Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Finding a Nanny, or “Internet Dating for Parents and Caregivers” Part 1 of 4: Writing Your Personal Ads


How to find a nanny | The Champagne Supernova

My kids have been in daycare since they were a couple months old. I never had the luxury of having a nanny for them, so I jumped at the opportunity for a guest post from my friend, Shylie Bannon, when she offered to write one.

This is the first installment in a four part series about finding a nanny. I’m so grateful for Shylie and her insight, as well as her friendship.

Here goes:

When I grew up, both of my parents worked outside of the home. My mother had her own OB/GYN practice which often required her to keep “odd” hours (babies love to be born on the weekends and in the middle of the night), and so I grew up raised by my parents, with the help of some very loving, reliable caregivers. We developed close relationships with these caregivers, and to this day, we exchange holiday cards, birthday cards, and even invited them to our wedding. When I became pregnant, it seemed like a no-brainer to me that I would choose the same kind of arrangement for my son.

I thought to myself, “This will be easy! How hard can it be to find the right, qualified caregiver for my three-month-old?”

Famous. Last. Words.

Finding a nanny is a very weird combination of interviewing prospective employees and going on blind internet dates.

You have to come across as appealing to the prospective nannies, but you also have to ensure that the prospective nannies understand your “non-negotiables.” You have to figure out if you and your candidate have the right “chemistry.” You are interviewing someone who is going to spend more time in your home during waking hours than you do. Unlike internet dating, the consequences of a bad nanny matchup are more than just a potential “ghosting” and funny story to later relate at cocktail parties. You may end up in the lurch without childcare at a moment’s notice.

When you decide you are going to search for a nanny for your kid(s), the very first step you should take is to sit down with your partner and make a list of job duties, requirements, and character traits you are looking for in a nanny. You should consider:

How much can you afford to spend on care? Apart from paying a nanny her wages, being an employer comes with so many hidden costs. Nannies are considered “household employees” and should be paid as W-2 employees. Employers are responsible for paying employer contributions to social security taxes, Medicare taxes, and both Federal and State unemployment taxes. Are you willing to offer paid vacation? If your nanny is transporting your child, are you going to compensate her for gas/wear and tear on her vehicle?

Hours you need care: Be realistic about this and if you are using your nanny to care for your child while you are at work, build in a bit of a cushion for unanticipated last minute tasks, late-running meetings, or bad traffic. Likewise, don’t expect your nanny to show up and you to run out the door in the morning. You should expect to have an overlap of approximately 10-15 minutes each morning and evening with your caregiver to “debrief” and exchange important information. Your caregiver must be available for these talks, and it’s best for neither party to feel harried or rushed. Keep in mind that nannies are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over 40. Those extra hours can add up quickly.

Location: Is it non-negotiable for you to have the nanny provide care in your home, or are you willing to drop your child off at the nanny’s home? If you are comfortable having your child watched in another location, make sure you consider what materials/equipment you will be expected to supply, and the condition of the equipment the nanny has in her home. You should also consider safety hazards and who else might be in the home while your child is being watched. Is the nanny willing to let you do a complete walkthrough of her home with little to no advanced notice?

Household tasks you want your caregiver to complete: Some families expect caregivers to perform household chores for the entire family, others expect their caregivers to perform tasks related only to the child in their charge. Considering what role you expect your caregiver to take will affect the type of candidate you are looking for, as well as how much you may have to pay.

Tasks associated with caregiving: For an infant or toddler, your caregiver must be comfortable handling all tasks for a completely dependent little person. If you are looking for a nanny for an elementary or middle school aged child, will you expect the caregiver to provide homework assistance? Supervise other children during play dates? Transport to after-school lessons?

-Other specifics you should contemplate:

Are you comfortable with a smoker or someone who lives with a smoker?

Are you comfortable letting the caregiver bring their own child with them to work? For that matter, are you open to a caregiver who has children of her own, and if so, do you have preferences regarding the age of the caregiver’s children?

How much experience do you expect your caregiver to have, and are you looking for a specific type of prior experience? Daycare, teacher, in-home provider?

Is the caregiver fluent in a language in which you are fluent? Is the caregiver comfortable communicating with others in English?

Does the caregiver’s age matter to you? Some people prefer a mature, grandmotherly type, and others are looking for a younger, more contemporary caregiver. The physical tasks associated with your job may play a role in determining whether you have an age preference. Keep in mind that with infants and young children, caregivers will be sitting and/or laying on the floor with your child and carrying them often.

Do you require a caregiver to have her own transportation? (Even if you do not expect the caregiver to transport your child, this may be important to ensure reliability.)

If you have pets, ensure potential applicants are aware of what type of pet you have so if they are afraid of animals or allergic to animals, you don’t waste anyone’s time.

After making this list, you should categorize these preferences as “Non-Negotiables,” “Preferred,” and “Desired/Fantasy” items. As we interviewed candidates, we quickly found that a number of our preferences shifted amongst these categories. We knew how much money we could afford to pay, and that was a non-negotiable for us. In order to get a qualified candidate with whom we felt comfortable, we ended up having to reduce the number of hours of care. Fortunately, our employers were willing to work with us on alternative office schedules—for example, my husband is in his office at 7 AM so he can leave earlier in the day, and I go to work a little later than I previously did, but stay later. We initially were flexible about hiring a caregiver who had her own young child (whom she did not bring to work), but after a bad experience, decided that it was “non-negotiable” that our nanny have no children younger than school-age children so that there would be no concerns she would be exclusively focused on our son when she was on the job.

When creating your job posting, make sure you include some information about yourself and your family. After all, you have to make sure that your family is a good fit for your nanny as well. I tried to convey a sense of who we were and what was important to us as a family in our ad (our love for the Florida Gators featured front and center). Make sure you put all of your non-negotiables in the job listing, other than your rate of pay. This will save you a lot of time and energy making your way through an interview with someone who seems like the perfect candidate until you find out that she is, in fact, incredibly allergic to cats when you have two fluffy feline members of the household (this actually happened to me). I recommend putting a few of your “preferred” traits in the posting as well, but ultimately, I found that a number of applicants would just parrot my listing back to me when describing themselves because they knew that was what I wanted to hear.

Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, and how to advertise it, you next have to navigate the interview process—aka, the Courtship. Will you swipe left or right?

Shylie Bannon is a graduate of the University of Florida and lives her son and husband in Jacksonville, where she is employed as an attorney. 

    Tropical Smoothie Cafe: Your Holiday Beverage Destination


    Holiday Smoothies from Tropical Smoothie | The Champagne Supernova

    This blog post is sponsored. All opinions are my own. 

    Does anyone else feel like the holidays just snuck up on them this year?

    I feel like we were just soaking up the sun at the beach and- bam!- we are now breaking out Elf on the Shelf and writing wish lists for Santa.

    I have to affirmatively do certain things to get myself mentally prepared for the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

    Things that put me in the mood for the holidays:

    • Listening to Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album;
    • Forcing my family to watch back-to-back episodes of Home Alone and The Christmas Story;
    • Burning cinnamon-flavored candles in the house;
    • Baking gingerbread cookies; and
    • Taking walks around the neighborhood to look at the lights.

    I’ve recently added another thing to the list:

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      Be Prepared for Hurricanes with Clorox


      How to be prepared for hurricane season | The Champagne Supernova

      This post is sponsored by Clorox. All opinions are my own. 

      Confession: I still have major post-traumatic stress disorder from when Hurricane Irma struck Florida’s coast last year. Television footage from the recent aftermath of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas only exacerbated the PTSD.

      Regarding Irma, the days before the hurricane were awful. Being glued to the T.V. trying to figure out the storm’s projected path. Gathering hurricane supplies like fresh water, sand bags, flashlights, perishable food, gasoline containers, and making sure the generator was in good working order. Figuring out whether to stay or go.

      We decided to stay in Tampa and “rough it out” until the day before the storm was supposed to hit. At that point, the path changed with the storm’s eye heading literally for my neighborhood. My husband and I packed the car with our kids and the few worldly possessions we cared about (baby photos, birth certificates, credit cards, cash, and passports), and headed to a friend’s house in south Florida.

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        Get a Better Night’s Sleep with Indigo Mattress


        Get a better night sleep with the indigo mattress | The Champagne Supernova

        This blog post is sponsored by Indigo Sleep. All opinions are my own and I legit love this mattress and sleep on it every night.

        Bid adieu to sleepless nights!

        I’ve had insomnia for years. Years. Not to mention I also use the bed in the guest room as a “work station”- no wonder it’s hard for me to get a good night’s rest.

        We’ve needed to get rid of the guest room bed for years. I bought it when I graduated law school in 2007 from a college student on Craigslist (eew!) and over the years, the bed started sagging in the middle. My poor house guests who had to sleep on it!

        My husband and I looked everywhere to find a suitable mattress for the guest room, which included in-store shopping and conducting online research. A friend of mine recommended something like a full size mattress that she looked into and purchased. She didn’t look back. I found a lot of information about beds that came in a box, but the idea seemed foreign and illogical to me. I thought “how could a bed that comes rolled out in a box actually provide support for my back?”

        Then I found out about Indigo Sleep, tested the mattress for several weeks, and loved it. Best of all, it comes with TWO interchangeable support layers you can switch out, depending on your needed level of support.

        get a good night sleep on the Indigo Sleep mattress | The Champagne Supernova

        Let me provide some background.

        Indigo Sleep is a start-up company located in Tampa, Florida. While there are tons of mattress-in-a-box providers, Indigo is different because the company is focused on providing healthy, comfortable, and premium sleep.

        Indigo Sleep‘s mattresses are made in the USA at a family-owned factory in North Carolina. Indigo offers free shipping and returns, as well as a 100-night trial and money back guarantee. If you don’t LOVE your mattress, Indigo Sleep will take it back for a full refund. Not partial refund. FULL REFUND.

        get a good night's rest with Indigo Sleep bed in a box | The Champagne Supernova

        Patented technology makes Indigo the only mattress that never needs to be replaced.

        The Indigo comfort layers are designed with two distinct comfort options in one
        mattress, suited to help back pain. The choice is yours. Simply pop the cover and flip
        your comfort layer from the soft and supportive gel memory foam (blue side) to a firmer
        specially engineered foam (white side). In the Queen size and up, you get two comfort
        layers so that you and your partner can each choose the bed feel you prefer. No more
        compromise when it comes to comfort!

        I have the Luxury mattress, which contains a 2″ premium Oeko Tek Class 1 Certified Latex which is the highest rating available, suitable for babies and 2″ of denser memory foam. The foam components in ALL of Indigo Sleep’s beds are made to the CertiPUR-US specifications. All layers are supported by a 6″ base layer of dense memory foam.

        Indigo Sleep‘s clean chemistry keeps you safe even when you’re asleep! The company leaves out harmful chemicals like modacrylic and fiberglass (gross- Google their dangers!) You can rest easy on the safest and cleanest materials possible on this mattress. The Luxury bed uses a Para-aramid fire barrier that firefighters use.

        Bed in a box with Indigo Sleep | The Champagne Supernova

        This mattress is designed to literally last a lifetime. Instead of replacing an entire mattress, you only have to replace the comfort layers which have a 5-7 year life expectancy. You can replace them at a fraction of the cost of the original purchase, saving you money and keeping parts of your mattress out of landfills.

        Indigo‘s plush cover is so soft you won’t even want a sheet! Easily remove the cover to get to the inside of your mattress. You can even clean the inside of your mattress. Getting rid of built up allergens, dust-mites, and dead skin. CLEAN FREAKS REJOICE!

        Indigo provides the highest-rated materials on the market, with no toxic chemicals. It’s
        latex and cool gel memory foam layers have been noted for providing motion isolation
        and eliminating chronic back, hip, and shoulder pain.

        Indigo mattresses have the ability to literally open up your mattress so you can clean out the buildup of dust mites, skin particles, and allergens. (GROSS!) This provides better health and betters sleep!

        Use coupon code SWEETDREAMS for $50 off any Classic mattress and LUXURYSLEEP for $150 off any Luxury mattress.

        Cheers to a good night’s rest!

          Humm Kombucha: Not Your Grandma’s Refreshment


          This post is sponsored by Humm Kombucha. For real, yall, all opinions are my own and I wouldn’t promote a product I didn’t love. 

          Who here routinely hits the 3 o’clock “I need caffeine” slump but would rather avoid coffee?

          Who is looking for an alternative to sugary fruit juices without compromising taste?

          Look no further than kombucha!

          Have you head of kombucha- or seen it on the shelves of your local grocery store- before but don’t really know what it is?

          I’ve got the scoop on not only kombucha itself, but my favorite brand in the business.

          What is kombucha? Kombucha is a fermented tea with probiotics and antioxidants that help positively contribute to the overall digestive condition. These probiotics balance the good and bad bacteria in our bodies, while antioxidants positively impact multiple systems.

          Kombucha is a lightly effervescent beverage paired with fun ingredients to find the perfect flavor combination for any palate. It’s an organic natural go-to beverage that makes your body happy.

          I forego coffee each morning and grab a bottle of Humm’s strawberry lemonade flavored kombucha to sip on the drive to the office. Unlike most caffeinated beverages, kombucha keeps me energized all day without hitting a rocky “low” later… plus, with kombucha, there’s no bitter aftertaste like there is with a regular cup of Joe.

          Get your probiotics with Humm Kombucha in Tampa | The Champagne Supernova

          What sets Humm Kombucha apart from other brands? Humm is the world’s most delectable kombucha and a fan favorite among families, kids, hardcore wellness folks, and busy parents who are always on the go.

          Founded in 2009 as “Kombucha Mama” by friends and other kombucha enthusiasts, Jamie Danek and Michelle Mitchell, the company has taken off to become one the largest and fastest-growing brands in the industry.

          From Humm Kombucha‘s early days brewing in the founders’ home kitchen through its movement to a full-scale brewery, Humm remains focused on taste, accountability, and happiness. After all, health and happiness go hand-in-hand.

          Humm Kombucha is authentic, certified USDA organic, and made with all-natural ingredients. Each bottle contains 2 billion probiotics at the time of bottling. Humm’s kombucha is live and raw- never from concentrate. It’s also vegan, dairy free, GMO-free, and gluten-free.

          What I like best is it’s a refreshing substitute for soda and sugary fruit juices.

          You can purchase Humm at convenience stores and grocery stores in all 50 states and in Canada. In 2016, Humm expanded to Walmart, Target, and Costco.

          Headquartered in Bend, Oregon, Humm created the world’s first Kombucha tap room in 2013 and welcomes its visitors to enjoy a glass. Make sure you swing by if you’re ever in the area.

          Humm Kombucha comes in seven flavors: hopped grapefruit, pomegranate lemonade, coconut lime, lemon ginger, strawberry lemonade, mango passionfruit, and blueberry mint, and now a 40 oz size bottle- all at Publix!

          Cheers to Humm, and cheers to feeling naturally energized!

          Humm Kombucha in Tampa is a healthy alternative to sugary substitutes | The Champagne Supernova

            Tampa: Shipt Now Delivers from Target!


            Shipt is now delivering in Tampa from Target | The Champagne Supernova

            Thank you to shipt.com for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest and completely my own. 

            If you are a busy parent like me, you are constantly looking for ways to make your life easier.

            Restaurant delivery services.

            Dry cleaning pick up and drop off at your home.

            Maid service.

            The last thing I want to do after a stressful day at work is schlep my two kids (ages 4 and 5) to a retail store.

            I can hear it now.

            MOM, she just touched me!

            MOM, can we get a cookie from the bakery?

            MOM, my toe hurts! Can you find me an extra large mermaid band-aid?

            MOM, can I have this toy that I don’t need

            MOM, mom, Mom, MoM, MOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

            As a child of the 80s, I don’t know how my parents managed without all of today’s modern conveniences.

            Luckily, I discovered Shipt, which has completely changed the way I shop for groceries and household products.

            In Tampa, Shipt recently added TARGET to its list of grocery and product delivery. Woohoo!

            What is Shipt? 

            Shipt is a membership-based grocery and product marketplace service, enabling the delivery of fresh foods and household essentials. For the low rate of $99 per year, Shipt members receive unlimited grocery deliveries on all orders over $35.

            (This fee is well worth it, as I use Shipt at least twice a week.)

            Shipt now delivers from Target in Tampa | The Champagne Supernova

            How does it work?

            Through Shipt’s mobile or desktop app, members may browse a full selection of grocery and product items available at their local grocery store and choose a convenient time window. A Shipt Shopper visits the local store to hand pick and deliver the items to the member.

            … And who are these “Shipt Shoppers?” 

            Shipt uses a community of shoppers to shop and delivery orders. These shoppers set their own flexible schedules. Wanna apply to be a Shipt Shopper? Visit Shipt.com and click “Get Paid to Shop.”

            Shipt shoppers go through an application process, interview process, and background check. On average, Shipt Shoppers earn up to $25 per hour.

            Note: I’ve been using Shipt for over a year now and have never once had a dud of a shopper. Not once.

            Shipt shopper delivering goodies from Target in Tampa | The Champagne Supernova

            My Shipt Shopper extraordinaire, Elizabeth.

            Shipt now delivers at Target in Tampa | The Champagne Supernova

            My Shipt Shopper, Elizabeth, doing her thang.

            Shipt’s Philanthropy. 

            Not only does Shipt make my busy life easier, but the company is also a do-gooder. Shipt is committed to each community it serves and will identify opportunities to work with community organizations that are dedicated to addressing hunger relief for families and children.

            Shipt delivers goods from Target in Tampa | The Champagne Supernova

            Now I have milk, hangers, and can clean the kitchen without first having to go to the store.

            Cheers to Shipt, Cheers to Target, and Cheers to Simplicity!

              A Better Day with FAGE


              Make your day better with FAGE yogurt | The Champagne Supernova

              This post is sponsored by The Everywhere Agency on behalf of FAGE; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

              My New Year’s Resolution for 2018 was to do things that make me FEEL GOOD, whether it’s spending time with the right people, being productive at work and at home, and also what I put in my body.

              Let’s face it: I’m not in my twenties anymore and can’t just load up on carbs, sugar, and caffeine without my body paying for it later.

              Unfortunately, making better choices and eating a balanced diet isn’t easy when you’re a parent on the go.

              Thank goodness for the FAGE Total Split Cup – it makes my already-hectic mornings so much more manageable.

              FAGE Total Split Cup is an all-natural Greek strained yogurt with delicious toppings available in three fat varieties so you can find just what you’re looking for: FAGE Total, FAGE Total 2% and FAGE Total 0%.

              Simply add as much topping as you desire for a snack that’s perfectly balanced.

              (While the whole milk fat level offers 9 toppings, my favorite is FAGE Total Split Cup (whole milk) Apricot topping time and time again, as pictured).

              Lemme tell you. When you taste the FAGE Total Split Cup, you’ll have a hard time believing this tasty treat is JAM PACKED with protein. Not to mention it doesn’t have high sugar content- only 11 grams.

              Not only is this treat nutritious for me, but my very picky kiddos love it, too. I toss it into their lunch boxes as a snack (win for me because there is zero preparation required) and they come home with smiling mouths and satisfied bellies.

              FAGE Total Split Cup with Whole Milk | The Champagne Supernova

              FAGE Total Split Cup yogurt in apricot flavor is so satisfying | The Champagne Supernova

              FAGE Total Split Cup yogurt makes a great breakfast option | The Champagne Supernova

              If you’re still focusing on YOUR New Year Resolutions, FAGE Total Split Cup won’t derail your diet or good habits.

              To find a FAGE Total Split Cup near you, head on over here.

              Cheers!

               

                Entertaining Made Easy with La Terra Fina


                Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

                Lemon Pepper & Asiago vegetable dip from La Terra Fina

                This post is sponsored by La Terra Fina. All opinions are my own.

                Who here gets really stressed at the idea of entertaining?

                Me! Me! Me!

                Some people are natural born entertainers and, unfortunately, that’s just not my forte.

                I stress about the idea of planning, keeping track of RSVPs and, more than anything, coming up with snacks to keep the guests’ bellies full.

                Luckily, La Terra Fina has some AMAZING fruit and vegetable dips and spreads on hand to keep every host and guest happy.

                These include:

                • Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Dip
                • Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip
                • Italian Style Tomato & Cheese Dip & Spread; and
                • Lemon Pepper Asiago Dip & Spread.

                All of these (inexpensive!) dips are available at your neighborhood Publix and taste good by themselves or doctored with other ingredients.

                La Terra Fina was launched in 1983 by a San Francisco area caterer who was locally famous for her dips and quiches. She created her products for grocery and club stores and now offers more chef-inspired goodies that are perfect for friends and loved ones.

                La Terra Fina is committed to the environment and long-term sustainability through it’s product sourcing, packaging decisions, and production processes. The company recycles 83% of materials and use electricity reducing programs at their plant and in their offices. La Terra Fina uses locally grown ingredients and is always looking for new ways to decrease the company’s environmental footprint.

                Check out La Terra Fina‘s website for a huge list of appetizer, dessert, main course, side dish, and snack recipes that take 30 minutes or less. (You can also find a coupon online for a buy one, get one free product.)

                Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake Dip

                • One container of La Terra Fina Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip
                • One half of a pint of fresh blueberries
                • Five large graham crackers
                • One fresh lemon

                Mash the graham crackers into small pieces and mix them with the blueberries and Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip. Add lemon zest to the top (for appearance sake) and enjoy with cookies, crackers, or the fruit of your choice.

                Cheers to La Terra Fina for helping us simplify our lives and Happy Entertaining!

                Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

                Eureka Lemon Cheesecake Dip, Italian Style Tomato & Cheese Dip & Spread, and Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Dip from La Terra Fina.

                Entertaining made easy with recipes and dips from La Terra Fina | The Champagne Supernova

                Vegetable spread with the Lemon Pepper & Asiago dip from La Terra Fina

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