Meaningful Gifts That Give Back

We can’t think of a better way to approach the holidays and the end of 2016 than in a socially conscious way.  Many of us have a new perspective this holiday season and hope to make our gifting more meaningful than ever.  We have suggestions for ways to touch the hearts of friends and loved ones with charitable gifts that give back and carry lasting impact.

Instead of material gifts that may soon be forgotten – invest in making a difference by supporting the volunteer rescue workers in Syria rushing to the scenes of bombings to pull people out from under the rubble and carry them to safety by donating in a loved one’s name to The White Helmets. Contribute to the International Rescue Committee to help save refugee families in crisis. Give the gift of helping struggling families lift themselves out of hunger and poverty – and send a girl to school through Heifer International.  Help CARE continue to save lives with food and emergency assistance, education and economic opportunity in places that need it most – and your funds will be MATCHED if you donate by December 31st – doubling your gifted impact.

If you’re looking to wrap up a gift invested in making a difference – check out these great options that give back below:

meaningful-gifts-that-give-back-gift-guide

Help light the path out of poverty for adolescent mothers in Chicago by purchasing a handcrafted candle from Bright Endeavors – a paid job training program providing critical guidance to help young moms secure quality employment.

Assist in ensuring a safe pregnancy and safe birth to every mother, everywhere, by making a donation to Every Mother Counts in a loved one’s name – or purchase a gift from their shop.  100% of net proceeds from this lovely Flat Clutch will be donated to Every Mother Counts.

Purchase an adorable ethically produced hand-knit doll crafted by Peruvian artisans from Cuddle + Kind, and ten meals will be provided to food insecure children, through the World Food Program USA.

Give the gift of cozy socks from Bombas knowing that for every pair purchased a pair will be donated to a homeless person in need. Best of all, the donated socks are engineered to meet the specific needs of people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day.

Consider gifting from Mercado Global and helping indigenous Guatemalan women to overcome poverty and become agents of change in their communities. Check out this beautiful Amanecer Pillow that draws inspiration from traditional handwoven techniques that originate from Comalapa, an artisan village in the Central Highlands of Guatemala.

Gift a Mini Kane STATE Bag and let your teeny-recipient know that their gift also provides a hand-delivered STATE bag loaded with essential tools for success to a child in need in the U.S.

Share

Design Tips to Update and Elevate the Living Room

living-room-design-tipsWe’re excited to share a living room update in collaboration with Raymour & Flanigan who provided furniture and decor. Opinions, as always, are my own. 

Like many families, we spend the majority of our time in the living room.  It’s where we decompress, host friends and family, and enjoy simply being together – cocooned between our walls.  It’s arguably the most important room in our home, and we’ve always felt connected to the ways in which our interior space impacts our everyday.  With a goal of continuing to tell our collective family story with heirloom pieces, meaningful artwork, and some new furniture and decor to compliment our Tudor style space – we found a way to easily upgrade the communal area in our home – just in time for the holidays, and the fresh start of a new year.  See below for our simple design tips to instantly update and elevate the living room.

living-room-home-design-tips-raymour-flaniganMAXIMIZE AVAILABLE SPACE

Selecting a specific couch or sectional was perhaps the biggest design decision in our living room update.  While I initially went with a plush beige sectional, the Soto 4-piece Modular Sectional Sofa with Soto Ottoman suited the available space so much better. As opposed to something oversized, the low back, tapered feet and raised design (that my robotic vacuum can work under!) deliver the sort of warmth and comfort that we were looking to maintain.

home-design-decor-styling-tipsFOCUS ON MULTI-FUNCTIONAL PIECES THAT COMPLIMENT THE EXISTING SPACE

In addition to the dimensions and overall feel of the 5-piece sectional, we knew its functionality would work well for our lifestyle.  When guests are over, we just slide over the armless chair to cozy up in discussion and add the ottoman for those who want to catch a quick cat nap (hello husband!).  Being able to pull apart the pieces, with the option of latching it all together (while set up in sectional mode) made this key piece transform the space visually and functionally.

living-room-home-design-how-toUTILIZE ARTWORK AND PLANTS

Whether meaningful family heirlooms, new treasures or flea-market finds, we’re big believers in loving the art displayed on the walls every single day.  I adore having my husband’s work in clear view, and the way that our living room design allows treasured gifted pieces to take center stage. We also picked up this great Copper Flower Wall Decor to pull together the color palette while providing impact to an otherwise bare wall.  Also, every space can be perked up by natural elements like fresh plants – just don’t forget to water!

home-design-tips-statemen-pieceINCORPORATE STATEMENT PIECES

With a mirrored interior and lightly antiqued gold finish, this large Bevan Gold Oval Tray houses a rotation of decorative items, fresh flower, flameless candles and more, while making a statement in the overall space.  Go ahead and put curated stacks of books on display too, while mixing them up to keep your current reads interesting. 

raymour-flanigan-modular-sectional-sofaADD A RUG

Rugs always add an instant cozy vibe.  If we didn’t have a bold and colorful rug in the front area of the room, we would have selected a loud or patterned rug for this portion of the living room.  This Bella Sisal Hazelnut Area Rug complements the overall aesthetic while meshing well with the bright accents in the designated play area.

living-roomBRING IN TEXTURE

We found the texture-rich feel we craved in a few Bryant Cognac Shag Throw Pillows.
We’ll eventually add more color and patterns to the pillow collection, and adore the starting layer of texture in these great shag throw pillows.

 living-room-design-decor-tips.jpg

Lastly, we’re fans of mixing different designs with a bit of modern, mid-century, eclectic and antique along the way. The new pieces from our partner, Raymour & Flanigan helped to instantly upgrade our well-loved living room to a favorite place where more cherished memories will be made.

Looking for more design features?  View the kids shared bedroom upgrade here.

Share

Adorable Hand Painted Christmas Ornaments Tutorial

painted-christmas-ornaments-diy-tutorial

There’s something really wonderful about having homemade holiday touches in the home and gifting handmade gifts. Jen from Craftic walks us through a lovely painted Christmas ornament tutorial inspired by clear glass ornaments discovered at a local craft store. With paint, imagination, and fun finishing touches – these adorable DIY Christmas ornaments are the perfect holiday craft to make right now.

Materials

  • Acrylic paints
  • Glass or plastic clear ornaments
  • Paint brush
  • Sequins, buttons, googly eyes, or any finishes for decorating.
 how-to-make-painted-christmas-ornaments

Directions

  1. Carefully take off the ornament tops.
  2. Get your acrylic paints ready. Consider mixing a custom palette to match holiday cards or other decorations in your home.
  3. Paint the interior of the ornament by squeezing a bit of paint into the ornament from the bottle. Depending on your paint’s viscosity, swirl it around to get a good coating (if it’s more fluid) or coat it with a paint brush (if it’s thicker).
  4. Place the ornaments upright on a paper plate and allow the excess paint to drip down overnight.  Tip: don’t use a napkin or you’ll end up with little bits of the towel dried to the edges!
  5. Check on your ornaments after drying overnight.  If there are splotches where the paint dried, touch up the spots with a bit of paint on a brush.
  6. Decorate the outside of the ornament however you wish!  Using craft glue, attach sequins, buttons, and beads to create patterns, googly eyes to make faces, or anything else. Leave to dry for at least two hours.
  7. After drying, secure the ornament tops back on and enjoy your newly created works of art!

beautiful-homemade-painted-christmas-ornaments-diy-tutorial

Check out more of Jen’s crafty goodness over on Craftic!

 hand-painted-Christmas-ornaments-DIY.jpg

 

Share

On Holiday Hair + Fishtail Milkmaid Braids Tutorial

how-to-fishtail-milkmaid-braids-crownThis post is sponsored by Mirum Shopper.  Opinions and fun fishtail milkmaid braids hair tutorial are all my own. Thanks for reading!

We’re one full week into December and are super excited to attend the first of many holiday parties this evening.  I think the entire family is feeling the distinct spirit that comes along during this special season.

I’m trying to consciously not get caught up in the busyness of it all – and just focus on the fun of spending loads of time with people we adore.  I also certainly welcome reasons to get out of the work-from-home beauty rut and get dressed up for the festivities to come.  There’s absolutely something to be said about feeling your best on the inside when you practice self-care on the outside too.

While I’ve depended on those loose curl blowouts for nearly every special event – a fun beauty quiz on CVS.com made me realize that it’s due time to up my hair game; suggesting that I give my outfit a pop by achieving shiny hair status with recommended productions to use along the way.

suave-cvs-flatlay

Winter always has a way of wreaking havoc on my hair, and I’ve been trying to combat the overall dryness caused by heat tools and the change in temperature.  I’m replenishing my locks and preventing damage with products from Suave and TRESemmé® BOTANIQUE collection. I’ve also been experimenting with fun styles like these fishtail milkmaid braids – that also offer my hair a bit of respite since this lovely look is achieved without heating tools.


hair-products-flat-lay

If you’d like to rock this quick, easy, and perfect-for-the-holidays ‘do – just follow the straightforward steps below.  Make sure that you have two little elastics, plenty of bobby pins and TRESemmé® TWO Extra Hold Hair Spray.  In addition to taming fly-aways and holding holiday styles in place, the hair spray is also a hero at locking in curls!

fishtail-milkmaid-braid-crown-hair-tutorial-how-to

1. Divide your hair into two equal sections.  A middle part works best for this look because your braids will have similar thicknesses.

2. Fishtail braid each section and secure with a small elastic.  I think fishtails look best when weaving with tiny sections of hair to really define the braid pattern. I also recommend pulling out small sections of hair before braiding – to keep the look chic (and not Little House on the Prairieish!!!).

3.  Here’s the trick to making the braids look great.  Starting from the top of the braid carefully pull each braid apart to give the braids a fuller and naturally messy look.

4. Experiment with placement by wrapping the braids around your head.  I like my braids very close to my hairline for a lovely braided crown look.

5.  Position the first braid across your head and secure in place with bobby pins.

6.  Wrap the second braid across your head (I like to place it in the back of the first braid) and secure with bobby pins while making sure to tuck in the little elastics and ends.  Spray with TRESemmé® TWO Extra Hold Hair Spray to help tame fly-aways while holding the look in place.

Have fun – you’re set to party!

Want in on the savings on some great, affordable, hair care products that are currently in my beauty arsenal?  CVS is currently running the following deals:

cvs-extrabucks-rewards-savings-haircare-tresemme-suave-dove

$5 ExtraBucks® rewards when you spend $15 on participating TRESemmé®, Suave® or Dove Hair Care products.

Additionals Offers Valid 12/4-12/10
2/$6 WITH CARD Select Suave® hair care.
2/$8 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® or Dove Shampoo Conditioner and Stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.
*Offer Valid WITH CARD 12/4/16 – 12/10/16. ExtraBucks® Rewards offer limit of 1 per household with card.

Additional Offers:
Valid 12/4 – 12/10
2/$6 WITH CARD Select Suave® Hair Care.
2/$8 WITH CARD Dove Base Hair Care or TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner (28–32 oz.) or select stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.
Valid 12/11 – 12/17
2/$8 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner 28-32 oz., or select stylers-
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium Hair Care products.

Valid 12/18 – 12/24
Buy 1, Get 1 50% OFF WITH CARD Select Suave® Hair Care products.
Valid 12/25 – 12/31
2/$8 WITH CARD Dove Base Hair Care or TRESemmé® shampoo, conditioner (28–32 oz.) or select stylers.
2/$10 WITH CARD Select TRESemmé® Premium or Dove Advanced Hair Series haircare.

Looking for more hair inspiration?  Learn what hairstyle you should try this Holiday season by taking this quiz on CVS.com/YourStyleYourWay.

Wishing you all the best of the season!

Share

Holiday Gift Guide 2016 + AMEX Giveaway!

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? From gifts for kids (both big and little) to presents for her and him too – our 2016 Holiday Gift Guide has gift suggestions for everyone on your list.  Check out our pre-tested favorites for Christmas and Hanukkah gifting and scroll down to enter to win an American Express gift card giveaway to purchase something special from our curated lists. Happy gifting!

holiday-gift-guide-kids-2016-toys

  • For Kids

WowWee CHiP: Want to wow your kid this holiday?  This intelligent, and trainable robotic toy dog responds via touch, the included SmartBand, and the free ChiP app. Just like a real dog, he’ll follow his owner around and even play fetch and automatically return to his SmartBed when he needs to recharge.

Yvolution Y Glider Deluxe Scooter: This fun three-wheeled scooter is perfect for beginners. Suitable for ages three and up – little kids will love zipping around on this fun scooter – and the “learn to steer” design will help younger children master riding in no time.

IncrediBuilds Deluxe Books and Model Sets: Fuel their creativity with a 3D wood model set and thrilling hardcover books.  Kids will love the building and reading combo, available in favorite themes like Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fantastic Beasts and more

BOSEbuild Speaker Cube: Big Kids now have the chance to build their own blue tooth speaker with fun, vibrant lights, and customization covers. They’ll learn all about speaker components (like, coil, magnet, and paper) while making the adults in the family jealous with Bose-quality sound.

Razor RipStik Electric Caster Board: Thrill-seeking big kids (ages 9 and up) will enjoy cruising around on Razor’s RipStik Electric featuring powerful 100-watt technology and a kick start in-wheel hub driven motor that pushes speeds up to 10 mph.  Just remember to include a helmet!

LeapFrog Count Along Cash Register: Packed with tons of learning fun for little kids – this cute singing cash register has plenty of numbers, counting and role play skills in store.

WowWee COJI: This incredible, intuitive coding robot toy helps to develop STEM skills through emoji language (that kids love!).  Kids will have fun playing games that reinforce memory and problem-solving skills while having their own cool robotic toy.

Lakeshore Slot & Build Texture Shapes: You can never go wrong with a gift from Lakeshore, and these flexible, imagination-igniting building shapes are ideal for little hands.  Tots will have endless fun while exploring and creating with unique textured shapes.

Yo-kai Model Zero: Yo-kai fans will have fun projecting short character animations onto surfaces while rocking this fun, bright watch that plays tribes songs, summoning sounds, and Yo-kai names.

Kamik Boots: Give them the gift of staying warm and dry for snow play and sledding!  Kamik always has high quality, stylish, durable options to keep kids feet toasty while having fun.

Skylanders Imaginators: This fun toy-to-life video game allows players to create their own characters, called Imaginators.  This gift is sure to be a hit for the gaming kid and is available for PlayStation 5, Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Xbox One.

Thames & Kosmos Crystal Growing: Gift the gift of growing dozens of dazzling crystals while learning all about their structure and geometry. This great kit allows kids to mold plaster shapes and use dyes to grow a rainbow of custom colors.

LeapFrog Lean & Groove Musical MatImpress the toddler in your life with this fun interactive musical mat that encourages movement and play – while reinforcing gross motor skills, music, rhythm, and numbers.

Lakeshore Young Scientist Chemistry Lab: Encourage your budding scientist with this incredible hands-on lab that allows children to brew up mind-blowing projects –  like glowing ice spheres, jelly worms and more. Kids will learn all about chemical reactions with over 20 chemistry tools and detailed instructions.

holiday-gift-guide-women-men

  • For Her

Citizen L Circle Of Time: Give her the gift of time-keeping with this stunning, timeless watch powered by Ec0-Drive technology (light!) which never requires a battery change.

Adidas Superstar 80s Shoes: Nearly every outfit can be styled with Adidas Superstar sneakers, and these are elevated with a flashy, textured metal shell toe.

May Designs Custom Planner: Give her the gift of organization with a lovely paper planner that can be personalized in every way.

Luminara Flameless Candles: She’ll love having a bunch of real flame effect candles in her home without the hazard and hassle of having to light real candles. Luminara’s battery operated flameless candles will bring coziness, glamor, and comfort to any space.

Nerium AD Skincare: Nerium AD Age Defying Night and Day Creams are back on our list this year because they continue to provide visible results!

  • For Him

Wolverine Boots: For they guy who needs serious durability – Wolverine dura shocks provide serious comfort with every step to power through any job.

Hanes FreshIQ:  Tuck favorite everyday basics like socks, T-shirts, and underwear into his stocking with built-in advanced odor protection technology that attacks odor-causing bacteria in clothing  – to help him feel fresh all day.

Tifosi Optics Sunglasses: The sports enthusiast will love the functionality, comfort, and fit of Tifosi’s sleek and lightweight frame styles made from polycarbonate materials providing 100 percent UVA/UVB protection.

The Real Deal Brazil Gravata Tablet Case: He’ll appreciate the Eco-friendliness and cool look of this durable tablet case handmade in a remote small town in rural equatorial Brazil from recycled tarps.

WIN IT! Enter to win a $100 American Express Gift Card for your holiday shopping! Simple entry via the Rafflecopter below – U.S. only. Best of luck and Happy gifting! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Special thank you to Time To Play Magazine, The Toy Insider, and all of the companies partnering with Marino Bambinos. Some affiliate links are included.  

Share

It’s Time To Get Those Holiday Cards Ready!

 minimal-Christmas-Card-Minted.jpg

Who’s excited for the holidays?! I can’t wait to get our Christmas tree and just be present with my family in all of the goodness that the season brings. The kids have always enjoyed helping to open the envelopes that will soon start to trickle in, filled with thoughtful Holiday Cards from our friends and family.  It really is such a treat to receive an actual card in this digital era.  We’ve  joined in the tradition of sending photo cards ever since our little-big-girl first came along, and we’ve turned to Minted for several years for our Christmas cards because we adore their modern, lovely and festive designs sourced from their talented global community of independent artists.

minted-foil-cardletterpress-luxe-holiday-cardinted-kids-art-drawing-card

With brilliant letterpress options, Foil-Pressed Holiday CardsOrnament Holiday Cards, lovely New Years Card Collection options and more. Minted makes it easy to pop your favorite family photograph or kid’s art into a ton of different designs.  And you can never go wrong with free custom Minted envelopes and free recipient address printing!  Do let us know what your favorite designs are in the comments below – and take advantage of those great sales going on now through Cyber Monday!

This post is sponsored by Minted. A company that we have loved and used for years.  Opinions, as always, are my own.  Affiliate links are included.

Share