Thursday, April 10, 2014

Minimalist Footwear- a Soft Star Shoes Review & Giveaway


When I was first contacted by Soft Star Shoes about a review opportunity, I did what I always do- I went to their website to see if they would be a good fit for my family.  Folks, I just love everything about this company.  Soft Star Shoes is a small mom-run business that has been operating for almost 30 years!  They believe in minimalist footwear- shoes that allow for the healthy development of feet.  Each pair of shoes is made to order, allowing the customer's personal style to shine through their design.  


"Soft Star Shoes has been handcrafting quality, soft-soled shoes since 1985. Tim Oliver and his wife Jeanie started the company as young parents who wanted a soft, quality shoe for their baby girl. As their family grew and moved, so did their business—from a garage in Laguna Beach, CA to the back of an old bus in rural Texas, to  before finally settling into a little workshop in Corvallis, Oregon. The Olivers raised their girls alongside them as they made shoes for mail order companies and local fairs. Over the years they have sold shoes to families, Waldorf and Montessori schools celebrities, and even US presidents! (President Ford, to be exact.)
In 2005, Larkin and Tricia joined forces with Tim with a desire to introduce more people to this beautiful product. Tim's girls are now grown and exploring the world, but between Trish and Larkin's two families, there are now 6 new little ones who have made their homes here in our workshop, carrying on the tradition of integrating our families and work lives. We have made some changes since 2005—including the ability for our customers to order online—but there are some things we don't ever want to change, like our foot-friendly designs, our friendly customer service and our ability to satisfy each person's unique needs and styles.
In 2010 Soft Star expanded its line of leather moccasins to accommodate the needs of minimal or barefoot runners.  Most of these early customers either grew up with Soft Stars or were owners of our adult size moccasins.  We were surprised to learn that many of our customers were actually running long distances in their mocs.   Soft Star called on our online community of fans to solicit input to design a new shoe designed specifically for runners that was lighter, ventilated and featured super-thin, flexible running soles. Customers provided feedback on prototypes, submitted ideas for names and ultimately voted on the name RunAmoc. Since the launch of the Original RunAmoc we have also introduced the Dash and the Moc3 as well ascasual wear styles for adults worldwide.  We are proud we have taken our fundamental design concepts to ensure healthy, strong foot development for children's feet and expanded it to an adult line for the whole family."

So besides the fact that these shoes are soft, flexible, and handmade, they can also be customized!  I was able to go onto their site and choose whatever style, color, special design, etc. I wanted and have a pair of shoes made just for my sweet Maisy!  They sure know the way to a mom's heart.  

With spring here and summer on the horizon, I knew right off the bat I would design a pair of sandals.  I started with the DYO Sandal with Velcro style.

I love white sandals on a girl because they can go with everything, so I chose the smooth white leather option for both the front and back of the sandal.  For the velcro strap, I wanted something a little fancier, but still neutral so I chose the shiny platinum leather.  I added the flower cutout motif for a little extra style and ventilation.  Let me just say that when you design your own shoes, you're about 10 times more excited for them to arrive.  And you guys... 


YOU GUYS..


I can't even handle it.

So a couple things, my kids have itty bitty feet.  I am so glad I used their size chart and measured Maisy's feet before ordering.  She is eight months old now, but the size 3 (0-6 months) in normal width fits her perfectly, especially because they are worn without socks.  The shoes are made entirely of leather with a thin and flexible rubber sole.  The toe hole of these sandals is smaller than most brands to eliminate the risk of small feet slipping through the front.  They are easy to put on, stay secure, and most important, they are super comfortable for her.

I am so thankful to Soft Star Shoes for these beautiful little sandals.  OH, and have you ever wished that soft and stylish shoes came in adult sizes?  Well-
I give you, the ADULT Ballerine Flat, also customizable by the way.  

To celebrate their 30th Anniversary, Soft Star Shoes has designed a pair of Anniversary Moccasins for toddlers.  They are offering a pair of these shoes in either Platinum or Pewter to one lucky winner.  Moccasins are available in sizes 4 (6-12months) and 5 (12-18 months), but be sure to use the size chart and measure your child's foot before ordering.  
 

Winner will be drawn by rafflecopter on Friday, April 18th.  Prize will be sent to the winner directly from Soft Star Shoes.

*Disclaimer- Soft Star Shoes provided me with a pair of shoes to facilitate this review, all opinions are my own.*  




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Pregnancy Photobook- Maisy

I finally got around to finishing and ordering my pregnancy photobook for Maisy.  It only took me 8 months.  With each of my girls, I found that I preferred to make a photo book using Shutterfly rather than keeping a traditional scrapbook.  I have also done this for each of their "First Year" books.

Click here to create your own Shutterfly photo book.

All professional photography is by Jessica Lacey Photography.  If you like her work, please like her FB page!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Lost in Translation



Kids are so literal.  Dominic in particular has always been one to say what's on his mind.  He is also one to pick out the one "bad" thing that may have happened and never let it go.  Mini pessimist perhaps?  Sometimes we have to investigate to get the whole story because we know it doesn't always come across.  But we know that, he's been talking to us for four years.  You know who doesn't know all of his little isms?  His teachers.  So sometimes things like this happen..

[convo at dinner]

Jeff- So what did you do at school today?
Dominic- (goes off into several stories, games, etc.) ...and we said what we sometimes worry about.
[ok.. odd.. But again, I'm sure something led to this]
J- ok... So what did you say?
D- I said I sometimes worry when you forget to buckle my car seat.
Jeff & I- what??
[I mean what?!?!]
D- you know, that time at Target.

And now the explanation that I know his teachers got none of:
When I had my old car, Dominic used to hop in and put his straps on while I got the girls buckled into their seats.  Then I'd get in my seat, turn around, and buckle his straps.  MONTHS ago, I hopped in, turned the car on, and put it in reverse, forgetting to buckle him.  The car didn't even move before he yelled that he wasn't clipped in.  Repeat- the car didn't even move.  I threw it back into park, clipped his buckles, and thanked him profusely for telling me before we went anywhere.  It's no secret that I'm a car seat safety fanatic.  He's five and still in a 5pt harness.  Car safety is something I take very seriously.  


But his teachers don't know that.  Thanks to his little story, I can only imagine their thoughts.  

But don't worry, this goes both ways.  

[again at dinner... I see a trend]

Dominic- Ms{teacher} made us eat lunch with the lights off today.
Jeff- what?
D- We ate in the dark.

Guantanamo, right?  I mean why?? 

Because, this was the week before their field trip to the Natural History Museum and his teachers thought it would be fun to let the kids watch the panda cam on the class smart board while they ate.  So, naturally, the teachers turned down the lights so they could SEE.  

The horror.  

Damn those pandas are cute.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

Protecting Your Belongings with Mabel's Labels


Time sure flies and here we are, looking forward to registering Dominic for kindergarten.  Like real school.  Big school.  We live in a fairly urban area, so we aren't talking about a class of 10 kids.  There will likely be about 25 kids in his class, with his class being one of a few.  All day, everyday!  There is just no way a single teacher can remember whose jacket is whose and who brought what pair of mittens.  So what's a mom to do to prevent her child's personal belongings from ending up at the bottom of a crowded lost-and-found bin? Easy- Mabel's Labels.


Mabel's Labels are fun, permanent labels for just about anything.  From Mabel's Labels:
We’re Mabel’s Labels, award-winning creators of high quality labels for the stuff kids lose! ® As four moms frustrated by our children’s belongings leaving home, never to return, we decided to create the very best personalized, waterproof name labels and tags possible. Since our start in 2003, we’ve continued to build on this commitment to excellence and our growing line now features child safety products, household labels and seasonal items. We sell worldwide through our website and across N. America via fundraisers at schools, daycares, camps and other organizations. Select products in our Write Away!™ line are available at Canadian Walmart stores and, in the US, at Target.

I was so excited to get the opportunity to try these labels.  I showed Dominic all of the designs and let him pick out his favorite.  Not surprisingly, he chose the Rocket Ship.  We ordered the Basic Label kit in the Rocket Ship design with just his first name.  They turned out great!


The Basic Label Kit retails for $34.95 and includes:
- 24 Skinny Minis (dishwasher and microwave safe, perfect for lunch box items)
- 42 Tag Mates (washer and dryer safe, perfect for clothing)
- 8 Shoe Labels (waterproof and UV resistant)
- 2 Bag Tags (metal dag tag style)


If you have a child in school or day care, I encourage you to check out Mabel's Labels to protect their belongings.  There are many designs and colors to choose from and you're sure to find something to fit your needs.  If you save even one winter coat or pair of shoes, the kit has paid for itself.

I'd like to thank Mabel's Labels and House Party's Chatterbox program for letting me be a part of this campaign.  This came at a perfect time for our busy family and I was thoroughly impressed with this product.

*Disclaimer- I was provided one Basic Label kit in my choice of design from Mabel's Labels and Chatterbox in exchange for my honest review and social media promotion.  All opinions expressed are my own*


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Garden Planning 2014


With the start of Spring, I'm beginning to map out my garden plans for this year.  I've grown some of our summer produce for the past few years, last year being my most extensive.  I flirted with the idea of a "raised bed" style garden for a while and last year I finally had one.  I'm lucky to have a husband who is always doing/building something around the house.  I said I wanted a raised bed and a couple hours later, I had one.

5'x8' raised bed built mid-April of last year

Two week growth progress..

Last year I tried growing carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, peas, squash, zucchini, and onion in the raised bed.  I put cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries in a smaller bed on the opposite side of my yard.  I also had green pepper and a regular sized tomato plant each in large pots.  


Right off the bat, the cantaloupe died (bummer) and squirrels ate all of the onions.  The peas and broccoli did really well at first, but then sort of fizzled out/stopped producing midway through the season.  The cucumbers and zucchini were the opposite.  They got off to a slow start and then produced once everything else was done.  The squash and cherry tomatoes consistently produced all season long.  My biggest flops were the carrots (only a few ever grew big enough to eat) and green peppers (my plant produced just one single pepper all season).  Strawberries grew but pretty much immediately got eaten by those damn squirrels.  I know this sounds a bit glum, but it was a really great learning experience for me and we did get several meals worth of home-grown veggies throughout the summer.




Plus, it was really soothing.  I spent so many quiet mornings checking on/tending to my garden.  I also spent many hot afternoons alternating between spraying the kids and the garden (and myself).


As we draw closer to April, I'm deciding just what to plant this year.  Using my experience last season as well as crops I've had success with in years past (namely green beans), I've come up with a tentative plan.

In the raised bed I'll have- cantaloupe (really hoping to have better luck this year), peas, green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers... laid out like this:

In my smaller bed, I'm putting several strawberry plants.  My plan is to put some sort of wire cage around them to deter the squirrels.

In both of my large pots, I'm going to plant cherry tomatoes.  They have done so well for me, much better than the larger tomatoes.  Plus, I can pluck them just before they are really "ready" and let them ripen on my windowsill, something else that keeps them from going to the squirrels.

My other ongoing issue last year was pesticide.  I really didn't want to spray anything on my plants.  I think I lost a lot of my yield to pests unnecessarily.  Other people I knew to have successful gardens basically told me point blank- you have to use pesticide of some sort.  So this year I'm going to look for something organic maybe.. or at least something as harmless as possible.

Anyone have any extra advice for me this year?  Experience with gardening or tips?  If you have a post about your garden, feel free to link it below!  I'd love to read about your backyard harvest :)