Friday, September 27, 2013

Cute Circus theme 1st Birthday!

Little Guy's first birthday was so much fun! Since I'm back to work a few days a week I have a little less time for all the crafts and cooking that I would like to do in a perfect world, so I kept my homemade decorations to a minimum for his party.  My favorite thing that I did make was this birthday hat baby faces banner!  
Everyone loved it and it was really easy to do.

First, I went through my pictures on Shutterfly and chose about 12 that I thought would be cute.  I tried to get all kinds of his expressions from his adorable grin to his crying face.  Using Shutterfly, I cropped them to just include his face and changed the color to black and white and sent them to my local Walgreens.  Then, I just cut out the faces.  I used scrapbook paper to cut out the little triangle birthday hats and cut up tissue paper to make the fringe on the bottom.  I then just used double sided tape to tape the hats onto the picture.  After I had them all made, I attached them to the ribbon with the double sided tape and hung it up.  That was it.  Obviously, it took a little bit of time, but it was all really easy and so cute!

I decided to have a cute circus theme this year because I'm pretty sure I'm going to have trucks, trains, and Ninja Turtles in my future.  I actually tried to keep it all relatively simple using my decor from Oriental Trading Company as the backbone.  (Click here to see my OTC review.) The circus tent cupcake stand was the main display on the dessert table.  Grammy made some super cute elephant sugar cookies to go along with our theme too.

I ordered most of the cupcakes from Publix (I LOVE Publix frosting!) and made a few with all of the left over batter from making Little Guy's smash cake.  I made a funfetti smash cake with homemade icing and just decorated it with a big #1.  I surrounded it with the other funfetti cupcakes on the cake stand and made it the centerpiece of the food table.

 I tried to keep the food easy (meaning I could prepare most of it ahead of time) and adult and kid friendly.  We grilled hotdogs and bratwurst as the main dish.  We also served bean dip and buffalo chicken dip with tortilla chips, pasta salad, veggie tray, rainbow fruit skewers, and some applesauce pouches for the kiddos.  In the kitchen we also had a cheese and cracker tray and some homemade spinach dip with Hawaiian bread.  I picked up those cute little buckets at Target in the $1 bin and thought they would perfect as utensil holders. 

We had a really cute banner hung above the window in the dining room and the kitchen, along with some other cute accessories on the tables. 

For party favors, we gave all the kiddos a pack of Barnum's Animal Cookies.  I got a couple of glass jars at Hobby Lobby that I filled with Skittles and a 1 birthday candle to use as more colorful decorations around the house.

Luckily, we remembered to get at least one family picture during all of the festivities. :)

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Citrus Lane Monthly Subscription Box Review

Monthly subscription boxes seem to be all the rage lately, and I sure didn't want to miss out!  So, you can imagine how excited I was at the chance to review one of the originals, Citrus Lane.  

Citrus Lane

Citrus Lane is a monthly subscription box for your little ones from newborn to age five.  They include all kinds of fun and great products for your little one and even for you too!  The 4-5 products  they include each month have been recommended and reviewed by their advisory board and community and you can rest assured there is no marketing gimmicks or no paid placements- just what they feel is the best products for you to try.  Citrus Lane only works with brands that offer the best products for kids.  By doing so, Citrus Lane helps parents discover fresh brands and exciting new products.  Some of our community’s favorite discoveries have been from top consumer brands such as Green Toys, Barefoot Books, Honest Company, Skip Hop, Plum Organics, and Aden & Anais.

It's so easy to try: First, you choose your plan.  They start as low as $21 a month!  Then, you personalize your box for your child's gender and age.   Then, you wait for your surprises to come in the mail each month! Each box is worth at least $25 in retail value, and shipping is always free. 

I recieved my signature box in the mail and I couldn't wait to open it up to see what was inside!

Included in my monthly box for my 1 year old son:

1.  Octopus Opposites from Barefoot Books (Retail: $7.99)
2.  5" Playground Ball from Crocodile Creek (Retail: $7.99)
3.  2 Packs of Fruit Straws from Plum Organics (Retail: $2.00)
4.  Adhesive Bandages from Ouchies Jr. (Retail: $5.00)
5.  All Natural Hand Sanitizing Wipes from CleanWell (Retail: $5.50)
6.  Free Trial Offer from FabKids ($39.95 value)

Total Value: $28.50 or $68.50 if you take advantage of the free trial from FabKids!

My son LOVES the ball!  He's really get into playing with all types of balls and he didn't have a ball quite like this yet.  He's been chasing it everywhere lately.  I also love the Octopus Opposites book.  We have a couple of Barefoot Books and we really enjoy them.  The fruit straws weren't quite something I would feed to my son yet (he only has 4 teeth), but I tried them and they were tasty.  I'm sure older children would enjoy them.  Luckily, we haven't had to use our band-aids yet, but I'm sure they'll come in handy and the Paddington Bear character ones we received are so cute!   And, I don't know about you, but I can never have enough sanitizing wipes handy.  What's so great about these is that they are biodegradable and all natural.  Citrus Lane even provided some fun do-it-yourself games for you to use with your child and one of their new toys.  My box included some Do-It-Yourself Bowling Pins to use with your new ball.  I love this little touch to incorporate crafts and play in each box.

Follow & Connect:  You can like Citrus Lane on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Buy It:  You can go to Citrus Lane's website to order a subscription for your child.

Click here to get 50% your first box!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using  
Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Easy Witches Hat Cookies ~ Sharing is Caring Halloween Hop

Sharing is Caring Halloween Blog Hop

I know Halloween is still over a month away, but I love that the Sharing is Caring Hop is on top of it!  Now, is the perfect time to start thinking about some fun Halloween ideas, so you won't be thinking about those costumes, crafts, and treats at the last minute!  Today, I'm excited to share with you all a super easy little Halloween goody for your kiddos!

I make these for my class (2nd graders) and bring them in on Halloween most years for a little treat for them at lunch.  They love it when I bring in special goodies that I made myself!  (And I get to use it as a way to keep them behaving all morning by promising them a special treat at lunch if they do!)  These are fun and literally the easiest thing to make.  

You only need 3 things:
Hershey Kisses
1 package fudge-striped shortbread cookies 
1 container orange or red decorating icing

All you do is glue the Hershey kiss to the back of the fudge cookie with the icing.  Then, you pipe a little icing around the base of the Hershey kiss.  That's it!  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy (as my students would say)!

Happy Halloween!
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This post is part of the Sharing is Caring Halloween Blog Hop hosted by Life With Lovebugs, Pam’s Party & Practical Tips, and A Spectacled Owl! All of the blogs listed below are sharing Halloween themed posts as part of this event, so click on one or all of the links below to find some great recipes, tutorials, crafts and more!

Monday, September 2, 2013

One-derful Bday Bash: Combi USA Coccoro Convertible Car Seat Giveaway!

Welcome to the One-derful Birthday Bash!

It's the start of the giveaway event that I've been waiting and preparing for for months- the One-derful Birthday Bash in honor of my son's first birthday this month!  My Life According to Pinterest is holding 8 great giveaways over the next week and a half to celebrate!  All these giveaways will be perfect for your one year old!  I'm so excited to start off this awesome event with a great giveaway from Combi USA!

Today we're giving away a Combi USA Coccoro Convertible Car Seat!

The Combi Coccoro is lightweight and compact to fit perfectly in smaller vehicles.  The Coccoro accommodates children rear facing from 3 to 33 lbs and forward facing from 1 year and 20 lbs up to 40 lbs.

 Some of the awesome features of the Coccoro include:
  • Combi Tru-Safe® Side Impact Protection offers deep side walls and a layer of energy-absorbing foam to distribute crash energy away from your child's head, neck, and spine
  • Tether connector strap for rear-face tethering
  • Buckle with indicator provides a visual cue that the harness is securely buckled
  • Compact design accommodates 3 seats across the rear seat of most vehicles
  • Removable infant insert to provide proper positioning and comfort for smaller children
  • One-pull front harness adjuster
  • Built-in lock-offs for rear- and forward-facing installation
  • Premium, push button LATCH connectors
  • Washable and removable cover and harness pads 
Read my review of the Coccoro here!

Giveaway is open to the U.S. only.  Ends 9/15 at 11:59 p.m. E.S.T.

Disclosure:  The winner will receive their prize from Combi USA.  My Life According to Pinterest and other participating bloggers are not responsible for prize shipment.
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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Combi USA Coccoro Convertible Car Seat Review

Combi USA specializes in lightweight, compact, and portable baby gear that will enhance your active lifestyle.  Combi is actually derived from the word, "combination," and refers to the relationship between children and their caretakers.  Combi USA has been around since 1989 and offers all kinds of products from strollers to feeding sets.  They are always trying to make items that make children happier and parents lives easier.

Photo via Combi USA
Combi USA very generously sent me a Coccoro Convertible Car Seat for review with Little Guy (He's not a Baby Boy anymore ;).  The Coccoro comes in five yummy colors: Carrot Cake, Key Lime, Cherry Pie, Chestnut, and Licorice.  I chose Licorice, but I would have loved any one of these fun colors!

Keeping in step with what Combi specializes in the Coccoro is super lightweight- weighing in at less than 12 pounds.  When I received my big box at the door I braced myself for hauling it inside.  Boy was I surprised at how easy it was to lift.  I simply couldn't believe how light it was!  The Coccoro comes completely put together, so I quickly unpacked it and couldn't wait for Little Guy to try it out!

While Little Guy was trying it out before installation I was able to adjust the shoulder harness straps to properly fit him.  If you are using your Coccoro rear-facing the shoulder harness straps must be through the harness slots at or just below your child's shoulders.  If you are using it forward-facing the shoulder harness straps must be at or above your child's shoulders.  You should only use the 3rd or top set of harness slots forward-facing.

The Combi Coccoro is not only lightweight, it's compact too!  This is really an important feature to me since I drive a relatively small car- a Hyundai Elantra.  In fact, three of these guys can comfortably fit across the backseat in most vehicles.  This car seat can accomodate children rear facing from 3 to 33 lbs and forward facing from 1 year and 20 lbs up to 40 lbs.  Little Guy is about to outgrow his infant car seat, so was excited to find a new convertible car seat that he can still be rear facing for as long as possible (at least until he reaches 33 lbs).

This seat includes a removable infant insert to provide proper positioning and comfort for smaller babies and children.  The infant insert MUST be used for all children less than 25 pounds.  The infant head insert is completely adjustable, so that you can move it up as your child gets bigger.  In the pictures above my Little Guy was about 23.5 lbs.  I do think he was a little snug, but comfortable none the less.  The infant inserts can stop being used when your child's shoulders are above the top shoulder strap slots when forward-facing or shoulder straps become too short to fit the child.  The infant insert is super plush, making all children nice and comfy while traveling.

The Coccoro can be installed rear-facing using the LATCH system or the seat belt. It even offers a tether connector strap allowing for rear facing tethering, stabilizing the car seat in an event of a collision, if your car has the feature. If you choose to use the seat belt, the LATCH system can be safely stored in a storage pocket under the cushion on the side of the seat.

Combi's instruction guide for installing your car seat is extremely detailed and useful.  It shows you how to install your car seat in every possible scenario.  I knew I wanted to install ours rear-facing so I read the directions on how to do this several times.  The first time I read it I was a little confused, so as I read it again I made sure I had the car seat right in front of me so that I could locate everything that was referred to in the manual. After I located the rear-facing belt path (under the pad of the car seat), I took the seat out to the car to install it.  After following all of the directions, I still didn't feel like the car seat was quite secure enough for my comfort.  I really wanted to get it checked by an expert to make sure that I had done everything correctly and that it was installed in the safest possible way for my son to travel.

In many cities you can visit your local fire station for a car seat inspection, but not in mine. :(  I was able to locate my closest car seat inspection station here.  I called and made an appointment with a car seat installation expert for assistance.  I'm so glad I did!  They were able to help me to get the car seat installed totally securely.  We made sure that it did not move more than 1 inch in any direction when pulled on and that the recline reference line was totally horizontal.  I would have loved a little bubble level indicator to make sure it was level just for ease of use and to double check that it was horizontal instead of just having to eyeball it.  That's what I was used to using with our previous infant seat and base. That's probably the only thing I would change about this car seat.

The 5 point buckle harness on the Coccoro is great!  I love that it has extra padding so I know that no straps are cutting into my little guy's chunky thighs.  Also, there is a very handy color indicator when you buckle the harness.  A green indicator appears in the window below the buckle release button when both tongues are locked in the buckle.  A red indicator will show when the tongues are not locked in the buckle.

After your done installing your Coccoro and learning about all of it's special features there's even a little storage pocket on the back to store your instruction manual.  All in all, we are so happy with our Combi USA Coccoro Car Seat!  It's lightweight and compact design is perfect for a smaller car owner like me and I love that it can be used from birth through toddlerhood.

Follow & Connect:  You can Like Combi USA on Facebook and follow them Twitter or Pinterest.

Buy It:  You can visit the Combi USA website and find a store near you.

Win It:  Come back tomorrow at the start of my "One-derful" Birthday Bash to enter to win a Coccoro from Combi USA!

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