Surprise Subscription Boxes for Mommy and Baby

If you haven’t heard about the latest craze (and/or you remember the CD and video of the month clubs of yore), monthly subscription services are back! Online sites are now offering everything from beauty boxes and shoes to gourmet tasting packages and t-shirts– all shipped right to your door every month full of fun surprises. But, of course, it’s the cool mommy and baby stuff we’re interested in for this blog and there are lots of those to choose from in that category too! Here are your options:

Citrus Lane – I believe this was the first monthly box club to launch in the mother/baby category and they’ve grown quickly for good reason. Featuring 1 or 2 full size products per box, sample size products, coupons/gift cards and cute monthly themes like Bed and Bathtime Fun or Fun in the Sun, Citrus Lane is perfect for moms with newborns or children up to 3 years old. In past boxes I received things like: an iPlay Sun Protection Hat (with SPF 50+), an Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened reusable snack bag, Ella’s Kitchen food pouches, Green Sprouts Stacking Duck Set for the bath, a full size Seventh Generation Natural Hand Wash, and a Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum Deluxe Sample. They also have a special stand alone Pampered Pregnancy box and a Deluxe Baby Shower box which are both perfect to give as gifts. You get one box a month and Citrus Lane offers a few different subscription options:

  • pay as you go – $25/month
  • $75 for 3 month membership
  • $125 for 6 month membership (1 month free!)
  • $250 for 12 month membership (2 months free!)
  • $65 for the Pampered Pregnancy box (one box only)
  • $35 for the Deluxe Shower box (one box only)

Bluum – UPDATE: Bluum has changed their pricing, it is now $24.95/month and features more full size items in larger boxes. They also now have boxes for children up to 36 months. Bluum still focuses on items for both mommy and baby.

This is the least expensive option, so it’s great if you’re feeling unsure about the whole subscription club thing, commitment, money in general, etc. It is also the smallest box, about 6×4 inches, but you’re still getting a lot for your money. Bluum boxes feature tons of sample size products for mommy and babies 0-12 months – and if you try something and love it, it’s easy to find information on purchasing the full size versions. In past boxes I received things like: Adagio Pai Mu Tan Tea, Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Lotion, So Easy Portion Storage Bags and PINXAV Diaper Rash Ointment. Plus Bluum places a high priority on organic and natural products – bonus! You have 3 subscription options with Bluum which are:

  • pay as you go – $11/month
  • $33 for 3 month membership
  • $60 for 6 month membership

PetiteBox – UPDATE: PetiteBox is temporarily suspending subscriptions. Not known when they’ll resume business.

This company just launched, their first boxes went out in June. Unlike the other companies mentioned, PetiteBox will begin catering to you while you’re still pregnant and then, based on your due date, will change over to baby-related products when your little one is born up to 12 months old. The subscription ends automatically at baby’s first birthday. The PetiteBox representative I spoke with at the Big City Moms Baby Shower said that PetiteBox is striving to be a more luxurious, higher end alternative (which is evident just from the gorgeous ribbon trimmed boxes they’ve got – definitely saving those to reuse somehow).

  • pay as you go – $25/month

TeetheMe– UPDATE: TeetheMe stopped service in October 2012.

Similar to Citrus Lane, TeetheMe is for moms with newborns to kids up to 3 years old. However, TeetheMe is also a full-out community too – they want members to write rate and write reviews for the items they received, share pictures and milestones of their little ones, and find a one stop destination for blogs and trends on the site. The Little Teethers Community for Moms just launched with Facebook and Twitter integration and it looks promising. But going back to the boxes, every month TeetheMe sends you 4 to 5 products. In my past box I received: a Green Sprouts Plate Set, Earth Mama Angel Baby Calm & Clean Hand to Toe Wash and Bottom Balm samples, and NurturMe dehydrated baby food pouches. Their subscription options include free boxes for longer commitments:

  • pay as you go – $24/month
  • $72 for 3 month membership
  • $120 for 6 month membership (1 month free!)
  • $240 for 1 year membership (2 months free!)

Stork Stack – Stork Stack sends out 5 products a month customized for you and baby and can start as early as your 3rd Trimester of pregnancy and last up until your child’s 3rd birthday. As with the other companies, they promise mom-tested (and loved) products tailored to you (click here for an example of one of their past boxes/Stacks). They also offer a never changing Shower Stack to use as a baby shower gift – you can also see a picture of that box using the link above. But what makes Stork Stack special is that they give back to philanthropic organizations to “deliver Stacks of love to families in need.” Stock Stack is currently partnering with Operation Showers of Appreciation (baby showers of support for separated military families) and BabyBuggy.org. Just by being a member you’re helping out those in need, but depending on the membership option you choose, you can also give a little more directly too:

  • pay as you go – $28/month
  • $84 for 3 months + one donated to a family in need
  • $168 for 6 months + 2 donated to families in need
  • $336 for annual membership + 3 donated to families in need
  • $40 Shower Stack (one box only)

Honorable mention to these other monthly subscription sites:

  • Spark Box – age appropriate toy rental for ages 0-4
  • Wittlebee – age specific clothing for sizes newborn to 5T
  • Kiwi Crate – crafty boxes for ages 3-7
  • BabbaCo – themed boxes containing projects, activities & books for ages 3-6
  • Little Passports – global exploration kits for ages 5-10
  • Green Kid Crafts – 3 or more planet-friendly crafts monthly for ages 3-8
  • MommeBox – seasonal products & services for moms
  • The Little Book Club – 3 or more age appropriate books monthly for ages 0-6
  • The Happy Trunk – themed crafty boxes in 2 tiers: ages 3-7 and ages 7-11
  • Parents TLC – baby, kiddo, mommy & me and even pet boxes all on one site
  • ZooBean – book subscription boxes
  • M is for Monster – weekly themes with 2 to 3 projects for each theme

And one last thing to add (hint to future entrepreneurs): Where are the Daddy boxes?!!

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Gift Ideas for Any Dad – Father’s Day 2012

As I get email after email with Father’s Day gift ideas and guides filled with cuff links, leather bag, monogrammed golf balls or other sports related paraphernalia, gear for the grill, watches, beer & alcohol accessories, etc., I’m struck by the fact that most of them would be terrible gifts for my husband (or even for my own father!)

So since I was looking around myself anyway, I thought I’d share my short list of the gifts I bought for the father of my babies this year. Hope they help you too! Remember, your gift doesn’t have to be big or expensive, it just has to be well thought out and from the heart.

1. Bag O’ Books by DaddyScrubs – Never underestimate the power of a good book. After reading Swagger by Lisa Bloom (totally recommended btw!), I appreciate even more how important it is that daddies read to their kids just as much as mommies do, and these dad-themed books are exactly the type of nice push that’ll work wonders for everyone.
2. Father’s Day Coupons by LivingLocurto.com (click the image to buy/print) – I love that the coupons are for things all dads could use like a back rub (20 min limit – haha) or a free chore pass. Plus they’re perfect for last-minute-mommies since you just print, cut, glue the coupon holder together, and you’re done in 5 minutes tops.
3. T-Shirt and Onesie Set on Amazon – You can almost never go wrong with a t-shirt. And this cute duo comes with an outfit for baby too. My favorite shirts are the ones with really nice and just slightly embarrassing messages on them – things he’d never buy for himself but will still actually wear (remember the key to a good gift is that the recipient will use it). For another idea, check out this cute dad t-shirt too.
4. Any DIY Project – Especially if you have older kids, any DIY project they come up with will hold a special place in dad’s heart. My husband painted a version of this handprint collage for me for Mother’s Day so I’m posting this up just because I would have done it if he hadn’t gotten to it first (sneaky guy). Especially if you have young children who aren’t at the glue, scissors and googly eyes age yet, this is a very simple memento to make and very sweet. Just trace, cut, glue, grab a nice frame and you’re done!

The Ocean Themed Nursery – Before

This room had no overhead light so we created one – IKEA sun lamp
(cord in plastic tracking goes to wall outlet)

No, it’s not perfectly spotless – let’s be real here

Unit for books and toys

So we’re starting this redecorating project with an obvious mishmash of old items (like the dresser which still contains mostly mommy’s seasonal stuff) and new items (the crib) along with things we were given to us (the changing table, the glider) and a few things we crafted ourselves (the mobile). Everything was originally purchased/obtained for our now 2 year old when she was a baby. And back then we didn’t have a separate room for her so our setup was quite a bit different. Now that we have a second baby coming (and I’m totally nesting!!), my husband and I wanted to really get this room pulled together and perfect.  Right now the only ocean-themed items we have are the color palette, the mobile and most of the art.

This is a real-time project so sorry it may take a while before the completed “After” pictures can be posted, but we do have a deadline, #2 is coming in about 3 months! And I’ll be posting pictures along the way.

Other things to note: we’re leasing so we cannot paint or wallpaper the walls (well, we could, but I don’t want to have to re-paint it back white later). Yes, all the adorable nursery layouts in magazines always have cute wall colors, etc., but we’re just going to have to do without that for now and I think it’ll still look amazing. Changing the carpet, likewise, sadly, not an option (at least it’s “sandy” colored). And second, let’s consider this DIY on a budget – yes, we could just buy a new changing table and dresser that matches the crib, but it seems like such a waste, both are perfectly good, and modifying them can be super fun!

To-Do List:

  • Replace silver frames on artwork above the crib with black frames (that actually fit the images, haha) like the rest of the room
  • Get those few other art pieces I’ve been waiting on
  • Replace Diaper Genie (which did work well for 2 years) with a hot blue Ubbi diaper pail (we need a pail with a locking top b/c of a curious toddler and the blue will look awesome)
  • Remove bottom 2 dresser drawers and replace with 2 open shelves (so we can put fabric bins there for our 2 year old’s clothes and keep the existing bins under the changing table for our new baby boy’s clothes). We want little O to be able to access her clothes, versus keeping them in the closet, so she can soon practice dressing herself. This one is a maybe? It seems simple in thought, maybe not so much in practice. We’ll see.
  • Paint dresser (white or blue?) and then my husband will be painting on a jellyfish scene (he has “a vision”)
  • Paint changing table white
  • Paint glider white (currently a creamy color)
  • Make slip-covers for the glider (depending on finished look of dresser, I’m thinking maybe something green-ish like the color of the changing pad?) or if I’m really brave, maybe a complete makeover?
  • Get actual curtain tiebacks or holdbacks – starfish? (instead of the chip clips I’m currently using – which work great, but not so cute)
  • Replace pink fabric toy bins in bookshelf with blue or dark purple (pink must have been on sale or something back when I got them)
  • Additional shelving on the only wall not pictured?
  • Definitely getting this adorable octopus hook for coats

Let me know your thoughts and ideas too! And if you love ocean themes, check out my Pinterest board of the same name.

Moon and Stars 2nd Birthday Cake!

There it is!  My daughter’s 2nd birthday cake, handmade by me and daddy (I’m not supposed to tell but awesome daddy rolled out and laid the fondant!).

Below is a picture of the original sketch of my idea – turned out the bottom layer of the cake wasn’t big enough for the extra star cookies or any sort of writing, but overall it still came out pretty close!

I planned this all out VERY last minute so I was limited to basically whatever I could find at Michaels the night before, but luckily it worked out pretty well – with some minor adjustments for time.

  • I decided to go with my grandma’s amazing carrot cake recipe because carrots are the one vegetable my daughter still refuses to eat no matter how many times I serve them or I try to dress them up or hide them – I thought it was both funny and appropriate.
    Two layers of cake made up each of the 2 cake tiers. And, due to time contraints and a failed “healthy” pineapple cream cheese  frosting that used up all the cream cheese I had on hand, I went with Pillsbury Funfetti vanilla frosting which actually tasted pretty good with the carrot. If you’re going to try this yourself, make sure you frost the top of the cakes even though you’re putting fondant there b/c any kind of fondant doesn’t taste very good.
  • I used Duff brand pre-colored blue fondant which definitely saved me a ton of time not having to try to knead in the color evenly.
  • For the outer stars, first I thought of getting cookie cutters and yellow fondant but that turned out to be the most expensive option and I’d have a lot of unused/wasted fondant. Then I thought about making smaller star-shaped sugar cookies to stick around the sides of the cake, but I didn’t want to spend all night decorating them. Finally, I found the perfect solution in a cheap plastic star shaped candy mold and 1 package of Wilton yellow Candy Melts. Making those chocolate candy things took literally less than 15 minutes and they looked great. I stuck them on the cake with a bit of regular frosting.
  • The giant star and moon cookie on top I baked using a regular sugar cookie recipe. I found an aluminum cookie sheet with 6 star shapes since all the cookie cutters Michaels had were tiny. And that pan definitely saved me the aggravation of trying to free form a perfect star shape out of cookie dough – although my husband did shape the moon by hand and I was surprised it stayed very moon-like after baking (I thank refrigerating the dough, the one thing that wasn’t started the night before). I frosted them quickly with Pillsbury Funfetti vanilla frosting and sprayed the star with Wilton Color Mist food spray in gold.
  • I wanted some “cloud-like” puffs around the cake layers but settled for the best I could do with a can of Betty Crocker decorative Cupcake Icing – not the best to use in this case because you have to press so hard to get the frosting out, it was difficult to be at all consistent – but that’s what I get for gathering supplies last minute. At least my 2 year old certainly didn’t know the difference.
  • I found some edible star shaped gold glitter and sprinkled that over the whole cake to finish it off. The wind blew it all away almost immediately but at least I got a picture of it first, haha. And added a normal grocery store #2 candle.


My daughter did not end up eating any of her cake, she did have a great time meticulously putting moon craters in it though, haha. Happy Birthday baby!

My Favorite Pregancy Drink

I am a huge Starbucks fan and have been ever since I worked in one on campus during my college years – I love everything from coffee, tea and chai to Frappuchinos and vanilla soy lattes. Pregnancy is, therefore, a bummer.

Lucky for me now prego with #2 that I’ve been on decaf varieties ever since finding out I was expecting my first baby. All the nausea I was already having back then made it hard to tell whether I was feeling crappy from the pregnancy or the caffeine withdrawal – so it worked out. Then, after the birth of my daughter, I pumped for a year (so still no caffeine) and after 2 years I was mostly just used to it. I’d probably run circles around my apartment like a hamster if I had a normal cup of coffee now.

But there are a few things I do miss and one of those is a Chai Tea Latte. Tazo does make decaf chai but Starbucks chains don’t sell it from the bar (and not in most stores either). Plus, they do have a LOT of sugar and empty calories – not the best thing for growing a person inside you (of course, Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk is a totally different story…). So, when looking for herbal teas I noticed that Tazo makes a decaf chai in teabag form (also not usually in Starbucks stores but I found some at Target and online). And now you can make yourself a pretty darn good (and healthier) chai latte just like this:

  1. Steep 1 Tazo decaf chai tea bag in a mug of very hot water about 4 minutes
  2. Add sweetener (I use local honey to fight my seasonal allergies or organic agave nectar)
  3. Add a splash of milk (almond milk or soy milk work equally well)
  4. Your drink is the perfect temperature to enjoy right away and tastes pretty darn close to the real thing!
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