Keeping in Touch {With Paperless Post}

Thursday, June 28, 2018

I have always had a bit of a passion for stationery. There's nothing I love more than a blank piece of paper or a beautiful card -- all the better if personalized! I could spend hours browsing in places like Paper Source and Papyrus (and I have). The only thing I love more than stationery is what it represents: connection. In a world that keeps us busy and often self-absorbed, I love the idea of keeping in touch with those we love through letters. Just a simple "How are you? Here's what's been going on with us lately" note to someone you may not get to see or talk to often is so meaningful.

The problem is, the process of writing/paying for postage/mailing a note can be time-consuming and expensive, which makes it easy to push aside. What if there was an easier, more affordable, and more accessible way? There is! And I've only recently tried it out for the first time, myself (welcome to the 21st century, Jen!). Are you familiar with Paperless Post?

Just a note on how this all came to be, in the interest of always being transparent: Since the launch of The Lucky Lifestyle, I've received several offers to review products, link to various websites, etc. It's something many bloggers encounter, and truthfully, I've given a lot of thought to how I want to handle these types of partnerships; none have felt "right" until now. When I was approached with an opportunity to try out Paperless Post and share my experience with you, it just made sense. One of the key words I built this space on is "connection." And so, if a brand aligns with one of the core values of The Lucky Lifestyle, it feels authentic, and I think it will add value to your life and mine, I'm more than happy to try it out and share it with you!

If you're not yet familiar with Paperless Post, they offer a full range of digital stationery -- everything from wedding invitations, to birthday invitations, to thank you notes, to cards for holidays and beyond. It's not the plain or limited digital stationery you might be accustomed to -- everything is seriously so cute. The cards have texture, art, the look of embossment, vivid colors, and some are even brand-name (like Rifle Paper Co. and Oscar de la Renta).

I chose personalized stationery since my hope is to keep up with those little notes I enjoy writing to faraway family and friends. It was a tough choice, but I eventually narrowed it down to this beauty (you can see I had already started typing my note!)...
The process is simple. You choose which card you want, and then you can choose a background. I went with no background to keep things clean and simple. Then you can edit text with a wide variety of font, size, and formatting options. After that, you click through for envelope options (liner and text on the front, plus you can choose a custom stamp if you'd like). Finally, you plug in the email address of your recipient and send! I found the whole process to be incredibly user friendly. I liked how simple it was to "undo" text changes as I was writing -- for example, I was playing around with the font for my name at the top of the card and chose something accidentally -- and just how easy-to-follow the entire experience was.

About cost: Paperless Post uses a coin system. 40 coins are $12, 1000 coins $90, etc. The cost depends on the size of the package of coins you choose. The card above, with premium matching envelope liner, was 4 coins which means I could send 10 cards for $12. Not bad considering your average, generic card at Target or Hallmark is $5 or $6.

Have you tried the whole e-vite/digital stationary thing yet? I can't believe I'm new to the game, but I'm pretty sure this is the direction I'll be going from now on. The kids' birthday invitations are so, so cute... I'm already eyeing one for C's party at the end of the year! If you give it a try, let me know what you think. Here's to staying in touch. :)

Thanks to Paperless Post for providing product in exchange for an honest review.

First Lemonade Stand + This Week's Menu

Monday, June 25, 2018

Did you enjoy your weekend? We did over here! On Saturday we played at home and outside with the neighbors, I ran to the mall to do a return, and we went out to dinner at a local pizza bar. On Sunday I helped C set up her FIRST lemonade stand! She had been asking to do this for a while, so when I saw the cutest lemonade-themed stuff in Target's dollar section, I scooped it up. We had a few neighbors, a couple of landscapers, and daddy stop by as "customers," and with each one, she completely lit up. Good reminder for this momma: it's the littlest things that make kids beam with pride, and I will definitely be pulling over for any lemonade stands I see this summer. ;) 

After lemonade and H's nap, our neighbors brought us as guests to their pool. The girls loved swimming for a few hours before dinner. They are two little fish.

What's on your menu this week? Ours is pretty simple:

Sunday: Leftovers (chicken enchilada soup)

Monday: Breakfast for dinner (eggs, tater tots, Morningstar "sausage")

Tuesday: Stir-fry chicken with broccoli and rice (cauliflower rice for me!)

Wednesday: Baked ziti (we use this sauce in it... so good)

Thursday: Pepperjack cheeseburgers on the grill & corn on the cob

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Homemade pizza (C loves making a pepperoni smiley face)

Hope today marks a great start to your week!

Five on Friday: Recent Reads

Friday, June 22, 2018

Happy Friday!

How was your week? Ours felt extra busy for some reason. Besides work (including an office day for me on Wednesday), we had our new air conditioning installed on Tuesday (hallelujah!), ran a bunch of errands, and even made a trip "home" (to my hometown) for a yearly tradition yesterday. The older I get, the harder longstanding traditions are to keep and yet the more important they are to me. 

I'm excited for a relaxing weekend. Chicken enchilada soup is in the crockpot for this evening's dinner and pool time, house stuff, and groceries are on the agenda. What are your plans? 

For today's Five on Friday, here are five things I've read recently:

1. Why children aren't behaving, and what you can do about it. I groaned when I read the title of this piece on NPR because, honestly, I'm pretty burnt out on parenting articles. I always end up questioning myself after reading them, so many of them are contradictory, and often judgmental. And I'm not about that life. BUT I read over this one while we were at the beach and really appreciated the perspective. I think it's a good one for parents of young kids, like mine. If you check it out, let me know what you think (and forgive the click-batey title!).

2. Learning to live with, and even embrace, "pockets of emptiness." I thought this was such a raw, special, and true blog post by one of my more recently discovered favorite bloggers, Courtney at A Thoughtful Place. Her dad recently passed and her mom has advanced-stage Alzheimer's (follow along on her touching "tuesdays with mom" stories on Instagram), and she talks about her first birthday without them both. If you have a chance, give it a read.

3. Thoughts about getting your kids to eat (almost) everything. Gasp, another parenting article! But another one I thought was well-written, interesting, and insightful. What do you think? I'm in agreement with this perspective, although I think that phases (won't eat anything green, throws every piece of food on the floor, suddenly over their favorite food) are all too real, too... and likely will pass.

4. The Woman in Cabin 10. I saw this book recommended all over the place and I really wanted a new mystery to get sucked into, so I picked it up and dove in. I thought the first half was a little slow, but it did keep me coming back for more (although, I'll admit, I flipped to the end a few times -- I just love spoiling things for myself, haha). The last half of the book was much quicker-paced and I stayed up really late one night to finish it. I'd give it a 7.5/8 out of 10.

5. And finally: Important words. 

Take Care of Each Other (and Yourselves)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The news has been really difficult to watch lately, hasn't it? The reality of what's going on around us -- the way others are struggling -- is painful. I was drafting a post about mental illness in the wake of recent high-profile suicides, and now my heart is breaking for these families being cruelly separated at our nation's border.

I think I'm speaking to many of you when I recognize that you are trying to keep your head above water most days. Each of us has a battle we're facing -- maybe a sick parent, trying to make ends meet, children who need us every minute of the day, or anxiety. When we read about, listen to, or watch what's going on in the world, and right in our own country, no doubt our hearts ache and our minds race: how can this be happening and what can I do? It's easy to feel helpless. It's also easy to look away, to avoid the news because it's sad and it's hard.

But I believe there is always something we each can do. Even if it's something small. Even if you can't make it to a protest, or you don't have the means to donate money. Even if you simply can't take time away from work or your family to participate in a walk. Even if you're not on social media. Even if the people struggling seem far away. 

I also believe that, despite these  "even ifs,", we can each take a moment to recognize that while it's difficult to watch and digest what's going on, it is so much more difficult to be the people struggling. 

Finally, I believe that no matter your political views, if you're reading this: we can agree on basic principles of humanity.

Thousands upon thousands of children being torn from their parents' arms (parents who are leaving everything and everyone they know in search of a better life for the very children who are being taken from them -- right here. Right here in our country.)

Suicide, mental health, bullying. 

Shootings. Kids in danger.

So much more.

It's all hard. So what can we do? What can you do? What can I do? 

Step 1: Repeat to yourself that you are not helpless. The worst thing we can do when facing tragedy, trials, or distressing news is throw up our hands and roll over. By saying "I can do something," and taking one small step, you not only benefit others but your mental health benefits, as well. Doing things for others not only helps those people, it is empowering. And empowering yourself creates an energy that will help you take the next step after your first.

Step 2: Find resources. Sometimes it's easiest to start locally. 

5 Things You Can Do About Family Separation:

Ending Gun Violence:

Suicide Prevention:

Mental Illness Support: 

Step 3: Keep your eye on the big picture: in the end, we are all in this together. We are all alive, together, sharing a planet as our home. We are all the same species, no matter where we're from or where we live. 

Take care of each other. Take care of yourselves.

Summer 2018 Bucket List

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Can you believe we're already halfway through June? The first official day of summer is in exactly one week, so to celebrate I'm sharing our summer bucket list. Have you jotted down some things you want to do during this season when we have more daylight and more time with the kids? If you haven't yet, feel free to save and print this bucket list or use it as inspiration to build your own! C requested most of the items on ours. Well, specifically, she has been begging to do a lemonade stand -- which I think will be really cute and fun -- and "eat cotton candy at the boardwalk." Done and done!

Hope your week is going well! Happy Friday eve!

In Defense of Young Love

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Today marks 15 years of togetherness for Steve and me. 

We were talking about it last night and whether the time feels long or short, and as is usually the case, it feels both. It feels like all that time -- exactly half of a lifetime -- couldn't have possibly passed (a little scary to think it did so quickly!), and at the same time it really is hard to imagine a time when we weren't together. 

Young love often gets a bad rap. I get it. I've seen it not work out a million times, and I've heard all the arguments against it, like

you're so young, you'll grow apart,

you don't know what love is yet,

you'll miss out on so much.

And I understand. Logically, I've always understood these arguments and why people make them. I know that there are many young relationships that shouldn't last, and that these people will move on to find someone who is a better fit a little later in life. I can imagine guiding my own daughters this way.


If I didn't know what I know, like

it's possible to grow together instead of apart,

sometimes kids understand love more truly than adults,

you can make memories and build a life (you won't be missing out).

If it's right. Sometimes it's not, and sometimes it is. But if it is... why give up on it just because of age? There is something really beautiful about growing up together. I hope that if one of my daughters meets her person early on, I won't just dismiss it. If they love each other deeply, if they take care of one another, if they challenge each other in the best ways, if they support each other, if they have fun together and are silly together, if they can trust each other, if they can learn from one another, if they are giddy about the thought of a great big, wide open, full-of-possibilities life together. I hope I'll recognize that special spark if I see it, and remember that it is possible.

Half my lifetime later, I should know. :)

Avalon Vacation Guide

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Well hello, again! I've missed you!

We are freshly back from vacation and I can truly say it was our best one yet. Aside from a rough first night (Hadley climbed out of the rental crib no less than 75 times and we had to drive her around in the pitch black, raining night to get her to sleep -- kind of funny looking back but definitely not as amusing in the moment, haha!) aaaand a rough last night (food poisoning... enough said), we had such a wonderful time. The weather was forecasted to be rainy all week (like, every day), and it actually turned out to be beautiful with the exception of one day. We spent half the week with my family and half the week with Steve's, and I felt like I really unplugged and recharged. 

I know quite a few people who have already been or already go to the Avalon/Stone Harbor area, and I've also had some friends over the years ask about the area, our house, places to go, things to see, and just why we love it there so much. Since our trip is fresh in my mind, I thought I'd share a little vacation guide of sorts for those who live close enough or are interested in heading to Avalon/Stone Harbor, New Jersey. 

Why Avalon

First thing's first. Why Avalon? Here's why we love it:

-It's peaceful and family-oriented. No giant crowds or loud groups, just lots of families and a good amount of residents enjoying the area. I feel about 100 years old saying this and nothing against these people because I was one of them... recently enough ;), but I'm not down for staying in a house next to a group of teenagers on senior week, know what I'm saying? It just doesn't mix well with kids who go to bed at 7:30pm, so for now a quieter location is just our style.

-The beaches are beautiful and, again, not crowded. In fact, at the time of year we go, we're usually one of only a couple of groups on the beach and have it mostly to ourselves. 

-There's plenty to do. While it's a more laid-back beach town, there are great restaurants, shops, mini golf, a movie theater, museums, playgrounds, a zoo, and of course...the beach! 

Where to Stay

There are a ton of beach houses for rent in Avalon and Stone Harbor, and a good amount of hotels too, in all different price ranges. We stay in a 3 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house, and while we're definitely on the verge of outgrowing it, we make it work. My family of four (plus Layla!) all stay in the largest room and, save for that first night, it's actually been kind of fun all waking up together. Plus, this particular house is pet friendly! Getting to bring our Layla girl along is a must. 

I get the "how did you find the house?" question quite a bit and the website I originally searched for a house on was:

Tips for affordability: split the house, if possible, with family/friends and look for houses just on the outskirts of the season. The reason we go the same week every year (the first week of June) is because it is literally at least $1000 cheaper than the very following week.

What to Do

As I mentioned, there is no shortage of things to do in the area. But here are our favorites considering our kids' ages (besides eating!):

-The beach (we love to hunt for crabs and seashells the girls, like most kids, can spend hours upon hours digging in the sand) *Buy beach tags in advance or make sure you bring some money with you to buy them on the spot. They are pretty diligent about checking.

-The Cape May County Zoo. This is less than a 20 minute drive from Avalon and it's free. You can donate money upon arrival if you want, but it's an incredibly affordable and super fun activity for families. It has a lot of cool animals, is mostly shaded, and even has a large play area right outside. New within the last couple of years, they added a zip line attraction... which we haven't checked out yet. ;)

-The Wetlands Institute. This is right in Stone Harbor and does have an entrance fee, but it's nothing crazy. They have programs at different times throughout the day where you can learn about specific creatures and even touch them. They have a turtle room, and another exhibit with a lot of different fish, sting rays, and - my girls' favorite - an octopus. You can also walk over the wetlands and take in the beautiful views and wildlife.

-Shopping in town. There are some great shops to stop into! This is one I venture out on my own for ;) but I always love to stop in The Preppy Palm and Kitchen Home Makers.

-Playgrounds. Our favorites are 39th street & Dune, which is across the street from the house we say in, and 74th & Ocean. 

-Avalon Public Library. Hear me out! For those rainy days, we love this library and especially their kids' story time. The woman who runs it is wonderful with kids and reads a few books, followed by a detailed craft (all free of charge and supplies provided!). Our kids have always really enjoyed it and it's nice to have something in your back pocket in case of bad weather.

-There's also mini-golf, water sports and boating, fishing, a movie theater, arcade, spas, and more.

Where to Eat

This is such a tough one, because there are so many good places, but here are my favorites:

For breakfast - In general it's easier for my family to eat a more low-key breakfast so we always get our coffee and breakfast sandwiches/bagels/muffins from Avalon Coffee Co. I swear I think it's what Steve looks forward to most about vacation, haha.

For lunch Kudos American Grille is really tasty and if you love a bigger breakfast, they serve it through lunch -- I love their Avalon omelet with spinach, roasted red peppers and mozzarella and their banana-rama french toast is ridiculous.

For dinner - Fred's Tavern in Stone Harbor is a staple for us. I always get the chicken parmesan sub with their yummy fries and a beer. Because health (hey, it's vacation!).

Dessert - Springers in Stone Harbor, of course. Homemade icecream and tons of flavors to choose from. I also love the "concretes" at Avalon Freeze which are about as healthy as they sound (basically like a DQ Blizzard). I get chocolate with PB cups.

So if you're close enough, give this charming beach town a shot! What are your go-to summer destinations? Do you have a "happy place?" 

'Til next time!

Friday Favorites

Friday, June 1, 2018

Happy Friday & Happy June (fun script image via)! 

It's certainly a happy one for us, because it's the one right before vacation. :) Next to May, June is another one of my favorite months. My kind of weather and lots of summer fun to look forward to! 

I rounded up a handful of Friday favorites to send us into the weekend:

1. First thing's first. It's National Donut Day.

Here's a list of all of the places you can find Donut Day deals (free donuts on a Friday?!).

2. This clip of Amy Schumer on Ellen

I love Ellen and I sometimes love Amy, but this clip from an appearance she had on Ellen's show was gold. I laughed through the entire thing and related to so much of it, haha. 

3. The perfect summer sandal. 

I scooped these up over Memorial Day weekend and they're still marked down to $25. I love the cork for a spin on your typical neutral -- they'll go with everything and this style sandal is always so comfortable. I love flip flops but they're not as easy to run after children in at the playground, if you know what I mean.

4. BEACH Soap. 

It's no secret that my favorite smell ever is sunscreen -- well, now it's specifically sunscreen on baby cheeks, but you know. Close enough. I found this soap at Homegoods recently and I'm as obsessed as one can be with a hand soap. Every time I wash my hands I'm transported to the beach -- it's the perfect soft blend of beachy smells, and not too overpowering. It's $15 for 21.5 oz on the company's website but Homegoods has it for $5.99 so keep an eye out!

5. Happy place, here we come! Have a great weekend!

CopyRight © | Theme Designed By Hello Manhattan