Online Shopping with Ebates

If you know me you know I'm cheap, I'm a bargain shopper, and I love a good deal.  When something is way I sale I get a rush!!!!  Years ago I was googling coupon codes because I was making a large purchase on Home Depot.  I ran across Ebates and at first thought it had to be a trick.  After doing some research I signed up and quickly learned that there is no catch; it's really free money.  According to their site, "Ebates is the pioneer and leader of online cash back shopping. Ebates pays members cash back every time they shop online as well as provide them with the best coupons and deals online. Founded in 1998, Ebates Inc.'s websites have paid over $325 million in cash to its members. That's why millions of people have joined Ebates, and we're excited you are ready to start earning cash back, too."
You go to first, search for the online retailer you want and then click on the Shop Now button and Ebates tracks your purchase at that online store.  Each retailer offers a different percent back and you get paid quarterly and all your purchases made through Ebates.  I've gotten hundreds of dollars back and it's super exciting!!!!  If you haven't checked out the site click HERE to get signed up.  What are you waiting for?!?!

Visiting Santa 2015

We LOVE visiting Santa in Fig Garden Village.  There is never a huge wait, Santa is very good with kids, the photos are free, and there's also an elf who makes balloon animals.  We went on Black Friday and the girls got to visit with Santa.  Emily was very excited and loved talking to Santa; she chatted for a long time with him.  Surprise surprise, Madi hated him!  She probably will hate him her whole life knowing her.  Emily asked for a Palace Pet, a Doc McStuffins Get Better Mobile, and an Ice Cream thing (she saw it in a Toys R Us catalog).  After talking with Santa the girls got kitty balloon animals and then we took a horse drawn carriage ride around Fig Garden Village.  It was a memorable morning and I definitely suggest you check out Santa and the activities at Fig Garden Village every weekend in December.  It's a must see in Fresno!

This is as good as it gets with two little ones, UGH.

Santa arriving by carriage.  We got there early to see his arrival.

Waiting for Santa to arrive.

Pure joy!

I wish I would have got the beginning of Emily telling Santa what she wanted.  She rattled it off so quickly it was hilarious.  The girl knows what she wants!

Pure fear!  LOL
Don't mind the finger.

There was NO taking away Madi's snack! RBF!!!

The girls outfits are from Ever After.

North Pole Breakfast 2015

Today Jingle the Elf arrived and we had a North Pole Breakfast.  As soon as Emily turned the corner of the hallway she said, "I know who's here!!!"  Both girls were really excited although Madi was just excited because her sister was.  Jingle brought coloring tablecloths, Santa cups, candy cane silverware, bells from Rudolph, reindeer antlers, silly photo props and a present for each girl.  Their gifts included one festive t-shirt and two warm pjs because it's cold at the North Pole.  We had Christmas Tree waffles with milk because milk is Santa's favorite (as Emily said).  After breakfast we read the story that Jingle brought to remind us how his magic works.  Looking forward to the Christmas season and keeping these girlies in line:)

2015 Family Photos

The greatest photographer, Stacy Marini, has done it again.  Stacy took our latest family photos and I just love them!  I had a vision for our Christmas cards and Stacy was totally on board and captured the vision.  We took our photos at the Fresno Train Station which is surprisingly beautiful.  
I found Emily's dress first which inspired me to do a black and white shoot with a pop of color.  I've been in love with emerald since last year but only as of recently could I find it in town.  When I found this emerald dress I was so excited for this to be our pop of color.  My mom made Emily a matching necklace and I had the bows made at Sugar and Spice.
The reason I chose the train station was for the Fresno sign.  I knew before we took the photos I wanted our Christmas cards to say, " There's no place like home for the holidays.  May there be joy in your home, love in your heart, and laughter in your life this Christmas season." So when I saw the train station had the Fresno sign I thought it would be perfect because Fresno is our home.  I also wanted a laughing candid photo to convey "laughter in your life."  Luckily we got both and then some!  But not without a ton of work on Stacy's part.  Madison was in one of her moods and VERY hard to work with.  She didn't want to smile or cooperate at all.  I'm so glad we got some good ones despite her stubborness.  I have no idea where she got that?!?!
Thank you Stacy for your patience and hard work.

I just love my little poser.  She does this all on her own!

Emily's 4 year old photo

I also wanted some photos for business and for my blog; so Stacy got these two shots.

These two have one SPECIAL bond!

Outfit credit:
My Dress: White House Black Market / My Necklace and Spike Bracelet: Banana Republic / My Watch: Michael Kors / Emily's Dress: Gap Kids / Madison's Outfit: Carter's / Kevin's Dress Shirt: Macy's

Introducing Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen

One of my favorite children's digital play companies, Tiggly just partnered with Sesame Workshop which just released a fun and exciting new app experience called Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen.  This app brings the physical and digital together where little ones can use Tiggly Words Toys to build words, explore language patterns, and discover sounds with the lovable Cookie Monster.  The Sesame Street Alphabet Kitchen App can be used with Tiggly Words system but can also be played without them.  As children make 3 and 4 letter words with Cookie Monster they hear all the letter sounds and how they blend to make complete words.  Children are developing skills like letter recognition, letter sounds, and word blending.  After making words Cookie Monster and your children get to share the cookies which teaches social skills and even self control.  “New research tells us adding a tactile dimension to digital learning enhances children’s learning experience on their tablets,” said Dr. Azadeh Jamalian, Chief Learning Officer & Co-Founder of Tiggly. “It’s truly an honor for us to see Sesame Workshop believe in our mission and support our important movement to bring physical play into children’s digital sandbox.” This wonderful app is available NOW on the Apple App Store for $2.99 or is available for free as part of the Tiggly Words Learning System.  Don't forget about Tiggly Words, Tiggly Math and Tiggly Shapes, each of which is available for $29.95. 

For more info check out Tiggly's website HERE.  To download the app click HERE.


Please follow Tiggly on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube to find giveaways, ideas, and new products.

Tiggly's Mission:
"Tiggly is a learning company pioneering a new way to educate children in the digital age.  At Tiggly, we are on a mission to build the premier digital destination for early childhood play and learning. We're designing learning toys that interact with our playful apps to help kids grown in the most engaging way possible.  We place high value on children's thought and the learning involved in their play and the magic that happens in the integration of physical and digital play."

Introducing Tiny Prints

I worked with Tiny Prints on our 2015 Christmas Cards.  To say that I was excited was an understatement.  I put so much thought into our cards (outfits, location, color, theme, etc.) and to collaborate with Tiny Prints to execute all of my ideas was an honor.  Tiny Prints could not be more customer service oriented and helpful.  I wasn't finding exactly what I wanted so they connected me with one of their designers.  She was able to customize this card so that it matched my vision exactly.  When you are looking for the perfect card keep in mind that not only does Tiny Prints offer hundreds of cards for you to choose from but also the option of working with a designer so you can achieve exactly what you want.  I can't thank the team at Tiny Prints enough for working with me and sending me this final product.
Our cards are trifold with a front and back, which is something I've always wanted.  Most importantly there is space for the wording I created.  I wanted to share this message with all of our friends and family and didn't want it written small like I see on so many cards.  When folded, the cards are square which costs more money to mail so Tiny Prints has thought of it all.  They offer rectangular envelopes that hold the cards nicely but cost the same as a regular piece of mail.  I opted for this option to keep shipping costs down.  
The icing on the cake were the matching return address labels.
Tiny Prints' promise to their customers is exclusively designed collections, standout quality, and an obsession with perfection.  I can attest to this promise after working closing with their team and seeing the cards in hand.  You must check out Tiny Prints for your holiday cards as well as any of your stationary/invitation needs.

Check out their website HERE.

Connect with Tiny Prints on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook.

Front and Back laid flat

Rectangle Envelopes with personalized Return Address Labels

Thankful and Blessed

I'm hoping that everyone had a very blessed Thanksgiving.  We started our day with watching a bit of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV.  Both girls were really intrigued and it held their attention.  

The rest of the day we had a wonderful time with two families.  Thank you to the Perry's for hosting us earlier in the day and the Harvey's for having us for dinner.  We had so much fun at both spots and feeling really blessed to be surrounded by those we love.  
During our morning prayers today we each said what we are thankful for and Emily said she is thankful for God, Jesus, mommy, daddy, sissy, her family, and friends.  It's so sweet to hear her innocence and genuine heart.  It makes me so proud that at the top of her list was God.  Tonight around the dinner table she said these same things when asked what she was thankful for.

I am thankful for....
My Faith
The Holy Trinity
My Husband
My Girls
My Family
My Friends
My Country (even though not so much right now but better than most places I suppose)
My Job
My Home
My Health
My Family's Health
The Ability to Sleep Peacefully without major concerns
Our Military who fight for our freedom
People with servant jobs like nurses, clergy, etc.

There are several things that I am missing on my list but even looking at this list I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
This morning as I was getting ready I had tears in my eyes watching my girls and just bursting with thankfulness.  God has given me one pretty spectacular life and I'm trying to not take it for granted.

I'm hoping that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is filled with gratitude!
God Bless.

The girls playing the piano with Uncle Ralph and their cousin Ashlyn.

The best we got today as a family.

The kiddie table!


Madi and Grandma

Sweater Weather

Now that it's sweater weather I'm just about always adding a scarf to spice up my look.  It's very rare that I will wear just a sweater.  I also wanted to show that simple black and white doesn't have to be boring.  As you can tell by now I love mixing patterns and this is a great example of how mixing patterns can make the outfit even when it's all neutral.  I've mixed polka dot with houndstooth here.  This scarf is one of my go-to's this season.  You'll notice I've used this scarf in several of my looks and it's great with everything from dresses to sweaters.  This sweater is also the perfect "blank canvas" to start several of my looks.  You don't need several dozen pieces to make a wardrobe.  You just need great basics that you can switch around.

Sweater: Old Navy / Scarf: Target / Jeans: Old Navy / Heels: Macy's Jessica Simpson / Link Bracelet: Target / Watch: Nordstrom Michele / Cuff Bracelet: Tiffany / Sunglasses: Macy's Ray Ban

To see other looks with this sweater or scarf check these out....

Introducing Sweet Water Decor

Part of my 2015 Gift Giving Guide was Sweet Water Decor.  I wanted to give you a few more details so I've included more info and pictures for you.  Melissa the owner and designer for Sweet Water Decor was very kind to send me two prints for my home.  They are very different but I absolutely love them both.  The scripture print is one of my favorite sayings and it's a great addition to my kitchen where I can read it every day.  The Hustle hard and stay Humble print is on my desk and the best reminder for me as I work away day in and day out.  I think these prints make fabulous gifts for friends and family and that is why I included Sweet Water Decor on my Gift Giving Guide.  Check out the site for even more than just prints.  They offer apparel, mugs, totes, wedding items, and stationary.  The designs are so cute; you won't be disappointed.

ADDED BONUS:  Use code BLOG20 to get 20% off your purchase!


Check out Sweet Water Decor on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Online, and Etsy


Please tell us a little bit about yourself:
I'm Melissa, Owner + Designer for Sweet Water Decor. I graduated with a Finance and Marketing degree from college and began working for a large retailer as Merchandise Analyst and then as an Assistant Buyer. I bought and analyzed apparel, helped design the latest trends, and fell in love with retail. I've been designing since I could remember - clothes, interior design, you name it. After working in the corporate world I quickly realized I wanted to own my own business but didn't know what I'd sell or how I'd get there. 

Please tell us a little bit about your company and how you got started: 
My company started in my basement, my fiance and I just got engaged and I had about 4 paintings to sell. Going through and combining all of our things I decided to list the paintings on Etsy, under the name Sweet Water Decor (named after our hometown). Searching more on Etsy I needed to find Save the Dates and quickly realized, I can make these myself! So, I started designing invitations, save the dates, then print art, then mugs, stamps, apparel... and it took off! Our company began almost a year ago and has grown so much that I quit my full time job as a Financial Analyst to run SWD full time. It's amazing to live your dreams everyday and I try to show that through my shop, by encouraging words and motivational items. We launched our website, this summer and you can find Sweet Water Decor in shops all around the United States and Canada!

What has been your greatest lesson in running your own business? 

I'd have to say time management. I've always been an organized person but it's a lot when you're running the show by yourself! There are numerous emails to answer, product to be designed, and having to think, do I have enough mailers for this week? It's a lot but I enjoy running it all! I used to be huge on agendas and crossing things off of lists, I still have those lists, probably on 5 different notepads but keeping organized however you can would definitely be my best advice.

What’s your greatest tip for entrepreneurs? I'd say be true to yourself and your designs, and your business. It's easy when you first start out to see what everyone else is doing but you can lose yourself in that. When you create items or are in business that are true to you and original, stick to that. It takes a little while to find your way but always think of your brand and stay true to it!

What does your normal day look like? 

I normally get up around 7-8 and make coffee (first thing!) even though it's always decaf. I start by answering emails on Etsy and on gmail and start to work. Usually I'll be designing for the first half of my day and the last half I spend making mugs and packaging up orders, trying to beat the USPS girl that comes and graciously picks up the many bins of items I have waiting for her! I then go back to answering more emails and start on any new book keeping details or finish up some designs. I always end up working into the night while my husband watches tv, updating items or trying to find time to design new ones. I end the day by checking Instagram and my email again and off to bed to start it all over again!

Who inspires you? 

Empowering women inspire me. Just this morning I watched Julianne Hough's new video to define your own success and it made me really think! Everyone has their own definition of success, and it doesn't have to be money or fame or fortune. When I started SWD I never thought it'd be more than just trying to sell my paintings and to create wedding invitations but the Lord used that as an anchor to show me where He wanted me all along! I hope to inspire others through my mugs, prints, and inspirational rants on Instagram. We should all find inspiration everyday and when you find it, that fire starts burning and wonderful things happen!