Happy Cyber Monday! ..and busiest shopping time of year

    I'm big on online shopping. Save gas money, save time, save money by researching to find similar items at a lower prices, and at this time of year, save yourself from fighting traffic, long lines, and save your life [have you seen how cray cray people get on Black Friday?] So my opinion is that if you're online shopping at all you're doing it right, BUT if you're not using EBATES, you're missing out!
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SO EASY:

     EBATES is pretty much the only way I shop online and it's so easy. With over 1,700 stores I never have trouble finding what I need! I simply log into my EBATES account, search for the store or the item I'm looking for, click to open a shopping cart at that store, and start shopping and earning!
    Saving money is something else I'm 'big' on so I'm always on the lookout for great deals which are guaranteed at EBATES. Even if they don't have a current coupon code for the store you're wanting to shop at, you're always going to get cash back. On average, I usually get about 3.5% cash back. There are stores that only give 2% cash back, there are stores with 10% or more, and some days stores have special "double cash back" times [like today!]! Even as little as 1% is still something in my eyes.

TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE:

    If you've seen the commercial on TV you've probably thought, "no way" - and I can tell you, the amount some of those ladies have 'gotten back' is either blown out of proportion, combined from several years, or they have a slight shopping addiction. My first check was around $15, nowhere near $900, but that's my half of a date-night dinner out, a movie ticket, or a few specialty coffee drinks at Starbucks! I honestly thought it was too good to be true but so far it's worked. If I'm already shopping online, I may as well get a little extra back!

DIRECTLY FROM THE EBATES WEBSITE:

"People often ask: "This sounds too good to be true, how are you able to do it?" It really is quite simple. Just like almost every other online shopping center, we get a commission from the stores when you make a purchase. Instead of keeping that money - like almost all other sites do - we share it with you!"

SIGN UP NOW:

    Signing up is so easy and EBATES does not ask for any bank or credit card information, simply an address for where they should send the check. Which, ps., they're also willing to send to a charity of your choosing if you wish. You can learn more by clicking the link below! Happy Shopping!

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
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    My husband and I are obsessed with my parents' dog, Jack. Jack is a Welsh Terrier with an "I'm awesome and I know it" personality and he is always up for an adventure! We were so excited when we found out my parents were going to bring him down for the holiday, so I went out and bought him a doggy life jacket to take him to the US National White Water Center for some Kayaking!
    Here are a few pictures from our holiday weekend!
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Most important: new blue shoes arrived just in time for the holiday.. they remind me of fireworks!
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A Red, White, and Blue breakfast to start off the holiday weekend!
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He thoroughly enjoyed relaxing on the patio watching the world go by!
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Fireworks via the internet.. the morning after.. long story.
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New life jacket, ready for an adventure at the U.S. National White Water Center!
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Nervous at first but he was acting like he owned the kayak by the end!
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Bathed and exhausted after his adventure! Can't wait to have him come visit again!
Hope you all had a relaxing Fourth of July weekend! God Bless America!

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// Be Mine //

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    This Valentine's Day I received a heart bkr water bottle - which I wanted really bad - but still, nothing compares to the first Valentine I ever received from Tyler. The kid handmade the heart above,  came over to my house before school, waited for me to back out of the garage and asked me to be his Valentine. Cue 'awws'! The "E" is a little broken from the move, but it's still something I treasure. Not many high-school boys would go into Michael's before their shift at work and pick out craft supplies to hand make a Valentine for someone they'd only been dating six months.
    Despite the sweetness of our first Valentine's, this was probably one of my favorite Valentine's Days to date. So simple and relaxing! We ordered pizza, made our couch into a bed, baked cookies, and watched a DreamWorks movie on Netflix. I have to say, for being a kids movie, we both actually enjoyed "The Croods." Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Clark Duke had some funny 'prehistoric' characters. The animation was great, and I liked the combination animals such as flying turtles, alligator skunks, elephant mice, and what seemed to be an iguana tiger - to name a few. The animals seemed more futuristic despite the prehistoric background of the movie. Overall, it kept us entertained.

// Chinese New Year Celebrations //

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    Saturday we went downtown to celebrate two of our friends' birthdays as well as to watch the Chinese New Year parade. San Francisco hosts one of the top ten parades in the world with this yearly event that draws thousands of viewers. I have no idea where the first half of that statistic is from other than one of our friends saying it at the parade, I can however vouch for the thousands of people in attendance! We arrived 2 hours before the parade was to begin and it was already crazy.
    If you're like Tyler and I, you're confused as to why we were celebrating Chinese New Year this late.. San Francisco has one of the largest Asian populations in the country, many of whom go home to China to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family. Hosting the parade two weeks later allows those who went 'home' time to get back and prepare for the parade.
    The parade was great but for some reason really slow.. it would keep stopping for some reason and it would take forever for the next float or band to come along. We ended up sitting inside a bar to watch the middle section and coming back out for what we thought was the end.. it ended about an hour after that point. With tired feet and empty stomachs, we grabbed the closest, most expensive, greasy pizza and headed to a friend's to eat. It was definitely an experience to remember! If you ever have the chance to go, I recommend watching towards the beginning of the parade - you'll be able to stand 1-2 rows back or even have front row as we did towards the end. Watching from where the parade ends in Chinatown guarantees you'll be smooshed up against other - multiple - people and probably won't be able to see much at all!
    Sorry for the awful pictures! A pro photographer I am not, and the lighting was terrible!
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Left: Tyler, Right: My good friend Bri
    Hope you all had enjoyable Valentine's Days and Happy Chinese New Year! It's the year of the horse, fyi. Which is my year. Feel free to get me gifts throughout 2014.

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    It's my favorite month! Mostly because it's my birthday month.. I'm not a huge Valentine's proponent, but I love an excuse to get dressed up and not have to cook! I also love to spoil Tyler with small gifts which since we got married and joined bank accounts, I've been doing less of. Valentine's gives me a reason to purchase something thoughtful for him - watch for guy idea gifts later this week!
Here are a few items I've been swooning over that are Valentine's day related!
1. Gold Lip Stain Mug - SHOP by Monika
2. Ephesians 4:2 Print - Naptime Diaries
3. Venus Bust - Overstock
4. Crazy Hearts Cosmetic Bag - Forever 21
5. Michael Kors Pave Delicate Heart Necklace - ShopBop //Splurge//
6. Valentine's Day Gentle Reminders Pencils - Amanda Catherine Designs
7.-8. Heart Water Bottles in Milk and Jet - bkr
9. Gold Heart Pillow in Coral - Sukan
10. Girl Bands in Super Cute Heart - ban.do

Happy Month of Love! Ps. Don't forget to enter to WIN FREE dresses!

Joss & Main Find of the Day

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Event Name: The French Kitchen
Item Name: Daisy Tea Kettle
Sale Ends: February 9

SHOP NOW

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    Since the Christmas season of the year we got engaged, I have been looking for Christmas dishes. My mom has a set, my mother-in-law has a set, I had to get a set for our new family. Every set I found was either too expensive or not my style. Even dishes at T.J. Maxx and Home Goods were too much for me to spend. I eventually told myself that these were probably dishes our parents got after they were "established" and I didn't need them immediately to make our Christmases special.
    Waiting proved to be the best decision [as per usual].
    I try to go to the local "Antique" store, Shabby Creek on Main, about once every 2-3 months. I love looking at all of the old objects made new again, and love finding hidden gems to incorporate into my decor. When I walked in last Friday after work, I went in to look for another milk glass piece and came home gushing to my husband about what we had to go back for. Here's a look at what I found!:
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    I can't get over them. And I am beyond excited for next Christmas! Beautiful gold details on crisp white dinner plates, dessert plates, bowls, and mugs. A complete set of twelve sans two mugs. For a whopping total of $75 including tax. Yes. All that for under $100. After I brought them home, and my husband saw them in person, he wanted to see the receipt to make sure I wasn't just saying that they were only $70 to get him to say yes to the purchase. He couldn't believe we now had an entire set of very nice Christmas dinnerware. Now we definitely need some gold flatware!
    A closer look reveals that the bowls are actually from a different company. You can see the Christmas tree on the bowl has 4 "tiers" versus the 3 on the plates and mugs. While this may bother some, I doubt my guests will be looking at the bottom of my plates to check the companies or that they'll be bored enough to be counting tiers on Christmas trees! This is another reason I love going to these places - where else would I have found two different yet extremely similar sets paired together?
    Antiquing can feel intimidating at times - many antique or thrift stores have a lot of stuff packed into a small space, and many of the items may not even be worth looking at. But somewhere out there, there is a hidden gem waiting for you.. are you willing to hunt?
*All photographs were staged and taken by me. Tartan Deer Print via SS Print Shop. Ribbon and Christmas potpourri - old from Michaels.
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New Year's Eve Glam
Neutrals with a Pop of Color and lots of Shine
[clockwise from top]
COVERGIRL Bombshell Volume by Lashblast Mascara
COVERGIRL Outlast Lipstain in Eternal Flame for a Pop of Color
+ Lipslicks Smoochies Sizzle Gloss in Date Night for added Shine
Faux Leather Pleated Skirt - Nordstrom Rack
Maroon Suede Shoes for a Pop of Color - Nordstrom Rack
Gold Sparkle Tipped Nails
Gold Tone Cecile Fossil Watch
Gold Crystal Pave Link Bracelet [petite version of J. Crew's Pave Link] - Yuni Kelley
Black and Cream Striped Sweater with Gold and Sparkle Accents - Banana Republic Outlet
Crystal Necklaces - J. Crew
Crystal Earrings - Express
 
 
    There's one week left to shop and everyone has that one girl on their list that they don't know what to buy for them.. you know, the girl who constantly answers, "I don't know" every time you ask her what she wants. Sadly, I think I may be that person for my friends and family! If I want something throughout the year, I either work a few extra hours and save up for it or I convince myself that I don't need it - so by the time Christmas rolls around, it either doesn't exist anymore or I already have it stockpiled in the gifts my husband doesn't know he's getting me.
    Here are a few things that "that girl" probably convinced herself she didn't need but might like to have, broken down by category! And when in doubt, a Target gift card is always a winner.
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// Comfy Cozy //
[from Left to Right]
Kate Spade Candles - Kate Spade New York
Love the color combos and encouraging memos
Sherpa Robe in Beige - Anthropologie
Quite possibly the softest robe. Ever. Wish I'd taken it home with me!
Faux Fur Hot Water Bottle - World Market
Sold individually in stores, in sets online. One for them and one for you?
Sueded-Sherpa Moccasins - Old Navy
My mom may or may not have these under the tree for me. Love slipper moccasins!
Gold Stained Mugs - SHOP by Monika
I was able to get the Lip Stain before they sold out, but the Drip is super cute too!
Fleece-Lined Leggings - Target
These are THE BEST for winter!
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// Tech Essentials //
Baggu Gold-Dipped iPad Case - West Elm
Monogramming available!
Portable iPhone Charger* - Available on eBay, Amazon, and some J. Crew Outlets
Clearly I am old school with the iPhone 4, but I'm always low on battery!
SoundBender* - SoundBender
If you've seen Sharktank, you know what's up! Perfect for watching shows on the iPad.
iPhone Cases - The Everygirl and Rifle Paper Co.
Girly and durable. I love my RPC cover!
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// The Beauty Queen //
New York Glitter Socks Gift Set - Kate Spade at Nordstrom
Lavish Luxe Brush Set - Sonia Kashuk® for Target
Skinny Mini Bow Stud Earrings - Kate Spade
The Kate Spade outlet also has a similar version that is less expensive!
The Golden Hairbrush* - Sonia Kashuk® for Target
Pinch Mini Emergency Kit* - Pinch Provisions
They also have a male version - stocking stuffer?
Gold Sequin Hanger - Pearls and Pastries
Available in multiple colors, but I have gold of course! Love using this for outfit planning!
Tweezers and Eyelash Curler* - Forever XXI
eos Lip Balm Multipack* - Target
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Top Chef
Avocado Slicer - OXO for Williams Sonoma
My husband and I live in California and still can't cut an avocado correctly.
Bellezza Holiday Reindeer Dinnerware - Vietri
As featured in this Waiting on Martha Blog Post - how could you not fall in love?
Recipe Tin - Rifle Paper Co.
The Citrus Floral Tin reminds me of my Mammaw and great-grandma's home cookin'!
Gold Flatware - West Elm
For those fun brunches and fancy dinner parties!
iPad Under Cabinet Mount - Belkin
With very little counter space in our apartment, I usually keep the recipe in another room and run back and forth. There are many versions of this, but this is the only non-permanent one!
Dotted Linen Napkin Set - Anthropologie
iSpoon Kitchen Stylus - Umbra for CB2
"Saves Your Touchscreen from Messy Fingers" - perfect when using a recipe on your iPad!
Silicone Steamer - OXO for Target
Marketed for steaming veggies, but I use this with pasta too to drain in the pot!
Tips:
  • Try to steer away from clothes unless you know her specific style and size
  • Stick with neutral colored items [creams, beige, greys, blacks, whites, golds, and blush] - whether for clothes or decor these are sure to match or blend in with a majority  of what she has already.
  • If you can't find something in-store you know they want, check Google, Amazon and eBay, it's bound to be out there somewhere! Just try to buy NWT [new with tags!]
  • Gift receipts! Don't buy anything that can't be returned unless you're 100% sure about it!
  • *All items marked with an asterisk above are also great stocking stuffer ideas!
  • Happy Shopping!
 
 
    Probably the easiest DIY ever with pretty results!

1. Collect.

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    Choose pinecones with minimal damage! My mother-in-law and I collected these from around North Lake Tahoe but I'm sure you can find some in your own back yard or local park! What I wish I had done: I wanted all of the huge, full-bodied pinecones - now I wish I had chosen some more variety in shapes, sizes, and height!

2. Spray.

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    I used the same gold metallic spray I used in my last DIY - I also used white for "snow"! I wanted the pinecones to look like snow-covered trees so I sprayed primarily from the top with a few spritzes down diagonally, making sure that the top was the heaviest.
    I created 3 different colors: white, gold, and a mixture! For the mixture I started with white, then sprayed gold, then dusted white on top again. Really happy with how they turned out!:
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3. Decorate.

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    I used mine to complete my Winter Wonderland Forest scene [as seen in my previous Winter Decor post]. Now I just need a few LED tea lights to intermix and light it up a bit more! The extras found a spot by the snowman my mom got me last year for Christmas:
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    Another fun idea would be to add glitter to them - but I'm pretty sure my husband has banned glitter from our house! Happy DIY-ing!
 
 
    Keeping in theme with the "Favorite Things" giveaway [ps. have you entered yet?!] - these are a few of my favorite Winter/Christmas decorations!
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Sparkly Ornaments
Yes, that is a Gold Sequin Hanger Ornament! Perfect gift for the fashion lover!
Gold Sequin Hanger Ornament - Pearl's and Pastries
German Glitter Alphabet Ornament - Pottery Barn [On sale now! If you can't find your letter online, I recommend going to your local PB!]
Golden Elephant Ornament - World Market [2 for $5!! Not sold online.]
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Trees. Lots of Trees.
Create your own Winter Wonderland Forrest! I created ours in our non-functioning fire place using a white bath mat and trees. This was very last-minute but I plan to use a larger white base in the future and adding a few small LED candles in between to light it up a bit more!
Mercury Glass Trees - Home Goods [many places are selling these but Home Goods has the best prices! Plus one of the ones I got lights up!]
Burlap Trees - Target
Pine Cone "Trees" - DIY tutorial here!
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The Cutest Little Gnome You Ever Did See
Currently, he's just sitting there watching over the dining area, but we have big plans for him, which I'll share later this week!
The Little Helper's Container - Waiting On Martha
 
 
    "You’ll not likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said:
'You’re far happier giving
than getting.'"
-Acts 20:35
    Christmas is my favorite time of the year - I put a lot of thought into the gifts I purchase, and I love seeing the smiles on the faces of friends and family members as they open them up! While it's not even Thanksgiving, this week is the deadline for Operation Christmas Child boxes! This is a tradition my family has done for years, and my husband and I have done each year but one since we started dating. Imagine the faces of your friends and family members x10 to get a glimpse of the pure joy in each of these children's lives as they open up their Christmas box [or just Google Operation Christmas Child and scroll through some of the heartwarming pictures].
    I understand that not everyone has the time to go out and create a box and find a local drop-off station before the end of the week, but Samaritan's purse has made it so convenient to give this year by providing an option to build a box online!
    Just follow the simple steps and you're on your way to making a child's holiday!
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    The tools are so fun and easy - just drag down what you want and place it in the box!
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I built a box for a girl and Tyler built one for a boy. They have several options for each gender and age group, so you really do get to personalize the box, ensuring that your child feels special!
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    One of our favorite parts! After building your box they give you the opportunity to write a short note to the child and include a picture. Totally optional, but we couldn't resist! Note: unless you're paying separate, the same note goes with each box!
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Simple check out process - or you can choose to make more!
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    Operation Christmas child is one of those great memories I had growing up, my mom taking us out, and we got to get all of this fun [and necessary] stuff for a child in need. My husband's family did the same, and this will be a tradition we start with our kids down the road. Start a tradition with your family and commit to making at least one box this year! Whether you have the time to go out and do the shopping yourself, or you do it online, every box helps! Don't forget the deadline is this week!