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Family Life: Staying Organized with Picniic

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Picniic App Review 1

Hands up who needs all the help they can get staying organized/ remembering all the things? Most days there’s a to- do list a mile long that’s never ending and usually something gets forgotten. Sound familiar? My survival skill is to make lists. And sometimes lists of lists. Usually that way I can at least keep track of everything even if it doesn’t all get done (and let’s face it, it pretty much never does 😉 ). 

There’s always lots to remember and keep track of and with school around the corner there’s about to be more to remember. With Ari starting preschool in the Fall I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to getting more organized and keep track of the to- dos. For the past few weeks I’ve been trying out Picniic, a family organizer app that helps you keep track of things like activities, meal planning/ groceries, and items on your to- do list, with notifications popping up on your phone as things come up. All members of the family can download the app and link to the same account so everyone can stay updated and see the same info, add to the calendar and grocery list, and keep track of upcoming special dates such as birthdays and anniversaries. 

Picniic App Review 2

  Picniic App Review 3

Picniic App Review 4

Picniic App Review 5

August is a busy month- it feels busier than usual this year- and staying organized/ keeping track of what’s coming up helps me keep calm when I look at what needs to get done each day. Especially on days that feel overwhelmingly busy, reminding myself to prioritize, focus on one thing at a time, and check things off as I go makes the day go smoother. Even if I don’t get through everything on the list by the end of the day, knowing I worked my way through and checked off the most important things first means that I stress less about what didn’t get done.

With kids it can be tough to get through everything that needs to get done in a day- and even to remember everything you’re trying to get done- and Picniic helps not only you, but everyone in the family stay organized. There have been days where I make a mental note of something and remember later that I needed to remember something, but can’t remember what it is that I needed to remember! With Picniic I can quickly make a note in my phone so I can come back to it later and remind myself; I can then make a note in the app’s calendar or create a new list/ add an item to an existing one to help me keep track. 

Picniic App To- Do Screenshot Picniic App To- Do Screenshot 2 Picniic App Calendar Screenshot

Hands down my favourite/ most- used features of the app are the lists and calendar, but I’m looking forward to using the meal planning tool more as well. Picniic is quick to set up/ simple to use,  and everything is in one place and easily accessible which I appreciate.

For families with young kids it’s a great tool to help us parents stay on the same page (even if your hubby doesn’t add to it, he can see what’s coming up on the calendar, etc) and with older kids I can see how this app would be a useful tool for everyone in the family: older kids can enter their own info/ see what’s on the family calendar, as well as add notes for upcoming activities, events, and due dates for school work. Picniic can be used on a phone, tablet, and computer, making it an accessible organization tool wherever you and members of the family are.

Here’s how the app appears on a phone & computer:

Picniic App Screenshot

Picniic App We Screenshot

The app is also launching a new feature, Pia, today to help personalize the app for your family and make recommendations based on usage so families can get the most out of the app and it’s features (learn more about Pia below). If you’re trying to find simple ways to stay organized, definitely check out Picniic to help keep your family on top of everything. 

Picniic Features

  • Calendar- day/ week/ month options to keep track of upcoming events and important dates
  • To- Do & Lists- create to- do lists and lists by title/ category to stay organized
  • Shopping List- add recipe ingredients and items as you’re running low
  • Info Locker- include info for key contacts like doctors, medical info such as insurance provider, and household info like wifi network and password
  • Special Events- store important dates such as birthdays and anniversaries
  • Meal Planner- organize meals for the week ahead, including ingredients and recipes
  • Recipes- search online or add your own custom recipes
  • Family Locator- see where members of the family are near or far

About

Picniic is an app designed to help families be more organized. It acts as a personal assistant for use by the entire family on mobile, web, and tablet. Picniic has features including family member location tracking, assigned to- dos and chores, meal planners, information lockers for all your important records, and more. It’s easy for families to not be on the same page with information spread through multiple family members and locations, and slipping through the cracks. Picniic family assistant bridges this gap, and helps everyone stay connected. 

Launching on August 8th, Picniic is introducing it’s latest feature, PIA, an intelligent persona similar to Siri. PIA will help families connect with Picniic further and making recommendations based on how they use the app. PIA will help families be proactive by reaching out with suggestions to keep them organized and prepared.

Learn more about Picniic and download it here. Find the app on Instagram: @picniic

In this post:

Photo credit: Will Petrunia

Dress: Tobi

Disclosure: I was provided compensation for this review. All opinions are honest and my own.

 

 

August 8, 2017
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House Box Review {+ Giveaway}

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There are some great products for the home out there, but one thing I’m finding is that the products I love and use the most aren’t usually the ones you find in big box stores. They’re from smaller companies, many of them only available through small shops and online. Products such as cleaners (when I don’t make them myself), personal products like lotions, and even things like tea and coffee are all examples of products that I prefer to buy from smaller brands instead of the big multi- national ones. The quality alone sets them apart, and I like trying out options that are unique- especially if it also means supporting a small business while doing so.
For the past month I’ve been testing out a variety of items from House Box, a subscription company that delivers an assortment of products for the home every two months. It’s a great way to try out brands that are harder to find or unavailable at big retailers, and if you find a product (or a few) that you love, you can order full- size products through the House Box website. I’m sharing below about the products included in the House Box I received, plus see the end of the post to learn how you can enter to win a 6- month subscription (3 boxes every 2 months). 
Here’s what was in the House Box I received:
Lunatec Odour Free Dishcloth– Scrubbing dishcloths that are odour- free and hold less bacteria than sponges or cotton dishcloths. Simply rinse to remove food debris.
loved this dishcloth- it’s really a combo between a cloth and a scouring pad. It worked great to scrub clean a variety of surfaces (including a very messy counter after baking!) and because it’s thin and flexible it could fit into tight spaces to scrub off caked- on messes. I’ve popped it into the dishwasher after particularly messy clean ups and it came out good as new. Rinsing under warm water works well after regular wipe- downs. 
Essential 8 All Purpose Cleaner- Organic nontoxic all- purpose cleaner made with pure citrus essential oils. Safe and gentle to use on surfaces where kids will eat, play etc and is safe for cleaning wood, countertops, leather, upholstery, tile, and plastic. It can also be used as a car wash and pre- treatment for laundry stains.
This got use a lot and I loved that I could use it anywhere and everywhere without worrying about the kids touching or eating off of the surfaces I cleaned with it. Added bonus: it has a lovely fresh citrusy- scent thanks to the essential oils.
Tupperware Citrus Peeler- A classic tool to help peel citrus easily.
This is a neat little gadget that doesn’t take up much drawer space and is great when you need zest for recipes.
Great Canadian Soap Co Healing Butter- Made with Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils, which are known to have healing properties for a variety of things from cuts and burns to insect bites and more. Perfect to have on hand in the kitchen, a first aid kit, or in the diaper bag.
I love that this is a natural option to sooth skin. I used it on a cut I got from a kitchen knife and it worked well; then I tried in on the kids. Because they have more delicate skin I wanted to try it on myself first and once I knew it was good to go I put some on a scrape Ari had and even used it to help clear up some diaper rash! Each time it did a great job and I’ve now got it tucked in the diaper bag for on- the- go needs (yay for multi- purpose products!).
Tea Pigs Tea- Made with high- quality ingredients, there were two varieties included in my House Box: Every Day Brew, a blend of  3 black teas, Assam, Ceylon, and Rwandan, for a tasty caffeine boost, and Peppermint Leaves, made with whole peppermint leaves for a strong and refreshing herbal option. 
I’m a tea lover, and I enjoyed trying these. I was even kind enough to share some of the mint tea with Ari (peppermint is great for soothing soar tummies and promoting healthy digestive systems) and she loved it as much as I did. This is s nice way to try different varieties of tea without committing to a whole box; it was lovely enjoying them while I worked and kicked up my feet during nap time.

And now about that giveaway!
Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, House Box is giving away a 6- month/ 3 box subscription to one lovely reader. See all the ways you can enter below, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About House Box 
House Box is a subscription company that delivers a selection of products for the home right to your door. Boxes are delivered every two months with a variety of subscription options available. Gifting options are also available.
To learn more about House Box & to start a subscription visit their website. You can also find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
January posts sponsored by
January 29, 2016
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Seventh Generation Review {& Giveaway}

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Before Ari was born I had the best of intentions to use cloth diapers. I really did. Then she came along and I saw how much work and extra laundry they would be and that idea got tossed (kudos to those of you who cloth diaper by the way). And so began our relationship with disposables. I don’t love them or the added waste that they represent, but something that really stands out to me is this: what are they made of? What makes them absorbant and is it really safe for that tender skin that they are up against all day every day (and night)? We put them on our babes but how much do we really know about them?
Seventh Generation diapers have no bleaching chemicals, dyes/ fragrances, or lotions all while promising safe and effective leak protection. And really, when you think about it, why should diapers have any of those to begin with? Especially when they touch the most sensitive skin there is.
When I got the chance recently to try their diapers and wipes with Liam and Ari I was really curious and excited since I had heard good things from one of my friends who already uses their products. Plus it was a good opportunity to compare how well this brand performs with different ages; Liam is a wiggle worm but is usually still lying on his back while Ari is always on the go, both posing their own unique challenges when it comes to leak protection and comfort.
For the past week I’ve been using only the Seventh Generation diapers and wipes to see how they compare to the others products we’ve used; this was a special focus of mine when it came to Ari’s sensitive skin and I didn’t want to use anything else so I knew how her skin reacted to the Seventh Generation diapers and wipes (it didn’t). I’ve been putting each kiddo in a Seventh Generation diaper for naps and over night to test how leak- proof & comfortable they are and have been impressed. I did notice that when wet you can be fooled into thinking your bumpkin has had an explosive poop since the dye- free material goes a darker shade of brown (similar to unbleached coffee filters when they get wet) and without the fragrance there’s no masking the scent of whatever is in the diaper, but neither of these things would deter me from buying them. 
Liam sporting the size 1 diaper

Ari modelling the size 6 diaper
They’ve also stood up well to the constant movement that an active toddler puts them through and the occasional explosive poop by Liam (ah, the things you talk about when you’re a Mom! 😉 ). I’m a big fan of the bleach/ dye- free material they’re made out of, especially since Ari has sensitive skin. On that note the wipes have also been a success and I appreciate how thick and strong they are (again, with the ages my kids are at we have different, ahem, needs when it comes to wiping; one eating solids and the other exclusively nursing). I also give them a thumbs- up for being free of baddies like parabens and pthalates. The ready- to- go packaging is also great since all you have to do is toss them in the diaper bag and it makes for easy dispensing (I’m not such a fan of the uber refill packs from other brands that you have to separate into travel dispensers, I know this isn’t a major thing to do but it’s one less thing to think about). 
If you’ve been looking for diapering options that are free from chemicals like bleach and fragrances I would definitely suggest giving Seventh Generation diapers and wipes a try. And if I haven’t quite got you convinced to try them, Seventh Generation is offering up $50 in products for one lucky reader! Go to the blog’s Contests page to enter.

For more information about Seventh Generation check out their website & find them on social media:

Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

You can purchase Seventh Generation products online at Well.ca

June 29, 2015
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Yummy Mummy Monday: Taking Some Time Out with Tea Sparrow

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How do you find a few minutes for yourself? Since becoming a Mom, life is never boring, and now with two kids I know I’ll never be bored again. 😉 But it means that I have to consciously make time for myself, whether it’s enjoying a shower without the supervision of my toddler, going for a run with a friend, or enjoying some peace and quiet during nap time. Something as simple as enjoying a glass of wine or a cup of tea can be therapeutic for us busy Moms. Sometimes all it takes is a few precious moments to help us relax before we dive back into our busy lives.

A few minutes of peace and quiet and a good cup of tea can do wonders in the midst of a busy day and it’s a simple pleasure I’ve come to really enjoy during nap time. (Tea fact: Did you know that different teas have health benefits? See this post for more info on that). Ladies (and gents too, we can’t forget about those busy Dads!) we have to remember to take care of ourselves and taking a few minutes each day can make a big difference to our health and overall well being.  So this week instead of a recipe I’m sharing about one of my favourite bevvies (2nd only to wine! 😉 ) with one of my favourite local companies: tea.

Just before Mother’s Day I received a tea box from Tea Sparrow featuring their May tea selections and have been enjoying them as a belated Mother’s Day treat. If you’re not familiar with this Vancouver company, Tea Sparrow offers monthly tea box subscriptions with each box containing four loose leaf teas: a black, green, roobios, and a herbal tea (2 caffeinated, 2 non- caffeinated). I had the pleasure of working with them last year and this little treat from them has been very much appreciated by this mama.

The May box contained an organic fruity herbal tea, a chocolate blueberry black tea, a blood orange roobios tea, and an organic citrusy green tea. I love herbal teas and both the Organic Cheery Fruit and the Blood Orange Smoothie Roobios teas  were delicious. I enjoyed sharing some with my Mum and we couldn’t decide which one we liked more. For some ideas to try with herbal teas, see below. 
The green tea- called Clouds and Mist, how pretty is that?- included in the May tea box had a nice, sweet flavour. I find some green teas can be a little bitter, but this one wasn’t. We’ve got a pitcher of it in the fridge waiting to be enjoyed on ice one of these beautiful sunny days. (Health fact: Did you know that green tea is associated with helping to fight cancer and heart disease, lower cholesterol, and prevent other common ailments? Another excuse to enjoy a cup 😉 ).

Even though I love a nice caffeine- free tea- especially to enjoy in the evenings- my absolute favourite in this tea box was the Chocolate Blueberry Organic black tea. This tea tasted even better than it sounds. As per Tea Sparrow’s instructions on the packet I added some honey to mine and it really is like dessert in a cup! Lovely, lovely, lovely. 

I love that you get to try four different high- quality teas (many of them are organic and/ or contain organic ingredients) sourced from quality tea makers from around the world. If you like one (or more) of the teas included in that month’s tea box you can contact the vendor directly to order more. Each tea comes in it’s own pouch complete with brewing instructions for optimal flavour. For anyone who considers themselves a tea connoisseur- or who simply enjoys a good cup of tea- you really have to check out Tea Sparrow for yourself (you can try a single tea box, or enjoy 3 or 6 month subscriptions, plus ongoing subscriptions that you can start/ pause/ stop at any time). To view Tea Sparrow’s May tea box click here.

Fun ideas to try with tea this Summer

– Try giving your kiddos iced herbal/ caffeine- free tea instead of juice for a hydrating boost.

– Use cooled tea to make freezies or popsicles; add fresh fruit wedges for an added nutritional punch See here and here for more info on the herbal teas mentioned in this post and to order some for yourself). 

– Enjoy a sparkling water infused with tea (great for herbal, fruity teas). Brew a pot & allow to cool, then freeze in ice cube trays and pop into your favourite sparking drink for a refreshing sipper.

-Chill some coconut, almond, or cashew milk & make ice cubes with a roobios or black tea. When the tea cubes melt you’ll enjoy a cool drink with a subtle flavour. 

To learn more about Tea Sparrow, check out their website & find them on Facebook & Twitter.

Image sources:
Relax quote- Suzanne Bowen Fitness
Photos- K Petrunia
Popsicle image- Paper N Stitch
Logo courtesy of Tea Sparrow

May posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting
May 18, 2015
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Screen Time, Unplugging, and The Joy of Missing Out

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“My own desire to give up the Internet for a time originated from the growing restlessness and distractedness I recognized in my own life.” 

Christina Crook, Author of  The Joy of Missing Out
Screens: They get used as ‘babysitters’, for entertainment, staying connected, to look up information, and countless other reasons. And I’ll admit it, I’m way more plugged in than I’d like to be. My work has me staring at my laptop screen and phone and I’m sheepishly guilty of looking at my phone more times throughout the day than I care to count. Sometimes I’ll pick it up, catch myself and put it down again  just to prove that whatever that screen holds isn’t as important as whatever else I’m focusing on at that time. 

“In our accelerated culture, we complain about having no time, all of the time, and yet we impulsively spend what free moments we have submerged in the never- ending drama of email inboxes (and) social media…”
I find I’m even more conscious about my screen time now that I’m a Mom; when I spend time with Ari, I like to be fully absorbed in whatever it is we’re doing (but I do forgive myself for grabbing my phone to take photos and capture memories), and I’m also painfully aware that my actions set an example for her. I just don’t want her to think a screen- whether it be a TV, a phone, or eventually a tablet/ computer- is the best way to enjoy life. I know, ironic coming from a blogger who hopes for others to read her work on a screen. But I know I’m not the only Mom reflecting on the role screens play in my family’s lives. 
“Our energies, creativity and time- perhaps the best of us- are being committed to screens”.
Having said that, I think there is a time & place for technology & screens, but we’ve become way more plugged in at the expense of really experiencing life. And I’ll admit one more thing: on the days that I unplug and/ or limit my screen time, I’m much calmer, happier, and content; living in the moment is a simple reminder of how much time we’ve come to spend staring at a screen instead of absorbing what’s going on in the world around us.



“By speeding through life with technology, you reduce what any given moment can hold. By slowing down, you expand it.”
Eric Brende, Author of Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology

When I got the opportunity to review Christina Crook’s recent book, The Joy of Missing Out, I was intrigued to read her account about what it was like unplugging for 31 days. The book is based on her project Letters from a Luddite in which Crook chronicled her 31- day internet ‘fast’ and examined “the intersection between technology, relationships, and joy”.

“Human relationships are rich, and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology.”
Given the choice, I opted for a physical copy of the book over the e- version (I still prefer reading this way) and snuggled in ready for a good read. Says Crook: I stepped offline for 31 days and chronicled the journey by typewriting and mailing letters to a friend every day. No Google mapping, no email, no Facebook or online news.”  In the book she examines how technology has come to play such a significant, if not overwhelming, role in our lives. It is informative, discussing the progression of communication and technology, and our increasing dependance on devices. She also refers to a variety of authors and experts who offer intriguing tidbits to consider and I found myself reflecting on what they had to say and how it applies to my life (note all of the quotes I’ve included in this post from Crook & other sources within the book). 
While I found the book informative, it read more like a textbook I would have read in my Communications course at business school and I found that it wasn’t what I had thought it would be. As someone who is trying to unplug more herself I was interested to hear more about Crook’s own experiences about her internet fast, how she found she was spending her time in the absence of the world wide web, and her observations throughout the experience. I had looked forward to hearing daily recounts and insights as she progressed through the 31 days. This quote from the book demonstrates what I was hoping to find more of: 

“We are always on, never off. Constant access isn’t a blessing anymore. Like most 21st century humans, I am burning the candle at both ends.”

Don’t you feel you can relate to that? I would have loved to see this internal commentary take a more central role in the book, instead, her experience seems to supplement a book about technology and communications rather than the other way around. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, or a reflection of the quality of the book itself, I can’t help but feel that it was quite impersonal. At times I found myself thumbing forward, wondering when she would begin sharing more candidly about her experience only to find more of the same: information about the past, present, and future of communications and technology and how it impacts our world.
Regardless, learning about how others are tackling our constant connectivity and their own experiences with unplugging caused me to reflect and reinforced my own desire to spend less time in front of a screen. If this is something you are reflecting on in your own life, this book certainly makes an interesting read if you’d like to examine the progression of technology and how society has ended up where it is. I think if you go into reading this book with that outlook, you’ll find it enjoyable and informative, but a personal journey book it is not. Either way, if you have been struggling with finding a balance with technology and enjoying life’s simple pleasures, trying to slow down and  disconnect from the constant distraction and time suck that is the internet, email, social media, etc, I hope you will challenge yourself with the task of unplugging more often. 
If I took nothing else away from this book, it is the reminder that we have to live life to experience it. While I’m not sure I can disconnect for a full month (this blog is a passion of mine!) I am going to definitely be taking more time throughout the week- entire days even- to unplug and forget about what exists outside of my bubble within that time. Technology, social media, etc have all found a place in how we live today, but I embrace the idea that not every moment of my life or someone else’s needs to be documented online for the world to see. Crook puts it well when she states: “Our technologies, while aiming to make our lives easier, have, in effect, made them more complicated. And we cary our complications with us”. Sharing photos and connecting with friends and family half a world away is one thing, but we have succumbed to excess. As the saying goes ‘you probably won’t look back on your life and wish you had worked more’ and I think this same logic can be applied to the time we spend with technology. 
The Joy of Missing Out by Christina Crook is available through New Society Publishers. $17.95 USD/ CAD
Christina Crook is a writer, journalist, and communications professional whose work has been featured in such publications as Vancouver Magazine, Today’s Parent, and the Literacy Review of Canada and has worked for a variety of organizations including the CBC and Rogers Digital Media. A graduate of the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University, she currently resides in Toronto.









March posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting





March 20, 2015
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Little Green Pouch Product Review

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A friend of mine told me about these reusable pouches by Little Green Pouch a little while ago and I was really excited when they offered to send me some to try out.
I received a package containing 4 reusable pouches, extra caps, labels, and a collapsible funnel- everything I would need to get the ball rolling on my own homemade & portable food. And while we associate food pouches with baby and kids food, who says Mom can’t test drive these puppies? Like their website says: “A reusable food pouch for babies, kids, and grown ups”.
These nifty little pouches hold up to 7oz of food and have a zipper top that allows to you fill them with your own mixes, wash and reuse. What initially attracted me to them was that they are reusable, (which reduces waste) and they give Moms the ability to mix up custom blends and control the ingredients they use. On top of this green perk, these pouches are also BPA and phthalate free, lead free, and dishwasher/ freezer safe. 
The first thing I did (after taking some product photos!) was toss everything on the top wrack of my dishwasher to test how they would hold up. I used the prongs to hold them open and they washed up nicely. I let them air dry upside down on a towel (I would recommend doing this to help make sure no water remains from washing between uses).
For the recipes, I made sure to use ingredients that would puree well in a food processor (check out one of the recipes I created for LGP here!). I would recommend avoiding chunks as they could clog the spout. Like the store- bought options, smooth purees are the best filler.

Using a variety of ingredients that included blueberries, spinach, and quinoa, I made up a few combos for Ari to try. My goal was to combine less popular ingredients like spinach with flavourful ones like the blueberries to help mask the taste. For Moms with picky eaters, this strategy may help you get some greens into your little one!
Once they were ready, I used the funnel and a spatula to scoop the ingredients into the pouches. They’re made of a sturdy flexible plastic, so you can hold them open without them collapsing. They also have expanding bottoms, so when full they stand up (this helps make it easier to fill them and for storage). When I gave Ari one to try it was cute and amusing watching her adjust to eating from the side of the pouch instead of the top, but she mastered this new technique quickly.
Another great thing about these pouches is the ability to freeze them. Perfect if you want to whip up a large batch and have them in convenient pouches for lunches and snacks on the go. Simply label the pouches (date made & contents) and pop them in. When it comes to cleaning, I recommend giving them a thorough rinse before putting them in the dishwasher, and use a scrubbing brush to get into the creases in the bottom where food residue can be hard to reach. The bottoms of the pouches are clear, so you can see if there is any food stuck. I found using the suggested baby bottle brush with the small wiry tip for nipples worked best (if you don’t have one you can find them in most stores, and they’re available on the Little Green Pouch website. An added bonus is the labels dissolve, so you don’t have to fuss with sticky residue on the pouches.
I really like the Little Green Pouch and would recommend them. I know some older kids who love pouches, making these an ideal option for Moms with kids of all ages. And what the heck, they’d be great to freeze smoothies in for those busy mornings you don’t have time for a gourmet breakfast. Just take one out of the freezer the night before. 
A four- pack of Little Green Pouches retails for $14.99. Or check out their starter kit, a great value at just over $50, which includes everything you need to get set up: 4 pouches, swivel brush, mini collapsible funnel, 60 dissolvable labels, 4 pack of silicone extenders (to help transition from bottles), & 4 extra caps. This would be a great baby shower gift!
You can find them online at the Little Green Pouch website.
You can also find LGP on Facebook & Twitter!
July posts sponsored by Cutie Pie Boutique

https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/CutiePieonEtsy?ref=l2-shopheader-name

August 2, 2014
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