Tuesday Talk – The Phone Dilemma

So this is a post specifically geared for those of us with tweens. My oldest is sprinting through her final year at elementary school and already, the phone conversation has begun. I feel like middle school was the unspoken rule for when kids started getting phones but it seems parents are breaking down early these days.

It’s interesting because when I ask others about the when and the why of the handing over the phone, the overwhelming response is for safety and communication strictly with family members. But it is such a slippery slope with phones and social media. Texting and all of the yuck that comes with that is almost inevitable once a phone belongs to someone.

My husband and I have, up to this point, been unwilling to even discuss with our oldest daughter the timing of a phone and, for the most part, it hasn’t been a big deal in our house. But I know it’s coming. That’s why I was so excited when I learned recently how a friend was handling the phone issue in her home. Her children are a little older than mine and I truly admire how she is raising her four kids. The phone situation is simple, but brilliant, in my opinion.

I asked her specifically how she handled the social media problem and she told me, well that’s easy, my kids don’t have phones. When I pressed a little for more detail about how they are in touch after sports or other extra-curricular activities, she said, oh they have access to phones – they are just all mine.

Wait? What? Yes, my friend is brilliant. She has phones available to “check-out” for use when needed but all of the numbers belong to her. So her children have no specific number to give their friends for texting and calling – basically eliminating the concern about that slippery slope! There’s a basket on the counter with extra phones, and with a family plan it’s not really much of an additional charge. They check out the phone when they need it and return it when they are done.

Y’all, this feels like a total game changer and I felt like I had to tell you. This is most definitely the approach we plan to take when our daughter hits middle school next year. Now, I know kids are smart and sneaky and there are probably ways for them to use a phone in a negative way as long as they have access to it. But this feel like a really good way to introduce a phone, offer a little bit of freedom and responsibility, while also letting your child know that anything that happens on that phone is ultimately available to you as the parent to monitor. And since the phone isn’t really theirs, the access can be as limited as you like for as long as you like, or until you feel they have earned the right to have their own number.

Stay tuned and I will report how it unfolds when we put this plan in place. What is your phone plan and how do you handle this tricky situation?

Energy Bites

Have you ever found a recipe that you and your kids love, is easy to make, easy to transport ANDis healthy? I know in our house, when we lock in on something that ticks that many boxes, it becomes a staple. Energy bites are definitely a staple for our family

A few years ago I saw a recipe in a magazine for these energy bites. There are various versions of these little snacks out there but this particular one was a total winner in our house and I have shared it with so many moms and friends I thought I’d tell y’all about it too.

The best thing about this type of recipe is the variety allowed – we use peanut butter as the binder but if you have allergies you can substitute a nut free version (if you prefer other nut butters they also work great.) I have a friend with a very picky eater and she adds protein powder to hers. We eat our version without any extra add ins – my kids get more than enough sugar and sweets so I usually leave out the mini-chocolate chips. But this is the part where you can get creative, I’ve seen recipes with craisins, raisins and even mini M&Ms as an option.

And while honey is an excellent sweetener and a good choice, we live in Maine with access to amazing fresh maple syrup which is generally our go-to sweetener for yogurt, oatmeal and other recipes like this.

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These are super easy to make but be warned, you will want to eat the “batter” while you are making them! Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup oatmeal (you can use old fashioned or quick cook)
  • 1/2 cup Peanut butter (I use smooth, natural)
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut (I have used sweetened in a pinch and cut back on the maple syrup)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 T chia seeds
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup add-ins optional (like mini chocolate chips)

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and then let set in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Roll into balls with your hands and store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week – but I promise you they won’t last that long!

I know when the munchies hit, these really hit the spot. Portion control is already set and two is usually more than enough for me or the kids to be satisfied. Let me know if you give them a try.

 

Spring Fever

I know I know. We are still deep in the throes of winter but I still get spring fever oh, pretty much as soon as Christmas is over! That’s too bad since I live in Maine but a girl can dream. And I’m anticipating warmer temps when I visit AL at the end of February so I’m just being extra prepared 😉

Speaking of spring, this year’s spring trends are oh so feminine. Blush shades. Ruffles, bows and pleats… I’m as girly as it comes and this tickles me pink! Having said that, I would be wearing peplums, flirty details and pink even if it wasn’t all the rage so if these trends don’t sing to you, be true to yourself. Classic silhouettes are always in. Stripes (which I also love) are showing up everywhere and are always a great option. I’m linking some of my favorite pieces so far – I loved so much more but I had to cut it off!

And if you like the trend but don’t put yourself in the girly category, know that there are some edgy pieces with just a slight nod to these trends. You might go that route and I’ve linked a few of those as well.

And just a note, I’m a list girl and when I see all of the new fun pieces cropping up, I shop my own closet first. For example, I have seen so many great white blouses with ruffles and bell sleeves and other sweet little details. But I honestly have that covered already so I’m trying my best to look away! Think about where you might have gaps in your wardrobe and use a critical eye when looking at new things.

I did make one new purchase last week. I had a gift card itching in my wallet and as soon as some of Anthropologie’s spring pieces were discounted I grabbed this top I’ve been eyeing. I love everything about it and it is just as cute in person as I hoped it would be. As soon as things warm up a bit, I’ll be wearing this with my Loft black cropped pants and some comfy flats.

And I’m absolutely in love with these wedge sandals. Saving my pennies starting right now for a pair of them. I want every color!!!

Here are a few items with links that really spoke to me!

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I so wish I needed a new white top!
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Free People Gets this top right. Love.
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Dying over this dress!
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Sweet ruffle details on this gingham top
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I love the ties on the arm
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Anthropologie Striped Top
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Already in my closet!
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J Crew’s version of the striped off the shoulder
anthro
Cute and casual
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So cute and under $25!
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Loft peplum
dress-ts
Topshop dress at a great price
nordys
Ruffles in black make it a little less girly
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Want these!!!
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The sweetest little ballet flats

 

How to be a better bargain shopper

I’ve shared on the blog tips about making an investment purchase but I know that for the majority of shopping that I do, I want a deal. And if you are smart about when and where you shop, getting deals is not very hard.

I know when I first moved to Maine, I had three little ones under four and they were with me 24/7. I was trying to be smart about how we spent our money and so I was buying bread and other baked items at the bread outlet, bulk items at a warehouse store, specialty foods at Trader Joe’s and filling in the gaps at Wal-Mart or our local grocery store. It was exhausting and I realized that while it worked in the beginning when we didn’t really know anyone or have activities to fill our day, by the time we started making friends and filling our calendar it was just not sustainable. I definitely saved a little money but the effort didn’t make it worth it to continue shopping that way.

I think the same is true when you are shopping for clothes and other retail items. The places that have the best deals require that you visit the store regularly because inventory is unreliable and constantly changing. To feel like you always need to hit every place that you’ve found a deal is unrealistic and frustrating.

But don’t be too disheartened. I have tips. I think it’s safe to say that I love to shop more than most and I feel like I’m pretty good at it! But I cannot do it alone. My biggest tip is to find a group of friends who also love a good deal and get a little bit of a network going. It is a perfect way of staying on top of what’s out there without having to make yourself crazy looking for the deal! We all hit our favorite store on a semi-regular basis and if there’s a deal worth sharing, we pass along the deal.

Recently, I was on the hunt for some housing decor for our addition. We have a fantastic store locally that buys out inventory from other businesses (for various reasons) and while you never know what they are going to have, whatever is in store won’t last! I have a friend who is a loyal shopper to this particular store so she texted me when she was in and saw they had bought out an entire department store. I made it a priority to get there and got some fantastic deals on towels and a precious Kate Spade shower curtain for just pennies on the dollar (stay tuned for the addition reveal!)

Another friend alerted me to a boutique closeout earlier in the year at this same store. I got a pair each of Vince velvet and corduroy jeans – both for under $10 (retail for anywhere in the $200-400 range) and I scored a real fur coat for under $100. (Mine had been stolen in one of our moves and I was so excited to be able to replace it without breaking the budget!)

I also have a friend who hits Marshall’s and TJ Maxx on a regular basis and will text me if she sees something she thinks I’ll like. These stores are in your town too, I’m sure. If you can’t get to them frequently, find someone who can – odds are you have a friend who loves to pop in regularly. Ask her to keep you in the know for good deals!

And my particular go to is a consignment shop in town. I stop in whenever I have a few minutes and almost always see something worth sharing. And I’ve made use of online consignment as well. Facebook marketplace, Trendlee and Thredup are sites that I have both successfully bought and sold items on consignment.

Also, it’s obviously worth mentioning that shopping off season will always get you deals. Even though it’s hard to do, buying a winter coat in March, or a bathing suit in October is always a good idea. And January is a great month to find deals in retail stores. They want to move inventory out and are slashing prices, so if you are in the market for anything now is an excellent time to be shopping.

I know last week I was at the mall making a few returns and could not believe how great the deals were. In fact, I tried on a dress in the Lou & Grey section of Loft – it was the only one in the store and I loved it but it had an odd hemline. I took it to the counter to find out what the price was with the sale and even though it was sale priced at around $50, I scored it for $2.05!!! At that price, I’ll happily pay $10 to have the hemline adjusted – still such a great deal. I later found some great T’s in J.Crew for $4.99. Much lower than the price on the tag in the store. If you find something you like when a sale is going on, ask for a price check because often times the deal is even better than you thought. And if it’s not, just be ok walking away – there will always be deals to be had!

Where is your favorite place to score a deal? I want to know!

 

 

 

Classic Black

The other day I looked out the window and was just blown away by the beauty of the snow on the trees. There have been days where that scene literally left me in despair but on this particular day I saw only the pureness of a peaceful morning and a fresh coat of snow. With that in mind, I’m trying to continue to look at winter in a new light this year – instead of whining about the cold and the snow I’m trying to be grateful that God created a world that shows off His glory so magnificently.

Maine is having a pretty mild January and that has certainly helped. And I really do think my light therapy is also impacting my mood. I sit at this light every morning (usually before the kids wake) for 30 minutes. Here’s more about the one I bought.

But getting back to the point, the pure white snow really inspired this outfit. I have always been drawn to a head to toe black look, probably from my days of living in New York. It’s always classic, timeless and looks good on everyone. I had to take a break from head to toe black when my children were babies (hello mess!) but I’m happy to be back in black again now that they are a little older.

This is a look anyone can pull together – I don’t know a mom out there without a good pair of black leggings. Throw them on with a simple sweater for a casual look. I decided to dress things up with some velvet jeans and a lace sweater. And the next day I went out to dinner in a LBD. Black just always works! And the red lip is a nod to those Parisian women who pull this look off day in and out with aplomb. I can pretend to be chic for a few pics, right?!?

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Outfit Details: My sweater is from Express from last year but I’m linking a similar one at a great price – under $30! And my velvet jeans again… (feeling like a broken record here but I really do love J Crew Factory’s jeans!) My boots are also old, from the Cole Haan outlet, but here is a nice pair worth a look.