Meet Lisa Dillard and Bumble ABC

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Published: 12/01/2014
Lisa Dillard is a local mom and founder of Bumble ABC


Bumble ABC was born out of the idea that it would be great if there were something else in the Woodbridge area for little ones.  I found myself driving further and further out to find things to do with my two year old son.  The idea was originally born out of that,” said Dillard.
 
Bumble ABC enjoys a partnership with Engineering for Kids, utilizing their space during EFK’s down time.  They use existing classrooms and add more “little kid” options including playmats, tunnels, and tents, and swap the regular Legos out for Duplos.
With the learning center that Engineering for Kids just opened, there was some open calendar space during the day, so we’re using the down time in their space until we can open our own space.
 
“Each week open play has a theme,” explained Dillard. “We change the dress up clothes, craft, and toys to engage the children.  It’s not necessarily structured, but directed play.”
Bumble ABC holds open plays on Monday and Wednesday from 10am-12pm.  Open play is $10 per child, infants are $5 or free with a paid sibling. Bumble ABC also offers discounts to mommy groups and private groups, with a maximum of 20 kids.  They also offer mobile classes for preschools as well as birthday parties.  Classes are currently available in Science, Music & Movement, Sports and Art (ages 3-6).  They plan to offer Baby & Me Classes and Music & Movement classes (ages 0-3) soon.
 
For more information about Bumble ABC, visit them on Facebook or their Website


Disclosure: Bumble ABC is an advertiser with PwcMoms, but all opinions are our own. 

Nordstrom Personal Stylist Experience

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Published: 11/25/2014
A couple of weeks ago I was freaking out about needing new clothes.  I have another job that's one of those great paradoxes where it's a very small job, but when there are events for it, there's a good deal of meeting important people or just general face time with the public, and I have just never been one of those people who can look amazing just by waking up in the morning.

In addition to that, I've been a professional mommy for some time now.  When I worked, I worked in Children's Ministry and my required wardrobe was church clothes and/or jeans so I could get down on the floor and play legos.

One does not play legos on the floor in a white jacket.  One does, however, go to meetings in one. Another Hayat pick (blouse, too)

Suddenly, I had a conference to go to and a few info sessions to help run, and I didn't have anything I deemed suitable to wear.  After having a little Facebook panic, a friend suggested I schedule a shopping trip with a Nordstrom's stylist. It's free, it's easy, and there's not a minimum purchase, although they are paid off commission, so they certainly don't mind if you want to buy it all.

I picked an appointment with Hayat Ali out of Dulles Town Center, who was a lot of fun.  Prior to the appointment I indicated my size, what I do, type of things I was looking for, and she had an entire dressing room ready to go.  What I liked, we kept, what I didn't was whisked away.  When I needed new sizes or an accessory she made it magically appear.  You can book an appointment for a full style overhaul, a special occasion (think Mother of the Bride), a custom appointment, or a quick style session.  Note that if you're a hard fit (think button up shirts, my nemesis) Nordstrom will tailor your clothing free of charge.

(That's Hayat behind me- super nice and easy to work with!)

The good news is, this was totally awesome.  The bad news was that at the end, I picked out $4,000 of things that I wanted.  I didn't get them all, but I did pick up 2 jackets, 2 blouses, and a pair of amazing dark wash jeans to pair with items I already had.  I spent more money on myself than I have ever spent, but I felt amazing in everything and picked items that worked well with lots of things, although if anyone wants to get me a present, I have some suggestions.

Hayat was great about identifying what I like and what worked well on me.  She knew colors and cuts to maximize my good parts and minimize my flaws.  I was really happy with everything, and it helped me to feel really confident this weekend.  It's weird to be the oldest young person in a room- still "young" but with older kids, and with a really strange resume.  I could have total self-confidence on my own, but I don't, so this was a great boost for me.

This is me in one of my outfits- I've just finished around 18 hours of training and an exam- but everyone kept telling me how fantastic this blue blazer was- great job Hayat! (The lady on the left was President Reagan's personal assistant after he left office, incidentally an awesome woman!)

The other great part is that once you've worked with a stylist, they know what you like and if something fantastic comes in that they know you like, or if that jacket you wanted but was out of your budget goes on sale, they'll let you know. I would totally recommend doing this for a big event, or if you're heading back to work, or if you just like to shop and would like some help identifying new trends for your wardrobe!

So.  That's my overview of working with a Nordstrom stylist.  It was awesome.  If you go, you should pick Hayat.  You should also go with a budget in mind, and be okay with the fact that you can't get everything you want, and will have to make hard choices.  They're really really good at making you look your best, so you'll want it all.  I felt really happy with myself when I was done, and that was worth both the time and the money I spent.

PS- since I've now shown you my blazers, be sure to look surprised if you show up somewhere and I'm wearing one of them, mmkay? Thanks.


Nordstroms didn't solicit this review or pay me.  In fact, I paid them.  All opinions are my own.  I am not responsible if you look so foxy your husband takes you out or if you look so professional you get a promotion- but you could definitely thank your stylist.

Elite Maid Squad

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Published: 10/30/2014
We had a LOT of talk on Facebook the other day about cleaning services, and so I'm very excited to introduce our newest advertiser, Elite Maid Squad!

Elite Maid Squad offers online booking, same day cleanings, and flat rate pricing based on the number of bedrooms in your home. Extras like windows, linen service, appliances, and more are also available to add-on.  With the holidays coming, now is a great time to treat yourself to a little extra help around the house! Before family shows up, you can ensure your home is sparkling and ready for visitors!

Elite Maid Squad offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and is also locally mom and veteran owned! Right now, you can save $25 per cleaning on your first three cleanings when you use code PWCMOM2014! That's Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a fresh and sparkly New Year for you!

Guest Post: Supplements While Nursing

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Published: 10/28/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Thanks, Corry! 

Supplements for Moms who are nursing (Pre/Postnatal)

This is a question I am often asked - what supplements are safe during pregnancy.  Max Muscle Sports Nutrition carries several that I highly recommend to pregnant and nursing moms (if you aren't nursing, you aren't sharing the supplements post-partum with your baby so you can choose any range of supplements).

Protein Powder - these are easy portable ways to get nutrition in on the go, especially when you either don't feel like eating or don't have the time to cook protein.  Max Muscle offers a variety that are safe for both mother and baby.  MaxPro and Triple Whey are milk based proteins and generally safe for for pregnant moms.  Test babies tolerance if nursing by having one shake a day, if baby shows no signs of increased irritation 1-2 hours post shake than you can assume it was ok.  If you desire is to add more shakes do so, every 2-3 days, similar to how you introduce new foods to your baby.

Omega 3-6-9 - opt for a high quality nutraceutical.  This is good for both mom and baby - reducing inflammation, enhancing brain function and provides essential fats.  Another option is the Omega 3 plus.


Multi-Vitamin - choose a high quality prenatal multi-vitamin and take it during your entire pregnancy and post partum as long as you nurse your baby.  The additional iron, folic acid and b-vitamins are good for developing red blood cells, reducing neural tube defects in babies, and preventing anemia.  I highly recommend the MN Prenatal.


**For more on this topic, be sure to check out Corry's book- 9 Months In 9 Months Out.  Written by several women who are both mothers and experts in their field, this book discusses the second nine months of pregnancy- the ones AFTER the baby is born.  


This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                       Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Review: Malones of Manassas

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Published: 10/21/2014
I feel like I should re-title every review I do "Kristina's Sub-Par iPhone Photography Presents:", but I'm not going to because that's a lot of typing to have to do every time. 

Ain't nobody got time for that. 

But what they do have time for is a nice dinner out at Malones of Manassas.  Located in what used to be a church, Malones has a warm, intimate feel.  It's slightly louder than I would have expected, but I think that's just the voices carrying as they do in church basements- although this former church basement doesn't look like a fellowship hall anymore.  There's lovely stone and a wine wall and a bar complete with flatscreen TVs in case you want to have date night but your husband needs to watch the game.  I think the people actually seated at the bar were most interested in that :) 

 Hello people sitting near us! I'm taking a picture of the ambiance and you're in the way.  I hope you're having a lovely dinner.
So, on to the food! This is a white cranberry martini, which looks like Christmas to me, with tiny ice crystals and red cranberry garnish.  Tasty!  We ordered an appetizer, but it never made it to our table, which was okay because we decided that meant we were destined to order two deserts instead of one. Better!
 This is a "side for sharing" of Macaroni and Cheese.  It has ham, peas, and breadcrumbs and was pretty fantastic.  I thought all the pasta dishes needed salt, but I probably need to be in a 12 step program for sodium addiction, and there was salt on the table, so no big deal.  I love macaroni and cheese, and yes, I ordered a side of Mac and Cheese with my Tortellini.  I don't eat white flour normally and so since this was a review I needed to make that sacrifice in the name of....

Science.  We're going to go with science.
 For dinner, Austin got the Pork and Beans 2.0 which was homemade bangers- which he says were outstanding (I tried a bite and then stole another one and I don't typically do sausage).  The beans were not just Pork and Beans from a can- they were smoky and yummy.  He picked out the pork belly- it's not his thing- but I'm asking him to describe the dish to me right now (at 8:30 am) and he's telling me he'd eat it again right now for breakfast.  I'm pretty sure that means he likes it :)

Behind that is their crazy cobs.  You need to stop what you're doing right now and go get some of this corn.  We weren't sure it'd be great because the corn season isn't really October, but again, this is for science.  I would go back and order 4 servings of corn and just sit there and eat it with everyone staring at the crazy lady.  It was that good.
This is my Eggplant Tortellini, which, as I mentioned, I ate with a side of mac and cheese.  It was really yummy and I appreciate when a restaurant can do vegetarian well.  I was a vegetarian for 2 years and sometimes they just throw whatever junk they've got at you and assume that if you don't like meat you don't like food.  This was not the case here. 
 Dessert!! As I mentioned, not getting an appetizer meant two desserts seemed logical.  This is a "congo bar" which was a blondie with nuts and chocolate chips served warm with ice cream and caramel sauce.  It's really sweet but really delicious!
The creme brûlée (which is my hub's favorite dessert of all time) came with cranberry chutney on it, which neither one of us cared for- although the creme itself was great! 

Our dinner total was $102- so obviously Malones is more of an "occasion dinner" although we certainly could've not gotten 2 deserts and 2 sides if we were being budget-concious.  They do also have a bar menu and a lunch menu and a Sunday Brunch (which includes something called Stuffed Croissant Pudding, and I'm not sure how I've lived my entire life without having that in it).  This would be a great place to take visiting in-laws you need to impress for brunch.  

We really liked Malones.  We'd definitely eat there again for a special night out, or for a lunch or brunch at a great location! 

I'm really enjoying getting to experience Old Town Manassas, it's making the move from Woodbridge a lot easier to find a bunch of cool new things to do and places to go- so thanks to Malones for having us out!


We were provided with a gift card to do our review, but all opinions are my own.  Also, you probably shouldn't really eat 4 servings of corn all at once because I'm not sure what that would do to your stomach, but...that sounds like a science challenge, so if anybody wants to go cob for cob, I'm totally in. 

FREE Admission- Community Appreciation Week 2014 at the Freedom Center

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Published: 10/18/2014
This week is free admission week at the Freedom Center! We love our membership at FAFC- it's great for taking the kids swimming, my husband's actual workouts, and me pretending I can do Zumba with rhythm.

I can't.  But nobody laughs at me!

Below is the full schedule, but here are a few highlights!

Monday October 20th-
Eating for Weight Loss and Cooking Demo- 7pm

Tuesday October 21st-
Complimentary Breakfast in the Lobby- 6:30am and 9:30am

Wednesday October 22nd-
Les Mills Body Combat Class at 10:30am

Thursday October 23rd-
Technogym Orientation in the Weight Room 8:30am

Friday October 24th-
Family Movie Night in the Pool! 5:30pm (We plan to be there! Find me!)

Saturday October 25th
Family Fun and Fit Day 4pm-6pm

Sunday, October 26th-
Babysitting Certification (Registration Required) 9am-4pm


Review: Massage Heights

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Published: 10/16/2014
Some days, it is good to be a blogger.

Some days I refuse to use that term...but some days- it's a good gig.

Recently my neurologist told me that I would benefit from massages.  The muscles in my neck and head are all wound up and that's pressing on the nerves at my incision site (I had brain surgery if you're just tuning in) and that's giving me headaches.  The idea of someone touching me made me a little nervous because, well, all that stuff is really tight and painful.  I don't really like talking about it (so I don't) but if you see me, I'm in pain.  Every day.  Some days are better than others (kind of like with being a blogger) but it's just a fact of life that I live with now, so I didn't want to let someone hurt me MORE by giving me a massage and I didn't schedule anything.

At Bumps, Babies and Beyond, I was stationed with Massage Heights directly behind me.  In fact, they brought a chair and were giving quickie seated massages out- which I didn't try because if I was going to cry or something I didn't want to do it in the middle of Potomac Mills Mall.  The owner and I talked, though, and she said that she knew just the person to work on me, so I had to come in and try it out.

Well, fine. If it's in the name of research for my website, I guess I need to man up.

Massage Heights is located in Dillingham Square in Lake Ridge, across from Jerry's Pizza and the Teachers' Store.  I was signed up with Laura W. who actually did additional training so she could work on people just like me who have some complicated things going on with their muscles.

All I can say after my 1 hour massage is that y'all, I am so dumb.

I mean, seriously- I should have tried this forever ago.  I stood up from the massage table and I could roll my head back! I've always hear the expression "I have a knot in my back" but you know you can actually feel those suckers untying? It's crazy!


Laura was wonderful and really took time to understand what was going on with me, what I was looking to accomplish with my massage, and talked with me to make sure nothing was painful the entire time.  Some things were a little uncomfortable- working the knots out of my neck, for example, but nothing was painful, and I felt so great afterwards....

that I signed up for a membership so I can get one of these a month.

For real.

Massage Heights offers introductory massages at $59.99 for 1 hour, $89.99 for 90 minutes, or $119 for 2 hours.  You can also add "elevations" to your massage starting at $12, including hot stones, reviving foot scrub (I tried this, it felt lovely!), revitalizing face mask, or active therapy.  Aroma therapy is included for first time guests and members.  I opted for a mint scent because I am the only person on the planet who can't stand lavender- it smelled fantastic. They have four scent blends available, though, Relax, Breathe, Energize, and Revive.

Memberships are flexible with three price points and the ability to use your membership at any location (so if you're at the beach or away on business, you can find your nearest location there) and benefits also roll over, so if you skip a month, you can get two the next month.  I have this evil plan where I don't go again for 4 months and get one a week, but I'm not sure I can wait that long.  I have another evil plan where I make my husband go to massage therapist certification.

Instead, I think I'll just book my next appointment on November 1.  That's probably better.

For more information about Massage Heights, or to find additional locations, visit their website or Facebook page.



Disclaimer: I was provided with a 30 minute massage to complete my review.  I opted to up to an hour, which I paid for. All opinions are my own. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying massage if you have any kind of "issues", but otherwise, you should go.  And call me, because I would totally take an excuse to go extra.

Guest Post: Postnatal Nutrition

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Published: 10/14/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Thanks, Corry! 


Postnatal Nutrition:
Wow...9, really 10 months is over and now you really want to get your body back in shape.  Well, hold on, it took 10 months to put on the additional weight, and it may take the same amount of time, some less some more, to lose it!  Here are the basics for eating to lose baby weight:

                If you are breastfeeding, do not begin dieting until after your milk supply has been established - this usually takes 2-4 weeks.  Also if breastfeeding ensure you are drinking ample amounts of water to maintain milk supply.  A good way to ensure this is happening, drink 8-10oz. of water every time you nurse your baby.

                Do not lose more than 1-2 pounds per week and do not drop your calories below 1000.  Losing weight too quickly may lead to fatigue, loss of muscle, decreased milk supply, depression and sagging skin. 


                Follow the same guidelines as during pregnancy when it comes to the foods you should be consuming until baby is at least 3 months old.  After 3 months postpartum your body is well on its way to recovery.

**For more on this topic, be sure to check out Corry's book- 9 Months In 9 Months Out.  Written by several women who are both mothers and experts in their field, this book discusses the second nine months of pregnancy- the ones AFTER the baby is born.  


This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                         Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Date Night: Cheers Art Studio

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Published: 10/06/2014
Gina from Cheers has been inviting me out for some time to check out their studio- but to be honest, I've been avoiding it because I have zero artistic talent.

Maybe negative zero.  Can you have that?

Anyhow, we were near each other at the Bumps, Babies, and Beyond Expo and she invited me to come for their first "Date Night" this past Friday, and since there was nothing on the calendar, I said yes.  I figured worst case scenario, my husband and I could make fun of each other's total lack of talent in the painting department.  Don't get me wrong- if you need a room painted in one solid color, my husband is a boss- but painting anything else? Probably no.

But then, the strangest thing happened.  We had a ton of fun, and it turns out we don't suck nearly as much as we thought we did!

Let's back up.  Cheers is a "fun evening out" venue in Woodbridge off Minnieville Road.  You can bring your own libations and snacks, and an art teacher takes you through a prepared project.  I found individual Tiramisu and Wine Juice Boxes.  I am not really a drinker- and these were gross.  I don't recommend them.  (Or maybe that's just me not being a wine drinker) The tiramisu was good.

On the night we went, we were making two love birds sitting on a branch.  The sample project was daytime, but the teacher went on to demo an evening scene for those of us who needed different colors for our houses- which is what we went with. The people sitting near us were really nice, and incidentally, our friends showed up (totally unplanned!) so that was fun, too! First we did some swirly colors.  I was really good at this part.  Light in the center, dark on the outside.  The good news is, if you accidentally get some red or some green in your brush, people think you were being artsy! Just go with it! Don't tell them you're, in fact, a giant klutz!
Next we made birds.  There was a trick! We made ovals, filled them in, and then put the brush flat on the canvas and swirled it around itself to make the head.  #EvenICanDoThat
So here's where it started to get a little dicey.  I happen to like following directions.  My husband, however, wanted to be all innovative and do squares instead of circles.  I wanted to get an attitude about the fact that our finished product wasn't going to look like the teacher's (and therefore was not going to be winning), so I just sat back and let him go with the squares.  If I'd been making my own, I would have copied EXACTLY because that's how you DO it. 
 I drag this poor man out to more weird stuff than is fair, so the least I could do was let him do the squares.  Then he abandoned me to take a work call, so I added some color to each square and decided it was okay since everyone else was like "Wow, squares!!" I assume they were doing that to be nice, but I am pretending it's because it looks good.
In the end, we totally had fun.  We were even both impressed with our ability to make swirly colors and birds.  I'm not saying we're going to quit our day jobs, but it turned out pretty good considering the source (namely, two un-talented people!). I think we'd actually both really like to do it again- which is really surprising because this is not our thing.  I'd get my own canvas, though, so that I can copy the teacher exactly, because that's the kind of kid I am.  If you like to work cooperatively, that's perfect for date night...but if you're a little more independent, there's lots of individual options, too!    There was lots of laughing going on, and everyone seemed to have a good time. 
Ultimately, everyone's seemed pretty happy in the end :) A lovely way to spend a Friday night with my favorite guy in the world. 

For more information about Cheers, and to see their upcoming projects, visit their website or their Facebook page.  

Thanks to Cheers for having us come out! While our session was gifted to us, all opinions, including those about wine in a juice box, are my own.  As always when I'm talking about date night, make sure you use a designated driver. 

Guest Post: 8 Easy Steps to Save Money, Help the Environment and Our Community

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Published: 09/23/2014
8 Easy Steps to Save Money, Help the Environment and Our Community

Being green is a big buzzword these days. Everyone has heard of being eco-friendly and helping to reduce the environmental footprint, but many don’t know what they can do, or think their one contribution won’t make much of a dent.

At home, you can help protect the environment in so many ways. Every small step helps our community to become cleaner and helps make an impact on the environment. 

Everyone can do their part by practicing the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

We can all make some changes in our home that are easy and save us money! Here are some tips that are easy to do:
  • ·      Reuse and recycle what you already have! You can save tons of money on storage containers by reusing glass and plastic food containers when they are empty.
  • ·      Participate in recycling programs, such as recycling cans, plastic, glass and paper products.
  • ·      Use bio-degradable trash bags that are made of corn and dissolve over time, adding less plastic to our landfills.
  • ·      Save water and energy by avoiding using permanent press cycle when doing laundry, which uses an added 5 gallons for the extra rinse. Wash laundry in cold water, since 80-90% of the machines energy is used to heat the water. I promise your clothes will be clean!
  • ·      Avoid washing your car in your driveway.  Who has the time anyhow! Few people realize that washing our cars in our driveways is one of the most environmentally unfriendly things we can do. The average home driveway car wash uses 140 gallons of water, whereas an environmentally friendly car wash uses just 30 gallons and recycles water in a controlled water management system. And the soap chemicals run off your car and go straight into our storm drains which eventually get into our river, streams, creeks and bays where it poisons aquatic life and wreaks other ecosystem havoc.
  • ·      Use non-toxic cleaners in your home. There are many natural cleaners on the market these days that you can buy.
  • ·      You can also make great environmentally safe cleaners out of regular household items. The acid in white vinegar makes it naturally capable of killing mold and bacteria, and you can use it to clean mirrors and windows. Baking soda is great for deodorizing, especially with all that sports equipment from your kids.  Lemon juice is another bacteria killer and is a multi-purpose cleaner that’s useful for scrubbing walls and floors.
  • ·      Turn off Lights: I know this sounds incredibly easy and almost silly, but turning off the lights when you are not using them, as well as putting your computers, TV’s, etc on a power strip and turning them off nightly, saves tons of money and energy.  Electronics use a huge amount of energy, so turning them off helps reduce our energy consumption.


Not only will this help reduce the environmental footprint, but can also rid your home of the toxins that can cause major health problems from continuous exposure or even small amounts of exposure over time.

You can also help teach your children about being good to our earth by making small changes in your home which are easy, more economical, and SMART!


This post is brought to you by Suzanne Behrens, owner of The Smart Car Wash in Woodbridge.  Suzanne is a mother of 3, local business owner, and someone who cares about keeping our community clean.  You can reach her at sbehrens@thesmartcarwash.com .

Blue and Grey Ladies' Tea @Weems Botts

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Published: 09/22/2014

Giveaway: Manassas Restaurant Week

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Published: 09/19/2014

In honor of Manassas Restaurant Week (September 21-27, 2014!!) I am so excited to share a special giveaway from one of the participating restaurants, Malones of Manassas.  



Located in the heart of Historic Downtown Manassas (9329 Main Street), Malone's is actually located inside an historic, landmark church built shortly after the Civil War. Malone's houses both a casual and upscale restaurant and bar offering the best of Southern American cuisine and hospitality. 


Their executive chef, Scott Bilstad, brings over 10 years of culinary experience to Malones.  His expansive knowledge comes from studying in prominent kitchens throughout the US and Europe.  Chef Scott also studied in Japan while serving our country in the United States Navy.  A native of Fredericksburg, VA, Chef Scott supports using local, fresh ingredients and is currently curing his own bacon, prosciutto, salmon, and white fish- all of which are considered "featured items" at Malones. 

Owner Kevin Malone is also a local! Kevin has over 30 years experience in the Restaurant, Hospitality and Management Industry. A native of Manassas, and graduate of Osborn High School, Kevin knew that when the time came to create his own dining experience it would be back in his home town of Manassas. He’s added a contemporary twist to all his client’s favorite dishes and libations in a setting that is as unique and conversational as the menu. 



Now let's get to the exciting part (although home-cured prosciutto is pretty exciting):

During restaurant week, Malone's will be offering a 3-course menu for $35/person.  Awesome! You can make reservations by calling 571-208-1246.  

Malones will be giving away a $70 gift card to a lucky reader! That's enough to cover two people for dinner during restaurant week! How awesome is that??

To enter, use the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure: This prize is provided by Malones of Manassas.  Winner assumes any liability/risk. By entering you agree to be bound by our Giveaway Rules, which you can find by clicking here. PwcMoms is not responsible for you over-eating, becoming addicted to homemade bacon, or having a fantastic time, although we'll take the credit for that last part if you want to give it to us.  Please use a designated driver if you decide to enjoy a cocktail (or two).  Driving Buzzed is not cool, and I live in Manassas now, so stay off my roads.  I was compensated for writing this post, but all opinions are my own- including those about bacon.  

Giveaway: The Loaded Diaper and Arbonne

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Published: 09/18/2014
PWC Momma KayLynne Parker has got the ultimate baby shower giveaway going on this week!! KayLynne creates custom diaper cakes at "The Loaded Diaper."

I love a woman who's comfortable slinging a few puns around :) 

Here are a few examples of her work (these are just examples- not what you'll win, necessarily):
 You would so win at baby shower if you came with this cake and a copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Just totally own it and blow everyone's mind.  I'm serious.
This is just adorable.  I know a lot of moms are doing a zebra and pink themed nursery for their little girl- and this would fit perfectly.  

Of course, you can design your own, too! Use the theme of the nursery, the theme of the shower, a color of choice, whatever you want! 

KayLynne also happens to be an Arbonne consultant, and she's going to throw in some Unwind Bath Salts in Camomile and Ylang-Ylang from their Aromassentials line.  You know, because new moms need to relax. 

(Or because you need to unwind after going to a baby shower.  All that fake "ooooh" and "ahhhhh" can really take it out of you. Either answer is fine.)


Enter to win a diaper cake in either "boy" or "girl" (I'm sure she can do gender neutral if it's a surprise!) and Unwind, too! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway



As always, this prize is provided by the sponsor.  PwcMoms is not responsible for prizes, satisfaction, reactions, staying in the bathtub all day, or being attacked by an angry mother-in-law who feels like you showed up her Lansinoh pads with a cuter present. It could happen.  Have you met my MIL? Luckily for you guys I'm not pregnant.
Anyhow, for those of you still reading, by entering you agree to be bound by our giveaway rules, which you can read by clicking here.

Guest Post: Eating for Two

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Published: 09/16/2014

Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to. Thanks, Corry! 

Eating for Two
You've always considered yourself a healthy eater.  You take special precaution to make sure you have enough protein, the right amount and types of carbs, you've included the 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies and the good fats...but now you're about to have a baby or just had one...now what?  The same principles of healthy eating and supplementation apply to pregnancy and postpartum but the difference is - what you eat, your baby also eats.  Many moms find that they actually eat healthier knowing their baby is eating what they are eating.  However (yep, me included) many moms also like to indulge in their yummy, not so healthy friends - the fast food, desserts and oh so necessary salt - THAT IS OK TOO!
Lets talk specifics:
Prenatal Nutrition:
With a growing baby in the uterus, mom will go through many different phases of what she is craving and what she wants to eat.  Here are the basics:
•                Protein - provides the basic building blocks for growing tissue (aka BABY).  The National Academy of Science recommends 74-100 grams of protein per day during pregnancy.  Try to get protein in small amounts throughout the day - not into eating meat, try protein shakes, and dairy.
•                Carbohydrates - ah, this number is elevated during pregnancy to give the mom and baby energy.  The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is 175 grams per day.  My rule of thumb, 80% of the time choose healthy carbohydrates and the other 20% choose what your body is really craving - sweets, salt, etc.
•                Fats - have a variety of fat daily.  Great choices include nuts, avocado, olive oils and fatty fish.  Pay careful attention to fish with high mercury levels and eat them no more than once per week (albacore tuna).
•                Remember, you only need an additional 200-300 calories in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters.  Most women only need to gain 25-35 pounds of weight during pregnancy; anything above this is weight you will be working extra hard in the gym post baby to take off, while you are overly tired and adjusting to a new schedule.  So, indulge, but not too much!

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                         Corry Matthews 703-772-7113

Giveaway: Rock n Stroller 5K

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Published: 09/09/2014
The Rock N Stroller 5K (http://rocknstroller5k.com/) is the ONLY event of its kind!! It is designed for families and strollers so they aren’t banished to the back of the pack, they are the pack!!

This event takes place in ALEXANDRIA VA

The Rock ‘n’ Stroller 5K is so much more than the most family-friendly run/walk this side of Sesame Street…it’s also the Best Playdate Ever because of the Freakin’ Fabulous Family Fun Festival that will be in full swing when the participants return from the course.  Things to look forward to at this year’s Freakin’ Fabulous Fun Festivals include:
  • A kids concert with Rocknoceros live on stage
  • Free stuff your kids will love (and that doesn’t need batteries, talk or make noise)
  • Creative crafts
  • Skills challenges
  • Freeze dance
  • Air guitar competitions
  • Scooter and stroller test drives
  • Red light green light
  • The chance to create your own tie-dye RNS5K shirt (an extra fee applies for this activity)
  • Snacks and drinks
  • Lots more fun stuff we haven’t even come up with yet
This is one 5K where the finish line is only the beginning, so we hope you’ll join us on September 21 for the Best Playdate Ever!
 We are offering a registration special, enter code GUITAR for $10 off each adult! Its going to be so much fun and we would love to have you play with us!

Want to win a free registration? When you've finished reading this post- head over to Facebook and leave a comment with what type of stroller you run with! 


As always, this giveaway is governed by our giveaway rules, which you agree to by entering. 

Guest Post: How Do I Get My Child to Eat Healthy?

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Published: 09/02/2014
Earlier this summer, I asked you for your fitness/health/nutrition related questions for Max Muscle Owner Corry Matthews to respond to.  Here's the first one- it's actually a few questions in one! Thanks, Corry! 

Your nutrition is the key to your child’s.

What’s the single best way to change your child’s dietary habits – look at what you (as the parent) eat!  With school starting parents always ask “How do I get my child to eat a healthy breakfast?”  and “How do I ensure they are eating the right stuff for lunch and/or dinner?”

Here is the same question phrased a little differently “How do I get my children to stop eating junk”, “How do I get my kids to eat vegetables?”

In today’s society eating “balanced” can be really hard with commuting, long hours and after school activities.  The truth is – it starts and ends with the parents!  You are your child’s primary role model and your children look to you for what to eat.  Think about your breakfast today…did you have one?  Was it coffee?  What did your children see you eat before you tackled the day?  How about you dinner last night – did you eat all your vegetables?  Did you make sure everyone had a serving?
Setting goals as a family is key to getting everyone to eat better!  Here are a few simple tips that will help…

  • ·      Eat within 30 minutes of waking up
  • ·      Get at least 3 solid meals per day – start of the day, mid-day and end of the day
  • ·      Add a protein to every carbohydrate (yep, even breakfast & snacks)
  • ·      Think COLOR for every meal – what veggies or fruits can you add into your meal?  Remember, moms and dads you have to eat it too!
  • ·      Don’t drink your calories – this goes for everyone in the family – only exception should be milk for those under 2 or underweight

Small meal ideas:
  • ·      Half a whole-wheat bagel with almond butter or tahini
  • ·      Yogurt shake made with vanilla yogurt, banana and orange juice
  • ·      Hard-boiled egg sliced with whole grain toast or bowl of low sugar ceral
  • ·      Small bran muffin (homemade or one you trust to be wholesome) with nut or seed butter
  • ·      Almond butter on cinnamon-raisin toast
  • ·      Half a turkey sandwich in pita bread with sliced tomato and sprouts
  • ·      Small bowl of low-fat granola topped with half a banana and a dollop of yogurt
  • ·      Open-faced broiled low-fat cheese on whole-wheat
  • ·      Breakfast food can be served anytime of the day AND, you don’t have to serve breakfast foods at breakfast

This post is brought to you by Corry Matthews, owner of Max Muscle Sports Nutrition in Manassas and Springfield.  Corry is a mother of 2, author, and certified nutrition expert with a speciality in pregnancy-related nutrition. You can reach her at: 
                                                               Corry Matthews 703-772-7113


Getting Ready for Kindergarten

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Published: 08/27/2014
Our friends at Christ Chapel Academy have some tips for all of you getting ready to send off a Kindergartner!


Robin Banford-Geisler and Genia Cole have worked together teaching kindergarten classes at CCA for the past five years.  Last school year, they were chosen co-teachers of the year at the annual teacher recognition luncheon held on June 12th.  Each teacher is an amazing teacher in her own right, sharing her passion for education, and love for learning with her students.  They both understand that the early years of school are foundational to helping students to become confident life-long learners.  Each of them models Christ to their students, supporting self-discipline and positive character development. Working together, however, they have been able to challenge their young students to discover and develop their unique gifts and talents. 

In the video, Robin and Genia share tips that can help you get your new kindergartner off to a great start!




Feel free to share any additional tips that you have learned that can be helpful to other parents reading this blog. 


Credentials:
Robin Banford-Geisler BS/Early Childhood & Elementary Education; Masters/ Reading Literacy, George Mason University
Kindergarten Teacher
Elementary School

Eugenia Cole BS/ Christian Elementary Education, Virginia Baptist College
Kindergarten Teacher
Elementary School


Christ Chapel Academy is dedicated to unleashing the leadership potential within each student.  Academically rigorous programs, a vibrant christ-centered community, and a unique multicultural learning environmentmake CCA a great option for parents who want a smaller school but don’t want to sacrifice big opportunities for their student(s).  \

Christ Chapel Academy was voted as the “Best Private School” in Prince William County in 2014, by Prince William Today readers. 

Learn more about Christ Chapel Academy at christchapelacademy.org

Dirty Dancing Live in DC!

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Published: 08/14/2014
Okay, okay, okay.  I know "Dirty Dancing" isn't necessarily little-kid-friendly, but it's my moms favorite favorite favorite (I'm going to repeat everything 3 times like the goose from Charlotte's Web today, apparently) and I'm really excited to have it playing live in DC!


Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage
National Theatre, August 26-September 14
DIRTY DANCING – THE CLASSIC STORY ON STAGE is an unprecedented live experience, exploding with heart-pounding music, passionate romance, and sensational dancing. Seen by millions across the globe, this worldwide smash hit tells the classic story of Baby and Johnny, two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives. Featuring the hit songs, “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the heart stopping “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” London’s Sunday Express says “This crowd-pleasing stage adaptation hits the jackpot!” Don’t miss your chance to see this record-breaking live theatre sensation. You’ll have the time of your life!


Use code MELON for discounts on select performances and prices. Offer valid at all points of purchase, limit 8 tickets per order. For discounts, click HERE 
For more information on Dirty Dancing on Tour, click HERE

Review: The Bouqs

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Published: 07/29/2014
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was invited to check out a relatively new floral company called "The Bouqs", which several of you mentioned having seen on Shark Tank.  They invited me to check out a bouquet and share a little about the process with you guys.

On their website, they operate with the idea that "Sending online flowers sucks" and they've worked to streamline the process for you.  Pick the flowers you like from the side of a volcano, schedule delivery- but know it takes at least 6 days, pay, and boom.  Alternatively, you can select flowers from California for faster delivery. Flowers arrive 5 days after being cut, and Bouqs farmers are provided with living wages, healthcare, childcare, and education benefits.  I'm into ethical business, so I think that's really cool.

 I was a little nervous when my Bouq arrived because the package was pretty damaged and I wasn't sure how long it had been on my porch.  My son was smart enough to point out that if the flowers grew on a tropical volcano, they probably wouldn't be bothered by a little Virginia heatwave.  He's a sharp one, that kid.
 Inside the flowers were well wrapped and didn't seem at all damaged by whatever got the box.
A little info card on the business practices of the Bouqs company.
The flowers came in two bundles, which I washed, gave a fresh cut, and took off a few outer leaves before arranging in my own vase.
The flowers come with this weird gel goop on them, which I assume is to keep them hydrated during shipping.  The kids wanted to know where they could get more of that gel for the purposes of having a goo fight. 
 It's a little weird sending flowers to yourself.  What do you write on the card? What can you possibly say to yourself? I went with "Stay Awesome", mainly because that was what the shirt my 7-year-old was wearing said the day I ordered.  The Bouqs offers several "occasions" and I picked "Talk Like a Pirate Day" but I don't think that my card looks any more pirate-y than normal.

Arrrr.
 Here are my flowers all outer-petals removed and trimmed to fit my vase.  I am not a florist, but I play one on the internet!! These flowers arrived on July 23rd....
And this is them before I went to bed last night (July 28).  The yellow roses opened up really well and are gorgeous.  The peach ones, for whatever reason, all drooped over and aren't happy.  I think tomorrow when I change the water I'm going to pull them out. Grower Direct (the first people to come up on a Google search) says that cut roses should last an average of 4-12 days in a vase, so they seem to be right on target.

You can check out The Bouqs for your flower needs, and they also have a contest going on right now to win free flowers for 6 months- check it out! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with free flowers in order to complete this review.  Yes, I really picked "Talk Like a Pirate Day" as my occasion.  I'm weird. If you guys haven't figured that out by now, I really don't know how to help you.  Tell your husband to buy you flowers to help make up for this startling new revelation.  Oh, and make sure he tries out a random holiday, too, so we can all be funny together. 

Giveaway: Smart Wash

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Published: 07/23/2014
If you're anything like me, this summer has been filled with swim team (wet towels), VBS (glitter!), back-to-back activities (lunch in the car!), and fun outdoor activities (sand/gravel/mulch).

That means that your car looks like some kind of demented scrapbook of all the things above.  The floor of my van is covered in goldfish, sand, craft materials, and dirt.  I feel like I can admit that to you guys, because if you haven't ever had a messy car, you're not really a parent, so you can stop reading my website.

Still here? Excellent.

PwcMoms sponsor The Smart Car Wash of Woodbridge is not only 100% eco-friendly, they also do a bang-up job of clearing out your kids' ongoing summer memories collection, at least as it's found on the floor of your sedan.

The Smart Car Wash recycles wash water, uses bio-degradable chemicals, hand-drys vehicles, uses local brick/recycled materials/forest council certified lumber on its buildings, wind turbine power, and takes all the steps they can to keep the environment clean while cleaning your vehicle.

To help get you on your way to sparkling clean, The Smart Car Wash is offering a lucky winner a $50 gift card! Use it for whatever services you'd like including exterior-only wash, full-service wash, or interior/exterior detailing packages!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



By entering, you agree to be bound by our Giveaway Rules . 
PwcMoms.com is hosting this giveaway on behalf of The Smart Car Wash, and is not responsible for services rendered, or how jealous people are of your car once it's so fresh and so clean clean. Or for any Lego pieces that are lost from under the seats in your car when it's vacuumed.  Just sayin.  This giveaway is not affiliated with Apple/Google/Facebook or anyone else using a forklift to empty their bank account. Good luck :) 

Review: Norwex with Ashley Miller

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Published: 04/22/2014
What I like most about Ashley is that she was honest about the fact that she hates to clean. 

Well, no, what I like most about Ashley is that she was a donor to my Silver Sparkles event to benefit Brain Tumor/Brain Cancer research.

But it's a close second on the honesty.

I personally enjoy organizing, and I like it when things ARE clean, but I don't necessarily want to send the kids off with hubby on a weekend so that I can scrub things from top to bottom.  And by "don't necessarily" I mean "not gonna happen".  Ever.

In the homeschooling crowd I run with, we have a lot of what I would call crunchy granola types.  I like that about them :) but that means that I had heard of Norwex before, but I hadn't actually tried it.  I think they are most known for their microfiber cleaning cloths, which contain a special type of silver that makes each cloth be antimicrobial and antibacterial without you having to douse them in any kind of spray, which I've been trying to phase out of my home since getting sick.  Can't be too careful with the neurotoxins (not that I'm hating on the cleaning supplies, because sometimes I don't care how bad they are for me, I'm going to use them- case in point, the last time something "accidentally" got dropped in the toilet. #CloroxBleach)

So, these are the cloths:
Mine happen to be blue, and not pink, but I did not let that oversight cloud my review ;)

So I actually tried some of the crazy things they say you can do with these (example: "wipe up butter and then clean your windows!!!" Who would do that? Seriously. But I did! And it did work! But I felt gross about it, so then I rinsed the cloth out and did it again).

I did not try some of the other crazy things they say you can do with these (example: "wipe up raw chicken and then wipe your kitchen table!!" That's cool, but no thanks.  I'm gonna take your word for it- they have studies and youtube videos if you'd like to check, but I'd just rather clean my nasty chicken juice off with some super-hot wash cycle, thanks!)

So the cloths are cool, and you can totally order some! Ashley also mentioned to me that she thinks their towels are Ah-mah-zing.  These are pricier than the microfibers you'd get at the dollar store, but they do offer the antibacterial silver and they really do suck stuff up.  If I wasn't in the middle of moving, I would love to do some kind of Bounty commercial type of experiment where I see how much blue mystery liquid these can hold versus a cheaper version. 

And then I'd make a tri-fold board with the results, because I'm a dork like that.

Moving on, Ashley also brought me some of the Norwex Ultra Power Plus Laundry Detergent, enough to run 3 loads in a traditional washer/dryer.  It's pricey for regular laundry machines at $21.99 for 40 loads.  However, I have an HE washer, so I got to use 1 teaspoon per load.

1 teaspoon is not a lot of detergent, y'all.
In the interest of science, I even brought down a teaspoon measure for you guys.  That is dedication.  For real. 
Further proving my dedication, I took pictures of my nasty kitchen towel.  You know, the one I used to wipe of chicken juice with since I wouldn't use the Norwex cloth. This, in cold water with 1 teaspoon of the detergent turned into this:
Which I would qualify as a win. If you're interested in products to help keep your home clean without chemicals, I would definitely recommend you get in touch with Ashley!! You can use her website to contact her.  Thanks for the fun review, Ashley!



PwcMoms.com was provided with free products in order to perform this review.  No other compensation was provided. 

Guest Post: Fit Mommies

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Published: 04/09/2014

Max Muscle is an advertising sponsor of PwcMoms.com.  You can find them in the Harris Teeter shopping center at the intersection of Hoadly and the PW Parkway.  Owner Corry Matthews is happy to provide fitness consultations, product recommendations, and more.  It might be called Max Muscle- but the store is designed for people at any point on their fitness journey. 

Review: NOVA Plastic Surgery

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Published: 04/03/2014
I had a rough year.  The surgery, the radiation, the turning 30, the inordinate amount of time in hospitals (which are really drying!), and I really felt about 20 years older than I actually am.

That would make me feel 50, in case addition's not your thing this close to Spring Break.

So, when I was contacted by NOVA Plastic Surgery to come in and check out their offices, I was really excited to go.  I'm totally cool with women doing whatever makes them feel happy with themselves.  For me that's not any serious nip/tuck action, although maybe that'll change when I'm a little older and a little further out from brain surgery, who knows. Luckily, NOVA Plastic Surgery offers several non-surgical options, in addition to surgical procedures such as breast augmentation and brow lifts, for making yourself feel like the best version of you.  I have a few friends who have gotten Botox, but I opted for a Broad Band Light (BBL) treatment which uses focused light to help correct sun damage, freckles, redness or obvious veins.

Because I am roughly the color of Elmer's glue, I use sunscreen like it's going out of style, but I still had a little bit of sun damage, which isn't surprising since I burn if I don't reapply ever 40 minutes (no joke).
Inside the Ashburn waiting area
When I got to the office, everyone was lovely and kind.  I am, at this point, something of an expert on medical offices and their reception staff, and the ladies at NOVA Plastic Surgery get a 10 for being calm, friendly, efficient, and easy to work with.  I went to the Ashburn office, which is a bit of a drive from Woodbridge, but as with any medical procedure, even one that doesn't involve cutting, you want to make sure you have someone qualified who makes you comfortable doing the procedure (they have a 5 star rating on Yelp! Nobody gets 5 stars on Yelp!).  The waiting area is very spa-like and I actually enjoyed the entire experience as a sort of "me time" event, rather than a trip to the doctor's office.
The BBL Machine
Dr. Nukta and his staff took me back, talked with me a little bit about the BBL procedure, and noted that it was really all I qualified for since my skin is in pretty good shape, which was great to hear!! The process is really very simple.  They lay you back and put on some tanning-style glasses, however the light they use is so bright you'll see it through your closed and covered eyelids.  Then, Dr. Nukta selects spots to treat, and the targeted irritation encourages your skin to heal itself and correct any damage.  It's slightly uncomfortable- it felt like a snapping rubber band and I definitely jumped a little, but I feel like it really did help with evening out my skin tone.  Most women severe issues will want more than one treatment, but I did notice a change in my skin tone, although since I "didn't have far to go" it may seem subtle to those who don't stare at my mug in the mirror every day!
I can't even begin to apologize for making you look at me up close like this.
So above is me directly after the procedure.  I was much more red than most people will be, but even if your skin isn't as sensitive as mine, you'll want to give yourself 24-48 hours before you have a photo shoot or go out to dinner.  Jenn, the patient coordinator, called to check on my redness level and make sure I didn't have any after-care questions, which I really appreciated.

Dr. Nukta was so easy to work with- he is professional, kind, and instantly puts you at ease.  He is double board-certified and specializes in plastic surgery of the face and body, migraine surgery, and hand surgery.  In addition to his stellar academic qualifications, he was also named in "Guide to America's Top Surgeons" in 2013.  I wasn't sure what to expect when meeting with a plastic surgeon- I was a little afraid that I would walk out with a laundry list of things that were wrong with me, but to the contrary, Dr. Nukta was honest, realistic, and didn't try to up-sell me on every possible correction we could make in any way shape or form.  It was really a very enjoyable experience.

I would not hesitate to recommend NOVA Plastic Surgery to any mom, whether she's wanting to do a little maintenance or make some drastic changes.


 NOVA Plastic Surgery performed my BBL treatment and follow-up check free of charge in order for me to write a review.  All opinions, observations, and witty sarcasm are my own. All medical decisions should be made based on your unique history and circumstances with your physician.

Giveaway: Chrysalis Bangles at Touch of Gold

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Published: 04/02/2014
I love Touch of Gold.  I miss working at Touch of Gold.  It was so lovely to have a day of quiet, adult conversation, even if practically every dime I made went to jewelry...which, let's be honest, is also lovely :) 

What's great about TOG is that in addition to their high-end jewelery, they stock several "fun" lines that are great for girlfriend gifts, nieces, graduations, birthdays, etc.  When I am no longer paying for things like hockey or music lessons, I plan to collect Troll Beads like they're Pokemon cards- Gotta Catch Em All. 

For today, Touch of Gold is giving away a bangle from their new Chrysalis line.  They are genuine gemstones with charms for $49, birthstone/charm bangles for $36, or charm bangles for $29.  They come in silvertone or gold plated- and their launch special is buy 2 get one 1/2 off the lowest priced bangle.

They're so cute, right? I think it'd be especially cute with one for each child's birthstone- like a mommy necklace, but sparklier.  More sparkly? I'm not sure- look, it'll be blinged out, and that's awesome.

Enter to win using the rafflecopter below.  As always, by entering you agree to our rules.  Winner must pick up their bangle at the store in Historic Occoquan, it won't be shipped.  This means, you're going to need to tell your husband you have to take your three best friends for lunch and shopping.  You will survive ;)

Good luck, and thanks Touch of Gold!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Party Ideas: Leftover Potluck

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Published: 12/25/2013

Entertaining is one of my favorite things.  I love to fill our house up with family and friends and have a really great time.  Since we celebrate several holidays and birthdays between Thanksgiving and New Years, it's a good thing that I like entertaining, too!

However, entertaining for the holidays doesn't have to be complicated!  Last year, when I looked into my fridge at our Christmas leftovers (Day 3) and realized that I didn't have room in the fridge for anything new, but I didn't want to eat prime rib anymore, I decided that I was going to have everybody over!  A few Facebook messages later, my equally nutty friends had thrown some plastic wrap over their leftovers (and in the case of one party fan-favorite, grabbed a 12 pack of Taco Bell Tacos) and headed to my house for what would become the first-annual "Christmas Kotluck".  Everything I ever host somehow becomes annual.  In fact, when people RSVP "no" to things they frequently say "I'm busy this year- but when you do it next year, I'll be there!" Not sure how that happened, but whatever! I thought that we'd have trouble getting people out for a "leftover buffet", but everyone I asked said yes, and while you can't see it in this picture, we had over 30 people crammed in our townhouse for this between adults and kids! Half-drunk bottle of wine? Bring it over! Half a honeybaked ham that you can't eat anymore? Great! We had beef, so it's a welcome change!  It was actually really fun!
Unrelated Aside: Yes, Kotluck.  Because our last name is Kotlus.  I grew up with the last name "Schnack" and I thought I'd gotten over things like "I'm really hungry, I could go for a Schnack" and "Hey, Kristina! We're going to call your group of friends the "Schnack Pack"! Like Pudding!" and "Running, huh? I guess that makes you a healthy Schnack!" But noooooo, now there's a Kotluck.  Brilliant. 

This was BY FAR the best party I've ever hosted.  Nobody had to prepare anything, so everyone was completely un-stressed.  I threw a few plastic tablecloths on over every surface I could find that would pass as a table, everyone enjoyed someone else's new-to-them food.  We even all agreed to be horrible parents and feed the kids first before sending them off to play so we could enjoy "grown up" dinner! After eating, everyone stayed and played games until late into the evening. 

Even this "guy":

While I may joke about everything becoming "annual", our leftover potluck is definitely a new tradition I plan on keeping this year, too!  Fun, low-cost, and fabulous, it was worth repeating as a great way to have friends over without busting our budget or stretching our sanity to the breaking point!!  How do you keep your holiday entertaining simple and easy? 

(PS- sorry about the odd pictures- I forget to ask people's permission to use them in posts, which limits me to pictures without faces!!)
daytime playtime - a fun place to Learn.... a great place to Grow A Play Gym Designed for Parents and Children Aged 10 Months to 4 1/2 Years... Elite Maid Squad