Do it! Print your Instagram photos with Chatbooks (and a code for you!)

Don't miss a code at the bottom of the post to get your first Chatbooks photo book free.

If you've been following along on my Instagram feed at all, you may have noticed I was having a really horrible week last week--you know, in the Caribbean. 

Last week, my scenery was the blue waters, sand and sun of the Caribbean as part of the ClickRetreat which took place on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas. ClickRetreat is part blogging and social media conference, part photography workshop and part bonding and fun with the other talented folks who attended. 

I've returned home with a head swirling with ideas and inspiration and new learning--just what I was needing.

So while I process and figure out how I'm going to share some of that excitement with all of you, I wanted to share one of my favorite finds of the past few months. 

I like to think of myself as an early adopter of Chatbooks, but at ClickRetreat this past week, I had the chance to meet the lovely couple behind the company. 

If you're anything like me, you're guilty of never, ever printing your photos. For me, it's on my "someday, I really need to get on this" list. The list that I never get to. So Chatbooks is a serious solution to my problem. 

If you sign up for their Instagram series, they will send you a 60-page photo book of your Instagram feed automatically. And guess how much it will cost you....$6. Six dollars, people. For a beautifully printed, soft cover book of your Instagram photos. 

If you sign up for the service, they'll send you an email once you've filled your 60-photo volume, and they're ready to send out your next book. At that point you have a few days to make any changes, edits or remove photos. A few days later your book will arrive in the mail. Easy!

One of the options you have when making your book is whether or not to have your captions printed below the photos...but I've been opting to have them arrive blank. This allows me to add the personal touch of writing in my own captions, even sharing some things I may not have wanted to share on Instagram. 

I have a huge stack of Chatbooks on the bookshelf of my office and it's rare to find them all together--more than likely someone has one in bed with them, or they're out on the kitchen island, or strewn across the coffee table. It's so nice to see my kids enjoying the books and our family's photographs.

Chatbooks is simple, convenient, and they print beautiful quality books at a price that is hard to resist. 

Want to try the service for yourself? Use the code Molly1 when you sign up for the Instagram series and you'll get your first book free! Trust me. You want to get in on this. You'll be so glad you did.

Getting organized: my new favorite planner

To know me, is to know that I have a serious soft spot for oversized bags, washi tape and planners. It takes all kinds of self-control for me to pass up an aisle of calendars and monthly agendas without at least taking a peek. Because one never knows when The Planner She's Always Been Looking For might have finally been created. 

When it comes to keeping track of my days, appointments, kids, meetings, I'm equal parts technology and pen and paper. The only way I can get a sense of my day and the things I need to accomplish, is to write it down with pen and paper. 

Generally, the new year is my favorite excuse to go planner/calendar shopping, but my new favorite planner is actually open-ended, with blank calendar and daily pages. This means that when my planner itch struck early this fall, I was all over it. And despite my love of the planner, I've stuck with this one for several months and have yet to find something that meets all my needs like this one does.

My world changed pretty drastically this year. I sent my first kid off into the big wide world of traditional school, and I picked up more hours of social media work with BabyCenter. And while I originally thought sending one kid off to school, and having one less brain to homeschool each day would be easier, it turns out it's just one more thing to juggle, with a LOT of things that I need to remember to do. 

When I look for a planner, I need room for three things: a month-view calendar, a place for daily to-do lists, and a place for random notes, lists, and brain dumping sessions. 

And hallelujah, I found all those things in the cutest planner ever from MochiThings.com. It's called the Moment planner, it's about the size of my moleskine journal (perfect for tucking them both in my bag) and it has everything I need in a clean, modern, no-frills design. 

The front of the planner is month-view calendars, followed by a place for short daily lists (which fits perfectly with my list of three, which is more like a list of 8 these days), and there's room in the back when I need to take longer notes. 

I added these tabs to it so that I can find my place quickly and jump from one section to the next, and I take it with me everywhere. 

The only big change was that I had to switch from my usual favorite bold pen, to a mechanical pencil or fine point sharpie, but I've actually liked the change to a more precise marker in this case. (Pens are something else I'm a little too particular about as well.) 

And now that I've written a whole post about my planner, I realize that I do indeed have a problem. I even held back some of my enthusiasm so as not to see like a total nerd. But I guess it can't be avoided.

**I follow Mochi Things on Facebook and just noticed they are running a sale. 25% off everything. Consider yourself warned. It's a very dangerous place to shop for us planner-addicts.**

UPDATED: 2015 New Year's Resolutions printable worksheet for kids

Hello from rainy, cold Maryland where I'm sitting at my desk pondering an office re-arrange to start the new year off with a fresh look. Hence the sitting at my computer and procrastinating. I'm calling it 'pondering'. 

We printed off these New Year's Resolution worksheets for the kids last year and it was so much fun to see what they wanted to accomplish in the new year. For 2015, Mary has decided to try 50 new foods. Yesterday she taped her list to the side of the refrigerator and made her first entry: Leek Potato and Arugula soup...and she kinda liked it!

So here's to new adventures and lots of learning in 2015!

Click on the image below to download and print a copy! 



7 reasons to change from CFL bulbs to CREE LED bulbs

This post is brought to you by Cree Bulbs. All opinions are my own. I will only share products and reviews in this space when I feel strongly about the product and believe it's worth sharing with others.

When news stories started to break about the fact that incandescent light bulbs were going to become a thing of the past, my husband went immediately out to the store and bought boxes and boxes of bulbs. 

It's not that we're anti-energy savings and greener options for our home, it's that we both HATE the way CFL bulbs light up our home. Words like cold and dull come to mind when I think of CFL bulbs. Not to mention the fact that walking into a room and flipping the switch doesn't mean you'll be bathed in warm, beautiful light. Instead you'll be greeted by a dull, grey-cast light that needs time to warm up to full brightness (which, let's be honest, isn't really that bright.)

 Dan changing out the kitchen pendant light. Won't have to do this again for a VERY long time.

Dan changing out the kitchen pendant light. Won't have to do this again for a VERY long time.

Yes, I have so many other things to worry about in my life, but I was honestly a little panicky about not being able to find good light bulbs anymore. And I encouraged my husband's over-buying of bulbs.

So when I was contacted by Cree to see if I wanted to try out their LED bulbs, I was pretty quick to sign on. If they could truly do what they said in their email to me--"warm light, instant on, energy-saving", I was more than willing to give them a workout in my big old farmhouse where we secretly hoard incandescent bulbs in the basement. 

We're coming up on 3 months of Cree Bulb use in our home and here's what you should know:

1. They turn on right away. There's no warm-up time. Flip the switch and let there be light.

2. They light the room just like an incandescent lightbulb. They give off warm, strong light that feels inviting and comfortable in all the rooms where I use them.

3. They last forever. The first places we switched over to Cree bulbs were in the most annoying places to change the bulbs. First on the list, the pendant that dangles over the kitchen island. The bulbs have a 25,000-hour lifetime (an incandescent lightbulb has about a 1000-hour lifetime), so one bulb change is going to last us a really long time. No more climbing on the kitchen island and dealing with the fragile pendant? Done.

 One of the next places I wanted a CREE LED bulb was at my bedside table. It provides warm, soft light for reading, especially at night before bed. 

One of the next places I wanted a CREE LED bulb was at my bedside table. It provides warm, soft light for reading, especially at night before bed. 

4. They use 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs.

5. They are mercury free. The other thing I hated about CFLs was the fear of breaking them and dealing with proper, safe disposal. And because these LED blubs from CREE last longer, they are less wasteful (and less toxic.)

6. They are dimmable. If you're one of those fancy people with dimming light switches CREE's newest 4Flow Filament design will work with most dimmers. It is made from durable shatter-proof plastic but has cross-flow ventilation that cools the LED. (And it can be used inside and out!)

7. They are priced to be affordable. Cree's standard (A19) bulb is under the ten dollar mark at Home Depot

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So if switching out your bulbs to CFLs makes you feel a little depressed, like it did me, Cree's LED bulbs will be your new best friend. Find out more about the different types of bulbs they offer by visiting www.creebulb.com.

This post is part of a sponsorship with CreeBulbs. All opinions are my own. 

Join the movement: 100 Good Deeds #DeedADay + GIVEAWAY

My plan for this morning was pretty simple. I had a trunk full of Christmas gifts that didn't fit, weren't needed or broke after that first morning of play. I was on a mission. Buzzing around town, fighting crowds, knocking things off my list, returning things, and most importantly, getting my money back.

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I wasn't really thinking about doing a good deed today. I was thinking about how I really needed that money back in my bank account. 

But the opportunity ended up being right in front of my face. 

As I was driving from one shopping center to the next I found myself in a line of creeping traffic. Standing at the curb, beside the stop sign was a petite older woman, her head wrapped in a scarf, holding a sign asking for help. She lost her job. She had three kids. Her two teenage sons sat on the curb beside her, looking a little embarrassed. Not really making much eye contact with anyone driving by.

As my car came alongside her, I was conscious of the fact that I was about to take that first big bite out the sandwich I'd just purchased to "sustain me" while I ran my errands. I quickly put down the sandwich and waved awkwardly as I passed. 

When I pulled away, I knew I couldn't just drive by. 

I pulled in to Target, ran in to return my things and then got back in line again. I grabbed a gift card off the shelf and put the money I just got back from those gifts onto the gift card and tucked it in my pocket. I walked next door to Starbucks and told the barista what I was doing and asked if I could have three hot chocolates. She gave them to me, without a second thought.

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I hopped back in my car and drove across the street back to the parking lot where I'd seen the woman and her family. My heart sank when I realized they were gone. As I waited for the red light to change, I said a quick prayer, "Please let me find that family again." 

I pulled through the light and there they were walking across the parking lot from the place they had been standing. I pulled over, rolled down the window and handed them the hot chocolates and the gift card. We both talked over each other, both saying the exact same thing: "God bless you."

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Writing this post was on my to-do list today. The chance to share a new movement with you--one inspired by good deeds. I didn't go hunting for a good deed today, but one when presented itself, I'd like to think that this little reminder on my wrist is what helped me not just drive past but to make a small difference in someone's day. 

The new year is a time for resolutions, we want to eat better, be more organized, clear the clutter, exercise, drink more water--but what if our resolution was to do one small good deed a day? Think about all possibilities.

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On my wrist, I'm wearing a 100 Good Deeds bracelet. They were designed by artist, author and HIV/AIDS activist Mary Fisher, who has dedicated her life to working with women in developing countries. Each bracelet is made by women from Uganda, Zambia, South Africa, Rwanda or Haiti, and is strung with 100 beads to remind us to do a good deed each day. The bracelets have a rubber ring that you can move forward for every good deed that you do, as you work your way towards 100. 

The project gives women the training and means to support their families and proceeds are re-invested into the program to provide more women and girls, in more countries, with more training and more opportunities.

So this year, maybe we can all join together to do one small thing every day to make one small difference in someone's life. Just 100 good deeds. Let's make 2015 a really good year. 

To kick things off I'm excited to partner with #DeedADay and give away a bracelet to one MommyCoddle reader. Enter below!

Disclaimer: I was gifted a 100 Good Deeds bracelet to check out and share with my readers. However, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.