Bibs, Skirts, & Lace – Sewing for Friends

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There is nothing like being able to give someone something unique and handmade with love. While store bought gifts are wonderful, I do enjoy being able to create things with my own hands.

Recently, I had the pleasure to celebrate the upcoming birth of a sweet baby girl! With her and mommy in mind, I went through my stash of fabric and trims and created a few simple things – a bib and sweet little skirts.

The bib is fashioned with Michael Miller’s petals seafoam garland and backed with blue flannel I’d purchased from Joann’s. I used velcro to create the closure.

I also made some girly skirts complete with lacy, frilly trim! As I was sewing these things, I texted some images to some close friends and one responded, “If I was a baby, I’d wear that!” Love my Maeghan!

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The material from the skirts was purchased at Hobby Lobby some time ago so it was a perfect find in my stash as I set out to make some skirts! I had a pacifier clip in my stash that I’d made so I included that as well.

There is nothing like giving handmade, homemade gifts and I have more projects up my sleeve for the babes and their moms and dads in my life.

What are your favorite things to give at baby showers?

Upcoming Sewing Projects

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Image from Elle Apparel

It has been a while since I have sewn something, and with Spring on the horizon (March 20th to be exact!), I am feeling the need to sew! Dresses are my favorite – so comfortable, breezy, and feminine! I have wanted to make dresses for a while, so I figured that there is no time like the present. Due to temporary downsizing, I am unable to craft, but I definitely have enough space to sew!

Here are the next 5 projects I plan to complete! Once done, I’ll definitely post pictures and write about my experience with each tutorial & pattern.

1) Elle Apparel – Side Slit Maxi Dress
No one can go wrong with a maxi dress. With the various styles out there, there is sure to be a style for every woman on the planet. I am excited to choose my fabric for this one!

2) It’s Always Autumn – The Play All Day Dress
I have a 5 year old niece and she is cute as can be. She’s the girliest girl that I know and she loves wearing dresses! These look really easy and quick to make so I will probably make her a few of these.

3) Sewing Rabbit – Easy Maxi Dress
This maxi dress looks super comfortable! Ah! Cannot WAIT to make this.

4) Sewing Rabbit – Elastic Waist Maxi Skirt
Skirts are so fun to wear and dress up or down. This looks fairly simple and easy (I hope!)

5) Inspiration Made Simple – Adjustable Bow Tie
I have tons of sweet little boys in my life that would look absolutely precious in a bow tie! These are a pretty quick, simple project so I can see myself making several!

I have made bags and other non-wearables and have never made a piece of clothing. Hopefully, it goes well. I am excited!

Ten Big, Daily Reminders (Desiring God)

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Image taken from article at Desiring God

I was encouraged by this blog from Matt Reagan at Desiring God where he gives 10 different reminders for Christians concerning realities about God and ourselves. Reading through these, I’m compelled to remember these daily as I am weak and often need reminders. I agree with the writer where he says that somehow during the night, he’s forgotten the big realities about God and the universe and himself and the Gospel. He states, “I desperately need to steady myself with biblical truth rather than stumbling forward to live from unbelief… I’ve learned over time to put structures in place that remind me of those unseen things, especially during my bleary-eyed, half-conscious mornings.”

Link: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/ten-big-daily-reminders

I pray that it encourages you as it encouraged me.

Reviews, Saving Money & Word of Mouth

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image by 401(K) 2012 on flickr

I love being a homemaker! It is such a joy and a blessing to take care of our home and make sure that we have a clean environment, good food to eat, and a warm, cozy place. With that comes my love of saving money! It’s exciting! I am always looking for ways to clip coupons, take advantage of sales, and cut our costs on everyday items. Whenever I go grocery shopping, it’s almost like a personal contest for me to stick to the budget and get the most for our money!

Some time ago, I came across some reviews on Amazon that kept citing Bzzagent as the source of the item received for those reviews. I checked out Bzzagent, signed up, then discovered that there are quite a few other sites that send out free products in exchange for honest reviews. I signed up for several and have saved my husband and I quite a bit. I haven’t had to buy razors since last year! Because these sites have been so great for me, and for my husband, I thought I’d go ahead and share them on the blog for those that are interested.

  1. BzzAgent | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I joined BzzAgent last year in July and received my first campaign just a few weeks after signing up. My next few campaigns came like rapidfire in March & April of this year. At this point, I have had campaigns with BIC, Russell Stover, Procter & Gamble, and even received a leather office chair from Comfort Products! BzzAgent is looking for quality, not quantity. Your reviews are necessary to help others decide on whether they want to purchase the product you’re reviewing. Be sure to provide detailed reviews that incorporate all of your senses! BzzAgent will provide ratings on your reviews and activities. You always want to shoot for a rating of exceptional. Having great reviews gets you invited to more campaigns! Your reviews and activities also affect your BzzScore; the higher this is, the more likelihood there is that you’ll be invited to more campaigns as well. Also, oftentimes with the campaigns, you will receive coupons toward future item purchases.

  2. Smiley360 | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I joined Smiley360 last year in July and received my first campaign in late September. My first campaign was for gummy vitamins for hair, skin, and nails. Since then, I’ve been a part of an Emergen-C campaign, All laundry detergent, Pure Protein crunch, and Centrum VitaMints. I was invited to another campaign 2 weeks ago, but declined because I was not comfortable sharing those details online. You can decline campaigns, and it is okay. It will not prevent you from being selected for future campaigns. Like BzzAgent, be sure to provide good, thorough reviews and feedback. Always think – What would you like to know if you were looking to purchase that particular product? Answer any questions that you think viewers would have in mind. As with BzzAgent, you will often receive coupons with the campaigns you get.

  3. Influenster | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I am newer to Influenster and at this point, I have received one campaign (or VoxBoxes as they call them) for Head & Shoulders shampoo. To complete the campaign task, I needed to leave a review on Head & Shoulders’ website. They do offer pretty neat boxes, as seen on their website, but I cannot vouch personally for them as I have only received 1. On Influenster, you do need to stay pretty active on the website, answering questions & writing reviews. Also, they measure your impact based on your social media connections. So if you do not have social media, Influenster would not be a good fit for you.

  4. Crowdtap | Receive items for free in exchange for review + gift cards

    Crowdtap takes some effort and the way that it works is that you have to apply for samples. You also have to stay pretty active with poll participation, sharing posts, commenting on things, and so on. I have applied for several campaigns and have been approved for one, which is the Arm & Hammer one that I posted about last week. It was a great crowdkit (as they call them) with a spinbrush and toothpastes & coupons. I have been rejected for other campaigns that I thought I was a shoo-in for. So, Crowdtap is hit or miss for me thus far with campaigns. However, with the things that you participate in, you do receive points for each one. As you clear 1000 points, you receive gift cards. At this point, I have received a $5 Amazon gift card for each time the wheel has cleared 1000. If you are pretty active, that could be a great way  to stack up gift cards to purchase something you’ve had your eye on!

  5. Mintvine | Earn gift cards by taking surveys

    Mintvine takes some time & effort as well. You do surveys! Each survey has a different points amount assigned to it. Each point = $1. When you reach 1000 points ($10), you can redeem that for a gift card. There are SEVERAL gift card options! You can let your points stack up if you’d like to receive a larger gift card. I have redeemed points several times for Target & Old Navy gift cards (2 of my favorite places!) so Mintvine has been great for me!

  6. PinchMe | Receive free sample size items in exchange for review

    PinchMe is neat because you get free samples each month. The 2nd Tuesday of each month is Sample Day. Samples are pre-selected based on profile information that you provide. The downside of it is that, although you get free items, it can take well a month (or even more) for you to receive them. It is free, so you can’t complain, but that is just something to tuck in your hat.

These are some of my favorite sites that have been a huge help and blessing to our family. I hope they help you to discover great new items and earn money along the way. Got any questions? Feel free to leave your question in the comments below and I’ll be glad to help!

Review: Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant™ Toothpaste

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(Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ARM & HAMMER™ Oral Care as part of a sampling activation for Crowdtap. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. All thoughts & words are my own. In this Crowdkit, I received a full size toothpaste, 2 travel size toothpastes, and a Spinbrush.)

Good oral health is important. Apart from making sure you have fresh breath, it also affects other body systems, including your cardiovascular. Arm & Hammer has a great name when it comes to baking soda and baking soda based products. Their name is synonymous with freshness. With that said, Arm & Hammer’s Truly Radiant toothpaste does not disappoint.

With my first time using it, I noticed how much fresher my mouth felt after I used it. There was no minty combining with the previous meal, but the toothpaste totally eliminated previous tastes. Even hours later, my mouth felt clean and fresh. I immediately informed my husband that he would enjoy this toothpaste as we both enjoy (and appreciate!) having fresh breath and clean mouths. While the toothpaste itself starts off as slightly gritty, it transforms as you brush your teeth.

I have looked forward (more than usual!) to brushing my teeth each day, and when I compare this toothpaste with past ones, Simply Radiant has them beat, easily.

Concerning it’s whitening ability, at this point, I’ve only used it for a few days and have not noticed too drastic of a change yet. There’s a slight difference, but nothing major.

While it is quite a bit more expensive than my regular toothpaste, I’d purchase it if it were on sale, or there was a coupon. I do have a budget to maintain! If you’re not on a budget, I’d say that this is a worthy purchase. Whiter teeth, fresh breath, and a clean mouth. Arm & Hammer Simply Radiant will make sure that those things will be yours.

Review: Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites (Blueberry & Cranberry)

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(Disclaimer: I received this product, for free, from BzzAgent, in exchange for my honest review.)

Most people don’t go for sugar-free when they are in the mood for a chocolate treat. I know I don’t! I usually grab a candy bar or small bag of dark chocolate goodness and worry about the sugar & calories later! Because I do not consume sweets on a regular basis, I don’t normally pay much attention to the sugar content. Therefore, I have never opted for sugar-free sweets.

I recently received, for free, some Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites, dark chocolate with blueberry & cranberry flavors. It appears to be their sugar free answer to Brookside Chocolates. Fruit & dark chocolate are a great, delicious combination so I looked forward to seeing what Russell Stover had in store for me! When I have had drinks with sugar free sweeteners, I have always noticed a strange aftertaste. I wondered if these would be the same.

From first glance, I really like the bag. I think the lighter colors actually communicate that it is a ‘lighter’ candy. The green and white look somewhat festive. Opening the bag, I was surprised to see how big these ‘bites’ are! Definitely a good surprise. I tried the blueberry bite and immediately liked it! It was SO delicious! After eating it, I waited for that aftertaste to hit. It was very faint. As I ate more, I tasted more of the aftertaste, leading me to want less. I decided to go ahead and try the cranberry and immediately regretted that. The taste of the Splenda (also known as sucralose) was very strong in those.

With that being said, I have several concerns about this product. I decided to take a look at the ingredients and saw quite a few concerning things. First, the cranberry flavor states that it is partially produced with genetic engineering. That is quite disturbing. Why would a candy need that? This is not listed on the blueberry flavor so I do wonder if it is pertaining to the cranberry source. Additionally, the label on both packages warns that excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect. I believe this is from the maltitol, which is listed in the ingredients twice. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute. “Excessive consumption” is relative so there’s no true way to determine the threshold for a person. Sugar alcohols commonly cause laxative effects. Now, to Russell Stover’s credit, the label does indicate that it contains sugar alcohol which, it says, generally causes only a small rise in blood glucose levels. However, the more I looked at the label, the less I wanted to eat it.

(NOTE: When I did eat it, let’s just say – I had to change my plans for the evening after eating these. Never again will I consume anything with sugar alcohols. My digestive system was wrecked.)

Although the sugar content would be different, I’d much rather grab a well known candy bar or bag of chocolates instead of Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. While being sugar free is a great thing, the things mentioned highly outweigh this fact. I’d rather have pure sugar than deal with the possible effects from Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. I do not plan to purchase it, and although it would be better for a diabetic than regular candy, I would still not recommend it.

If Russell Stover reworked the formula to remove the sugar alcohol and remove the genetic engineering, I think this product would be a winner. However, until that happens, I cannot, and do not, recommend this product.

TGC: 5 Reasons You Need the Westminster Shorter Catechism

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Over at The Gospel Coalition, Andrew Conway gives 5 reasons that Christians needs the Westminster Shorter Catechism and why it’s worth engaging today:

1. The catechism gives a helpful summary of core beliefs. 

2. The catechism rightly views salvation as past, present, and future.

3. The catechism calls for whole-life discipleship.

4. The catechism opens the door to the wisdom of the Puritans.

5. Our ‘chief end’ really is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

To view the article in its entirety, head over to The Gospel Coaliton:

5 Reasons You Need the Westminster Shorter Catechism