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Fruity Cocktails for Hot August Nights
Take advantage of local flavors for summer cocktails

Fresh, seasonal fruit is one of the most fabulous parts of summer. Use your best farmer’s market finds to add a burst of flavor to your cocktails to cool you down on these end-of-summer hot August nights. Summer cocktails make the most of fruity recipes and frozen drinks. These recipes can turn any gathering into a party!

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Grapefruit-Granita-Punch
Boysenberry-Mojitos
Raspberry-Vodka-Float
Peach-Lime-Rickey
Pineapple-Jalapeno-Cocktail
Mixed-Berry-Mojito
Strawberry-Margarita-Granita
Frozen-Pineapple-Margarita
Frozen-Paloma
Spiked-Pink-Lemonade-Cups
Tequila-Lime-Watermelon-Ice-Shots
Cocktails filled with fruity flavors

Sarah Hearts crafts a tasty cocktail with her Grapefruit Mint Granita Punch. Not only is this fruit cocktail refreshing and filled with citrus flavor, the color is gorgeous. It’s perfect for a brunch or afternoon party, when your guests can sip it in the sun.

Boysenberry Mojitos from The Devil Wears Parsley take a classic cocktail and add a fruity twist one doesn’t often find in cocktail recipes. The boysenberries can be replaced by any summer berry, but why would you want to do that when these are so delicious just as they are?

Cooks with Cocktails knows the only thing better than a delicious, fruity cocktail is a fruity cocktail that adds ice cream to the mix. The Raspberry Vodka Sparkling Wine Float needs to immediately go on your must-try list before the end of summer. With ice cream involved, you can consider it dessert, too!

The Drink Blog takes the quintessential souther summer fruit — the juicy peach — and puts its flavor to work in the Peach Lime Rickey. The fizzy cocktail works perfectly for days when you want something refreshing, bubbly, and not overly sweet or syrupy.

If you prefer your cocktails a little more savory than sweet, definitely try the Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeno Summer Cocktail from Chili Pepper Madness. Flavored vodka and rum mean this cocktail packs quite the punch, so proceed with caution and enjoy the flavor kick from the fresh jalapeno.

Chef Savvy mixes up the Mixed Berry Mojito in less than five minutes. The rum-based cocktail takes advantage of the abundance of summer berries, muddled together to create a cool beverage bursting with flavor. If you love mojitos, she has other variations to try, too.

Refreshing frozen cocktails

Maya from Treats and Eats describes the Strawberry Margarita Granita as part half cocktail and half dessert — a combination that sounds just about perfect to us! You can change the ingredients to make this frozen treat non-alcoholic, which makes it a fun option for a party where you’ll be serving kids or friends who prefer not to drink alcohol.

A Pineapple Margarita from Foxy Folksy helps cool off the summer heat. The frozen cocktail is adapted from the classic margarita and uses the fresh flavors of summer blended together for a sweet, icy concoction.

In It 4 the Long Run offers a Frozen Paloma that’s a truly refreshing frozen cocktail made with a burst of citrus flavor. It pairs perfectly with Mexican food, so serve it with your favorite guacamole and chips and enjoy the warmth of the summer evenings.

Busy Mommy knows sometimes you don’t have to leave the lemonade stands to the little ones. The Spiked Pink Lemonade Frozen Fruit Cups are a special summer treat for your pool party guests. With a little prep work, you can freeze these the night before — they’ll be slushy in no time if you’re outside in the sunshine.

No summer cocktail list would be complete without a watermelon-based beverage. The Tequila Lime Watermelon Ice Shots from Czech In the Kitchen make the most of summer’s iconic fruit. Whether you’re using watermelon you have left over from a summer barbecue or buying it specifically for these icy treats, you won’t be disappointed.

Please share your favorite fruity cocktail with us!
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Silkn Beauty Brunch for ReVit

While at the Silk’n Beauty event to celebrate the launch of their new ReVit Microdermabrasion System at the (gorgeous) Oasis at Pierce Mattie space in New York City, my views on microdermabrasion were changed dramatically. Whenever I heard that word, microdermabrasion, it was usually accompanied by scary music and lightning flashes. This was mostly because I didn’t actually know what it was. Thankfully, NYC dermatologist Dr. Judith Hellman was there to clear up all my ridiculous assumptions. So for those of you out there with similar fears, let’s debunk the myths about it right now.

Myths about microdermabrasion

True or false? 

Myth: Microdermabrasion hurts.
FALSE: First of all, even though the word “abrasion” is part of the word, the process doesn’t include your face getting scraped by knives or scalpels.

Myth: I can’t do anything after I get it done.
FALSE: There’s virtually no “recovery” period. I always thought that after getting it done, you would have to go home with an ice pack and lay in bed with cold towels on your face. Not the case.

Myth: It’s so expensive.
TRUE AND FALSE: You can always find the latest and greatest spa treatments that will cost you an arm and a leg… each time you do it. But the Silk’n ReVit solves that problem for you, by drastically lowering the cost of each treatment. Plus, you can do it in your pajamas in front of Netflix. Win-win!

Myth: My skin is way too sensitive for that.
FALSE: It should be noted that I have extremely fair skin. (We are talking Snow White fair. Caspar-the-Friendly-Ghost-would-be-jealous fair.) The best part about using the ReVit is that you have control over how hard or soft  the pressure is. After using it on the hardest setting, I had very little redness and only for about 15 minutes.

Trying the ReVit at home

After listening to Dr. Hellman and seeing photos and video of actual users, I was starting to think that maybe this whole process wasn’t as terrifying as I thought. Then came the trying it out for myself bit. There were stations set up with tools at the ready and I watched as women of all skin types and shades practiced on their hands with no screams of pain escaping their mouths. When it was my turn, I was prepared for the worst, but to my great surprise, it wasn’t painful in the least. It was turning out to be darn right relaxing. But this was just my hand. How would it feel on my face?

At-Home ReVit Microdermabrasion System

I brought the ReVit home and, as recommended, I got comfortable on the couch and turned on the TV. I decided I would start small and would only work on my nose and chose the treatment head marked “precision,” which is intended for smaller places like the nose and eye areas. I plugged in (the ReVit only works while plugged in, so make sure you are in a spot where you have enough slack to manipulate the machine) and got to work.

Because the ReVit uses vacuum stimulation, you have to keep the tool moving so your skin doesn’t get sucked into it for a long period of time. (I did this accidentally on my hand and it ended up looking like I had spent time in my car at Look Out Point. Keep it moving fluidly over the area you are treating to avoid this.)

The major game changer is that the ReVit doesn’t use any crystals on the treatment heads. They are diamond tips only. Why is this a big deal? Because traditional microdermabrasion heads use crystals that leave behind debris on your fresh skin. Then that debris get stuck in your pores and when your new cells form, it gets trapped under your skin causing acne or even scars. Yikes.

The bottom line: This tool is pretty amazing. I was definitely skeptical at first, but after about two-weeks of use, I can see a difference in my pore size and the amount of bumps I get in the summer time from all the sweat, oi, and free radicals. It’s affordable at less than $100, convenient and will absolutely remain part of my beauty routine. I hope this has assuaged your fears about microdermabrasion and that you try it out for yourself!

This post was contributed by the team at Momtrends.

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Campfire meals make eating outdoors fun

11 Campfire Meals & Desserts

Roasting hot dogs is a traditional campfire favorite, but there are ways to add variety to your campfire meals. From s’mores with a twist to toasted sandwiches, cooking over a campfire can produce fun meals sure to please kids and adults.

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Grilled-Margherita-Sandwich
Easy-Campfire-Pizza
Cilantro-Lime-Pulled-Pork
Campfire-Pizza-Nachos
Spiced-campfire-chickpeas
Grilled-Baked-Potatoes
Campfire-smores-granola
Grilled-Caramel-Bacon-Smores
Grilled-Banana-Boat-Smores
Apple-Crunch
Easy-baked-camping-apples
Campfire dinners for your hungry campers

Easy Campfire Pizza from The Culinary Camper is so simple even the most novice camping chefs can create it. With tips about how much charcoal to use and how to make sure all the ingredients make it safely to the campsite, the recipe will quickly become a camping favorite. Check out The Culinary Camper for even more delicious camping recipes.

The Gunny Sack offers a Grilled Margherita Sandwich as your next must-have camping treat. The sandwich combines some of summer’s tastiest flavors — fresh basil and tomatoes are to-die-for — and presents them in a camping-friendly way. You won’t regret adding this sandwich to your camping meal rotation.

Grilled meat often rules the camping menu, but the Cilantro Lime Pulled Pork from Foods Of Our Lives is something a little different to prepare the next time you go camping. The greatest thing about this recipe is its versatility. Even picky campers will find a favorite way to eat this easily-prepared meal.

You don’t have to forego cheesy nachos just because you’re camping. Cooking with Janica knows nachos are a crowd pleaser, and the Campfire Pizza Nachos definitely need to make an appearance at your campfire by the time summer ends. Kids can help put the nacho toppings on the chips, giving them an opportunity to participate in meal prep for a camping dinner they’ll love.

Campfire side dishes

Campfire food doesn’t have to be monotonous. Try the Middle Eastern Spiced Campfire Chickpeas from Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. While chickpeas might not seem like traditional camping food, they’re a fantastic, meatless alternative that shine when cooked over wood. You can make your own spice mix — included at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary — and use it for any variety of meals.

Olga’s Flavor Factory knows classic side dishes can be even better on the grill, like Grilled Baked Potatoes. Campers can choose and customize their own toppings before letting the potatoes cook. After they’re assembled, these do best when left to cook on their own, which means more time for campfire stories!

S’mores with a twist

Not all s’mores need to be a decadent dessert. The Big Man’s World offers Campfire S’mores Granola for a healthier twist on the gooey classic. The granola can be grilled or roasted over a campfire, so it can be pre-made before your camping trip or put together when everyone else is roasting marshmallows on a stick.

Sweet Peas & Saffron combines flavor favorites in Grilled Caramel Bacon S’mores. The salty, sweet combination is unbeatable almost anytime, but the warm, toasted marshmallow elevates the flavor combination to another level. Make them on a barbecue or make them over the campfire, but definitely try this version of s’mores before summer ends.

The Grilled Banana Boat S’mores at Create-Celebrate-Explore are the most adorable version of s’mores you’ll make this year. Heavy on the fruit, with a little bit of sweetness sprinkled on top, they’re a campfire treat you won’t mind serving to your little ones after a long day of camping.

Sweet campfire desserts

Bakes in Slippers has a warm Apple Crunch that makes every campfire meal end sweetly. Don’t forget your cast iron skillet for this one, and you’ll be amazed at how simple it can be to bake while camping.

Easy Baked Camping Apples from The Cookie Writer are a delicious, fruity dessert with simple preparation and even simpler clean-up. Tossing these apples atop a campfire can’t get much easier, and the recipe can be easily adapted to make them vegan-friendly.

What are your favorite campfire meals?
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Many things change when you’re a mom. You carry a diaper bag instead of a handbag, you always stash extra diapers in the car and you dress more for comfort than style. Finding cute clothes that were nursing-friendly was always a challenge with my firstborn. I always ended up succumbing to the two layer option — you know, that hot, bulky nursing cami with a t-shirt on top?

Breastfeeding Fashion: What do you love to wear to nurse?

Breastfeeding fashion you’ll love

Luckily, after my second daughter was born earlier this year, I was introduced to an awesome brand of practical, yet ultra-fashionable clothing perfect for breastfeeding mamas. The innovative nursing designs from Boob make caring for my baby on-the-go incredibly easy. Not only are they a lot more comfortable than the double-layer nursing tanks I was used to from my first pregnancy, they don’t even look like nursing clothes!

Nursing Dresses You'll Love This Summer

The perfect breastfeeding dress

Dresses are a summer favorite of mine, but they’re not traditionally the easiest to nurse in. Pulling your dress up around your neck while you nurse your baby can be more than tricky when you’re in public and tugging down the neckline will easily ruin your beloved dresses. I’ve loved wearing Boob’s Simone Striped Nursing Dress (currently on sale for $55). I can comfortably nurse anytime, anywhere while still looking stylish.

Breastfeeding Fashion from Boob

While many things change when you’re a mama, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice style. Now I just need to find a cute pair of shoes that allow me to keep up with my toddler!

What are your favorite breastfeeding-friendly pieces?

This post was contributed by Joanna as part of our Savvy Savvy Product Scouts Program. You can find more from Joanna on her blog, Makingmine.

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I have had short hair most of my life, but a little over a year ago, I decided that I wanted to grow my hair out. Now, a year later, my hair is the longest that it has ever been in my life. It’s not super long, but it’s long for me. Today, I wanted to share some of my tips for growing long healthy hair with you. There is no magic pill or remedy that makes your hair grow fast — sorry, ladies! — but there are things you can do to keep your hair healthy to encourage it to grow.

7 Tips for Growing Long & Healthy Hair

7 Tips for growing healthy hair

1. Be patient

The key to growing your hair out is patience. It’s not going to happen overnight or in a week or in a month. Like I said previously, it’s taken a good year for mine to grow a significant amount. My hair does not grow fast at, all hence the reason I have always had shorter hair.

2. Ease up on the washings

Do not wash your hair every day. At the beginning, this was really hard for me. I am typically the girl who has to wash my hair every day, because if I didn’t it was a hot greasy mess. I have learned that you hair will get used to not washing every day. Every time you wash your hair you strip your scalp of oils so it sends a signal to your brain that you need to produce more oil. So the less you wash, the less your hair produces oil. I try and go at least 2-3 days in between washes. Now, on day two, my hair is just fine as before it was a greasy mess.The Best Dry Shampoos for Keeping Dirty Hair Under Control

Dry shampoo will become your best friend, but beware that not all dry shampoos are the same. For me, it took trying out a lot to find one that worked best for my hair. I am currently using Rochaholic by Bed Head (Amazon, $14). Mine is in a pink bottle, as pictured below, but it usually is in a black bottle with a green lid. This is a more expensive one, but the cheaper ones tend to dry my scalp out and make my head itch like crazy! My friends rave about Batiste Dry Shampoo (Amazon, $10), so if you’re on a budget give that one a try.

Secrets to Healthy Hair: Hair La Vie Revive Deep Hydration Masque

3. Find a deep conditioning hair mask

On one of the days I wash my hair, I like to use a deep conditioning hair mask and let it set on my hair for a good 10-15 minutes. When I apply the product to my hair, I focus more on the ends to make sure they get super hydrated. I am currently loving the Hair La Vie Revive Deep Hydration Mask ($35 for a 30-day supply). It smells amazing and really hydrates my hair, even living in the desert where I need extra hydration for my hair and skin due to the dry conditions. I love that it’s all natural, full of 11 different vitamins, essential oils and nutrients and that it has Keratin protein to help rebuild any damaged hair as it grows.

4. Book those hair appointments

It seems counter intuitive to cut your hair in order to make it grow, but it’s true! Just ask your stylist! Keeping dead ends away and getting a trim on a regular schedule will not only help keep your hair looking healthy, but it will help it grow, too.

5. Ditch the blow dryer

Limit the amount of heat you apply to your hair to help it grow healthy and strong. I used to be the type to blow dry my hair everyday or every time I washed it, but as much as you’re addicted to your blow dryer, the heat can be really damaging to you hair. If you do use heat on a daily basis, make sure and use a heat protecting product on your hair first..

6. Go natural

I found that the less I colored my hair, the better it grew. I don’t know if that is the case for everyone, but I have seen a difference. I have only colored my hair once in the last year as I’ve been growing it out and I think it made a positive difference.

7 Tips for Healthy Hair: Hair La Vie Supplements

7. Get strong with supplements

Lastly, you can give your hair an extra boost if you take hair supplements such as Hair La Vie ($39 for a 30-day supply). These have 5000 mcg of biotin in them, which people swear will help your make your hair grow. Plus, they are free of snythetic fillers, buffers and addictives with 20 all-natural ingredients, so you can feel confident that they’re safe. After taking them for 30-days, didn’t necessarily think that my hair grew any faster (hard to tell after just one month!), but I do think they helped keep my hair (and nails!) healthier and stronger, which makes a difference for me.

7 Tips for Growing Healthy Hair: Before & After

Please excuse my car selfie, but I had to go back on my Instagram account and find a picture! These two pictures were taken 56-weeks apart. Look at how much just my bangs grew! 

This post was contributed by Krystal Hansen who is part of the Savvy Sassy Mom Product Scouts program. You can find more from Krystal on her blog, Simply Girly.

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Gummy Prenatal Vitamins from SmartyPants

Prenatal vitamins.

Every pregnant mom knows how essential they are to growing a strong, healthy baby, but taking them can feel like a chore… especially if you’re battling morning sickness. The new All-in-One Gummy Prenatal Vitamins from SmartyPants Vitamins are such a game changer. Not only do they come in three yummy flavors — Yummy Orange, Lemon and Strawberry Banana — but they are flavored with all-natural organic sweeteners, so they taste good without being filled with sugars you just don’t need or want.

Everything you need to know

Just because SmartyPants All-in-One Prenatal Gummy Vitamins taste good doesn’t mean they’re lacking in all of the good things that you need for the health of you and your baby. They are also gluten-free and GMO-free, using only organic sweeteners without any high fructose corn syrup to make them taste good.

Plus, they have the key nutrients you need to help Baby grow:
** L-methylfolate to help your baby’s brain and nervous system develop when you’re pregnant
** A full multivitamin to make sure you’re getting the nutrition you need, even on those sick preggo days
** Omega 3s to ensure Baby’s neurological and visual development is supported
** Vitamins D3 and B12 for helping calcium absorption to build strong teeth and bones and to assist in your emotional wellbeing when pregnant

As far as we can see (and taste!), SmartyPants Prenatal Vitamins check all of the boxes every mom is looking for! Good for you and Baby? Check! Actually tasty enough that you look forward to taking them each day? Check! Free of chemicals and naturally-flavored? Check!

Find SmartyPants online

You can follow along with the latest and greatest from SmartyPants on their website, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Enter to win a #BornSmarty Kit with prenatal vitamins

#BornSmarty Kit from SmartyPants Vitamins

One winner will win an adorable #BornSmarty Kit of goodies for you and your little one from SmartyPants Vitamins.
Includes: BornSmarty onesie, a bottle of SmartyPants Prenatal Vitamins, samples of other SmartyPants Vitamins for adults and kids, Babyganics Body Wash, Sophie the Giraffe teething toy, Skip Hop infant toy.
To enter, please use the Rafflecopter below.
Must be 18-years-old or older to enter and win.
U.S. residents only, please.
No PO boxes.
Giveaway ends 7/22/15 at 11:59 p.m.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The best beach reads are a perfect summer treat

Best books to read on the beach

Beach reading takes on a different meaning when you have little ones to chase after at the beach. The days of completely losing yourself in your favorite beach read won’t be recreated for another couple of years — unless you have someone with you to watch the kids. Moms need books that move quickly, make you smile, and are easy to pick up and put down without losing your place in the plot. Toss one of our best beach reads in your bag this summer and grab it in between snack sessions and sandcastle building.best beach reads

The Status of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke explores what would happen if you could literally use your Facebook statuses to change your life (Barnes & Noble, $11). The night of her rehearsal dinner, Kate’s fiancé, Max, breaks the news that he’s leaving her to be with her friend and co-worker. As Kate takes to her favorite social media platform to cope, she notices her world starts to mirror what she posts online. While trying to show her friends what’s happening, Kate notices changes, but every attempt to get back together with Max is foiled. Soon, she begins to ask herself if she truly wants the life she’s trying to shape one Facebook status at a time.

best beach reads

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave follows Georgia Ford, the daughter of California winemakers, as her perfect life begins to unravel in front of her eyes (Barnes & Noble, $17). Georgia’s life is filled with almost as many secrets as there are grapes in a bottle of wine — 800, as referenced by the title of the novel — and each of them threaten the relationships surrounding her. From a blistering truth about her fiancé to the inner workings of her parents’ marriage, Georgia is faced with how to move forward without sacrificing everything that’s been important to her in the past. This is the perfect read with a glass of wine — plastic if you’re actually at the beach while reading.

best beach reads

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin generated considerable buzz for the jaw-dropping details revealed in Martin’s memoir about life on the Upper East Side (Barnes & Noble, $16). Tales of “wife bonuses” and cutthroat social maneuverings were fantastic enough to be true and entertaining enough to be fiction. Using a sociologist’s perspective, Martin, a Ph.D. “studied” the women living in one of America’s most prestigious neighborhoods. Later, the buzz turned to curiosity as fact-checking revealed some of the holes in Martin’s memoir seemed to be stitched with thread from her imagination. Either way, this is a part of society you’ll love to goggle over while digging your feet in the sand.

best beach reads

Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin chronicles Jess Dunne’s climb toward fame in America’s west coast city of dreams — Hollywood (Barnes & Noble, $19). Jess thought she had no use for her estranged mother, but the failed actress might hold the key to a career upgrade for Jess. She bounces from barista to personal assistant for a film composer, where her cooking catches the eye of an almost-A-list actress. Climbing up another rung in the Hollywood status ladder is the only thing on Jess’s mind, until her mother’s secrets threaten to unseat everything she’s gained.

best beach reads

The Summer of Good Intentions by Wendy Francis shows how the chips in family traditions can threaten to splinter relationships (Barnes & Noble, $12). The Herington sisters are looking forward to a relaxing summer at their family’s Cape Cod beach house, and each of them has her own reasons for needing to recharge and reconnect with her family. Nothing’s the same as it was in the past, and when their mother decides to make a surprise visit with her new boyfriend, tension rises. Their father’s never gotten over their divorce, and old and new heartbreaks lurk on the shores of Cape Cod for the whole family.

best beach reads

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume blends nostalgia and unparalleled storytelling into this highly anticipated novel (Barnes & Noble, $17). The queen of coming-of-age young adult novels, Blume crafts a tale spanning three generations. The story begins in 1987, when Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown and begins to remember the worst year of her life. In 1952, air travel was new, exotic and filled with promise — until planes started dropping out of the sky. With her deft touch for poignant reality, Blume’s tale explores how each generation deals with technological change, how loss shapes families and how life, always, goes on.

 

What are you reading this summer?
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Luxury Mom Must-Haves: Little Bird Car Seat Cover

Sometimes, among the diapers and running your kids to countless sports practices, you need a little bit of luxury in your life. Moms are hardly exempt from wanting nice things just because they are often wiping snot from someone’s little nose! These are a few of our favorite luxury mom must-haves right now. Some are certainly more of a splurge than others, but, at the very least, they’re worth taking a moment to daydream about!

Luxury Must Haves for Moms

9 Luxury must-haves for moms

1. Stroller Cover (Little Dream Bird, $115)
This lightweight stroller cover is perfect to keep the bright, hot sun off your precious little one. (Pictured above in the car seat cover version!)

2. Straw Boater Hat (Lack of Color, $45)
Every mama needs a hat to protect the skin on their face (hello, wrinkles) and a quality straw boater hat is functional and stylish.

3. Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (La Mer, $85)
This SPF is thick and super sheer, perfect for daily use under your make-up.

4. Sunglasses (Dior, $505)
These are the hottest shades this season that every fashion blogger is rocking!

5. Esther Bathing Suit (Oye Swimwear, $350)
A sexy one-piece is a must, period.

6. Black Studded Diaper Bag (Nova Harley, $294)
This stylish diaper bag looks more like a handbag you’d carry and less like a diaper bag. Read more about Nova Harley in our full review of their cute yellow Brisbane Diaper Bag.

7. Apple Watch (Apple, $699)
This watch is perfect for all us mamas. Our hands are always full carrying our babies and their stuff. Instead of fumbling in our diaper bags when the phone rings, we can just glance at our wrist to stay connected.

8. DSLR iPhone Camera Attachment (DXO, $599)
Yes please! I need one STAT! We’re all using our nice bulky cameras less thank to our phones, so this camera attachment gives our iPhones DSLR capabilities.

9. Flat Espadrilles (Bergdorf Goodman, on sale $397)
Comfy and stylish, perfect for us mommas!

This post was contributed by Lana Karim as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts Program. You can find more from Lana on her blog, 22 Crowns.

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This post is sponsored by St. Martin’s Press. All anecdotes and opinions are our own.

Finding the right career — the first time

I worked for a while after getting my Bachelor’s degree, trying on ideas for what to do next. I took a couple GRE exams, sent scores to schools down the street and across the country, tried on the idea of different programs of study. I knew changing careers couldn’t happen every time I got bored. My brain touched lightly again doctoral programs and finally scaled back to a Master’s degree and teaching certification program. When I finally hung bulletin boards in my first classroom, I thought I’d found the right fit. I could see my future as a teacher: in the classroom, maybe later as part of a curriculum team, bringing my (future) children to school events.

making life changes

Making plans, changing plans

Years spun through my fingers, and by the time I was pregnant with my second child, my first still in diapers but quickly dropping her nap, that blueprint didn’t seem to make sense. Long days of teaching and grading, coupled with childcare expenses and an aching desire to spend more time with my young children, began the emotional and practical decision-making process. Eventually, my husband and I decided I would stay home with the kids, with the idea of reevaluating the decision when our youngest started school.

changing careers

Life revisions change relationships

I expected my schedule to change, my priorities to change, my wardrobe to change, but I hadn’t anticipated the changes in my relationships. Through no fault of his — in fact, we’ve had countless conversations to the contrary — I found myself thinking of our household money as my husband’s. I felt like I had less of a say in our finances, less of a voice, without a tangible paycheck. Friendships shifted in dynamic. I was suddenly on the opposite side of a Red Rover game, each side firmly holding onto the hands of the people to whom they related most closely. Suddenly, no one asked questions about me anymore — all conversations centered around the kids or my husband’s career.

changing careers

Finding a new layer to my blueprint

Something that has always been a part of my life became a prominent hobby and slowly shifted into a way to make a little bit of money and to shape a new future career direction. Writing — chronicling our lives and crafting fictional ones — became something I sketched into plans. I held my breath and called myself a writer. Eventually I started to believe it, though with my kids not in school full time, many of my plans have always been in the hazy land of “the future.”

changing careers

Additional changes in the plan

As my kids and I begin the last summer before they’re both in school full time — my little one goes to full-day kindergarten in the fall — I find myself shifting my plans yet again. My hours are opening up a little, yet their lives are getting busier, too. The way I thought their elementary school years would look seems to be an idealized version of the actuality of juggling their lives with a new career.

Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky came across my desk at the perfect time. Two women, a mother and daughter home design team, are forced to change their visions for their careers, through no fault of their own — and the changes are compounded by the ones in their personal lives.

book recommendations
About Blueprints by Barbara Delinsky

Some women are born with an instinct for knowing how things work—and what to do when they break.

Caroline MacAfee is a skilled carpenter, her daughter Jamie, a talented architect. Together they are the faces of Gut It!, a home renovation series on local public television. Caroline takes pride in her work, and in the way she connects with the show’s audience.  But when she is told the network wants her daughter to replace her as host-the day after Caroline’s fifty-sixth birthday-she is devastated. The fallout couldn’t come at a worse time.

For Jamie, life changes overnight when, soon after learning of the host shift, her father and his new wife die in a car accident that orphans their two-year-old son. Accustomed to organization and planning, she is now grappling with a toddler who misses his parents, a fiancé who doesn’t want the child, a staggering new attraction, and a work challenge that, if botched, could undermine the future of both MacAfee Homes and Gut It!

For Caroline, hosting Gut It! is part of her identity. Facing its loss, she feels betrayed by her daughter and old in the eyes of the world. Her ex-husband’s death thrusts her into the role of caregiver to his aging father. And then there’s Dean, a long-time friend, whose efforts to seduce her awaken desires that have been dormant for so long that she feels foreign to herself.

Who am I? Both women ask, as the blueprints they’ve built their lives around suddenly need revising. While loyalties shift, decisions hover, and new relationships tempt, their challenge comes not only in remaking themselves, but in rebuilding their relationship with each other.

Have you ever had to shift the blueprint of your life?
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Nova Harley Diaper Bags

 

Meet the Nova Harley Brisbane Diaper Bag

So, I might not have a little baby anymore (I’m holding back tears as I write this), but I still need a good bag that’s roomy and provides organization for my out and about family. And, like most moms, I don’t want to sacrifice style when it comes to diaper bags. I’m obsessed with this Nova Harley Brisbane diaper bag. Not only is it gorgeous, perfect for summer, and made with real premium leather cowhide, but it’s one of the roomiest diaper bags with the most organization I’ve ever seen.

Look Inside: Nova Harley Brisbane Diaper BagFor an afternoon of errands followed by swimming and dinner at Grandma’s house, this is what I need to pack for myself and my two little girls. As you can see, I could fit everything we needed for an entire afternoon and evening out in one bag… and without it looking too stuffed.

Look Inside: Nova Harley Diaper Bag

Take a peek inside

Here’s a glimpse into one side of the interior of a Nova Harley Diaper Bag.  All pockets and pouches are conveniently labeled with pictures from wipes to laundry, you can’t help but stay organized with this bag. There’s even a special spot for Baby’s pacifier so you aren’t digging through your bag to find it!

Inside the Nova Harley Brisbane Diaper Bag

There’s a place for everything and it all fits perfectly in this bag!

Luxury Must-Have: Nova Harley Diaper Bag

 

Nova Harley Brisbane Yellow Diaper Bag

Style and function meet

With my girls, the cross-body shoulder strap in a must. It’s super comfy and keeps my hands free for holding them, a must for every busy mom on the go.

Nova Harley Brisbane Yellow Diaper BagThis bag certainly doesn’t look like a diaper bag, so by removing the shoulder strap I now have the perfect tote for a lunch date with my ladies! Check out other Nova Harley diaper bags, they’re all beautiful and luxurious!

This post was contributed by Lana Karim as part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Product Scouts Program. You can find her on 22 Crowns

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