Valentines Day Gift Guide for Her

I know a lot of y’all are thinking “Gosh, is it already FEBRUARY???”, but not me. February never sneaks up on me because it is my birthday month! Wanna know something else? My birthday is the 15th! The day after Valentines Day! I have told my husband from the day we got together that he is not allowed to combine the two and gift me one thing! I expect (and frankly think I deserve) two gifts! I mean if my birthday fell on any other day of the year I’d get separate presents, right??

Every single year for Valentines Day my husband gets me tulips which are my favorite flower. Even though I know to expect them, I still love waking up seeing them on the table in the morning. After 13 years of marriage it is still one of my favorite little traditions. This year, we will be in London for both Valentines Day and my birthday which I’m sure will make this week of my life extra special!

Below are 11 gifts that I think any lovely lady in your life would love, especially the one who stole your heart! (Ladies, forward on to your Man!)

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1. SCARF

Perfect little reversible scarf headed into spring!

2. COFFEE MUG

Who doesn’t want to feel gorgeous while sipping on some Joe??

3. SUEDE CLUTCH

Yes to blush, yes to clutch, yes to suede.

4. MIRROR DECAL

Can you just imagine waking up to this little memo each morning!

 

5. KATE SPADE HEART STUDS

At under $50 these little earrings are a no brainer!

6. ROSE GOLD KENDRA SCOTT NECKLACE 

The cutest boho feather pendant necklace! It’s on sale, so you better hurry!

7. SO LAYNE DESIGN EARRINGS

My girl Meghan does no wrong with her entire jewelry line!

8. SATIN SLEEP SHORTS

Cute and sassy…. just the way I like my pajamas!

9. YOUR & MINE WINE GLASSES

What better way to share of bottle of wine with the one you love than with monogrammed wine glasses!

10. VOLUSPA PROSECCO ROSE CANDLE

The best smelling candle you will ever own.

11. METAL WALL SIGN  

Who doesn’t love a great find from Joanna Gaines?? This super cute wall sign would make the perfect gift!

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How to get a Passport in as little as 9 Days

Getting passports is something our family has put off for far too long! Our previous travels have all been domestic except for a couple Disney Cruises, but thanks to current laws we were able to still use our birth certificates as proof of citizenship. But this year was different We found ourselves booking a last minute trip to London without a single passport in hand. Seriously, our trip was confirmed on January 18 and travel date was set for February 11. This is completely out of character for me.

A nervous wreck I took to Google and Pinterest to find everything I could on how to get a passport quickly! It was so disheartening to read  horror stories out there than success stories and very few were about needing passports quickly. Hopefully if you are reading this and planning an international trip for your family and still need passports I can provide you with a silver lining!


MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

We finalized the details of our trip on Thursday, January 18. I knew I still needed get passports, but all appointments for that Friday and Saturday were booked. I took the first available appointment on Monday, January 22. All  5 of us went up to the passport office, and the appointment went smoothly. We paid for the passports, expedited service, and overnight delivery. Even with all of this the passport clerk could only guarantee me delivery in 21 days. I was a bit freaked out as we were traveling in just 17 days, but the clerk assured me I would get them sooner. On Wednesday, January 24 I went online to check the status of the passports and found they were listed in the system as “PROCESSING” and had an estimated delivery date of February 14. This was my proof the passport applications had in fact been received, however I was surprised to see it said I had requested routine processing! Shocked and worried I called the passport office and was told ALL passports are initially accepted as routine processing and it takes a few days for them to be changed to expedited in the system. I’ll admit I was a bit scared since we had literally spent an additional $300 for expedited service, but I tried to remain calm. On Monday morning January 29, I logged back in to check the status of the passports. They had in fact been changed to expedited service however I was still being provided a delivery date of February 14. I may have a had a slight nervous breakdown at this moment and every possible thing that could go wrong was running through my head. I started googling “why passports get denied” and was second guessing if I filled out everything correctly. My husband (who is the calmest person in the world, thanks Marine Corps) told me to relax and everything would be fine. That same afternoon, I decided I needed to check the system again and to my GREAT SURPRISE I found that the passports were in the final stages of processing and was given a delivery date of February 1. (I may have cried!) But what was even better, was on January 30, the passports arrived by UPS on my front porch, only 9 short days after we applied!

FIRST THINGS FIRST

If you are traveling within 2-4 weeks from the time you apply for your passport, you will need to be ready to pay for expedited service. An adult passport book with expedited service is $180 and a child’s is $160, In addition to these fees you will have to pay a $25 application fee (for each application) and the $15 passport photo fee (for each photo.) If you are really cutting it close, or if you are like me and need that extra security that your passport will arrive in time, go ahead and pay for overnight shipping! It was an additional $24.50.


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STEP BY STEP 

Step 1GATHER YOUR INFORMATION. For each person in your family. you will need their original birth certificate or proof of citizenship/ naturalization and social security numbers. If the person is over the age of 16 you will also need a photo ID. If you have ever had a passport before, even if it is expired, you will need to have that in hand as well. (If you don’t know where your old passport is, that is okay, I’ll cover that is step 2.) Additional information you will need is parent’s names, dates of birth, and places of birth for everyone applying (not just minors) and an emergency contact.

Step 2FILL OUT FORM DS-11. I used this website and was able to complete the application online and then download it to my computer to be printed. Fill it out in its entirety. Everything requested in required in order to be approved for a passport.

A couple of things to be noted:

When it requests MOTHER’S NAME, make sure you provide her name at birth.

If you have ever had a passport before and it is expired and you can not find it, you must still say that you had a passport at one time. Simply mark the box that says “LOST PASSPORT” and then next to that write “EXPIRED.” 

DO NOT SIGN THE FORM. 

Step 3MAKE AN APPOINTMENT AT YOUR NEAREST PASSPORT OFFICE. I used this website to find a passport office closest to me. This site will also allow you to book an appointment online. Expect to spend at least 15 minutes per person in the office.

Step 4APPOINTMENT DAY/ PASSPORT PHOTOS – Everyone applying for passports will need to be present, even babies. When you arrive at your appointment make sure you have the following in your possession for each person you are applying for:

COMPLETED FORM DS-11 / ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE /  PHOTO ID (if over age of 16) / PERSONAL CHECK / PASSPORT PHOTO (see below)

I highly suggest you allow the kind clerks at the passport office to take your photos if you are on a time crunch. I am a DIY-er and a budget-er and at first had fully prepared to take our own photos. I then read online that passports can be denied simply because of a shadow on your photo, and I knew I couldn’t risk that.

The passport agent will review your filled in application, make sure it matches with the birth certificate and photo ID, and also make sure you didn’t miss any necessary information. Don’t be alarmed when she keeps your original birth certificates, they will be returned.  She will attach the photo taken, process the passport, and have you raise your right hand and swear the info you are providing is accurate. Once you write out your very hefty check you will be done! Start to finish time for our family of 5 was 1 hour.

Step 5FOLLOW UPThis website will allow you to check on the status of your passport. You will need to know the last name, date of birth, and last 4 digits of your social security numbers for each passport applied for. I suggest checking every couple of days as in my experience expedited passports seem to move through the system very quickly!


I hope this information was helpful to you and if you are in a time crunch maybe add a little bit of peace to a stressful situation!

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January Favorites Round Up

I am so excited about this new series with 5 of my favorite bloggers!! 

Each month we will do a Favorites Roundup featuring our favorite places, foods, buys, toys and beauty items for that month. Each month we will feature the same categories too which means if you follow along with our blogs you’ll get to know us pretty well!

I’m hoping January won’t be too boring for y’all. After the holidays we usually take some time to chill and not spend money! Anyone else??

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I’m excited!! Let’s get started!

Favorite Place I Went this month – Well, this month as been pretty much an indoors month for us. With colds and the flu going around Hollis and I have stayed put, plus we had snow which closed down the city for a week. But today we are traveling to Rome Georgia where my husband will compete in a local Crossfit competition. Anyone else into Crossfit?? I’m excited to spend the weekend away with my family and my kids always get crazy excited to stay in a hotel!
Favorite Recipe I made – I started Keto at the beginning of January so almost everything I have made is either new or revised! You can follow my Keto Pinterest Boards for all the recipes I’ve been trying! I would say my favorite though would be these Jalapeño Burgers!! When you click on this link you will say “Wait a minute I can eat that on Keto??” And yes, yes you can and it’s lovely! Anyone else on Keto?? I’d love to recipe swap!
Favorite Outfit I wore – Sadly I did ZERO shopping in January. I’m sure my husband appreciates that! Here are a few pieces I have my eye on for February though!
Favorite Movie – Want to know a little more about us? We NEVER go to the movie theatre! Since we’ve been married and had kids I can seriously count on two hands how many times we’ve sat in a movie theatre. My husband is a Marine and is so overly aware of everything that he can’t relax long enough to enjoy the movie. The same goes for concerts, festivals, and restaurants too if they are too crowded. We did watch Arrival earlier this month with Amy Adams and it was super good! Our older two kids who are 12 and 11 watched it with us which is always nice to find something we can all enjoy together!
Favorite Kid’s Item – Can I say YouTube Kids??? Kidding, kinda, but not really.
Favorite Beauty/Skincare Product – I have super, duper dry skin and during the winter months I find that my skin feels so tight. I discovered Rodan + Fields Active Hydration Serum which is like regular hydration serums on steroids. No lie! After 1 use you’ll notice a complete difference in the overall appearance of your skin. And whats even better is it’s for all skin types!
I’m gonna double up on this one because I also discovered Drew Barrymore’s new line of cosmetics Flower. I grabbed the lip butter in naked petal one day at Walmart and y’all, I’m so obsessed. I don’t know that I’ll ever wear anything else. It feels like chapstick going on, but is tinted and so perfect. Seriously, buy this now!
Favorite Date Night – Sadly there was no date night in January! It happens, right?? I think we will double up next month!
Favorite cocktail/mocktail – I’ve had to watch my wine intake since I started Keto. I love a good unoaked Chardonnay! I haven’t tried any mocktails and I’m assuming I wouldn’t be able to have them anyways because of the sugar, but if you know of any Keto friendly recipes, send them my way!
Favorite Target Find – Okay, y’all so I’m not sure if you know this but Target has adaptive clothing for kids. So if you have a child that has special needs like Hollis (who has a feeding tube), Cat and Jack has created a line just for our awesome kids!!
Favorite Activity – Gym Time! The actual days I go are few and far between but I get an entire hour to myself, even if I do feel like I’m going to die the entire time!
Favorite Restaurant – Once again we didn’t dine out this month… boring, but frugal. I have a new series coming to Miranda Southern called Date Nashville so hopefully in February I’ll be able to have some content to share with y’all about this amazing city!

 

Now, just click the link below and check out all the other lovely bloggers who will share with you their favorites from the month!! Thanks for reading!

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What No One Tells You about Disney Cruises

I have yet to hear anyone regret taking a Disney Cruise and you definitely won’t find that comment here. In fact when my husband and I left the Disney Dream with our two kids back in 2012, we said we would have paid MORE for the experience we all received. We have now also sailed on Disney Fantasy with our family of 5 and I can definitely say the second time around was even better!

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Regardless though there are always things to know and learn especially when you are paying top dollar. If you are a first time Disney Cruiser I hope you will gain a little insight on some of things no one really talks about when taking a Disney Cruise.

USE A DISNEY TRAVEL AGENT – In a world where everything can be bought or booked online from the comfort of your own living room this may seem like a non-sensical suggestion. BUT Disney travel agents DO NOT up-charge for booking your cruise for you and most will also offer you onboard credits for booking through their agency. That’s free money y’all do use onboard!

BUY DISNEY GIFT CARDS TO SAVE MONEY – Prior to your trip take the time buy a few (or a lot) Disney gift cards to use on board the ship. Stores like Sams, BJ’s, and Costco will have these discounts so you can save 3-5% on the gift cards themselves. Another option would be to purchase Disney gift cards at Kroger and gain the fuel points to receive a great discount on gas! I’ve heard rumor that you can pay for a Disney cruise with nothing but gift cards, however we have never done that.

FANTASTIC DINING EXPERIENCE – The Disney restaurants on board the cruise ships are so much more than just a place to get some really great food. The restaurants come to life and offer a 4D experience that you will remember for a lifetime. One of the very first things we do is find out where we are dining each night! My suggestion is don’t ditch dining for room service (unless of course you are sick), ALWAYS order multiple dishes on the menu, and bring your camera!! You don’t want to miss taking photos in these magical spaces!

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TAKE THE STAIRS – As you can imagine with so many people on board and the majority with children in tow, the elevators get backed up quickly. Don’t even try to use the ones on midship to get to the main level. Complete disaster especially during high traffic times like boarding and exiting. What I can tell you is plan to wear comfortable shoes to walk many flights of stairs or head to the aft and take an elevator from there!

INTERACTION WITH CHARACTERS – Just like at Disney World or Disney Land, you will be able to access a Character schedule of when and where they will be. But what I am referring to is REAL character interaction! The type where your kids can dance and play with characters for more than just the time it takes to get a brief snapshot. Characters will be at all of the parties making their way through the crowd shaking hands and high-fiving along the way. Inside the kids areas, character appearance happen often! They lead story time, sing and dance, and even participate in activities right along the children. On our last trip, Goofy came to one of the kids play times and danced for several songs with all the kiddos!

Oceaneer Club (kid's club) on the new Disney Dream cruise ship sailing between Florida and the Bahamas.

 

UNBELIEVABLE SHOWS – Oh the shows! If you are a theatre lover like I am, or if you simply enjoy great acting, singing, and dancing YOU WILL DIE for the shows on the Disney cruise. Every night there is a new show put on by professional actors, singers, and dancers and each one is unique to Disney cruise ships! Disney heroes and villains come to life on stage and if you are lucky enough to get a front row seat you may also get to be a part of the action. Disney holds NOTHING back in these productions, so be prepared to be moved each and every night. I mean look at these costumes!!

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LEGIT MEDICAL CARE – I hate to say this but on both of our Disney trips we had to visit the infirmary. My daughter cut her toe pretty badly on our first cruise where there toenail on her big toe was cut in half. An extremely kind cast member took us straight to the infirmary so I didn’t have find my way on the massive ship with a bleeding, screaming child. They took us back to where they examined and treated her toe. What was even more awesome was they checked in on her and even sent her a special gift to to the room. On our most recent cruise, my toddler who is fed through a feeding tube was having some skin rashes around his site. The infirmary had the exact, pretty rare medication we needed to treat his skin!

I honestly could go on and on! Our favorite vacations have been on board the Disney Cruise ships! Oh and by the way, this post isn’t sponsored!

Have you considered taking a Disney Cruise or are you currently planning one??

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