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5 Ideas for Celebrating Earth Day with Toddlers and Preschoolers

I grew up participating in Girl Scouts and we did a lot of community service over the years. As an adult I continued to volunteer with college groups and other organizations. When I had children, I knew it was something I wanted to continue doing with them. With Earth Day this week, I wanted to share 5 ideas of things that you can do with toddlers and preschoolers to celebrate Earth Day and any day.

Participate in a Clean Up
Litter removal projects are the easiest way to get little ones involved. You’ll have to point out to little ones what to pick up but you can make it interesting by discussing the colors or shapes of what you are picking up. They also love to hold the trash bag so that is a task they can do as well. Another nice feature is that they are walking and moving around which gets them nice and tired for nap time.
Check with your local parks and recreation, county or state parks departments, or solid waste management district for opportunities in your community. Just make sure you are able to pick a location that is a good distance away from water and traffic.

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Plant Something
Do a little research and find a little space to plant wild flowers or a butterfly garden this summer. It’s a great way to put those fine and gross motor skills to work scooping and dumping and placing seeds and flowers. You’ll also doing something good for the butterflies and insects and you’ll have a lot of garden visitors to discuss. It can also be a way to teach responsibility and an easy chore for little ones since they require some upkeep and maintenance. A lot of areas have somewhere that gives away tree seedlings this time of year.

Jack’s Garden is a children’s book with a nice overview of the process of how plants grow and the illustrations have labels insects, birds and flowers to use a guide as the season continues.

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Recycled Art
There are tons of project ideas out there for things to do with milk jugs, toilet paper rolls, and other items. You usually just need a few basic art supplies to create something useful. Check out Pintrest to get started.

Recycle Relay
Are your recyclables just sitting there waiting to be picked up? Why not play a little relay race? Depending on the age of your child, gather a variety of recyclable items and get a few boxes or containers. Label them “paper,” “metal,” and “plastic” either with words or pictures and place them a little distance away and encourage your child to sort the trash by running it over to the correct box. This can also be done with a group.

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Get Outside
Make it a point to get out and visit your local parks. Not only does it get you out of the house and away from the TV and computer, but kids love exploring leaves and sticks and climbing on things. Just being out in nature can teach your children that it is important to maintain it. Plus, lots of parks have programs, for free or cheap, to teach about a variety of topics.

*Post contains affiliate links.

Born Wild Amber Teething Necklace Review

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Kelsey did not wear amber while she was a baby. She drooled so much when she began teething she permanently had a bib on to catch it all and a red chin. By the time I was pregnant with Aubrey, now 19 months, I had heard lots of stories of babies blissfully going through teething with much less crying, pain, and drooling. I decided that was enough for me to give a try.

I am not an expert, but I have noticed a big difference between when she wears it regularly and when I forgot to put it on her for a few days (daycare doesn’t like to let her wear it). Since you can not predict when a tooth will be ready to break through, it is better to be safe than sorry and we try to have her wear it at night at least.

When she was a baby the break-away clasp on the necklace was fine and made me a little more confident in allowing her to wear it all the time. However, once she learned she could pull it off, I was concerned with it getting lost. I recently had the opportunity to try the Born Wild Teething Necklace and it has been nice to have her wearing amber again with it’s screw on clasp. Plus, the string is knotted between each bead so if it broke, we would not have many little beads all over to track down.

This necklace is 100% authentic Baltic amber. While made in a great length for baby and toddler necks, it can also be wrapped around an ankle and tucked into a sock or under a onesie. Or, adults can wear amber too to alleviate pain from a variety of sources including arthritis.

The Born Wild Teething Necklace comes in a little pouch, perfect for a baby shower gift.

Visit Born Wild on Facebook or follow them on Instagram for opportunities to learn more and for chances to win one!

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Anniversary Gift Tradition

Yesterday was my ninth wedding anniversary. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks but we did manage to sneak in breakfast together the day before and my husband made a great dinner of lamb chops, couscous and veggies. I also got flowers at my office the day of – a perk to working in an office and away from my cats that always attack flowers.

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On our first anniversary, we each went with the “traditional” wedding gift concept and have stuck with it since (note the ceramic flower vase). It got me wondering how many other people use them too. It is always a fun challenge to come up with something on theme that is still functional or decorative.

Since the Middle Ages, anniversary gifts have signified the deepening of strength of commitment by the increasing value of the items. Most of us have heard about silver, gold and diamond anniversaries, but there are symbols for the years in between, too. Thankfully, there are a few categories to choose from every year, traditional, modern, alternate, flowers, and gemstones.

While I like an actual item because it’s fun to see it and remember why we have it, anniversary gifts do not need to be expensive or extravagant. Just try to incorporate something into your day to celebrate. Here is what I have given my husband over the past 9 years:

1) Paper (traditional) – We honeymooned in Scotland and purchased an antique looking map. I had in professionally framed for our 1st anniversary and it is currently hanging in our bedroom.

2) Cotton (traditional) – My husband is the chef of the house so I had his name embroidered on a chef hat and apron and got a matching apron for myself.

3) Leather (traditional) – Leather messenger bag and gift certificate towards boots he wanted.

4) Fruits and flowers (traditional) – Edible Arrangement. We also ended up going on a road trip through Toronto and Niagara and still have lots of wine to show for it.

5) Wood (traditional) – I had a little wooden keepsake box engraved with a special message that he could take with him when he deployed.

6) Iron (modern) – We swapped babysitting with another family and went to a driving range to “hit the irons” and have lunch. I think it was one of the first times we left Kelsey with someone during the day.

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7) Wool (traditional) – Wool socks.

8) Bronze (traditional) – Bronze-finish pocket watch.

9) Pottery (traditional) – Pampered Chef Stoneware Casserole Dish – did I mention he is the chef of the house? He often says he wants more stoneware so this was a great excuse to get another piece.

Next is 10 years. Double digits. I have tin, aluminum, diamond, daffodil, and blue sapphire to work from. I really want to go on a trip with just the two of us next year. We have some decisions to make in the next few months so we’ll have to put off planning for a bit. Maybe the plane can be the “aluminum” next year. Then again blue sapphire was my engagement ring and our wedding color. I have 12 months to figure it out.

We were married at Deering Estate in Miami, Florida. About this time last year, I was in the area with the girls and I couldn’t resist getting a photo of the girls in almost the same spot we took our wedding pictures. The little one wasn’t too crazy about sitting in the grass. I would eventually like to get one of all four of us there.

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How do you celebrate your anniversary?

 

Cordskinz Review and Hippity Hoppity Giveaway Hop!

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I was recently contacted by Cordskinz with an opportunity to try out their ingenious little product. Cordskinz are easy to apply tubes that slide on right over the cords of ear buds – any make or model – to keep them from being a tangled mess at the bottom of the your bag.

It’s quite a simple concept but it really has been nice having the skinz on my ear buds. It’s easier to find them and who doesn’t like to personalize their items when it’s easy and convenient? The process was easy. Along with your Cordskinz, the application device comes in an envelope with the instructions. After you line up the pieces, you just gently slide the skinz and the wire of the ear buds along and the tool takes care of the rest. Just a little snip at the end adjusted the skinz length to exactly what I needed.

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Best of all, they are only $9.99 each and come in a variety of colors (right now you can get 3 for the price of 2). Stop by Cordskinz on their website and check out their social media channels.

The folks at Cordskinz were generous enough to let me giveaway 2 sets of Cordskinz – 1 for you and 1 for a friend! This giveaway is open to US and ends April 20, 2015, 11:50pm. Winner will be selected and notified by email and have 24 hours to claim their prize. Prize valued at $19.98. Domesticating Michelle is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway; then check out the rest of the Hippity Hoppity Easter Giveaway Hop below. For more chances to win prizes, join us for the Twitter party on April 14, 2015. Good luck!

Hippity Hoppity

Welcome to the Hippity Hoppity Giveaway Hop, brought to you by The Hopping Bloggers & Up All Night Blogging!

Hosted by Mama Smith’s Review Blog & Women And Their Pretties

Co-Hosted by: Melanie Meditates, EasterBabe’s Theory, Muscles & Mascara Blog, Cia Says, So Simply Stephanie, Marilyn’s Treats, Our Refuge and Strength, & Life of a Southern Mom

Each blogger participating in this hop has a giveaway with a prize value of at least $15 – and some are much more than that! Be sure to scroll down the whole list and visit them all – there is no limit to how many prizes you can win! There will also be a twitter party on April 14th to go along with this hop with even more chances to win. RSVP for that by clicking here. Good Luck and Have Fun!

DISCLOSURE: Mama Smith’s Review Blog and Women and Their Pretties are not responsible for any of the prize fulfillment. Each blogger is responsible for providing their sponsor with their winner’s contact information.

**I received items to review. All opinions are my own. Domesticating Michelle is not responsible for prize fulfillment.**

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Fresh Thyme Opens in Dayton!

The Dayton area will be getting a handful of stores moving into the neighborhood. It includes a few more options in food stores like Fresh Thyme. Have you been to Fresh Thyme? The Dayton/Centerville, Ohio location just opened up this past week and it seems to be making quite a splash.

Fresh Thyme combines the spirit of a farmer’s market with the convenience of a neighborhood store. Fresh Thyme’s mission is to improve the way our communities eat by offering fresh and healthy food at amazing values, in a fun and vibrant store with friendly faces.

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Fresh Thyme centers their stores around their fresh fruits and vegetables which is locally sourced as seasonally available. Organic items are from certified growers and everything is freshly picked and delivered straight to the store. Thanks to building relationships with their growing partners, Fresh Thyme is able to buy direct from farms to the best quality and price. They also have:

  • Natural meat, raised without hormones
  • Seafood flown in daily
  • Hearty breads and delicious treats from local artisan bakeries and hot out of our ovens
  • Healthy meals made in our kitchens which are ready to eat on the run
  • Barrels full of natural and organic bulk foods
  • Locally roasted organic coffee beans
  • Aisles of nutritious and delicious groceries
  • Earth-friendly cleaning supplies
  • Specialty foods
  • Gluten-free and dairy-free options
  • Whole department filled with vitamins, supplements and pure body care products.

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I am personally weirdly excited about the bulk foods area and can’t wait to be able to check out the different items available without having to buy whole bags of things for 1 or 2 recipes I want to try. Speaking of recipes, Fresh Thyme has some tasty looking ones on their website here.

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Now here is where the “want to get a deal” side of me comes out. Fresh Thyme Dayton/Centerville has Double Ad Wednesdays! Their weekly ads come out on Wednesdays and run for 8 days which means, for one day a week, both ads are current giving you the most bang for your shopping buck. It’s like going twice a week on one day. Twice the ads means twice the deals in the store.

Check out Fresh Thyme’s current weekly ad and make a plan to stop by on Wednesday soon. You can also keep up with Fresh Thyme on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. #FreshThyme

 

**I was compensated for this post but all opinions are my own. Domesticating Michelle is not responsible for any pricing or advertisements by Fresh Thyme and does not have any official affiliation with PocketYourDollars.com. Photos provided by Fresh Thyme.**

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DIY Office Redecorating

 

I started my job in October. At the time, I was one of three people in my office. By January, I was the only one still in this space. It felt a little lonely and like there was way too much furniture in the room. It took some brainstorming with a co-worker or two, but I finally decided that an office redecorating day was overdue.

Here is how it looked before. By this point I had moved from the smaller desk in the middle of the room to the larger desk in the corner for more work space but I didn’t like that people were already in the middle of the room before I could see them. It was kind of plain since a lot of the décor left with one of my former office mates. Then there was the vinyl decal that was too stark with the black on white but couldn’t be removed without taking the paint with it.

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Here are the ways I wanted my office to function:

  • I wanted some color.
  • I wanted to be able to have interns working in my space.
  • I wanted somewhere for people to sit when they came in.
  • I wanted a surface for projects, or meetings, or for my kids to sit at when they came into the office.

I also knew I did not want to spend a lot to refresh the space. After assessing what I wanted to keep that was already in the office, I started by digging through some household items in the garage that hadn’t made it into our current house. I found pillow covers along with extra pillow forms that were sitting in a closet, fabric I had previously used as guest room wall décor, and signed items in frames from my former life as a dancer and dance teacher. I also now had somewhere to put the 12×12 canvas print I won from Printicular.

I also dug through the company storage area and found some large items to put on the wall plus a small table that was just holding up a box and a couple of chairs. Lastly, it gave me an excuse to visit the Base Thrift Store to see if I could find a few things. I found a candle display, some plain black frames, and a large canvas print.

I picked up the large canvas print with the intent of covering it in fabric, but needed to make just a little bit larger so I picked up some foam when I purchased the fabric – with coupons, of course. I just neatly wrapped the foam and canvas and stapled in on to the wooden frame portion on the back.

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After enlisting the help of a few coworkers to move some of the furniture around and giving everything a good wipe down and vacuuming, here is the final product.

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I don’t expect to win the designers reality TV contest, but it has been much more pleasant and functional. It’s kind of funny that no one used to really come into my office before but now people will walk in and sit at the little table and most people like the pops of blue in the room. I have also since added some flowers to the little table. Both the table and lining up the two smaller desks has been helpful when putting packets together or to plan out what needs to go to an event. My kids eat dinner here on the evenings that Kelsey has dance class plus they have a little bit of floor space to color or lay down. Even though there is more in the room, it actually feels bigger.

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I was happy to finally have somewhere to display some of my dance memorabilia and it has been a topic of conversation when people come in, especially since you can see the Lion King poster from the hallway. When I was living in a first floor apartment, a hurricane came through and dumped a lot of water and flooded my apartment. I had items on the lowest shelf that were destroyed including some books and other items that had autographs on them. After drying them out, my Mom had the idea to cut up the covers and autographs to keep at least. I could have gotten these custom framed but instead, I got some frames and cardstock and cut out the size I needed for each book.

I think I hit every thing on my wish list and, best of all, I barely spent anything to do it thanks to a little reusing and repurposing. If I am going to be somewhere most of the day, I might as well make it my own.

 

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Madonna’s Rebel Heart Album Review

 

 

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Madonna is back! Madonna’s 13th studio album was just released by Interscope Records and it is genuine Madonna.

Madonna told Billboard “Rebel Heart explores two very distinct sides of my personality, the rebellious renegade side of me and the romantic side of me.” I can definitely see these two themes running through the songs of the album. There are some edgy songs about more adult topics (after all, it is Madonna) that make this album not exactly appropriately for family listening.

However, those are balanced with some catchy tunes that were more like classic Madonna with some soul and some sampling of her own hits. This new album features collaborations with Nicki Minaj, Kanye West, Nas, Chance the Rapper and Mike Tyson and was recorded in NY, LA and London which keeps it all current.

You can download Rebel Heart at http://bit.ly/REBELHEART. My personal favorites are Living for Love, Devil Pray, Joan of Arc, and Rebel Heart. It plays well as an album, but obviously, keep your earphones on at work and maybe not when the kids are in the car. Good to know there is also a “clean” version of Rebel Heart available, too.
Rebel Heart Track List
01 “Living For Love”
02 “Devil Pray”
03 “Ghosttown”
04 “Unapologetic Bitch”
05 “Illuminati”
06 “Bitch I’m Madonna” (Feat. Nicki Minaj)
07 “Hold Tight”
08 “Joan Of Arc”
09 “Iconic” (Feat. Chance The Rapper & Mike Tyson)
10 “HeartBreakCity”
11 “Body Shop”
12 “Holy Water”
13 “Inside Out”
14 “Wash All Over Me”
15 “Best Night”
16 “Veni Vidi Vici” (Feat. Nas)
17 “S.E.X.”
18 “Messiah”
19 “Rebel Heart”
Madonna’s Rebel Heart World Tour kicks off on Aug. 29 in Miami, FL. Check here to see if she is coming to a city near you. I had the opportunity to go to her Sticky & Sweet Tour a few years ago and it was an event. Great stage show, guest performers, devoted fans in costumes – I would recommend going if you enjoy Madonna. My sister and I were 80’s Madonna inspired but I have no idea where the photos are – ah, the days of pre-Facebook.
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Stop by iTunes to download your copy. Get more information on Madonna.com, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

 

*I participated in the Madonna Rebel Heart album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.*

 

 

Enjoying the Last Days of Winter

Yay! We’ve been healthy enough to venture out again a little bit and thankfully we are starting to thaw out a bit. After a couple of rough weeks, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and soon enough I’ll be complaining it’s too hot.

Last weekend we finally made it to Mad River Mountain last since we’ve been back in Dayton and we had a great day snow tubing. We even took the 18 month old down the mountain once. She didn’t cry, but she didn’t seem to particularly enjoy it so we only did that once.

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My husband and I took turns taking the 4 year old down the mountain. She loved it!

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I can’t say enough, however, how much I needed a nice relaxing day out. No temper tantrums were had. Minimal whining. I must have done well with the layering because it no one was cold – except that the 18 month old kept taking her gloves off. Everyone ate something for lunch. No one cried in the car – likely do to the DVD player with Sofia the First on.

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It was lovely.

This weekend was a little more laid back, getting a couple errands taken care of. On Saturday, we had lunch at 2nd Street Market and picked up a few goodies. It was actually warm enough to play outside and stomp in some slushy snow in the yard.

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Spring is on it’s way folks! Now, do I jinx it by washing and putting away the snow suits?

 

*I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.*

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