Should You Open an Etsy Shop?

Most new home businesses fail. Fact of the matter, most people either don’t have what it takes, or find out that it was not at all what they were expecting. It takes certain qualities and a love for what you are doing to be able to have the tenacity to succeed, and that’s why I’m writing this article for you. I have done it, and I have failed- then succeeded! I know the reasons why business owners quit or fail. Do you think you have what it takes? More specifically, are you cut out to run an Etsy shop?

I’ve been running a successful handmade business for a little over a year now, and I have learned a lot. I have been at the highest highs, and the lowest lows wanting to quit. I’ve learned how to change myself and my habits, so that I can have what it takes to keep pushing forward. I do this because I want to, and I need to. My business has helped me tremendously with paying bills, and just having some extra spending money. In order to be fully transparent, my level of “success” is that I work on my business very part time, and I pull in a nice profit each month. I do not do this full time, and I don’t know yet if I plan to try do it full time in the future. Whether you want a full time income, or a part time side gig, this will help you determine if you have what it takes.

Do you have a product or service to sell?

This is the first and most obvious question. Most people considering opening an Etsy shop already have something in mind, but you have to have a solid product or service narrowed down before you can publish your first listing. What do you have that others may want? More importantly, are you going to be willing to make countless supplies of your product for potential customers?

How do you stand out from the rest?

Etsy is full of shops run by people just like you. It can be very hard to stand out from the rest, and many are almost exactly the same. That’s kind of an issue when you are first getting started, because you obviously want your shop to get seen by potential customers. You need to find a way to stand out. Maybe your product is very unique, or you take excellent pictures of your product. These are good steps, but when I started out I was subpar at taking pictures, and my product was not that unique. Now I have more unique products, but at the beginning I stood out with my pricing. Other shops were so overpriced that I would’ve felt like I was robbing people with that profit margin.

My first suggestion is to go on Etsy, and search for what you will be selling. This is your competition. How are you different from them? I’m not saying there’s no room for more than 1 similar shop, but when you are starting out it can be hard to get your listings seen. Many people go months without seeing an order, and get discouraged and quit. Stand out; find a way for your shop to be different and you will have a better shot. Don’t lowball yourself and give away the farm for next to nothing, however. That won’t make you many fellow Etsy-shop-owner friends, and it will give the wrong impression to buyers. You don’t want them seeing your product as cheap and chintzy.

Do you have an established following?

This is a huge part of what I credit my fast Etsy success to. I had a following already through Facebook, that I carried over to Etsy. My first 6 months in business I was selling things through Facebook alone before I decided to add Etsy as well. I had about 2,000 likes on my Facebook page, and was doing quite well. I made my first 2 sales on Etsy the first day I opened shop, and that is solely because I already had a following on Facebook. It really helped my credibility on Etsy by having sales and good reviews so early on. My Facebook followers were happy to have an easier ordering system rather than just messaging me on Facebook, so it was a win-win for everyone. Don’t be scared to start sharing your stuff on social media at first to test the waters and see what kind of a reaction you get.

Are you flaky?

Be honest here, do you tend to be flaky or fall through on plans you made? This kind of business is not for you if you are. Honestly, I’ve been surrounded by flaky people my whole life and it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Because of that I have always made sure to stick to my word and do what I say I will do (unless something unavoidable happens and I can’t follow through). When people are spending their hard earned money on your product, you have to do what it takes to get their order completed and sent to them in a timely manner. This often means working when you really don’t want to.

If you enjoy your freedom, and like having a set schedule, this might not be for you. I have worked many nights until 1-2 AM when I had to work the next morning, because I had promised customers their order would be finished.

Are you good at responding to messages?

The most time consuming part of my business is the back and forth of messages between my customers and I. This is also a huge factor on whether they will give you a great review or not. Customers like communication. They like to know exactly what the status of their order is, and you can’t blame them for that. Getting new or custom things is exciting, and that should be seen as a compliment to you and your work.

I haven’t always been good at messaging. There were times I would read a message and forget to respond. This is no bueno. Do not make your customers feel neglected. This was another part of myself I had to change in order to succeed, and it was worth it.

Would you do your work for free?

This is a good test to see if you are cut out for running your business long-term. Of course no one wants to work for free, but would you? Do you love what you are doing enough that you would still be doing it if you weren’t being paid? For me, I would. In fact I do, all the time. Sewing is my favorite past time, and when I’m not doing it to fulfill orders, I’m sewing for fun, for me or someone else.

No matter what you are doing, you most likely will experience burnout at one point or another. Around the holiday rush, sewing was becoming less and less “fun,” and I wasn’t seeing it as enjoyable anymore. Still, I pushed through and made it to the other side of Christmas, and carried on. Luckily after that craziness things settled down and it became fun again. If you don’t like what you are doing that much in the first place, I don’t think you’ll last when things get busy.

There’s no real way to predict the future, and success looks different for everyone. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t think you have what it takes. I didn’t when I started, but as long as you keep adapting and improving, you will do great! It can be a long journey that may not pay off for a while, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a fun and exciting journey.

How to Take Control of Your Money

I always knew I had a problem with spending money. I don’t know where I went wrong, but for now I’m blaming it on being stupid and careless. I didn’t see the long term consequences of paying my bills late, or not at all. I floated by on life making the bare minimum and doing the bare minimum to get by, while tossing the little money I did have at stupid things like clothes and makeup (like I didn’t have enough of those things already).

It seemed like I was trying to fill a hole in my life with things, and I was running from the cold hard truth. I was broke and bills weren’t getting paid. You can only run for so long before it all catches up to you and the electricity shuts off.

I’m not sure what my turning point is, or if I’m fully recovered even. All I know is that I make a conscious effort every day to not buy things I don’t need, and to make sure my bills are getting paid on time. For some of us this doesn’t come easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. I took a few simple steps and do them every day to make sure that I’m controlling my money, not being controlled by it.

Keep A Detailed Planner

I went and bought myself a cute planner that has spaces for everyday of the week, so that I could plan everything down to the day. I wrote in there exactly what day each bill was owed for the month on the correct day. Then, I write in there exactly how much money I have coming in on what days (payday, sales from my home business). Finally, I jot down what bills I pay on the day I pay them, along with how much. This helps me see the physical amounts going in and out of my bank account, so I can be fully aware of my spending. I do this for groceries, gas, etc as well. Being alert to your spending and writing down the actual amounts will help put your spending into perspective. This was my first step, and possibly the best step that helped break my spending addiction.

Put Money in Your Savings Account, and Don’t Touch it

I have never been able to save money, ever. It’s hard to do that when you are spending every last cent you make. I’ve learned how important it is to have a “cushion” in case of emergency, so this is something you need to do. The best advice I have is to put your savings into a separate account before you do anything else. Even if it’s only $20 a week, that adds up to $1,040 after a year of saving. Then after moving the savings you can pay your bills. Then whatever is left you can allocate to groceries, gas or other necessities. Some bank accounts will even let you “lock” your savings account for a period of time, so you can’t withdraw the money. That could be good for those with no self control like me.

Make a Shopping List, and Stick to It

This is where I struggled the most. Spending over $100 a week on groceries for a family of 3 was just nuts. Then I realized I was buying a bunch of crap that would just inevitably end up in the garbage on its expiration date. Going into the grocery store with no idea what you will be eating for the week is a big money suck hole. You will end up blindly grabbing things from the shelves that seem like a good idea, but much of that will go to waste. Make a menu for the family for the week, and buy only what you need for the week. There are tons of great menus on Pinterest if you are like me and can’t think of a good weekly food menu.

Don’t be Afraid to be a Homebody

This was another problem area for me. The weekend would roll around and I would think that I hadto do something to entertain my son and myself. These things would end up costing money, of course. The trampoline park was a minimum of $20 every time, and the movie theatre was even more. Don’t even get me started on going out of town- those trips cost hundreds of dollars. I realized that there was nothing wrong with staying home. In fact, after being in daycare all week, my son loves to stay in his own home and play with his own toys. Now I have even more time to get housework done, work on my business, and binge watch Greys Anatomy on Netflix. Don’t be afraid to stay at home and veg out once in a while, it could end up saving you a lot of money in the long run.

As I said before, I’m a reformed spend-a-holic, so these tips aren’t necessarily ground breaking. These are just simple steps that I have found to really help me take control of my money, and stop living paycheck to paycheck.

How did you take control of your money? Share your tips in the comments!

Saving Money For Your Wedding- For Beginners

I want to start this out by stating that I am not anywhere close to a money saving guru. In fact, my whole life I have been the opposite- a shopping addict who buys some of the stupidest things for even stupider reasons. I am new to this whole budgeting and saving process, which is why I’m sharing my story.

2 months ago the love of my life asked me to marry him, and I’ve been on cloud nine since. I came into this wanting a low key wedding that wouldn’t cost too much, because really it’s just one day, right? Well, how cute and naive I was. Even if I had the kind of wedding I was thinking, it would still be well over $10,000. Not to mention I fell in love with the most expensive venue I toured.

After I saw the price, I said no way and went about my day. But every other place I contacted or toured I would end up comparing to the expensive place. I knew that is where my heart wanted to have it, but I didn’t want to go into debt or put that price burden on someone else. So I decided I would buck up and make it happen myself (with help from my fiancé of course).

I decided that I would for the first time ever, go on a budget. A strict one. That means no Starbucks, no eating out, and NO unnecessary spending. Along with that, I had a plan with my craft business to help finance the wedding. Here are my own tips and budgeting that has helped me tremendously so far. I no longer feel worried about money, and I’m proud of myself.

Cut out all unnecessary bills

This looks different for everyone, but I think it’s the best first step. Look at all your monthly bills, and ask yourself which ones are absolutely necessary. For me, I was spending $10 a month on Ipsy. Sure, it’s only $10 and I enjoyed getting the bags every month, but it was not necessary and that was $120 a year that could be saved for something for the wedding. Another monthly bill I have is XM radio. I love having more choices, but really I’m only in my car for about 20 minutes each day, and it doesn’t hurt to listen to the many local channels available for free. Those 2 unnecessary bills I cut out are saving me $32 a month, which will save up to $512 by our wedding in 16 months. $512 can go a long ways!

Cut down your extra spending

This is where I really struggle. It’s nothing for me to go into target only needing one thing, and walking out as the proud new owner of the dollar section. I enjoy my little treats to myself, like a 1,000 calorie drink from Starbucks or a new pile of fabric I’ll likely never get to (I’m a sewer/creator by night). It’s easy to drop $100 and look back wondering where the heck it went. Worse than that, it’s stuff you definitely don’t need, and might just end up taking up space. I have really tightened the reigns on myself, and it’s getting easier and easier now to talk myself out of these purchases. $5 or $10 here and there for takeout might seem like nothing, but it adds up!

Meal plan

The easiest money suck hole for me is grocery shopping. For a family of 3, I was somehow spending $100-$150 a week on groceries. Yet it still seemed like we never had any food. My solution for that has been meal planning. Make a menu each week, and plan every meal. This way you can make a grocery list containing only the items needed for the weeks meals. Sticking to that meal plan and grocery list will help you avoid buying food you don’t really need, that will likely go to waste anyways. On days you don’t have a meal plan, instead of getting takeout, create a meal using foods you already have on hand.

Make extra money on the side

This is a broad statement, and looks different for everyone. There are TONS of ways to make cash on the side, depending on your own situation. Some people do direct sales/MLM and find success, which is one option. Think of your talents or hobbies- can you profit off of them? I started Dakota Dust Designs because I was making clothes and blankets for friends and family, but then it would get shared and before I knew it I was bursting at the seams with orders. This business has helped me tremendously with bills and saving up for the big day. If you can’t think of anything to make or sell, sell your services. Try babysitting, dog walking, or cleaning on the side. Remind yourself that this is all for the greater good. It will be worth it.

Profit by minimizing

This is coming from a borderline hoarder- almost all of us need to minimize. We just have too much shit. Take a look around your house- do you use everything that you have? Do you need it? There are tons of sites to use to sell your extra stuff like Facebook, Craigslist, Letgo, etc. Make sure to set aside all the money you can from selling your stuff, and put it in savings right away.

Now this is not rocket science, and maybe you already knew all this. For someone like me who has handled money like an idiot in the past, these tips have made such a difference. Every nickel and dime you save along the way will add up, and hopefully you can have the day of your dreams without going into a crazy amount of debt.

What did I miss? How are you saving or making money to pay for your wedding? Share in the comments!

Personal Handmade Gift Ideas For Any Occasion

It seems like every other week there is a new birthday, anniversary, or holiday to prepare for, and I know how stressful that can be. Although I love any reason to celebrate anything, it can be so hard shopping for people. I have always had a hard time thinking of gifts to buy people, so I would either take a shot in the dark, or skip it altogether.

Luckily, with growing my homemade business, Dakota Dust Designs in the last year, I have a whole new outlook on these events. I now see them as a chance to get creative and give someone a present that is personalized to their likes and interests. Even better, I think giving homemade presents is the best, because of the time and love that goes into everything I make.

If you are a sewer or crafter like me, you maybe already feel the same way. If you feel stuck in a rut, I have compiled a simple list of the homemade gifts I have given in the past year for various occasions.


Disclaimer: This post has affiliate links/banners. If you chose to purchase something using my link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Christmas

This Christmas I was all about the blankets. They’re easy enough to make, practical, and who doesn’t love getting cozy blankets in the middle of Winter? I designed a unique kind of blanket that is made with soft minky on one side, and cozy sweater material on the other. Let me tell you, everyone who got one has been raving about it since. These are perfect throw blankets to cuddle under.

Take a look:


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personalized Presents

When I got my new sewing machine last year, I decided to get a Singer Futura XL400, because it doubled as an embroidery machine. I was nervous because the reviews said it was hard to learn, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had it up and running right away. That embroidery machine was a game changer, because I can now use any font (with an additional program) and any design I can find to personalize any gift. Here are a couple that I did for Christmas:


 

Valentines Day

My boyfriend and I usually don’t really do anything for Valentine’s Day; it’s only 3 days away from our son’s birthday, so we are too busy planning for his party and whatnot. This year, however, I decided that I had to make him something. His favorite thing to do when he’s not working is to lay on the couch under a blanket watching his favorite show. I figured there was no better gift for him than a double minky blanket that proclaimed my love for him. In hindsight, I should have made it bigger, and I should have realized it would not be as good as his Minnesota Gophers blanket ;) At least my son and I love it. Take a look:

 

Engagements

Not even two months ago, I got a text that one of my good friends and her long time boyfriend got engaged. I immediately wanted to send them something to congratulate them, so of course I started to think about what I could hand-make for them. I decided to go the tried-and-true route, and make them a blanket, but I wanted it to be as personalized as possible. Luckily I found the perfect fabric in a knot pattern to symbolize them “Tying the Knot.” Incidentally, this friend of mine is a horse lover who also ropes and all that jazz, so the rope print and hide back fit her so perfectly. It was one of my favorite gifts to send, and I think it fit the occasion great. See the blanket below:

 

Baptisms

Not too long ago, we got a new baby niece. She got baptized, and I couldn’t think of what to make her. I had already made her baby blankets, so I thought that was off the table. I wanted to give her something handmade, though, and clothes aren’t really baptism-gift material (in my opinion), so I went for a blanket- shocker! I went for a full-crib size blanket, and I found the perfect material for it. This blanket was double minky, and the front had the most perfect Bible verse on it along with beautiful flowers. This blanket turned out to be one of my favorites, and a perfect baptism gift. Check it out:

 

Themed Gifts

Some holidays, like St. Patty’s Day, Easter, 4th of July, and Valentines day, themed gifts are cool. My favorite themed items to make are leggings with matching headbands. Here are some of my past (and present) themed items that could be great baby gifts:

Baby Shower / Welcoming Gifts

Most, if not almost all of my orders are for babies or toddlers. Honestly, my favorite thing is to make stuff for little ones because its all so dang cute. Every time I finish a tiny headband or little pair of adorable leggings, my heart grows about two sizes and wishes I had a little baby of my own. There are so many different things I make for babies, and they all make for great baby shower or welcoming gifts in my opinion. I have done many different variations of bundles and packages, and I even have a baby bundle product that I offer, because I think it’s a great gift! Here are some of my favorite baby gifts:

Booties:

Baby Blankets:

Crib Blankets:

 

Bandana Bibs:

 

Leggings with Headbands/Hats:

Carseat Ponchos:

 

It’s ok if you don’t know how to make some of these things- learning can be simple! It just takes practice and lots of tutorials. If you aren’t a sewer, you can always hire it out (wink, wink). Check out my Facebook page, Dakota Dust Designs to hire me, or shop on my page!

 

 

Craftsy

My Favorite Weight Loss Gear on Amazon


*Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, I may make a commission if you purchase something at one of the links below. This contains all of my own opinions, and I only recommend products I truly believe in. 


I’m sure that when I first discovered amazon, sparks flew. As a busy human in general, there’s hardly enough time to do all the shopping that I need to on a day to day basis, even for essentials. Luckily, you can get literally anything on Amazon. I now use it for birthdays, Christmas, Valentines Day, and literally any other occasion, to save myself a trip up town.

when I embarked on my weight loss journey, which resulted in the loss of over 100 pounds, I found that Amazon was a huge tool in my success. There were tons of things I wanted, but always found them to be too expensive at my local stores. Luckily Amazon has great things at even better prices, so I found many things to help me lose weight without breaking the bank.

  • Meal Prep Containers:  Prepping my meals has contributed so much to my success in losing over 100 pounds. By setting aside an hour or two every Sunday to cook up a bunch of food, I saved myself tons of time and slip ups during the week, making it so easy to stay on track. These containers are deep, have 2 compartments, are dishwasher AND microwave safe, and are well made! You can’t find a set of 7 for a cheaper price, either, at least I haven’t been able to.
  • Kitchen Food Scale: When I learned how to portion my food right, that is when I learned all about eating to fuel my body. My whole life I didn’t think I was eating too much, yet I had no clue how many calories I was actually consuming. Measuring my food out now helps me so much. Food like meat, however, you can’t necessarily “measure,” so that is what I primarily use my scale for. Take the guesswork out of portioning your meat at an amazing price of $13.99
  •   Quest Bars: I first discovered Quest Bars at my local GNC, but they were almost $3 a bar there, which is hard to justify buying. I loved them so much, though, that I kept buying them at that price. Luckily I found them on Amazon, and I buy them by the box every few weeks. You can get them for about $2 a bar on Amazon, which is not a bad price! I love these bars because they are high in protein, low in net carbs, and they have less than 1 g of sugar, which is hard to find in a delicious bar! My favorite is Double Chocolate Chunk- I microwave my bars for about 22 seconds before I eat them, and they are so amazing. This box of 12 goes for about $24.99 on Amazon.
  • Fixate: For anyone that has followed my story, you probably know that I have found a lot of success using the 21 Day Fix. I still loosely follow the nutrition plan, and this cook book helps so much. This book is packed with delicious, unique, and healthy recipes, to give you a little variety in your diet. This is an awesome way to get used to cooking lighter recipes, by making healthy swaps with traditional recipes like Mac N’ Cheese, for example. You can get it on Amazon for only $26.90.
  • Food Journals: Food journals like this one are amazing, because they help keep you on track. If you religiously jot down your food intake for the day, you are less likely to cheat and sneak in bad food. Also, it can be helpful if you hit a plateau, to look back on your food to see if there are hidden calories or fat in there somewhere that can be eliminated. This awesome food journal is on Amazon for only $6.99.
  • Body Weight ScaleIn order to track your progress, you really need a good bathroom scale. You should weigh yourself once a week to see if your diet and workout plan is working for you. Scales can get expensive, but there are tons of decently priced scales on Amazon with excellent reviews, like this one for $22.94.  You don’t need anything fancy, but if you want one with extra bells and whistles, you can get a nice “Smart” scale for only $32.00, that syncs with your phone, and will tell you your body fat percentage.

  • Running BeltIf you’re a wanna-be-runner like me, you probably do a lot more walking than running. That’s ok, we still need somewhere to put our things, right? Before I got the belt, I would always wear a sweater or jacket every time I went out, which isn’t always practical in the summer. This lovely belt for only $7.97 can hold it all for you.

  • Yoga Mats: No matter what kind of workout you are doing, a good yoga mat always comes in handy. I bought myself the pine tree Aurorae 5 mm yoga mat long ago, and I will never go back to any other brand. These mats are high quality, and you can tell from the second you open it. There are so many cute patterns, and for only $40 that’s a great deal.

 

That’s pretty much all of my essentials that I have ordered from Amazon during my weight loss journey, that I would purchase again. It’s all trial and error, and you may not like the same things that I do. For those of you who don’t live in an area with tons of health stores close to you, this can be a life saver, without taking a huge dent out of the check book.

Am I missing anything? What is your favorite weight loss products on Amazon, anything that was absolutely vital to your diet and workout lifestyle? Let me know in the comments!

Mini M&M Chocolate Chunk Monster Cookies

One thing I have always loved to do is make cookies. Even when I am on one of my “health kicks,” like my boyfriend likes to call it, I still like baking cookies. It’s a cruel and unusual punishment I inflict on myself, but hey, my family likes it (and I may sneak a bite here and there).

A long-time favorite cookie of mine has always been Monster Cookies. With the peanut butter, chocolate chips, M&M’s, and oats, there really isn’t anything else you could ask for in a perfect cookie. Since I know that my family will eat them up in no time, I love making these. Nothing grinds my gears more than baking something delicious, and watching it sit on the counter until it dries up and has to get thrown away. Such a waste.

So anyways, I always like to add my own little “twists” to classic recipes, whether it be leaving out an ingredient, or adding some in. For these, I just like to use mini M&M’s and chocolate chunks instead of the standard M&M’s and chocolate chips. I also add in peanut butter chips because my two boys at home seem to love them. Other than that, everything is pretty normal and they taste just like the amazing monster cookies everyone knows (and loves).

Here’s the recipe- It made about 2.5 dozen cookies for me.

mc2


Monster Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter (or creamy, your choice)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp of vanilla
  • 3/4 cup of flour
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of oats (I used old fashioned)
  • 1 cup of Mini M&M’s
  • 1 cup of chocolate chunks
  • 1 cup of peanut butter chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together your softened butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter. Beat until it’s creamy.
  3. Add in your egg and vanilla.
  4. In a different bowl, add in your flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix evenly.
  5. Slowly mix your dry ingredients in with your wet ingredients, and mix thoroughly.
  6. Stir in your M&M’s, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. Fold them in until mixed evenly throughout.
  7. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls onto cookie sheets and bake for 11-12 minutes, or until slightly golden. Make sure not to bake them for too long, or they will get hard.
  8. Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring them to aluminum foil or rack.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Aurorae Sling Yoga Backpack Review & Giveaway!

Disclaimer: I received product free of charge from Aurorae in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are 100% my own, and I would never recommend a product that I wouldn’t buy myself. This post may include affiliate links.

Summer is winding down and the new school year is right around the corner- literally. I start classes again next week, and I am NOWHERE near ready. Things have been pretty crazy around here the past few months, and there is no end in sight. Between working, chasing my 2 year old around, getting our basement finished, and trying to find time to write, overwhelmed is an understatement. It’s ok though, because every now and then I get to do something crazy fun like I am today.

It’s a big day for my sweet little blog, because I am holding my very first GIVEAWAY!! My blog has been around for less than two years, and I am very happy with where it is now. I do wish to write more often, because I have put it on the back burner for a while. Today I am so excited, because I get to share my most current obession: Aurorae.

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Aurorae was kind enough to send me this amazing sling yoga backpack, in exchange for an honest review. I pride myself in only accepting things that are a good fit for me and my readers, and this was perfect. I am always on the hunt for a perfect “gym” bag, but backpacks make me feel like a high school student again, and I have yet to find a cute duffle bag I can fit my yoga mat into.

My first impression with Aurorae is how personable they were. They were quick with communication and shipping, which is HUGE to me. I am always skeptical of pretty much anything unfamiliar to me, which can be a downfall. I try to hope for the best, but I can hear my inner voice telling me to expect the worst. When the package came, I didn’t know what to expect. I opened it, and the first thing I noticed was the quality. The material was thick and felt like it was durable.

Next, I noticed all of the compartments. Let me fill you in on a little secret about me: I love compartments. Zippers, flaps, pouches- it doesn’t matter, I want them. I like to feel organized, and when I have separate places to put everything, that helps. To be exact, this bag has 3 zipper compartments (including the large, main compartment), 1 mesh yoga mat sling with two buckles to secure it in, one mesh water bottle holder, and one mesh cell phone holder on the strap. I have an iPhone 6, and it fit in the pocket perfectly. Anything larger that that, and it might not fit.

For the past 3 years (give or take), I have been obsessed with cross-body bags. Every single purse I have owned has been a cross-body. I like them because you sling them over your shoulder, and they stay on without a problem. This has the same concept, since there is only one strap that you “sling” over your back. My son took an interest to it, too, and insisted on wearing it around the house all night.

This bag is perfect for what it is made for- grabbing your yoga mat & going to the park, gym, or wherever your little heart desires. You won’t be able to fit anything large in it- like a laptop, because of the shape. You don’t HAVE to bring your yoga mat, either. The pouch that holds your mat folds up and buckles to the side of the bag, so it looks perfectly normal without the mat (see below).

DSCN0618

I was so in love with the bag as soon as I got it, that I hopped on Amazon and ordered one of their yoga mats that second. I just got the mat today, and I’m even more obsessed. They have so many different colors and designs, and I went with the wooded pine option. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the middle of the woods, but I am obsessed with trees for some reason. If something has trees on it, I want it. This mat spoke to me, and I can’t wait to put it to good use. I unrolled it, and of course the first thing you have to do is step on it, and see how it feels. I was surprised, because it cost less than the cheapest one I could find at Target, yet it felt so much thicker and cushier. My knockoff brand from Target was chincy and fell apart right away, which is no bueno. I love this one from Aurorae so much, that I want one in each design.

wooded pine yoga mat

GIVEAWAY TIME

giveaway

So, like I mentioned above, this is my first giveaway, so bear with me. This is uncharted waters, so it may get a little messy. There are going to be multiple ways to get entered into the giveaway, so you can enter more than once. It will almost be completely on social media, so you can pick and choose how you enter the contest. Here are the details:

FACEBOOK:

Like my page, Writing on a Whim – This will give you one entry (If you already liked my page, unlike it and like it again so I get the notification, lol)

Share my post about the giveaway that I will be posting tomorrow morning on my page – This will give you another entry

Like & comment on my post about the entry – If you do both, you will get two more entries

INSTAGRAM

Follow me @gabrielles_losing_it – If you already follow me, see above and repeat what you did on Facebook – This will give you one entry

Repost my giveaway post (also going live in the morning on 8/18) using the hashtag #gabrielleslosingitgiveaway – That will earn you one entry

MY LIFE ON A WHIM

Lastly, earn one entry by commenting on this post! Tell me what you would do with your bag, or something like that :)

In ONE WEEK I will be scouring each and every one of your entries, adding them into a big database, and a winner will be chosen at random. The more entries you have, the higher your chances are at winning. Hopefully that isn’t too confusing, it is getting pretty late and my mind is almost asleep.

Questions, comments? Leave it below! Remember, comments earn you entries, so go for it! Thanks for reading!

 

Firmoo Glasses- an Honest Review

***Disclaimer: Affiliate links have been used in this post. If you make a purchase I may or may not receive a commission for referring you. I was gifted these glasses for free in return of my honest review. I believe in transparency, and I wouldn’t recommend something I didn’t like myself.

 

I haven’t been wearing glasses very long. In fact, I only wear glasses about 50% of each day. It started about a year ago when I was getting constant headaches every day after an hour or two at work. I noticed I was needing to squint my eyes every time I was looking at the computer, because it was very blurry.

I finally bit the bullet and took a trip to the eye doctor (for the first time in my adult life).

My new Doctor concluded that one of my eyes was slightly near sighted, and the other eye was slightly far sighted. It  was not enough to need glasses all the time, but he told me my eyes were straining hard when I was working on the computer or reading, so that was likely the cause of my headaches.

I left the eye doctor with a new pair of glasses on the way, and when I saw the price tag I cringed a little. Thank God for vision insurance, because I definitely would not be able to pay for them out of pocket. I cherish my glasses, so much that I keep them at work so I don’t lose them. That’s fine and dandy, but when I am at home writing, I am running into the same problem again.

Then Firmoo came along.

About a month ago, I was contacted by a company I have never heard of, Firmoo. They wanted to gift me a pair of glasses in order for an honest review. When I said honest, I mean honest. I’m not the kind of person who would sell my soul for free things.

I agreed, and went through the ordering process. I was amazed by all of the different options! When I saw the price tag on these, I realized that I would have bought them even if I wasn’t getting them for free. Most glasses on their website range from $20-$50 from what I could see.

The customer service reps were great, emailing me throughout the whole process and making sure I was satisfied. Make sure that you have your prescription handy, because you will have to enter that if you are ordering a pair of prescription glasses. If you are wanting a pair but you don’t need prescription glasses, don’t worry! They have non-prescription glasses too, and they are so cute.

About 2 weeks later I got my glasses in the mail, in the cutest case! It was a hard, sturdy case with a design that looked like a map on it. The glasses looked exactly how they did on the website, so it was a good first impression. I tried them on and they fit perfectly! I was really happy with how they fit and looked.

Firmoo Glasses Case

I think I am slightly obsessed with the case they came in

They are a lot flimsier than my expensive pair, but that is to be expected. You get what you pay for. These glasses are perfect for when I am working on my computer at home, and that is exactly what I am going to be using them for! I don’t know what it is about glasses, but they make me feel like my creative juices are really flowing, and I seem to get so much more work done!

If I had one complaint, it would be that they are kind of hard to clean with anything aside from the cloth that comes with the glasses. That seems to be a common complaint. If you use the cloth they clean fine but you can’t use your shirt, for example, it will just smear. Another blogger here thinks it may because of the special coatings on the glasses, like the anti scratch coatings.

Firmoo Glasses

Awkward Glasses Selfie 

All in all, I am very happy with these glasses. The shipping took around 2 weeks, so don’t expect to get them right away. I think they are perfect for the price you pay. Thumbs up from this girl.

Firmoo Family

Me trying to get work done with a toddler- impossible

If you want a pair, go to this link and use this coupon code: 94153628ba

This special offer is for my readers: The first 5 people to use this code get their glasses for free– all you have to do is pay for shipping. This offer is good through May 27th, and like I said, it is only for the first 5 people to claim the offer.

Let me know what you think!

5 Ingredient Slow-Cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup

Last week I had a fridge full of veggies and chicken that I was dying to use. There was a problem, though. I was sick and tired of eating it the same way I have been for months. I was sick of plain chicken and raw veggies.

When you eat the same thing day after day, it gets real old. Honestly, that is probably one of the main reasons why people fail their diets. I can speak from experience and say that every time I fell off of the wagon, it is because I was tired of eating the same thing.

Luckily I have learned a thing or two throughout this whole process. I have learned that eating healthy does NOT have to mean plain and boring! You do not have to eat the same thing everyday, you just have to improvise.

Honestly, this is one of the most simple and easy recipes I am going to share with you. This soup only has 5 ingredients- and they are all organic, whole foods! It takes 5-10 minutes to throw together, and that’s it! All you busy moms like me, (or lazy moms, also like me) this is for you!

This is my favorite soup of all time. I love this even more than I love Campbell’s Chunky Soups. Even better- my son loved it too! He ate all of it, and then he had seconds! I can’t speak for the man of the house, however, because I can’t get him to come within 5 feet of broccoli (or any vegetable, for that matter).

If I were to compare this soup to anything, I would say it tastes just like chicken noodle soup, but without the noodles and with broccoli. SO good.


Chicken Vegetable Soup

 

Ingredients

  • Organic Vegetable Broth (1 32 oz box)
  • 1 lb Chicken Breast
  • 2 Cups Broccoli, cut up
  • 1 Cup diced Celery
  • 1 Cup Carrots, cut into slices

That’s it! Seriously, that’s all that is in this ahhhmazing soup.  It’s really up to you how much you want to add of each vegetable. The measurements above are more like measurements. I just cut up a random amount and threw it in. It worked out perfectly.

Directions

  1. Cut up your vegetables
  2. Pour the whole box of broth into your slow cooker
  3. Add the raw (thawed) chicken and the vegetables into the slow cooker
  4. Cook on “high” for 4 hours
  5. Remove chicken, make sure it is fully cooked, and then shred (it just falls apart- so tender!).
  6. Add the chicken back to the pot, and serve!

There you have it- quite possibly one of the easiest- and tastiest- chicken soup recipes! I hope you and your family love it as much as I do.

What is your favorite chicken soup? I have fallen in love with soups- especially the kinds you can make in the slow cooker. It just makes dinner time quicker and easier for this mama. I want to hear your favorite recipe! Drop it in the comments before you go :)

Coaching

Do you ever consider becoming a health coach?

You might be interested if you:

  • Love health & fitness
  • Want to help and inspire others
  • Want an awesome discount on amazing products
  • Want to earn an income from your own home, while wearing your yoga pants
  • Want to join a network of amazing, supportive fellow coaches

Sound like you?

I’m always looking for people to join my team, and help other people along the way.

On the fence?   Have more questions?

Shoot me an email at Gabep889@gmail.com  OR friend me on Facebook Here.

Ready to take the plunge and become a coach?  Join Here – Click the “Be a Coach” button.  **Note- contact me first to find out how you can get your startup fee waived, and get started on your health & fitness journey**