Advent Calendars 2017: Day 1

Day 1 of our advent calendars.



The jam was DELICIOUS (and so much fun). There was enough to generously use on 3 slices of toast this morning.

This year we purchased:
Bonne Maman mini-preserves advent calendar
2017 Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar
Tsum Tsum calendar

Holiday Give Back: TWLOHA

This is another organization that is near and dear to my heart. My personal life has been touched by suicide, as I am sure many of you have had your lives touched as well. To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) started in 2006. I first found out about the organization from my best friend's daughter, and that year we made a donation in her name for her holiday gift. Since 2006, TWLOHA has donated over 1.8 million dollars to treatment and recovery, and has answered over 200,000 email from over 100 countries! Talk about an organization that is literally saving lives!

There are many ways you can give a TWLOHA gift this holiday season. First, is their gift catalog, which I have been looking at for a while to purchase a gift for my oldest daughter. Check out this awesome jacket!

And EVERY dollar that is spent at their online gift store goes directly to funding treatment and recovery.
If anyone is looking for a gift for me, I am LOVING this hoodie!

There are so many wonderful gifts (including sticker packs!!!) at their online store which you can check out here: https://store.twloha.com/
Or you can make a donation in a loved one's name!!!! What a tremendous gift giving can make!
You can check out the organization here: https://twloha.com/

Advent Calendars 2017

As many of you know, we open several Advent calendars each year. As a special preview, this year we will be opening the following advent calendars:




My oldest child chose the Bonne Maman mini-preserves advent calendar. She is 14. How fun will it be to make something with a new preserve flavor each day in December! I am most excited for this one (only because I assume she will share).




My son once again chose the 2017 Star Wars Lego Advent Calendar. I believe we have purchased this one (there is a new one each year) for the past 3-4 years. We did the Lego City one for a few years before that. He loves making all of the new Lego creations!




My youngest chose this Tsum Tsum calendar. This was a surprise because I don't think we own any Tsum Tsums-- at all, so this will be the most interesting because I am not really sure what to expect from it.

Come back on December 1st to see all the goodies that we open!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Kiva: Loans that Make a Difference

Our first stop on our Holiday Give Back tour this year is Kiva!!!!

Years ago, I started with my first Kiva loan. Since then, I have made 11 loans. Last year, each of my kids received a $25 gift card to Kiva, and what fun we have had this year! We kept everything housed under my Kiva account, and the kids each spent time reviewing different people needing loans.


My oldest gave her loan to a textile store, my son donated bulls, and my daughter helped pay the tuition for another child to attend school. We log in each month to see the progress of our loan, and have been able to make additional loans (as what we loaned out was paid out).

Kiva is a great way for kids to connect to the world around them. We checked out books on the "home" countries of our loans, and read more about each location. It has been fun, educational, and a great way to give back!

It only costs $25 to make your first loan, and when that loan is paid back, you can reinvest your funds into a new loan!

You can check out the loans we have made at:
https://www.kiva.org/lender/mamabreak

Westchester County Hosts Second Annual Holiday LIFT Campaign



Are you looking for a local way to help out those in need? If you are local to Westchester County, NY, than Lifting Up Westchester (LUW) is a great organization to be a part of! LUW is a nonprofit agency which provides homeless and poverty services to individuals throughout Westchester County. Their second annual Holiday LIFT campaign starts on November 4th-- just one week away!  The campaign offers tons of ways that the community can spread holiday cheer! 


I am so inspired by this amazing organization. Founded in 1979, LUW serves 4,500 men, women and children each year providing 140,000 meals to the hungry and 28,000 nights of shelter to the homeless. How incredible! 

Here are some of the details: 
Holiday LIFT activities will include distributing warm coats and winter clothing, providing 2,000 holiday meals from the LUW soup kitchen, filling and distributing 500 holiday food bags, and wrapping and delivering hundreds of gifts.  It will take an army of volunteers to get it done.

“It’s heartwarming to see the community come together during the holiday season to make sure that everyone has a special meal, receives a small gift or has warm clothing for winter,” explained Anahaita Kotval, executive director. “It’s particularly touching to see people of diverse religious and ethnic traditions helping our clients celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas or making a special effort to share their own heritage and traditions with our clients. 


Want to help LUW provide 2,000 holiday meals, fill 500 holiday food bags and provide gifts for hundreds of children and families in need? Here are some ideas:
  • Organize a food drive!!!! (Foods needed most are turkeys, hams, instant mashed potatoes, gravy mix, stuffing, canned vegetables, canned cranberries, cake and brownie mixes). 
  • Did you get a free turkey this year? Why not donate it to LUW?
  • Donate $10-$25 grocery store gift cards! 
  • Donate NEW winter wear like gloves, hats and scarves for residents of the Open Arms Men’s Shelter and Samaritan House Women’s Shelter.
  • Pick up an extra toy while out shopping this year and donate items like sports balls, board games and multi-cultural dolls for the children and teenagers in the Brighter Futures Youth Programs.
  • Donate money online at www.liftingupwestchester.org 

Check out more details on the Lifting Up Westchester website: 

Free Magazines

These are current free magazines:



Field and Stream
Marie Claire
Seventeen
Redbook
Elle Decor
Elle
Good Housekeeping
Esquire
Road and Track

This post contains affiliate links. 

Holiday Gift Guide: Non-Profit Style!

Hello Mamas!

I know, I know-- such a long time since our last post. I promise a full review of everything that has been going on. Those that followed me here from a group know what is occupying my time, but I promise a new post soon explaining it all!

This year, we thought long and hard about doing a holiday gift guide. We have done one for YEARS, and we really enjoy doing them. We want to focus this year on GIVING BACK. So, our gift guide will be filled with non-profit organizations that you can give to this holiday season! We aren't posting about them in exchange for a fee, product, or anything else. We just want to feature them-- FOR FREE-- to give back this holiday season. All posts will be shared via social media as well (just like any review).

Do you have a non-profit-- or work with one-- or even love one-- that you think we should feature? Just email us why you love the non-profit and a link to their website and we will feature them! It is that simple!

Email all ideas to: 2mamas@mamabreak.com


Greeting Card Universe Review: Just in Time for Mother's Day!

Are you looking for the perfect, fast way to let your mom know you are thinking of her? Did you know you can send a card to her thorough Greeting Card Universe?


Greeting Card Universe will even personalize your card with your own words and your own greeting, or you can choose one that has been prepared already!


The best part is, they will ship directly to your recipient, saving you a trip to the post office!

A great way to send a little cheer this Mother's Day!

Check out Greeting Card Universe at: http://www.greetingcarduniverse.com/

MamaBreak received cards to review here on the website. We did not receive any other type of compensation. As always, our experiences and opinions are our own. 

It's Snack Time: Almondina Toastees

What is your go to snack in your house? We were thrilled to receive Almondina Toastees for review! They are our go to snack in our house for the kids! And what do I love? That they are BAKED, that they are healthy, oh and of course that the kids love them!


My kids for sure get enough junk food. Candy, chips, you name it-- they love to snack. So why not give them something they can enjoy AND that is healthy? Almondina Toastees are a baked snack that is low in fat and cholesterol. They have a nice crunch to them and they are so tasty! My daughter loves the Cranberry Almond, and she keeps in her room for when she is studying.


Want to try them for yourself? This is a great Spring snack, and we know you will love them, so we are giving the same variety pack we received to one lucky winner! Just enter below!

You can buy Almondina on Amazon. Check out all of the amazing flavors HERE.
Or, you can locate a store near you with their storefinder: https://almondina.com/sl2


a Rafflecopter giveaway
MamaBreak received product to review here on the website. We did not receive any other type of compensation. As always, our opinions are our own. 


Mom's Guide to Diastasis Recti

As you may have guessed, I am a mom (wow! MamaBreak is written by a mom!!!???!!!). And I love being a mom. I have three children all delivered by c-section, with my oldest child delivered by emergency c-section. And recovering my body after it did something truly amazing has been difficult. I had heard about diastasis recti (which spell check does not even recognize) from a friend, and decided to do more research about it. See, I have this belly that never really went away after the birth of my three children. And as I lose weight, it seems like my belly is going no where.


I don't think my doctor has ever mentioned diastasis recti to me, which is not too surprising. When I was asked if I would review, "Mom's Guide to Diastasis Recti" and to host a giveaway, I knew I had to-- for both me and all of you.

The book isn't too long (thank goodness because I have all of 5 minutes of alone time), and thank goodness it fit into my handbag. It contains tons of information as well as quick exercises that were easy to follow and understand!

                                                     

If you have given birth, and your baby "bump" is still there-- you need to pick up this book! It is just $9.99 on Kindle from Amazon! Or enter below, and you can WIN your own copy! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Faith and Journaling

One of my new favorite things to inspire me this Spring has herb journaling about my faith. I was thrilled to be able to review the Complete Guide to Bible Journaling: Creative Techniques to Express Your Faith.

This book is such fun. It guides you through creative ways to journal with your bible and making your faith walk FUN! With stickers, stencils, and layouts to make beautiful bible pages, I love how this books takes your journey with the Bible to the next space to make it truly creative and your own!

Check out these cool tabs to add to indicate each book of the Bible, and this is just ONE of the many pages of stickers and tabs!

Oh, and did we mention that the book is only $13.38 on Amazon? A steal for everything that you get!
                                                        

MamaBreak received a copy of the book to review here on the website. As always, our experiences and opinions are our own. 

StyleWe and Just FashionNow for Women's Fashion


Are you looking for a fresh new site featuring women's fashion. We are loving the site StyleWe
Have you seen all the velvet jumpsuits out right now? So cute and oh so comfy!



Still looking for the fresh, new looks for Spring and Summer? Check out JustFashionNow. How about a sleeveless top for the warmer weather?



MamaBreak was paid to post this content. As always, our opinions are our own. 

Our favorite Lip balm: eos

Do you have a favorite product? One that you have used for years and could never imagine not using. We are going to be featuring some of our favorite things for Spring and Summer this week.

First up is our absolute love for eos. We have eos everywhere! On my nightstand, in the car, in each of the kids' backpack, in my handbag-- everywhere. It is easy to apply and I love the fun colors and the scent! Have you tried evolution of smooth yet?   Well, you can have smooth, fabulous lips with eos!

This post contains affiliate links. MamaBreak was paid to post about this product/ idea. All opinions are our own. 

The Click Trilogy Giveaway

If you are looking for a quick, delightful read-- the Click Trilogy is perfect! This collection of books includes Click, Double Click, and Right Click, all by the lovely Lisa Becker. I first read "Click" several years ago, and just fell in love with it. It is a fun, fast, and romantic read. Perfect for Spring!



We asked Lisa Becker our 5 interview questions for the month!

1. What inspires you to write? 
I've always been a sucker for a good love story.  I was inspired to start writing when I met my husband online more than 16 years ago when online dating was in its infancy.  After we married, I was recalling some of the hilarious experiences that I had with both traditional and online dating.  I decided to capture some of them in writing and from there, my first novel emerged.   My ultimate goal was to create a fun read for anyone who has ever had a bad date, been in love, been dumped, or is searching for "the one."  But, the happy ending is real.  Steve and I have been happily married for 13+ years and have two amazing daughters - ages 12 and 10. I continue to write to give hope to everyone that love is out there and remind them of my grandmother’s favorite saying: "for every chair, there is a tush." 

2. Who is your favorite author? 
Right now, I am obsessed with books by Colleen Hoover.  Her books draw you in from the very beginning and have these amazing, interesting, unique twists to them that make them compelling but very realistic.  I highly recommend checking out her books. My favorites are Ugly Love and November 9.

3. Tell us a little bit about a book you have written. 
The clique trilogy is comprised of three books – Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click, and Right Click.  The first book follows Renee Greene, who is fast approaching her 30th birthday and finding herself not married, not dating, and without even a prospect or a house full of cats.  She reluctantly joins her best guy pal on a journey to find love online in Los Angeles. The story unfolds through a series of emails between Renee and her best friends as well as the gentlemen suitors she meets online. Renee endures her share of hilarious and heinous cyber dates. Fraught with BCC's, FWD's and inadvertent Reply to All's, readers will root for Renee to "click" with the right man.  Double Click picks up six months after the original book ends, with Right Click taking place an additional six months later. 

4. What new and exciting things do we have to look forward to from you? 
In 2015, I released a novella called Clutch, chronicling the dating misadventures of Caroline Johnson, a single purse designer who compares her unsuccessful romantic relationships to styles of handbags.  Based on the great response, I received a publishing deal to release an expanded version of the book.  It should be available in August.

5. What helps you to stay happy? 
I tell my children to “choose grateful every day!”  Happiness is a choice.  Whatever is happening in your life, you can look for and find happiness.  I often find it with my husband, children, friends or a good book. 


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 Want to win your own copy of the Click Trilogy? Just enter below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Knot Genie on KidSteals Today!

Everyone! If you have been waiting to buy a Knot Genie or you need an additional one, KidSteals has them for as low as $9.75. We use our Knot Genie EVERY morning. We have featured them several times on the blog:
Here
Here  and
Here



Needless to say, we love the company, and love that they are available for such a low price. They are 100% effective at removing knots and it is the only brush I will use on my little one AND myself!

Check them out on KidSteals!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Love and War: Timeless (She Remembers) Giveaway!

I am so excited to bring you one of MY favorite things-- the author Josie Blaine. She is a lovely person AND a lovely writer and she has an all new book out called Love and War.

This month, we are going to be focusing on being happier, and bringing things into our lives that bring us joy. One of the things that brings me great joy is reading! With that in mind, each week I am going to introduce you to a new author you may not have heard of before, AND we will give away a Kindle copy of that author's most recent book!

This week, we are featuring Josie Blaine and her newest book Love and War. Josie is actually one of my very best friends, and we have known each other for over 20 years!!!! 

I asked Josie some questions about writing (we asked all of our featured authors the same questions):

1. What inspires you to write? 
I write because I can't not write.
2. Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author of all time is Laura Ingalls Wilder.

3. Tell us a little bit about a book you have written. 
Something About Sophia is the story of my great great grandmother. It is the tale of my family planting themselves on the plains, via the railroad and faith.

4. What new and exciting things do we have to look forward to from you?
A love story is on the way, and my publishing imprint, Sunflower Press ND, will be sharing stories of hope.
5. What helps you to stay happy?
My family is healthy. My friends are loyal, and my coffee is strong. Above all, God is faithful.
Josie's most recent book Love and War is a great fun, fast read. I enjoyed every moment, and it had me laughing and loving the characters! Set in the Dakotas, we see that "war stories" and "love stories" do not differ much from the past and the present. The book interweaves the stories to create a timeless story of love . . . and war. You can purchase your own copy at: 

And if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can download it for FREE! 

Ready to read it for yourself? Just enter below to win a Kindle copy of the book! 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

MamaBreak was not given anything for this post other than the constant love and support from the author. We are paying for the giveaway copy ourselves! 
This post contains affiliate links. 

Daily Deals Sites: The One We Still Love

So, WAY back in 2012 (wow! 5 years ago!) we used to post all of the time about daily deal sites. You know the ones-- and I loved them because they had their hay day when I had a baby-- Baby Half Off, MamaBargains, BabySteals, etc.

In case you didn't notice, almost every one of these companies have closed their doors. Many of them were my favorite sites to visit! And I would visit (and often buy from them) daily.
Today, I want to feature one of the sites that still remains (and still remains awesome) and why I STILL--- after all of these years LOVE them.



I was first introduced to the Steals network around the time they launched (within a few months). They launched April 2008, and I started shopping with them, I believe, in 2008 when my son was a baby (and we had first moved to the North). Either way, I have been shopping with them a LONG time. So why do I (and I think other moms) love them-- and they are able to survive the test of time:


  1. Customer Service. When other companies had lackluster customer service, the Steals Network has risen about the rest. I remember when they were every small and I emailed to ask a question, the agent emailed back asking about one of my children BY NAME (I was apparently even more active on their Facebook fan site than I thought). They have always been responsive to any errors. In fact, this past holiday season, there was an error in my order and it was corrected immediately (I got a refund because sadly my item was sold out). I think it was taken care of within 24 hours of me emailing though! Super fast service-- always. 
  2. They LISTEN to their customers. When we all said "shipping is too high" they found us lower shipping. When people ask them to look into a brand, they usually do. Have a brand you want featured? Email them! 
  3. Jana Francis. Jana Francis. Jana Francis. She is the brand and the brand is definitely her. There are actually 2 owners), but Jana is always talking to her customers, producing videos, chatting on the fan pages-- she is very present. And I think that matters. She is a real person behind this brand and she shows her love and passion for it-- even after 9 years! 
  4. Innovation-- what I love about steals is their willingness to try new things. They have tried more than 1 steal a day (they are back to 1 a day at 8 a.m. PST), a chat and trading site (which I LOVED!!!!), live sales (which I LOVED even more!!!! And I hope they have another because it was a BLAST!!!!), and lots more. I love the updates and the constant strive to make things better! 
  5. The points system! This was one of the new things they have tried and I love it. Did you know you can get 8 points a day just from logging into each of the steals sites? 100 points = $1 so it doesn't seem like a lot, but it adds up! You can get over 200 points a month, which will be about $25 in a year. Just make sure you are logged in and you will see your $$$ add up every day. 
  6. Finally, your baby can grow with the Steals sites. Of course BabySteals is my favorite-- but once your child gets older, you can move on to KidSteals, and of course there is something for mamas at SheSteals and scrapbook items at ScapbookSteals. A good variety of items every day! 

We will be featuring items from the Steals sites each week (some we own, some that are that day's steals) so join us! 

(For those curious, MamaBargains, BabyHalfOff, GreenBabyBargains, EcoBabyBuys, GaGaDeals, ASideofPeaches, and many more have all shut down).  

This post contains affiliate links. 

12 pack of Bai Bubbles as low as $5.97

This is an awesome deal! I think the lowest I have ever seen Bai Bubbles for! Bad Bubbles is Trim Healthy Mama friendly!

This sale DOES require an Alexa enabled device!!!


Here are the steps:

1. Tell your Alexa device, "Alexa, order a Bai Bubbles Variety Pack."
2. Alexa will ask if you want to buy it. Say no. (DO NOT ORDER!!!)
3. Go to this link: http://amzn.to/2k0xwHN to purchase.
4. Clip the coupon if it is not already coupon
5. Choose the Subscribe & Save option and click "Subscribe now"
6.  At check out, you should see 3 discounts taken off, making your total as low as $5.97 with 5 S&S items.



Want to learn more about Subscribe & Save? Click here.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Feeling Fabulous February!

January is done, and it is time to move on to February! Each year, I choose a "word" to focus on throughout the year. It is kind of like a new year's resolution, but instead focuses on an intention. This year, I chose the word "LOVE."




And February is supposed to be all about love, right?  But this February, I challenge you ALL to do something a little different. Instead of focusing on loving your family, your partner, or the other people in your life, I challenge you to choose YOU to love! Choose your SELF! It is one of the things I am trying for this year-- loving myself more.



So, all this month, I am going to share in ways I am working on loving myself more! There will be giveaways, recipes, reading ideas, and so much more! I cannot wait to share with you the ways I am working on being better to myself each day!

New Year, New You: Okra Challenge Final Weight In

Well, today is the final weigh in for my okra challenge, since I weigh in during my mornings. This morning, my weight didn't move at all, and I am at 243.2


I am fairly happy with the okra challenge. It was not pleasant on some days, but once I got down how to make the shake, even my husband and kids wanted some. I will definitely do it again if I ever have a weight stall! All together, I lost 3.6 pounds in just 7 days, so about 0.5 pounds a day which is amazing. I am just doing the challenge for 1 week.

Day 1/ Start weight: 246.8
Day 2: 246
Day 3: 245
Day 4: 245.6
Day 5: 245.2
Day 6: 244.8 
Day 7: 243.2
Day 8/ Last Weigh-in of Challenge: 243.2



New Year, New You: Okra Day 6/ 7



Ok, so yesterday was a crazy day (you all know how it goes with 3 kids), but I did weigh in in the morning, and I did have my okra. Weigh in:

Day 1/ Start weight: 246.8
Day 2: 246
Day 3: 245
Day 4: 245.6
Day 5: 245.2
Day 6: 244.8

So, I was down below that bubble of 245, so that was exciting! My lowest weight pre-holiday was 244.6 so I was just hoping to make it there by day 7 (I guess I will weigh Day 8 as well since today-- Day 7-- is the last day of having okra).

You all may be wondering what the heck I am doing, especially if you have not been around on the blog the last 7 days. HERE, the sisters explain about the okra challenge briefly and also give the recipe for the pumpkin big boy (I have been doing the chocolate big boy from the cookbook, which can be purchased HERE).
I have been eating in the Trim Healthy Mama way of life for 8-9 months now. I have lost  . . . oh my gosh I can finally say it . . . 33 pounds during that time (I average 1 pound a week). Since the holidays I hit a roadblock. I was not losing weight at all. I would step on the scale AND . . . nothing. Occasionally, the scale would even go up, so I thought I would give the okra challenge a shot.

So, let's look at the Day 7 weight . . . I am SOOOO excited!!!!

Day 1/ Start weight: 246.8
Day 2: 246
Day 3: 245
Day 4: 245.6
Day 5: 245.2
Day 6: 244.8
Day 7: 243.2

I can hardly believe it! I stepped off and back on to the scale a few times this morning just to make sure!!!! That's 3.6 pounds in a WEEK. A WEEK. After having a stall for SOOO long.

So, yesterday the shake was not awful thanks to the amazing ladies on the Trim Healthy Mama Facebook group. Seriously, if you are even considering doing Trim Healthy Mama, you have to join the Facebook group. The best support system EVER!!! So, they gave me a TON of advice, and these are things I did to change the taste (and make the shake not only drinkable but so delicious).

1. Blend the water and okra a TON before adding ingredients.
2. Drink IMMEDIATELY.

My Saturday shake was super frozen, so I actually ate it with a spoon for a while. It was almost like having a frosty. It was really good. It took me a while to eat/ drink the whole thing because it was so cold I was getting a brain freeze. Towards the end (it took me over an hour to finish), it was melted down a lot, and did start to get a little slimy and okra-y (I could taste the okra), so I recommend drinking/ eating your shake within 30 minutes of preparing it.

Someone did ask me if they thought the okra challenge would work WITHOUT being a Trim Healthy Mama. I cannot answer that conclusively, since I only have my experience to go by, but I would think it would still give you the same benefits and would result in weight loss. I am thinking of the Trim Taco Soup that was in Women's World, and I think non-Trim Healthy Mamas saw success with that.

Another question was if I ALWAYS eat Trim Healthy Mama. I am almost always eating on plan choices, but I don't know anyone who NEVER eats off plan foods. You simply give yourself grace for those moments, and work on your next great on plan meal. For example, I did have an off plan cookie during my okra challenge.

And one final question/ answer-- No, you absolutely don't need to have your okra in the big boy. There are a ton of okra recipes in the cook book and around the web that are on plan and would work just as well, I have been having some pickled okra here and there, and am adding that to my fruits and vegetables that I eat daily.

Tomorrow will be my last weigh in day, and I am excited to see what my final total is.

This post contains affiliate links.