Valentine’s Day 2018

Happy Valentine’s Day! I cannot believe that February is nearly halfway over and like always, I didn’t get to do all the fun Valentine’s things I wanted to do with the kids. I feel like the days just blur together. We are heading to Disney World bright and early tomorrow morning and are so excited! Be sure to follow along on Instagram (@chanelvanreenen) to see all the fun!

The Dollar Store always has the best deal on basic heart balloons and I knew I wanted to do a fun little shoot with some this year. I bought 20 for $20 which is insanely cheap. Evelyn’s red tutu leotard is from Plum, which has a tutu in every color, for every occasion. These pictures go down as some of my favorites of all time 🙂 I hope everyone had an amazing day today! xo

The One Skincare Product I Can’t Live Without

This post is sponsored by Perricone MD, but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Ever since turning 30 a couple years ago, I’ve ramped up my skincare routine to make sure that my face stays looking young. I definitely make a conscious effort to take good care of my skin daily: I never go to bed with makeup on, I wash my face morning and night, I limit my sun exposure (aka I’m basically a vampire), and I only drink alcohol a few times a month. That being said, my skin still needs products that have been formulated to slow down the aging process as well as a myriad of other issues. I have combination, sensitive skin so I need products that aren’t full of dyes and perfumes.

Not everyone has time for a 10-step skincare routine and that’s where Perricone Cold Plasma Plus comes to the rescue. It’s the perfect staple for busy moms and women alike. I’ve tried pore minimizing creams before and none made my pores smaller, so I was skeptical about this one. Cold Plasma Plus is a serum concentrate packed with Copper Tripeptides to improve the appearance of firmness and elasticity, Vitamin C Ester to reduce the look of dark spots and restore radiance, while Omegas 3, 6 and 9 promote smoother, more supple-looking skin. I love that it’s fragrance-free so it won’t irritate my sensitive skin. You only need the slightest amount to cover your face so even though it’s pricey, it will last a while. I’ve been using it for 3 weeks and it’s hardly made a dent in the pot. I look at good skincare products as an investment and definitely don’t mind spending money on quality serums and creams.  Since using Perricone Cold Plasma Plus, my skin looks the healthiest I have ever seen it.

Bottom Line? Sure, Perricone Cold Plasma Plus is an investment but I think it is well worth it. Want to learn more about Cold Plasma Plus? Head to their website to shop and check out all their products!

3 Genius Ways to Clean Faster

This post is sponsored by Bona but the content and opinions expressed here are my own.

I absolutely love cleaning!  Said no mother ever. Between kids, pets and a full-time job, cleaning always falls to the bottom of my list. Whenever I need to do a quick cleanup of the house, I always rely on 3 foolproof methods that save my time and sanity.

Robotic Vacuums – I’ve talked about these before and ours has made my life 100 times easier. I set it to run whenever we leave the house or at night and it picks up all the pet hair and dirt that lingers on our floor. When you already dislike cleaning or have to clean up in a hurry, sweeping will be one less thing you have to worry about with one of these.

Laundry Baskets are your friend. I’ve mentioned this before, but when I need to declutter fast and I don’t have time to sort through everything on the counters, I place it all in a laundry basket and set aside. This makes my process of wiping counters and cabinets go so much faster. When I look at stray items on every surface it really overwhelms me. Having a clear mind (and surfaces) makes cleaning more manageable.

Bona Mop – Our hardwood floors have taken a beating since our house was built in 1985. The floors are still original and we probably won’t refinish them until the kids are a bit older and our dogs mellow out a bit. Until then, we try and keep them as clean and polished as possible. Instead of mopping with an old mop and bucket, consider ditching them and switching to a more convenient method. They are full of germs and just one more thing you have to clean. Bona offers a family of mops for every surface. There is also a variety of Bona hardwood cleaner products, depending on what you prefer. My Bona comes in handy the most when I’m cleaning up wet and muddy paw prints. Our house is generally chaotic between the kids and pets, but I don’t like feeling like I live in a pigstye. The mop is conveniently hung in our laundry room for quick access so that I don’t have to look at messy floors longer than I have to. Bona is definitely the next generation of wood floor mops and cleans my floors unlike any other mop on the market today. It has the largest base plate out of any similar mop which makes cleaning fast and easy. The assembly of the mop takes less than 2 minutes, the cleaner dries in record speed with no dulling residue, and the retractable handle hook allows for easy storage. Find out how you can get free shipping and how to save $5 on a mop of your own here!

Do you have any tricks or tips that you swear by for a quick clean up? Let me know in the comments!

DIY Teacher Gifts with 1800Flowers

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. Not just with my husband and kids, but with teachers, friends, and people who are special to me. Spreading happiness is something I love teaching my children and what better way to do that than with a simple DIY for Valentine’s Day. Two years ago I made a Peppermint Sugar Scrub for Henry’s teachers and my girlfriends which they loved but this year I wanted to do something a bit more festive.

1800Flowers has the most beautiful roses this year and I couldn’t wait to get some to make gifts for Evelyn’s teachers at her school. These farm fresh flowers were so easy to arrange and fit perfectly into paper cones. After I made the heart and xoxo design I printed them out on thick cardstock on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. You make think that rolling a paper cone is easy, but I kid you not I had to google how to roll a paper cone and it took several sheets for me to practice. After you’ve done a few, they get really easy. I taped them together, added some greenery and three roses per cone. Make sure that the stems are completely dry so the cardstock doesn’t get wet. You also want plenty of fullness so the roses stay put and don’t slide out through the bottom. After I assembled all the flowers, I added them to a big basket and off to school we went. The teachers at Evelyn’s school are some of the sweetest women I’ve ever met and deserve so much appreciation (and wine). I’m so happy Evelyn is somewhere that she is loved when she’s not with me. I can still remember dropping her off on her first day and crying the entire time she was gone. Now I count down the minutes until drop off. KIDDING! 🙂

You can download the hearts and xoxo files and print to make your own paper cones at home. The entire project took less than an hour and I used two Enchanted Rose Medley bouquets from 1800Flowers. They have an entire Valentine’s Day collection which has classic to unique bouquets plus other gifts (not just flowers) and you can save 15% with code CHANEL15.

Are you giving Valentine’s Day gifts to teachers this year? If so, let me know what your go-to gift is!

*This post was sponsored by 1800Flowers*

5 Ingredient Salted Caramel Iced Coffee

Happy February 1! Who is ready to start their New Years Resolutions today since January was basically a wash? Oh just me? Cool. Like most mothers, teachers, and students, my body is made up of about 70% coffee, 20% Diet Coke and 10% water. As much as I like fancy coffee from Starbucks, my husband doesn’t like me spending close to $50 a month on something I can drink at home. So if you’re looking for something to indulge in at home that doesn’t cost a ton, then I have the perfect (read easy) recipe for you!

I drink iced coffee all year long, even when it’s 20 degrees out. However, this recipe can be made using hot or iced coffee. It’s super easy and if you’re like me, you probably already have all the ingredients in your house. You’ve probably heard of Moose Munch and their delicious gourmet popcorn but you might not have known that they also sell delicious coffee. From whole beans to single pods, each cup has the rich and buttery Moose Munch flavor. For this recipe, I used my Vitamix to finely grind the coffee beans. [My house still smells amazing from the milk chocolate caramel coffee). Once the beans were smooth enough, I made a large pot of coffee in my Ninja on Rich Brew and then placed it in the fridge for a few hours. After the coffee was cooled, I poured one cup over ice and added 2 tablespoons Salted Caramel Syrup (I used Torani) and some non-fat milk to taste. Whipped cream is in our refrigerator at all times so I topped my glass with a heaping pile and drizzled with caramel sauce and a pinch of sea salt.

Your taste buds won’t even know what to do with themselves after a few sips of this coffee. The Milk Chocolate Caramel coffee mixed with the salted caramel syrup is to die for. If you’re looking for a fun twist on your morning coffee, then this recipe is for you. The best part is that you can enjoy a cafe style coffee at home! Do you have a favorite spin on iced coffee? If so, let me know below! xo

Navigating Through The Childcare Dilemma

This post is sponsored by KinderCare. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I’ve had a real job since I was 14 years old. I don’t mean babysitting or being a mothers helper; I worked for a company and received an actual paycheck. For the past 20 years, I have held a job, sometimes two, consistently and have never been unemployed (knock on wood). Before having kids, I knew I wanted to continue working and couldn’t even imagine not being in the workforce in some way. I held the same job for over 9 years in my adult life which saw me through an engagement, wedding, and the birth of two children. I was raised in a household where both my parents always worked. Not because they had to, but because my mother loved her job, being creative, and having a life that was more than just centered around her children. While my parents went to work each day, I went to preschool or stayed with family and loved every minute. I’ve always been outgoing so being around new people and making friends has always been easy for me. I thrive on daily interaction with friends and co-workers so it was really hard leaving them when I had my first baby. I remember crying to my mom on my first real day of maternity leave asking what I was going to do for an entire 12 weeks by myself with a baby that couldn’t interact with me.

Fast forward returning to work after my maternity leave was up and I dreaded having to leave my son all day long. I was lucky enough to work for a company that valued mothers and I was able to work 2 days from home so I could be with him. Even the thought of leaving him for half the week was unbearable. Was he crying for me? Did he miss me? Was he being comforted by the ladies in the nursery? Even though my internal mama struggle was there, I missed being around my coworkers and having conversations with adults. As much as I loved my son, being a mother was never enough for me. I always needed more to be fulfilled.

When my second baby was six months old, I left the corporate world to stay home full time. I wanted to enjoy my last babies early years and also explore a creative field. Even though I had been blogging for a while, it was more of a personal blog for friends and family. I decided to start putting more work into my photography and blog while I was home with my daughter, which was a perfect balance of filling my creative passion and also raising my kids. However, once I started to get busier I realized I needed help with Evelyn, and she needed to be interacting with children her age. Once again I was met with the childcare dilemma that I didn’t think I’d have to go through again. There’s a lot that goes into researching the perfect place for your child. It will essentially be their home away from home, and you want to be sure they are safe, loved, and have all their needs met. Luckily I found an amazing school with teachers who are warm, friendly, and loving. Even though I cried the entire first day she was gone, I knew she was in good hands (plus picture updates from her teachers made it easier). She talks about her school day, friends, and teachers non-stop so I know she is enjoying herself.

Fun Fact: My husband and I both went to KinderCare when we were younger. They’ve been around since 1969 and aim to help hard-working families in the workforce pursue their dreams and instill confidence in both children and parents alike. If you’re in the process of researching childcare centers, be sure to tour your local KinderCare. With more than 1,400 centers in 38 states, the chances of one being in your area are high. I have several friends who are working mothers that send their children to KinderCare. Their facilities are clean, warm, welcoming, and have an excellent reputation. With an award-winning curriculum, KinderCare offers fun and learning at an affordable price.

Are you a working parent who has to have childcare? If so, what are some of the things you look for? What is most important to you? I’d love to hear about your process when it came to choosing the right facility for your babies!

Setting up for Game Day in under 20 Minutes

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of popchips®

With only a week until the big game, my husband and kids have been talking football nonstop. Even though our home team isn’t going this year, we still love to celebrate and party. My son is at the perfect age to really enjoy football now and enjoys rooting for whoever my husband tells him too, haha!

I love hosting casual get-togethers because it doesn’t involve a ton of decorating or prepping. The Dollar Store and Dollar Spot at Target have plenty of game day decor, chip bowls, footballs and games for super cheap. I even grabbed some football bingo, foam fingers, and foam footballs for the kids to play with in case they get restless. I’ve done my fair share of party throwing and event hosting (thank you ever so patient husband) to have everything down to a science when it comes time for the big day.

Easy to grab snacks/food – No one wants to spend hours in the kitchen cooking when there are friends and family over. Buying platters, snacks, and drinks will save a ton of time. I was able to pick up all food at my local grocery store and ordered online. Popcorn, pretzels, and chips are always a fan favorite, no-mess snack. If you’ve never heard of popchips, they’re a delicious line of popped potato chip that are never fried (yay)! My favorite is the buffalo ranch ridges (they taste just like wings!) and my kids love the cheddar and sour cream. With more than 10 varieties, there is a flavor everyone will love. They’re also gluten-free, kosher, have NO trans fats, cholesterol, or preservatives. And since they aren’t fried, it means no grease or fingerprints on your sofa. Remember to keep it simple. You aren’t hosting a sit-down dinner so bite-size finger foods are absolutely fine.

Dining Table or Counter Set up – Guests will be too excited to sit down anywhere other than the living room (or wherever the game is on). There isn’t a need to put out nice dishes or place settings. Arrange your platters, chips, and drinks in one central location as a one-stop shop for guests to go refill their plates and cups.  We have a long, empty counter in the kitchen which looks out to our living room and TV which is the perfect spot for a buffet line.

Cute Doesn’t Always Have to be Fancy – Since popcorn tends to fall everywhere no matter who is eating it, I wanted to keep it enclosed in its own little pouch instead of sliding around on a plate. I used inexpensive brown paper lunch bags and rolled down the edges. I buy paper plates, napkins, silverware, and bottled beverages to keep my clean up as minimal as possible. Throw in a football helmet and stacking crates and you’re all set!

Do you have any plans for the big day? Who are you rooting for? Be sure to grab some popchips for your game day party and go team!

 

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