Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

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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    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.

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

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      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.

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      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!

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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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            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.

            birthday_presents_grown_women4

            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!)

            birthday_presents_grown_women5

            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.

            Honorable mention not originally included in this basket because I found out about this company after I published this post: Fabletics workout clothes. This is an affordable athleisure brand that was co-founded by Kate Hudson targeted toward men and women of all shapes and sizes who are interested in fun, fashionable athletic wear. Now you don’t have to spend tons of money to look great at the gym.

            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.

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                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:

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                  I’m a Big Bootie Fan


                  Hi Friends, I’m on vacation this week but my friend, Allison Arnone of the AA blog, was kind enough to guest post for me. We collaborated together back in October with this post about Tinder and she’s so funny that I keep coming back for more. Get ready for some laughs:

                  To quote my coworker/friend Meghan, “I’m a big bootie fan.”  Even though it came out sounding like she was talking about a Kim K-style derriere, she actually meant the shoe version of “bootie.”  Ya know, these guys:

                  image

                  [source: Polyvore]

                  And ya know what?  I’m a big bootie fan, too.  So when I took off of work on Friday (keepin’ that week-long birthday celebration going) to go shopping with my mom, I couldn’t help but notice a cute pair in…well, I can’t say the name of the store.

                  I’m too embarrassed because of what transpired.

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                    How to Throw The Perfect Birthday Party: 5 Ingredients


                    How to throw the perfect birthday party for children | The Champagne Supernova

                    I don’t enjoy planning parties. Detest it.

                    In the era of Pinterest-esque birthday parties with grandiose themes and elaborate decorations that require hours of planning that I don’t have, the simple thought of throwing a birthday party makes me lose sleep. I even wrote about it here. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy attending these events and admire other parents who can effortlessly and enjoyably put them together, I just don’t want to do it. 

                    In the interest of sucking it up and because I could no longer delay the inevitable, my husband and I decided to throw our oldest daughter, Arden, a party for her 4th birthday. There would be no-frills: a princess and pirate theme appropriate for her coed group of friends, a bounce house, pizzas and snacks, and we would have it at a public park in order to avoid the stress associated with having the event at home.

                    I reserved the park pavilion two months in advance and invitations went out two weeks after that. The RSVPs began to pour in, decorations began to accumulate, and Arden got more excited with each passing day. She picked out a Sleeping Beauty princess dress on Amazon and a crown and wand set from Target.

                    She couldn’t wait to celebrate her birthday with her friends.

                    And then an incredible chain of events unfolded.

                    Our youngest daughter, Ellison, was diagnosed with a staph infection and had to be hospitalized for three days, not to be released until hours before the birthday party (with her doctor’s blessing to have her attend the party, of course). My husband and I spent the three nights leading to the party in the hospital, with little sleep and lots of fear over the uncertain status of her health. We debated canceling the party or having our parents attend in our place, so as not to spoil the fun for the birthday girl.

                    Then, on the day of the party, it didn’t just rain, it monsooned. Sure, the park had a pavilion, what would the guests do? Stand underneath it and awkwardly stare at each other? The bounce house would become a mud pit. After stalking weatherchannel.com and finally accepting that it would rain all day, I called an indoor bounce house facility the morning of the party and was, fortunately, able to have the location switched. Then, I was tasked with contacting all of the people who RSVP’d to advise of the location change. Some of these people were the parents of Arden’s classmates and I had to hunt down their email addresses and phone numbers. Then, when I went to our neighborhood grocery store to pick up the sandwich party platters I ordered a week in advance, I was advised by the very apologetic manager that our food order was accidentally lost.

                    It was like being in The Birthday Party Twilight Zone. 

                    Do do do do, do do do do.

                    Despite the stress and the hiccups along the way, the party ended up being a success for Arden and her 45 (gasp!) friends. It was, in my opinion, pretty dang close to the perfect party.

                    Then I got to thinking. In the age of parents over-extending themselves and becoming obsessed with holding an event to make it appear picture-perfect on social media, we can easily lose sight of the true meaning: celebrating our children with the people who mean the most to us.

                    And here, my friends, are the five key ingredients for a perfect birthday party:

                    1. Good Company. I couldn’t believe the large number of friends and family who reached out to support us and offered to help with the party when they learned that Ellison was in the hospital. The number of moms and friends who texted me to remind me that it didn’t matter if the party location was changed or if it was raining because “you got this!” was humbling. The look on Arden’s face when her best buddies arrived at the party was unforgettable. Like the saying goes, it’s not where you are, but who you’re with that really matters.

                    2. A Fun Theme. I love having a reason to dress up and figured that a “Pirate and Princess” party theme wouldn’t require too much effort from the guests’ parents, who likely already have Disney Princess and post-Gasparilla pirate flair lying around their homes.

                    3. Sweets and Smiles. Even though the grocery store lost our food order, we still had awesome cake and custom sugar cookies to keep the guests smiling, and to maintain energy required for climbing to the top of the bounce house slide. Because that’s exhausting. Phew!

                    4. A Positive Attitude. I couldn’t control whether my daughter was in the hospital, the weather, or the fact that my party platter order seemingly disappeared into thin air. I could control my own stress level and my choice (because it is a choice!) to enjoy myself and to appreciate everyone who took time out of their weekends to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. It’s difficult to be unpleasant when you’re focused on being grateful.

                    5. Lots of Love. In the end, it’s all about love: love for our children and having the desire to provide them with fun and cherished memories. Love for our friends and family members who are sharing our joy with us. The desire to pay it forward with love in the future by supporting another child when it’s their turn to be celebrated.

                     

                    Pirate and Princess themed birthday party invitations #partyinvitations |www.thechampagnesupernova.com

                    Pirate and princess party decorations #birthdayparty | www.thechampagnesupernova.comPirate and princess party birthday cake idea #birthdayparty | www.thechampagnesupernova.compirate and princess themed cookies | The Champagne SupernovaThrowing the perfect birthday party #birthday party | www.thechampagnesupernova.com

                    Cheers to an imperfect, but perfect, birthday party!

                    Vendor list:
                    Cake: Publix
                    Custom Sugar Cookies: Silly Monkey Cookie Company
                    Invitations: Minted (This is an affiliate link, which means I’ll receive a financial kickback in return for any sales. Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself, so throw me a bone!)
                    Photography: Synthia Therese Photography
                    Venue: Playgrounds of Tampa

                     

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