Aug 17, 2015

Setting a goal & keeping with it

I am excited to share with you today 4 tips on how you can set a goal and keep with it!

It's not just going through the motions that will get you there. Hiccups happen, families need attending to, but if you have a dream of what you want, then you need to know how you are going to get there!

First, you have to have a goal, write it down and know why it is so important to you to keep it.  Also, letting others know about your goal is crucial to your success and having them know that you are serious and ready to make healthy changes.

Being serious and not letting anything get in your way, not letting excuses set in, AND giving it your all!

Here are 4 tips to help you to set a goal and reach it!

1. Have a plan
Write out your goals. Give yourself a deadline.  Know what you are eating, what you are doing for exercising, and having a schedule is crucial. Being prepared will lead you to success and you will gain the confidence that you can do this! 


2. Re-assess your goals -weekly/daily if you need to.
Asking yourself how you did that day and being true.
Always remembering WHY it is important for you to reach that goal. 



3. Be consistent
Do what you need to do to reach your goals. A little bit at a time.
When things get rough. Give yourself time to re-evaluate, get some needed rest, and get back to preparing and planning what you need to get to your goal for the week. Which will in turn lead you to your BIG goal.


4. Never give up
Be patient with yourself. Know that it will take time. You don't have to be perfect.  You just need to keep progressing.


Setting a Big goal, with little goals that will get you there is so important.  So write down now a goal you have for yourself.  Then write down little monthly goals that you want to reach that will get you to that goal.  Set your dates of where you want to be in that month and then take it a day at a time.

You will do great and reach your goals if you have a plan each week of what you need to do to get there.  Make that plan simple and reachable. Changes will happen over time.

Thanks for checking in,

Melissa

Aug 4, 2015

Update on my pregnancy and August energy quote

Marjorie P Hinckley
Click on image to download your own copy
This quote speaks volumes to me.  It always has, but this week especially it does.  I hope you can enjoy this quote and apply it to your life as well.  We need to put our energy towards the things that matter most.  Sometimes those can change.  

I will give you an update on my pregnancy and my hospital stay.  Then I will share with you how I am applying this quote to my life.

Sunday, July 26th:  I got to leave the hospital!  I was so happy I actually cried.  I was able to leave after 48+ hours of no bleeding.  They were still on edge about letting me go because I was still having consistent contractions.  However, they let me go and told me to come back if the contractions got worse or if the bleeding started again.  I was so nervous that I would leave and then a few hours later have to go back.

I did not have to go back.  The following week was pretty easy and uneventful.  I was on a very limited movement plan, so I took it really easy.  My dear husband does so much.

Friday, August 7th: I went to the hospital because I had pain in my leg.  It was pretty painful and my left foot was more swollen than my right.  I went into the hospital to get an ultrasound done on my leg to make sure I did not have a blood clot.  Thank heavens I didn't.

Saturday and Sunday went without a hitch.  Saturday I was able to see my sweet daughter in a parade for dance and she did so well.  This was something I did not want to miss.  She was dancing, smiling, and waving.  She sure knows how to make her parents proud.

Sunday, August 2nd:  At 11 pm I started having consistent contractions (they were 2-5 minutes apart and they would last anywhere from 30-90 seconds) that were pretty high on the pain scale.  I would say they were ranging from a 5-7 on the pain scale with most of them at the 7 mark.  This continued from 11 pm-5 am the next morning.  At that point I decided I better go in so that I do not get in trouble for not going in.  I was supposed to go in if I had them 5-10 minutes apart for 2 hours.  The reason I didn't go in right away is because they weren't getting any more intense.  I did NOT want to go sit at the hospital again.

Another reason I decided to go in is because I couldn't sleep.  They were painful enough that I couldn't sleep and I really needed sleep.  So I decided to go in and see what was going on.  They tried for 6 hours to slow them down.  Again, nothing worked, but at the same time they were not getting worse and my sweet baby was handling everything really well.

So they let me go home, thank heavens.  They gave me some medicine to help my uterus calm down and then hopefully help me to sleep a little bit.  It worked because I was able to come home and take a 4 hour nap.

Then last night I was able to sleep.  I am still contracting, but they have spread out now.  They are still pretty intense, but at least not happening all the time so my body can get some rest from it all.  The doctors really, really, really want me to get to 37 weeks (this Thursday) so hopefully we can have some uneventful days this week and maybe even make it until next week.

So back to the quote, this week I am applying the quote to my life.  My assignment this week is to stay pregnant and to put my full heart and energy into helping my baby girl stay calm through all the contractions and to stay pregnant.  I am going to put my whole heart and soul into this.  I have picked activities that I can do with Hannelore will laying down or at least sitting.  This will help curb the mommy guilt because I still want to be present in her life.

Thank you all for the love and support I have felt from you.  I am so grateful for everyone in my life right now.  I am grateful for my sweet family who is my rock.

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Aug 3, 2015

Quest for More Happiness-Aug 2015-Increase Faith

prayer, journal, Elder Jeffrey R Holland

My goals for August

My basis for my monthly goals is the AMAZING BOOK, The Happiness Project.  This month all my goals are centered around faith.  Faith can bring so much peace and happiness.  Since this month will be when I have a new baby I thought this was a perfect month to focus on faith.


Make sure to say personal morning and evening prayers
journal, Elder Jeffrey R Holland, Increase Faith

I am good at saying evening prayers.  I need to be more heartfelt in my evening prayers though. Sometimes I wait until I am so exhausted that I have a hard time with them.  However, they are said every night.  Morning prayers are hit and miss.  This month I want to pray morning and night prayers.  I want my prayers to be heartfelt and raw.  I want my faith to be strengthened.  


Keep a gratitude journal
prayer, Elder Jeffrey R Holland, increase faith

This goal is the same as Gretchen Rubin's.  I started a gratitude journal a little more than 2 years ago and I was really consistent until I became pregnant.  Since then it has been a struggle.  So this month I want to get into the routine of writing in my gratitude journal.  This journal is simple and short, but there at least there is something documented everyday.  I need this in my life. 


Get to know Elder Jeffrey R Holland better
prayer, journal, increase faith

Jeffrey R Holland is so amazing.  He is such a spiritual rock and I enjoy all his talks.  I recently got a book of his and I want to read it.  I want to become more like him so I plan on reading that book and also other books and talks given or written by him.  I would like to become more of a spiritual rock for myself and others around me.  


Challenge and Giveaway

Challenge this month-Choose an area in your life that you can strengthen your faith.  If you do not consider yourself spiritual then start a gratitude journal.  It will make a difference in your life.  I promise!


Email me at support@shambray.com when you are completed with the challenge.  In the email include what you did to complete the challenge.  

Prize:


This prize will help you keep your one-sentence journal/gratitude journal.


Check out the other months in my Quest For More Happiness:

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Aug 1, 2015

Family Home Evening: August 2015

prophet, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, baptism, confirmation, sacrament, scriptures
Disclaimer: This post is about my faith.  If that makes you uncomfortable then please stop reading.  It is not my intention to make my readers feel awkward in any way.  I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  I am very proud of that part of me and I love the church with all my heart.

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the family is key.  Every Monday night is devoted toward "Family Home Evening".  It is a time to spend with the family so individuals can grow together as a family as well as closer to our Savior.  I try and do something spiritual every week, although, some weeks it will be spent with the family in a more casual setting.

Jul 29, 2015

Top 5 Things To Get Done Before Your Baby Arrives

CariCord, cord blood banking, pediatrician, labor bag, life insurance, babymoon, car seat

Having a baby is a big commitment and it can cause many soon-to-be parents a lot of anxiety.  Coming up with a checklist is of things to get done before the baby comes is a great thing to do to help alleviate some of the stress.  I have compiled a list of the top 5 things to get done before your baby comes.  Some of these things I learned the hard way with my baby #1.  

CariCord, cord blood banking, labor bag, life insurance, babymoon, pediatrician, car seat


1.  Get you and your spouse set up on life insurance.

The best time to do this is around 30 weeks.

If you get this done by the time you are 30 weeks then it is done and taken care of well in advance so you don't have to worry about it as time gets closer for your little sweetheart to come.  Life insurance is so important and if you are bringing a brand new baby into this world you want to make sure that if anything devastating happens that they will be taken care of.



Research cord blood and tissue banking
2.  Research Cord Blood and Tissue Banking.  

The best time to do this is around 32 weeks.

Cord blood banking is a proactive way to plan for your child’s future health. There are so many reasons that you would want to bank your baby's cord blood and/or tissue. There are also many different companies that will offer these services to you. CariCord is one of them. CariCord is located in a major university so you do not have to worry about your baby's cord blood being available when you need it. That is one of the many reasons why CariCord would be a great choice. Think Cord Blood Banking is unaffordable?  CariCord offers personalized payment options that are interest free, no administrative fees or credit approval needed. You can save thousands by banking with CariCord. That is yet another reason to go with CariCord.

Don't forget to download the FREE Cord Banking Information Kit and this will enter you into a giveaway for $2,000 worth of baby gear!


Research cord blood and tissue banking
The research can be a bit overwhelming. Below you will find a video to help you to make a decision. You can also find more information about CariCord by calling: 844-227-4267. Also, join us in the conversation about cord blood banking on Twitter - July 30th at 7pm CST using the hashtag #CariCord.  




3.  Choose a pediatrician.  

The best time to do this is around 35 weeks.

Some soon-to-be parents forget about this until after the baby is born or when time is very short to make a decision.  It is good to research pediatricians and/or to ask family and friends about different pediatricians.  You want the pediatrician to work well with your personality and desires.  If this is completed by 35 weeks then you will have plenty of time to research many different pediatricians.  

CariCord, cord blood banking, life insurance, babymoon, pediatrician, car seat

4.  Pack a hospital bag-EARLY!

The best time to do this is around 36 weeks.


Obviously, you never know when you are going to go into labor.  However, I learned the hard way and did not have a bag packed when I went into labor at 36.5 weeks.  I was planning on doing it just 2 short days later so I would have it ready by 37 weeks.  Since I didn't have a bag packed I had to go to the hospital completely empty handed.  

The worst part about it was that I had to have a c-section and I was in the hospital a bit longer than one or two days.  It was hard for me to send my husband and try and tell him where everything was.  It is much better to have it completed beforehand.  

I have made a comprehensive list that you can download and use to help you pack your hospital bag.  I have also included a checklist for dad, siblings, and baby.  

5.  Research car seats and get it installed properly.

The best time to do this is around 36 weeks.

This is another thing that I had no idea there were so many options on car seats.  It was very overwhelming for my husband and me to make a decision.  We luckily did do the research many weeks ahead of time.  We both wanted to make sure we got the best for our baby since driving in the car can be a bit scary today.  

Once you purchase the car seat make sure you know how to install it in your vehicle because some car seats can be a bit tricky.    

Bonus item to check off your pre-baby list:

CariCord, cord blood banking, pediatrician, labor bag, life insurance, car seat
**Take a babymoon**

This is something my husband and I didn't do before our first came and I still am sad about it.  In our defense we had one planned, but when we were supposed to be leaving I couldn't keep ANYTHING down.  So we had to cancel.  We kept hoping the the nausea would pass, but it never did.  So it might be a good idea to go on this trip BEFORE you get pregnant, but another good time for most expecting mamas is 23 weeks.  That way you are not too uncomfortable due to being large with child and for most woman the nausea has passed by this time. 


CariCord, cord blood banking, babymoon, pediatrician, labor bag, life insurance, car seat

I received compensation in exchange for writing this blog post.
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Jul 24, 2015

My hospital stay for placental abruption

This post contains a lot of details.  I had a lot of people asking questions, so I thought I would share with you how the last week has gone.  I have intermixed this post with some maternity pictures that make me smile.  

Monday, July 13th:  I went to my routine OB visit.  Everything looked great and the baby sounded fantastic.  I was growing at a good rate.  

Tuesday, July 14th:  I went to Maternal Fetal Medicine.  They did an ultrasound on me to make sure that my placenta was not growing over the scare of my previous c-section.  There was question about this at 20 weeks so they wanted to check it at 34 weeks.  Everything looked great there!  We tried to get a 3D picture of our sweet babe, but she had both hands up by her face the whole time.  Then when it came time to take the 3D picture she put both feet down by her head, with that came the umbilical cord.  So there were 3 things covering her face.  She really wants to keep us on our toes.  However, we got to see her little nose in 3D.  Her nose looks just like her sister's nose! 

Wednesday, July 15th:  I started to have bleeding.  Not a lot, but some.  (Rewind to about 1 month ago....I had bleeding and my OB thought it could be placental abruption.  So at that time she gave me steroids to help baby's lungs develop faster.  When that happened she told me to call anytime I saw ANY blood.  So I did)  I went in for a stress test and the baby looked great.  However, I was contracting.  They were not bad enough to alarm anyone at this point though. 


Thursday, July 16th:  This is the only day I did not go to the hospital.  The bleeding had slowed immensely.  

Friday, July 17th:  I had quite a bit of blood with other fluid come out.  I called because I did not know if it was my water breaking.  I was in labor and delivery for 12 hours that day.  My water had not broken, but I was contracting very frequently.  They tried everything they could to get them under control with no luck.  They finally got them lowered and sent me home.  At this point I was dilated to a 2 and 70% effaced.  During all the contractions there was no change in the cervix.  Since they did not know at this time what was going on they would not let me eat the whole time I was in labor and delivery.  I ate 3 hours before going into the hospital.  So when I left there that night at 11 pm I had not eaten for 15 hours.  I was starving.  


Saturday, July 18th:  In the morning I had blood clots coming out and I kept watching them.  I thought that maybe due to the amount of times my cervix was checked to see if it had changed that I had irritation from that.  At about noon I had contractions that were about a 5 on a scale of 1-10 in pain. These contractions came every 2-3 minutes.  However, I got them to stop and calm down.  I did call the doctor at this time and told her everything that was going on.  She told me to watch the contractions and to come in if they kept going or if I filled a pad up in 30-60 minutes.  A little after dinner, Hannelore and I were getting ready to go outside and make a fairy garden and I felt some blood gush out.  Without going into major detail I will say there was a lot of blood involved.  There was one clot alone that was the size of 2 half dollar coins.  So....I came back to the hospital.  

The nurses were alarmed with the amount of blood that was coming.  They checked my cervix to see if the blood was coming from the cervix or if there was blood outside the cervix.  It was coming from the cervix.  They also checked to make sure I wasn't dilated any more...and I wasn't.  They pumped me full of fluids and the OB called the doctor at Maternal Fetal Medicine.  They both did not feel comfortable sending me home.  So I spent the night in the hospital.  I was hooked up to monitors all night.  One monitor was to make sure baby girl was OK.  The other one was to track my contractions.  Needless to say, I got 2 hours of sleep if I was lucky.  It was a rough night.  The contractions during all this were anywhere from a 5-6 on the pain scale.  

Sunday, July 19th:  The doctor came and visited me and said they both still did not feel comfortable sending me home.  They wanted to watch me another night, but that I could go over to postpartum.  That way I am not hooked to monitors all day long.  They still had to monitor me and the baby every morning and the baby at night.  I was on bed rest with bathroom privileges.  These bathroom privileges did not include a shower.  I was quite upset about that.  This day was the hardest of all.  I was very emotional because I didn't have a lot of answers yet.  The doctors were thinking the placenta had pulled away again, but weren't sure.  They didn't know when to tell me that I could go home.  

Then to top it off I had contractions anywhere from 2-6 minutes apart for 2 hours.  We couldn't calm them down.  They were a 7 on a scale of 1-10.  The whole time tears were streaming down my cheeks.  It was horrible.  They finally slowed down.  I was very emotional this day as well.  I cried most of the day.  

When the night came my husband was getting ready to leave to go get my daughter at my parent's house and I started bawling.  It is so hard being away from my family.  I feel bad complaining about it because I know it could be much worse.  I am in the best care I could be.  This is the safest place for me and my baby, but it is still so hard.  



Monday, July 20th:  I went to Maternal Fetal Medicine for an ultrasound.  They were hoping to be able to see the abruption.  This can only be detected on an ultrasound about 20-30% of the time.  So we weren't very optimistic, but we were hoping of course.  They couldn't see anything.  There is a large part of my placenta that the baby is covering.  So the problem could be behind her.  

This is when I was told that they did not feel comfortable with me leaving until the bleeding had stopped for a full 24 hours.  I was bummed, but I wasn't surprised.  On this day my doctor gave me wheelchair ride options so my family and I could go take a walk around the pond.  I was happy for that and it gave me something to look forward too.  I got to see my daughter in the morning and then that evening my husband brought her by and we took our walk together outside.  It was a time in my life that I was very happy.  I was with my family and although I was in a wheelchair I felt normal.

That night I got to help Ryan get Hannelore into her PJ's and read her a bedtime story.  Then I got to say a prayer with her and tell her goodnight.  Although it was hard to watch them walk out of my room I was very happy I got to be a part of her bedtime routine.  By the time I went to sleep I had not bled since 2 pm.

Tuesday, July 21st:  I started bleeding again at 6 am.  I was so upset because I only had 8 hours left before I had hit 24 hours.  I bawled in my bed for a good 30 minutes.  I was devastated.  After that I fell asleep for a bit and woke up feeling a little better and ready to face the day and the adventures that came with it.  I got to take a wheelchair ride again with my family.  The bleeding this day stopped at 2 pm again.

Wednesday, July 22nd:  I started bleeding again at 6 am.  Again I was upset.  There was no bleeding after 6 am.  I stayed in the room all day this day.  My mom, dad, little brother, and little sister came over and we played a game.  It was nice to have all of them plus my daughter and husband in the same room.  It felt a little more normal.  They also brought me a dinner I have been craving for weeks.

Thursday, July 23rd:  I started bleeding at 3 am!  I was 3 hours away from 24 hours.  Again, there was a lot of crying.  I don't like this waiting and wondering.  I honestly think just having a date that I would be allowed to go home would be better because then I would know when I will be leaving.  I had a lot of visitors and a lot of help this day.  It was nice to see some people that I haven't seen in awhile.  Again this day I didn't leave the room.  There was no bleeding since 3 am.

Friday, July 24th:  I checked at 3 am and there was no blood!  I made it 24 hours.  I went back to sleep completely satisfied.  Then when I woke  up there was blood at 6 am.  I couldn't believe it.  I didn't cry because I just was numb.  I felt like there was no way I would go home until the baby is here.  Later I was approved to take 3 wheelchair rides a day and I can walk the halls of postpartum.  So my husband, daughter, and I went outside to the fountain and had dinner.  Then I walked around the halls with them after we were done.  It was wonderful.  This night when my daughter left she was so sad and kept saying, "I want mommy to come home."  I feel so helpless.  It is hard for me to not have ANY power to help her.

Now we will see what tomorrow brings.  It is my fear that I leave and then the bleeding starts up again after I leave.  That will be devastating.  Only time will tell.


I want to conclude with some things that I have learned through this experience:

1. I have some of the best family and friends a woman could ask for. I am beyond blessed.
2. Don't try and control life. I try and when things don't go the way I had planned (for example this week) I tend to lose my mind. However, that doesn't help anyone. So I have been trying to focus on my blessings.
3. My dad helped me see this one: I am in great hands and being watched over by amazing doctors and nurses. In today's world and the technology we have no matter what happens we have some great resources to make the outcome of this situation the best it can be.
4. I am very thankful for my sweet and supportive husband for taking care of our beautiful daughter. I am grateful for my beautiful daughter that is handling this beyond well for a sweet 3 year old.
5. Smile no matter the circumstances.... Every day is a gift.


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Jul 21, 2015

Splurge VS Bargain

This post is written by Danielle, beauty/makeup contributor. She wrote another post before she has her baby and I am so thrilled. This post is perfect with this month that we are focusing on money! I am so excited to try some of these bargains. I have tried some of the splurges so it will be fun to see how the others compare. First on my list since I have been eyeing it for weeks is Maybelline The Nudes Pallete.

Shopping for a new product but not sure if you should splurge or look for a bargain? Whether you're looking to splurge or save it's nice to know there is an option out there for almost anything on both ends. With a little research and time you can find exactly what you’re looking for! I’ve gathered up some of the best bargain vs splurges I have come across so far! Saving money on products is awesome but it is always nice to splurge a little on the things you enjoy most. Deciding if you want to splurge can be the hardest part! Hope you all enjoy the small list I have put together and if there are any awesome ones you've found yourself I'd love to hear about them!

If you’re looking for a natural looking, light weight foundation
Splurge VS Bargain


If you're looking for a pore minimizing face primer
Splurge VS Bargain


If you're looking for a moisturizing lip color
Splurge VS Bargain


If you're looking for a neutral/nude eye-shadow palette

Splurge VS Bargain




If you're looking for clear brow gel
Splurge VS Bargain


If you're looking for a universal blush and bronzer

Splurge VS Bargain


Jul 15, 2015

Cricut Design Inspirations!



**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links. **

Now that you’re more familiar with Cricut Explore One™Cricut Explore Air™ and Cricut Design Space™, it’s time to chat about some of the really neat things you can create when you put it all together. 

As you’re getting familiar with your Cricut machine, it’s a great idea to take advantage of the free Make it Now™ projects and images that you get with Cricut Design Space™. 

For example, check out this adorable 3D Hot Air Balloons Mobile. It’s a fun, easy starter project and makes for the perfect baby shower or toddler’s birthday gift (and can you believe it's made with felt?). And what’s a gift without a card? Cricut has an incredible selection of card examples made with Cricut Explore machines. There’s even a whole selection dedicated to everything baby, which is where I came across this cute baby shower card

Birthday
What better way to tell someone how special they are than with a hand/Cricut-made card and gift? For example, if you bought a friend a purse or a wallet, you could use your machine to monogram it with their initials. Or if you bought them a plain shirt or sweater, you could customize it with a fun image or statement. 

I love this sparkly pineapple t-shirt. All you need is a blank shirt, a roll of Cricut Iron-on, and images from the Cricut® Summer Love image set. 

Pool Party
Soak up the summer fun with a pool party! You can use your Cricut Explore to create everything from invitations to decorations. Here are some really creative ideas for how to add some special splash to a pool party

Engagement/Wedding
Make your own beautiful table decorations, banners, party favor boxes, cards, and more for the happy couple in just a few minutes! You’ll find some really impressive ideas in Cricut’s Design Space, such as this lovely Mr. & Mrs. card

There are an unbelievable number of project examples in the Design Space, which are categorized by type (e.g. baby, holidays, home décor, school, food, etc.) and by level (easy, moderate, and advanced). You can also find a ton of great ideas for projects on Cricut's Blog and Pinterest page

The summer season is a perfect time to get your very own Cricut machine and familiarize yourself with Design Space and all the incredible projects you can create. Try out a few projects each month and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is. By the time the holiday season rolls around, you’ll be a Cricut pro and will wow your friends and family with your stunning crafting skills! 

Happy crafting! 


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Jul 14, 2015

Cricut Design Space™


**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking through my links.**

If you read last week’s post, you now know why Cricut’s Explore One™ and Explore Air™ machines are so incredible – and a must-have for any crafter. 

But what bridges the gap between the creative ideas in your head and the Cricut machine is the Cricut Design Space™

Cricut’s Design Space™ is software for PC, Mac®, iPhone® and iPad® that you get for free with your Cricut machine of choice. 

Instead of trying to figure out how to make your project, Design Space gives you the ability to focus on what you want to make. Your Cricut machine takes it from there and brings it to life. 

With Design Space, you can start designing from scratch on your computer, iPhone® or iPad®, or you can use a pre-designed, Make It Now™ project. These ready-to-make projects are created by professional artists and include everything from home décor to fashion to paper crafting, and even a variety of FREE projects. 

If you want to use one of Cricut’s 50K+ images, you can try them out in the Design Space to see which will look best in your project before you commit to purchasing it. 

Uploading Images 

When you’re ready to start designing, you can either use one of Cricut’s 50K+ images or easily upload your own using the “Upload Images” tool in Design Space. You can upload and cut .svg, .jpg, .png, .bmp, .gif, and .dxf files absolutely FREE. You can even use fonts already installed on your computer. 

Cut What You Want® tool 

The Design Space’s Cut What You Want® tool makes it easy to convert your design into a cuttable image in just a few clicks! 

The Cricut Design Space™ app for iPad® and iPhone® 

Cricut’s easy-to-use app for the iPad® and iPhone® makes it possible for you can design anytime and anywhere inspiration strikes you.

It also allows you to access all the project’s that you’ve personally designed, whether on your iOs device or your PC or Mac, and gives you access to all the Make-it-Now projects. 

With this app, you can start a project while at the beach, enhance it at the ice-cream shop, add some embellishments while cozying up on your couch, and then cut it on the Cricut Explore in your craft room. Plus, it’s cloud-based, so your projects are always synced across all your devices. 

P.S. Cricut is working on an Android™ app right now, so don’t feel left out if you don’t have an iPad or iPhone. 

In a nutshell, Cricut Design Space™ gives you the creative freedom to design just about anything! Make party invitations, decorations, and favors. Create seasonal home décor or personalize wedding gifts. Add embellishments to your favorite photo memories. 

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! That’s why next week’s post (the last on in this series) will focus on some really fun and interesting projects that people have created using their Cricut machine and the Cricut Design Space. 

Stay tuned! 


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Jul 13, 2015

8 ways to save on everyday living

programmable thermostat, swap babysitting, Groupon, Amazon

I am very passionate about saving money while living a wonderful and happy life.  I also do not like to over complicate things.  That is why I decided to put together the top ways I save money on things I do everyday.  They are all pretty simple, but all of them save me money. 

1.  The first thing I suggest is buying a programmable thermostat.  This will help you save so much money.  It is an investment, but well worth it.  If you are not planning on staying in your current house for long they are easy to remove and take with you.  Another awesome feature is that they have apps that go with them.  So if you go on vacation and forget to set the thermostat to away you can do it from wherever you are at.  

8 ways to save on everyday living
Photo Cred: StockSnap.io
2.  Always, always, always plan meals.  This is a huge one!  If you do not plan your meals you will spend more on groceries.  I like to plan my meals out a month in advance.  I like to plan things that are in season and that are on sale.  I also only go grocery shopping every other week.  The only exception to that is if something will go bad within two weeks.  This saves me on gas, time, and there are less opportunities for impulse buys if you are at the store less often. 

8 ways to save on everyday living
Photo Cred: StockSnap.io
3.  Plan your errands ahead of time.  I plan one day a week for errands.  I do this because then I can plan it out.  I save on gas by doing it this way.  I plan my errand day out so that I don't go from one end of the city to the other end 5 times.  I think about what would make sense with the locations of my errands and go with that.    

8 ways to save on everyday living
Photo Cred: StockSnap.io
4.  Another way we save is by exercising at home or outside (not in a gym).  There are many exercises you can do at home from running, riding bikes, exercise DVDs, even Pinterest is flooded with exercise ideas.  However, if you work out better at a gym and that is the only way you will exercise then that will be the best investment of your life.  Exercise is so important.  I do have one tip for people who go to the gym and that is to shop the deals at gyms.  There are always deals going on with gyms throughout the year.  Also, remember that the first of the year is the best time financially to join a gym.  They have the biggest discounts then! 

8 ways to save on everyday living
Photo Cred: StockSnap.io
5.  Save on travel....take a road trip.  Road trips can save a lot of money.  Plus you get to enjoy the scenery around you.  Make sure to calculate it out to make sure you will be saving money.  MOST of the time you will save money on a road trip, but depending on the amount of people that are going on the trip and the distance you will be traveling it might be cheaper to fly.  However, this is usually not the case especially if you have to rent a car.  

6.  Swap babysitting.  This is a great way to save on babysitting.  It saves money on your date, while helping family, friends, and neighbors as well.  

7.  Groupon!  We all need a little fun and excitement in our lives, right?  Groupon is such a great site to use to save money on fun things.  They have so many local deals.  I can't even tell you how many Groupons we have purchased for fun activities.  They also have Groupon Goods and we have bought items that have been on our "Want" list and got them for amazing prices.  I have even purchased party items through Groupon Goods to save money on parties I have put together.  Don't forget about their Getaways as well.  If you are looking for a fun vacation and want to spend a little more than a road trip; check out the amazing deals on Groupon.  

8.  Amazon is our best friend.  Amazon has about everything you will ever need.  When we had our daughter we signed up for Amazon Mom.  We did this because we could save so much money on diapers and wipes.  Then when she was in pull-ups we saved money on them as well.  With Amazon Mom you sign up for Amazon Prime.  That is the best thing we ever did.  We save so much money on Amazon and most items we get within 2 days.  I save money on gas as well because it is delivered right to my door.  You can even get the programmable thermostat that I talked about in #1 through Amazon.  Amazon is seriously the best thing!  I could go on and on about it.

I recently came across another amazing website called Giving Assistant.  Giving Assistant's mission is to save you more money, so you can better care for your loved ones and support charity.  Giving Assistant is a free digital loyalty program with over 1,100 retailers that average a 5% cash reward after each online purchase.  They pay in days direct to your secure debit card. Not months of
 waiting for a check in the mail like other cash back sites. Minimum payout is just $1, not $25 like the other guys.  Guess what?!  Amazon is one of those retailers (click here to go straight to Amazon's page).  If I shop through Giving Assistant on Amazon then I get 5% cash back!  It is beyond awesome.  I will walk you through it below so you can see how simple it is.  I was so surprised and actually didn't believe it until I tried it myself.  I thought it was too simple and too good to be true.  

You can sign in by clicking on the "sign in" button in the top right corner.  Then it will pop up with this screen.  You can sign in via Facebook or by setting up a unique login.  
sign in screen, 8 ways to save on everyday living


This is the home page.  There is not a lot to it which makes it nice because it is simple to figure out where to go.  
home screen, 8 ways to save on everyday living

Next search for a retailer of your choice.  For this example I typed in Amazon at the top of the home page (right where it says "Search thousands of stores").  After you type it in it will bring you to the page below.  From here you can look at the coupon codes or click on the red "Shop Now" button.  That will bring you to Amazon and then you can shop on Amazon just as usual.  So very simple.  
store page, 8 ways to save on everyday living

Then once you make a purchase you will get a cash back notification 2-7 days later.  I have noticed with Amazon that it is typically 2 days.  
account screen, 8 ways to save on everyday living

Groupon is another one of their retailers (click here to go straight to Groupon's page).  So you can save even more money on Groupon purchases.  Start searching today for your favorite stores!   

programmable thermostat, swap babysitting, Groupon, Amazon

I received compensation in exchange for writing this blog post.
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