DOCKATOT GRAND REVIEW: A Year Later

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

I blogged about buying a DockATot for Baby Hels last year (see it here) and how I planned to use it for her as an infant. Helen loves to be held. She snuggles and cuddles and laughs and plays. But, from the time she was born, she did not want to sleep on her own at night. We tried. EVERYTHING. No one slept. She cried in the bassinet. She cried in a swaddle. She cried in the swing. There was no sleeping situation that where the crying stopped or even slowed down unless she was being held.

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.comDockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

Now this wasn’t the case all day. She would play on the floor, and didn’t mind being held by friends and family. It wasn’t necessarily a crying problem or even a sleeping problem. It was an only sleeping at night when being held problem. So, for the first 3-4 months I held her every night. I slept propped up in bed at night, banished the husband to the other room and stripped the bed of blankets. I was super worried about safe sleeping and after researching, decided our ultra firm, bare mattress was safe to bed share, supervised, with only me in the bed at arms length, before she could roll.

I started swaddling her and placing her in the middle of the bed. But soon she started to move and roll. It was time to ditch the swaddle. She started crawling on top of me and the cycle of only sleeping on top of me continued. It was sweet at first, then it was exhausting. We decided to try the DockATot. And it worked. We transitioned her into the Dock in the middle of our bed. It was snug, so she started to sleep through the night in the Dock.

Helen is small, but she was getting older. As we reached the year mark, she started climbing out of it again and sleeping on me (see the pattern here, haha she loves mama). I wasn’t sleeping well- I’m a side sleeper and she would cry if she wasn’t sleeping on my chest. It’s not conducive to great sleep.

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

THEN, DockATot had a rare 500K Followers Instagram sale. They don’t go on sale often, but I was on the mailing list and got an email a few days before that they would be celebrating 500,000 Instagram likes by offering 50% for the first 500, and 25% off on ALL products. I kept thinking about it. I kept debating. So much so that I had the DockATot Grand in my cart and didn’t pull the trigger at the 50% off mark. I missed out. It was driving me nuts. So, at 11pm when I was restless and couldn’t stop thinking about how good of a deal it was and that it was unlikely to happen again, I couldn’t pass it up. I grabbed my phone and ordered the Dock Grand in the beautiful En Via La Rose print.

We started with it in our bed once again. *It takes up a lot of space. We have a King size bed, Husband complained. The climbing out continued and it was time to make a change. Helen needed her own place to sleep. It was going to be a transition and would probably result in a lot of crying. I had been dreading it for months. Years. I couldn’t handle the thought that she might cry all night for weeks on end and never adjust.

My husband assured me that she would adjust and if not, we try something else. We moved her unused bed into our room with the plan to move it into brother’s room after we were sure the nighttime crying had subsided and it wouldn’t wake him too.

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

We put the new DockATot Grand in her bed and put her down for the night. I checked on her every 5 minutes. She cried for about 30 minutes. Then she was asleep. On night two she fussed less than ten minutes. Too short of a time to even calm her. Night 3 was a win also.

I am happy to say that we have successfully moved Hels from our bed to her own and I know that having the comfort of her DockATot helped ease the transition.

If you want more information on the DockATot or think it’s the right fit for your family, you can click any of the links in this post to head over to the Dock website and check it out. There are hundreds of other reviews as well.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of sweet Helen, because everyone loves those!

 

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

DockATot Grand Review: A Year Later at StampinFool.com

This post contains affiliate links, but is not a sponsored ad- when you buy, I receive a percentage at no cost to you.

Pantry Goals: 10 Tips to Organize your Pantry

 

10 Tips to Organize your Pantry

A new year usually means a cleaning and purging rampage around my house. I usually start with an overwhelming project and give up. After failing many times to actually complete a full project (welcome to the 95% club) I’ve made notes on what you should do to get it done right the first time.

A great starting place in your new year’s cleaning is your pantry. Have you ever searched Instagram for an organizing hashtag like #organizedpantry or #pantrygoals? I went down that rabbit hole. While it gave me hope about my overcrowded pantry, it also made me feel overwhelmed. I’ve narrowed it down to my top 10 tips to organize your pantry to help you make it through the entire process.

1. HAVE ENOUGH TIME

Don’t get started until you have enough time to put it all back. Plan on more time than you need.

I learned this the hard way. I thought I could dump everything out and put it all back in an hour while the baby napped. I was dead wrong. After three half days of moving things around and rearranging I realized it was going to be a week-long, 20 hour project that was best broken up into a couple of hour time chunks. This allowed me to pull things out, toss and clean, then begin picking a permanent shelf for each group of items.

2. REMOVE EVERYTHING & SORT

Take everything out of the pantry to begin. Group like items in piles on the floor/counters/tables. Taking everything out allows you to see how much you have, what you do and don’t need, and how much storage space you will need.

A note on sorting: You can sort in any way that works best for your family, but if you need ideas, here is how I sort my items:

  • Less used cooking appliances, extra baking tins and cookie sheets, ice buckets;
  • Cereals, granola, crackers, oatmeal, nuts;
  • Baby food, squeezies, baby cereal bars, teething crackers;
  • Baking supplies: flour, almond flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, meringue;
  • Canned vegetables, salsa, chicken broth and stock cartons;
  • Condiments/Sauces, oils, pasta sauce;
  • Pasta, couscous, quinoa, grains, rice;
  • Consumables: sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, onions, shallots;
  • Tea, Coffee, Hot cocoa, raw sugar, swerve;
  • Almond butter, peanut butter, honey, applesauce;

10 Tips to Organize Your Pantry from Stampinfool.com #pantrygoals #pantryorganization

3. PURGE

Toss any out of date cans or boxes, donate anything you know you won’t use or use in time (I’m looking at you, baby formula and christmas sprinkles) to a local food pantry. If you are on a health food craze, tell your friends to come get the processed, boxed food you won’t be eating. The less food you have to rearrange the quicker it will go and the more space you will have to move around your consumables.

4. SCRUB

Give the pantry a good scrub down. I usually stick to a microfiber cloth and warm water, but a magic eraser comes in handy for stuck on spills or scuffs. Wipe down cans and boxes while they are separated into piles.

5. DECORATE

This one is cosmetic and optional, but if you want to decorate now is the time to do it- before you put everything back into the pantry. Does it actually help organize your pantry on it’s own? No, but if you love looking at a space, you are more likely to keep it looking nice. If you have the time and budget, do a little decorating to make your pantry a place you love to look at.

Do you want to paint the shelves or line the back wall with Peel and Stick paper? Pick your style and get to decorating. I chose to freshen up the shelves with crisp white paint and white bins to store food. I used a door rack to hold tea and coffee supplies and organized them by color to brighten the first thing you see.

6. BINS, BINS, BINS

Once you’ve picked your color scheme and favorite style, you can start shopping for bins. For a minimal clean look, go for clear or white. If you like color, go for coordinated bins in your favorite colors and keep the background solid. I opted for these white Target bins to keep everything looking uniform (and they are under $6, win-win).

Pantry Goals: Ten tips to Organize your Pantry from StampinFool.com

7. BUY MORE BINS than you think you will need

It will take more than you think you need to complete this project. When I started on the pantry organization I ran out to Target and grabbed five white bins. I got home and started filling them and quickly realized I needed more. Luckily, I remembered I had a few stashed in the kids dresser to separate clothes and hold toys. I repossessed those bins and put them in the pantry. I was shocked at how many bins I needed to hold what seemed like a minimal amount of baking supplies, pasta, and kid snacks.

8. KEEP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER

Cereal and oatmeal with breakfast, flour and sugar with baking, tea, coffee and cocoa on a shelf, snacks and granola bars all in one area, cleaning supplies and paper towels together. You get the idea- group things that you use together or that serve the same purpose in the same bin or on the same shelf.

9. STORE LEAST USED THINGS AT THE TOP

Paper towels, cleaning supplies, the food processor, extra cookie sheets, casserole carrying case, ice bucket and entertaining plates are all stored on the top shelf. If you use them enough to keep them, but not daily the top shelf is a great place to store them. The items you use most, like cooking oils, baking supplies, lunch bags, tupperware, and on the go snacks should be stored on lower shelves for easy access.

10. USE THE FLOOR

Since you’ve already scrubbed the entire pantry, you can use the floor for storage. It definitely is not wasted space. Best uses include: trash bags, lunch boxes, playdoh and kid’s painting supplies, bags of napkins, spare containers of foil, plastic wrap and paper plates (all sealed), or a large bin to catch your recycling. Store these extras in large rolling carts or on small shelves.

Remember to keep cleaning supplies up high and away from those babies (and older tide pod kids).

* BONUS TIPS *

11. LABEL ALL THE THINGS

If you want to take it keep it organized, get out some labels and start printing. You can label each bin, basket and shelf so that items can be replaced without any confusion.

12. PANTRY INVENTORY

Keep a pantry inventory on hand so that you can easily see what you have and what you are running low on. I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite pantry inventory printables from Pinterest for you to head over to their website, download and print them out.

Pantry Inventory Spreadsheet

OneMamasDailyDrama Inventory Printable

The Peaceful Mom Pantry Inventory Printable

CarrieElle Printable Pantry Inventory List

With an inventory checklist, you’ll better be able to prevent overbuying, but make sure you have on hand the supplies and foods you need most often. It’s a great resource that has helped with meal planning and overcrowding in my pantry.

Well that’s a wrap. Show me your made over pantry in the comments below!!

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10 Tips to Organize Your Pantry from Stampinfool.com #pantrygoals #pantryorganization

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How to Throw a Watermelon Party

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

Hello, Sweet melon lovers! I am so excited to share this watermelon party with you. I was brainstorming summer themed birthday parties for Helen’s first birthday and Watermelon hit the sweet spot. Today I will show you how to throw a DIY Watermelon party. 

You can throw a Beverly Hills style party on a SAHM budget by picking elements to best show off your theme. Are you ready to plan? Grab a pen and take notes!

 

STEP 1. PAPER PRODUCTS

Starting with the Invitations and a welcome Watermelon sign, let your guests know what the party is all about. Keep with the watermelon theme by making thank you cards and guest party favors to coordinate.

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

 

STEP 4. THE SWEETS

Sweeten the theme by coordinating the cake or cupcakes with pink and green buttercream. 

I love this recipe for making two 6 inch cakes and cutting them to make four layers. {Lemon Cake Recipe from MyCakeSchool.com} Only fill the 6″ cake pans half way; you’ll have left over batter as the recipe makes more than two six inch cakes. 

Speed it up by using store bought cream cheese frosting and tinting it with Americolor Food Gel.

*Tinting Tip* A little goes a long way. Split icing into two bowls. Mix the color gel in two separate prep bowls before adding color to the icing. Squeeze one drop of each color and mix with a mini spatula. Swipe a small amount of the mixed color onto the mini spatula and stir into one bowl until well mixed.  Add more color to your preference.

*Americolor Mixing Guide* Watermelon-: 1 Deep Pink, 1 Red; Rind: 2 Leaf Green, 1 Sky Blue

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

STEP 5. COORDINATED OUTFITS

DIY plain white T-shirt’s with RIT DYE in Kelly Green and Fuchsia to coordinate with your party theme. For this Watermelon Birthday Party, we dyed tee’s from H&M (@hm #handm) to match Helen’s outfit.  {Bubble romper from @melissasmithdesigns and rose gold bow moccasins @freshlypicked}

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

Are you ready to throw a sweet, summer watermelon party?

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How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

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STEP 2. DIY PARTY BACKDROP

A great way to brighten the walls is with a photo banner, pink and green tassel garland, watermelon painted number or letter.

To best display the watermelon party theme, your feature wall should be above the buffet table. You can create additional zones like a photo booth area or photo wall on the path guests will use to flow to the food.

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

 

STEP 3. TABLESCAPE

Set the table with watermelon paper plates, cups, pink and green utensils, and napkins. Add confetti or paper watermelon cutouts to the a solid color tablecloth to pump up the color. Pre-pour watermelon punch; add a straw and watermelon garnish to set the scene.

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

 

STEP 4. THE SWEETS

Sweeten the theme by coordinating the cake or cupcakes with pink and green buttercream. 

I love this recipe for making two 6 inch cakes and cutting them to make four layers. {Lemon Cake Recipe from MyCakeSchool.com} Only fill the 6″ cake pans half way; you’ll have left over batter as the recipe makes more than two six inch cakes. 

Speed it up by using store bought cream cheese frosting and tinting it with Americolor Food Gel.

*Tinting Tip* A little goes a long way. Split icing into two bowls. Mix the color gel in two separate prep bowls before adding color to the icing. Squeeze one drop of each color and mix with a mini spatula. Swipe a small amount of the mixed color onto the mini spatula and stir into one bowl until well mixed.  Add more color to your preference.

*Americolor Mixing Guide* Watermelon-: 1 Deep Pink, 1 Red; Rind: 2 Leaf Green, 1 Sky Blue

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

STEP 5. COORDINATED OUTFITS

DIY plain white T-shirt’s with RIT DYE in Kelly Green and Fuchsia to coordinate with your party theme. For this Watermelon Birthday Party, we dyed tee’s from H&M (@hm #handm) to match Helen’s outfit.  {Bubble romper from @melissasmithdesigns and rose gold bow moccasins @freshlypicked}

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

Are you ready to throw a sweet, summer watermelon party?

LOVE IT, PIN IT!

How to Throw a Watermelon Party from StampinFool.com

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Colonial Williamsburg With Kids: Governor’s Palace

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

If your next vacation includes passing though Colonial Williamsburg or you are a local Hampton Roads resident, seeing Colonial Williamsburg is a must. It is rich in history and education. While you’ll enjoy the beauty of the Colony any time of year, the guided tours are a real treat. As a Williamsburg local, our weekends are spent at the Farmer’s Market downtown and walking the streets of Colonial Williamsburg with the kids to run off their energy. We eat lunch on the lawn, play frisbee and then head over to the bookstore to grab Starbucks.

Summer hit and the kids were bored. I knew we had an awesome resource at our hands, but had never ventured out for a tour. I called to book a Children’s Tour of the Governor’s Palace and here’s what I learned.

The Children’s Tour of the Governor’s Palace (it’s FREE, but you must reserve your spots) is unforgettable! The guided tour is geared towards elementary aged kids, but as an adult I was fascinated. You’ll start out in the maid’s quarters and work your way through the Palace discussing what it was like to live in the palace before the Revolution, how the palace events honored the King and Queen of England, and what the rooms were typically used for. The educational value is woven throughout the tour in a way that makes it interesting and fun, but doesn’t bore little ones. We walked, we learned how to dance in the ballroom, and we wandered the hedge maze in the gardens.

Our tour guide was fantastic at engaging the kids and adults, and answered period questions as well as teaching our group customary etiquette of the 1770’s.

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

To best prepare for your Colonial Williamsburg visit, I’ll leave you with these tips so that you don’t miss out on the Governor’s Palace fun.

Things to know:

  • You must have an admission ticket for Colonial Williamsburg or a Williamsburg Good Neighbor pass to register for the tour.
  • Book early. The tours are small groups and fill up quickly.
  • Collect your tickets from the Visitor’s Center or the Ticket booth in Merchant’s Square.
  • Arrive AT LEAST 15 minutes early to find parking and walk to the West Entrance of the Palace (the left side). That was cutting it close for me to grab tickets and book it to the palace while dragging the kids.
  • The tour is approx 25 minutes. We spent 30 minutes outside in the gardens after the tour.
  • Bring water! The summers are hot and humid here and your kids will need water while wandering the garden maze behind the palace.
  • Bathrooms are right outside the Palace.
  • Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic on the tree lined Palace Green while you watch the horse drawn carriages pass by.
  • Or grab lunch at the famous Cheese Shop in Merchant’s Square.
  • Infants in arms. I can’t say for certain that strollers aren’t permitted, but there are stairs in the tour and it wouldn’t be manageable. I carried my 11 month old throughout the tour. A wrap or infant carrier would have worked well too. The tour was short enough that carrying her wasn’t unbearable, but it would have been easier with two hands free.
  • The craftsmanship is stunning. And the colors are vivid, which surprised me since it is 18th century accurate.

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

The rear exit of the Colonial Williamsburg Governor’s Palace.

 

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

The marble Palace entrance floors were stunning.

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

 

Colonial Williamsburg: Children's Tour of the Palace Travel Tips

 

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