OurPact: Manage Your Child’s Screentime

Until a couple months ago, I had no reason to worry about my [almost] four-year-old son accessing content I’d rather he not see on the internet…until he was gifted an iPad. Not only did his LeapPad Ultra (which didn’t allow him to surf the web) get pushed to the side, but a true screen addiction began.

The OurPact app helps parents manage their children's screen time at the touch of a button.

After having D answer a couple of my phone calls on his iPad (super stressful because they were about our mortgage application), and several tantrums over screen time, I instituted the use of an egg timer. Based on behavior, my son was allotted 15-30 minute increments on his iPad, and when the bell rang, he was to turn it over. Then I was introduced to OurPact.

In under 5 minutes, I was able to upload the OurPact app, register an account, install the app on D’s iPad and begin scheduling, or granting, screen time for D and his tablet. If you really want to drive your kiddo nuts, select the block feature from your device — all of my kiddo’s apps disappeared from his iPad (I was able to restore them before the waterworks began).

The best part of OurPact is that you, as a parent, are able to manage your children’s devices from any internet-enabled device. Away from home and the sitter texts you to let you know your kiddo is misbehaving? With the touch of a button you’re able to take away their internet privileges! Ah, the control. Seriously, my egg timer is a great example of how little I rely on technology (I still use a paper planner and handwrite checks to pay bills), but OurPact really is a great way to manage your children’s screen time. Maybe I’ll explain why D’s iPad “stops working” when he gets older, but right now, the whole, “I don’t know why it’s doing that, I think you need to give it a rest” bit works.

OurPact allows parents to block out times when apps (including social media) or internet access is disabled from their children's devices.

Want to make sure that your children only use their phones for emergency calls during school hours, or have no distractions in the evening during homework time or bedtime? You’re able to block out times when apps (including social media) or internet access is disabled from your children’s devices. While I don’t have a teenager, I can definitely see how this can come in handy for enforcing internet rules of usage and safety.

Those of you with older children will appreciate the OurPact Family Contract, easily downloaded and printed from the website. Since open communication is one of the best ways to keep your child safe online, print out the contract and have a discussion with your pre-teen or teen before signing. Questions can be addressed in the conversation, so there are no grey areas in the future.

Now that you’re excited about all of the benefits OurPact offers, I have something even more exciting to share with you — the app is FREE! Yes, you can download the OurPact app for free, available for iPhone, and features a Web app for parents to easily access from any device. OurPact is able to manage your children’s iOS and Android devices. Don’t wait to have the conversation with your children, download the OurPact app and contract, and get started.

You can discover more about OurPact by visiting them at OurPact.com, and staying up-to-date the latest news and updates via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Don’t have a tablet, but want to test OurPact on one? Enter this giveaway for an iPad Air, sponsored by OurPact:

OurPact is giving one lucky winner an iPad Air!

OurPact iPad Air2 Giveaway

*This post is sponsored by OurPact; all opinions expressed are my own.

Rout.com: Shopping with Ease

As I sit here, with my fingers crossed that we are able to close on our new home within a day or two of our scheduled closing, I’m also thinking about outfitting our new home with furniture and window treatments. If you’re an online shopper, like I am, Rout.com is your shopping nirvana.

Rout.com helps consumers shop with ease, by notifying them when select items experience price drops. The best feature? It's free to use!

In the five years my husband and I have been married, we’ve not purchased a lot of furniture together. We both came to the marriage with our own homes full of furniture and favorite pieces, carefully selected throughout our 20s and 30s, which we’ve attempted to pare down over our years together. We’ve also rented homes because we’ve moved frequently for my husband’s job, and we weren’t ready to commit to custom furniture, selected specifically for a home that we would just be, well, renting.

After we started the home buying process, just six weeks ago, I got busy planning each room in the house (my office being my favorite project). I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been, creating vision boards for each room, able to decorate any way I want! Since it’s not especially practical to buy all of the furniture at once, unless you have a ton of disposable income, it helps to have idea boards with select pieces for each room. What helps even more is to have our ideas saved in our Rout.com account, so that we’re notified when an item has a price drop — who doesn’t love buying at the best price possible?

I’m thrilled when I feel as though I’ve been able to negotiate a deal on something (our car and home being the last two “big” negotiations of mine), and Rout.com helps me feel that I’m getting the best price on items I want. Take a look at my master bedroom board:

Rout.com helps consumers shop with ease, by notifying them when select items experience price drops. The best feature? It's free to use!

 

With Rout.com, you’re not just limited to housewares (that’s just my current focus). With over 150 participating stores, and over 85 million products, Rout.com allows you to search for virtually any item you’re looking for — and it’s perfect for planning your holiday shopping!

Price Tracking

Once you’ve created your free Rout.com account, it’s time to start “window shopping”! I decided to create boards based on each room I’m planning to outfit: Master Bedroom, D’s Room, Office, Living Room. When I’m ready to start serious shopping, I select those items I’m positive I want to purchase and select the “Start Tracking” link for each item:

Rout.com helps consumers shop with ease, by notifying them when select items experience price drops. The best feature? It's free to use!

 

I’m pretty positive that this is the upholstered headboard I’m going to purchase for our bedroom, so I enter the price at which I’ll jump on the item — $295 sounds good to me — and input that number to begin tracking. I’m not sure I’ll get the headboard at that price, as it’s currently at it’s lowest price historically (down from $329), but we’ll see (I have time to wait).

Price History

If you’re a numbers or statistics person, you’ll love Rout.com’s price history feature. You’re able to input a date range to take a look at your item’s pricing history, and can possibly spot trends in price drops. Here’s an example chart for an area rug I have my eye on:

Rout.com helps consumers shop with ease, by notifying them when select items experience price drops. The best feature? It's free to use!

So, while I await word from my agent about closing, I’ll happily distract myself by adding items to my Rout.com boards (hoping that we’ll be able to outfit our home soon). Well, what are you waiting for? Get shopping!

You can learn more by visiting Rout.com and opening a free account for yourself. Be sure to visit Rout.com on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

 

Blue Apron Meals: The Final Verdict

When I was offered a Blue Apron coupon code, I was initially reluctant to give them a try. I’m not a fan of subscription boxes, and quite frankly, I consider myself an expert home cook. From my perspective, what could Blue Apron really offer me?

Well, a lot actually. As I shared in my two week check-in, Blue Apron came at the perfect time, as our lives went from zero to sixty when my husband was offered a job out of state. While we were preparing for a big move at some point in the next year, we definitely didn’t expect it to happen this quickly, and to purchase a home within six weeks (if we do, actually, make our closing on the 31st).

After trying for a month, I want to share my $20 off Blue Apron coupon code for you to enjoy the ease of meal kit delivery!

I’ve spent the past month scrambling to get together paperwork and funds to purchase our home, in addition to keeping afloat with my clients. The beauty of freelancing is that I set my own schedule, but the downside is that you really don’t get any vacation time. I just started with a new client, Net Nanny, so I’m reluctant to ask for a break. What does all of my babbling mean? Well, I’m incredibly harried and having Blue Apron deliveries has been an unbelievable time saver.

So, yes, Blue Apron absolutely saves you time, without sacrificing quality. Not only does Blue Apron take care of my meal planning, but they send you exactly what you need to prepare healthy meals (with the exception of pantry staples such as olive oil). No more scrambling to figure out what to do the remainder of the bundle of leeks you bought for the recipe that only required ONE, and no more letting bunches of celery, spring onions, or any other produce, go to waste in your refrigerator. I really love this aspect of Blue Apron, but this convenience does have associated waste.

Since Blue Apron sends you exactly what you need for your recipe, almost every item is packaged in small baggies, bottles and containers. That’s a lot of waste. There is good news, however. While we’re recycling our Blue Apron boxes by using them for our current move (they’re perfect for packing kitchen items), Blue Apron does offer a recycling program for all of their packaging.

In addition to being a time-saver, Blue Apron is great for new cooks. Not only do they provide recipe cards with step-by-step instructions and photos, but they will teach new cooks one of the most difficult things to learn about cooking — time management. I like how Blue Apron guides users through the recipes, telling cooks what to prep and at what stage to prep it, as well as what you should be doing as one part of dinner simmers. The recipes really can be prepped and cooked in 30-40 minutes, but they’ll taste like you spent hours preparing the meal.

If you’re interested in Blue Apron to help with portioning meals, I will warn you that Blue Apron portion sizes are hearty. This is great for enthusiastic eaters, but can be bad for those wanting help in keeping their portion sizes to a minimum. For example, I ordered Blue Apron meals for a family of four. Each meal was able to feed the three of use for two nights.

Because Blue Apron uses premium quality ingredients from specially selected sources, everything in your box will be of the highest quality, from the meats and fish to your produce. In fact, a couple of times I was unable to get to cooking Blue Apron until 4-5 days after delivery a couple of times, and the produce was still in excellent condition (however, I don’t really recommend doing this, especially if you have fish).

And again, the packaging your Blue Apron items arrive in is specifically tailored to keep your items fresh until you get home and are able to unpack the box. In fact, the ice packs they send with your food, and they send plenty of them, typically take several days to thaw. I would feel perfectly comfortable with my box being delivered during a summer heatwave, and sitting on my doorstep until I get home from work.

My verdict? I give Blue Apron two thumbs up for premium ingredients, excellent packaging, step-by-step recipe guides and saving me a great deal of time.

If you’re interested in trying Blue Apron for free, contact me, I have 3 invites to send out. Want to dive in now? Use my Blue Apron coupon code to save $20 off of your first order:

$20 Off Your First Blue Apron Order

*I was offered a Blue Apron subscription, at no cost to myself, for the purpose of this review; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

My Thoughts On Greeting Card Holidays

Fresh off the wave of Mother’s Day greetings, salutations and a slew of Facebook posts, I thought I’d share a little about why you saw no mention of Mother’s Day on my Facebook page. It’s simple, really, I’m just not that into greeting card holidays.

greeting-card-holidays

If you’re not familiar with what a greeting card holiday is, or more often known as a Hallmark holiday, the name is pretty self-explanatory. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia:

Hallmark Holiday” is a term used predominantly in the United States to describe a holiday that is perceived to exist primarily for commercial purposes, rather than to commemorate a traditionally or historically significant event. The name comes from Hallmark Cards, a privately owned American company, that benefits from such manufactured events through sales of greeting cards and other items. Holidays that have been referred to as “Hallmark Holidays” include Grandparents Day, Sweetest Day, Boss’s Day, and Secretary’s Day. Some people also consider St. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to be such days.

Sweetest Day is an interesting holiday, one I’d never even heard of until I attended college in Northwest Pennsylvania — yep, it’s totally a greeting card holiday.

Anyway, I just don’t feel the need to make a big deal out of many of these holidays because a.) they’re commercially driven, and b.) why don’t people celebrate others all year round? In fact, my husband and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, at my request (plus, our wedding anniversary is two weeks after V-Day).

I’m grateful that my husband shows his love for me year-round, and doesn’t need a special day or occasion to send me flowers — we work well this way. However, I do understand that for many women, and many of my girlfriends, Valentine’s Day is one of the only days a year that their significant other bestows flowers upon them, or goes out of his way to show how much he appreciates his wife or girlfriend. This makes me sad, because if you only do something once a year, the concept seems special or even foreign, instead of just being a natural occurrence in daily life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had friends be disappointed with Valentine’s Day because their significant other’s ministrations did not meet their fantasy or expectations (or that they didn’t have a special someone to celebrate with). And then there’s the whole oversharing bit on social media, wherein my feed is populated with photos of bouquets and jewelry for the entire day.

Mother’s Day is an especially strange “holiday” because children should show their appreciation for their mother year-round, no? I don’t know about you, but I’d like more than one day a year. Perhaps the best part of greeting card holidays is that they often serve to enforce quality family time, in an age when people seem busier than ever. And really, the best part of my Mother’s Day was the fact that my husband did not work Mother’s Day for the first time (since I became a mother), and we spent the day hiking and enjoying each other’s company. That’s what it’s really all about, right?

So, my thoughts on greeting card holidays can pretty much be summed-up in one word: “meh”. Give me “just because” any day. How do you feel about Hallmark Holidays?

Blue Apron: The First Two Weeks

When I was offered a Blue Apron promotional offer, my first thought was that I already had everything under control. I enjoy cooking, and had been doing rough meal planning for a few months, so things were relatively smooth going for me. What could I possibly gain by trying Blue Apron?

Then life hit. In a whirlwind few weeks, my husband was interviewing for a job in another state, we were house hunting, I was canceling camp and school plans here, researching and registering my son for a new school in the area where we’d be moving, and working…a lot. Blue Apron really couldn’t have come at a better time.

Blue Apron has allowed me to focus my energies elsewhere, taking meal planning and food shopping off of my plate so that I can focus on more pressing things (although, yes, feeding my family is important as well). I’ve been using Blue Apron’s meal service for two weeks and here are a few of my thoughts.

blue-apron-open-box

The boxes come insulated, with all of your ingredients packaged for the number of servings you’ve signed up for. This, my friends, means that you’re not wasting stalks of celery, or packs of green onions, tomatoes, or whatever produce that usually goes bad before you can use it. I absolutely love this aspect of Blue Apron. The only thing that would make this easier is if all of the vegetables were already washed, prepped and chopped (but that’s not really practical, is it?).

Blue Apron boxes come packed with exceptional care because the ingredients are top notch. Grass fed, responsibly fished, humanely kept and free range meats are the proteins you receive in these boxes, so you can feel good about what you’re eating. The produce is beautiful, and Blue Apron even includes the little things you may not have readily available in your refrigerator or pantry — ginger root, butter, farm fresh eggs and sauce bases.

So, Blue Apron has been a true help these past two weeks, allowing me to feed my family healthy, flavorful and inspired meals while giving me the time to focus on transitioning for a move.

I’m trying Blue Apron for a month to really gauge the impact it has on my household, so stay tuned for another post with all of my thoughts on Blue Apron meals.

To find out more about Blue Apron meal delivery, head to their website at BlueApron.com. To check out some of the recipes they’re sending and serving, visit Blue Apron on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Interested in checking out Blue Apron for yourself? Click on a Blue Apron promotional offer below:

2 Meals Free on Your First Blue Apron Order

$20 Off Your First Blue Apron Order

*Blue Apron sent me items to facilitate this post, however, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Newsflash!

The past month has been an incredibly busy one for both myself and my family. Not only has my workload increased, but we’ve been busy making plans for the summer. Big plans.

We’re not planning a vacation, we’re planning a move! It’s all been hush-hush, waiting for pieces of the puzzle to fall into place, but I’m now able to share. My husband was offered a position in Baltimore, one that was too good to refuse. After years of working 12+ hour days, and often weekends, he’s been offered a position allowing him to work fewer hours, spend less time commuting and, most importantly, a quality of life.

While it was not an easy decision, my husband’s leaving his company of 10 years, being out of operations was a goal. For the past 4 years, I’ve been left alone with my son during Hurricane Sandy, severe storms, power outages and snow storms, as my husband set up camp at work to ensure that everything proceeded smoothly. Now, if a snow storm hits, my husband will be able to play in the snow with our son AND I won’t have to shovel the driveway by myself!

Fellow moms will understand this — the week my husband interviewed, I researched schools in the area where we’ll be moving and registered my little guy. Not only does my son need the stimulation and socialization provided by preschool, but I need those hours to get freelance work done. School spots fill quickly, as many of you well know, and he is currently on a waitlist for a 4-day program. I’m a little bummed because he was enrolled in a 5-day program here, and may now only be in a 3-day program, but I’ll figure out a way to make it work…so that I can work. Shoot, I may be back to 4am wakeups!

With schooling taken care of, housing was next. We spent several weeks researching areas to relocate, and looking at hundreds of homes for sale, so when the job offer finally came, we were ready! So ready, in fact, that my husband received his letter of offer on a Friday and I had arranged an appointment for him to look at one of the two homes we were considering on Saturday.

Friends, we are set to close on a beautiful home May 31…and I’ve never stepped foot inside! I was out of town conducting a writing workshop when my husband looked at the house. Having viewed around 40 photos of the home, I gave my husband the go ahead to submit an offer if he felt that it was the house for us. Here it is:

home-office

If all goes well, this will be OURS May 31! (My husband said that the perfect room for my office is the one where I’ve drawn the arrow – I can’t wait to check it out!)

Thank goodness for smartphones — I was able to sign legal documents while I was on the road and get the process started. When I got home I hit the ground running! I lost a day of work to scanning and submitting documents for our mortgage, and then dove into writing my first piece for an awesome new client — Net Nanny.

I’ve also been trying to unload all of my son’s baby items, which is not a task for the feint of heart. Honestly, local donation centers are getting some AMAZING clothing and gear donations! I’ve posted in online sale groups, Craigslist, and have been spending the last few days entering items into the system for my local consignment sale — Growing Express — which takes place this weekend.

This is basically my long-winded way of saying that the quiet around here and on my Facebook page is due to me being insanely busy planning, plotting and organizing, and will likely continue through our move. So, forgive me if you find typos and egregious errors in this post — I’m on deadline for a client and just wanted to publish an update…

Wild Selections®: Eat Responsibly


You’re likely familiar with the #DrinkResponsibly campaign, but Wild Selections® wants you to #EatResponsibly as well. We spend time researching our produce, and time making sure we’re that we’re purchasing only humane and locally sourced meats, so why wouldn’t we do the same with our seafood?

Wild Selections, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, makes it incredibly easy to eat seafood responsibly.

 

Overfishing is a very real problem, with fish populations become scarcer each year, as fishermen plunder the seas to fulfill demand. My husband has worked in the food industry for 20+ years, and his ideals about food don’t stop at door. Treating our seafood as he would in any restaurant, my husband ensures that we’re following the Monterey Bay Aquarium seafood guidelines.

If you’re not familiar with Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch, they rate seafood with 3 classifications for consumers: Best, Good and Avoid. If you’re at the store, simply input the fish you are planning to purchase to received detailed information about how that fish is caught, whether fishing for that fish affects other species (bycatch) and to what extent, in addition to information about how that fishery is impacting the surrounding sea habitat.

As parents, we need to be concerned about the food we feed our families, and more importantly, our children. Not only do we want to make the best choices for our table, but we need to be mindful of our children’s tables in the future. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “As a result of prolonged and widespread overfishing, nearly a third of the world’s assessed fisheries are now in deep trouble—and that’s likely an underestimate, since many fisheries remain unstudied.”

wild_selections_infographic

I know, you’re busy. We’re all busier than ever, but Wild Selections®, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, makes it incredibly easy to eat seafood responsibly. Wild Selections® is making a difference, not only in the way we eat, but for marine habitats around the world.

  • Wild Selections® gives back to the oceans by donating 13 cents from every can sold to World Wildlife Fund marine conservation and fishery improvement projects
  • Wild Selections® is the only full line of Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified sustainable seafood.  The blue MSC eco-label tells you the fish in your can comes from well managed fisheries and healthy fish stocks
  • Wild Selections® is premium quality, sustainably sourced fish that’s 100% traceable; visit WildSelections.com to learn where the fish in your can was caught
  • Wild Selections® fish is premium quality, delicious and all-natural
  • All Wild Selections® tuna is Non-GMO Project verified

Wild Selections, in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund, makes it incredibly easy to eat seafood responsibly.

I know, I know, this is all well and good, but how does it taste, right? Delicious. I’ll be honest, I’ve only ever used canned tuna to make tuna salad, and not often at that. Wild Selections® canned tuna is premium chunk tuna (I actually had a difficult time getting it out of the can without breaking it up too much), perfect for a myriad of recipes.

Rigatoni-Tuna-Sun-Dried-Tomatoes

Eager to try something new, I scoured Pinterest and came across a recipe, from Pampered Chef, for Rigatoni with Tuna and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. This is a super-quick, easy to prepare, healthy meal! My family loved it, and it’s now gone onto my Pinterest board of recipes to keep. Usually a pasta-lover, my son was bypassing rigatoni to pluck chunks of tuna out of all of our bowls. Two [chubby toddler] thumbs up and responsibly sourced — it doesn’t get much better than that!

You can find out where Wild Selections® premium seafood products are being sold near you by using their convenient Store Locator. Get social! Visit Wild Selections® on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Well, what are you waiting for? Mangia!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Dana’s Bakery: How to Win Friends & Influence People

Curious about the title? That’s because Dana’s Bakery macarons have the ability to transform and elevate any social gathering. Honestly. When bakery owner, Dana Loia, contacted me about trying some of her widely publicized macarons (and sharing with all of you), my first reaction was, meh.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a big macaron fan, despite the fact that they’re gluten free and absolutely beautiful (almost too beautiful to eat, but that would be a waste, right?). The truth I discovered is that, in my limited macaron experience, I’d eaten a lot of imposters. You’re nodding your head, so you know exactly what I’m talking about.

You’ve likely been tricked by a pretty pastel macaron yourself — drawn in by their beauty, only to bite into a gummy, chewy, cardboard-like, communion wafer-tasting macaron imposter. If you’re a Masterchef fan, you know that there’s a reason why they have the Macaron Challenge — they’re tricky to get right. Since I’m taking the time to write this, it’s obvious that Dana’s Bakery does not make macaron imposters. They’re the real deal, my friends, and Dana knocks it out of the…bakery with her small parcels of crispy bites, bursting with flavor.

Dana's Bakery is making macarons hip again by modernizing them with unique flavor combos and shipping them fresh, straight to your door! Save 10% today!

With an impressive line-up of press coverage — The New York Times, Redbook, People, Brides, Seventeen, BuzzFeed, New York Magazine — you know that Dana must be doing something right, right? My friends, Dana’s Bakery is serving up tiny, flakey, flavorful, sweet pieces of heaven [in the form of macarons]. And, Dana is making this oft-formal treat hip again.

My bridal shower was a tea, replete with tiny sandwiches and petit fours. Macarons were missing from my beautiful bridal tea, only because we’d not heard of Dana’s Bakery, to be certain. Dana’s Bakery macarons are beautiful for special occasions (think weddings, bar mitzvahs, anniversary celebrations, birthdays, baby showers), but the hip flavor combinations — Peanut Butter & Jelly, Strawberry Shortcake, Key Lime Pie (my husband’s surprising favorite), Mimosa, Margerita — make Dana’s Bakery macarons perfect for any occasion (hostess gifts, dinner parties, play dates, etc.). Remember the title of this piece? Dana’s Bakery macarons are perfect item to make an impression — bring them to an office gathering or send them as a gift.

I’m sure you’re asking how they stay fresh, at this point in time. Dana’s Bakery sent my macarons, carefully packaged in a thermal envelope with a cold pack. My macarons arrived fresh and flakey — ready to devour! But I had to exercise some self control to take photos for you.

Dana's Bakery is making macarons hip again by modernizing them with unique flavor combos and shipping them fresh, straight to your door! Save 10% today!

 

Made with almond flour, Dana’s Bakery macarons are naturally gluten free and kosher, so everyone can enjoy these light puffs bursting with flavor. You know how I mentioned that these macarons were hip? Well, if I was throwing a get together with friends, I’d definitely order the Inspiration Box, with fun sayings — perfect for selfie fans!

danas-bakery-inspiration-box

Photo credit: Dana’s Bakery

 

I’m sure your mouth is watering right about now (mine is, and my son is asking for macarons in his lunch box right now). Dana’s Bakery offers 10% off when you sign up for their mailing list, so now you have no excuse not to try them!

If you’re looking for ideas for a girl’s night in, or even a children’s party, Dana’s Bakery offers kits for you to make your own at home! If DIY isn’t your style, you can select flavors and build your own box of macarons. And if you just can’t get enough of Dana’s Bakery macarons, they offer monthly subscriptions — decadent! And if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, Dana’s Bakery will work with you to create a custom flavor.

Tease yourself with beautiful confection photos on Dana’s Bakery’s Instagram feed, discover featured flavors and special deals on Facebook, add macarons to your Pinterest party planning board, and see updates (in 140 characters or less) on Twitter. As for me, I’m diving in for another sweet treat…

IMG_0880

* This is a sponsored post; I received product and compensation in exchange for my opinion. All opinions are my own.

ModCloth: What I Wore to the White House

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks, but I finally have a few moments to share my not-so-glamorous, oh-so-fumbling tale of my trip to the White House. It all started with an email.

WHITE HOUSE

I opened my inbox on Tuesday afternoon to an email entitled, “Special Invitation to the White House.” Intrigued, I opened the email, not sure what to expect. It was, indeed, a “special VIP invitation for you to attend an exclusive event being held at one of the most prestigious residences in the United States: the White House.” Zoiks! I forwarded the email to my husband at work for his thoughts, and we both started trying to finagle childcare, work, etc. so that I could attend the event that was just SIX days away!

After seeing that DC hotels were $350+ because of the cherry blossoms, I put a call through to my girlfriend in Baltimore, seeing if I could stay at her place the night before the event (I’m in Philly, so it would have been a long drive to do it the morning of). After confirming that, I went into panic mode about my wardrobe.

You see, my friends, I have a uniform that I wear to work from home — yoga pants, tank tops and sneakers — which is not really appropriate for a White House business casual event. By this time it was Wednesday, which meant that I had TWO business days to get my clothing ordered and shipped to me (I don’t do malls, so all of my clothing is ordered online — it works out well because I use Ebates to get cash back on all of my purchases). There’s also the fact that I wear a women’s size 13 shoe and HAVE to order shoes online.

white-house

The White House looking resplendent, despite it being an overcast and rainy spring day

I placed my first order with ModCloth in the fall, for my trip to Portland to meet Darude, admiring their line of dresses but not having an occasion to buy one, so I knew that I would be searching for my outfit from there. In my mind, a White House event called for a dress, which narrowed down my ModCloth options to, well, about 270 options! From there, I knew that I wanted a dress with pockets and something with a pop of color.

ModCloth

After a couple of hours (seriously), and a consultation with my husband, I narrowed down my pick to three dresses. I won’t bore you, so I’ll get right to it — my choice was the Coach Tour Dress in Houndstooth with the Charter School Cardigan in Honey. I knew I’d be walking a lot in the city, and walking through the White House Kitchen Garden, so I wanted a pair of practical, yet stylish shoes — I settled upon a pair of black Mary Janes (but again, ordered 3 pairs of shoes to make sure I found ONE that would work). I also ordered an awesome pair of yellow tights, and paid $16 for rush shipping, but they didn’t arrive in time (Grrrr!).

Outfit in-hand, last minute hotel room booked (it was just easier than trying to get into the District at 8am), childcare booked, I was ready to go. And now for all of the unglamorous details. I stopped at a rest stop off of I-95 to get gas, and the unthinkable happened. I’ve seen it in videos, and now I was that person, you know, the person with the gas spilling out of the tank all over the ground (and her new shoes). The lever didn’t switch off and I was in lala-land, so it took me a second or two to realize that I had gasoline spilling out of my tank and all over my shoes.

I head into the store to let someone know and get cash for the hotel valet and housecleaning tips (I never carry cash), and the clerk already seemed to know that the pump had an issue (thanks for the warning) and the ATM wasn’t working. If you’re not familiar with the drive down, there’s really no place convenient to stop for cash, bathrooms, anything, unless you want a 20-30 minute detour. Without cash, I piled into my car and proceeded to breathe in noxious gasoline fumes the remainder of the drive into the District. My husband’s texting me that I should probably *just* buy new shoes when I get there, because the gasoline smell could pose a problem getting into the White House, while I inwardly fumed at the fact that he suddenly didn’t remember that I’m unable to just walk into a store and buy shoes off the shelf. Nope, these shoes would just have to work, damnit!

In an effort to pack light, I also bypassed bringing my laptop, instead packing my iPad and ordering a Bluetooth keyboard to be rush-shipped to me. It came just before I left, so I hastily threw the box into my bag and left — I found out that it needed batteries only when I was settled in my hotel room, planning to get a little work done (I had an insane week of deadlines, on top of losing two days of work to travel for the White House event). Instead, I found myself trekking around the city in search of somewhere to purchase batteries (if you’re not familiar with DC, the sidewalks in many areas roll up after 7pm, so…). Batteries in-hand, it was only then that I realized I had forgotten to get cash back for tips – crap! I’d figure it out in the morning.

IMG_0758

The morning of the event, I awoke to a rainy day in the District. No worries, I had packed my trusty totes umbrella! Nope. My umbrella must have rolled out of my bag into the front seat of my car, which was now parked in a lot somewhere in the city. I called the front desk and they let me know that there was an umbrella in my closet; a big, not packable, definitely not stowable umbrella that would cost me $20 if I failed to return it (I almost wrote a reminder in marker on my hand because, forgetful!).

The White House event? Yes, I did make it there, you know, after my first two Uber drivers canceled on me. Snafus aside (look, I’m a mom, I can handle it!), it was a wonderful experience, aside from the gasoline and coffee spills. I was able to cover the event for Bonbon Break on social media, and publish an event recap with them as well — read all about it HERE.

You would never know I was so NOT put-together, thanks to ModCloth! In fact, my choice of color was a good one, as you can see from the official White House photo of the event:

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy

The moral to the story, my friends, is that if you find yourself in need of a dress, or want to update your wardrobe with timeless, fashionable pieces, you should definitely check out ModCloth!

Do a lot of online shopping? Sign up for your FREE Ebates account and start getting cash back on all of your online purchases!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Swap.com: Online Consignment Review

From my first sale, I’ve been a children’s consignment sale junkie! So, when I discovered Swap.com (and no longer had to wait for semi-annual sales) I was immediately sold. Well, addicted may be the more appropriate term (I placed two significant orders within the first two weeks using the site!). I wanted to share Swap.com with all of you, in case you’ve not yet discovered the site.

Save 20% on top of swap.com savings & get FREE shipping with my coupon code!

Not only am I a fan of the recycling aspect of shopping on consignment, but the deals are hard to beat. I receive so many comments on my son’s clothing, and it’s hard to admit that I only spend around $100 per size (yes, I said size, not season). I have a go-to thrift outlet where I’m able to buy most of my son’s clothing (Gap, Polo, J. Crew, Children’s Place, etc.), and I tend to shop on their 50% off days, which means that I get Gap and J. Crew sweaters and cords for my little guy for around $2 a piece (not kidding).

3-outfits

 

The remainder of my son’s shopping I do through semi-annual consignment sales; this is where I go to find high-end shoes, sandals and inexpensive pajamas for my son (we’re still going through a pair of pjs a night). We tend to find a lot of great children’s books at these sales as well, something you can never have too much of! I keep a running list of items I need for my son in the months leading up to each sale, but it’s a little nerve-wracking to make sure that I find everything in each shopping trip [knowing that I’ll need to pay full retail price if I miss something].

Shoes are super expensive, especially when you consider how little time your kiddo is in them (my son wears a new size every 3 months or so these days). I was able to purchase top brands — pediped, See Kai Run, Robeez, Stride Rite — for a fraction of the cost new (think $5-$8 a pair). Score!

Imagine my delight when I discovered online consignment store, Swap.com, and no longer needed to trek 45 minutes to my favorite thrift outlet or wait for a semi-annual sale! I stocked up on my first Swap.com purchase, outfitting my little guy for spring with a few key pieces. I’ve put together a few outfits to show you what I found:
Headphones-$

 

 

I love this fun and funky outfit…and so does my son (who never really cares about his clothes). In fact, he insisted on wearing this outfit for the remainder of the day, and had a blast prancing around modeling it!

 

 

 

Seattle-$

 

I

picked up this outfit in preparation for summer camp — D usually runs around in sweatpant material shorts all summer (or in the buff), so I needed make sure that I had at least 5 different nice outfits (read: not bummy or for fishing salamanders out of ponds) for him to wear throughout the week.

This year is the first time my little guy is attending summer camp, which lasts 5 weeks and runs from 8:30am-3:30pm. The best part about the camp is that it is at a Friends Meeting School approximately two blocks from our house. I’m already beginning to plan all of the things I’ll be able to get done in that time!

 

TwoShirts-Headless-$

This is a fun spring pick and will likely be the outfit he wears for Easter. We channeled my husband’s 1980s preppy look with the layered shirt and popped collar (I’m bummed that I didn’t find a pink Polo shirt this year — that would have totally made the outfit!). The blue chambray pants are long, but the rolled cuffs give the outfit a less formal look — he’ll be wearing these light and breezy pants throughout the summer. The Vineyard Vines shirt my husband scored from the store clearance rack, not from Swap.com, but the clearance price was worthy of mentioning.

The items I did purchase from Swap.com — headphones tee, space needle tee, cargo shorts, chambray pants, polo shirt — I grabbed for a grand total of $19.50. It’s not often you can find quality children’s clothing, three complete outfits, for under $20.

Swap.com’s quality standards are high, and each item came individually packaged in ‘like new’ condition. I’ve been extremely pleased with my purchases so far (my second purchase was comprised of summer shorts and tees for the little guy), and actually send two large boxes to Swap.com for consignment. All of my maternity clothing and all of my little guy’s outgrown summer clothing and shoes are waiting to be photographed as I write this. It’s a heck of a lot easier to pack those boxes than it is to tag and enter 100+ pieces for semi-annual consignment sales! I’ll let you know how my consigning experience goes with them in a future update.

So, if you’re looking to grab brand-name clothing at clearance prices (they have women’s and maternity clothing as well), then you need to check out Swap.com!

Start shopping now — use my referral link to save 20% off of your first Swap.com purchase!

*This post contains a referral link. I purchased items from Swap.com to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.