Decor · Life At Home

Bring Anywhere in the World to Your Own Home

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I’ve officially been living in the Charlotte area for about three weeks. Already I feel so at home, and I am so happy that our little family of four has relocated to this area. There is so much to do, and the weather is fantastic.

That being said, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I get a little homesick from time to time. Although the Carolina’s have stolen my heart, a small piece of it is still back in New York.

Our small hometown (I say small compared to Charlotte) is a wonderful place that my husband and I will always love and admire. One of our favorite things about where we were born and raised is the beautiful lake that is right in the backyard of our hometown. We grew up on that lake, and it will forever be a part of us.

Recently we received the most beautiful map of our hometown and surrounding lake from Mapiful. Mapiful is a company that makes custom maps from anywhere around the world, and this map is by far my favorite piece of decor in our new home.

It was so easy to create the map on their website. All I had to do was plug in my zip code and I could move the map to center it how I chose. When I typed in my zip code a map of our hometown popped right up. Although this looked cool, and I could even see right where my old street was, I wanted to zoom out so I could also see the lake. Once I zoomed out I could center it again so the lake was to the left, and my hometown was on the right. At the bottom of the map, I decided to label it, “Chautauqua”. The coordinates even show up at the bottom without having to look it up on your own. I could not believe how simple it was to create such a special map!

This piece of art will always be so meaningful to me because the place it represents holds such a special place in my heart; home.

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Thank you to Mapiful for sponsoring this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own!

Decor · Life At Home

Newest Prints

I always like to update my new prints for those that are interested. Here are the latest and the greatest from my Society6 Shop.

The Book Was Better

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Perfect print for a living room, classroom, or library.

Donut Kill My Vibe

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This print is avilable in pink, green or blue.

But First, Coffee

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Because let’s face it, coffee comes before all else. Check this print out here.

 

Keep checking back for more prints as they come!

Life At Home

Why I Live in a “Diminishing” City

Growing up I always told myself when I was old enough I would get out of this city. I felt as though my city had nothing to offer my generation. There wasn’t anything to do. It was extremely boring.

Then I grew up. I went off to college, but after graduating returned home thinking, “Ok, I’ll start here and figure out where to go next”. How was I going to find a job around here? Why are people my age staying?

Well, I did find a job, and then I had a family. “Ok, you’ll raise your baby here for a few years so she can be around her grandparents, but then you are definitely moving”.

Uhhuh, sure. Go ahead and tell yourself that.

I live in a city that is considered part of the Rust Belt. Years ago our city was known as the “Furniture Capital of the World”. Now most of those buildings and warehouses are empty and desolate, almost haunting to look at. Over the years our city has been hit hard with a drug problem. Heroine, meth, cocaine, and opioids are some of the recent drugs that police have seized. Poverty is slowly consuming more and more families, leaving homes rundown and decrepit.

How am I supposed to raise my daughter in a city that seems to be falling apart? We have friends and family that have left. From Maine to Florida they’ve hightailed it out of here and made a new life for themselves in cities much more thriving than ours.

So why stay? Why live in a boring, drugged up, impoverished, diminishing, small city that seems to be minutes away from annihilation?

I’ll tell you why.

Because there are things to do.

As a high school teenager maybe I was “too cool” to do these things or just didn’t think they were interesting enough for my “too good for the world” teenage brain, but there truly are plenty of places to go with your family, spouse, or just independently around the city.

There are fun activities such as bowling alleys, golf courses, tons of local parks to play at. There is an ice arena to do free skate, and there are plenty of events held there as well. We have local theaters that continually give performances or show popular movies. There is amazing local food such as SAUCE, Forte or the Landmark. There are adorable places to get coffee like Crown Street Roasting Company or Labyrinth Press Company. Grab a drink after work at The Pub, Souther Tier Brewery, or Brazil. Stop and get ice cream at The Sprinkle Cone, and while you’re there check out the skatepark right next door. A few days a week there is a Farmer’s Market to attend, or Historical Walking Tours to try. Our local library offers story time, classes, or fun lego activities for children. Get out and enjoy nature with a newly created Riverwalk trail along the river, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute or visit the Audubon Community Nature Center. There are even new  Escape Rooms to gather a group of friends and try out.

This doesn’t even include all the places in our surrounding area that are a just a drive away. Our beautiful Chautauqua Lake, Midway Park, Chautauqua Institution, the many wineries we have in our area, Allegany State Park, local places to ski, the list goes on and on.

I’m sorry, but you cannot tell me there is nothing to do.

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Because there are drugs and crime everywhere.

Face it. No matter where you go there will always be drugs and crime. Yes, we’d like to think that we live in a picture perfect town where everyone gets along and does what they’re supposed to do. I’m sorry but that has never existed, and will never exist. I’m not condoning drugs, and I’m not condoning crime, but I will tell you that you will never be able to completely run away from that. Drugs are taking over lots of places right now, not just our city.

People are beginning to realize the problem, and more and more people are stepping up, trying to make a difference.

Because the cost of living is lower.

This may not be true for everywhere, but compared to large cities, the cost of living will be more affordable. Buying a house in this area is a great way to start yourself off financially as opposed to some other places.

Because there is a sense of community.

Don’t you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. C’mon guys, I had to.

Living in this city means no matter where you go, you will always find someone who knows you. Growing up I thought this was slightly annoying. My mother ALWAYS ran into at least three people that she would have fifteen minute conversations with, and errands like grocery shopping seemed to take months.

Now I go to the grocery store with my daughter and the same thing happens to me, except this time it’s comforting. People ask me about my family, my job, my house, “and did you hear that so-and-so is pregnant again?”.

People truly care about one another.

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Because the city is trying.

There are tons of people in this city that are trying to make a difference. We now have the a local Renaissance Corporation that has worked so hard to improve the city in so many ways. They have started a farmer’s market, are working on creating a vibrant downtown atmosphere, are building community gardens, are installing programs to clean up our city, and coming up with friendly ways to encourage better looking homes. People in this city are trying.

And let me tell you they are doing a damn, good job.

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Because it’s home.

No matter what, the place you grow up in is your home. It’s who made you who you are today. The people, the places, the neighborhoods, the traditions, they are your home whether you chose them or not. Most of our family is here, and to us that’s home.

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Because if I move, how am I going to help make a difference?

Earlier I stated, “So why stay? Why live in a boring, drugged up, impoverished, diminishing, small city that seems to be minutes away from annihilation?”, and this is the biggest reason why. I want to help. I want to make a difference. I want to make this city beautiful again. I want to keep our downtown renovations worth something. I want my daughter to live in a place she’s proud of.

A lot of my friends have moved away. Do I blame them? Not even a little. Do I respect their decision? I do, 100%.

But for those that continue to ask me, why do I stay? This is why, and I hope you can respect my decision too

Decor · Life At Home

Think Outside The Box With Your Art

When it comes to art there are so many different types that can fill your home. From paintings to pictures, and sculptures to knick knacks there are tons of options to choose from when looking for the perfect decor.

For the longest time we did not have any art on our walls because of two reasons. The first being that I thought art was too expensive. The places I was looking just didn’t seem realistic to buy from because it was way more than I could afford. The second reason was I really didn’t know what I wanted. I had no idea what to put on the walls, or around my house on shelves and bookcases. I was totally clueless.

Then I started thinking outside the box. I began using all sorts of things as art, and some were so cheap or even free. I had the chance to try some DIY art as well, and it was a fun process.

Use magazines, cards or calendars for art.

We received a beautiful card at our wedding that was 3D. It was incredibly way too cute to get rid of, so for the longest time it just sat on my dresser. I had no idea what to do with it, when I realized, “Wait, it’s so adorable, why don’t I hang it up!”

That’s exactly what I did, and now each day I get to see this bright, little card that reminds me of my wedding day.

I’ve also done with this cool magazine ads or calendar prints that I can frame. SO CHEAP!

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Get crafty!

There are tons of ideas floating around Pinterest that it’s so easy to find something you love that is easy to make. Remember the blue button tree that was constantly pinned years ago? I thought I’d try that and now I love bringing this little orange tree I made out in the fall season. All it took was a little paint, buttons and hot glue.

I also made the fun little Welcome sign below. That was a little trickier to make. I used the same technique to make this as I did here.

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Repurpose something fun.

There are so many old pieces of furniture that you can repurpose. Old shutters, pieces or wood, doors, and old windows are just a few examples of things you can try to restore or paint over. Again, there are tons of tutorials and examples on Pinterest if you’re looking for some inspiration.

I bought this old shutter from a friend. It was so easy to sand down, and repaint so I can hang pictures on it with clothespins,

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Find cute prints that are meaningful and easy to frame.

One of my latest crazes is creating text prints to frame in my home. They can be fun and quirky, and add lots of character to a home. They are perfect for a fun gallery wall in your home.

A friend gave this to my daughter for her nursery and I think it is adorable!

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Check out some fun prints I have created at my Society6 store!

Life At Home

Fall Porch Decor

I used to only decorate the house for Christmas, but I’ve been getting into the fall season spirit by decorating a little bit more for the autumn weather. I’ve learned it’s actually quite cheap to do if you go to the right places.

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Pumpkins

Many people have asked me if I’ve painted these pumpkins myself. I wish I was that talented. No I did not, in fact those are actually decals that I bought from Groopdealz. They can stick right to the pumpkins.

The pumpkins are also naturally white. I got them from my local Wegmans on Halloween for so cheap. I also got the little ones for only $0.25.

Corn

The corn was purchased from an adorable, local produce shop that is always festive and seasonal. It added a beautiful, natural fall touch to the porch, so it wasn’t just pumpkins.

Doormat

I always love getting my doormats from Target. They are so cute! I had to have this fall doormat because of the gorgeous fall colors it had. It helps that it was only $10.99 too.

 

Happy Fall Y’all!

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Baby · Life At Home

Tips For Reading With Your Baby

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One of the most important things you can do with your child is read. Read anything and everything. Read them books, read cereal boxes, read signs, read menus, read, read, read.

Why read if they don’t even understand? Why try if they won’t stay seated? Sometimes it almost seems pointless with a toddler or a baby.

I promise you it is far from pointless.

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Why you should be reading with your child:

It introduces them to a world of new ideas.

From shapes and colors, to letters and numbers books provide children with a wealth of knowledge in print form.

It helps to teach your child about communication.

When they see a word and hear you say it, it shows them what reading is all about.

Reading builds many skills for your child.

It helps build listening skills as you read aloud to them, and vocabulary skills as they begin understanding these new words. Reading books over again may build memory skills with common words or phrases.

It gives children information about the world around them.

From different places, to unique machines, and exotic animals reading can provide information to your child that they may not learn about otherwise.

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Tips for reading with your child:

For young children find books with bright colors, and little words.

Allow them to really take in simple pages at a time.

Find fun books with different textures or feelings.

Maybe there is something soft on one page, and something bumpy on another. Keep your child engaged and connected to the book with the sense of touch.

Find interactive books for young children that need more engagement.

Pop-up books are great for reading with young children, or find books that have pages that open up to something hiding. They are interactive and will hopefully keep the child engaged for a little longer.

Read aloud to your child with expression.

If there is a small character use a high voice. If there is a large character using a low voice. If there is a rhyme, say it in a song. Keep it light and fun.

Point to the words as you read.

When you point to the words as you read you show baby that when you read you are speaking the words that are written on the pages. They will eventually learn to do this too.

It’s okay if they chew.

It’s fine if the younger children chew on books because that it how they learn, but don’t encourage it. Hopefully they will soon learn that books are not edible!

Don’t be afraid to read the same books over again.

Young children love repetition and might love hearing the same book over and over again. It will help them learn phrases, and will help with their reading fluency.

Snuggle up.

Cuddling or holding your child while you read creates a warm environment for reading.

It’s okay to not finish a book.

It is completely fine if you don’t finish an entire book when you read with your child. In fact, you probably won’t! If they just want to flip through the pages, or they are finished halfway through the book, it is okay. They are still getting small doses of reading at a time and learning how reading works, and that is better than nothing at all.

Ask questions.

Ask your child questions while you read. Things like, “What is the girl holding? A ball! You know what a ball is!” Try to connect it to their life. Using pictures can be a huge help.

Read every day.

Try to get into the habit of reading every day. It will show children that reading is important, and that we use our reading skills every day.

Have fun!

Make reading fun any way you can! Sing, dance, clap your hands, make noises, whatever it takes to have a good time while you read with your child.

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Shop my outfit here:

Sweater: ROMWE

Leggings: Nordstrom

 

*This post contains affiliate links.

Life At Home

Earn Money Back With Ibotta

I am always skeptical when I hear the words “earn money back”. Okay, what am I going to have to sign up for? How much of this is believable?

With Ibotta, you really can get money back. Is it a lot? Nope, but for me it’s basically free money, and I use it every week that I go grocery shopping. No that we’ve added a third member to our family the grocery bill seems to be higher than ever, and this app has saved us money here and there after only using it one year. Let me tell you how it works.

Once you sign up for Ibotta you can browse tons of stores to see if you can find a rebate. It includes Uber, Amazon, Charlotte Russe, Target, Walmart, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Thrive Market, CVS Pharmacy, Wegmans, Rite Aid, Babies R Us, Home Depot, Walgreens, Tops, Sam’s Club. I’m tired of listing them, but there are more.

 

Once you find your store, choose it and see if there is anything on there that you’ve purchased. Click the Plus Sign to add it to your items list. A lot of times they have “Any Item” which gives you $0.25 back just for making any purchase and showing your receipt.

They typically have at least one or two generic items like “Any Milk”, “Any Tomatoes”, “Any Baby Wipes”, that you may use, but for the most part they are specific brands. The Ibotta brands are always easy to see because they are white and pink. Below you can see the milk is an Ibotta brand, and the baby wipes is the other. I’ve made the most money off of random generic items more than anything else.

After you’ve gone through all the categories and checked which items you’ve purchased you will be asked to take a picture of your receipt, so make sure you have not throw that away. Make sure to capture the entire receipt. It usually takes me two or three pictures since our list is long. Sometimes the receipt may not catch some of the items you’ve checked, so you may have to click “Add Rebates” incase your milk or bananas were left off. Once you’re done click the “Collect Purchases” button, and you’re done. It will then tell you how much money was added to your account.

I don’t even look at the Ibotta app until after I’ve purchased my groceries. I found that if I looked at what was on there before I shopped I was buying something we didn’t need just to get the money back, and in the end I was spending more money. Now I use it and typically get about $0.25-$0.50 back a week just for doing my normal grocery shopping. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but all together I’ve made about $60.00 in the last year, from just doing my normal grocery shopping routine. You can only withdraw funds when they reach a $20.00 minimum. It’s easy, and I’m making money, so why not?!

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If you have any questions or would like help setting it up, please contact me. I hope you’re able to utilize this simple way to get money soon.