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Dec 7, 2016

Unique Gift Ideas From Upcycled Items

Everyone is looking for Unique Gift Ideas for the holiday season.  I love making use of things I come across that are budget friendly to create something fun and personalized for friends and family.  Using items I already have on hand to create those gifts is even better.  Who wouldn't like to receive a beautiful gift that is also personal and truly unique to them?  So, I am excited to share some of my favorite unique gift ideas with you that come from upcycled items.

Unique Gift Ideas From Upcycled Items

Old sweaters turned into pillows.  If you are like me, you probably have a box or bag full of discarded sweaters that you just won't wear again.  I discovered a few years ago how amazing they can be to upcycle.

Grab a few old sweaters, the thicker the better, and cut the arms off.  Simply sew one end closed, stuff with inexpensive pillow stuffing, and then sew to seal the other end.  You have a simple, soft, and beautiful neck roll pillow that is an ideal upcycled item you can use as a gift.

Old picture frames turned into serving trays.  Through the years I have grabbed picture frames from thrift shops or even my mom's basement when I thought they could be sturdy enough to use for another project.  They are wonderful options to create unique gift ideas.

Spray paint the frame with a beautiful color that fits your receiver's personality.  Grab some plywood or heavy cork board and measure to attach to the bottom of the frame.  Tack this on with wood glue or small nails.  You can even paint the board the same color or another matching color that pops.  This is a perfect serving tray or even a fun tray to collect things like jewelry, perfume bottles, or scarves on a chest in the bedroom.

Mason Jar makeup brush holders.  I love the idea of taking mason jars straight out of my kitchen and adding some embellishments to create a beautiful and custom makeup brush holder for one of my friends or family members.

I love the idea of using chalkboard paint to add a square or rectangle that your receiver can personalize.  Then glue on some lace, twine, buttons, or similar embellishments to customize the jar.  If you have the budget to do so, you can even add new makeup brushes to it as part of the gift.  Personalizing with their monogram is another fun option for those who use the Cricut.

Fill jars with fun candies and treats.  A simple gift idea that I love is using simple glass jars and canisters I find at thrift shops to make an inexpensive candy purchase look fancy.  Grab fun candy at your local dollar store and add with a pretty ribbon to a unique glass jar for a gorgeous and fun gift.

Make a teacup candle.  One of my favorite unique gift ideas that is always popular with anyone is to make your own candles.  I scour thrift shops and yard sales for unique and beautiful teacups and matching saucers.  You can usually pick these up for $1-$2 each, and often even less.  Then, I grab some simple wax melts, wicks, and essential oils from the hobby store, and I use the teacup as a vessel to pour my candle into.  This is a great gift they can easily display, or burn and use as they prefer.

These unique gift ideas are perfect for creating with upcycled items you may already have on hand.  They give you a great way to save money, and to gift fun items to friends and family for any holiday or event.

Dec 6, 2016

Health & Fitness: 10 Ways to Stay Motivated During the Holidays

November and December are notorious for being to most people, the busiest months out of the year.  It's hard to keep up on household chores, let alone your fitness and health.  However, come January we are scrambling to make up for that 2 month lapse and feeling disappointed and bloated.  This year why not find ways to stay motivated and accountable during the holidays, so you can start January off feeling great?!  Here are a few ideas I came up with:

1. Plan your meals.  Meal planning has become quite popular lately, and for good reason: it works!  Start with finding twenty minutes on Sunday to plan your lunches & dinners for the week.  After that, it's easy to write a grocery list for what you need to get you through the week.  Sitting down looking at your "week at a glance", you can also ensure you are getting a variety of proteins, carbs and veggies.  It's a lot easier than trying to plan it out on the fly each morning and searching for whatever you can put together from your fridge/freezer.

2. Meal Prep.  After you grocery shop, it's a great time on Sunday to prepare what you can for the coming week.  This includes things like defrosting meat for the next couple of days so you aren't forgetting the night before. And of course washing & cutting up veggies and fruits.  If you take lunches on the go you can pre-package individual portions in ziplock bags.  If you like smoothies, save some money and buy fruit, cut it up and freeze on a baking sheet then transfer to a ziplock bag in freezer.  Cheaper than buying frozen fruit and usually healthier (some times frozen fruit has added sugars).  If you use your crock pot, you put everything you need for each meal in a gallon ziplock bag, that way all you have to do is pour the bag into the crock pot in the morning.  Some times I even make a few extra crock pot meals in gallon bags and freeze for future use.  Check out Pinterest for some great freezer meal recipes.     

3. Schedule your workouts.  On Sunday, evaluate your week and pencil in your workouts.  If you know Wednesday is your busiest day, you'll want to workout on Tuesday and maybe take Wednesday off.  If you know you'll be up late on Friday night, maybe take Saturday morning off and instead workout in the afternoon.  Knowing your week ahead of time and scheduling your workouts in will help ensure they don't get missed and hold you accountable.  Make it a meeting you can't miss. 

4. Get together with Friends.   Who says hanging out with friends always has to involve food; why not go out dancing, volunteer at a shelter or take an art class?  And if you have a friend who also likes to be active, schedule a workout together. Chances are you won't cancel.  Plus, everything is much more fun with a friend, even if you are just next to each other on the treadmill.   

5. Keep it Simple.  You don't need to spend an hour working out.  You also don't need to do a "full" workout if you don't have 30 minutes.  There's nothing wrong with only squeezing in ten minutes of activity if that is all you have!  Ten minutes of ab work one day, ten minutes of cardio the next.  Ten minutes of something is better than nothing.  And, keep in mind, you can also break up your workouts, do ten minutes in the morning, ten at lunch and ten after dinner=30 minutes!  It all adds up. 

6. Step on the scale weekly.  Don't avoid the scale this time of year.  It doesn't mean you won't gain weight, most likely it means you will.  Better to hold yourself accountable by stepping on. If you are gaining, you can get control sooner than later and figure out how to fix it before 2 extra pounds turns into 5.

7. Indulge, and Resist.  80/20 Rule.  This time of year we all have our favorite foods; things like pumpkin pie and green bean casserole are mine.  There is nothing wrong with indulging in both, but that also means that there are some caveats.  #1 Indulge, but watch your portions.  #2 Indulge in what you truly love, but skip some of the other unhealthy foods that you can live without.  If fruit cake is not your thing, why bother?  #3 Indulge some days, resist others.  You can't indulge every day in December and not expect to gain weight.  To sum it up, 80% of the time you should be eating healthy, the other 20% indulge!   

8. Try a new healthy recipe.  There's no reason eating healthy has to be boring!  In fact, it's a great time to find some new recipes your family might like to replace other more indulgent meals.  It's also a great time to find a healthier recipe to bring to an event.  No one has to know it's healthier if it still tastes good.  So get in the kitchen and have a little fun!    

9. Remember Why.  There's a good reason to stay motivated during the holidays.  What is your reason?  You want to still fit into those skinny jeans in January?  You are tired of starting over?  You are tired of feeling yucky and bloated after too much indulging? You want to set a good example for your kids?  Think about how you'd feel if you started the new year 5lbs heavier, then think about why that is not something you want to experience and how you will prevent that.

10. Make a New Years Resolution.  You don't need to shoot for the moon, but if you can find a thing or two you'd like to change or improve upon, write it down.  Then keep it in mind through out December.  Don't keep your goals at arms length, they need to be in sight.  There's nothing to say you can't even start working on your "resolution" in December!  Want to run a 5K, pick one out and sooner you start training the better.  Want to eat more veggies, start buying different kinds now and trying.  Think about how great it would be to start January with a head start on your goals?!

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Dec 5, 2016

Junie B. Jones' Essential Survival Guide to School 2/11/17 Ticket Discount and Giveaway {Giveaway ends on 12/26}

Junie B. Jones

Saturday, February 11 at 10 AM and 1 PM,  it's the The Theatreworks USA production of Junie B. Jones Essential Survival Guide. Now that Junie B. Jones has been going to school for over one-and-a-half years, who better to write the book on EVERYTHING you need to know? With a jillion tips, tricks and trip-ups, Junie B. shares her hard-won expertise and shows us all how school is sometimes scary, sometimes super-fun, and ALWAYS something to sing about!

Event Info

You can see Junie B. Jones on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at Meadow Brook Theatre (located on the Campus of Oakland University) at 10 am and 1 pm.  

MBT is a professional theatre located on the campus of Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, just off I-75 at the University Drive Exit.  That is Exit #79. For internet directions, the address is 207 Wilson Hall, Rochester, 48309.

Ticket Info

I am so thrilled that we are working with Meadow Brook to offer our fans a special discount for all of the shows in the children's series (2016-17 series)

Simply contact LeeAnn in the Group Sales dept. at  248-370-3316  and mention “METRO DETROIT MOMMY” at the beginning of the transaction to get the discount.  

Tickets for Junie B. Jones are normally $15 (plus service fees), MDM fan price is just $12 each with a $5 handling fee per transaction, so for a family if four you can attend for just $53 (4*$12+$5) compared to $86.60 through Ticketmaster.

Group Sales is open Mon – Fri, 9am-6pm

- The  tickets need to be purchased in advance. The offer will not be available for online purchases thru or for day of show purchases at the Box  Office.  
- The discount cannot be applied to any previously purchased tickets.
-Discount not available via online purchase (
-$5.00 Handling fee applies to each order (not per ticket)


Enter below for a chance to win four tickets to the 10:00 am performance on 2/11/17:

Junie B. Jones' Essential Survival Guide to School

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

Dec 4, 2016

Ten SUPER Tips to Save You Time & Help You Manage!

I have always been pretty great at time-management, but lately - I have had to step up my game to stay on top of the busy life I lead! 

As a single Mom of two small people that works two part-time jobs, homeschools, runs a household by myself and juggles the kids busy social/enrichment schedules - I have compiled some tips that have helped me survive and tricks that might help you along the way too!

1. Keep a Calendar 

Even if you have a fantastic memory, it's so easy to forget things or to run late unless you have it all written out and organized in a calendar.  You can use a planner and keep it in your purse, or you can take advantage of calendar apps on your phone.  I especially love google calendar, which integrates with iCal and sends me reminders the night before an event as well as one hour before. (These are settings you can set up in your calendar).  Without the calendar, I would find myself double-booking myself and really causing extra chaos that I don't need.  Further, you can share and sync calendars with your partner, nanny, co-workers, parents, whomever!  It's a great tool!

2. Get enough sleep

I know you are probably rolling your eyes at that one.  I get it, I do. Whether you have a child(ren) who doesn't yet sleep through the night, a partner that snores too loud or too much to do - I know that sleep is hard to come by.  It's important to know that unless you are getting enough sleep, you wont have the energy that you need to tackle your tasks every day.  You will accomplish MORE and work more efficiently if you are well rested.  If you can't shut your mind off in order to go to sleep without accomplishing everything you need to do, make a list!  Sometimes getting it off your mind and onto paper (or a text message to yourself) is enough to ease your mind to rest.

3. Make dinner in the morning

This is easier said than done.  But, I promise once you give it a try you will find that it's worth it and find an efficient routine for your morning.   Even if you don't have to rush off to work (but especially if you do!) - it can be a total blessing to have dinner done at dinner time.  With enough planning ahead, this could even be a breeze.  Most of the dinners I make in the morning will just slow cook in the crock pot all day.  Others will go into baking dishes and sit in the fridge until its time to put them in the oven/cook them and some will marinade in the instant pot until it's time to turn it on.  None the less, the 10-15 minutes it takes to prep a meal in the morning while you're waiting for your coffee to brew, or even better - while the kids' breakfast is cooking, saves you a ton of time later in the day.  

4. Clean at night

When it's not easy to stay up on everything that gets messy through the day, save the big things for last.  I find that my time is better spent putting things away as I am (or the kids are) done with them through the day than trying to do laundry, dishes, deep cleans in the middle of the day.  Right after dinner every day, I throw a load of laundry into the washer.  Right before I put  my kids to bed, I throw them in the dryer.  The clothes will then be dry and ready the next morning.  I also load and run the dishwasher right before bed.  Everything is fresh and clean when I get up in the morning!

5. Take a bath instead of a shower

I know this sounds crazy.  But the reality is, it doesn't have to take any more time to take a bath than it does a shower - and you'll likely save some water!  There is something to be said for how a relaxing bath in the morning (especially after you woke up early to make breakfast and dinner like a boss) with some epsom salts and essential oils.  It can really help you feel relaxed and pampered and ready to take on your day.  

6. Pack yourself a healthy lunch.

I don't know about you but I am notorious for packing snacks and lunches for my kids and forgetting all about myself until I am at the end of my rope (starving and cranky as heck!) toward the end of the day as I realize I haven't eaten anything.  Then it's one of two things - keep starving or find the nearest quick-food fix that usually ends up being junk and makes you feel worse/sluggish.  So, plan ahead - and make yourself a lunch/pack snacks so you don't find yourself in this situation.  The day gets so much more stressful than it needs to be when you aren't taking care of yourself.

7. Schedule your down time

If you don't do this, you probably wont get any.  Schedule a date night with your partner, schedule a date night with your friends, yourself, whatever you need to do!  Schedule yourself an hour of time where you tell yourself it's okay to not do anything at all - but relax and recharge.

8. Improve your communication

...with others, and yourself.  Self-talk can do wonders for your productivity and wellness.  Just taking a moment to tell yourself that you CAN do this, are doing a great job, to take a breath/calm down.  It's okay to talk to yourself!  Work on communicating your needs and wants to the key people that are also involved in your life and schedule.  This can avoid frustration and hurt feelings down the line if something was missed.

9. Isolate yourself 

I'm not talking about hibernation, but un-plugging from the TV, iPod, iPhone, everything!  Stop looking at facebook and comparing yourself to others as they portray their lives online.  Stop comparing yourself to the next Pinterest Mom and feeling pressure to keep up.  Stop reading media stories that make you sad or anxious and pull away from the drama that is so easily found in social media.  Give yourself and your mind a BREAK!  Enjoy your own little world for that amount of time that would have otherwise been spent browsing.  

10.  Prioritize

Choose the things that are most important to you and put them on the top of the list.  Make sure YOU, YOUR SPOUSE and YOUR CHILDREN make the top of the list too :) 



Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger

Elf on a Shelf Notes

Are you doing Elf on a Shelf this year?  If so, these two printables may come in handy.  Have fun! 
Have a suggestion?  Please leave a comment below. 

Elf on a Shelf: Good Behavior Note Printable

Elf on a Shelf: Naughty Behavior Note Printable

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger:

HOT Holiday Gift alert! 3Doodler Pen! SO much fun!

Affiliate links are included in this post.  

I am so excited that I decided to try this 3Doodler Pen out with my kids even though they are younger than the suggested age on the box.  My kids are 4 and 6.  Though they needed my help at first, they were quickly able to make projects by themselves.  They are not as neat and sturdy as the older children would be able to do, but I do a little touch up when they are done to reinforce them. 

My kids will sit down for an hour at a time, sometimes more than once per day - concentrating and working hard to create something.  They have decided to gift some of their creations for the holidays.

The kit comes with a doodler pen that charges by either plugging into your USB on the computer or a USB adapter for the wall outlet (like a phone charger).  It comes with two packs of plastics (which only lasted my kids a week, we are buying refills), a charger and a book of stencils to get them started.  Once the kids get an idea of how to use the pen by trying out the stencils, they quickly begin making their own creations!  It's so cool to watch.

I watched a lot of videos and did some research before deciding to get these pens.  I thought the concept of drawing in the air was so awesome.  I found that it's actually very difficult for the kids to draw in the air because it takes about 30 seconds for the plastic to harden once it melts out of then pen.  The best way is to either print something off for them to trace or to use their stencil book, as pictured above.  Once it hardens, you just peel it off the paper and then use the pen to connect the pieces- making it 3D.

There is something so cool about watching your childs imagination come alive through these projects.  I love that they use the stencils as a guide but choose their own colors and add their own unique details.  

This masquerade mask that my daughter made for herself has been used in lots of dress-up playtime.  

When my older niece and nephew were here, they are ages 11 and 13, they made some very intricate and functional creations.  I can definitely see the benefit of kids using this product ages 4-adult.  Even I have fun making things with it. 

The 3Doodler Start is definately one of the hottest toys on the wish lists this year!  Check it out!

Have a 3Doodler at home?  Share your creations with us in the comments below. We would love to see! 

Wishing you lots of fun creating masterpieces with your children!

xox, Robin
Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger

Forty Percent of Children Start School Unprepared to Learn—Here's How You Can Help

We’ve all had a few moments in life where we’ve felt woefully unprepared. Waking up on the day of a big test, knowing that you didn’t study enough. Underdressing for a formal occasion. Stepping into the car on that first day of driver’s training.

But for children entering kindergarten, being unprepared can mean the difference between graduating at the head of the class and dropping out before high school ends. 

Can you imagine what it's like to be five years old and already feel behind? Watch this video to get an idea:

Forty percent of children in Greater Detroit start kindergarten unprepared to learn. And at United Way for Southeastern Michigan, we know that learning starts the first day of a child's life—not the first day of school.

We believe the moments between the Bib and the Backpack make all the difference in preparing our kids for life long success. Together, we can give our kids the right start by connecting more parents with free resources—like developmental screenings, peer networks and help finding quality childcare. 

Here's how you can help make it happen:

  1. Take the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. This survey—which is free to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb parents and caregivers thanks to United Way—helps to catch developmental delays early and connects you with resources to help your kids catch up.
  2. Share with your friends. Help other parents and caregivers find peer parenting groups, quality childcare and more at
  3. Share this video on your Facebook or Twitter.

Metro Detroit Mommy Blogger: