Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reduce sibling fights now! (one STEP at a time)

Maybe it's just my house but we've had some serious struggles when it comes time to brushing teeth. Every night it was a big deal who would stand at which sink and what stool they'd stand on. I was over it. It was time to get rid of the mismatched stools and personalize them so NO MORE arguments!

I searched for the perfect stool and found a great deal on The Personalized Step 'n Store was exactly what I needed. There were several choices: stool color, letter color and word font. I also loved that the top came up so the boys could store things in there. Very cute!

I got 10% off but paid for shipping so the total came to $80.41. My husband thought I was insane to spend so much for two stepping stools -- but it doesn't seem so crazy now that they've stopped fighting, right!! (well, at least at tooth brushing time :) The stools were a total pain to put together but once together they really were adorable and strong. Can I stop them from wrestling in the living room? NO. But can we cut down on the arguments in the bathroom? YUP!

Website review: has a ton of cute thing so make sure to check out the entire website. I ordered on the 22nd and they came on the 27th and I thought the price was fair.
Product review: I love the look of the stools. But, ugh, putting them together sucked. The boys love hiding their toothpaste in the "secret spot". (And unfortunately, some other strange things can be found in there, too :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

GET ORGANIZED! Before you get back to school!

OK. So, I'm not the most organized of people. My coming of age moment was when we drove over an hour on a Saturday to a birthday party in New Jersey (everyone up, showered, fed, presents wrapped... you know the drill) to quickly learn from the Little Gym that the birthday party was actually the next day. Really?! At that moment I knew I needed an intervention.

I went home and began a search for the perfect wipe board/calendar system. I was lovin' the one from Pottery Barn since I could customize it with different modules and wipe it down each month for a fresh start. This thing has certainly improved my overall organization -- and I haven't gone to a birthday party on the wrong day since!

I bought two magnetic wipe board calendars and two display rods (don't forget the display rods or you won't be able to hang them). I hit the mother load with 50% off and no shipping so the total came to $59.98. They look great in the laundry room and make it easy to check the day's events before running out the door. Now if I could only figure out a better way to remember to actually write everything down on it :) I guess it's baby steps!

Product Review: I have gotten my money's worth out of the Pottery Barn organization system. This thing has revolutionized my life (ok, maybe now I'm going overboard). Organization systems are ON SALE RIGHT NOW FOR 20% OFF. Go buy them before school starts!
Website Review: God do I love Pottery If I took pictures of everything I have from Pottery Barn I'd run out of space! Make sure to get on their mailing list since they're always running specials.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Super Cool Kids in Crewcuts!

Since my boys were born I've always loved to dress them like "mini-men". There are a few stores that can accomplish this task and Crewcuts is definitely one of them! I have to hold myself back from buying the entire store (and from the look of all the pictures maybe I already have). I love everything from the ripped jeans and graphic tees to the Converse sneakers. They often run specials so get on their e-mail list and never pay full price. I don't think there's a particular piece I can review -- but I'll say overall the sizes run small. I have also found the arm sleeves tend to be short on some of the tee shirts (Jacob has one particular shirt that he complains that he looks like a girl :)
The quality is always good and I'm able to wash things over and over and they keep their color.

There's a bunch of final sale stuff online with 30% off right now. Lots of items are long sleeve and would be perfect for back to school. Shipping is also free for all orders.

Website review: I love how the website is designed and the category "looks we love". They model an entire outfit and then tell you about each piece. This sure makes styling an adorable outfit easy!
Product Review: Overall very good quality and I love their clothes! A little pricey so you definitely need to hit it with a sale. Arms can be short and sizing can run small.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mix it Up with Mixbook Cards and Stationery

You don't need to ask me twice to host a party. I love entertaining and helping people celebrate a special day. I recently hosted a baby shower for one of my dear friends and wanted to create a special little invitation to set the mood. I found a great website, Mixbook, that let's you start with a blank card and create with the help of prompts and template ideas.

I scammed my friend into taking some pictures holding a sign that said, "Family". I told her I was documenting the pregnancy (since I'm always snapping pictures of people, she wasn't suspicious of my intentions :) I used that picture as the inspiration of the invitation -- and within no time I created something on Mixbook! I like to think of myself as a creative person (which I'm really not) and could use the website with ease. If you happen to have a creative flair, I think you'll really enjoy playing around. And if you're not -- no worries, they have tons of traditional invitation styles to chose from (for all occasions).

Website Review: Mixbook - Seems like you could do a lot on here, from photo books to invitations. I loved being able to upload a picture and create an invitation myself. I liked the price even better -- 25 cards cost only $18 and then I got 25% off. All in - the invites only cost $17.99. I will say the paper was light, but I certainly got a quality product for what I paid for (and I could have upgraded the paper for an additional charge).
Product Review: I love the "start blank card option" and I love being able to upload my own image.

I heart Ballard.

For some (me) decorating your house can be a challenge. I've tried to create an adult space that's warm and inviting while being "kid friendly" and free for our friends and family to enjoy. (I know my mother will laugh at this ... but we had a room in our house growing up called the "Green Room". We couldn't sit in the green room, walk in the green room or even LOOK at that green room for that matter! Don't tell, but my sister, brother and I used to walk on the furniture so she didn't see our footprints on the carpet!)

Anyway, that leads me back to decorating.... I LOVE Ballard Design and have pulled so much inspiration from their catalog. I have bought so many pieces, from the smallest door stop to large furniture like a day bed. I received a table that was damaged and they paid for the return without batting an eyelash.

My most recent purchase (that pulled an entire room together) were their Vintage Cloisonne Prints. I bought all 6 of the unique pictures (above) and hung them over a couch. A huge wall space that I really had no idea what to do with. I still have some more to do in the room ... but I'm getting there! (suggestions welcome :)

Here are some of the other things I have bought at Ballard:

Good Housekeeping print and Laundry Letters for my laundry room:
Alexander Martinot Clock in my kitchen

Coat rack and day bed for an entryway nook:

I've been so happy with all of my purchases. It can be hard to shop online without touching and feeling... but I've never been disappointed! Go ahead -- and go catalog shopping now!

Website Review: I love Ballard. I think they have great customer service and have always worked with me for exchanges/returns. They are always running specials, so get on their e-mail list.
Product Review: I'm speaking specifically to the 6 Vintage Cloisonne. I love the dark wood frame and the unique designs of the picture. Great for my home!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Display that Artwork with Style!

We got a very cool World map wall mural for Jacob's room. (I bought it from but it doesn't seem to be currently available. You can also find it at Jacob really loves looking at the places we've been and where people we know live and vacation.

I had an idea to ask our friends and family from different states/countries to send a postcard addressed to Jacob. (yeah, I actually gave out homework). Jacob was so excited to get all the postcards in the mail and then find them on the map. I couldn't figure out what to do with them but knew I wanted to incorporate them into the room decor (p.s. thanks to all those people far and wide that sent postcards!!)

I found the coolest clotheslines on that were ridiculously cheap and super cute. I loved the one that had blue and white stripped clothes pins and star designed hooks. They were so simple to hang and they helped fill up a large wall space. (Hmmm...I'm feeling inspired to order more and create a layered look.)

These would be a great way to display your child's artwork with style and then switch it out each school year. For $14.95, you kind-of can't beat it. So go ahead, hang your kid's work proudly!

Website Review - The website (and catalog) are beautifully done. The prices are great and I got free shipping -- that's success!
Product Review - I wish they had more clothes pins included, but overall a great product for a great price.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Daddy Gets His Kicks On

The family took a vacation to Margate, NJ we and couldn't resist an excursion to the Atlantic City Outlets. We wandered into the Adidas store and my husband came across his "need to have" item. He spotted the Adidas Campus 2 Sneakers in Navy and fell instantly in love (just like he did with me ;) Being the very savvy shopper he is, he scanned the barcode with his IPhone app, RedLaser, which instantly checks online for price comparisons. (If you don't have this app, download it now!) This was a very smart thing to do since the "outlet" price was $65 and Macy's had the exact pair for $53.99. Outlet price -- I think not! (I guess I should also mention that they didn't have his size.)

We left his love behind with a promise that I would purchase them online. I searched all over and was surprised to find that Macy's really did have the cheapest price. This great price combined with a 20% off coupon was like hitting the jackpot (Side note: Did you know you could use those millions of coupons that you get in the mail when online shopping? Well, there's an online code on the front. I probably could have held out for 25% off but didn't think my husband would make it!)

All in, with delivery, the shoes cost $48 -- which was way better than the "outlet" price of $65!
Website Review - Who would have thought? Better than Zappos, NiceKicks and Shoebuy. Would have liked free shipping and took 4 days to came ... but we couldn't beat the price.
Product Review - He hasn't complained of blisters yet :) Good lookin' sneaks for a good lookin' hubby. We're just trying to keep it cool around here.

P.S. Today he bought another pair of Pumas (Whirlwind) through again. I don't know where he's wearing all these sneakers ....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Attack of the killer butterflies

It's time to go to that dark place again -- when I bash a website. I purchased the Insect Lore Live Butterfly Garden for my son at a local toy store for $19.99. When we got home I realized that the box only included the habitat and a coupon to order the larvae and food online. So, I headed to the Insect Lore website and ordered the balance of our Science experiment. That's when the whining started ...

"Mom, when will my butterflies be here!"
I assure him, "In about a week."

Well, more than a week goes by and I call Insect Lore to find out when we should expect our package (Please note: Jacob has asked no less than 100 times where his butterflies are at this point). When I call customer service, they show the order was shipped and should have been received, so they re-ordered.

Another week goes by (and as you can imagine, Jacob is REALLY patient - NOT). I call Insect Lore, AGAIN, for them to say they will re-send, AGAIN. (So annoying, not to mention I wish I could get that 30 minutes of my life back that I spent re-explaining the situation).

Finally, the larvae come and it was a really fun and educational activity (and goes great with the book, My, Oh My -- A Butterfly . The boys loved watching their butterflies grow. It was a great lesson but such a pain to get to that point! I think the picture shows it all, Jacob grew attached to his little babies and was sad to let them go. When we see a butterfly go past, Jacob still asks if it was the one he grew :) It should have been a really great experiment if the process had not been so difficult.

In retrospect, I know now that you can buy the larvae and food included in the package. This certainly would have made a whole heck of a difference (and probably a completely different review).

Website Review: Ugh. Total frustration and poor customer service. (I guess this post is more about customer service, but you get the point :)

Product review: A great activity if you have the patience to wait for it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Designer European Clothes ... Get 'em while they last!

A little birdie told me about an eBoutique going out of business (Ok, that birdie is my sister who has three adorable girls). Final clearance, no returns, no exchanges... just some darn cute clothes. The website is and carries high-end European brands like Small Paul, tea and Zutano.

The adorable outfit Sydney's wearing was originally $56 but can be bought right now for $21.90. The vintage feel and sweet ruffles make this little outfit just right! That beautiful baby doesn't need any help ... but if you add the cute outfit -- perfection!!!

Shop now for amazing discounts and if the clothes don't work when you get them -- put them on eBay!

Website review -, super cute stuff and incredible prices because they're closing shop. No returns or exchanges. You'll pay for shipping but get it the next day.
Product review - Super cute and super quality. Just The Right Top and Shorts!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How many eShoppers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

I was asked by a special viewer about the pendant lights over my island. No surprise, I bought them online. I had been looking for something over the island to add more dimension to the room but really didn't want to convert my recessed lights (i.e spend money to bring in an electrician). On a flight to Florida, I was flipping through a SkyMall magazine and found the Instant Pendant Lights. I was intrigued because you twist them right into your recessed lights. No need to call an electrician, no need to convert anything. Literally, you just twist them in and cover the hole with the cap. When I got to a computer, I googled this magic product and found them on the Improvements Catalog website. SOLD. I also bought the decorative accessory to spice it up -- the scroll design matched the chandelier over my kitchen table perfectly. They came in about 5 days and only took about 10 minutes to hang. (Mostly because you can change the height and I wanted to make sure they matched perfectly.) An inexpensive and attractive way to update any recessed light!

Website Review: Not high end stuff, but the website was easy to use and delivery was pretty quick. I get the catalog in the mail now with shipping specials and coupon codes.
Product Review: So easy to install and so reasonably priced! I paid $63.99 for two lights and $27.18 for the two scrolls. All in, the bill came to $108.16 including shipping. You can't really beat that!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What to do with all those digital phtos?!

So, I'm a little obsessed. I'm one of those mothers that always has a camera in her kid's face. I love snapping pictures and trying to capture just that perfect moment. About a year ago I decided it was time to do something with all those photos (currently 21,171 photos on my MacBook Pro to be exact). I investigated a few websites that create photo books including Apple, Snapfish, Shutterfly, Lulu and Smilebooks. Ultimately, I chose based on quality, ease of use, and price (you can always find a coupon code). It's been an ongoing project, but I've been able to create a book for each year back to 2004.

Side note: It's interesting to see how the quality of my photos have improved with each camera purchase. We finally broke down and bought a Nikon D40 after missing all the best pictures due to shutter speed. I love my camera now. (I smell a future blog coming on!)

Back to the topic at hand, the books look so professional and I just know my kids are going to love looking at them with their girlfriends in 10 years (yeah right). I am really pleased with how they have turned out and proud of myself for actually doing something productive with all those pictures!!

Website Review: - I love this website. It's been great for storing photos, making photo books and even creating a "group room" for my son's kindergarten class to share pictures. My 2004 book had 64 pages and cost me $71. I had a 50% off coupon which brought the book to $35 + $6.99 for shipping (so total order $45.45). Completely worth it!

Product review: I love these books! I can't wait to get old and look back at how cute we all were!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


OK, it took me four days. I didn't want to start my blog off negative but I've been waiting to share this "buyer beware" story. I hope that you all read this and NO ONE WILL EVER shop on this website.

It was my son's birthday, and as I always do, I let Jacob decide what theme his party would be this year. The big decision was Shrek! I went online to find the best price on plates, napkins, favors, pinata ... you know the deal. $55.15 plus $13.80 for shipping later -- the order was placed. I used the website since they seemed to have the best prices and selection. Well, I guess you know how this story ends.... After many calls, e-mails and tears (those are mine) the order never came and I had to order from another website with rush shipping. I think my e-mails say it all

Sent: Tuesday, March 02, 2011 8:45 PM

Subject: Re: order yhst-12866521576591-12484 from

Hometown Celebrations,

I have tried to contact you on several occasions with no response. It is pathetic that you would take an order without shipping and/or any response. You have ruined my 6 year old's Shrek birthday this Sat. I wish you could be here to explain that Mommy can't delivery his wish.
Please credit my account ASAP for the order below. If I do not hear from you by noon tomorrow I will dispute with my credit card. I have seen several complaints about you with a similar story. Your company is a fraud and you should be ashamed of yourself.

Rachel Wilner

"To: " (through Yahoo! Store Order System)" <>
Date: Friday, March 5, 2011, 7:42 AM
Please cancel this order. I've tried contacting you repeatedly. The party is tomorrow and the items will not be here in time. The order was placed on the 22nd. Completely UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!! I've already ordered and received from another website!!!! So disappointed and frustrated.

This was the worst experience I'd ever had virtual shopping. I did file with the Better Business Bureau. And now with you. Shew, I feel vindicated.

(I did end up buying from - came in two days and I had to pay some hefty shipping. I'll review them later, but they sure get the gold medal for getting my party supplies to me! I also got my money back on my credit card from

Website Review - WORST website ever.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Purple is the New Black

I was on the hunt for the perfect little dress for a party I was hosting at our house. I knew I wouldn't have time to run to the mall since we'd be on vacation until the day before the big party. SO, what's a girl to do?? Go to the Victoria Secret website! I went a little virtual shopping happy and also bought a bunch of things to take on vacation. Three sundresses/coverups and a black bikini later .... my virtual shopping spree was complete.

My package of goodies arrived in only three days (yay for free shipping). Boy, do I love trying on a bikini in the comfort of my own home. Too bad it only covered half my butt :) The bikini and an $11 sundress had to go back (sundress was pretty skimpy, so I know why it was on sale). But success, the purple dress would work for the party!

I returned the items and the money was put back into my account within about a week (with $5.99 deducted to pay for return shipping). I hate paying for the return, but I justify that it sure did make my life easier to shop and try on from home.

The party and the dress were both a success! (and congrats to my husband for becoming a partner in his medical practice!)

Website Review - has a great website that's well organized and makes it easy to shop (maybe too easy :). Shipping came quickly in three days, but I hate paying for the return.

Product Review - The dress was a little expensive for a light sundress ($49.50). But I did get a ton of compliments. I love the purple and visual circles with rhinestones. Just the right amount of "bedazzling" for a special occasion.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Perfect Sink from

We recently updated our kitchen with new granite, faucets, sink, lights, and a backsplash. Strangely, I get the most comments about our new sink. (Who would have thought?) We upgraded from a double sink to the commercial Elkay Single Bowl 28X16 sink. I'm not sure what I love more -- the look of the sink or the fact that it's deep and no one ever sees how many dishes are piled in!

As much as I love the sink, I love the website that I bought it from even more. I had gone to a high-end store, Ferguson Home, Bath and Lighting, and they quoted me a price of $1,558 (plus 6% tax). Since this was out of our price range I decided to surf the web to see if I could get a deal. I found the exact same sink at for $747.84, no tax and NO SHIPPING charge! And the icing on the cake... I ordered late in the day on Friday and my new sink arrived less than 24 hours later -- Saturday morning! Great price, great website and great product. I know it's kind-of weird to get so excited about a sink, but I think I did pretty well with this one.

Website Review - was so easy to use, had an incredible price and the item was received in 1 day.

Product Review - Elkay sink looks great and hides those dishes! Like all stainless, it can be a little difficult to keep shiny and to avoid small scratches.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Magic Night Light

Of all the things I've bought online, this might be the best purchase (and invention) EVER! Do you have a child that makes a guest appearance in your bedroom at some point throughout the night? Would you love to get that extra half hour of sleep? Well, LOOK NO FURTHER. The Good Nite Lite is a night light that you place on a timer. You'll set the timer to switch to a moon at bedtime (8:30 PM for my boys) and a "wake-up" time when the moon changes to a sun (that's 7:00 AM for us). Then, tell those kids not to come in your room until they see the sun on their night light. My husband was completely skeptical (I bought 2, one for each kid's room) Boy, did I prove him wrong! From the first day we plugged those suckers into the wall -- they worked!! Ahhh, uninterrupted sleep until 7:00. Now they play in their room, read books or ... SLEEP until the sun switches on.

Website review -
I ordered through Amazon which can't get any easier! I paid $34.99 for each night light and $10.30 for shipping (no deal here, but I was desperate to sleep past 6:00 am.) It was delivered in 4 days.
★★★★☆ (I took one star off since I couldn't find a deal for shipping)

Product review -
Good Nite Lite MAGICAL!