10 Items To Repurpose For Kid’s Entertainment

10 Items To Repurpose For Kid's Entertainment

It’s EARTH DAY! To celebrate, I thought I’d make a fun list of ideas on how to take items you have around the house and repurpose them for the sake of our little ones and their creativity.

Whether you have kids or not, there is one thought that is universal: Kids can be very expensive! From craft supplies to clothing, toys and more, there are LOTS of ways to reduce, reuse and recycle for kids to save money, and Mother Earth. Here are some ideas:

1. Re-use popcorn tins as toy holders. We use ours from Christmas for all of our Play-Doh pieces, but these could be great for blocks, LEGOS, plastic toys or more.

2. Keep wrapping paper for crafts. Use the back of the paper as an “art canvas.” Because dude — special finger painting paper is expensive and this works just the same. It can be great for sticker artwork as well because what kid doesn’t like sticking stickers everywhere just for fun?!

3. Cookie cutters can provide hours of entertainment! Use them for tracing, Play-Doh and more.

4. Re-use yogurt cups for all kinds of kid-friendly reasons. Our preschool uses them for paint cups, but I love using them for color sorting activities, too!

5. Egg cartons make the perfect paint palette. Just plop in your colors and go to town. If you’re kids are like mine, they will mix them until they all turn brown, but that’s OK ;)

6. Use your postpartum bucket for sensory activities, or activities with a lot of little pieces. {Or, just a tupperware container.} I just love this little bucket for so many reasons. But kid crafting is the best. IDEA: Let your child take an old golf ball and cover it in paint. Tape paper to the bottom of the bucket and let the child roll the ball around to make some fun, abstract art!

10 Items To Repurpose For Kid's Entertainment

Kinley “painting” snow with drops of food coloring in my postpartum bucket from the hospital

7. Re-use those big, decorative boxes from Jo-Ann’s for books. I have a few of these from presents I’ve received. We used to have a bookcase in Kinley’s room and it drove me crazy because she loved to pull all the books out and my organizational-freak self hated it {I love them arranged by size — cut me some slack!}. Now, she can pull them out all she wants and it makes for easier clean-up — I just throw them in the bin at the end of the day.

8. Baby wipe containers ROCK. We use ours for craft supplies and things like crayons and puzzles, but I’ve even caught Kinley using them as a bed for her small plastic junks. IDEA: Use one for all the little items us parents all like to keep in the car: Napkins, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, sunscreen samples, etc.

9. Use old curtains/shower curtains them as a crafting tablecloth or as a big canvas for your kids. Or, make a road on it for them to drive their toys with wheels on.

10. Boxes can make ANY craft. Seriously, give your kid an empty diaper box and see what they can create. We used one awhile back to make Kinley a robot costume, which was very well-loved when it finally went into the recycling bin for good! We’ve also made candy shops and a pet shop for all our stuffed animals. The options are endless.

10 Items To Repurpose For Kid's Entertainment

What are your favorite items to repurpose for kid’s entertainment?

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My Ode To Flip Flops

Reef Logo
The post below is sponsored by Reef.com. All opinions expressed are my own.

Here in Michigan, we are just now being blessed with above-freezing days {with the exception of today’s snowy randomness!}. With the help of this blog, I try to give you all the reasons to move here and why I love it so much, but really, our temps aren’t the most enticing.

Still, the second those 50 degree+ days start to hit consistently, I am busting out my flip-flops. Because really, what is more comfortable and easy-to-wear than a great pair of flippy-floppies? {Cue “I’m On A Boat” by The Lonely Island}

I have a confession: I don’t like shoes. Apparently I missed that woman gene that is drawn to pretty pumps and knee-high boots. I prefer going barefoot, but that’s not always an option. So I settle for the best pair of shoes a shoe-hating woman can own: comfortable flats and flip flops. And boy, do I love those!

Give me your poor tired feet, and cover them in flip flops covered with sparkles and embellishments, or keep them plain and simple. I’ll wear them shopping. I’ll wear them to the zoo. I’ll wear them at the lake.

I’ve declared May 1st as the day I will officially bust out my flip-flops for good — no matter what Michigan weather throws my way.

Even though I have a bucket o’ flops {literally}, I am still dreaming about my next pair because a girl can never have too many, right?

I especially love the brand Reef because they are durable and oh-so-comfy. For me, it’s worth it to spend a few extra bucks for a pair that will last me and get me through chasing kids all summer long!

Lucky for me, Reef has tons of fab styles for guys and girls of all ages! Personally, I am loving these Guatemalan Stargazer ones:

Guatemalan Stargazer from Reef.com

Also, these Reef Dreams Glitter ones. Fun with a little bit of sparkle, yet practical at the same time – totally my style.

Reef Dreams Glitter from Reef.com

For the husband, these Reef Playa Cervesa ones, complete with a bottle opener on the bottom, would do. Perfect for enjoying a few “pops” while boating or playing by the lake. {Seriously, how functional are those? Awesome for enjoying a Michigan made Oberon!}

Reef Flip Flops with Bottle Opener – Reef Playa Cervesa from Reef.com

So, when will you be busting out the flip flops for good? Maybe if enough of us join forces, Mother Nature will listen to us!

See more fab styles by visiting Reef.com.

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Changes I’m Making To My Tech Life in 2014

2014 is going to be a huge year for our house…A year where we go from two kids {manageable} to three {meaning way outnumbered.} I have no doubt this will add a whole new list of challenges to my work-from-home life, so until this baby comes, I am working on getting my life in better working order. For me, a tech addict, this means cutting the tech clutter in my life so I can be the best parent and social media manager as possible.

These are the adjustments I am currently working on:

  • Decluttering my personal email. I used Unroll.Me, which helps to unsubscribe from lists and “roll” those email subscriptions you want but don’t really need daily, into one email. I can quickly glance through this email to determine if there’s anything I can’t live without.
  • Getting rid of apps that take away from my kids. For example, I’ve stopped using Foursquare. I love it, but taking time to check-in when I’m with my kids is just pure chaos. Plus, ya’ll don’t need to know how often we go to our favorite pizza joint.
  • Turning off nearly ALL Facebook notifications. I was getting a ridiculous amount of notifications for groups I am in. I turned them all off. If I need something, I will seek out those groups.
  • Hiding people who bring me down on Facebook. You know those friends that post negativity all the time? Yeah, I have a few of those. I truly love those folks, I just couldn’t handle the doom and gloom on a daily basis, so I hid them…and deleted a few folks, too.
  • Trying not to insert my opinion on Facebook. This is a hard one for me because I am super opinionated and an emotional Facebook user {I get very worked up over silly things like politics and mommy ignorance}. What I’ve learned though, is that whatever I say typically doesn’t matter. So why try to offer my perspective to a stranger unless it truly is something that will help them? I’d rather invest my words in people I know care or just private message them. This one has been a hard habit to break because I like feeling helpful, and I just FEEL so much.
  • Turning off all phone notifications. I don’t get any notifications on my phone for emails or social networks. I don’t need another distraction while I’m out. With kids, I’m usually only gone from my home for a couple of hours. Unless I am attending a social media event, anything to do with being “online” can wait until I get home.
  • Putting the phone away — period. There’s no excuse unless you are alone with nobody to talk to. Nothing is THAT important.
  • Ignoring all tech between 5-8 p.m. Unless it’s a client emergency, or I know it’s going to be a quick conversation, it can wait until the kids are in bed. That is our family time and the time our kids are the most needy. I need to be present.
  • When I am online, trying to make the best use of my time. Stay on task — for example, finish drafting client content before starting a blog post or moving on to my next task. Avoid getting distracted by the rabbit hole of the Internet…and only have a few tabs open at once {another HARD one for me!}.

I have to say, just making these small changes has made me feel worlds better. I want to truly be present for my kids and these are simple fixes for me. I am excited for a more productive 2014!

What techy decluttering tips do you have?

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Hair Tips from Maki J’s Salon and J Beverly Hills

Maki J's Salon Collage

The beautiful historic building in downtown Howell that houses Maki J’s Salon. Photos by Miraya Dust.

The post below is sponsored by Maki J’s Salon. All opinions expressed are my own.

I had the privilege of attending an open house for Maki J’s Salon, a growing boutique salon in my hometown of Howell. While there, I met owner Jill Mackey and celebrity stylist and professional color developer Max Eli of J Beverly Hills hair products, which are available at Maki J’s.

I loved learning how engaged Jill is in the community, and her commitment to selling environmentally friendly products like J Beverly Hills. As someone who is so not on-par with the hair world, I learned SO much. I can’t wait to apply some of the tricks I learned to my own hair life {which is currently at a stall as I grow it out to donate}!

Jill Mackey and Max Eli

Jill Mackey of Maki J’s Salon and Max Eli of J Beverly Hills

I asked for your questions on my Facebook page and here’s what Jill and Max had to say. Both are a wealth of knowledge and I undoubtedly would trust either to do anything to my hair :)

HAIR TIPS FROM MAKI J’S SALON AND MAX ELI OF J BEVERLY HILLS

Q. What are ways to make color last longer?

A. Professional grade products that are paraban and sulfate-free are key. Also, make sure to use a great conditioner, and do things like wear a hat at the beach and immediately rinse your hair after playing in the water.

Q. Best way to keep blonde from turning brassy/ashy?

A. First, when coloring, the stylist should use a vita-based solution. Second, it’s crucial to use a shampoo specifically made for blonde hair. J. Beverly Hills makes a “Blonde” shampoo that is perfect for this exact reason because it neutralizes unwanted tones and adds brightness to reduce yellow tones.

This product can be purchased at Maki J’s of course, but if you’re not local, it is also available on Amazon here.

Q. Best inexpensive shampoo and conditioner for color-treated hair?

A. This was a toughie. As stylists, they believe there is nothing available that even comes close to touching salon-grade shampoos. Max specifically mentioned Johnson & Johnson products and shampoos like Head & Shoulders are some of the absolute worst offenders on hair in general — especially if it’s color-treated. You are better off buying a professional shampoo and using it just a few times a week to make it last longer.

Q. What is the best shampoo for long, untreated hair?

A. Without physically touching your hair, this was a hard question for Jill and Max to answer. Something I learned was that you may need two different kinds of shampoo for the top of your head versus your ends. Jill suggests a gentle ‘everyday’ shampoo and conditioner free of sulfates and parabans, and to do a masque treatment like this one from J Beverly Hills on the hair once a week to help maintain scalp and hair health.

J Beverly Hills at Maki J's Salon

J Beverly Hills products at Maki J’s Salon

Q. What is an easy, mom-friendly hairdo?

A. This depends a lot on facial shape/structure and the texture and thickness of your hair. But, the short, tousled look tends to be the easiest look to maintain.

Q. What do I ask for to get multi-dimensional color? Highlights? Lowlights? Both? Neither?

A. Say exactly that — dimensional color. A professional stylist should understand what that means and be able to work with you to find the perfect shades to complement your skin tone and eyes.

Q. I’m no longer dying my hair and it gets greasy really fast. What can I do besides keep dying it?

A. Jill and Max in unison — change shampoos! Make sure it’s paraban and sulfate-free, too. Those chemicals don’t do the hair any good.

Q. What is the best way to combat winter static?

A. Moisture! Make sure to use a quality moisturizing conditioner. You can also use a spray-on leave in conditioner. Also, love this tip — instead of rubbing your hair dry, simply squeeze it with a towel so it doesn’t frazzle the hair cuticles and cause both frizz and static.

Q. I’ve been using semi-permanent color on my brown and white hair. Lately, the white won’t color. Is there a better non-permanent solution?

A. You’ll want to use a quality hair color with low alkalinity to help reveal the hair structure. The semi-permanent colors associated with quality products like J. Beverly Hills should do the trick.

Q. What trends are IN for 2014? What trends are out?

A. First, ombre and chunky stripes are OUT. “Naturalizing” the hair is IN. What this means, is your stylist takes the hair one shade darker and one shade lighter. Also, sand/natural blonde colors and chocolates are super hot right now.

Another item that is out? The flat-iron. Max stressed to me how horrible these can be for hair. If you do use it, use only an ionic or ceramic iron and use it on medium heat only — never ever on high. If you have time in the morning, instead of using a flat or curling iron, go for soft curls, which can be made with velcro rollers.

Maki J’s Salon is located at 122 State St. in downtown Howell. To schedule an appointment with Jill, call (517) 540-1412.

Stylists: Jill is also looking to hire! If you’re looking to work with a great, hard-working gal, give her a call or send an email to mackeyjill@att.net.

Learn more about Maki J’s Salon by following them at the links below:

Like Us Follow Us Instagram Google us

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30 Things To Do Inside With Toddlers

30 Things To Do Inside With Toddlers

Looking for something fun to do to beat the winter blues? Try these 30 things to do inside with toddlers!

PIN IT!

In case you haven’t noticed, Michigan is literally under a blanket of snow. The don’t-go-outside-unless-it’s-an-emergency kind of snow.

Which, in many cases, is fine and dandy. But when you have little kids, being stuck inside can make you feel crazy. Trust me.

Alas, temps with negative wind chills aren’t my cup of tea either, so inside we’ll stay.

Here are 30 things to do inside with toddlers to beat the winter blues:

Little Mermaid Craft #shop

  • Build creations with Play-Doh. We love adding pipe cleaners and googly eyes to ours to make little monsters.
  • Make creations with salt dough. Bake and then paint. {ornaments for Christmas, hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc.} Here’s a super simple recipe.
  • Plan a treasure hunt and hide small toys around the house. Tell the kids clues on where to find them, or just let them know when they are getting warmer.
  • Travel with your mind. Help your kiddos pick a geographic location {e.g. Italy} and search the Internet for fun surrounding the area {e.g. YouTube videos for kids in Italian}. Bonus points: Try making a food item that is native to the area, too.
  • Color!
  • “Shop” for specific things around the house. Use a play shopping cart, or even an old Easter basket and arm your child with it, telling them to go find something specific — like anything blue.
  • Make a rainbow rice sensory bin with this tutorial. Just put a tarp or sheet under it for easy clean-up!
  • Play hide and seek. If you’re child isn’t old enough, just try hiding a toy and helping him/her find it instead.
  • Play dress-up and have your kids “model” while you take photos.
  • Crank some tunes and have a dance party. We are partial to toddler tunes and 90′s music.
  • Use a box to make a house. Or a robot costume. Or car. Or castle. The possibilities are endless!
  • Make finger paint with shaving cream, Elmer’s glue and food coloring. Learn how here.

Sensory Play

  • Push your kids around in a laundry basket. This never seems to fail entertaining my kids. Plus, a great workout for mom or dad, too!
  • Play rock band. Pots and pans paired with a wooden spoon make for a lovely drum, while a tupperware container filled with uncooked pasta noodles makes for a fab shaker!
  • Finger paint. If you need a piece of “canvas” — simply use the back of wrapping paper! If your child can’t be trusted with paint yet, let him/her “paint” with yogurt or some other edible treat right on her high chair tray.
  • Clean. Kids love it — I swear! Give them baby wipes to wipe up the table, or have them help sort laundry.
  • Read, read, read! To make it feel more novel, create a fun little reading nook in a blanket fort with pillows.
  • Play “don’t touch the ground.” Place pillows and other random things on the ground and have your child(ren) hop from object to object, avoiding the ground – AKA hot lava ;)
  • Have “booty races” down the stairs. What kid {or adult} doesn’t think it’s the funniest thing ever to go down the stairs on your tushie? Have fun with it by racing or timing your child.
  • Indoor ice skating. Just rubber band some wax paper on your kid’s feet and watch them skate! Be careful — it can be really slippery, so you may need to hold little hands. Recover with some hot cocoa.
  • Have a picnic in your living room.

Living room picnic

  • Make art with expired items from your pantry. Kids can get creative gluing old rice or cereal to the paper. Heck, they can even color it if they’d like.
  • Play balance beam. Put tape on the floor {in a straight line, or get funky with a zig zag} and have them walk on it. You could also create a hopscotch board if you’re little one is skilled enough to handle it!

What are your favorite ways to entertain kiddos when you’re stuck inside?

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15 Tips For Becoming a Pro Mom To Little Ones

Tips For Becoming A Pro Mom

Becoming a parent is HARD. There is no doubt in anybody’s minds that little people are an absolute game changer. Personally, I think it’s mostly roses, but just like anything, there are good days and bad days. I definitely know at this point that God made kids adorable-looking for a reason. It truly helps you forget how difficult they can be at times!

I struggled with this title because I am in no way a “pro” mom, but I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way, so I want to share them in case they can be helpful to someone out there ;)

These are some helpful things I have finally started to master in my three short years as a parent…Here are my tips for becoming a pro mom to little ones:

1. Baby wipes clean everything. Always have a pack of wipes on hand! Use them to clean dirty little hands. Use them to take marker off faces. Shoot, when the kids want to help you clean, hand them a wipe to help dust. Also, wipe containers are awesome for just about anything…crayons, stickers, hair accessories and beds for beanie babies. Reuse ‘em! Learn how to make your own wipes here.

2. Nap prep is key. If you think your child is going to fall asleep for their nap in the car, change their diaper before loading them up, take off their shoes, sweater, and whatever may potentially wake them up when you transfer from car to bed. Also, before you leave the house, set-up their room completely. {For my little gal this means closing her curtains, turning on her fan and noise machine so it’s ready to rock. She’s a total diva.}

3. Always have an extra diaper and extra underware — even if it’s just for a quick trip. Accidents always seem to happen when you least expect it. {case in point: I just took a pair of poopy pants out of my coat pocket from our library visit earlier.} Also related: If your baby fills a diaper and it leaks at night, go one size up, at least for night. It will hold that extra urine!

4. Never forget to pack water, sippys, and an emergency stash of snacks. Just when you think the kids have had enough to eat, you’ll get in the car and the “I’m hungry” whine will start. I keep a stash of goodies in my center console, and in my purse, and it has saved me many times.

5. Take time to PLAY every day. Do not bring your phone. Do not open your laptop or tablet. Get on the ground and play. You’ll be amazed at how much your kids come alive during this time — even if you can only dedicate 10 minutes. Also, try to get outside. It can do wonders for sleep and can make a mom feel sane again, too!

6. If you find a good container of bubbles, buy about 10 bottles of it. Good, quality bubbles that are easy for kids to blow are hard to come by. And what kid doesn’t love bubbles?!

7. Make plans, but allow for flexibility. You just don’t know when a child may just want to stay home. I’m pretty sure my girls have come to love Mondays the best because it’s our pajama day!

8. Don’t clean up the house until the end of the day. I hate this, but it’s true: Cleaning up while children are awake is like sweeping during a wind storm. The second you sweep the floors, they will come dump sugar on them. Trust me.

9. If you’re going to feed your kid spaghetti, or anything similar, take off all their clothes if possible. Then, promptly throw them in the tub after.

10. Don’t show your toddler/preschooler something and expect them to be patient for it. The moment they see a cookie, piece of candy, etc. their mind EXPLODES and they can’t wait another second for it.

11. On that note, don’t tell your child about scented markers until they are 100% ready to handle their awesomeness. Because they may try to smell them and miss. And they will be sorely disappointed that all markers don’t have a scent.

Kinley and scented markers

12. The freezer does wonders for cooling off food quickly. While waiting, throw your kid a cracker so they don’t act like you are depriving them of food. Also? Don’t show them the food. {See #10.}

13. Organize your life where possible. My 3-year-old fusses over clothing, or her PJs every day. If I know I have to be somewhere in the morning, I will put an outfit out for the morning so there’s no battles. Keep a stash of snacks where kids can reach them, and so the non-vocal ones can let you know when they are hungry. Cut fruit and veggies at the start of the week to avoid chaos at mealtimes.

14. Each week, do something for YOU. Get out and take a walk alone for 20 minutes, read a book at a coffee shop, or go out with girlfriends. Having this time away will allow your children to bond with someone else and will make you come back to them feeling refreshed.

15. Trust your gut. You know your kids better than anyone else, period. Don’t let anyone make you feel small, mama!

What are your tips for becoming a pro mom? I still have many years to get through!

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Black Friday at Target + Shopping Tips #MyKindOfHoliday

This post is brought to you by Target, but all opinions and content are my own. Follow along with #MyKindOfHoliday.

Visions of Target fun danced in her head…

If you’re anything like me, you probably love Target. It’s the place I fantasize about the most. Is that sad? I don’t think so. I can shop with Starbucks, admire beautiful things that I can afford {mostly}, and they have the most inspiring dollar section ever!

Lucky for me since I’ll be out shopping and tweeting about Black Friday, they also have some rockin’ deals this season!

Check out the awesome deals for Black Friday at Target!

Here are a few of my favorites:
Canon T3 DSLR Bundle | $449 | Includes T3 camera, 18-55mm lens, 75-300mm zoom lens, 8GB SD card and Canon DSLR bag. {Almost half off the normal price!!!}

Canon Bundle
6-ft. pre-lit Alberta Spruce Artificial Tree | $30

$30 Pre-Lit Tree

Our Generation Doll | $20

{I love this because Kinley is OBSESSED with American Girl magazine and there is no way I will ever spend $129 on a doll!}

Our Generation Doll

Also, toys are BUY 1, GET 1 50% OFF with two toys of the same brand!!!

Assorted women’s slippers | $14.99

Yes, friends. These are at the top of my list! I even have tried them on and can vouch for how comfortable they are ;) {Hunny, if you’re reading this, you should know by now I wear a size 9}

Slippers

Now, for the FUN! I’m excited to share a few Black Friday tips, too:

  • Bring a friend! Chances are you will have to stand in a line during your shopping experience. Having a friend to chat with will help make the time fly by.
  • Don’t overspend or get caught with shiny object syndrome. Plan ahead with a budget and stick to it.
  • Celebrate after you’re done! Whether it’s treating yourself to breakfast, or even a little sweet treat, use your time out as an excuse to treat yourself a little and kick off the holiday season. {Peppermint Mochas from Starbucks are my favorite!}
  • Use coupons! Check your local paper ads for coupons, but don’t forget about store apps on your smartphone as well! {Use the Cartwheel app to start saving on the things your already buy at Target.}
  • Use your store-branded credit card for extra savings. {I’m typically not an advocate for opening a credit card when it’s not needed, but Target has an awesome program where you can get 5% off EVERY purchase, all year.}
  • Shop online if you can. Many deals will be offered online, so feel free to stay in your PJ’s and just click away to avoid crowds.
  • Don’t be scared. Sure, it can be overwhelming, but don’t let it be. Have fun!

Follow #MyKindofHoliday for all sorts of Target fun, and if you’re local to Detroit, be sure to Tweet us ALL of your deals with #Local4Shopping!

What are your favorite Black Friday shopping tips?

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$10 Credit for American Express Cardholders to #ShopSmall

#ShopSmall

#ShopSmall this year with a $10 Credit for American Express Cardholders!

I don’t know about you all, but I LOVE the Small Business Saturday movement, which is coming to a local street near you next Saturday, November 30.

American Express cardholders will have the chance to register their cards starting TODAY — 11/24/13 — for a FREE $10 credit to be used at participating #ShopSmall retailers. There are LOTS of local spots that participate in this around Michigan :) Check out the MAP here. {For me here in Howell, it is nearly all of our downtown businesses.}

A little snippet of the fine print:

Limit one (1) $10 statement credit per American Express Card. To be eligible, Card Members must register any eligible American Express Card for this offer at ShopSmall.com. Corporate Cards and all prepaid Card products (other than American Express Serve®) are not eligible. See all offer terms here.

YOU GUYS. This is FREE money! Plus, it’s just the perfect excuse to spend a day in your hometown checking out amazing small businesses. What’s also cool is that many restaurants participate as well. Holla for $10 off a meal after you shop!

My husband and I are both Amex cardholders {thanks, Costco!}, so I hope to get the credit on both of our cards. We did this last year and saw the credit show up on our next month’s statement. Easy peasy! I was super happy to have knocked out a few really cool gifts this way. {Last year the credit was $25, but we’ll take what we can get!}

Even if you are not an American Express cardholder, I urge you to shop local this holiday season. You all know I love saving money, but sometimes the feeling you get shopping small far outweighs the financial benefits.

Grab the credit while it’s available, have fun, and be sure to tweet with #ShopSmall!

VISIT HERE TO ENROLL YOUR CARD!

This isn’t sponsored, I just love this promotion and wanted to be sure you all knew about it. 

Where are your favorite cities to #ShopSmall?

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