Tips for a Successful First Birthday Party

Tips for a Successful 1st Birthday Party

Well, we made it through the first year! We did it with a few bumps, a couple bruises, and lots of laughs along the way.

As we started planning the twins’ first birthday when they were 8.5 months old (yes, I started early), I knew that I wanted a big shin-dig (after all, I turned the big 3-0 just two days before), but I also didn’t want to upset our wonderful rhythm of the day that we had established.

Here are some tips that I would recommend to anyone planning a first birthday party:

THEME: For the theme, we were going back and forth with so many different themes, and nothing seemed perfect. But then I came across the Up theme on Pinterest, and it just stuck. We had a sketch drawn of our house and people have added their thumbprints to it to look like balloons when they were at my showers or came to visit the babies, and so it just seemed too perfect. From there, I went a little crazy. You can see our entire birthday party featured on The Wise Baby (Up-Themed Birthday Party)

Adventure is Out There - DoyleDispatch.com

PHOTOGRAPHY: My biggest advice is to have a photographer come in for it (if you can put it in the budget). Even if it’s just a student photographer, it is worth it to not have to worry about taking pictures (or have family take pictures). That way, everyone can enjoy and someone else captures the memories… while YOU get to EXPERIENCE them!

TIMING: Ours was from 12-2. The twins woke up from naps at 11, they got milk, got dressed, and then took family pictures at about 11:45. We kept them on their normal lunch schedule (they ate in front of everyone), because we didn’t want them to be cranky or hungry. Then they weren’t starving for the cake smash (I didn’t want them to have too much sugar anyway). Before the cake, we told everyone thanks for coming, and we also said that if anyone wanted us to open presents in front of them, we would be happy to do that, but otherwise we would open them privately. When they got tired, they went down for a nap and we could then visit and be baby free. It was perfect because we didn’t get them out of their schedule.

OPENING PRESENTS: Do yourself (and your family/friends) a favor. Don’t open presents at the party. As I said before, if someone wants you to open their present during the party, go for it! But no one needs to sit through opening gift after gift… and your 1-year-old doesn’t either! Just make sure to keep a good list and write a nice thank you note afterwards.

Yes, I am aware that our twins are now 19 months old, but I thought these were good tips, despite them being not totally applicable for us at this point. But now that we are on the other side of 1.5 years, we will be reusing these tips for the 2nd birthday party!

The Juice Jar in Corolla, NC

The Juice Jar Review - DoyleDispatch.com

When you go on a beach vacation, what type of food do you usually get? If you are like our family, it probably involves hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, BBQ, and other delicious (yet not-quite-great-for-you) foods. So, on our recent family vacation to Corolla, NC, we found the newly-opened Juice Jar. And we fell in love. And I want to tell the whole world about it.

Photo Courtesy of Juice Jar's Facebook Page

Photo Courtesy of Juice Jar’s Facebook Page

We got there during its second week open, when they were still trying to figure out the best times to be open. But one thing they had already figured out? Their recipes!

They have everything you could want in a juice restaurant bar: fresh juices, smoothies, wraps, salads, and acai bowls. To top it off, everything is local and/or comes from their garden out back. They also have a great add-on menu with bee pollen and other healthy additives!

And the location? It’s beautifully situated in the historic Corolla Village, close to the lighthouse. It is right near a yoga studio and Corolla Village BBQ. They have a great walk-up deck where you order, and then you can enjoy the lush, green grass, picnic bench, or swing while waiting for your order.

The Juice Jar Review - Acai Bowl - By DoyleDispatch.com

The food? I can’t say that I tried too many different items, as once I ordered the Morning Glory Acai Bowl, I kept getting it. I absolutely loved the base of the bowl (much like a smoothie), but what made it so delicious was the coconut chips, granola, bananas, and strawberries on top. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. But my family loved everything they got (even Audrey enjoyed her beet, apple, celery, and cucumber juice). After discovering it on the 5th day of our trip, we went back every day because we couldn’t get enough (even the morning we had to leave).

So if you are heading out to Corolla (or even Duck), make sure you stop in to check it out and get something a little redeeming. As we joked, we enjoyed our Juice Jar because it allowed us to “detox in order to retox.”

Guest Post: DIY Wood Furniture and Floor Polish with Essential Oils

The following is a guest post by Anna A: 

DIY Wood Furniture & Floor Polish

It is important to take care of your wood furniture and floors because they are a huge investment. Unfortunately, regular dusting and mopping aren’t as efficient in keeping the surfaces shiny as using wood polish. Although you have to polish your flooring and wood furniture from time to time, it never hurts to prepare your own polish and store it in cool, dry place to have handy at all times. Here we offer one simple and time-effective recipe for wood furniture and floor polish, which uses essential oils. Take a look.

Recipe

Here is what you need:

  • Clean spray bottle
  • 10-15 drops of essential oils of your choosing
  • ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar*
  • ¼ cup of olive oil (carrier oil)

*You can also use apple cider vinegar

Directions

Start by pouring essential oils in a clean spray bottle. Shake the bottle. Add vinegar and olive oil and shake again. The mixture can be used as a floor polish and wood furniture. Store in cool and dry place. Before you use the mixture, always shake the spray bottle.  You should sweep the floor first and then apply the polish. Simply spray on the floor and wipe with a cloth or mop. It is advisable to polish your wood furniture and floors every three to four months.

This is an easy and simple recipe. It takes a few minutes and the mixture has a long shelf life if kept in cool place. Not to mention, it is frugal.

What Young Living Essential Oils to Use

  • Lemon essential oil: Lemons have that fresh smell you want to linger in the air longer after you have tossed the polish into the pantry. In addition to this, lemon essential oils have therapeutic and cleaning properties.
  • Cinnamon oil: It not only smells wonderful, it promotes a healthy immune response when used topically and aromatically. Your wood furniture and floors will be shiny, smell delicious, and clean.
  • Tea tree oil: It has often been used in natural cleaning products for an added boost or by itself as well.
  • Rosemary oil: It smells great (lightly minty) and will be a great addition to any cleaner for smell and cleaning properties.
  • Lavender oil: It’s so soothing that you will want to use it over and over again. Lavender oil can help with immune boosting, soothing, mood, and overall wellness (that is why it’s called “the Swiss Army Knife of essential oils”). It’s a great pick when it comes to homemade wood polish.
  • Clove oil: One of the main ingredients in the Thieves blend to boost your immune system, this would be a great addition for its cleaning properties and smell.

Almost all essential oils can be used in cleaning. Additionally, essential oils lubricate wood, which is why they make wonderful wood and furniture polishes. Young Living essential oils also do not expire, until they are mixed with carrier oils, water, or other mixtures. The best carrier oils to use are jojoba and olive oil because they have the longest shelf life.

Why Use Homemade Polish?

Most conventional wood polishes can actually damage your wood. They may look good at first but after a couple of days the results will fade. Store-bought wood polishes contain solvents, artificial fragrances and petroleum distillates that are harsh on wood. Even worse, they can be highly toxic to people and pets. They can cause a variety of health problems with your nervous system, lungs, and skin. Not to mention, the pungent smell can linger for weeks after use.

Considering all this, homemade polishes are completely harmless for you and your family. This recipe contains white vinegar, olive oil, and essential oils, which are non-toxic and biodegradable. White vinegar removes dust and dirt, whereas the other two ingredients lubricate wood. No other recipe is as simple as that. Make sure to try it out the next time you want to polish your wood furniture and floors. And please, feel free to share whether it worked in the comments below. We hope this wood polish recipe helps all of you to keep your wooden surfaces looking shiny at all times.

Anna Aamone is from London Floor Cleaners. You can find out more information about their business by clicking on the link. 


If you are interested in learning more about essential oils or purchasing a Premium Starter Kit with Young Living, contact Dory at healthieroilthethyme *at* gmail.com or visit her website www.healthieroilthethyme.com.

Adventures in Cloth Diapering: Our Setup

Adventures in Cloth Diapering- Our Setup

Now that we have a routine with our cloth diapers, I feel comfortable enough sharing what we do.

Every morning, Tim brings down the newly-cleaned diapers in the laundry bag. When I get downstairs, I put them away on our shelf.

And usually the twins help me to unload the diapers onto the ground at some point during the day.

During diaper changes, I will grab the two clean diapers that we need. I take the old diaper off (saying “Bye bye poo poo/pee pee!” if I’m changing Audrey, because she likes to say it with me) and put it aside. I then wipe (either with our homemade spray and cloth wipes or our disposable wipes. The dirty wipes go in a little trash bin on top of the changing table (if disposable) or in with the dirty diapers (if cloth). We might use our Grovia Magic Stick for some added help if diaper rashes are an issue. Then we put on the clean diaper and clothes, and we are good to go!

If there is a “poo poo,” we put it in the little trash bin with the disposable wipes. If it’s just urine, we just drop it in the dry
diaper pail.

At night, we take the diapers upstairs and load up the washer. As long as we start them when we put the twins to bed, we can change it over to the dryer, and we will be ready with clean diaper in the morning. We also wash their clothes at this time as well, so we always have their favorite clothes to wear. We also make sure to clear out the changing table trash bin each night too… that way we don’t have it get too full or stinky.

So there is our setup. Nothing groundbreaking, but it works for us.

Is there anything else you are wondering about how we make cloth diapering work day to day?

Essentially Elegant Diffuser Necklace Review

Essentially Elegant Etsy Shop Review

Disclaimer: I received the following necklace for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own.

Coupon Code to Essentially Elegant (Expires 6/30/15): DOYLE10OFF

If you have read a handful of my blog posts in the past year, you know that we have really made an effort to reduce the chemicals in our home. That also corresponds to my love (and now growing business) with essential oils (you can check out my business website Healthier Oil the Thyme for more information)! I love my roller bottles, rubs, and ever-growing oil collection. I have sprays and sample vials galore for us to take when we are out and about. But now that our twins are 18 months old, I don’t worry as much with them grabbing my necklaces… which means that I get to wear jewelry again!

While I’ve never been a huge jewelry wearer, that may change now that I can wear my essential oils around my neck in a really cute necklace! As I started looking through all of the different sites online and especially on Etsy, one shop truly stood out to me: Essentially Elegant. Ashley of Essentially Elegant has a website where you can see some styles, but the vast majority of her items for sale are on her Essentially Elegant Etsy site.

Ashley (the owner) is a military wife, stay-at-home mother of two, and budding aromatherapy jewelry maker. She got her start in the jewelry making business as a hobby to help fill her days, while the kids are at school, with an activity she was passionate about. Ashley has heavily researched essential oils and craft jewelry separately for a few years and has done an amazing job merging her two skills to bring unique aromatherapy pieces to customers around the world.

I researched many different sites and stores before finding Essentially Elegant, and they certainly have the largest and most diverse collection of pieces. They currently carry fashion diffuser locket necklaces, basic locket necklaces, terra cotta clay pendant necklaces, lava rock necklaces, para cord lava rock bracelets, stretch diffuser bracelets, and memory wire diffuser bracelets. Personally, I simply fell in love with the Flamingo Pendant (a lava rock diffuser necklace).

Doyle Dispatch - Essentially Elegant Review

As soon as I got it, I dropped one of the pink pom pom balls (which I ordered as extras, since they are not included automatically with this particular pendant) inside with a drop of lemon, lavender, and peppermint. Boy, did I love smelling that all day (and into the next day too). Finally at about 48 hours later the smell mostly went away, and I could change the scent. With this necklace, you receive 2 lava rocks, so you can change your oil earlier by changing out the rocks. 

Doyle Dispatch - Essentially Elegant Review Full Chain

I have been so impressed with this little necklace and how just a couple drops can do so much! I love how it is designed so that the lava rock or pom pom won’t fall out (you have to take it off the chain to open it).

Doyle Dispatch - Essentially Elegant Review Open Pendant

Audrey and David have been fascinated with my little necklace as well, although they are so gentle with it (which is very unlike toddlers). It must be the oils.

I wanted to feature several other top sellers and favorites from her site:

Lava Rock Bead Diffuser Pendant Necklace

Essentially Elegant Lava Rock Bead Diffuser Pendant Necklace

Lava Rock Bead Diffuser Bracelet

Essentially Elegant Lav Rock Bead Diffuser Bracelet

Yoga Inspired Diffuser Necklace (also available in silver color)

Essentially Elegant Yoga Inspired Diffuser Necklace

Tree of Life Inspired Diffuser Necklace (also available in antique bronze color)

Essentially Elegant Tree of Life Inspired Diffuser Necklace

Design Your Own (Bronze Heart)

Essentially Elegant Design Your Own Bronze

Design Your Own (Silver Heart)

Essentially Elegant Design Your Own Silver

Remember that we have a special discount code at the Essentially Elegant Etsy shop for 10% off your purchase through 6/30/15: DOYLE10OFF. What are you going to get? You can also follow Essentially Elegant on Instagram (@essentiallyelegant).





AHOYS Clothing Shop Review

AHOYS Tag

I wanted to post a little shout out to a great shop that creates adorable items for your little ones: A Heart On Your Sleeve. (AHOYS) Now, in full disclaimer, this is run by my cousin Jessie, but having been in the hand-made business myself, I am definitely very picky about how things are made and stand up with the needs of mamas and toddlers.

First of all, I love the adorable styles that AHOYS features: everything from vintage touches to whimsical designs and classic elements.  So many cute designs with more to come!
AHOYS Etsy Shop

Second, as I said before, the onesie was well made. It was a great quality onesie (so soft!!!) that was true to size, and the vinyl was not going anywhere. I was everything before the kids wear it, and I just turned the onesies inside-out, ran them through, and everything stayed put! I’ve talked to Jessie about her process, and she went through a lot of testing before she felt comfortable enough to start selling her gear. Not everyone does that amount of work beforehand!

In addition, they now carry American Apparel gear as well. I’m so excited for this!

And look at how cute these onesies are!!!

AHOY Clothing Virginia Shirts David

AHOY Clothing Virginia Shirts Twins

AHOY Clothing Virginia Shirts  Audrey

You can check out AHOYS Clothing on Etsy and Instagram. Do yourself a favor and get something great for your little one!

Baiden Mitten Review

Disclaimer: I received a Baiden Mitten to review. I was also compensated for this review, although all opinions are 100% my own. 

Baiden Mitten Image

When I first heard about the Baiden Mitten, I assumed it was like a sponge or loofah, but after I had received it and started using it, I realized that it is totally different than the store-bought scrubbers, shower mitts, and other similar shower accessories. Although the initial price is high ($48.95), I firmly believe that it is worth that price. Would it be better if it were a few dollars cheaper? Sure (but what isn’t?), but for the length of time, natural nature of this product, and ability to throw away most other scrubs and scrubbers, it really would save you money.

What is it?

The Baiden Mitten is made from natural fibers woven together into a course material, and then it is sewn together to make a mitt. Because of the natural fibers and combination with opening of the pores from a hot bath/shower, it can be used to deep clean the skin naturally, without the use of creams, scrubs, or rubs.

What is the history behind it?

There is an entire story behind the Baiden Mitten that is included in the packaging, but it basically is an old idea from bath houses in the Ottoman Empire. The techniques to create this were passed down to Ishay, the creator of the Baiden Mitten, by her grandmother. She named it after her mother Baide. The Baiden Mitten is a family-owned company that stands by no animal testing. You can find more information on their websites: www.AncientExfoliation.com and www.BaidenMitten.com. You can also purchase it on Amazon.

How does it work?

After first prepping the mitt (by washing in plain soap and hot water), you are ready to use it. First, make sure that you don’t have lotions, creams, soaps, or oils on your skin. Next, shower or soak in a hot bath for 15+ minutes. This helps to loosen the toxins and residue on your skin (the largest organ in your body). Next, either turn off the shower water or step out of the tub (but don’t towel dry your skin). Put the damp Baiden Mitten on your hand, and start scrubbing in either an up-down or side-to-side motion. Do not do a circular motion. You can scrub as hard or light as you feel comfortable. You will start to see “rolls” form on your skin. This is the exfoliated skin. Finally, completely rinse the skin to remove all of the rolls and thoroughly rinse the mitten before hanging to dry.

Are there times when I shouldn’t use it?

The labels warn not to use it during an active sunburn or on open wounds.

How often should I use it?

You only need to use it about once a week (or less often).

My reaction:

I loved it! Ages ago, I had gotten a cream scrub for my face from an expensive makeup counter, and I experienced the same “rolls” with that as well. But it was so expensive, and who knows what other ingredients were in it! With this, I can target exactly the areas I wanted to exfoliate (or my whole body), and there are absolutely no chemicals! If you have ready any of my posts about my Young Living essentials oils, you know that having no-chemicals is a big one for me!

I will admit that I was so excited to use it that I didn’t read the directions at first and used it in a circular motion. It was a great exfoliation, but I didn’t get the rolls until the next day when I re-read the directions and used it the correct way. Because I take pretty good care of my skin and exfoliate regularly, I didn’t have many areas of dry skin “rolls,” but I was very happy with what I did have. My skin felt smoother and tighter afterwards, and I didn’t feel the need to add extra lotion over my body. I continued to use it while at the beach (not daily, but admittedly more than 1 time a week), and I continued to be thrilled with the clean feeling that I had. I only got those “rolls” the first day of using it, so that made me realize I didn’t need it as often as I had been using it.

When I used it on my face the first day, I had been tentative with my nose, and I actually missed an area (circled in blue):

Baiden Mitten Face Time 1

You can actually see the area that I missed!

 

When I went back a couple days later to get that area on my nose (and the rest of my face), I actually think that I scrubbed right next to that area too a little too hard. You can see my little boo-boo on my nose. Besides that, can you just see how my skin literally glows from using it, however? This is without any lotion, too!

Baiden Mitten Face Time 2

 

Overall, I know that the $48.95 price tag is a little high, but I really do think that it is worth it to spend the money on the Baiden Mitten instead of exfoliation services at a spa or creams. Plus, they have a money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with your purchase. This will last 2 years (or over 100 microdermabrasions for your face and body). In the little over a week that I’ve had it, I really do think that my skin is better (except that one little section on my nose), so I’m thrilled with it!

#BestSkinCare

 

My Experience at #LillyforTarget

My Experience at #lillyfortarget

As soon as the look book was released, I was thrilled about the Lilly Pullitzer collection at Target. I have for years been in love with the bright colors and beachy feel of Lilly’s pattens and clothes. I’ve tried on the dresses dozens of times (those shift dresses just aren’t meant for someone with a small waist and big hips like me), drooled over the scarves, and even bought a phone case for my first iPhone.

So I was excited to be able to find more affordable options at Target! I didn’t put the date on my calendar, I didn’t make shopping lists based on the look book. I just thought “if it’s meant to be, I’ll pick something up.”

So the morning of The Release, I woke up, rolled over, and picked up my iPhone… just like any day. I looked at Facebook and saw the first #lillyfortarget post. Someone was standing in line. Oh my! I forgot that today was release day!

It was a Sunday. Stores would open in 20 minutes. The kids were happy and not yet out of their cribs, and we all slept well the night before. I mentioned the release to Tim, and he said that if I wanted to try to head to a store, I could. He would get the kids downstairs and feed them breakfast.

So I got dressed (no shower) and did some calculating in my head. Strategically, I didn’t want to go to a Target store in the preppiest area of town. Instead, I would go to the one that was a little further away from The Prep Zone (a name that I just gave it- I’ve never heard that area of town called that before). I would have the best luck there.

I got to Target at 8:10. The parking lot was practically empty and no line. SCORE!

I got a parking spot right up in the front. SCORE!

I started walking in and saw a friend of mine from college who has two adorable and well-dressed daughters. I asked her how the sale was, and she said that it’s all gone. WHAT?

10 minutes after the store opened, and it was ALL gone.

I walked in to Target and saw the big flamingo hanging from the ceiling. And the rack underneath. And the teenage girls and women standing by it. And it was empty. They were waiting for people to return items to the rack if they decided they didn’t want it.

So, it seemed like my Lilly run was a bust. Oh well! I was a little sad, but happy to have a morning at Target where I wasn’t pushing a stroller.

So I just decided to browse around and go look at the patio furniture (we are hoping to redo our back deck soon). When I got to that section, I saw a group of women congregating and talking with overflowing carts of Lilly.

I just offhandedly said the following to them: “Are you going to keep everything that you picked? I’m a mom of twins and rarely buy anything new for my daughter, and I was hoping to get her a Lilly for this summer.”

They all said, “No,” and I totally understood.

And we exchanged a few other words about the sale and how they got everything and they were so nice!

Then one woman did the unthinkable.

“Actually, I don’t think my daughter will wear this. If this fits, you can have it.” It was a white tunic top with pink embroidery in 2T. The perfect size. I was so overwhelmed that I gave her a big hug along with a big thank you.

Then she did the unthinkable x2. “Oh, and this will be too long for her. Would it work?”

What the what? I got 2 Lilly items in the exact size I needed? That woman got another hug.

And then another woman in her group turned to someone else who had empty hands (who was evidently someone she only met that day). “You know, I really don’t need this one as well. You can have it.”

IMG_2175

As I made my way to the checkout, I realized how silly this all way. We were grown women drooling over (and in some cases crying over) clothes. I mean, really??!!!?? But then I also realized how sometimes it’s nice to treat ourselves to something a little girly, especially for those of us that are usually covered in Cheerio dust and old milk.

Once I got home, I showed Audrey her new outfits. This girly girl immediately made me put the dress on over her PJs. Have I mentioned how much I love her?

IMG_2178

And David pouted because he wanted new clothes too.

IMG_2181

When I got back home, my amazing cousin (who lives in California) posted that she had heard the buzz, gone to the Target, and gotten a few pieces that she wouldn’t be using. Oh my gosh, I jumped on that so quick! What adorableness we scored! Mommy Daughter Twinsies!

IMG_2281 (1)

 

So what did I learn from this experience?

1. Women can be cutthroat.

2. Women can also be kind and giving .

3. We should be teaching our daughters (and sons) that we can try to seize an opportunity if it comes to us, but we shouldn’t cry over sold-out-Lilly-for-Target.

Happy Memorial Day 2015

Happy Memorial Day! Thinking about those men and women (and their families) who gave the ultimate sacrifice today. Thank you for serving our country!

Memorial Day 2015 - Doyle Dispatch,com

 

(To see the tutorial for this, please visit my post from last week on The Wise Baby.)

Jord Wooden Watch Giveaway

Jord Wooden Watch Giveaway

Last week, we reviewed a wooden watch by Jord. Tim loves to wear it! We are so excited to offer you the opportunity to win a gift certificate so that you can get one too! Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. The giveaway will end on June 1.

*One lucky winner will be chosen for the $120 JORD gift certificate. Free shipping will be included, but NOT sizing. The contest is open worldwide as Jord does ship their products internationally.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway