Shopping

New motherhood can turn a person into a product junkie. With my oldest daughter, there was a lot of trial and error. I was a first-time mom and was learning by experience. Plus my daughter had a sensitive stomach and sensitive skin. If I could go back and do it over, I would breastfeed her for longer than 2 days — and that may have solved both problems. Since I didn’t know the value of nursing, though, we spent months trying to find the right formula, the right products to use on her skin, the right laundry detergent, etc.

That was fun. Not really. But it was expensive. So when I found out about Walmart’s new Baby Box service, the first thing I thought was how much time and money I could’ve saved trying a variety of baby products without having to fully commit right away.

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So what is Walmart‘s Baby Box? Well, given that each stage of pregnancy and new parenthood comes with different needs, you can receive samples of products sold at Walmart (or Walmart.com) that are relevant to your stage of pregnancy or your baby’s age. The best part? All you pay is shipping & handling, just $5, to get products that make sense when you need them delivered to your home. Think of is as your favorite beauty box (or hair or food), just for you and baby.

To get started, when you subscribe, you’ll have to share your current stage, based on your baby’s due or birth date: 2nd Trimester, 3rd Trimester, infant, baby or toddler.

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I received the 2nd trimester box just so I could see what the Baby Box could deliver. Here’s what I got:

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I’m glad to see that breastfeeding was given a presence in this box.  I actually use both those Lasinoh products already, so that was a great surprise. While I may not use the other products, since my baby is older, I will happily pass them on to a friend who is expecting soon.

I’m also crossing my fingers that Walmart plans to include samples of the natural products they carry, like Shea Moisture, Seventh Generations and Burt’s Bees baby products, since there are a lot of parents like myself who are either very particular about the products they use for themselves and baby, or who could benefit from a low-cost introduction to these awesome, eco-friendly brands.

So what do you think? If you’re expecting or have a baby at home, would you try the baby box? Would you give it as a gift to a friend with a baby?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

I’ll never forget the morning I got a flat tire on my way to work — on the Interstate, no less. I was riding along one second at (or near) the 70 mile per hour speed limit, and the next thing I knew, I was clopping along on my rim trying to get out of traffic before anyone hit me. I managed to get to the shoulder, but it was just my luck that the tire that blew out was on the side nearest the traffic. And I was alone. With no AAA to call.

So I did the only thing I could think to do: I called my husband to come change the tire for me.

Suffice it to say that it was a scary moment, and I was paranoid about driving alone for a long while after that.

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When Walmart asked me to try roadside assistance service by AutoVantage, this was the first experience that came to mind. So of course, I was only too eager to right the wrong of doing without roadside assistance.

So what exactly do you get with AutoVantage? Well, for just $69.88 a year for the whole family, you get 24-hour roadside assistance, whether you need help, like changing a flat tire or getting a jump for your battery, or a tow to a safe place. You’re allotted up to 150 miles per occurrence. Also awesome: Their new LocateMe technology means that they’ll be able to use your phone’s GPS signal to find out exactly where you are — perfect if you’re in an unfamiliar area or not sure which mile marker was the last one you passed.

In additional to roadside assistance, they also offer a lockout service, not just for your car, but for your home, as well. I’ve been fortunate enough never to have locked myself out of the house, but I’ve definitely been locked out of a car. While it was running. With my infant daughter inside. Thankfully, the A/C was running and she was none the wiser, but the 15 minutes or so that we had to wait for a locksmith felt like a lifetime. And now if baby Juliza ever locks me outside the house, I won’t have to panic.

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But on top of all that, you can use their Mechanic’s Hotline to get advice on maintenance and repairs, plus discounts on those repairs, along with hotel and rental car discounts.

I can think of another situation in which all of this would have been immensely helpful. Back when my husband and I were still dating, we went on a road trip and ran into some transmission trouble that completely sidelined his car. We had to spend a night in a hotel with just the clothes on our backs, pay to have the car towed 60 miles back home, then rent a car so we could get around until his car was repaired. All of which got really expensive in a hurry. No fun.

I personally think my peace of mind is well worth $69.88 a year, but that’s just me. Considering that AAA Plus costs twice as much for fewer overall benefits, becoming an AutoVantage member at Walmart is a no-brainer.

So what about you? Was there ever a moment when you really wished you’d purchased roadside assistance?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

As much as I love picking out a great outfit, that’s only half the fun. Picking a top and bottom that look great together gets the process started, but I never feel like I’m full “dressed” until I add some great accessories — and that usually involves shiny things. And one can never really have too much jewelry, right? One of my favorite places to find unique pieces in Uncommon Goods.

As the name would imply, it’s not the kind of stuff you’d really find anywhere else. The reason for that is simple. Uncommon Goods is a company after my own heart. They strive to feature unique, handmade gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. This is the kind of company I love to support.

So hubby, if you’re reading, here’s what’s on my wish list.

Gold Dipped Lace Jewelry

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Hello! Lace. Dipped in gold. Do I even need to explain further why I’m craving at least one of these pieces? Just in case you need convincing, here’s the story: Colombian artisans make these stunning pieces entirely by hand. They cut and sew pieces of lace, dip them in wax, then in copper, and finally in 24k gold. Even better, it is produced through a Fair Trade organization, which means that this gorgeous handmade jewelry actually provides a stable income for Colombian artisans in struggling and displaced communities, 85% of whom are women and heads of households. Yeah. The pieces range in price from $42-225, but my favorite is the ruffled lace statement necklace.

“Diamond” Studs

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I’ve never been a big fan of real diamonds. Diamonds in vintage pieces? Sure, but the knowledge of how many diamonds are acquired sort of turns me off the whole thing. But I will rock some ironic “diamond” earrings made of sterling silver in a heartbeat. Handmade in Los Angeles, each cute little earring features a drawing of a princess cut diamond. Plus, there’s the whole cost factor. A pair of these costs just $28. And there are many more affordable choices where these came from. I bet you won’t find that at the jewelry store in the mall.

Blue Agate Cuff

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While I love jewelry, I’m not in the habit of wearing a ton of it at once. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part, I prefer to stick with one statement piece, perhaps with a couple of more subtle supporting pieces. This blue agate cuff bracelet would undoubtedly be the star of the show. How gorgeous is this? Even better, it was handmade right here in Atlanta and it’s priced really well at just $58. May I have two, please?

Energy Circle Ring

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The more I read about the benefits of wearing natural stones, the more I want to try it. Plus, they’re just gorgeous to look at. This handcrafted beauty features chunks of aquamarine, amethyst, and moonstone harvested from around the world set in a recycled brass ring. At $165, it’s the most expensive item on my list, but it’s the type of showstopper that’s worth the price.

This list is all about me, but I’ll probably look around for something for my hubby while I’m at it. I’m not selfish. There are also lots of unique gift ideas here under $25, which I why I always look to Uncommon Goods for gifts that matter.

So what about you? Where do you shop when you’re trying to find unique gifts?

Disclosure: I have received compensation for sharing these gift ideas with you. However, as usual, all opinions are my own and 100% authentic.

My husband’s birthday is coming up, but he is a tough guy to shop for. We’ve been married for more than 11 years, so I know what he likes, but it’s not very easy to give him something that he actually needs. Every year, however, one of the items that’s always at the top of any gift-giving list for him is a great watch. I’ve bought him what I thought were great watches in the past. The problem? None of them lasted very long. They suffered from short battery life, broken bands, broken faces and more.

What can I say? He’s tough on his watches.

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So when I found out of about the new Victorinox I.N.O.X. watch, released in celebration of the company’s 130th anniversary, I was intrigued. What’s so special about this watch?

Well, to call it rugged would be an understatement. The I.N.O.X. is designed to survive a fall of more than 32 feet, being driven over by 64-ton tank, or spending two whole hours at 90° in a washing machine. It can withstand heat, and cold, and even a sandstorm. This watch is tough. See for yourself.

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So if hubby throws his watch out of our second-floor bedroom window, drops it right in the path of our minivan or jumps into a pool wearing it on his wrist, he should be OK.

More than all of that, the I.N.O.X. is really just a gorgeous watch. Available in black, blue and green, it features a gorgeous steel frame and quartz movement that I know my husband would be more than happy to wear.

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If he somehow manages to destroy this watch, I think Victorinox will have to hire him as a tester. It sounds like they have all their bases covered though, so I think its safe to say I know what I’d like to get him for his birthday.

Disclosure: I partnered with the brand to write this article but, as always, the words and opinions are completely my own.

Win a $50 Walmart Gift Card!

One of the biggest perks of being a Walmart Mom blogger is that I a frequently able to share my feedback about what I think they are doing right — and wrong — on both a local and national level. As a consumer, I would love to be able to do this for every store where I shop, and know that my feedback is being taken seriously.

Well, if you’ve ever wanted the same thing, now is your chance. Walmart wants your feedback, because they really care what you have to say. They have put together a brief, 10-question survey that should take less than 15 minutes to complete. And to thank you for sharing your opinions, one reader of my blog will win a $50 Walmart gift card!

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Before I give you the link, here’s what you need to know: Be sure to answer the very first question: include with your name, email address, and “Green & Gorgeous” as the blog that referred you. The last piece of information is crucial. Each Walmart Mom is offering an giveaway, but you can only enter via one blog and you have to input the blog name to be included. Got it?

Complete the survey and enter!

You have until Wednesday, October 8th to submit your feedback. Once I receive all the entries from my blog, I will pick and email the winner. Good luck!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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My husband and I wouldn’t know what to do without our smart phones. They’ve become such an integrated part of our lives that it’s difficult to remember how we got stuff done before them. But the one thing I lament about our smart phones is the fact that we have them on a contract. Those two-year contracts most cell phone providers force customers to sign feel like a prison sentence.

So when Walmart asked me to try a smartphone using AT&T’s GoPhone service, I had to see whether a no-contract phone could really compare.

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I have to admit, I never really thought a prepaid smartphone could come close to a contract phone. Makes no sense now that I think about it, but I guess it’s years of indoctrination. For a very long time, you could only get very basic phones on a prepaid plan. Think flip phones with little functionality other than making phone calls and sending texts.

That is no longer the case. I received the Android-powered HTC Desire 610 to try, and it is every bit as powerful and functional as any other smartphone I’ve ever used.

The best part? All of this is available to Walmart customers for just $45 a month, which is good for unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data. With no contract. The standard $40 plan comes with just 500MB of data, so the Walmart plan gets you twice as much for just $5 more. Sounds pretty great to me.

REVIEW: HTC DESIRE 610

So what about the phone? This is what people really want to know, right? How good are the smartphones I could get without a contract?

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I have to say, I really like the Desire. It took me a few minutes to set it up. Not difficult at all. Plus, I love that we can buy refill e-cards from Walmart.com or refill using a credit card, which means I don’t even have to leave home if I don’t want to. This is much preferable to being forced to trod to the store to buy a refill card.

I LOVE the size the screen. I’ve had an iPhone for years, and I never really thought about what it would be like to have a larger screen. Turns out, it’s awesome. After activating the phone, one of the first things I did was install a bunch of my favorite apps and games: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Farm Heroes Saga (don’t judge me), Pandora and more. Viewing photos on Instagram and Pinterest on such a large screen was beautiful! The extra screen space really did make a difference on such visual apps, and on games, the extra space gave my fingers more room to maneuver.

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I also love the fact that the speakers are on the front of the device. Sounds like it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the placement there makes the sound so much louder when you’re trying to play it without headphones.

This device runs on Google Android, so if you’re familiar with that, you’ll have no problem using it. It took some getting used to, for me, since I’m more familiar with iOS, but it really is intuitive. Plus, if you already have a Google login, it takes literally seconds to sync everything in your account with this phone.

My biggest caveat? The camera is just OK. As in not terrible, but not my favorite feature of the phone. As an Instagram junkie and blogger, I take photos with my phone all the time, and it’s important that the quality be good enough to publish.

I took the following photos with the camera:

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Even holding the phone as steady as I could, the photos taken with the rear camera were still grainy, relatively dark and somewhat blurry. Even in a bright room where there should’ve been more than enough light to allow crisp photos. Baby Juliza was on the move in the first photo, so I expected some blur. However, in the second photo, Ja’Naya was perfectly still. I took several photos and they all came out about the same. The front-facing camera was worse.

Like I said, not horrible, but if photos are important to you, it’s something to consider.

Another issue is that the phone only comes with 8GB of internal storage, which can run out fast if you store a lot of photos, videos, etc. It does, however, have a Micro SD card slot, so you can easily add more memory whenever you’d like. Still, if you don’t have one on hand when you run out of space, this could be inconvenient.

Overall though, I was impressed that I could get a really robust, well-rounded smart phone without the burden of a contract. Plus, the fact that it’s on AT&T’s network means that it worked everywhere we went because they have great coverage in the Atlanta area. Also, because we use most of our data at home on wifi, that 1GB goes further than you think it might.

This experience is making me seriously consider whether to ditch our contract phones when our time is up, because at $45/month with no hidden fees, we’d be actually wind up paying a little less than we’re paying now (though we would also be getting considerably less data).

What about you? Do you have a smartphone? Would you consider getting one on a pre-paid plan?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

As a child of the 1980s, the following admission is pretty embarrassing: I have never solved a Rubik’s cube. Not for lack of trying, either.

I got one for Christmas from my aunt when I was a little girl, and I was so excited! That excitement quickly turned to frustration, because I couldn’t get it right. I spent months trying to solve it, and finally gave up and used it for decoration.

All of this to say that When Walmart asked me to try the new Buzzle Ball, I thought it would be an opportunity to redeem myself.

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Buzzle Ball is a three-dimensional ball with moving parts that you can align, twist and rotate. The ball starts off with one side in solid green and the other in solid blue, with a gray “halo” around the middle.

It came out of the box lined up perfectly, so I took a minute or two to mix it up.

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It took a minute to figure out how to get the parts moving. The seams have to be perfectly aligned in the direction you want to move it. So if you want to rotate the two halves, the center seam has to be aligned all the way around. If you want to rotate the narrower vertical sections, those seams have to be aligned as well.

Here’s a quick video from the Buzzle Ball YouTube channel showing how it works:

Got it? OK.

Once I messed up the pattern a bit — and I mean a little bit with just a few quick moves — I handed the ball to my daughter to try.

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She spent a solid hour working on it, to no avail. I couldn’t believe that after only a few moves, it would be so difficult to get it back to its original state. So of course, I took over, determined that I’d solve it in no time.

Yeah…that didn’t happen.

My husband was next in line, and he couldn’t solve it either. After a few days of the three of us alternately working on it, this is how close we’ve come:

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We’ve got solid blue and solid green, but we’re having the hardest time to get that gray ring to line up without messing everything up again.

But we’re determined. We can do this. It’s become a bonding experience for the family, and seriously addictive. Hopefully, we’ll be able to solve this puzzle with just a bit more effort instead of years of frustration. It really is a brain workout, and I can’t be mad at that.

I know a couple of smart aleck teenagers who need this in their lives. Let’s see how cocky they’ll be when a little plastic ball brings them to their knees. Or is that cruel… Lmao!

DISCLOSURE: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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That time of year has come again: Back to school. I fully admit that I’m one of those parents who looks forward to it — probably because I work from home. Entertaining kids all summer while you’re all cooped up in the house for most of the day is — well — challenging. And with back to school season comes shopping. Lots and lots of shopping. For their basic school supplies, but also snacks, and new clothes and shoes that actually fit, among other things.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing bits and pieces of our back to school experience. First up: Shopping for school supplies.

I know there are some people who love this part. Me? Notsomuch.

My daughter went back to school last week, and before that was the tax-free shopping weekend that comes around every year about this time. Would it have been more cost-effective to shop then? Absolutely. But you couldn’t have gotten me in a store for any reason, because I knew they’d be packed and crazy. Instead, we waited until just after the sale to get our shopping done.

One great thing about shopping at Walmart for school supplies is that lists for all the schools in the area can usually be found front and center. This was especially necessary this year, since my daughter started a new school less than 2 weeks after we moved, so we really had no idea what she’d need.

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As it turns out, in addition to your typical supplies like glue sticks and notebook paper, she also needed classroom supplies, like tissue, paper towel, baby wipes and sandwich bags. All-encompassing lists like this make shopping at Walmart worth it, because I can get all of it in one place.

Thankfully, we had some of her other supplies on hand, thanks to my stockpiling throughout the year. If we’d also had to buy binders, markers, scissors, pencils, flash drives and more, that would’ve made this a costlier endeavor. As it was, even with some snacks added for good measure, we came in just under $35. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Of course, my daughter had to get all that stuff to school. Luckily, her aunt gifted her a really nice backpack for Christmas last year, and it’s still in great shape.

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Once we got all the supplies, the excitement for school really ramped up. My baby couldn’t wait to walk out the door on the first day of school.

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How is it that she’s already in fourth grade? Where did my baby go?

Anyway, I’m just glad the year has started smoothly. Soon, I’ll share some back to school style, for boys and girls, and crafts with you.

Has school started yet in your neck of the woods? Are you and your kids excited?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.