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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Carpool...

In honor of the new year and the kids getting back into a routine again, I'm doing a post about the crush I have on carpooling. And I'm not talking about this...



Don't pretend you aren't excited ;)



Maybe it's because I have 5 kids who are all involved in at least one activity (it used to be more..until I almost had a breakdown and made them pick one thing they loved..phew!) and I feel like on some days, I practically live in my Suburban. Or maybe it was the outrageous amount of cash I was spending to fuel my 30 gallon gas guzzler..I know..I can't really use that excuse anymore..since now it only costs me a mere 50 bucks to top off now..which is half of what it used to be.. but whatever the reason, this mama loves the carpooling way.

It just gets so monotonous dropping off my daughters to dance, coming home only to realize that all too soon, I have to head out the door again to go pick them up. Not to mention, the fact that one or two of my kids are usually playing with a friend or Connor has ball practice. So trying to plan your driving pick-ups/drop-offs with the least amount of coming and goings is essential.  If you can find another mother to do half the work, then take it. It's clearly a win-win.



We had an elderly couple move into our neighborhood a while back...and after a few months, he stopped me and asked me what my job was that required so much running around. I guess he was basically disgusted with how many times a day he saw my car back in and out of my garage;)

I smiled and told him I was a personal chauffeur for my five children..he didn't smile back..in fact, he just held on to that blank stare that clueless men have and nodded in an "I still don't understand" kinda way. Those boys..they never do quite get it..bless their hearts.

I'm certain that Nate could never coordinate the logistics of taking and picking up 5 kids to activities that often start at the same time let alone adding in another individual who may be helping to carpool or with taking/picking up someone else's kid. I can see his brain exploding just trying to explain it to him.



It's a science really..and it's my strong point. We mom's have that gift..but on the other hand, I always point out to Nate that I could never drive his enormous UPS truck around all day, loading and unloading packages..making sure all the address' were correct. Me and directions were never meant to be. So this marriage of ours seems to work out pretty darn well ;)

So Carpooling...I'm officially deeming it a magical and lifesaving technique. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend you jump aboard. You'll never look back!

Can I get an Amen!!

XO
Ashley



Monday, January 26, 2015

Let's Go There...


Hey Guys!
Is it too early and lame to mention the forthcoming Blockbuster, Fifty Shades of Grey?  Cause, listen, you're completely lying to yourself and others if you claim to not know a thing about it.  
I saw a preview when I was at the movie with the hubs last weekend and then, of course, I came home and googled it to get the deets.
Several things worth mentioning here:
1.  The film comes out on Valentine's day.  Which is completely cheesy and over-the-top.  But despite that, I will say, to all the men in the world, it might be worth your time and money to buy tickets and sit through it at some point.  There is almost a hundred percent guarantee you will be rewarded with some lovin' after watching this flick.  And that's another reason you should perhaps NOT see it on Valentine's day.  
*MEN - THIS IS FOR YOU, HENCE THE ASTERISKS AND ALL CAPS*
Focus Buddies...
Much like the birthday action you get every year just for being born (you know, assuming your wife loves you a little bit) - you get some Heart's Day love every year.  So spread it out and get the obligatory action on Lover's day AND THEN the bonus action of Fifty Shades aftershocks.  No brainer.  And you're welcome for the tip.  Listen, we like action too -- even a little romance.  So everyone wins if I spill deep secrets like that. 
2.  Christian Grey was supposed to be played by my beloved "Jax" from Sons of Anarchy.  And now that I know that detail I can't NOT know that detail, you know?  Photographic evidence to further my case  that Jax would have been the far superior candidate is the best way to proceed (Obvs).  
I feel fairly certain this next pic solidifies my stance...
 Yep.
And to be thorough, you better see him in a suit.
Sigh.
I know, I totally know!   
This new guy, whoever he is, will probably be all right, but Jax would have been… freakin' better than all right.  Yesssssss…. much better than all right, Indeed.
3.  In my google search I discovered a website called, "Fifty Shades of Grey and More".  Some woman has written an entire fourth novel for your reading pleasure.  She is not the original author, but who are we kidding… we don't care a lick who writes this stuff.  Not gonna lie, I've started reading it.  Not gonna lie, my husband already likes the fact that I'm reading it.  Not gonna lie - you know EXACTLY what that means. 
4.  Men, this is not a film for you to mimic.  Hang on, 
*MEN:  THIS IS FOR YOU AGAIN*
Fifty Shades for us gals is more of a "Jumping Off Point" where we can drift off into the subconscious fantasies of our own minds.  Believe us, those heads of ours is where the motor starts running and what's going on in there is WAY better than anything the main character is doing in some book.  So DON'T try to imitate.  You pinky swear?  If I hear any friend of mine say something like, "And then my husband smacked my butt and said he was going to 'claim it as his own'."  So help me, I will hunt you down.  Never say the stuff that is said in the book/movie. Just prepare to be attentive and loved on.  OK?  Oh, and smell nice.
5.  Get excited.  Like listen, we all know in the grand scheme of things this isn't even a blip on a blip in the radar… but also, things are just way more awesome in every way if you let yourself embrace the madness and get a little stupidly excited for something -- especially in the doldrums of winter.  Come on, babes…. a little squeal and an extra heart on the calendar for your date night that week won't hurt a soul!  :)
Pack your Hot Tamales in yo' purses!
XO
Amber

P.S. We have WINNERS!
I mean, you're all winners in our book, but our two Holster Winners are:
@emmooey and @bakerma4
Please leave us a comment with your email address here on the blog or DM us on Instagram so we can send you your Holsters!  Congrats!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hot Iron Holster...

If there is one thing I love about January it's that underlying feeling to get my life and home organized.  It's like a fresh start for a fresh year... a clean slate... but when I stop and stare at my house, my five kids and all the crap that ensues... well, it gets a little debilitating and overwhelming to say the least.  To the point that I do nothing. Because hello??? Where in the world do you begin, right?

And so for the past few weeks, I have done just that. Nothing. Oh I've had good intentions but staring into my beyond recognizable pantry makes me want to cry. I barely have time to get dressed each day (as I sit here still in my workout clothes and day 3 of unwashed-ponytail hair) let alone tackle some of the neglected closets, drawers and spaces in my house.

Then I received an email from a friend over at Holster Brand. And it's all been coming together. Baby steps is what I have to remember. These guys have one of the most ingenious products out there, so we had to share and of course we included a giveaway...
Three Cheers for all of Us!
Here is the inside story on how this little baby, the Hot Iron Holster, came to be...

Holster Brands was founded in 2010 by Erin Balogh after coming up with the idea for the Hot Iron Holster.  At the time she had two little girls and was working as an ER nurse. She wasn't looking to start a company, she was just trying to do her hair in her bathroom with a pedestal sink.  She was tired of her flat iron falling off or in the sink and wanted somewhere to set it down while getting ready. Unable to find anything that would work, she went to her kitchen and took a silicone oven mitt and 2 hot pads and sewed them together - making the first "Frankenstein" prototype. This hot iron "holster" draped over the edge of the sink with the flap anchored into the bowl of the sink (w/ a pocket full of coins) while the "mitt" pocket hung outside the sink to hold her flat iron.  

She knew she was onto something when she couldn't stop using it and took the next step of applying for a patent and making an improved prototype. It took a couple years (because she still had her 'day job'), but in August of 2012 Holster Brands began selling the Hot Iron Holster.  By October it was in Skymall.  In January of 2013 it was being sold by The Container Store, and in February it was being sold on QVC.  In January of 2014, the Hobby Holster was launched for hot glue guns and other crafting tools.  In March 2014, the Lil' Holster line was rolled out to hold smaller items, like sponges, soap, razors, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, remotes, etc. and anything else you need in your house.

You guys... Erin totally achieved her dream and when I asked her what else she wanted our readers to know, here's what she said... 

"You can think and plan all day, but it doesn't get the work done  :)  If you have an idea, take it one step at a time and you will be surprised how far you have come when you look back. Six years ago the Hot Iron Holster was just an idea and some days I look back and can't believe all that has happened since that time.  There have been times I have wanted to cry and other times I have had to pinch myself.   I don't know everything about running a business, but one thing I know is I have never regretted taking that first step."

Inspiring right?
So I started with my bathroom. Cleaned out the drawers, cupboards and added the Hot Iron Holster to contain all of my hair equipment. It was a happy dance day to see I could finally cross off something on my monumental "to-do" on my list. Then I used the smaller Holster Mini to corral my phone on my nightstand..proving that these holsters just aren't for the bathroom and kitchen sink. I have my home phone and heater blanket contraptions there too, so my phone was always falling off and the tangled cords were giving me nightmares. Problem solved. Because if Erin can start an awesome company that has won so many awards, then I can clean and clear out one bathroom ;)

So this week, I am feeling accomplished guys.  And we could all use a little more organization and simplicity in our lives. Plus, with their products, the possibilities are endless. And I will totally vouch for the quality with which they are made. These babies are thick, strong and durable. They will NOT slide off of any counter. Bible! 
We are so excited to be partnering with this great company to bring you guys an awesome giveaway.  For all the deets and two chances to win your own Holster Brand products, head on over to our Instagram.

And for more information about and to order Holster products, head HERE
Good Luck and Happy Holstering.
XO
Ash

Monday, January 19, 2015

Cuckoo for Cocoa...

Is it embarrassing that I have dedicated not one but now TWO entire blog posts to hot chocolate?
Well, hey... what can I say?
I don't drink alcohol so I've got to have a few fancy drinks to cling to in life, and I consider these gourmet versions of cocoa which I'm about to share with you.... an alcohol free hot toddy.
They're that good.

So here's the 4-1-1 on hot cocoa that will BLOW your mind.  No really, I have two delicious (well, one errs more on the side of adorable, but all cute things taste better, right?) little enhancements for your warm wintery beverages...

First: The flavored coffee creamers.  May I say I don't know how this didn't come to my attention sooner, but I would rather encourage you to RUN to your local grocery store and pick up some Almond Joy flavored coffee creamer right this very second!  If you prefer, you could go with one of the other delightful offerings:
I know, I know!  But seriously the first time I tried the Almond Joy goodness in my mug I told my husband, "And just like that magic done made it's way into my hot chocolate."
Life changing.

The second little addition to your cocoa regimen is, shaped cool whip floats.  I don't know, but occasionally I am that mom or wife that actually makes "penguin cupcakes" for Arctic week at preschool or something totally Pinterest worthy.  It doesn't happen often, but when it does, I mentally pat myself on the back.  THESE - the cool whip floats - LOOK completely Pinterest worthy without all the effort and inevitable Pinterest fails.
But just in case you're feeling overwhelmed today,
I've written out directions for you in a few detailed steps:

How to Make Adorable Cool Whip Floats:
-Get a tub of cool whip
-Thaw it ever so slightly and plop it out of the tub
-Cut the mass of Cool Whip length wise 2x
-Use Cookie Cutters to make shapes
-Store in a container in your freezer
Eeeek!  It still gets me, every time.  That just looks SO adorable in every way, right?
For the hubs' birthday I even sprinkled a little cocoa powder on his heart because I could.  Holy.

I now have a little system when it comes to drinking devouring my hot chocolate every evening.  (I feel like that verb is more appropriate.)  When the little tornadoes who live with me go to bed and the hubs and I pull up an episode of Blacklist, I enjoy this fairly low-cal evening snack and it tickles my little gourmet lovin' taste buds to the tune of a different coffee creamer flavor each day of the week.

Blissful Sigh... It's the little things, folks.

And now I feel as if our friendship has gone to another level of deepness as I have just imparted to you everything I have learned in four winters of serial hot cocoa drinking.

And on another winning side note, @smagglerocks is our winner for the Fashion Cache $25 Target giveaway. Congrats!! Please comment here or on our Instagram with your email. 

XO
Amber

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fashion Cache...


OK guys..get ready for a live and learn moment.

Most of you have heard about Ebates right? The whole...buy through their website and get cashback on your purchases from different companies yea? Or have I lost you already? Hang in there for just a few more lines...

Because, the newest company is here and is far and away, better than Ebates. The number one reason being that Fashion Cache gives a higher cash back percentage than Ebates. Do we even need a reason two?




I broke down the concept in "easy-to-understand-ashley" terms


  • Go to www.fashioncache.com to sign-up (no worries..it's free)
  • Pick the store you want to shop from (like Target..because duh)
  • Shop and buy what you want
  • Get cash back
  • Send me all your cashback checks since I turned you onto this gem..ok..or not ;)
Genius right? Because how much online shopping did I do with Target over the holidays? I know right? We clearly dropped the ball for you guys with this one but will be on our game to remind you in 10 more months when we do this whole holiday shopping all over again.

BUUUUT... on the plus side, it's clearance time in the retail world and since January is officially the month of doom and gloom, you now have a huge excuse to start your online shopping again. Insert rays of shopping sunshine!!

Fashion Cache features stores like Target, Walmart, Nordies, Diaper.com (for all you diaper buying mamas..don't be jeal that I am officially off that train;), Macy's, Forever 21, Kohls and like a million more. 

It's like one of those "duh" moments. If we are shopping online anyways, why not get cashback for the things we are going to buy anyways. It's a win-win really!



I put a sticky note with FASHION CACHE at the top of my computer to remind my crazy, absent-minded self..because if you are like me, 5 kids and life in general get in my focused mind all too much and I forget. 

Plus the folks over at Fashion Cache were nice enough to give one of our readers $25 bones to Target..one of our faves! Just go HERE to sign-up (remember it's free)  and then head on over to our Instagram (ashleyandamberblog) for more of the deets.

Happy Shopping and You're Welcome

XO
Ashley





Monday, January 12, 2015

My Monogamous Life...

One of the things the hubs and I like to do at the start of a new year is plan some major "events" for our household.  You know, where will we vacation this year?  Will it be a big "let's go to Hawaii" kind of year, or will we plan a half dozen smaller long weekend outings?  What will we try to save for?  What will we focus on teaching our kids?  What projects in the house or yard will we tackle?  What other "events" do we need to be aware of? Etc.

Do I feel like a real "grown up" for doing such things?  Yes.  Yes I do thanks for asking. Maybe even more so when we discuss intense topics such as teaching certain boys to tie shoes and another little man to wipe his own bum.  Ah, my glamours mom life.  

Sometimes our planning sessions go swimmingly and we find we're largely on the same page.  Other times, well after years of marriage I am convinced that on certain days we just have a strong aversion to agreeing with one another, is what.  And those sessions...  Fingernails on chalkboard, people.
Anyway, my point here (thanks to last night's TV watching) is praise Jesus I am in a monogamous relationship.  I know it ain't perfect, but after viewing an episode of Sister Wives… well, I'm pretty sure it is.
If I had to hang out with three other women who were vying for my husband's love and attention and if I had to worry about finances for 17 kids and if I had to plan vacations for what feels like an entire city block worth of people who largely don't want to be in close quarters with one another for an extended period of time and if I had to go to Costco and unload the damn groceries for 23 folks each week?  Well, I'd contemplate "running to Costco" and never coming back, is what.
And what's worse is thanks to television, everyone has a direct pipeline into the disfunction of their household.  I mean, don't you think sometimes they are sitting around in their living room viewing an episode and one of the wives is just casually eating popcorn (sitting two wives down from the husband) and she sees that he and another wife were dancing in the kitchen and followed it up with a date to a snazzy restaurant on some episode and they just burst into tears?  Even if you were the chillest person on the planet, getting a peek at those intimate moments the person you love is sharing with someone else?  I mean... BAAaaaaaAAAd.  Right?
(I don't know, the combination of upper and lower case letters felt necessary there)
And while I have only thus far sympathized for the wives of the family... holy h-e- double hockey sticks WHY would any man EVER want to be the husband in the mix?  THREE women.  Three sets of hormones.  Three homes to float amongst.  Three sets of anniversaries and birthdays to track.  Three mama bears with regard to their children.  RECIPE FOR DISASTER.  I'm convinced the dude must believe he is answering a higher calling because otherwise... who would do that to themselves, eh?  

Deep thoughts of gratitude spurned by an episode of a television show on plural marriage?  Go ahead and say it.  I need to get a life.  But seriously, I already have one.  And it's a winner.  I'm off to kiss that darling hubs of mine who at present can do no wrong because he has only one wife... and you should too.


XO
Amber

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Fresh Start...

Hey guys... first of all let me say "welcome back" to my own self ;)

Ya know..when Amber and I signed off for a little Christmas break a few weeks ago? Yea well.. I had all these big plans for the blog and my kids and my life that I was gonna plan and be all on top of...and then like 3 weeks went by in the biggest flash of ever and here I am Jan. 7th and I'm just barely regrouping. Is it just me or did that Christmas break fly by? Plus, on top of Christmas and all the decking of halls, my family got the sickies. Every. Single. One of us. Except the hubs..which btw..thank the Lord right? Cuz just him alone is worse than the other 6 of us. And then on top of that, my little 8 year old Sophie got baptized the week after Christmas so we had that shin-dig to gear up for as well. We were biz-ee!!

Don't get me wrong..other than the runny nose, sore throat, coughing visits to the Dr's office, we really had a great holiday. We wrapped and unwrapped and ate and cooked and gave gifts and sledded and spent time (a little too much) with extended family but there's just something about getting your house back to the pre-Christmas mode and into a schedule. Am I right?

So this is the topic of debate

When do you take Christmas down? I mean it's so much work to get everything up to be enjoyed right? You want to enjoy them for a decent amount of time. But just what is that amount of time?
Are you a taker-downer of the tree and garland on Christmas Day like my neighbor? A leaver-upper until Valentines Day or longer like my mother-in-law? Or an in-betweener like yours truly..I took mine down the Monday after Christmas (ok..I might be considered more towards the early taker-downer) but I had a baptism luncheon that weekend to get ready for.
And I even googled "taking Christmas down etiquette" to see if there really was a rule that I missed out on. The date I saw most was Jan 6th..which is 12 days after Christmas and is somehow deemed the magical number...but nothing really legit or concrete. So I guess we are all in the clear..whichever category you fall into. But guys..if you are reading this blog post and your Christmas tree is starring back at you..weeelll.. it's January 7th and a day after the etiquette "Christmas decor down" day..

...just saying ;)

Get those boxes and Rubbermaid totes out and get your house back together. It's like the best feeling ever. 

My husband walked into our house after I had taken all our stuff down and told me our house looked naked..which clearly meant to me that I needed and had the "all clear" from the hubs to add more decor to our now naked home. Plus with all the Santa's, wreaths and trees put away, it's amazing at how much bigger your home seems to get.
So here's to a clean and "bigger" home and a fresh start for the New Year. 2015..let's go. I got this!

XO
Ashley