Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Guest Bedroom Makeover featuring Establishment Home


How to give your bedroom an easy and cheap makeover | The Champagne Supernova

After reading 6 tips for a unified bedroom design, it really inspired me to give my guest bedroom the makeover it deserved! It was the red-headed step-child of the house.

No offense to red heads.

Our guest bedroom was an ugly hodgepodge of things we accumulated over the years.

A rug and chair I found at a garage sale in 2008.

A Pottery Barn dresser and sleigh bed I purchased from a college student on Craigslist when I moved to Tampa a decade ago. (For a total of $350, this was a steal, even back then.)

A metal decoration above the bed that a neighbor had given to us before her husband was deployed to Germany.

A comforter and sheets that were hand-me-downs from my mother.

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    Divorce: The Unobvious, Dirty Truth


    Things people need to expect when they are divorcing with children that most people won't tell you | The Champagne Supernova

    First comes love, then comes marriage… and sometimes comes divorce.

    I was recently reminded of this unfortunate truth when one of my favorite bloggers publicly and bravely announced that she and her husband were divorcing. They were high school sweethearts and share two young children.

    I have several friends and acquaintances who are either separated or divorced from their spouses. My own parents got divorced when I was in law school and while their maturity and religious faith enabled them to be good friends who get along well (thanks, Mom and Dad!), I witnessed the more difficult parts of their post-marriage journey as it was happening and while the wound was fresh.

    Divorce should be a judgment free zone, although it doesn’t usually happen that way. Nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors or truly understands the complexities of a relationship. Nobody appreciates how the intricate details of a childhood, career, and the very nature of our own idiosyncrasies play into a marriage.

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      How to Prevent a Hangover


      Foolproof way to prevent a hangover | The Champagne Supernova

      I recently attended a wedding just north of Atlanta the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

      The bride is a close friend and I was excited to get outta dodge for 36 hours to see her get hitched. I had plans of waking up early on Sunday to get the first flight back to Tampa so I could spend Mother’s Day with my family.

      My Mother-in-Law, Leslie, has a house near the wedding venue and was my “date” for the event, as my husband was also out of town on a marketing trip for business. (I know many reading this are shocked, but I hit the MIL jackpot. She’s young, not annoying, and doesn’t tell me how to raise my kids. We good.)

      As Leslie and I were getting ready for the wedding, I told her I was going to limit my alcohol intake to two glasses of wine the entire night.

      Famous last words.

      The wedding was truly spectacular. Gorgeous flowers. Beautiful scenery. Good company. A great song playlist. Delicious food.

      The party was rocking and the wine was flowing.

      And flowing.

      And flowing.

      I was over-served somewhere between Sweet Child O’ Mine and Summer of 69.

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        Saving Money: Why Ting Mobile Makes Perfect Sense


        How Ting Mobile is a great way to save on your cell phone bill | The Champagne Supernova

        This blog post is proudly sponsored by Ting Mobile. However, all opinions are the real deal. 

        I like saving money.

        As a working parent, I work hard for my earnings and see them dwindle away so quickly each month.

        Dance recitals. Tennis lessons. Gymnastics. Birthday parties. School uniforms. Doctor co-pays.

        Sometimes I feel like The Bank of Mom.

        As my monthly cell phone bill with my current provider is $150.00, I was excited about the opportunity to work with Ting Mobile and learn about their (extremely) low cost cellular services.

        Low. Very low.

        In fact, the base cost for Ting is $6 per month (you read that correctly!) for a phone line. Usage is shared across all devices. The more phones on a Ting account, the less you pay per phone.

        Ting is pay-per-use, so you don’t have to sign up for any type of plan. Your usage during the month (phone minutes, text messages, and data) is what you pay for at the end of the month. What’s great is that minutes, messages, and data are all billed separately.

        There are no contracts, overage fees, or other hidden B.S. (Pardon-a my French). You can try Ting for one month and leave the next month if you aren’t happy.

        The vast majority (80%) of all phones manufactured in the last few years will work with Ting, so it’s likely the phone you already own is one of them. All you need is a Ting SIM card to get started. You can buy the phone from the Ting shop here (they are a verified seller of Apple iPhones!) or bring your own phone, based on your preference.

        Ting has an easy-to-use phone compatibility checker you can use here so you can check RIGHT THIS MOMENT whether your phone will work with Ting.

        Another great quality of Ting is that you don’t have to worry about having bad service. This is because Ting uses both Sprint and T-Mobile towers- you can choose the network that has better coverage in your area. In other words, Ting clients have identical network experience as people who are signed up directly with these carriers.

        I can vouch firsthand this is completely accurate, as I used my Ting phone in a rural area of Georgia (along the Appalachian trial) earlier this month with zero coverage issues and complete service. High five, Ting!

        How to save money using Ting Mobile | The Champagne Supernova

        My littlest homey loves Ting!

        Ting has also created an eBook on how to lower your data usage, which helps Ting customers save money on their monthly bills. Read it here.

        One of my favorite things about Ting is their customer support involves calls that are actually answered by real, live people. No more having to press a series of numbers to get to the right department. Gone are the days of waiting on hold for twenty minutes to have your questions answered. Say adios to fruitlessly having to communicate with a computer.

        I witnessed this personally when I called Ting last week after I was having (minor) issues setting up the Wifi on the iPhone 6 they sent to me. I was greeted by a friendly woman named Melissa on the second ring (!!) Melissa walked me through a couple steps to help troubleshoot the issue. She even called me back five minutes later to ensure there were still no issues.

        You read that correctly. She called me back.

        How is that amazing customer support for you? 

        (Check out Ting Mobile’s Youtube channel highlighting their bar-none customer service here.)

        Another thing I love about trying Ting? When switching over from your carrier, you can keep your existing phone number.

        You don’t need permission from your provider to keep the number. You just keep it.

        That means you don’t have to waste precious time sending mass texts to all of your contacts notifying them that you have a new number.

        (And nobody wants to be held hostage on a mass text, anyway.)

        Setting up my Ting took five minutes. I got the new iPhone directly from Ting, activated the SIM card online, and set up the iPhone. Boom. Done.

        Give it a try and find out why Ting is the mobile that makes sense.

        Use the promotion code of jennifer.ting.com and receive $25 off your bill. So you’re getting a month for free as the average bill is just $23 a month per phone.

        Cheers to saving money! Cheers to Ting!

          Educators Weigh In: How to Raise Successful Children


          Teachers give advice on how to raise successful children | The Champagne Supernova

          Is there a magic formula for how to raise successful children?

          What are the common denominators for children who flourish versus those who fail?

          In my life, I’ve witnessed some children grow into successful, contributing adults and others fall into the trenches and never seem to recover.

          In this post here, I wrote about an adolescent friend who came from a background of abuse, neglect, and poverty. While unfortunate, it was no surprise she grew into an adult who couldn’t overcome her rough upbringing and has already taken steps to repeat the sad cycle with her own children.

          On the other hand, we also know children who seemingly came from loving and supportive homes (while not knowing what goes on behind closed doors) who also managed to fall off track.

          We’ve also heard of the kids who, despite terrible upbringings, beat the odds and manage to become adults who are financially secure leaders.

          As the working mother of two very young girls, I often wonder “what gives?”

          And while my children will ultimately make their own decisions, I want to arm them with the best resources and emotional support possible to ensure those decisions are good ones.

          Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?

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            There are No Parenting Experts


            There's no such thing as a parenting expert | The Champagne Supernova

            Last year, I met an older man while I was on a layover at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

            Shook my hand.

            Asked me what I did for a living and what I was returning to in Tampa.

            I explained I was an attorney who blogged and did freelance writing on the side.

            He handed me his business card.

            Below his name was the title Parenting Expert.

            At the time, my then four-year-old daughter was in the throes of having inconsolable tantrums and I wanted his advice.

            Running into this guy was like hitting the lottery.

            Wide eyed, I asked, How old are your kids?

            I don’t have children.

            Bear hunting, I thought, He must have said bear hunting expert. Or patenting. He’s a patenting expert.

            Oh, I must have misunderstood. I thought you told me you were a parenting expert. What did you say you did for work?

            You heard right, I’m a parenting expert.

            But you don’t have children?

            He looked at his watch, said he needed to use the restroom, and walked away.

            Excuse me for assuming that one had to be a parent to be considered an expert in the arena!

            I know a secret.

            You know the people who consider themselves parenting “experts”?

            They don’t exist.

            The internet articles that profess the “Do’s and Don’ts” of child rearing?

            While offering useful advice, they’re mostly garbage.

            The people who sit on panels giving other people advice about how they should raise their kids because they are well-studied “experts” and, therefore, know much better than you do?

            They’re full of it.

            So are the people who don’t have children who hold themselves out to the public as parenting experts.

            There is no such thing as a parenting expert. Everyone is trying to determine how to nurture mother nature. Everyone is just trying to figure it out.

            I’ll tell you a personal story.

            My oldest daughter, now five, has a lot of grit. She says what’s on her mind and likes to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. It can be difficult for her to control her emotions (She get it from her Mama…) and raising her has been challenging.

            (Another personal sub-story: when I was pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a spitfire instead of a wallflower. I absolutely got what I wished for.)

            When my daughter was two, she started having inconsolable tantrums.

            Some of them lasted for hours.

            She would frequently wake up in the morning and hysterically sob without any known reasons. Her teachers often complained the tantrums disrupted the entire class and would be triggered for silly reasons, one of them being that a classmate simply made eye contact with her. Sometimes during the tantrums, my daughter would become so enraged that she would bang her head on the ground. The tantrums were making her sick and sometimes she would get so worked up that she would vomit.

            There was once a time where my daughter was having such a bad tantrum at daycare during drop off that I had to toss her over my shoulder and carry her all the way back to my car kicking and screaming. In the two-minute trek between the classroom and the parking lot, I received text messages from three different friends who witnessed the ordeal and were offering their compassion.

            Stay strong! Been there and it’s the pits. 

            I sat in my car and sobbed to myself.

            Why is she doing this? Where have I failed along the way?

            My husband and I fruitlessly tried everything we could imagine to stop the tantrums.

            Google searches. Appointments with her pediatrician. Meetings with teachers and guidance counselors. Asking other parents. Calling my mom and grandmother. Reaching out to nannies and caregivers with extensive childcare experience. Reading parenting books.

            We heard and read the same piece of advice from the “experts” over and over again.

            She’s a smart girl who is trying to control the family with the tantrums. You must completely ignore them and they will go away. If you coddle her and give attention to the tantrums, they will indefinitely continue. It is critical that you pay them no mind and be patient. She’ll eventually grow out of it. 

            So that’s what we did.

            We ignored the tantrums.

            But they got worse.

            One day, during an hour-long tantrum that was triggered by something ridiculous, I defeatedly got down on my daughter’s level, looked her in the face, told her I loved her, and gave her a hug.

            The tantrum stopped almost immediately.

            We did a few more modifications, such as an earlier bedtime and implementing a strict “time-out” policy but, in sum, the major catalyst for the tantrums ending involved simply getting down on her physical level (e.g., my hands and knees) and hugging her.

            This was exactly what all the “experts” told us not to do.

            Here’s the deal.

            Nobody really knows what they are doing.

            All children are different. Just because something works for 99.9% of the population doesn’t mean it is a perfect fit for your child.

            Unless you have a rule-following “kid in a box,” you have to do everything you can do until you solve the problem.

            Even if it means doing what the “experts” tell you not to do.

            One of my friends compared parenting to a scratch-off ticket. You just have to keep trying different options until you hit the jackpot.

            And here’s another thing.

            Don’t feel like you are a bad parent just because your kid’s behavior stinks.

            Keep doing your best and it will probably stop.

            Speaking from experience, I felt like a failure that my husband and I couldn’t quickly get a handle on my daughter’s emotions.

            My negative thoughts began snowballing into irrational catastrophes.

            What if she’s nuts? What if this continues and she gets kicked out of school? What if this behavior rubs off on her little sister? What if, what if, what if?

            WhatifwhatifwhatifWHATIF?

            I was going crazy.

            For nothing.

            The tantrums eventually subsided. Don’t get me wrong, she still occasionally has them, but they are age appropriate we are usually able to stop it and notice a correlation to lack of sleep the night before.

            Girl needs her beauty rest.

            Thank God we didn’t rely on the “experts.”

            You know your child better than anyone else. Go with what feels right in your gut.

            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.

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                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. When they look back at their customer data they will see the differences that good customer service has to bad customer service. A business should want to please their customer as much as possible, that’s why it is so important for them to use customer data platforms as this can really help improve a business.

                  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!

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                    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.

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