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Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Bouqs Company Flowers Product Review

I was recently contacted by The Bouqs Company to do a product review.  I occasionally get offers for product reviews but ignore them because the free product offered in exchange for review just doesn't entice me.  However when I got the offer from The Bouqs, I was totally interested in a free bouquet of flowers in exchange for an honest review! I mean, who doesn't want free flowers? 

I had never heard of The Bouqs Company before.  When it comes to ordering flowers online, I am most familiar with Pro Flowers.  I have recieved Pro Flowers multiple times from my loving parents and sister and have sent them as well.  I've always been happy with the quality of the bouquets I've received, only once did they not seem fresh.  I will say it always frustrated me when I was on the ordering end, and thinking it was going to be one price and then at checkout, after the shipping and fees the price being a LOT more, and it was always hard to decide what to order, not knowing if it would be good or not.

Let me introduce you to The Bouqs Company if you are not familiar with them...They are apparently grown on the side of a volcano in Equador providing the flowers lots of sun, snow melt and mineral rich soil resulting in amazing color.  They are cut the day you order and arrive within 2-4 days.  

When shopping on their website, I found it very easy to browse and although there were lots of beautiful arrangements to choose from, it was pretty simple to just choose a bouquet without worrying about price comparison.   You simple browse through their gallery of beautiful bouqs and when you select one you like, you can then choose which size you would like, a classic sized bouq being $40, a delux which is double the size for $50 or a grand bouq which is tripple the size for $70.  There are no other fees or shipping so once you select your bouq and the size you want, that is it!  I really enjoyed browsing through their online shop which I refer to as their gallery because the photography is so gorgeous!  

I decided to go with the Bouq called Dawn, I ordered the Original $40 bouquet of roses. My Bouq arrived by FedEx the morning of the date I had selected for delivery which was a Thursday.  I really liked the slim, black sleek package design.  I made a little video of when I opened up the package, the sound didn't work but just to give you an idea of what to expect...
fyi I got a little distracted by my kitties at the last part of the video...

 Here's the Customs sticker as these came from Equador, straight from the volcano!

 When you open the box you will first see the care instructions printed on the box...

And on the inside is the notecard that you can customize to the person you are sending flowers to, adding your own message.

The bouq was securely wrapped so all the flowers were protected and not shaken about during shipment.  There was a cool little thermal pouch/sleeve that kept the ends of the stems moist and cool.  When I opened the bouquet there were a few outer rose petals here and there that were not as pretty, but I just removed them, showing off the very beautiful petals underneath.  I think I actually learned about that from a special episode about flowers on the Nate Berkus show a long time ago...when ordering flowers, consider some of the outer petals part of the packaging that needs to be removed.  Anyways, the color was amazing and vibrant and pretty much like the picture on the website, but not only that, they had a very nice smell too.  I kept them on my kitchen island and everytime I walked past I would catch a wiff and it was such a treat!

I had a friend come over the second day I had these and she was really impressed, we were hanging out in the kitchen and she was like "OH MY GOSH! Where did you get these flowers! They are gorgeous!" and later as we were still visiting, she was like "I'm sorry, these flowers are so pretty they keep distracting me!"  I was pretty much obsessed with them as well!  I loved the rich vibrant pink/yellow/tangerine-y color!

Yes I took even more photos than this because I was obsessed with them! They were so pretty!  I was very happy with them and I'm actually planning on using The Bouqs to send flowers to my hubby's grandma this week after enjoying mine for over a week.  I waiting to post my review so I could let you all know how long the bouquet lasted for.  I got the flowers on last Thursday and today is Sunday so I've had them for 11 days.  They stayed vibrant and beautiful for a full week and then as the days went past a week, they started to lose some of the vibrant color and looked a little more pale, but not bad, but by yesterday, the 10th day, they were looking like they were at a good point to hang up to dry, but I didn't do that yet, maybe tomorrow, I'm still hanging on to them...Today they are looking definitely not fresh anymore but still in good enough shape to hang up to dry.  So based on my experience, The Bouq roses lasted nicely for a week and a half.  I'm not an expert, but I think that is fine...I have had flowers in the past that don't last very long and are already on the tail end of their existence when I received them, but other times I've had bouquets that have lasted 2 full weeks.  

So that is my honest opinion.  I really enjoy the appearance, format and ease of use of their website and how streamlined, straightforward and cost friendly it is.  AND I enjoyed the actual bouquet too.  The Bouqs Company also has an app you can get on your phone to make it even easier to send flowers.  I know I will be using them in the future as I do not live close to family so any occasion I want to give flowers to a relative, I usually order online or call a local florist and have them deliver, but it's always been more than the $40 flat fee you get with The Bouqs, plus I'm ordering blind in that situation and just trusting it will be good.  I ordered Dawn, here is the picture from The Bouqs Company Online Shop, and thought my bouquet was pretty close to the actual picture.  My photos above were actually a little overexposed so they look a bit lighter than they really were.  The color wasn't exactly as intense as this sample photo, but it was similar and still very striking so I was not disappointed.
Dawn | Bouqs Flowers

Before I finish, let me leave you with some of my other favorite bouquets I saw on The Bouqs Company when selecting my flowers.

Marshmallow | Bouqs Flowers Marshmallow
Vibrance | Bouqs FlowersVibrance
An Elegant Twist An Elegant Twist
Harvest Moon Harvest Moon
Sincere Sincere

Click HERE to save $10 off your first Bouquet

Disclaimer:  I recieved a free bouquet of flowers of my choice in exchange for a review, I will receive a small compensation from any sales of Bouqs that come through this blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cake Smash and Kittens!

Friday is normally a lighter day for us schoolwork wise, allowing us to spend time in nature, with friends, on field trips or catching up if we had a mid week field trip, etc.  Well, this Friday was spent adopting our first furry pets!  KITTENS!  

So far we have only had a beta fish and the baby chicks.  And although the chickens are entertaining, friendly and productive pets who do enjoy getting pet, it's not the same as a little purball furball kitten!  

We had promised the kids we would get a cat when we got a 3 years ago...but when we got the house we had to get settled, by then we found out we were moving again and putting our house on the market so we held off again till we completed that move, but then we had a baby on the way so we held off till after the baby.  Well the baby just turned one....yeah...I can't believe it, ONE already, where did the time go?  I can't believe it was just a little over a year ago that the midwives showed up at our home on Labor Day to help deliver this little guy into the world who is now walking ALL OVER!

 The vultures have descended the second it appears baby is done with his cake....

So....yeah the kids have been waiting and waiting for a kitty and now that we passed that first birthday, it seemed like we could start thinking about FOR REAL this time.

I get Farmer Sue's emails from The Art Barn and normally I don't open them because like most newsletters I subscribe to, who has time to actually read them?  Well, randomly I clicked on the most recent one and saw a picture of a kitten and the contact info.  
Apparently a pregnant stray cat showed up at this 76 year old lady's home and so she was looking out after her and when the kittens came she started taking care of them but was unable to find homes for them.  When I went there I had the intention of getting one male kitty.  Hubby and I agreed on only boy cats as based on our past experienced, male cats are way more chill and cool than females.  When we arrived at this womans home, she had 5 kittens in her screened in porch and they were a little older than I had anticipated and seemed more like wild cats.  I didn't realize they were wild cats essentially until I got there.  The first one I was drawn to was the most BEAUTIFUL kitten I'd even seen but if you went within 2 feet of it, it would hiss at you.  There were 2 others that didn't hiss but seemed terrified of people and were running up and down the wall railings to stay away from us.  Then there were 2 identical kittens, one male and a slightly smaller female and the kids were actually able to pick them up and hold them.  The kittens were 11-13 weeks old (not sure exactly) and after being unable to find homes and also not wanting to actually keep them, they were going to be sent to a shelter that night.  I picked up the boy and we left.  I pulled out of her neighborhood and was getting gas across the street and started debating.  Then as if they could read my mind, the kids started saying "Can we go back and get the twin sister?  They'll be so lonely without each other!" ugh I just decided what the heck, she was going to be sent to a shelter that night anyways, if we took her too and she ended up being wild and crazy we could still try and find her another home.  So we went back over and picked up the girl.

When we got home, I got WHAT DID I DO?  The cats were so skiddish and would only run away and hide from us.  I was remember back in college when one of our roomates found a kitten that was adorable but it was wild and it ended up being like a devil cat.  Did I just bring home TWO devil cats?  

However, by that evening they started warming up and by the looks of this picture I took today, I can say within 24 hours they've gotten quite comfortable with us and made themselves at home, they spent the day on the screen in porch and J spent the whole day playing with them, petting them and napping with them.  They are turning into purballs!  If they were on the slightly less people friendly side of the spectrum, they are quickly warming up and enjoying the family....except for Cameron and his screeching whenever he sees them.



Waldorf-ish Chalkboard Drawing - Dolphin

So I was really inspired by the Waldorf classroom and chalkboard art and the kids have really enjoyed every reveal so far.  I don't do it every day because I just don't make time for it each night but have been doing it at least once or twice a week.  They are still pretty simple compared to the beautiful Waldorf chalkboard drawings I've seen online but it's a pretty small chalkboard and I just am having fun with it.  I find it helps get me excited about the upcoming material and topics as I look over my schedule and decide which subject/lesson I'll feature on the board.  a huge PLUS for me is it actually gets me doing some art...all be it simple and quick but still...just getting to sit down and make a fun chalkboard creation for the kids sparks that passion in me and makes me happy that in this BUSY BUSY season of motherhood, I can channel that artistic side of me...even if it's just a little dolphin drawing!  The kids then copy this in their drawing pad, We had some ocean stencils so they traced the dolphin stencils and then created their ocean scene and on the next page J copied the block style letters and the curly style letters for marine she's started making her letters fancy and curly in her spelling book, which actually has improved her hand writing! She tends to grip and press hard when writing and fatigues quicker than I would like so any way to make writing more fun for her is a big plus.

What spurred on the dolphin interest was watching Dolphin Tale 1 and 2.  We streamed the first on Amazon and then last week we went to the theater to watch Dolphin Tale 2 and I downloaded and printed the free curriculum that goes with it from the homeschool movie club.  I also found some other fun dolphin activities online and put it all into little folders for both kids, they were so excited! I was going to make lapbooks but I honestly don't have time for that, I realized why do we always have to go all out on everything? Or think we need to do it a certain way and all perfect but then it doesn't happen at all because there's no I kept it simple, printed all the pages I wanted, hole punched and tossed them in folders! and DONE! lol! (and the kids were so excited about their folders I really wonder if they would have been THAT much more excited if I had spend 2 hours making lapbooks)  If you haven't watched Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2 with your kids yet, I would highly recommend both movies! And yes I know...watching movies is not so Waldorf-ish....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Deck Makeover

So after the chicken coop project got finished, next up was the deck.  It was a pretty big project with the power washing and painting, more than you might think.  I did help with some of the painting but who am I kidding, Hubby did most of it...he finished the work while the kids and I were away visiting family so it was nice to come home to a finished project!  Not to mention he cleared out a bunch of the ugly tree stumps in the yard and thoroughly cleaned out the mini van! thanks babe!

Anyways, I'm loving the new deck, it feels so much cleaner with the fresh paint and stain vs the weathered wood that was stained green from the spring pollen with curling boards...hubs got that all fixed up now.  At first we were going to just stain the deck all one color with either a clear stain or something subtle but then the deck had these copper caps on the posts and they weren't that noticeable against the weathered wood and if we did a brown stain all over I didn't think it would do much justice so I went hmmmmmm.....for about an hour as hubby tapped his foot waiting for me to decide so he could go to Home Depot to get supplies and decided to go ahead and paint the deck rails an off white and then do Thompson Waterseal stain in Acorn Brown I think it was the semi-transparent.

Here's the before and after.

at first we were thinkinf just doing a clear coat sealer to protect it but keep the natural wood look but I made a quick decision (not something I normally do!) and went with it...We both like how it turned out

Next phase? This last picture reminds me we should probably get around to adding some deck skirting so we aren't looking under at our crap we store underneath, but at the end of the's just one of those things that ain't the most important in the world so for now I'm just going to enjoy a finished project and having the chicken coop and deck getting protected off the Hubby's project list and just hang out!  Those were 2 projects that seemed unfinished for a long time, not because of him, just because they take a lot of time and he just does what he can when time permits.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homeschool Begins Again

We officially started another homeschool year on Monday.  We spent the last 2.5 weeks in Washington State with family and it was kinda nice since after being gone that long we have to get readjusted to our own routine again to just start it off with our homeschool routine.  This year we are using My Father's World (MFW) Adventure in US History and will also be doing Classical Conversations (CC) again.  It's cool because the cycle of CC we are on is also US history so they will actually compliment each other.  Last year there was pretty much no correlation between MFW and CC.  I've also been in a wind down phase since the end of the school year...last spring I felt like we really got so ramped up with activities, field trips, and all kinds of commitments and while it was all fun and good was exhausting and really not who I am to be so busy and on the go everyday that we're rushing through our learning to get on to the other places we need to be....that's just not how I envisioned our homeschool.  Part of the benefit of homeschooling is NOT getting sucked into the crazy busy lifestyle and collapsing at the end of the day.  Being so busy I just started feeling disconnected and honestly it's not fair to my 2nd child who doesn't like being out all the time.  So we reevaluated, said no to some of the things we enjoyed last year and said yes to other things that are more simple, easy and more gymnastics for J, it's close to home vs other activities I was driving all over the place for and required more time and energy overall.

When I started this homeschool journey, I began by read The Thomas Jefferson Education which really inspired me, and then getting into Charlotte Mason, Montesorri, Waldorf and some Unschool literature and facebook pages like The Libertarian Homeschooler and Our Muddy Boots.  That's all the stuff that resonated with me.  For Kindergarten we didn't use curriculum and just had some guidelines about what kindergartners need to know and then was creative and pulled things together and had a lot of fun.  I loved it, it totally gave me freedom to cover the things we needed to cover and then some using my own interests and creativity as well as inspired by my daughter's interests.  And since I didn't have a checklist/curriculum I felt like life was just really inspiring and organic and exciting.  But I also would sometimes stress over gauging how I was doing as a teacher...not having a guideline is really freeing and fun and sometimes we covered way more than we would have sticking with a curriculum, other days were lighter, and it was definitely more work overall coming up with everything myself to make learning so fun that when my hubby would ask her "what did you and mommy do for school today?" she would say "We didn't do any school today!" and I would be so proud because those days I had met my goal, I taught her everything I had intended through various activities and moments but it felt so natural and fun to her she didn't even know I was "schooling" her so I would reassure my hubby that yes.....YES I was teaching her...with much effort at that to make her think she hadn't done any "school", but sometimes I would be up late crafting how those wonderful days would go and then still, sometimes struggled with not having anything to "show"...I worksheets in a folder mean so much right?

For first grade, last year, we had moved to a new area and having a new baby and preschooler, hubby was worried how I would be able to keep her up to speed.  So, as a way to make connections in our community with being new and as a safety net for her to be learning SOMETHING in case i was so sleep deprived I couldn't cover everything at home we needed to we signed up for Classical Conversations.  I really liked the whole idea of it even though I'm DEFINITELY not very Classical Education in my style.  I also decided to do My Father's World as it was an open and go out of the box curriculum that had a Charlotte Mason influence.  I did keep thinking though if it was weird to do MFW and CC at the same time, but figured it wasn't going to hurt anyone and they were both good programs.

I LOVED how easy MFW it was to implement.  It was so easy to implement that we started back up a week after baby came along even though I had thought I would take more time.  We had a super smooth year and the phonics workbook and bible reader were great, we really enjoyed that.  The math was fine as well.  I was a little dissapointed on the art side but at the same time I was an art major and used to teach art so that wasn't a big deal we just did our own thing.  Overall we were very happy with it and that's why we are continuing with it for this year.

Classical Conversations was great too.  I love that, at the Foundations levels at least, you can use it as much or as little as you want in your homeschool.  Some people base their curriculum around it, others like us used it as enrichment and sometimes tied it in or expanded on certain things at home but for the most part, just let the kids listen to the songs while they played or did art and that was about it as far as time I put into it outside of class.  Things I liked were my daughter getting to have a group of little friends she saw each week, doing weekly presentations, bringing lunch and eating on the playground with her friends after class, and the fact they covered science experiments, orchestra and art as well so even if we were light some weeks at home on those things, she got it there.

But, the year went by so fast, too fast, especially the 2nd half and it kinda makes me sad when I think about how fast it went by...because in less than a month my baby will turn 1 and it's just reminded me that we need to slow down, not say yes to everything even if we want to or feel bad about not participating in something.  I always wanted to be a mom ever since I was a little girl, I don't want to rush through this time so fast that my precious time of having little kids and a baby are just a blurry memory of stressing to hurry up and get to the next thing.  So, I'm not going all unschool, but I'm taking my My Father's World curriculum and doing it with my own waldorf/Charlotte Mason/Unschooly twist and try my best not to rush through our days, to relax, to let the kids relax.  To remember that when our days are commited to other activities, we aren't home to discover our chicken laying her first egg and the excitement and anticipation of waiting for her to do that and playing in the forest making art with pieces of nature while we wait, we aren't home to notice 2 small adorable baby deer and their mother playing in our yard, We aren't experimenting with J walking around the house with the baby in my baby wrap, or for the kids to remember that their first and forever best friends are eachother while playing Fireman Sam or making Rainbow Loom Bracelets, or just laying in the hammock all together in the shade after lunch on the deck doing finger plays about the 5 little ducks, or helping J type out stories she's inventing etc.  So I'm still happy at this point with our curriculum, we got the basic package so we could just do our own art which I got them each 2 spiral drawing books one will be for art lessons the other is a Nature Journal/Art book. The other fun thing that I'm doing that is more Waldorf inspired is daily chalkboard art.  We have one of those double sided easles so I create a fun chalkboard drawing that relates to that day and turn it around so when they come into the playroom they see the whiteboard and then when I'm ready to show them I turn it around for the big reveal.  So far that's really the only prep I've had to do and for me that is pretty fun.  But anyways, lately I just keep hearing a comment someone sweetly made to me on a field trip last spring as I was telling her about how our packed schedule, "You can't homeschool if you're never home."  It's so true, homeschool shouldn't be just checking off the requirements for that day and then heading out the door ASAP to do other stuff, even if it is good stuff.  But being home enough you can slow down and "smell the roses" where kids can get bored and be forced to use their imagination and cooperate, and not have everyone fee pressured to get certain things done because then later we have to be somewhere and then there's constantly more stuff so if they get behind mom stresses out because when will they have time to finish their work?  I don't want to do that...I think we'll still end up being somewhat busy this year anyways, but I'm definitely going in with a lot more intention on how and where we spend our time, and bowing out gracefully when we need to just be home and happy and have more time for hobbies and quiet time and remember the curriculum is there to help us and make things easier, not stress us out over checking every little thing off on the SUGGESTED weekly schedule, and adapting things to our learning style as needed.

SO anyhoo, I was intending on just posting some pictures of our first 2 days of school but somehow this turned into a huge post!

 Muffin Monday! No rush to be anywhere so let him do as much as he wanted, it's slower and messier but those muffins are now extra special ;)

 First day of school with our Waldorf chalkboard art...hoping to get more creative with it as the year goes on! Kids are excited about this.

Each wanted to say a prayer after pledge of allegiance.  His prayers always crack me up!

Building his name with the laminated straight and curved lines taken from Writing Without Tears.

taking baby brother for a hands!

After giving up digging for treasure/dinosaur bones they created a babbling brook.

I didn't take pictures of the actual book work stuff...but so far J likes the new material!