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Natalie Baca Designs Cute Abstract Print for Baby’s Nursery

Posted on Jan 23, 2015 by No Comments

Carefully chosen artwork is the best way to pull together any room, but finding modern prints for baby’s nursery can be a challenge.

This abstract giraffe print was recently featured in the “Designer Bags & Dirty Diapers” blog as part of a little girl’s nursery decor scheme. Taken from one of Baca’s original paintings, it is perfect for a nursery, playroom, or family room.

The artwork is a  gallery quality Giclée print on natural white, matte, ultra smooth, 100% cotton rag, acid and lignin free archival paper. It is printed using Epson K3 archival inks and is custom trimmed with 1″ border for framing. However, the listing is for the print only. No frame is included.

Primarily self-taught, Natalie Baca has been a featured artist on HGTV and won a 2013 t-shirt design contest sponsored by singers, entrepreneurs and sisters Jessica and Ashlee Simpson to benefit Jessica Seinfeld’s charity, Baby Buggy. “I try to create designs that are on the edge of funky, yet still very versatile,” Baca said.

Baca’s brand Studio 2 encompasses the idea of original art and fun as applied to everyday items. “To create something that’s not only appealing to someone’s eye, but also useful in his/her own home, gives me great pleasure,” she said.

Photo credit: Pink Lion

Russian Tattoo Paints An Exquisite Portrait of Mothers and Daughters

Posted on Jan 23, 2015 by 1 Comment

If you’re a fan of memoirs and learning more about other cultures, I’d highly recommend Russian Tattoo: A Memoir by Elena Gorokhova. This thoughtfully written story details how Elena adjusted to life in American society after growing up behind the Iron Curtain.

In 1980, the 24-year-old Elena entered the United States after marrying an American exchange student she barely knew. Not surprisingly, this turns out to have been a disastrous decision. Her new husband doesn’t understand her struggle to find a job or her confusion over all the options available to her in America.

Despite having been considered a promising student in her home country,  Elena’s English has considerable gaps and her communist upbringing makes mundane chores like grocery shopping unexpectedly difficult.

But, Elena soon meets Andy, the man who will become her second husband and the father of her daughter Sasha. With his encouragement, she starts to feel more confident about her life as an American.

Then, her Soviet mother arrives to meet her first granddaughter, forcing Gorokhova to figure out how to bridge the gaps between her Russian self and her American self. Even if you don’t relate to Elena’s cultural struggle, the issue of how to successfully bring together three generations of strong willed women is one I think any mother can sympathize with.

Russian Tattoo is actually the sequel to Gorokhova’s 2011 memoir,  A Mountain of Crumbs, which described her childhood in Leningrad. However, I had no trouble following the plot of Russian Tattoo even though I have not read her first book.

Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by the publisher.

Photo credit: Amazon

A Young Girl Struggles to Solve the Mystery of Her Mother’s Disappearance

Posted on Jan 22, 2015 by No Comments

Leaving Time, Jodi Picoult’s newest bestselling novel, follows the adventures of 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf. Jenna lives with her grandmother and is determined to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance 10 years ago.

Jenna’s parents, Alice and Thomas, worked at an elephant sanctuary. Her mother studied elephant grief and memory, leaving behind journals that Jenna reads religiously for clues. Her father suffered from mental illness for several years and had a complete psychotic break the night her mother disappeared.

Despite the long winded descriptions of elephant behavior, I was drawn into this story immediately. You can’t help but feel sorry for a young girl who desperately wants to find her mother. I also found Jenna’s sidekicks, Serenity and Virgil, to be quite likeable.

Serenity is a famous former psychic who faded into obscurity after making a few bad calls. Virgil is a former detective turned PI who has been haunted by the disappearance of Jenna’s mother for the past 10 years. They develop a somewhat parental relationship with Jenna, even though they’re all seeking the same thing — a way to atone for their past mistakes.

Jodi Picoult is famous for her surprise endings and Leaving Time is no different than her other books. The ending is a shocker, but not it in a good way. I felt like the abrupt change in the direction of the story left me hanging after I’d grown emotionally attached to the characters. I would have given this book four stars until the last few chapters, then my opinion dropped considerably.

In many ways, Leaving Time reminded me of Lone Wolf. First published in 2012, Lone Wolf tells the story of an animal conservationist who became famous for living with a wild wolf pack but has been gravely injured.

Lone Wolf was one of my least favorite Jodi Picoult books to date, so I suppose it’s not surprising that I was disappointed by how Leaving Time ended.

Have you read Leaving Time? If so, what did you think of this compared to Jodi Picoult’s previous books?

Photo credit: Amazon

Petal & Stem’s Hip Hugger Lets You Keep Both Hands Free

Posted on Jan 21, 2015 by No Comments

When you need to keep both hands free, Petal & Stem can help. This company has created a handy Hip Hugger belt to provide extra pockets for you to store essentials like credit cards, a cell phone, keys, and lip gloss without the hassle of carrying a full purse.

There are three different sizes of Hip Hugger belts to choose from, with three sets of snaps to adjust the belt size for more comfortable fit. There is a pocket in the back with 7″ zipper, a pocket on the front right, and a detachable pouch.

Women have several different Hip Hugger fabric styles to choose from, with most options being reversible to give you two looks in one. My personal favorite is the Teal Mirrors option featured in the picture accompanying this post. It has a fun polka dot pattern on the front, with a neutral gray fabric on the back.

Katrin Birkholz, the creator of the Hip Hugger, has worked in import-export in Luxemburg, been a professional photographer, set up an art gallery, had a successful line of digital print skirts and laptop bags, and set up a cozy little coffee shop called “Kafe 99 Square Feet” whose new owners still serve coffee and tasty things in San Francisco.

Her busy lifestyle inspired her to create a fashionable yet practical storage solution for the modern woman.

Visit the Petal & Stem website to learn more about the Hip Hugger. The belts retail for $68, but the company also sells a Wrist Hugger for $12 or $24 if you’re looking for just enough room for a key and some cash.

Photo credit: Petal & Stem

Fabulous Frannie Makes It Easy to Start Using Essential Oils in Your Home

Posted on Jan 19, 2015 by No Comments

If you want to experiment with essential oils, but can afford the pricier brands like Young Living and doTERRA, this essential oil starter set from Fabulous Frannie is a great deal. For under $40, you receive a great assortment of multi-purpose essential oils.

The set includes 14 of the most common essential oils:

  • Lavender
  • Tea Tree
  • Peppermint
  • Eucalyptus
  • Spearmint
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Lime
  • Rosemary
  • Sweet Orange
  • Pine Needle
  • Grapefruit
  • Patchouli
  • Tangerine

All of the bottles in this set are 10 ml. They look small at first glance, but since you only need a few drops of oil at a time, they should last for several months. The glass bottles have Euro caps that dispense oils one drop at a time, so there’s no waste.

The number of ways you can use essential oils are endless. They make great additions to homemade lotion bars, soaps, and other bath and body products.

I like to use a blend of lavender, tea tree, and peppermint to help unclog stuffy noses. Lemon essential oil makes a great addition to homemade cleaning supplies. You can also add sweet orange essential oil to a bit of olive oil to make a fabulous homemade alternative to Goo-Gone.

Essential oils are safe to use around pets and children, although you should never apply essential oils to the skin unless they’ve been properly diluted in a carrier oil. It’s also not a good idea to take essential oils internally unless you’re being advised by an experienced aromatherapy practitioner.

In addition to this essential oils set, Fabulous Frannie also sells individual oil bottles as well as a set containing blends specially formulated for different purposes such as a cold and flu blend and an insect repellent blend. Visit the Fabulous Frannie website for more information.

Photo credit: Fabulous Frannie

Loopdeloom Makes Weaving Fun and Easy

Posted on Jan 19, 2015 by 1 Comment

As a kid, I loved weaving. However, I never managed to make anything very big because I lacked the patience for more complex projects. That’s why I think the Loopdeloom is absolute genius.

This new loom design has pegs that spin to speed up the weaving process. Instead of weaving each thread individually, you can do an entire row in one quick motion! Kids can make purses, cell phone cases, tablet covers, and scarves.

You can even join multiple looms together to make larger seamless items like blankets, pillow cases, placemats, or rugs. Each loom lets you weave an item that is up to seven inches wide; smaller items are made by removing some of the pegs from the loom. (Click here to watch a detailed video tutorial.)

weaveThe Loopdeloom has won several prestigious toy awards, including:

  • ASTRA’S 2014 Best Toys for Kids Award
  • 2014 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio – Platinum Best Toy Award
  • Creative Child – 2014 Creative Play of the year Award
  • Creative Child – 2014 Kids Product of the Year Award
  • Dr. Toy’s 100 Best Children’s Product – Winner

I first saw the Loopdeloom at my local Michaels store. The loom includes 120 yards of yarn and is recommended for children ages eight and up.

Regular retail price is $34.99, but as any avid crafter knows, Michaels has sales and coupons available on a weekly basis. If you’re a smart shopper, you should be able to snag the loom and some yarn for about $30.

Do your children have the Loopdeloom? If so, what do you think of this product?

Photo credit: Michaels

Umbra Helps You Get Your Jewelry Under Control

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by No Comments

When it comes to jewelry, I’m afraid I’m not a very adventurous sort of person. I have a few select pieces that I wear almost every day and a jewelry box full of stuff that only comes out on special occasions.

That’s why I love this modern looking jewelry stand from Umbra. The three tiers make it easy to hang necklaces, bracelets, sunglasses, and other accessories so they are tangle free. There’s also a dish at the base to store rings, brooches, and your favorite earrings.

I like this organizer because I currently have a small ceramic dish on my nightstand that ends up as the home for my most frequently worn jewelry. That works fine for earrings and a watch, but my necklaces and bracelets are always getting tangled up in each other.

This looks like a much more practical solution that wouldn’t require an excessive amount of storage space. However, if you have a daughter, I image you’d probably want to keep it on a higher shelf or use it for storing jewelry that isn’t particularly valuable. (One of the perks of having a boy is that he has no interest in playing with my jewelry!)

The Umbra jewelry stand is made of stainless steel in a chrome finish with a padded base to protect your dresser. Retail price is $14.99, which makes it super affordable as well.

What do you think of this jewelry organizer? Would it help you keep your jewelry collection under control?

Photo credit: Organize-It

Candy Club’s Candy of the Month Club Indulges Your Sweet Tooth

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by 1 Comment

Do you know someone with a sweet tooth? If so, a subscription to Candy Club’s Candy of the Month Club would be a great gift idea.

Candy Club’s Candy of the Month Club is a new subscription service designed especially for candy lovers. Each month’s box includes a unique assortment of hard-find classic candies and popular favorites delivered right to your doorstep.

There are three options to choose from:

  • $24.99 month to month subscription with a retail value of $60 (58% savings)
  • $19.99 six month subscription with a retail value of $60 (66% savings)
  • $17.99 yearly subscription with a retail value of $60 (70% savings)

Boxes may include goodies such as:

  • Haribo Gummi Techno Bears
  • Sour Power Wild Cherry Belts
  • Gimbal’s Sour Gourmet Jelly Beans
  • Butterfields Peach Buds
  • Salt Water Taffy

Assuming your gift recipient isn’t terribly picky or a food allergy sufferer, this looks like an amazing present for candy lovers of all ages. I love giving edible gifts to people who are trying to keep the clutter in their homes to a minimum, Plus, I think it’s always fun to get something in the mail that isn’t another bill to pay!

What do you think of this idea? Do you know anyone who would enjoy a Candy Club’s Candy of the the Month Club subscription?

Photo credit: Candy Club

Discovery Kids Interchangeable Kinetic Space Lab Helps Kids Explore the Solar System

Posted on Jan 15, 2015 by No Comments

If you’re looking for fun yet educational toys for your child, the Discovery Kids Interchangeable Kinetic Space Lab looks like a winner.

This toy encourages kids to develop problem solving skills as they learn about the solar system. They can mount planets, space shuttles, and black holes on the Velcro night sky board, and then connect them with a variety of tracks.

When they let the game ball loose to navigate the route created, the ball heads towards the launch button and sends a space rocket flying across the room.

The Discovery Kids Interchangeable Kinetic Space Lab is recommended for children ages 8 and up. It includes over 60 interchangeable pieces that add up to endless arrangements.

  • 1 space shuttle
  • 1 black hole
  • 1 Saturn
  • 1 moon
  • 1 satellite
  • 1 shooting star
  • 1 launch pad
  • 1 launching rocket
  • 1 detour track
  • 3 wavy tracks
  • 2 standard tracks
  • 3 medium tracks
  • 4 short tracks
  • 1 slide track
  • 6 stoppers
  • 24 mounting clips
  • 4 game balls

The Discovery Kids Interchangeable Kinetic Space Lab is 2014 Parents’ Choice Award Winner. It requires a bit of trial and error to set up initially, but is easy to use and modify once assembled.

Although I’m not a huge fan of toys with multiple pieces, I think this set is a great value and a fun way to encourage children to develop an interest in science. As long as you find a sturdy box to store the pieces in once playtime is over, it should be a hit with any science-minded little explorer!

Photo credit: Amazon