Friday, January 30, 2015

Save Money on Groceries - No Coupons Needed!

Who likes to save money??  I know I sure do!  And now that we are down to one income I have been on the lookout to save even more than we already do!

During my searches for work-from-home opportunities and ways to make a little extra money here & there, I discovered Ibotta!  And I love it!



I probably won't strike it rich, but I will make some money with little effort.  And who doesn't love that?  You are definitely going to want to check this out.

So how can Ibotta (pronounced I bought a....) save me money on groceries??  Here is how it works:

There are a couple of ways to earn money.  

1. You can shop online through Ibotta and get cash back, much like Ebates.

2. You can submit (scan) a receipt or link your loyalty card and get cash back for certain purchases.

It's actually kind of fun!  I ran to Walmart to grab a few essentials the other day: milk, bread, eggs, etc.  Came home, scanned a few things (may have taken me 5 minutes) and I made $1.25!  It takes me longer than that to clip coupons.

The neat part?  You can work with your team to earn more!  Ibotta can connect to your Facebook to start building team (this is pretty neat) but you can also invite people to join your team.  The bigger your team, the faster you earn.

So I'm asking you all - do you want to start earning money back on your groceries??  Join my team!  You can go here to sign up or you can download the app and use the referral code: tyjrokq.

As a thank you for joining my team, I'm hosting a fun little giveaway.  One reader who joins my Ibotta team will win a surprise gift from me that will arrive at an unknown (surprise) time during 2015.  Don't you just love surprises?!?


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Must-Haves for Baby's First 3 Months

3 months have passed already since our little lady was born!  And it has been quite the adventure!  Yes, there are a few things that are absolutely necessary.  But I thought I would share the few "must-haves" for us that aren't necessarily....well.....necessary!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you happen to click and purchase - thank you so much for helping to support our family!  :)

1. Boba Sleepy Wrap - This was (and still is) amazing!  I am a homebody but I can't stay cooped up for very long without needing to get out.  Since Aelah was born in late October, the weather wasn't exactly ideal for getting out of the house without being around people.  By two weeks, I couldn't take it anymore.  I decided to venture out.  But I did so with our wrap.  It kept her close, asleep, and away from strangers (and germs!).  It was also great when we first went to church a week or so later.  She stay snuggled close, we got to show her off, and it kept people from touching her too much.  It is still wonderful for days when she just wants held and for trips to the grocery store!  
This was the first time she insisted on being wrapped like a "big girl" - she wouldn't let me tuck her in like the newborn wrap suggests.  :P

2. Speaking of wraps.... Beachfront Baby Wrap - Aelah absolutely hates getting a bath.  She screams bloody murder the whole time - you would think we were actually harming her.  It didn't take long after her umbilical cord fell off to realize we might need to do things differently...so I thought I would try taking her in the shower with me.  But babies are so stinkin' slippery!!  It was then that I remembered I had the beachfront wrap!  It is entirely made of a mesh material so it is perfect for the shower!  And she LOVES it!!  Sometimes she is so relaxed she falls asleep before I wash her up.  And it is, absolutely, my favorite time with her.  Skin-to-Skin and a happy baby all to myself = perfect bonding time!  Another item we couldn't live without in the shower is....



3. Babyganics Shampoo & Body Wash - As most of you know, we have taken a new interest in what goes in and on our bodies....especially when it comes to our baby.  So I made sure to get gentle soap, without any icky chemicals.  But, I particularly like this brand because it has a pump top and it is foaming.  That means, I only have to have one hand free to use it!  This is essential when I'm washing a slippery baby in the shower!  



4. Vitamin D Drops - If you are exclusively breastfeeding, it is likely that your pediatrician or family doctor has recommended giving your baby a Vitamin D supplement in order to prevent rickets.  I went back and forth about whether this was absolutely necessary and decided that it was a good preventative measure.  So I took in our prescription only to come home with something that has quite a few added chemicals I couldn't pronounce, caramel coloring, corn syrup, and added flavoring.  Plus, the dosage was an entire oz!  For a 2 week old baby, who has had nothing but breast milk, I just thought that was all a bit ridiculous.  So I asked around on a few of the cloth diaper groups I belong to and found these drops from Carlson Labs - MUCH better list of ingredients and the dosage is only a single drop!


5. Vibrating Chair - Our vibrating bouncy chair is amazing!  It was one of the few things that is guaranteed to calm down Aelah when she was inconsolable.  Since she refuses to take a pacifier, this is a good thing!  ;)  We call it our "magic" chair and almost every time she is in it, she falls asleep.  A friend of ours had one that rocked and I think I would have preferred one like that and will probably look into getting one the next time around.
I completely forgot about this outfit...probably doesn't fit her anymore.  :(

6. Bassinet - We borrowed our bassinet from a friend and I'm sooooo glad we did!  Since I was nursing, it was super convenient to just pick her up and sit in bed.  Even if I did have to get up and change her, I at least had a little time to wake up before stumbling around.  And in those first few weeks of adjusting to taking care of another life, it was nice to be able to just peek in and see she was fine.  But, the best part, our bassinet vibrated!!  If she woke up with an hour or two from her last feeding and was just fussing a little, all I had to do was hit the vibrate button and she would fall back asleep!  That definitely helped us get a bit more sleep in the first couple months.  And any extra sleep in that time frame is a blessing!

So there you have it, our list of things that are a "must" (without being an actual must) during baby's first 3 months!  What would you add to the list??

Monday, January 26, 2015

Gifts for Mom & Baby (WAHM Review + Giveaway) *CLOSED*

I am always looking for unique gifts.  When it comes to weddings and baby showers (and the like), I tend to get something small off the registry and then get something else that is super fun and creative.  In the coming months, as I do reviews, I'm hoping to also include a "gift guide" in the process.  I'll have gift ideas for babies, kids, moms, and dads.  And today I'm about to introduce you to a really neat Work-at-Home-Mom (WAHM) shop that has fantastic gifts for mom and baby!
I was given free product(s) in exchange for an open & honest review.  No other compensation was given.  All opinions are my own.
When I stumbled across Marley's Monsters, I knew she had to be a part of the WAHM series!  Her branding and products are absolutely phenomenal.  The quality and marketing are to such a caliber that I wouldn't be surprised to find it on the shelves at a fancy boutique.  Sarah specializes in reuseables (cloth wipes, facial pads, nursing pads, etc.) as well as fun things for baby (adorable bibs, crinkle paper, & more).

The story behind Marley's Monsters is a cute one!  While Sarah was on maternity leave with her baby girl (Marley), she started this shop.  What she didn't expect was that she would love it so much that she would leave her job to pursue this hands on experience full-time! 
  
Adorable little family right!?!
Here is what I was sent to review:

And I LOVE all of it!

1. The Spray Bottle.
Love this pattern....so much!

She sells these for use with cloth wipes.  (Yes, she also sells cloth wipes and even soap bits to make a solution!)  You get to pick which fabric covers the bottle and there are a ton of options!  When we were talking about the review, using the sprayer for cloth wipes was what I had originally intended.  However, I love it so much, that I think I'm going to be greedy and keep it for myself.  I'm just about out of hair spray and I've been planning on making my own.  This sprayer would be absolutely perfect for that!  I'll keep my boring sprayer with the diaper stuff.  :P

 2. Facial Rounds....or....squares......
I think her branding is phenomenal.

I love using flannel facial rounds instead of cotton.  They don't leave bits of cotton on my face and I don't have to worry about running out or buying more.  Plus, the facial rounds from Marley's Monsters are just downright adorable and fun!  Here is a size comparison to a typical cotton round:
A little bigger = not a bag thing.
Each round has 2 different patterns.

Here are the rounds Sarah sent me...

...and the second side.

Foxes are a huge hit right now!

Now for my absolute favorite item!!

3. Crinkle Paper!!!

This was such a cute idea!  It would make the BEST baby gift!!  I can't wait until I have another baby shower to go to!  This will definitely make the gift bag!!  And you can create so many different combinations of patterns since it is two-sided.  The possibilities are endless with the amount of fabric options Sarah has!
You know you want to just grab it and crinkle it all up.  The noise is pretty satisfying.

....only louder.  ;)

My Little Lady absolutely loves this fabulous invention!  She is just figuring out how to grab things...and when she gets a hold of this she grins from ear to ear.  It is definitely one of her favorites right now!


video

This was the best video I could get....but definitely not the best moment.  I just have a horrible habit of leaving my phone where I'm not.  haha.  Can any other mom relate??

Here is a sneak peek at a few other things Marley's Monsters carries:
Cloth Napkins (again....TONS of print options) (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)

Bandana Bibs - SO cute! (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)

Baby Booties!! (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)
Cloth wipes cake!!  Best idea ever!!  (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)

This is just the beginning of the Baby Gift Sets she has - again, Sarah has some amazing branding! (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)

She also has a ton of gift sets for anyone interested in reuseables.  This is a face wash set. (photo courtesy of Marley's Monsters)

To see all of this (and more) or to learn more about Marley's Monsters, check out these resources:

You can also follow Marley's Monsters on one of your favorite social media outlets:

Sarah's daughter Marley AND Marley's Monsters both turn 2 this month!!  In honor of their birthdays, Sarah is offering a 10% off code!

In other exciting news, Sarah has also offered to hold a giveaway for you all!  One lucky reader will win a set of 12 cloth wipes in their choice of boy, girl, or gender neutral prints!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Drying Your Cloth Diapers (WAHM Review + Giveaway) *CLOSED*

If you have been a part of any of the cloth diapering groups on Facebook (or elsewhere), I'm betting the subject of laundry has come up.  To be honest, those "discussions" almost scared me away from using cloth.  Soak, rinse, wash, rinse, rinse again, wash again, double rinse.  No it's rinse, soak, rinse, wash, rinse, soak, wash, rinse again.  (Rinse is a weird word isn't it?).  Dry on low.  No, hang dry only.  No, drying on high is necessary sometimes.

Oh.  My.  Word.  

It's craziness.  To clarify, my wash cycle is no where near that complicated and I truly hope no one's is that extreme...but that's  for another post.  One thing is pretty much agreed upon though - you cannot use dryer sheets when drying cloth diapers.  Why?  They create build up!  If you've ever noticed that your towels have become less absorbent, this might be the cause.  Seriously, go Google it.  ;)

There is an awesome alternative though!  Wool Dryer Balls!  Read on to hear why they are so amazing.  But first, let me introduce you to the most unique dryer balls I have ever seen as well as the shop that makes them.

I was provided free product in exchange for an open and honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are my own.

Rebecca, or Beck, has an adorable little Etsy shop.  She is a work-at-home-momma of three adorable kiddos!  One thing I really love about her shop is that she gives a portion of her proceeds to a different charity each month!  One of her favorite causes was when she helped a sweet little dog, Cricket, get a wheel chair!  You can read that story here.  As she states, "My business is not just mine, it's my customers."

So what exactly does Beck make?  She creates custom wool dryer balls!  And they are absolutely to die for!  

Here is what I received:


Cute little bag, right?

Curious yet?

....

......

Wait for it......

.........

...............

Owls!!  They are owls!!

Are they not the cutest dryer balls you have ever seen??

I mean...


Hahaha.  Did you see what I did there???

So what makes dryer balls so great?

1. They cut down on drying time!  I am still amazed at how much less time it takes my clothes (and cloth diapers) to dry.  In fact, after using these owls on their own for a week, I threw my original set of dryer balls back in and now have twice the power!  ;)  

Here they are waiting to take on the toughest jobs:


Adorable!

2.  They are chemical free!  Which is why they don't leave build up.  But we love all things chemical free around here, so that's a huge bonus.

3. You don't have to remember to put one of these in the dryer.  They just stay there.  And they last a looooooooooooong time.  Potentially, a lifetime.  You just have to replace them when they start falling apart.  And from what I'm hearing in the cloth diapering community - it doesn't happen very often.  Bonus: The dryer balls from Beck's Wares are guaranteed for one year!

4. You can still make your clothes smell wonderful....but without chemicals!  All you have to do is add a drop or two of essential oils to a couple of the dryer balls after your clothes are dry.  Toss the balls back in and run your clothes on a fluff cycle (no heat) for about 10 minutes.   Honestly, I don't do this often with my clothes.  I generally only do it with my towels, because I love that fresh smell!


How do the dryer balls from Beck's Wares compare to leading brands?

They work just as well!!  Beck sent me a set of 6: 2 Large, 2 Medium, and 2 Small.  Her different sizes are definitely a unique factor.  Here they are compared to the size of a Woolzie dryer ball:
  
Flower Power??  Okay, okay....I'll stop being cheesy....  or not....

I was surprised that the large size is actually bigger than the Woolzies since they are considered "XL"
And one thing is for sure - Woolzies don't stand a chance when it comes to cuteness!  Which is why these would make an excellent Mom Gift!

Here are some of the other dryer ball's Beck makes:
Colors!!  (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)

She will turn your child's drawing into a dryer ball!!  Such an adorable idea.  (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)
Dryer balls go through a process of felting that you can read more about on the Beck's Wares Etsy Shop.  But take a look at those owls before the felting process:
So cute I can't stand it!!! (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)

Beck also had another unique idea - "Do you want to throw a snowman?"  Kids love snowball fights.  So why not make it possible to have them inside?  
Your child draws a snowman and then it becomes a soft dryer ball (pre-felted) that they can throw indoors!  A great Gift for Children, yes? (Photo courtesy of Beck's Wares)  

I highly recommend Beck's Wares.  Working with her has been phenomenal.  I have no doubt that her customer service is top of the line!

As a thank you and to show her a little appreciation for participating in the WAHM Review Series, be sure to follow Beck's Wares on your favorite social media platform:

If you would like to purchase a set of dryer balls (and there are tons to choose from), Beck is offering my readers an exclusive code for 15% off!!
Thanks Beck!

But that's not all!  Beck has also offered to give one of YOU a set of your choice!  To win, enter the Giveaway Tool Below:


Monday, January 19, 2015

Aelah Grace: 3 Months

No way is this possible.  We have a 3 month old!!  Not cool.  It seriously flies by so fast.  Everyone tells you.  And I believed them.  I just didn't realize how fast it would fly.  haha.  She is the best thing.

SO much has changed since her 1 Month post.  Especially since I didn't really do much of anything at 2 Months.  Lame I know.  

Lots of new & exciting things!

Whoa baby......

I didn't even want to put her in that basket.  I didn't want to know how much she has grown.  It kills me.

How am I growing?

Well, at her 2 month appointment shew as 11 lbs, 13 oz and 24 and a half inches long.  Still very average for weight but literally off the chart for her length!  As the doctor phrased it, "she is above the 98th percentile."  We weighed her at a friends house last week and she is 13.6 lbs.  I'm sure she is longer too but we haven't measured her.  She is just about to grow out of her 3-6 month clothing....crazy child!  ;)

What's new?

What isn't new might be the better question.  In the past week and a half she has become an entirely different baby.  Again....killing me....

She went from the occasional coo here and there to "talking."  Her favorite person to talk to is her daddy and the bees on her swing.  hehe. 

video

She rolled over for the first time!!  But she hasn't been super proactive about it since.  Just a couple of times...

Keep on rollin'

She has laughed out loud...well, giggled..., while she was awake, a few times now!  They are few and far between and pretty random but they are the sweetest little giggles.  And they make us laugh pretty hard.

We also had her dedicated yesterday.  And it was such a special day.  We have an amazing church family and I am beyond grateful that they will be a part of her life.  I pray that God has big plans for our little lady and that we are able to raise her to walk in His path.

Beautiful Moment

Beautiful Baby


How are we sleeping?

Another big step about a week and a half ago was moving her into her crib!  I am 100% sure that this was harder on me than it was for her.  I liked having her in the bassinet next to the bed so I could see her and hear her breathing.  But it has gone wonderfully having her in her own room.  I sleep much better.  And she has done awesome!

She sleeps about 10-11 hours a night and I usually only have to wake up once to feed her.  Sometimes she will wake to eat before we go to bed or after I wake up (and occasionally I use her as an alarm clock.  haha) but, I don't mind that as much.  ;)

We have been letting her "cry it out" a little bit.  We discovered she fusses just as much if we are bouncing, rocking, patting, etc. as she does when she is laying in her bed.  I combined a couple of different methods I have done with children I worked with as well as some I've read and it is really working for us.

Sometime between 8 and 8:30 we change her into her PJ's.  Then once she seems sleepy we lay her down in the crib (usually by 8:45 at the latest).  Sometimes she talks and falls asleep on her own.  Other times she fusses or cries.  If she does fuss, we set a timer for 3 minutes.  Then one of us, usually Daddy, goes in to pat her and soothe her.  But we never pick her up.  If she keeps fussing we set the timer again, but for 5 minutes.  I go in at 5 minutes.  If I can get her to calm down, I leave the room.  If she doesn't calm down, I try to nurse her.  Usually she eats because she "tanks up" as I refer to it before falling asleep.  And then we start the process over if needed.  Now that she is 3 months, I may add a 10 minute increment in there.  But I'm not sure she will need it...   

What do you do for a sleep routine??

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cloth is Cool Giveaway Hop! WIN a Pail Liner!

Hey all!  I am SO excited to be bringing you a giveaway hop!  This is my first time participating in one so it is a big deal for me!  ;)  What is a giveaway hop??  Basically a list of similar giveaways that you can enter.  So if your starting here - make sure to "hop" to the other blogs on the list for a chance to win something else cloth diaper related!!  

If you are here because of the hop - WELCOME!!  I hope you will stick around and check out some of the other things happening here at Learning to Be 31 (giveaways, reviews, and SO much more). Have fun!


clothiscool2
Welcome to the first annual Cloth is Cool giveaway hop! Cloth is growing in popularity because of money savings, environmental benefits and just plain enjoyment (it's fun to pick from all the styles, prints and colors).
Check out the list below for all the cloth diaper giveaways you can enter during this hop. Your hosts, the Zephyr Hill Blog and Cloth Diaper Addicts, and all the participating bloggers and retailers, wish you a successful and enjoyable year of cloth diapering in 2015!
The grand prize giveaway, open to both US and Canadian residents, features a package containing several different styles to try out: One lucky winner will receive:
  • Best Bottoms "Flurry" Cover and 3 Inserts (choose your size)
  • bumGenius Limited Edition Elemental AIO Diaper
  • Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag
  • Imagine One-Size Diaper Cover
  • Imagine SmartFit Prefolds, 6-Pack (choose your size)
  • Imagine Indigo Pocket Diaper
The Cloth is Cool giveaway hop runs from January 16th to January 26th. Good luck!

Learning to Be 31 is giving away a Buttons Diapers Pail Liner!  




While you could get away with just one pail liner, it is always nice to have an extra.  That way if you are washing/drying one...the other one is already in your diaper pail waiting for the next dirty diaper.

And of course, you could use this liner for something other than cloth diapers - like family cloth or unpaper towels!  ;)

Since this is self-sponsored, I tried to limit the entry types so you all could breeze right on through this giveaway and enter some others on the hop!  Have fun!


Monday, January 12, 2015

WAHM Review: Cute & Funky

I remember learning the 3 R's in grade school: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!  And it didn't mean much to me then.  But things are different now.  I'm married.  I own my own home.  And I have a beautiful baby girl.

All of those things have made me reevaluate our spending, what goes in/on our bodies, and our impact on the environment.  Because of that, we have slowly started replacing some of our disposable items in an effort to save money, take control of our health, and keep a little less trash out of the landfills.

When I was looking for cloth wipes on Etsy, I stumbled across Cute & Funky.

Free products were exchanged for an open & honest review.  All opinions are my own.
And it was at this super cute little store that I discovered reusable facial rounds - an idea so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself!  ;)  But I'm glad that someone did!  

Brandie is a wonderful mommy who works from home so that she can be with her "little diva."  She has been in business since 2012 and has over 1,100 sales!!  From what I can tell she has a pretty positive reputation and my dealings with her have been wonderfully pleasant.  

Her shop includes lots of great reusable items!  

Fleece Stay-Dry Liners (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)
Cloth Wipes (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Lovey/Blanket (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Wet Bags (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

Nursing Pads (photo courtesy of Cute & Funky)

And the item of the hour:


I use cotton rounds every day to take off make-up and apply toner.  I love that there is a reusable option!  Cute & Funky carries quite a few different options and Brandie sent me some of each to review.

Simple and practical.
I suppose if I was building my ideal stash - these would be it.  They do the job and they are simply white.  That means if they are out on the counter, like mine are, they still have an "adult" feel.  I did notice that my toner stained them just a teensy bit.  

You know how much I love organic!
Because bamboo is so absorbent, I wasn't a huge fan of these for removing make-up or applying toner.  The dampness didn't seem to last as long as I needed it to.  But I have a feeling these would be fantastic for applying cleanser and I plan to give that a try soon!  These also have that "adult" feel while being wonderfully organic!  They also seem sturdier than the cotton flannel.

Here is a comparison of the two...
A fun alternative!
These work just as nicely as the plain white ones!  But they are much more fun!  ;)  As nice as having an "adult" feel might be.  I like to jazz things up now and then.  This will be a pleasant little surprise on the bathroom counter.

My very favorite!
The minky rounds are especially nice for delicate and sensitive skin since the minky is extra soft!  Plus, they are just so "cute & funky."  ;)  I absolutely loved the feel of the minky against my skin and giggled a bit when I saw the stars in the mirror.  

Overall, Cute & Funky is an adorable store.  Her prices aren't horrible, her products are high-quality, and Brandi is a pleasure to work with!

She has even decided to offer you all an exclusive discount code!  Use bloglove10 at checkout for 10% off.

As a thank you be sure to like, favorite, or follow Cute & Funky on your favorite social network:


What other reusable products would you like to see at Cute & Funky?