil ProClean, I don’t have to worry about their clothes getting stained.

          No stain is too much of a challenge.

          Here are photos of my girls making fun Game Day crafts using the ultimate stain-causing culprits: markers, glitter, paint, and glue.

          The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

          The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

          The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

          The finished product:

          The stain-removing power of Persil ProClean | The Champagne Supernova

          And guess what? NO STAINS.

          Don’t fret, mamas, Persil ProClean will also remove stains from all the red wine you were forced to drink all those nights you were unsuccessfully attempting to remove stains from your kids’ clothes from “those other detergents.”

          CLICK HERE for a coupon to receive $2.00 off your next purchase of Persil ProClean.  At this site, you will also receive more craft inspiration, learn more about Persil ProClean, and Game Day recipes.

          Cheers!

            How to Eliminate Clutter


            Tips and tricks on how to eliminate clutter | The Champagne Supernova

            To promote my upcoming role as Guest Editor for the January 2017 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting magazine, I was invited to present a segment on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend news show about eliminating the clutter of holiday toys before the new year.

            Great subject!

            Except anyone who’s ever been inside my home or has seen the inside of my car probably feels like they’re on an episode of Hoarders. I’ve got some junk in my trunk. (Za-zing!)

            Really. I have no business telling other people what to do with their “stuff” because, with a two-year-old and four-year-old, I have issues of my own.

            (All I want for Christmas is for my husband go find Alice the Housekeeper from the Brady Bunch and have her come move in with me.)

            So.

            I enlisted the help of some professionals and expert moms regarding how they purge toys and clothes to free up space in time for the new year. Here’s some of my favorite suggestions.

            What to Purge. Toys that are loud, obnoxious, and cause you to hear dinging and buzzing in your sleep. (Ohhhh, the batteries are missing? No clue where they went…) Toys that are an impalement risk. Legos. Puzzles. (The pieces always end up missing.) Anything that is broken or stained. And lastly, any toys that trigger arguments among your kids. (I’ve learned to give them the same presents to avoid disputes.)

            Other Types of Toys Worthy of Purging. Anything that has not been played with in the last 6 months. Anything that is similar to another toy they already have (keep only one!) Keep a set of toys in the closet and reintroduce them to your child every few months. If they aren’t interested, get rid of them.

            Host a Neighborhood Swap Party or Girls’ Night. Invite your friends and neighbors over and have them bring toys and clothes they no longer need to swap with the other families (after all, other kids’ toys are the best toys!). Include wine. It’s a party!

            Enlist Help from Elf on the Shelf. Gather a large assortment of old toys in a box for the Elf to bring to Santa in the North Pole when Christmas is over. Tell your children the Elf and his Elf friends will refurbish the toys so they can go to needy children the following Christmas. Your kids will feel good knowing they are helping others. (Props to Heather Phillips Walsh from the Moms of South Tampa Facebook group for sharing this good idea!)  

            Holidays are Over? No problem. When it’s your child’s birthday, have them bring out the same number of old toys as new gifts they receive so they can exchange them for their presents. (Again, idea credit to Heather Phillips Walsh. I need to be friends with this gal.)

            Social Media. This is a great way to get rid of clutter that’s actually worth something. Aside from social media like Craigslist that spans a wider geographic area, you can also look to local Facebook groups for selling and swapping your belongings with others. My favorite Facebook groups in the Tampa Bay area are  South Tampa Swap and Shop and MacDill Yard Sale. There is also an app called Nextdoor where you can communicate directly with other people in your neighborhood regarding “stuff” you’re trying to get rid of.

            Clothes. Once a year, I go through my closet and get rid of anything that is dated, stained, doesn’t fit (e.g. too tight, usually not the other way around), or that I haven’t worn in the last calendar year. This requires me to be honest with myself, as I have historically held onto clothes because I was holding out for an opportunity to wear something, which usually never ended up happening. There is a zero percent chance I will wear a decade-old (mmm… ok… fifteen-year-old) fraternity or sorority mixer shirt in public. Zero.

            Donation Locations. There are tons of these in your local community, and you can usually begin by calling your neighborhood church, who might know of a family in need of clothes and toys. There are other donation and charitable organizations that accept gently used goods. In South Tampa, I take my clothing donations to the Salvation Army and toys that are in good condition to a local thrift store called Lionhearted Toys.

            You can watch my news segment here.

            Happy purging, and wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and your families.

            Cheers!

              The Paperless Princess: Receipt You Later


              cvs-pharmacy-digital-receipts

              Disclosure: I’m proud to be working with CVS Pharmacy on the CVS Says Receipt You Later Campaign. All opinions expressed are my own, and all product claims or program details shared should be verified by CVS.com or with the appropriate manufacturers. 

              One of my goals for 2017 is to simplify my life by acquiring less “stuff.”

              Less toys around the house that my kids have outgrown and never play with.

              Less cosmetics and old jewelry that sits abandoned in various places around our home.

              Shoot. Even the “junk drawer” in my kitchen has various sub-categories of junk!

              Less “stuff” inside my purse, which is a bottomless pit of pens, receipts, notes, and fuchsia lipstick.

              For 2017, I’ve declared myself the Paperless Princess.

              One of my go-to stores, CVS Pharmacy, in order to promote efficiency and eliminate clutter, recently started offering digital receipts as a new option for the millions of active members of its ExtraCare Rewards Program.

              I shop at CVS Pharmacy several times a week because it’s on my way home from work and perfect for when I need to grab simple (yet important) things like plastic baggies for the kids’ lunches, cotton balls, and super glue.

              Really. I purchased these three things from CVS the other day.

              With the digital receipt program, customers now have the opportunity to opt out of receiving paper receipts for in-store purchases when completing their transactions in the front of the store. Once the one-time sign up process is completed, customers will receive their receipts digitally, along with their personalized coupons and rewards, each time they shop at CVS Pharmacy.

              Instead of the cashier handing me a long receipt after my purchase that ultimately gets “lost in the shuffle” and tossed in the trash, I now receive digital receipts illustrating what I purchased.

              Returns are easy, peasy. No more hunting down the paper receipt.

              Signing up was lightning fast. As in, fifteen seconds.

              I simply provided my email address to the cashier at check out and she said “alrighty, you should have your digital receipt in a few minutes.”

              It was in my inbox by the time I got to the car.

              Going digital results in increased efficiency, convenience, and personalization.

              Less clutter equals one happy mama!

              #ReceiptYouLater #CVS

              Cheers from the Paperless Princess!

                Ho Ho Ho: Holiday Gift Guide 2016


                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                This post is sponsored by Babbleboxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media. 

                Procrastinators unite! If you’re like me, you regularly scramble for the perfect holiday gifts in the days immediately preceding Christmas.

                You’re at the mall duking it out with the other shoppers.

                You’re aimlessly wandering the aisles of Target.

                You’re at the florist looking for a last-minute arrangement.

                No more. I’ve done the work for you. And you can do all of this shopping from the comfort of your home or at your desk during lunch hour.

                Vermont Brownie Company Gourmet Brownie Sampler. Ideal for the friend or family member with a sweet tooth that’s just as sweet as they are. The Vermont Brownie Company collaborates with their farm partners and use the finest, locally-sourced, freshest ingredients possible. The company partners with Cabot Creamery, Callebaut Belgian chocolate, King Arthur Flour, and Vermont Creamery. (Am I the only one who feels like the world’s best desserts originate in Vermont?) This gourmet brownie gift is available in an assortment of flavors that include triple chocolate chunk blondie, espresso dulce de leche, and maple toffee crunch. Take 15% off your order here.

                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                Vermont Brownie Company Sampler

                Omaha Steaks: The Tasteful Gift Gourmet Collection. This gift is perfect for the foodie in your life. A giving classic, Omaha Steaks has holiday gift basket options that work for “the person who seems to have it all.” The Tasteful Gift is a collection that includes two (2) filet mignons, two (2) top sirloins, two (2) boneless pork chops, four (4) potatoes au gratin, and four (4) caramel apple tartlets, as well as one seasoning packet. The entire package is only $69.99 and shipping is free- here is the direct link. (My favorite word!) Super easy to order online or on the phone, just go to Omahasteaks.com or 1-800-228-9055.

                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                Omaha Steaks Tasteful Gift Holiday Collection

                Spire Wearable Wellness & Activity Tracker. Trust me, I learned the hard way, people: your state of mind impacts how you breathe, and how you breathe impacts your state of mind. Studies reflect that deep breathing can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and increase endorphins. Working with experts on the respiratory system, Spire is the only wearable device that increases mindfulness and productivity by tracking breathing patterns. This product attaches to your clothes and serves as a “trainer” for mindfulness and mindful living. While wearing the Spire, users will learn to anticipate stressful events before they happen and alert users with actionable insights on how to prepare and experience more calm in their life. This is the perfect gift for the loved on in your life who could use some help with stress management. (Save $10 off your order when you purchase your Spire from this link here.)

                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                Spire Discover Calm

                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                Spire Discovery Calm

                LumaBella Cool Mist Straightener. Say goodbye to split ends and straw hair! This salon quality straightener is technologically advanced and features a cool mist channel that conditions the hair before smoothing it with heat. This reduces frizz for hair that shines, protects from breakage, improves moisture and shine, and delivers longer lasting style. A huge step up from Helen of Troy from the days of yore. (90s girls, you know what I’m talking about!) For 20% off, use the code MIST20 at this link here. (Offer valid through 11:59 pm EST on 12/30/16).

                Find the perfect presents for the special people in your life with this holiday gift guide | The Champagne Supernova

                LumaBella Cool Mist Straightener

                YogaJewelz Petite Om Bracelet. Namaste, y’all. These bracelets (also come in necklaces) are sterling silver and are specially designed. Wear them dressed up, dressed down, or at a favorite yoga retreat. Reminiscent of the Hamsa, these bracelets are the tiny symbols that pack a huge punch. They are a constant reminder to live a life rich with luck, love, peace, and harmony. Purchase yours here.

                YogaJewelz Petite Om Bracelet

                YogaJewelz Petite

                Wishing everyone a fun and relaxing holiday.

                Cheers!

                  Small Businesses: What People Don’t Know


                  boise-paper

                  This post was sponsored. Because Christmas is coming up and baby wants a pony. 

                  The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday.

                  I feel like I run two small businesses, aside from working full time in my regular career.

                  My husband has an engineering firm that he established when I was eight months pregnant with our oldest daughter (perfect timing- NOT!)

                  The blog is run as a business.

                  I understand the nuances of hiring employees and subcontractors, as well as the importance of having quality products to help make a best “first impression.”

                  We use paper to print graphic designs, send proposal letters, make presentations, create marketing materials, and for general office letterhead.

                  Why is it important to think about your paper purchase? Ostensibly, it seems this doesn’t matter and that paper is one-size-fits all.

                  Wrong.

                  I judge people who use paper that appears cheap and flimsy.

                  Shallow, but true. (#keepingitreal)

                  For instance. Consider when you’re at the greeting card rack at Target. The quality of card you purchase depends on the recipient. Kids’ birthday party? Go with the .99 cent area because you know the kid won’t care about the poor quality and the card will be trashed (or lost) within two days of it being opened. It’s the thought that counts, right?

                  But what if you’re buying a sympathy card for a death? Or it’s Boss’s day? Then you go with the fancier Hallmark card with better texture and superior colors.

                  With printer paper, here is a clear difference in value and performance between the options on the shelf.

                  Selecting the right paper can ensure the colors pop off the page, black ink doesn’t bleed to the other side, paper doesn’t jam in the printer (my personal pet peeve!), printed pages look amazing, and you get the most out of every single solitary sheet.

                  Don’t believe me about the quality of paper making a huge difference?

                  Here, I tested Boise POLARIS Premium Multipurpose paper against the Equivocal Hammermill product: Hammermill Premium Multipurpose. I received reams of both types of paper to touch, feel, and test.

                  While the differences are outlined below, what cannot be reflected in the photographs is that the POLARIS paper was slightly heavier than the competitor paper. A paper that is too sheer can not only make a document feel less sophisticated, but it can also make it impossible to print on both sides.

                  img_1138

                  The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left.

                  img_1140

                  The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left. I noticed the Hammermill paper is more see-through, while the ink appeared richer on the POLARIS paper.

                  img_1141

                  The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left. Notice the difference in the opacity of the paper and the richer appearance of ink on the POLARIS paper.

                  A few other perks about Boise POLARIS Premium Multipurpose paper: it carries a 99.0% jam-free performance guarantee that is certified by a third party, the Buyers Laboratory, Inc.. Further, it is available in three different weights, depending on your needs. It is made in the good ole’ U-S-of-A and is made from wood fibers that come from a sustainably-managed forest. Lastly, and my favorite, is that all paper packages include Box Tops for Education, so you can learn money for local schools while also getting a great printed document (read my blog post about Box Tops here).

                  Cheers for a great product and getting a lot of bang for your buck!

                    The Customer’s Always Right


                    Customer service and workers who are annoying | The Champagne Supernova

                    It blows my mind how businesses, especially small ones, permit employees to be rude to their clients and customers.

                    Take The Write Stuff, for instance. They sell the loveliest invitations, gifts, and home decor and accessories on this side of the Mason-Dixon, but the older man who works there is consistently rude. Like he’s annoyed that someone dared to enter the store and ask him to ring something up, causing him to do his freaking job. And Heaven forbid a customer request that something is gift wrapped because they might as well be asking him to lasso the moon.

                    South Tampa people, you feel my pain, you really do.

                    But I love their Rifle Paper Company stationery so I keep returning.

                    What’s more stifling is when the business owner is the rude one.

                    He or she spends time, energy, and moolah on marketing materials and public relations but is too dumb to realize the lasting impact of poor customer service.

                    Like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld: No referral for you! No return business for you!

                    I have a hard time relating to those who are nasty “business minded” people.

                    In my “real job” as an attorney, I’m required to adhere to strict client reporting guidelines and similar deadlines Courts impose regarding responding to a complaint, answering discovery, and preparing for trial. Blowing a deadline could result in sanctions, losing a client or, worse, a legal malpractice case. I also respond to all client emails within 24 hours of them being sent (sometimes even on weekends, to the extent reasonable) in the interest of having them know I am on top of something. As the legal field is saturated with attorneys, my colleagues work hard to secure clients and keep them happy because we know there are hundreds of other lawyers who would love for the client to be their own.

                    In my “side job” as a blogger, I work hard to obtain sponsorships. To a lay person, companies pay bloggers to promote their services or products, which result in sponsored posts via a blog post or social media promotions, or both. (According to the Federal Trade Commission, sponsored posts must be conspicuously disclosed to the reader.) All of these sponsorships involve contracts with strict deadlines regarding the date and time to post. I work hard to ensure I comply with all deadlines. In rare instances where I cannot meet a deadline (like two weeks ago, when the internet went down at my house and the technician couldn’t come until five days later) I let the client know ahead of time and either secure an extension or give them the option to bow out of the contract.

                    It’s not all bad. I want to tell you about an exemplary customer service experience.

                    Last November, I was invited to attend a “girls night out” with friends and, like most women, had “nothing to wear,” despite having a closet full of clothes (some of which still had the tags). During my lunch break, I rushed to the Nordstrom at the International Plaza, quickly retrieved the perfect winter-white jumpsuit from Topshop, and did a little internal crying once I reached the check-out counter. The associate was brand spanking new (it was her first day on the job!) and took her forever to ring up the long line of other customers ahead of me. As in, The Sandlot forever.  FOR-EV-ER.

                    via GIPHY

                    Once I finally made it to the front of the line, it took the sales associate ten minutes to ring up my ONE jumpsuit.

                    When I arrived back at the house after work, I was pressed for time. I had a couple minutes to shower, refresh my makeup (as in, putting new makeup on top of old makeup- don’t judge!), spray some dry shampoo, get dressed, and call Uber to take me to the restaurant where I was meeting my friends.

                    When I retrieved the outfit from the bag, it caught my eye.

                    The security tag was still attached.

                    The sales associate forgot to remove it.

                    This was no small tag that I could easily hide. It was black, the length of a stapler, and was a huge contrast from the white outfit.

                    Desperate, I tried to remove it myself. No dice.

                    So I did something I’m ashamed of, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

                    I got on the phone, called Nordstrom, asked to speak with the manager, and unleashed Hell.

                    I was crazy. I was another person. I am not proud of who that person was.

                    I was furious about the sales associate. I was so patient while I was in the store. Didn’t get annoyed when her being slow cost me time at lunch. And this was the thanks I got?

                    via GIPHY

                    I swear that if that call was recorded for quality control purposes and someone finds it and connects it to me, it’ll damage my chances of ever running for public office.

                    Instead of meeting fire with fire, the manager calmly advised that she would send an associate to meet me at my destination to remove the security tag.

                    Wait.

                    What?

                    As in, Nordstrom was rectifying the mistake by going out of their way to come to a location that was convenient to me to remove it.

                    Are you kidding me? After I was so rude and obnoxious?

                    If this were any other store, the lady on the other end of the phone would have pretended to sympathize with my situation and advised me that I’d have to come back to the store to have it removed.

                    An hour later, as I was enjoying wine with friends, a sweet Nordstrom associate met me at the restaurant and removed the tag.

                    It was incredible.

                    But this is what sets Nordstrom apart from its competitors.

                    When I told a girlfriend this story, she pointed out that she returned some sunglasses to Nordstrom several months after she bought them (with no receipt, only the credit card she used to purchase the item) and Nordstrom gave her a refund with no questions asked.

                    Nordstrom might be pricier than some of the other stores, but the customer service and overall experience are bar none. I don’t mind paying a little bit more when I know I am going to be treated like a customer who is truly valued.

                    I wish more professionals would adopt the philosophy that the customer is always right, even though my behavior in response to the associate’s honest mistake- no matter how irritating it was to me- was completely wrong.

                    Cheers!

                    By the way, I am receiving nothing from Nordstrom to write this post and I didn’t ask for anything. I just believe they deserve a nod for exemplifying how customer service should truly be. 

                      1 2 3 4