Monday, November 21, 2016

For the Lovely Beards in your life



Guess what? The holiday season is sneaking up on us. Thanksgiving is just a few days away and then Christmas will be in full swing. I told myself that this year I would start my shopping early and have all of the presents wrapped and nestled under the tree by Black Friday. Spoiler alert: that didn't happen. It might have something to do with the tiny, screaming baby boy who's been keeping me up all night, or it could just be that I'm a huge procrastinator. But alas, I've hardly made a dent in my Christmas shopping. 

Now, I don't know about you, but I absolutely LOVE buying gifts for people. I'd buy gifts all year round if I could afford it. However, the one person I'm always stumped on is my husband. Even after 13 years together I have no idea what to get the man every year at Christmas. He's so hard to shop for! I mean, it's not like I don't know what he likes. I do! He just doesn't need much, and the things he wants are expensive (sorry honey, I can't afford that new guitar you've had your eye on). 
{Photo by J Lynn Photography}

This year, I'm changing things up. I'm not going to rack my brain thinking of some "big" present to get him. I'm keeping it simple- I'm going to stuff the best stocking he's ever seen. Most of it will be fun little treats, trinkets, and treasures...but the shining star of his stocking this year is going to be these luxurious products from Lovely Beards. After all, he does have a pretty good beard going on most of the year. 

With seven scents to choose from, I made the tough call and went with Vanilla & Sandalwood beard balm and oil. The smell is light and refreshing without being overwhelming- perfect for when I'm running my hands through his scruffy beard. You can find the rest of the scents here...which one is your favorite?

All Lovely Beards products are 100% organic and are made in the USA. Better yet, they come with free shipping! (a real deal-breaker for me...you guys know I can't bear to spend extra money on shipping). 

Lovely Beards products make a great stocking stuffer for the bearded man in your life, whether it's your husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, or co-worker you randomly drew from your office gift exchange. 

You can shop the collection of Lovely Beards here and use the promo BEARDS10 during checkout for 10% off your order. Make sure to pass on the promo code to anyone with a bearded fella in their life!

A big thank you to Lovely Beards for sponsoring this post! And thank you to all of my readers for supporting the partners that make this blog possible. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Mid-week confessions

Here we are again at the middle of another crazy week. Ready for some fun little mid-week confessions? Here we go!

First things first...let's talk about The Walking Dead. In my last post I talked about how excited I was for the upcoming season premiere, and it certainly didn't disappoint! Sunday nights are pretty much all I have to live for right now. If you aren't caught up you should probably stop reading now (and get off the internet entirely, since it's filled with spoilers around every corner). Spoiler alert- Abraham and Glenn are gone. Sad, sad day. I could deal with Abraham, but not Glenn...even though I knew his death was coming. It was really sad, shocking, and way more graphic than I anticipated. I'm not a huge fan of super-dark, gory crap, so I was a little annoyed at how gross the deaths were. I knew what was coming and how Glenn would die, but didn't expect to see it like that. It was just too much. I had to get up and leave the room to pace around nervously and try not to listen to the sounds of what was going on. If the goal was to get us to hate Negan though, seriously, they outdid themselves. I hope Rick gets him at some point!

In memory of when I used to sleep. I saw that printed on a mug or a shirt somewhere and I laughed out loud because that's exactly how I feel right now. I haven't had a really good night of sleep in 2 months now and I'm starting to feel as zombie-like as the walkers on my favorite show. It's gotten a little bit better- Josiah has managed to sleep a few long stretches at the beginning of the night from around 8pm to 1 or 2am. That's 5-6 hours, so not bad for a little guy. Still really bad for me though since I'm not actually asleep until at least 10pm. And these 5-6 hour stretches are not consistent at all, so one night I'll get a good little chunk of sleep and then the next 3 nights will be pure hell again, waking every 1-2 hours to feed him and put him back in his swing. (Yes, he's still sleeping in his swing. I'm in survival mode, people! Do whatever necessary!)
A photo posted by Melissa Swenson (@melissaswenson1) on

I'm glad Halloween is over. Yeah, you heard me. I don't really love Halloween. I just always feel pressure to find costumes for the kids and make it fun and memorable, when really I don't care about it and would rather buy my kids some candy and watch Hocus Pocus. I like decorating the house and the events leading up to Halloween (pumpkin patches, caramel apples, harvest parties, etc), but trick-or-treating in Washington is always wet and rainy and your costumes get ruined by big coats and boots. Who wants to be Elsa or a witch or a sexy kitten while wearing galoshes and trudging through mucky leaves while freezing to death in those paper-thin costumes? Besides, this is 2 years in a row that Harper's been terrified of her costume. I had high hopes of her and Josiah being Dory and Nemo (her current favorite movie) but she was scared of the Dory tutu dress. Add that on top of a grouchy 2 month old who just got his shots and a couple of sick kids and your trick-or-treating plans go bye bye. Somehow I got over it though. 
A photo posted by Melissa Swenson (@melissaswenson1) on

I want to burn my bra. Not in like a feminist sort of way or anything, but I seriously want to set fire to all of my big, sexy nursing bras. Why? I hate bras. When I'm not pregnant or nursing I almost never wear one around the house (no need to really when you're an A cup). But while nursing I have to keep one on 24/7, even to bed, which I positively loathe. Plus, when I catch a glimpse of myself changing in the mirror I see all that fabric and I feel like a grandmother or something in this huge, beige, full-coverage bra with the industrial sized straps and clasps. I don't mind breastfeeding, and I actually sorta love it, but the bra part sucks and is so uncomfortable. I will be happy to destroy them when the day comes that Josiah weans from the boob! 

I hate Costco milk. Seriously Costco, I know your stupid square milk jugs are probably way easier to stack in gigantic warehouses, but think of your customers, especially those of us with cereal-eating children who spill the damn milk all over the floor and counter every single day. Your milk jugs suck and I silently curse my husband every time he comes home with them proclaiming "I remembered the milk!" Thanks, honey. 

Two more days until Friday, which I'm not looking forward to because my kids have been home sick all week. I need some quiet time. I better wrap this up and enjoy my two hours of sleep! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Quick & easy photo albums {Plus 15 album theme ideas!}



Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely love taking pictures of my children. Yes, I'm one of those moms. The one who posts far too many pictures of my adorable children on all of my social media accounts and who is constantly having to delete apps and games on my phone to make room for more photos. More photos! Of course I need 500 pictures of my toddler eating spaghetti. The only problem is that I don't really ever do anything with all of the pictures I take. They just sit there on Facebook and Instagram or take up room on my phone, tablet, and camera. I'm horrible at having my pictures printed. One look around my house and you'll see that I don't even have a single picture of my almost two month old baby boy...unless you count on my phone. 

When I was a kid we had these huge photo albums we'd look at all the time. I loved looking at them. Back then, taking pictures was expensive (think film & developing it), and putting together a photo album or scrapbook took a lot of time and effort. I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I don't have a single photo album in my house. Nope. Not one. Well, until now.

Thankfully Shutterfly has a brand new service called Make My Book that makes it so easy to whip up a photo album in almost no time. Perfect for lazy busy moms like me. You can even use pictures directly from your Facebook or Instagram- I love that part! All of my best pictures are on there so it made finding my favorites for this baby book I wanted to make quick and easy. 

Putting together this photo album took little to no effort on my part. The designers at Shutterfly did it all! A book like this would have taken me HOURS to put together. I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time anymore. In reality, this book only took me about 10 minutes and I kind of just threw it together- Shutterfly's Make My Book did the rest! All I did was connect my Instagram, choose my pictures, select my book size/style, and submit my order. I opted to have a designer curate my best photos for me and I left a note on the order that the book would be documenting the first 2 years of my daughter's life ( It's so great that they give you a space to leave a note with special requests or whatever you want to let them know about the book before they design it for you!) Within 3 days they emailed me a preview of my book and I was blown away! Make My Book created a beautiful photo album showing Harper from birth to two years old. They chose the best photos and added all of these amazing little touches to make it look like a handmade scrapbook. I think my jaw may have dropped when I saw the preview. I reviewed my order and submitted it back to Shutterfly (you can also make changes here or add some finishing touches). I could not wait to get my book in the mail!


What I received from Shutterfly's Make My Book service is this stunning photo album/baby book of my beautiful Harper. The quality is amazing. I chose the 11x14 book and it's huge! The photos are so pretty, even though they were taken with a phone and were from my Instagram, and the book looks like it was carefully put together and took tons of time to make. I love all of the little flourishes and finishing touches they added! Everything is absolutely perfect and I get all of the credit for making it!



My family has spent so much time together looking over this photo book and cracking up. We laughed until we cried, and then we really did cry! I love having a physical copy of these precious memories for my family to cherish forever. I'm not sure what Harper thinks about this big book about her, but it's such a special keepsake to have. I can't wait to put together some albums for each of my kids now that I know how easy the process is with Make My Book.


Here are a few more ideas/occasions for photo albums I want to make:

  • Baby book for each of the kids
  • Summer break
  • Wedding
  • Vacation
  • School year
  • Anniversary
  • Instagram favorites
  • Engagement
  • Pregnancy
  • Birth story book
  • Love story
  • Family tree
  • Family reunion
  • School year
  • Graduation
  • College
  • Photography

These photo books make great keepsakes for your family and would also make for an amazing gift! I've already got ideas swirling in my head for Christmas and birthdays!

What would you create with Make My Book?

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