With all the family and social gatherings, holiday shopping and kids programs/parties, it’s not easy to carve out time to fit in a run or a trip to the gym. But with 10 days until Christmas, I feel like I’ve already overindulged on holiday cheer (ie sweets, carbs and wine). So, in an effort to not be completely terrified of stepping on the scale post-holidays (and just feeling generally crappy), I’m trying to squeeze in quick workouts when I can.

Here are some of the quick and uncomplicated workout videos I like to do at home (no crazy equipment required).

5 minutes

5 minutes to Slim HIIT Cardio (Fitness Blender) – try this right before you hop in the shower in the morning or while the kiddos are eating lunch/dinner. You’ll increase your heart rate and work your entire body.

10 minutes

Kitchen Cardio (Barre3) – this is one of my favorite quick workouts. Do it first thing in the morning or while you’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s low impact (and won’t leave you a sweaty mess) but gets your heart pumping.

15 minutes

Hump Day HIIT (Tone It Up) – this high intensity interval training workout really works your whole body with a combination of toning and cardio intervals. Got 30 minutes? Do this workout twice in a row! Or do it once in the morning and once in the evening for twice the calorie torching benefits.

The holidays come but once a year so I allow myself to enjoy a little treat here and there (and anything goes on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day). Trying to squeeze in quick workouts helps combat my eating guilt and some of the extra calories I consume. Also, I try to make sure to drink LOTS of water (like 8 glasses or more) to combat dehydration, which can lead to more munching. It also keeps my skin from going all oily/dry/flaky/gross.

For more quick workouts (and other good stuff), head on over to Macaroni and Mascara on Pinterest.

I started writing this post according to what I thought guys would want to see under the tree this year. I asked my husband to take a quick look to get his opinion. Next thing I know, he’s adding his own commentary and basically taking over my post (thanks dear). I guess who better to tell you what guys might actually want for Christmas than a guy, right?!

So, with that, here is my guy’s guide to gifts for the men in your life.

Fun dress socks – we’re not talking white athletic socks like his mom used to buy him. Think argyle, stripes, masculine patterns that fit his personality. These are also an easy gift for kids to pick out for dad that he might actually wear.

Stan: First of all I agree with the entire socks thing. However, funny how the picture my wife chose has basically zero of the features she describes as cool. This is basically the opposite of what to do. This pair of socks features zero argyle, more of a dot than a stripe and those are masculine patterns?! On a serious note, good idea. Go crazy. Most of what us men have to wear for work and social occasions is pretty conservative. We view you, our female campadres, as the “cool fashion gods” so show us what you got.

Tickets to his favorite event – tailor this gift to his interests. A sporting event, concert, comedy show, musical, whatever strikes his fancy. My guy is hoping for tickets to the NCAA National Championship Football Game or Mumford and Sons.

Stan: Or Matthew Kearney!!!! Do you not listen to me woman? I agree with this but here’s the thing, and this might hurt your feelings ladies, if it’s a sporting event –  you should not go. Let him take a fellow married-with-kids buddy. He’ll really appreciate you for allowing him a night out with another buddy who cant get out often to get away from it all.

Sports equipment or accessories – again, tailor this gift to his particular sports interests. Think lessons, apparel, gear, shoes or gadgets. My guy is a golf fantic so he’s hoping for this golf bag organizer for our unorganized garage.

Stan: This better come pre-assembled. If not it quickly becomes simply the next chore I have to do around the house. And guess who’s project chores come last? Yep…Enjoy staying in your comfy never opened box in the garage. But hey, has a pretty picture on the box right?

Drinkware –  if your husband occasionally enjoys a good drink, get him a nice bottle of his favorite adult beverage and some nice glasses with some of these extra-large ice cube molds. The larger cubes melt slower and won’t water down his drink.

Stan: You want to make this really cool? Get some initials on the glasses. And no. Not your initials or his or your children. The man wants some JR initials. As in JR Ewing people. The coolest man to ever lay foot on this planet. Not a second passes as I take a sip of some fine bourbon and not wish I was standing there in an awesome cowboy hat, cigar in the other hand and a Cheshire cat grin on my face. JR Freaking Ewing. Awesome.

Techie stuff – guys love gadgets and gizmos so things like a tablet, a Fitbit, GPS watch, GoPro camera or some Beats by Dre headphones can make great gifts for him.

Stan: Yep. Just wait for the Apple Watch. It. Will. Change. The. World.

Foodie stuff – while my husband would say this means ‘Get him a Traeger’ that may not be in everyone’s holiday budget. I mean actual food, like a Salami of the month membership from Olympic Provisions (what man doesn’t want a monthly delivery of meat) or the Sausage Sampler from New Braufels Smokehouse.

Stan: Let’s get straight to the point here ladies, this means less cooking for you.

From the kids – my advice here is to go to Pinterest (follow us while you’re there), and search ‘kid gifts for dad’. Something they made (or you made and they basically scribbled on) will mean way more than an Mickey Mouse tie or something equally silly kids would pick out.

Stan: 100% true. We are secretly the same as you. Even though we did not bear these children, I have watched boys become men simply as a result of being a father. No greater honor. These kinds of gifts mean a lot to us.

There you have it. And my guy makes some very valid points (the food gift totally gets you off the hook for at least 1 or 2 meals). Hope this helps point you in the right direction for a gift your guy will actually be happy to receive this Christmas.

Need more holiday gift ideas? Check out our gift guides for kids and moms.

Kid toys have gotten crazy over the last 10 years. Everything requires batteries or a charger and some manner of assembly or set up. I remember playing with a ‘stick horse’ as a kid that was literally just a stick I found outside, so I’m a little jealous. My own spoiled children have an abundance of toys, games, clothes, things, yet they insist on playing with the same 4 toys (one of which is usually an empty box or water bottle).

Every year during the holidays, I tell myself I’m going to rein in our the amount of toys they get for Christmas, but that is usually overcome by visions of their excited little faces on Christmas morning as they shred through carefully placed wrapping and bows to discover what treasures are waiting for them.

About a month ago, I read this post about giving ‘gifts’ instead of ‘toys’ for Christmas. It makes the great point that most kids don’t usually remember a lot of the toys they recieve, but they remember experiences. Go do something with them and they are probably more likely to remember and appreciate it than some plastic toy. Plus, it won’t get tossed into a toy box and forgotten.

This post inspired me to try to make at least one of the things I give my kids (and nephews) for Christmas this year a ‘gift’ rather than a toy (don’t worry, they’re still getting plenty of toys, too).

Here are some creative gift ideas that can help you create memories with kids.

  • Give them a gift that teaches them something/– any kind of lessons (or camp or membership), just teach them something. Not only will you be teaching them something new, but they’ll also appreciate the time you’re spending with them.
    • If you have a talent (playing guitar, knitting, underwater basket weaving), teach them yourself.
    • If you’re less talented, think about taking lessons with them (dancing, cooking, pottery, horse back riding, whatever).
    • Or if they’re into soccer or animals, sign them up for a camp or get them a membership to your local zoo.
  • Give the gift of reading – with Blue Manatee boxes, you can give a child of any age a collection of books tailored to their interests/needs. You can build your own box of books by selecting from a wide variety of book titles, organized by age, occasion and popular categories. Or you can select a themed box based on a special occasion or interest. You can also add gear (toys or clothes) and a personalized note to your box. Boxes range from $30 for 3 books to $80 for 9 books (shipping is free). And, as an added bonus, the packaging is also eco friendly and comes with play ideas (like how to make the box into a robot).
  • Give them inspiration to think critically – The Goldie Blox Zipline Action Figure is girl-oriented but I love the idea of an action figure for girls (that isn’t all boobs and high heels) that promotes engineering and figuring shit out critical thinking skills. The Goldie Blox line contains a variety of buildable items for ages 4 and older. This Zipline kit includes a book about Goldie’s Zipline Adventures and everything needed to send Goldie ziplining across the room, down the stairs or anywhere (within the 13′ range).
  • Give them something to build or make – Mindware Marble Run provides hours of fun and endless possibilities. Kids can use the colorful (and easy to assemble) pieces to build tracks and then send the marbles speeding through the twists and turns of slides, tubes and funnels. There are a million different ways to configure the pieces, which promotes problem solving and creative thinking. Bonus if you get in there and build with them
  • Take them somewhere – take them somewhere, anywhere. Maybe it’s the park or a local children’s museum or a sporting event. Maybe it’s a scavenger hunt around their town. Maybe it’s camping. Maybe it’s a road trip to see the World’s Largest ball of twine. It doesn’t have to be Paris or the rainforest or Disneyland or somewhere grand (ie expensive). Just take them somewhere, show them something new. Again, spending time with them will be far more memorable than any toy you could give them.

Now I know, you’re looking at this list and calling BS because there are in fact toys on this list. Truth. However, the idea is that you give kids something that really make them think, teach them things and solve problems. They go above and beyond a light up, singing Elsa doll (we already know all the words to ‘Let it Go’ so we don’t need a doll to teach us) or an Elmo figure that giggles when you touch it (I may be dating myself by calling that one out, I’m sure Elmo is on to way cooler things than giggling these days).

And also remember, they are kids, so a few toys won’t hurt.

Need gift ideas for mom and dad too? Check out my gift guide for guys (with commentary from my husband) and my favorite things (which make great gifts for any lady).

I mentioned last week that one of the holiday traditions that my husband and I have is to watch our favorite holiday movies together. This means that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we watch 20+ holiday movies (don’t judge, there is nothing else on between those two holidays). I always look forward to sharing this with my husband, as we have our own inside jokes and personal favorites.

I thought I’d share our list and see if there are any classics that we’re missing that we should include in our list for this year.

Here are our favorites (in no particular order):

  1. Family Stone
  2. Bad Santa
  3. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
  4. Home Alone 1
  5. Home Alone 2
  6. Miracle on 34th Street
  7. Home for the Holidays
  8. Family Man
  9. The Holiday
  10. Love Actually
  11. Nothing Like the Holidays
  12. Elf
  13. Serendipity
  14. It’s a Wonderful Life
  15. Just Friends
  16. The Santa Clause
  17. The Santa Clause 2
  18. The Santa Clause 3
  19. A Christmas Story
  20. This Christmas
  21. Fred Claus
  22. Four Christmases

Now this list does not include any of the kids favorites, since the point is for us to share these movies together.

Let me know if there’s a must watch flick that we’re missing.

Brace yourselves – the average American Thanksgiving dinner adds up to between 4,000 and 5,000 calories (gasp). Unless you’re getting up and participating in a local turkey trot (overacheivers) or a rousing game of after dinner football with the family, you’re probably not planning to workout on Thanksgiving. I mean who has the time with all the parade/football watching cooking to be done.

In an effort to help all of us burn off some of those calories, I put together these Thanksgiving workout moves you can do throughout the day while you’re cooking, watching football (or the parade) and having dinner.

Follow the instructions below and do the recommended number of reps (until you pass out on the couch after dinner):

  • Every time you check the turkey (or the person cooking the turkey checks it) – 5 squats
  • Every time someone asks for you to pass a dish during dinner – 5 situps (you can save them all up until after dinner)
  • Every time someone sings during the Thanksgiving Day parade – 5 push-ups
  • Every time a Black Friday Sale commercial comes on – jog in place until the commercial is over
  • Every touchdown – 6 alternate lunges (3 on each side)

Here is a fun graphic you can pin or save to your phone as a reminder of the moves throughout the day.

My kids are constantly asking for things. Everyday, I am inundated with requests for food, a drink, a blanket, a new toy, a hug, and a variety of other things. Obviously, I have no problem obliging their needs for food, shelter and love (after they’ve added a ‘please’ to their request, of course). The ‘I want that toy’ and ‘Mom get me that’ pleas really get on my nerves, especially this time of year when they want everything for Christmas. These are the same little girls that could play with a different toy every day for a year (or five) and probably never play with the same toy. Seriously, they are not toy deprived by any means.

Yesterday while we were at the store, I suggested to my oldest that we select a toy to give to a child who might not get presents this year, she said ‘Okay as long I get a toy too.’ I wanted to scream (but obviously didn’t) and then realized maybe it was my fault that she didn’t get the point of the gesture. I have never really taught her that there are people out there much less fortunate than us. It’s not really her fault that she sees commercials for toys and then wants them (damn you savvy marketers).

So I’ve decided to take responsibility and make it my mission to get my kids into the giving spirit this year. I want them to understand how truly blessed we are for all that we have as a family and for them to WANT to give to others, both by giving things as well as giving their time.

These are the 5 things that I’m doing to try to teach my little gimme monsters that giving is just as important as receiving (all year around):

  1. Get them involved in giving to family – have them help choose gifts for family members, or better yet, have them make gifts for dad, grandma, aunts/uncles, cousins, and friends. This will help them be excited to give the gifts and see the recipients open them.
  2. Encourage them to donate old toys or clothes – ask them to go through the toys and clothes they’ve outgrown and pick a couple of items in good condition to donate to a local organization that distributes them to the needy. You can help but let them make the choices, so they feel like they’re doing the ‘giving’. And do this every 3 to 6 months, so they understand that giving is important all the time, not just during the holidays.
  3. Have them pick out a toy or book for a local toy drive – take them to the toy store and ask them to select a toy or book that another child may enjoy (and no, they don’t get a toy while they’re there – that defeats the purpose). Talk to them about how there are some families that can’t afford toys, or sometimes even food. If you can, take them with you to drop the item off in the toy drive bucket/box as well.
  4. Let them witness the effects of giving – if they’re of an appropriate age, take them with you to a soup kitchen to serve meals to the homeless or to a local food bank to help sort and pack food boxes. If they’re younger, ask them to help you bake cookies and deliver them to an elderly or sick neighbor. Experiencing the joy of giving can help them understand why it’s important.
  5. Start a ‘Giving’ jar – get a jar and start regularly putting money into it and encourage them to do the same. It doesn’t have to be a lot (try putting your loose change in for a start), but having a physical reminder can help keep giving top of mind for them throughout the year. Decide as a family how to best use the money to help others.

One of the most important ways to teach your kids about giving (or really anything) is by modeling the desired behavior. So make sure you’re giving year round by helping neighbors or sick friends, volunteering your time at your child’s school or donating money to one of your favorite charitable organizations. This doesn’t mean your kids will stop asking for stuff, but hopefully, it will help them think of others more often.

And with it being Thanksgiving week, let’s not forget about teaching our kids to be thankful, too.

I’m a working mom, so I rarely have time to go shopping for myself (I tried it once with the kiddos and would rather be naked in public than do that again). If it weren’t for Stitch Fix, I’d probably still be wearing the flare leg embroidered jeans from college (that’s so 2002). That means I need help remixing the items I already own, which is where Pinterest comes in (and we already know I’m totally obsessed with pinning). Pinterest is a great source for outfit and styling inspiration. Once I find an outfit I like, I break down the individual pieces and find similar items in my closet to put together my own look.

When I started thinking about what to wear to Thanksgiving dinner, my first thoughts were my cleanest stretchiest pair of yoga pants and a baggy sweatshirt. I don’t think my fam would really appreciate me showing up in my usual ‘around the house’ uniform, so I searched Pinterest for some Thanksgiving outfit inspiration.

Here’s how i went from chic outfit ideas I pinned on Pinterest to actual outfits pulled from my own unorganized closet.

Outfit 1 – Casual dress with fur vest

I’m really obsessed with my fur vest right now so I loved the look of this casual dress paired with a fur vest. I chose my orange H&M skater dress (really any casual dress would work) and added my H&M fur vest, black booties and a simple necklace (I didn’t want a crazy necklace to complete with my already crazy vest). Plus, the dress is a great option for when you know you’ll be ‘gobbling’ up mashed potatoes and pie (see what I did there).

Photos: left – shopbelleboutique.com, right – {Macaroni & Mascara}

Outfit 2 – Structured jacket with loose fitting top

The easiest way to upgrade a simple top and jeans is to add a cute jacket. I really like the simple look of this tan leather jacket and striped tee. I decided to use my brown leather fur lined jacket (because it’s oh so cozy) over this avocado green Anthropology top and dark jeans for a pulled together look (hint: these jeans have a bit of stretch to them which makes them comfy both before and after dinner).

Photos: left: coastwithme.com, right: {Macaroni & Mascara}

Outfit 3 – Casual t-shirt and cozy scarf

There is nothing easier than a t-shirt (well unless you want to be naked). Add a fun scarf and ‘bam!’ there’s your outfit. I went with a black loose tee (nobody should be wearing fitted clothing on Thanksgiving), this cozy mustard yellow scarf and some comfy boyfriend jeans. Grab a long cardigan to take with you just in case you get chilly.

Photos: left – cstyleblog.com, right – {Macaroni & Mascara}

Now this is not rocket science, but gives you a good idea of how to take inspiration from places like Pinterest and translate it into outfits using items you already own (unless yoga pants are socially acceptable, in which case always choose yoga pants). And let’s be honest, odds are if you have children, whatever you’re wearing will be covered in a mixture of gravy, whipped cream and milk by the end of the meal.

Now, which of these outfits do you think I should wear to Thanksgiving dinner?

Once you become a parent, the holiday season (and your life) quickly becomes all about the bass babies. And just like in life, you must remember that it’s important to make time for your partner as well. The holidays are the perfect time to make memories with your spouse and show them how much you appreciate and love them.

My husband and I have a holiday tradition that involves watching all our favorite holiday movies together. This means that we watch about 20+ holiday movies between Thanksgiving and Christmas (don’t judge). We also have specific movies we watch on specific nights, like Christmas Eve is always ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘A Christmas Story’.

Here are 9 traditions to start with your spouse this holiday season:

  1. Dinner and shopping – during the holidays, it can be hard to find time for a date night (who are we kidding, it’s not easy any time of the year). Find a night to sneak away from the kids (maybe have them make holiday cookies with Grandma) and tackle two birds with one stone. Get your shopping done together sans kiddos and then grab dinner and a drink (or three).
  2. Hit up Starbucks and then go light seeing – there’s nothing better than a warm drink and Christmas lights. Turn on some Christmas music and get ready to be super judgy about the light stringing skills of your neighbors.
  3. Watch Christmas movies together – I’m not talking the Christmas cartoons you watch with the kids over and over, I’m talking about grown-up Christmas movies. Whether you like comedy (think ‘Christmas Vacation’ and ‘Bad Santa’) or more sentimental classics (‘Family Stone’ and ‘Miracle on 34th St’), make special time to snuggle up with a glass of wine or hot cocoa, just the two of you to share a movie (or like 30 in our case). Bonus, if you decide to watch ‘Christmas Vacation’, here is a fun drinking game to get you in the holiday spirit.
  4. Buy your spouse festive PJ’s – buy each other special pajamas for Christmas eve, wrap them up and open them after the kiddos nod off. Maybe they’re naughty, maybe they’re nice. (Looking for the lady in your life? Try some of my favorite cute and cozy pjs)
  5. 12 dates of Christmas – if you’re able to get away more often, plan 12 mini-dates for the days leading up to Christmas. Meet for pancakes before work or try fondue for dinner.
  6. Be creative with your spouses stocking – try a theme or gag gifts. Here are some stocking ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
  7. Holiday love letters – write a love letter to your partner, expressing gratitude for all that they do and other mushy stuff. Exchange them Christmas Eve after the kiddos go to bed.
  8. Make their favorite meal or treat – show them you care by making them their favorite meal, cookies, cake, whatever they really love, no matter how much work it means for you (even if it means calling your mother in law to get the recipe). It will mean a lot that you took the time to make something special just for them.
  9. Exchange gifts on Christmas Eve – With kids, Christmas morning is usually a blur of toys camera flashes and massive amounts of wrapping paper. Make Christmas Eve about the two of you and exchange gifts after the kids head off to dreamland so your gifts don’t get lost in the rush of Christmas morning.

Already have traditions with your spouse? What’s your favorite?

Fall is upon us but I’m just finally getting around to breaking out my favorite fall items. Maybe it’s because I spend a lot of time around the house in yoga pants these days, or that I continue to safely rotate between my 4 favorite outfits whenever I go out without the kiddos. I’m by no means a fashionista but I have learned how to put together basic kid friendly clothes that make me look like I put in at least a small amount of effort before heading out of the house to the grocery store or the park. (And these items are versatile enough for the single ladies, too)

Here are my 5 fall fashion essentials every mom should have in her closet:

1. Tall Boots – whether they’re riding boots or rubber wellies, boots are great for keeping your feet warm and dry while chasing kids around during the fall and winter months but they’re still cute enough for a trip to the mall or lunch with friends.

Hunter Original Tall Rain Boots $148

2. Fleece-Lined Leggings – comfy like yoga pants but more socially acceptable, leggings can go great with boots or flats. Be sure to pair it with a top or cardigan that covers your bottom (they’re leggings, not pants).

Anne Klein Fleece-Lined Leggings $26.00

3. Cozy Cardigans – classic layering pieces help pull a look together. Pair it with a t-shirt and leggings for a look that is comfy enough for lounging around the house but also public appropriate. Also, patterns can help hide dirt and stains that little fingers may leave behind.

Vertigo Metallic Open Cardigan $59.97

4. Fancy Sweatshirts – all the comfort of a sweatshirt but with a slightly more feminine fit. Also, fun patterns or embellishments make them less ordinary.

LOFT Heart Print Sweatshirt $54.50

5. Scarves – keeps your neck cozy with these easy accessories. Just throw on and go (or search Pinterest for hundreds of different fancy ways to tie a scarf). They also do double duty by providing strategic coverage for any spills or spit-up mishaps.

Forever 21 Tartan Plaid Frayed Scarf $10.80

Busy lady with no time to shop? I use Stitch Fix, an AMAZING personal shopping subscription service that’s like Christmas morning. You fill out a quick style profile and provide a link to your Pinterest style board (optional), pay $20 and they send you 5 items (clothes, bags, jewelry and scarves). You try everything on at home, keep what you like (the $20 gets credited toward your purchase) and send the rest back in the shipping-paid envelope they provide. Super easy for busy women who don’t have time to shop or know what to buy. If you haven’t tried it, DO IT!

Once upon a time, Halloween was about finding the sluttiest sexiest costume possible, throwing it together with some fishnet tights or thigh highs (who wears those when it’s not for a costume anyways) and a fun party to wear it all to.

Now as a mom, Halloween takes on a whole new meaning. It’s all about getting costumes for the little ones that will fit over sweatpants and rainboots, and buying insane amounts of candy (we’re talking about enough to give an elephant diabetes). There’s also the fun of stealing ‘testing’ your kids’ candy to make sure it’s not poisoned. The parent that thought that little white lie up was a GENIUS! Funny how all the chocolate candy is usually the most ‘at risk’ for possible poison.

This year, I was given the task of tracking down two of the most coveted kid costumes for my girls: Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Knowing these costumes would go faster than socks at a Black Friday sale, I shopped early (like in September) and found the perfect costumes for my little ice princesses (which of course will be covered in chocolate 5 minutes after they put them on).

My ‘Mom’ costume these days generally consists of throwing on my trusty witches hat and calling it good. Sadly, my hat did not survive Halloween last year (thanks to some sticky hands and a rogue tootsie pop) so I was stoked when I saw these chic alternatives to a Halloween costume over on Dress Your Guests. Loving that I could easily throw something similar together from the items I have at home with some fun orange accessories and call it good! That means more time for candy ‘testing’.

If you’re looking for something a bit more costume-y, I’m  loving the casual take Stitch Fix did in their latest blog post about putting together a last-minute costume from items you already have in your closet.

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