Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

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. 

              Shopping: Top Ten Ways to Hide Your Loot from Your Husbands


              how-to-hide-shopping-from-husband

              The only reason I maintain gainful employment is so I have an alternate place to ship boxes of stuff I buy shopping online so my husband won’t find out.

              Okay. And because I have law school loans and a mortgage.

              But still.

              My primary vice is Amazon, especially because I have Prime membership. I subconsciously feel like I’m getting a “good deal” because the shipping is free, even though I actually spend more money than I would under normal circumstances. And the product arrives two days from the date of purchase, so I don’t have to impatiently sit around and wait for whatever useless tchotchke to show up the way I do with the regular 5-7 day ‘biz the other retailers offer.

              Because I “need” things like one hundred children’s hair bows (I’m a mom of girls), a tape measure, a “Haunted Battlefields of the Civil War” book, non-toxic nail polish, a Ronald Reagan face mask, windshield wipers, and a Patrick Dempsey pillowcase.

              And you know what? It doesn’t matter that I work and bring home the bacon. When multiple boxes arrive at my door step on the same day, my husband usually ends up questioning me about them.

              What’s in those boxes?

              Your mom.

              So.

              After seven years of marriage and thirty-four years of sneakiness, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten places to hide your shopping loot so it will be out of sight from your husbands.

              You’re welcome.

              1. The Cleaning Supply Cabinet. The good Lord knows your husbands have never looked there and probably aren’t aware this is even a “thing” in your home.

              2. The Gym. It’s the year of the Dadbod.

              3. Bring them Home Already Wrapped. And say they’re gifts for someone else.

              4. Replace the “Real Bags” with Bags from Kids’ Clothing Stores. Most dudes are uninterested in the contents of packages from Janie and Jack, Gymboree and, worst of all, The Disney Store.

              5. The Crack Between the Front Seat and the Center Console. This obviously only works for smaller items, but your husbands will never stick their fingers down there for fear of getting them stained with half-melted M&Ms or by touching a dirty, misplaced sock.

              6. Empty Shoe Boxes. Keep them in your closet for storing goods.

              7. Claim You’ve Owned it Forever. This is one of my personal favorites. I bust out with a new ensemble (after the tags are off) and my husband asks when I got it. I look at him and incredulously roll my eyes and declare “In college! Seriously?! I’ve worn this a million times!” He gets so confused.

              8. Tell Him You’re Holding the Loot for Your Friend. Who is hiding it from her husband.

              9. Tell Him the Package is a Present for HIM. By the time the holidays roll around, he won’t even remember. Or if he does, just say you changed your mind and returned it. BOOM.

              10. At Your Boyfriend’s House. I dunno guys, Diff’rent Strokes for Diff’rent Folks. (Kidding!)

              junior-league-of-tampa

              Confession. One of my favorite yearly shopping events is the Junior League of Tampa’s Holiday Gift Market.

              The Holiday Gift Market is the Junior League of Tampa’s largest annual fundraising event. Think of it as a flea market with stuff you actually want.  It will feature 150 merchants, with 20 that are completely new to the event. Some of my favorites among this year’s merchants and participants are Sunshine State Goods, The Blue Hen, Coton Colors, hazel + dot, and Toffee to Go. Best of all, the Junior League of Tampa commits 100% of the proceeds to fund its mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

              Holiday Gift Market 2015: Me and some of the ladies at the beginning of the night.

              Holiday Gift Market Kickoff Party 2015: Me and some of the ladies at the beginning of the night.

              Come on out to the Florida State Fairgrounds for the kickoff party on Thursday, November 10 between 7 PM and 10 PM, and stay for the shopping from Friday, November 11 through Sunday, November 13.

              Where: Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall, 4800 U.S. Highway 301 N., Tampa, FL 33610
              Hours: Thursday, November 10- 7 PM – 10 PM
              Friday, November 11- 9 AM to 6 PM
              Saturday, November 12- 9 AM to 6 PM
              Sunday, November 13- 9 AM to 5 PM
              Cost: $8 at the door and $5 in advance if purchased from Junior League members.  Don’t know any? No sweat. You can also purchase them online through Eventbrite: http://www.hgm2016.eventbrite.com
              Parking fee: $6 cash (who carries cash anymore?) paid directly to the Florida State Fairgrounds

              Preview Party: The Preview Party is a Junior League tradition, which includes a sneak peak at this year’s best new gift ideas, live entertainment, food samplings from local restaurants, raffle, cash bar, and more. This event is open to the public, and tickets are $35. VIP tickets are available for $65 and include a VIP reception at the market beginning at 6:30 PM, a VIP gift, three drink tickets, and complimentary VIP parking. Oh, and did I mention it will feature some of my favorite sweets from The Silly Monkey Cookie Company? The preview party is Thursday, November 10 between 7 PM and 10 PM.

              Me and some of the crew at the end of the night. Not pictured: red wine stains on my white romper. Pictured: the $10 flip flops purchased from the college mascot vendor. (My dogs were barking. But it was fun and worth it.)

              Me and some of the crew at the end of the night. Not pictured: red wine stains on my white romper. Pictured: the $10 flip flops purchased from the college mascot vendor. (My dogs were barking. But it was fun and worth it.)

              This year’s Holiday Gift Market will also offer the following concierge services:
              Gift Wrap: For the first time evah, the Junior League will offer gift wrap for a nominal fee. See number 3 above.
              Bag Check: Don’t worry, these ladies will free up your hands so you can shop more. Warning: you might need a bigger car.
              Man Cave: In case you want your husband to come and know how much money you’ve spent, they can tag along and relax on oversized sofas and lounge chairs with giant flat screens and sports. Oh, and beer.
              Mother’s Nook. (Read: a breastfeeding, diaper-changing mama’s mecca).

              The market will also feature a series of special events.

              Candle Pouring Social: Saturday, November 12 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM and 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM.  For $35 per ticket, enjoy a candle pouring social with the Tipsy Candle Company.  Participants will pour two candles with signature scents for the holiday season. Be inspired to “Give a Candle and Keep a Candle” during this event with music, snacks, and refreshments.

              Princess Meet and Greet: Sunday, November 13. Enjoy an encounter with four princesses courtesy of Parties with Character. Each child will feel like royalty as they meet the Princesses who will encourage them to reach for their dreams. The cost is $15 per child, and each child needs a ticket for admission. Visit this link to purchase tickets and see which 15-minute time slots are available: http://hgm2016.eventbrite.com/?aff=HGMFacebook. Adults are able to enter this special event with the purchase of one general admission ticket to the Holiday Gift Market.

              Military Shopping Hour: On Friday, November 11 from 2 PM to 3 PM, the Junior League will provide a special salute to the men and women who courageously dedicate their lives to serving our country.

              holiday-gift-market

              For more details, connect with Junior League’s Holiday Gift Market on social media or, if you have questions, via email at hgmtickets@jltampa.org.

              Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thejlthgm
              Twitter: @jlthgm
              Instagram: @holidaygiftmarket

              What are your sneakiest ways to hide shopping loot from your husbands?

              Cheers to shopping and the ladies of the Junior League of Tampa!

                Gift Ideas: What Women Really Want


                Gift ideas for women reflecting what women ACTUALLY want | The Champagne Supernova

                My mother-in-law had a big birthday earlier this month, and I wanted to get her the perfect gift.

                I won’t tell her age.

                But it rhymes with nifty.

                (She’s my husband’s stepmom, so don’t bother doing the math. She didn’t have him when she was fourteen.)

                I struggled to determine what I could get for her that she would truly enjoy.

                She already has what she needs, and what she didn’t already have, she could go out and buy.

                Ugh.

                I didn’t want to cop out and get her a gift card.

                I wanted to get her something that I, myself, would actually want as a gift. 

                Here, my friends, are some of the best gifts that women actually want.

                That they’re excited to get.

                And all of them can easily be purchased online (click, click, boom!) or at your local Target. (Or online at Target, where shipping on purchased over $25 is free.)

                The majority of products in the gift basket are from Beautycounter, where not only am I consultant, but I also legitimately use all of their products in my own daily routine. Read about why I switched to these safer products here, instead of the usual chemical cocktails from the days of yore.

                Beautycounter’s Ingredient Selection Process ensures safer and cleaner products that work beautifully (less is more!). This rigorous process handpicks the best ingredients, such as hydrating shea nut, derived from shea fruit.

                What’s not included?

                Approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals on Beautycounter’s “Never List” that are never used to formulate the products.

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                The whole shebang.

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                Beautycounter citrus mimosa body bar.

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                Beautycounter citrus mimosa hand cream.

                Bella tin candle in Amber & Vetiver scent.

                Beautycounter soothing face oil. (This stuff is the Grand Poobah mack daddy. Many of my clients have seen a difference in their skin in two days. Two. All you need is two drops on your fingers before bed. Bam!)

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                Beautycounter Sugar Body Scrub in lemongrass.

                Beautycounter lip conditioner balm in calendula (also sold in peppermint!)

                birthday_presents_grown_women3Clean eating cookbook: Gwyneth Paltrow “It’s all Easy.”  I know ‘ole Gwen is a controversial figure, but my mother-in-law is a healthy, “green” eater, so throw me a bone.

                Hardbound journal.  I bought this in the store at Target but couldn’t find it online, but here is a similarly sweet one.

                Starbucks coffee.

                What would you add to a gift basket for a loved one?

                Some, but not all, of the links are affiliate links where I receive credit for the sale. My electric bill ain’t gonna pay for itself. 

                Cheers!

                Epic Classical Academy

                  On Your First Day of School


                  How to mentally prepare when your kids are starting school | The Champagne Supernova

                  My oldest daughter starts Pre-Kindergarten in a couple days.

                  She’ll be going to a different school than the daycare she’s attended the last few years.

                  Everything will be new.

                  She’s four.

                  She loves Peppa Pig, Anna and Elsa, wearing dresses, swimming, trying to do cartwheels, painting, reading books, eating watermelon, building sandcastles, saying memorable one-liners, and drinking Shirley Temples (with extra maraschino cherries, of course!) She hates having sunscreen applied, pinto beans, and having her tangly hair brushed.

                  Can’t say I blame her.

                  It’s hard to believe it’s time for her to start “real school.”

                  Just me and a million other parents across the country, commiserating about our kids growing up and crying into their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we’re up late at night preparing for the next morning.

                  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2015, about 55 million students attended elementary and secondary schools. Of that figure, 35.2 million were in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.

                  Woah.

                  That’s a whole lotta school buses, Crayolas, graph paper, and number 2 pencils.

                  A lotta life chapters opening and old ones closing.

                  I don’t like it.

                  Not one bit.

                  The idea of getting older is scary. I can’t accept being at a stage in my life where I see friends losing their own parents, there are wrinkles under my eyes, teenagers think I don’t understand them and call me “Mrs.” and that 1996 was twenty years ago.

                  I certainly can’t accept my children getting older.

                  While my oldest daughter is my “baby,” she’s developed into a miniature person who is smart and has feelings and opinions.

                  When and how did that happen?

                  $30 off Sun Basket

                  Seems like yesterday I was nine months pregnant and ironing the baby clothes I’d bring her home wearing from the hospital and now here I am, ironing her school uniform and getting ready to drop her off at a “big girl school.”

                  It sets me off on an emotional tailspin.

                  There’s so many things I want for her and hope for her and dream for her and pray for her.

                  And I feel conflicted between putting her out in the world to be her own person, letting her make mistakes, and learning valuable lessons and wanting to keep her inside our sheltered home forever and ever.

                  So.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I’ll help her put on her outfit, socks, and shoes that we carefully laid out the night before.

                  I’ll make sure her backpack has everything it needs to get her through the first day: pencils, crayons, and colored markers. And I hope her heart will feel good when she reaches inside and finds a note from ‘ole Mom telling her that I love her and am proud of her.

                  I’ll make sure she has a hearty, healthy breakfast, but will probably give in when she asks for a glass of chocolate milk.

                  Just this once.

                  Epic Classical Academy

                  On her first day of school…

                  I’ll kiss her goodbye as I pull away from the drop-off circle, and I’ll be wearing my sunglasses with the dark lenses so she won’t notice me crying.

                  I’ll pull over alongside the road where she can’t see me, just so I can watch her grab her teacher’s hand and walk inside the building.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she’ll keep her head up in class and use brave words if she’s feeling scared.

                  I hope she has someone to sit next to in the cafeteria at lunch and that the other kids are nice to her.

                  I hope she has so much fun making arts and crafts that she doesn’t worry if she gets paint on her school clothes.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she gets sweaty and dirty at recess because that’s what kids are supposed to do.

                  I hope her teacher is patient if she’s having a hard time with the transition.

                  I hope she loves whatever books her teacher reads at circle time and can’t wait to get home and tell me all about it.

                  On her first day of school…

                  I hope she comforts a friend who is feeling sad and wants his or her own mom and dad.

                  I hope if she misses me, she knows it’s only a matter of time before she’ll see me waiting for her when it’s time to go home…

                  … and when she’s home, she tells me about all the new friends she’s made, things she learned, and how she can’t wait to go back tomorrow.

                  On her first day of school…

                  When I’m at work, I’ll close the door to my office so my colleagues don’t hear me sniffling.

                  I’ll drink ten cups of coffee so I can focus on the tasks at hand, when I’m really just thinking about her and wondering how her day is going.

                  I’ll remember to soak in the moment because while the first day of school might be hard to get through, June will be here before we know it, another summer will come and go, and it will be time to do it all over again.

                  Thinking about the moms and dads out there who are emotionally preparing for the first day of school in the coming days.

                  Cheers!

                    Relationships: Dating versus Marriage


                    The difference between dating and marriage | The Champagne Supernova

                    Me and my main squeeze on our wedding day, June 20, 2009.

                    Seven years ago, I said “I do” to fine young man in front of a hundred family members and best friends. As we ate good food and danced the night away, I envisioned our post-honeymoon lifestyle to resemble that of June and Ward Cleaver.

                    Homemade meals every night. Perfectly well-mannered children.  Laughing while we shared deep conversations.

                    Longing looks and meaningful glances.

                    For the rest of our lives.

                    How I envisioned my post-marriage self.

                    How I envisioned my post-marriage self.

                    Then, reality set in and my marriage began to resemble Dan and Roseanne Connor’s.

                    Who has time for homemade meals?

                    “Keeping the romance alive” is difficult with young kids, career ventures, and the stress of everyday life.

                    Sure, it’s easy to become complacent. But don’t we all do it?

                    Dang.

                    Here, my friends, are the differences between dating and marriage. It’s the reality that good ole June and Ward never revealed:

                    Dating: Back massages.
                    Marriage: Back mole checks.

                    Dating: Getting gussied up to go clubbing.
                    Marriage: Clubbing. At Sam’s Club.

                    Dating: Using Spanx to hide your cellulite and belly fat.
                    Marriage: Using a gallon of milk to hide the delicious chocolate in the back of the fridge.

                    Dating: Talking on the phone for hours.
                    Marriage: “Why are you calling me?”

                    Dating: Thongs from Victoria’s Secret.
                    Marriage: Full coverage, cotton Hanes. With holes.

                    Dating: Tight pleather pants.
                    Marriage: Yoga pants. With holes.

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                    Dating: Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, and Coachella.
                    Marriage: Disney on Ice.

                    Dating: Shaving daily.
                    Marriage: Forget the elephant in the room… let’s talk about the gorilla!

                    Dating: “That sounds so exciting!”
                    Marriage: “That sounds dumb and we aren’t doing it!”

                    Dating: Excitedly wondering what kind of cute gift you might receive “just because.”
                    Marriage: Grumbling when you receive gifts because you are supposed to be saving for a new roof (but you still appreciate the gift anyway.)

                    Dating: Promising to never go to bed angry.
                    Marriage: Sometimes, you just gotta go to bed.

                    Dating: Four-course, homemade meals in five-inch heels.
                    Marriage: Frozen pizza on paper plates in sneakers and a stained T-shirt from a corporate fundraiser.

                    The difference between dating and marriage | The Champagne Supernova

                    Saturday nights when you’re dating: late nights out on the town and fun “backstage” with the band at Lillian’s Music Store circa 2007.

                    The difference between dating and marriage | The Champagne Supernova

                    Saturday nights when you’re married: face mask, glass of wine, prison documentaries on TV, and a tub of buttered popcorn.

                    Dating: Netflix and chill.
                    Marriage: A glass of wine and in bed by 9:00 p.m.

                    Dating: Working out at the gym every day.
                    Marriage: You work with a guy named Jim. That’s about the extent of it.

                    Dating: “You are my soulmate…”
                    Marriage: “But if I met Bradley Cooper…”

                    I once received a fortune cookie where the fortune read: “Marriage allows you to annoy the same person for the rest of your life.”

                    Ain’t that the truth.

                    Happy anniversary, honey!

                    Disclaimer: This post is meant to be satirical and is not a reflection of my marriage.

                    Maybe.

                    Cheers!

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