Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Valentines Gifts for the Slacker Parent

Easy Valentine's Gifts | The Champagne Supernova

Valentine’s Day at my kids’ school has been a repeated reminder of what a slacker I am. For the last two years, Arden has come home from school with intricate treasures from her classmates that look like they cost a lot of money to buy and a lot of time to make. This will be the first year I purchase Valentine’s gifts for my kids’ classmates. I mean, what could infants and toddlers possibly need for Valentine’s Day? At this point, spending a lot of time on a gift is fruitless for me because 1) I don’t have the time and 2) I wouldn’t do it even if I did have the time.

With the help of some friends, I came up with a list of the best Valentine’s gifts that are not food, are gender neutral (the true slacker doesn’t want to have to get separate gifts for boys and girls, now do they?) and do not require a lot of time.

Books. One of the moms in Arden’s infant class gave each child a cardboard Sesame Street book for Valentine’s day. It was gender neutral, probably cost around $2.00, and was a perfect “distractor” to put in the diaper bag for when we went out in public and were looking for ways to entertain our daughter. As an added bonus, it’s educational. This is the Curious George book I bought for my daughter for Valentine’s day. Don’t tell..


Bookmarks. These are free at hardware stores and all you need to purchase is a heart shaped hole punch and ribbon. Specific instructions on how to make these are on Old Town Home.


Crayons. Encourage creativity and are inexpensive. Check out the off brand crayons at the dollar store. Picture taken from the Mother Nature Network. I recommend washable crayons. Crayons Lip Balm. With an added note that says “You’re the Balm!” I have a sick sense of humor but wish I could claim this was an original idea. And as we’re in the middle of winter, isn’t this perfect? Here’s an example from Jollymom, where they are offering the printable FREE. Tip: you could do something similar with small container of jelly with a note that says “You’re the Jam!” Heck, you could even pick up free samples of jelly from your local Cracker Barrel. (No, I wasn’t born during the Great Depression…) balm Animal Figurines. These are good for older kids who aren’t likely to choke on the toys. Had to add that disclaimer, I’m a lawyer. My two year old daughter loves playing farm animals, and these don’t contain sugar that will likely get other parents angry. Best of all, you can buy a huge package of farm toys for like 89 cents. Here’s a cute suggestion from Popsugar: zoo Bouncy Balls. These double as gifts for kids and their parents because they provide at least 10 straight minutes of distraction for the children. You can probably get them in bulk from the dollar store. Here’s a cute idea from PositivelySpendid. A friends suggested the adorable idea of enclosing a note with the ball that says “My Heart Bounces for You.” Love it! Bouncy balls

Throwback Boxed Valentine’s Cards. You know, the ones we had in elementary school. Ideal for mini-hipsters. Here is some awesome FREE clip art from Vintage Holiday Crafts:

Vintage Pic

DIY Valentines that Come in a Kit: These incredible little smackaroos come straight to your front door in a kit with everything you already need. This provides good bonding time with your kids and, best of all, are only $10.95 per package. I love this from Kiwi Crate:


And for the teachers…

Nail Polish: Inexpensive but still shows you thought about them. Who doesn’t like a nice bottle of nail polish? The gift tag is FREE from Gone Like Rainbows: nail polish

Soap: These are inexpensive and smell nice. These are also perfect for washing your kids’ mouths out when they sass the teachers! (muahaha). Photo from Fun Holiday Crafts.


Happy Valentine’s Day, Friends! Cheers.

    The Art of the Appropriate Hug



    I recently had a humiliating hugging encounter at a Christmas party that left me sweating when it was over. While engaged in conversation with the hostess, I spotted a young woman  who my peripheral vision conned me into believing was the hostess’s sister, whom I’ve met several times. After my conversation with the hostess was over, I went in to hug the “sister” and realized, once it was too late, that it wasn’t the “sister,” and rather a girl I briefly met at the hostess’s baby shower a few months back and exchanged- maybe- two sentences with. She probably thought I was a lunatic and wondered why I was hugging her- she may not have even remembered me from the shower and figured I was just crazy and awkward. She politely proceeded with the hug, which was the one-armed-pat-on-the-back-no-frontal-contact-haphazard-hug and I desperately tried to play off the situation and pretend that hugging her was normal and intentional.

    Is hugging generally awkward? Not for me, because I love hugging. However, I occasionally forget that some people are finicky about not wanting weird people to touch them. Like me. To prevent future snafus, I contacted Myka Meier, an old college friend who founded and directs her own international etiquette company, Beaumont Etiquette.

    According to Myka, the key to determining how you should greet someone depends on the formality of your relationship. That being said, there are a few general etiquette rules to help the greeting process become [slightly] easier to manage:

    HACH: Social Code to Hugging (rated by formality level, with 4 being most formal occasion)

    Handshake – Right hand to right hand (4)

    Air Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, but lips never actually touch the other person’s skin (avoid the lipstick smudge!) (3)

    Cheek Kiss – Right cheek to right cheek, however you may actually kiss lips to cheek (2)

    Hug – Full embrace (most intimate…not for everyone) (1)

    1. Social acquaintances (i.e. someone you have met a handful of times, but wouldn’t necessarily consider a friend). HACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “When meeting an acquaintance for the first time, I would recommend shaking hands. After the initial meeting, for men, I typically advise they continue to shake hands with other men and give an air kiss to women. After a woman initially meets someone, an air kiss to either a man or woman is an elegant yet informal way to show recognition. If a woman puts out her hand to a social acquaintance after meeting them previously, it’s perceived that she does not recognize them (which is offensive) or does not care to be more than acquaintances (which is doubly offensive). If you felt a mutual (key word) connection (no matter the sex) or share close friends, after the first meeting a hug may feel most comfortable and is fully appropriate.”

    2. FriendsHACH LEVEL RATING 2/1 “A handshake might be perceived as cold and unfriendly to a person who you consider a friend. Therefore, a hug or cheek kiss is typically most appropriate. When greeting both friends and family, some prefer to give a “pat hug” or the “shake hug” which is a combination of a pat on the back and hug or handshake and hug…which show mutual affection while not being too intimate. All are appropriate, depending on comfort level.”

    3. Family membersHACH LEVEL RATING 1 “Hugs (and in some families, kisses) are considered the most common form of greeting family. That being said, determining whether to kiss may depend on the formality of the family situation or relationships.” [Note that is strictly the author’s personal opinion: if you are related to someone and opt to kiss them as a greeting, you definitely need to avoid this regardless of your gender, race, and culture].

    4. Professional colleaguesHACH LEVEL RATING 4/3 “Hugging at work is not recommended. If done, especially to someone of the opposite sex or between superiors and subordinates, it can cause many issues. I would advise to always stay formal and professional by greeting with a handshake. Pending the industry you work in (and if you know a colleague extremely well) and feel it would be awkward to shake hands, an air kiss may be more appropriate.”

    5. The bossHACH LEVEL RATING 4 “Generally speaking, you should remain respectful and professional by shaking hands. That being said, as a superior rule, always follow the lead of the person more senior or powerful. If your boss attempts to hug you, it would be awkward to put out your hand.”

    6. Your subordinate (i.e- your assistant). HACH LEVEL RATING 4 “No matter the sex of the subordinate, stay professional. Hugging subordinates can cause employees to undermine rank and therefore often respect, can cause the relationship to lose professionalism, and even be seen as sexual harassment.”

    Miscellaneous Considerations:

    Is it okay to hug some people and shake hands with others when greeting a group? “Yes. If there are two people you’ve met before and two you have not, I would still recommend shaking hands upon first meeting.”

    Is it okay to hug a client? “Treat the client the same as your boss. Always be respectful and professional, yet follow their lead.”

    Do the rules differ depending on the situation (ie- holiday party or running into them at a concert/ purely social function)? “The rules always stay the same. If you bump into your boss at a concert, there are many ways to make the greeting more casual while still maintaining appropriate measures. For instance, you can show warmth by smiling and verbalizing pleasure to see them “Hello XX, It’s so lovely to bump into you out of the office”… It will show you’re not in your normal professional bubble while still remaining in line with your position at work.”

    Is there any person who is always off limits to hug? “Yes. Royalty.”

    Caution: “When traveling, make sure you know the hugging/kissing customs in country you’re going to… i.e. London is two cheek kisses (one on each side) and Switzerland is three kisses: right, left, right; and in some countries the religion prohibits you from hugging.”

    Myka Meier is the Founder and Director of Beaumont Etiquette, a distinguished and modern consultancy that offers courses in British, Continental European, and American etiquette to adults and youth. She is accepting private and corporate bookings in Florida between March 23 and March 29, 2015. For more information, please contact Myka at


      The Lady Who Saved My Sanity: The Mother’s Helper

      How to find a mother's helper | The Champagne Supernova

      Our beloved Aba

      This is Josephine, but we call her “Aba,” short for Abuela, which means Grandmother in Spanish. She joined our family in August of 2014 and what followed included a heaping wad of sanity for all four of us.

      I could barely get myself dressed, out of the house, and to work on time when I had zero children. I definitely couldn’t do those things when I had one child. When I was pregnant with our second, I knew we needed to find someone to help get us out of the house in the morning. I didn’t want valuable after-work time with my kids to be consumed with the stress of coming home, getting unpacked, making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning up from dinner, washing bottles, and getting ready to do it all over again the next day. Enter Aba.

      Aba is what I call a “Mother’s Helper.” I definitely think I coined this phrase because Lord knows Google had no clue what I was looking for when I was on the internet frantically looking for one during my last few weeks of maternity leave. Aba arrives at our house each weekday morning at 7 am and leaves a couple hours later at 10. In that timeframe, she washes bottles, makes lunch for both girls, does our laundry, makes the beds, and has dinner ready and waiting for us when we arrive home.

      If I had to come home and do these things after working a full day, it would not be pretty. I’m positive I would be sobbing in a corner while rocking back and forth in fetal position, angry at the world.

      Lots of parents do this on their own, I get it. But this is my one “splurge” for myself.

      Not only is Aba helpful, but she is a joy to spend our mornings with and she treats my daughters like they are her own children. She genuinely cares for them and will often call or text to see how they are doing when they are sick.

      Best of all, she’s able to watch them for the day when they are too sick to go to school and my husband and I have obligations at work that are difficult to miss. Aba’s gotten us out of many a work bind, as we don’t have local family who can cover for us in an eleventh-hour emergency.

      Being a parent is really hard. It’s even harder when you’re keeping a ton of balls in the air- to include a marriage, career, hobbies, obligations, and friendships. This isn’t limited to working moms. I’ve (temporarily) experienced the struggle of staying home with kids and man, it’s exhausting. While having Aba has required us to sacrifice between buying fancy “stuff” or keeping her around, just knowing that I can come home from work and legitimately play with the girls without being taunted by the laundry demons makes her worth every red cent.

      What are things you’ve done to simplify your life in order to enjoy time with your children? Do you have any “outside the box” tips to share with busy moms who need extra help?

      Cheers to simplifying your life!

        A Mediterranean Slumber

        Without being obnoxiously mushy, finding out that our second child was going to be a girl was a proverbial dream come true. I always knew in my heart that I would be the mother of two girls. My sister, Amanda, and I are two years apart and inseparable (although it wasn’t always like that growing up when we were arguing over clothes and the phone). When my husband and I discovered we were having another girl, I felt excited that my daughters would be close in age and someday have the bond that Amanda and I are lucky to have.

        I love the colors and theme of our oldest daughter’s room, but wanted our second daughter’s room to be completely different, just as we want her one day to embrace the inner peace that comes with “marching to the beat” of her own drum.

        After running circles around Pinterest, poring over children’s magazines, and consulting with some fashion-savvy friends, here is the final product:










        The pouf, bedding, and curtains are part of the Bazaar collection at the Land of Nod. The fauxidermy and framed wall art is from Z Gallerie. The burlap wreath is from Etsy and the diaper container on top of the changing table is from The Container Store. The night stand and changing table are from a local vintage furniture store. Last but not least, the rug, which is my favorite part of the nursery, is part of the Wyndham collection with Safavieh.

        As my “baby” is now seven months old, she has gotten a lot of use out of the nursery (we didn’t let her over-welcome her stay in our bedroom like we did with our first daughter). We have enjoyed watching the girls “play” together in the nursery and hope they realize, when they are someday teenagers and arguing over clothes and the phone, that they will ultimately be best friends.


          A Lilly Pulitzer-Inspired Nursery

          Lilly Pulitzer girls' nursery | The Champagne Supernova ‎
          Like most first time moms, the pending arrival of our daughter in March of 2012 came with the anxiety of having the most.perfect.nursery.ever. I wanted her room to be different than the expected “explosion of pink” but feminine in a not-so-over the top way. I searched for ideas all over the internet before vowing I wouldn’t look at another web site and to be authentic about what I wanted to do. I’ve loved Lilly Pulitzer since college and wanted to go with a Lilly-inspired theme. Here’s what I came up with:
          Read about how I created a Lilly Pulitzer inspired baby nursery for my daughter, born March 2012. Read about how I created a Lilly Pulitzer inspired baby nursery for my daughter, born March 2012. Read about how I created a Lilly Pulitzer inspired baby nursery for my daughter, born March 2012. arden79 Read about how I created a Lilly Pulitzer inspired baby nursery for my daughter, born March 2012. arden82
          The bedding, curtains, and floral lamp are from Pottery Barn Kids. The wreath and pillows are from Etsy, and the green wall paint is “Green Goddess” from Valspar at Lowe’s.  I purchased the fashion form from Amazon and decorated it with faux pearls and a tutu from a kiosk at the mall. The hamper is from The Container Store and the furniture from JCPenney. I ordered the mix-and-match Lilly fabric from an Ebay seller and placed it inside large white frames from Pier One. Note: iron the fabric before taping it to the inside matting of the picture frame. The rocking chair is from a thrift store and the wicker stand was a hand-me-down from a friend. The photograph inside the frame on the wicker stand was a favorite baby shower gift from my great-Aunt Dolores. It contains a picture of my cousin, my mom, and my mom’s twin sister at a birthday party in the early 1960s. Do any of you have sentimental treasures that you incorporated into your home décor?


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