Back to School with Zazzle + Giveaway

Than you Zazzle for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Back to school means one thing: school supplies. With three kids in three different schools (elementary, junior high, high school) we are piling up the school supplies in record numbers. Between all my kids, we have 12 different classes that all have specific supply needs. One teacher wants blue notebooks and black pens, another teacher wants loose leaf binders and blue pens. Some want highlighters while others want pencils, and what on earth is with these super fancy (and super expensive) calculators that they need for calculus and trigonometry? And can someone please tell me what trigonometry is?

One of the biggest issues we always have with going back to school is finding a way to keep all of the classes organized. With 12 classes you can imagine the amount of homework involved. The kids all have special binder reminders that they get from the school, but at home, we need a way for them to stay organized with ALL of their responsibilities. I’m talking school, sports, extra curricular classes, personal plans. Way too much to do!

I found a super simple (and fun) way for them to keep all their to-do lists. I checked out Zazzle’s line of notebooks… really cute designs and fully customizable. I picked ones that were special to each of my girls.


My youngest, Lauryn, is a HUGE panda fan. She loves them and has to have anything with a panda on it. When I saw this adorable panda notebook, I knew I had to get it for her. The fact that I could put her name on it was a bonus.

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My middle daughter, Amanda, struggles with a lot of self-doubt. For her, it’s all about building up her self-esteem and letting her know that she is capable of doing whatever she wants to do. I wanted her to remember how awesome she is every single day.

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And for my oldest, my tennis player, I knew this was the right notebook for her. We are just starting tennis season and we’ll be inundated with practices and games and finding tennis balls all over the house.

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The kids love their notebooks and it’s such a great way to start out the school year with something special for them that they can use to get themselves organized throughout the whole year.

Looking for some other great back to school ideas? These are some of my other favorites.


Don’t forget… ZAZZLE’s Back to School Sale ends TODAY!


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There is a New Set of Villains in Town – “Disney’s Descendants”

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone. #Disney #VillainDescendants #CollectiveBias


A fairytale would be a fairytale with a princess and a villain. We usually gravitate towards the princess and all the goodness she envelops. I remember Temera dressing up on her first real Halloween as Cinderella, complete with crown and heeled shoes. She was gorgeous. Unfortunately, she fell asleep before we could actually get out of the house and that was the end of our Halloween. As the kids got older, we definitely made more of a play for the villains. When it comes right down to it, the villains are just more FUN.

My kids were on to the new Disney movie, Descendants, long before I was. They kept talking about it as if it was the biggest thing since sliced bread. I couldn’t figure out if it was another Disney TV show or a movie coming out in the theater. I finally got it that it was a TV movie, but would also be released on DVD. Kind of a brilliant marketing ploy… because my kids were glued to the TV when it aired, and they STILL had to have me buy the DVD (and the CD) because, well… my kids HAVE to have everything Disney.DCollageOn July 31st, the movie was released on The Disney Channel, and on DVD, at Walmart. For about a week it was on a loop on my TV screen. Every time I walked into the living room, Descendants was on. I finally stopped one evening and sat down with them to watch the whole thing. It only took me about 3 seconds to become totally engrossed in the storyline. If you haven’t heard of it yet (you must be living under a rock), it’s the story of the children of the evil Disney characters. Funny how they are suddenly ALL teenagers… and never mind where their father’s (or mother’s) are. That absolutely needs to be another movie altogether. The question these kids have to figure out for themselves is whether to be bad… or be good. No spoilers here… you have to watch for yourself.


You have your Villains: Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Cruella de Vil (101 Dalmations), Jafar (Aladdin), and the Evil Queen (Sleeping Beauty). The storyline has the villains sending their teenage kids to fetch the wand of the Fairy Godmother. And let’s face it… who WOULDN’T want the wand of the Fairy Godmother? 


The movie is typical Disney… lots of good, lots of bad, a moral at the end of the story, and lots of music.

And so I don’t have to be the only one with this ridiculous song going through my head, (we just call it the Ridiculous Song around here even though it DOES have a real title) I thought I’d burn it into your head as well.

We were really disappointed when we went to Walmart and all of the Descendant’s Dolls were sold out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Lauryn so upset. She was counting on getting all of them, just like she did when Frozen came out. We’re doll people in this house! They’re even sold out online. That tells you something… I’m sensing a sequel here. Good thing my kids’ birthdays are coming up… I need to find those dolls!

The DVD we got also came with a special bonus… a free Isle of the Lost bracelet. Now tell me how I’m supposed to divide this one up between 3 kids?


I’ve always been a Maleficent fan myself. After all, if you are going to side with evil, might as well side with the evilest, right?

Which is your favorite Disney Villain and what do you love about them?


Back to School is All About Organization and Erasing Stress

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser.
All opinions are mine alone. #EraseStress #CollectiveBias


My kids go back to school this week and while I think they handle the routine better than I do, I’m sad that they barely had a summer break. They finish up school the beginning of June and then they go back mid-August. The good thing is that they don’t have too much time to fall back into bad work habits. Now that I have a middle schooler and a high schooler, it’s all about erasing stress for us. We do that by being super organized and having really great study habits.

I’m fortunate that my kids are good students, but it could have turned out very differently. We emphasized how important a good education was from birth and we love our public schools. I wasn’t the best student, mostly because I don’t think I ever really learned how to study and take notes. These tips from my own kids can help your kids start the year off right.

Study Tips

FOCUS – It sounds simplistic, but setting yourself up for success is absolutely necessary.

  1. No TV or outside distractions. When I was younger I liked to study with some music in the background… it helped me focus more, but for many kids, any additional sounds are distracting. Things like siblings talking, dogs barking, cars honking… that’s why libraries are so great to study in. They are quiet. If you can’t get to a library, try and study in the quietest room in the house.
  2. Be prepared with everything you need right from the start. Make sure you have your books, paper, and pens ready to go so you don’t have to interrupt yourself to find supplies. If you are looking for some great bargains for supplies, take a trip to Target. They have a special Back to School section of the store with everything you need to prepare your students for success.
  3. Have a plan… and maybe even a stopwatch. Know what you are going to study, how many pages you are going to read, or how long you have (20 minutes, 30 minutes, etc.).


WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW? – When you have the subject that you will be studying, figure out WHAT you need to know.

  1. Vocabulary – words are important. By the time you are in junior high and high school, vocabulary words are NOT just for English class. You will be tested on them in science, history, and even math! Always keep a list of important terms you will need to know.
  2. Bold Text – anything in bold in your textbooks is probably something you will NEED to know. Those terms are a good starting point for you to organize your notes by topics. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be… most books give you the information you need right up front.
  3. Listen carefully to your teacher and make a list of what material will be covered on the test.

HOW TO TAKE NOTES – These are a few different ways to take notes, depending on the information you need to know (above).

  1. Bullet Points – these are a favorite because they get right to the point (no pun intended). You are basically making a list of the most important items you need to know. A bullet point list is easy to re-read over and over again.
  2. Diagrams – things like timelines (history) and formulas (math) will need to be added to your notes so you become familiar with them. You may be asked to write these out on a test so know how to diagram without looking at the book. They are also easy ways to visualize what you are studying. Sometimes a picture sticks in your mind better than the written word.
  3. Cornell Notes are the most common way of taking notes when studying. They are taught in my kids’ schools and have worked out really well for my girls.


Other Helpful Tips

  1. Notes are great, but make sure they are well organized. Keep a notebook with the added notes you take for studying so you don’t have to re-do them again when you have mid-terms or finals at the end of the year. You’ll be able to just pull out your notes and study what you already have written down.
  2. My girls used to take notes with pencils because they could be easily erased. The problem with pencil is that it smudges and after a long time pencil can fade. It doesn’t always lead to a neat and tidy paper. We’ve been using the Pilot FriXion Clicker erasable gel ink pens. That way, you can erase mistakes and still have the neat and tidy ink.
  3. Break notes down by color. For instance, try writing notes in black ink. Vocabulary words that are important to know can be written in red ink. Special phrases or diagrams can be written in blue ink. It will help focus your eye on the extra important notes.


Note taking doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. If you do it right from the start, studying your notes for test taking will be so much easier. I get it… going into junior high or high school for the first time can be scary, but if you have the right supplies… and the right attitude… you’ll be just fine.



One of the reasons we love Pilot pens so much is that they have partnered with STOMP Out Bullying. This organization leads the nation in bullying and cyberbullying prevention. We must help build awareness and help to fund educational programs that will reduce and prevent bullying of any form in our country’s schools. You can help by purchasing Pilot’s FriXion Clicker erasable gel ink pens. Between 2015 and 2016, Pilot will be making a minimum donation of $125,000 to STOMP Out Bullying. If annual sales goals are exceeded, additional funds will be donated. The additional funds, beyond the minimum $125,000 donation, will be determined based on sales performance & purchase quantities.


Between August 23 and August 29, you can receive 20% off the FriXion Clicker pen 3pk Assorted and FriXion Clicker pen 3pk Black. Shop Target for all your Back to School needs.


How do you erase your stress when the school year begins?

So You Want to Be an Entertainment and Travel Blogger? ENMN Conference 2015 is Here in Hollywood


Almost two years ago I was fortunate to have been asked to speak on a panel of influential bloggers at the inaugural ENMN Conference Conference in Anaheim, California for a discussion entitled, “Ask the Blogger.” Since this was the first of it’s kind, I didn’t know what to expect, but the thought that anyone would think of me as worthy of speaking to a room full of other seasoned bloggers was a huge compliment and an eye opener. Very few of us consider ourselves “expert” in what we do. Those who do are usually poor representations of what they claim to be. The REAL influencers never boast or brag and surely don’t think of themselves as knowing-it-all.

I certainly don’t come close to knowing it all, but I realized that I have a body of work behind me that speaks for itself. Does it make me an “expert?” Hardly. It does make me knowledgeable about my field (blogging, social media) and one of the things I love most to do is share that knowledge with others. Especially new bloggers.

This year, I was asked to come back to the ENMN 2015 Conference, this time being held in Hollywood, as one of the Conference Mentors. First of all, the fact that I was asked back is a HUGE compliment. Second, this opportunity gives me the chance to do what I love most: help bloggers. Help them find their voice, help them navigate their own blogging path, and help them with tips and tricks that have worked for me… and impart some of the things that haven’t worked so well.

Hollywood is the perfect place for a conference of this kind. Where else can you be in the heart of studios, celebrities, movies and TV?

If you are an entertainment or travel blogger… or if you want to be one… this would be the conference worth attending. You’ll get great workshops and panels and you will also experience some super fun entertainment… because after all, that’s what ENMN is all about. Work Hard – Play Hard!

Think this might be the right conference for you? I have a full access conference pass ($250 value) to give away and all you have to do is leave me a comment with answers to these two questions:

1. WHY do you want to attend the ENMN Conference September 9 – 13, 2015?

2. Are you ABLE to attend the ENMN Conference September 9 – 13, 2015?

I hope to see you all there!

Mary’s Secret Ingredients Box Review

Thank you Mary’s Secret Ingredients Box for providing me with a monthly box to review.
All opinions are my own.


What is with all these unboxing videos lately? My kids are addicted to them… ADDICTED! I have to admit, they are kind of fun. The adult ones, not the kid ones. We certainly have our own version of blind bag unboxing… and I’ve done a few clothing boxes, but I was pretty excited to get my Mary’s Secret Ingredients Box. I had no idea what was going to be inside, but take a look and explore it with me.

I was pleasantly surprised at what was in the box. There were food products I had never seen before… never even heard of before. For a family that loves to cook and try new things, this was perfect for us.


The Power O’s were a surprising favorite of my kids – I thought the fact that they were made with beans would be a turn-off, but they actually tasted like cocoa puffs and my kids said they would totally eat these. The Chipz Happen were also really good, but a little spicy so I would probably want them with some kind of dip. The Ruffus sauce we are waiting until we BBQ to try… maybe next weekend. And the grits are always a hit with my husband. You would think he’s from the South as much as he loves grits… nope, born and raised in California.


I’m a kitchen gadget lover, so the big blue spatula ended up being a lot of fun to use in the kitchen. I use it to scrape out cake batter and icing and anything else where I don’t want to waste a drop. It’s VERY handy to have around.

Would I get another box? I would! It was fun and I got to try products I wouldn’t have normally come across at a regular market.


What I love about Mary’s too is that when you support them, you are also supporting Feed the Children. You get a great kitchen box full of products AND you help them support a great cause.

Want to try out Mary’s for yourself? They only have a limited number of subscription boxes each season and they sell out FAST. I got the Summer Box, and the next one that gets sent out will the the Autumn Box mailing September 25th. I have no idea what will be in it, but if you get it, you have to promise to tell me. Or better yet, do an unboxing video and SHOW me. Each box sells for $29.95 or you can buy a yearly subscription and get all of them for $103.80.