SoCal Curls Hairtie Review And Giveaway!

Welcome to ChasingSantee’s very first giveaway courtesy of SoCal Curls.

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience!

I love unique, natural, and American made products and SoCal Curls Hairtie is one of my favorite hair discoveries, EVER! Why? It’s heat-free, takes about 90 seconds of effort, and is portable, light-weight & comfortable to wear (also, only $18.99, which is a steal!).  For those who know me, I really don’t want to spend time on my hair, makeup, clothing or general morning routine. But I want to look nice, is that too much to ask? NO IT ISN’T! Here’s how you can get simple beachy curls, without pulling out the damaging (and pricey!) hot styling tools! Woot!

Scroll down for a coupon code that will score you 20% off and FREE SHIPPING!

Step 1: Heat it (microwave: 30 seconds)

Step 2: Wrap it (click here for a video!)

Step 3: Unwrap it (I’m sure ya’ll can figure this out!)

Step 4: Do all the things you need to do in life! Who has time to waste getting ready with everything else you have on your plate!

Click here to see my tips for using SoCal Curls Hairtie with Short Hair!

How it works: I started with second day hair that was a little damp from the shower (not washed, just went along on my head for the ride).  I simply microwaved the band for 30 seconds, wrapped my hair around the tie using these instructions, gave it a light spritz of hair spray and left it in for about 30 minutes. Voila! Beachy waves!

Ready to buy? If you’d like to buy directly from SoCalcurls.com, I’ve got fantastic news! We have a special coupon code just for you that will give you 20% off and FREE SHIPPING! Click here and use code: chasingsantee to take advantage of this awesome offer!

How to customize your curls: Just like any styling tool, there’s a learning curve to using SoCal Curls and, obviously, everyone has a different head of hair. You can customize your results by tweaking the time (even 15 minutes gets some nice waves in my hair), wrapping your hair damp v. dry or using different products like gel, hair spray, or sea salt spray (here’s my favorite- Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray).  Also, you can never go wrong with a spritz of dry shampoo for extra grip (here’s my favorite- Aveeno Dry Shampoo). You will also get different results depending on if you wrap the hair straight up and over the hairtie, or twist as you wrap. Just give it a few tries to find out what works the best for your hair! It might take a bit of experimentation but imagine the time you will save in the long run.

Now, on to the giveaway! I can barely contain my excitement!

What are you giving away?
We are giving away one SoCal Curls Hairtie in Pinup Blue, valued at $18.99. Thank you so much SoCal Curls for making this giveaway possible!

Who Can Enter this sweepstakes?
You must be over 18 years of age and live in the US to be eligible for this giveaway

How do I enter?
Enter below starting on August 1, 2017! The contest will close at the end of the day on August 7, 2017!

How will the winner be chosen?
We will be selecting the winner via Rafflecopter.

How will the winner be notified?
Winner will be announced via Facebook, so be sure to like our page! We will ship your prize within 3-5 business days of receiving your shipping info. Good luck!

Anything else I should know?
Yep, the fine-print stuff: No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning determined by eligible entries.

Disclaimer: I received a free product from SoCal Curls in exchange for my honest review. These are all my own thoughts just as if I were talking to a friend about the product. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Favorite Summer Shoes! FitFlops!

This post is going to be short & sweet, but I just wanted to quickly share these shoes that I LOVE.

Over the last year or so I’ve realized that I have plantar fasciitis and it’s so annoying! Shoes that I’ve loved in the past are totally not working any more. The strange thing about PF pain, is that even shoes that feel comfy when I’m wearing them, wind up causing pain later on. Even stranger, oftentimes my feet start hurting more when I am sitting or laying down then they did when I walked around all day. If you have pain in your heel, or pain that is worse when you are off your feet like I just described, you might have PF. Something easy you can do to alleviate the pain is to freeze a bottle of water and roll it under your foot. It works!

I have tried so many shoes lately and most of them have failed the test, but these FitFlops have quickly become my feet’s BFFs. I love how they feel when I walk, sit, stand and even later when I lay down to go to bed, my feet don’t hurt! It’s amazing!

Click here for the FitFlop Flare Slides!

There are so many styles to choose from and I can’t wait to replace more of my shoes with FitFlops! Click here for their entire collection on Amazon.

In case you didn’t realize, Fitflops makes more than just flip flops! There are some really cute flats and clogs also that I would love to get for Fall. Have you found shoes that help your Plantar Fasciitis? Please let me know what works for you!

This post contains affiliate links. 

All the BEST deals for Amazon Prime Day!

The following post contains affiliate links. 

Hi everyone!

Even though most of you know I’m more of a Minimalist these days, I still consider deal hunting one of my favorite sports. When I do make purchases, I want them to be the best items at the best possible prices! I’ve spent a couple hours checking out most of the deals available today for Prime Day, and I’m here to share the best I have found, so keep reading for the deal scoop!

8 Quart Instant Pot $89.99

Ya’ll know that I looooove my Instant Pot and this model is bigger and better than mine! $89.99 is absolutely the best price on record and I doubt we will see it again until (maybe) Black Friday. If you are remotely interested in an Instant Pot, now is your chance!

Great Shoes for the whole Family!

There are some awesome shoe deals available for the entire family! Click here for athletic and outdoor shoes up to 50% off! Check out the selection, including great brands like Keen, New Balance, Adidas, Saucony, Skechers, Teva and more!

Jeans for the Whole Family!

Even though I tend to buy a lot of our jeans at the thrift stores, these deals are awesome and start at only $3.87! Brands include True Religion, Lucky Jeans, Levis, Lees and my very favorite brand, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans (NYDJ). Get stocked up for the back to school season, before the shopping rush is on!

There are so many deals today that I truly don’t have time to list them, but I suggest clicking through and taking a look for yourself! 

When you’re struggling to minimalize

I received an email from a reader (yes, I am excited. It’s my first legit email from a reader) who was struggling with making minimalist changes after reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. She asked if I had any advice, and here is my response to her.

Keep on with “less”

Don’t give up! It’s a process, I’m not there yet by any stretch and I’m still sometimes tempted to shop or make regrettable purchases. (Frankly, I’ve been tempted quite a bit this summer). Still, the mindset shift is what has been most life changing for us. The results will continue to come, slowly but surely.

Everyone is different, your goals will be different and your reasons for decluttering (or hoarding/over-shopping, etc) are different also. So you need to evaluate your reading materials based on your goals. Marie Kondo is my least favorite of all the minimalism books I have read. It wasn’t worthless by any stretch but I have come to think she is not a true minimalist at all and her main tenant (spark of joy) truly didn’t work for me.

A Spark of Change

I had to come to realize that the joy I needed to seek was completely apart from any material possessions. Obsessing over “stuff” and which item is more perfect for my needs was my MO, even though it went completely against my core belief system and values. Once I realized that my daily lifestyle and how I was spending my time didn’t jive with my deepest heartfelt convictions, was when I got truly serious about making a change. The More of Less by Joshua Becker is my favorite book on this topic. It’s incredibly life-changing, v. Marie Kondo being house-changing, if that makes sense. Totally different perspectives.  Here is his website if you’d prefer some quick-read articles with the same gentle encouragement. He’s wonderful.

Faith & Minimalism

Ultimately, my faith in God is one of the reasons I have become so passionate about this topic. I want to spend my time on things that have eternal value v. temporal possessions that will become dust sooner or later. And part of this struggle for me is my personality. I find myself easily overwhelmed and distracted. The clutter, the stuff, the responsibility of unneeded possessions was weighing heavily on me. And my entire family was feeling the strain.

Aggressive Progress

For weeks I would complete purging and decluttering projects every single day. Even when I was busy, I’d go through a drawer while dinner was on the stove or clean out a closet as I dealt with the laundry. When my son was in the bath I’d attack the bathroom drawers and cabinets. While watching TV I’d sort through bins of toys. Every spare moment I would devote to pursuit of the final goal. Which incidentally I have yet to reach: I want to be able to take a photo of each space in my home, every tiny nook, and share it on social media. I want to know that I have recently evaluated every possession and deemed it worthy of keeping. That’s quite a proposal for me, a messy shopaholic with poor organization skills. And I’m not there yet, but I’m way, way closer.

Results

The more possessions I unload and the more deals I pass by, the lighter these burdens feel. The more I find myself able to focus on the things that I am passionate about. For the first time, I feel like I am capable of basic household maintenance on the daily. It’s working. My counters are clear and my mind is less chaotic. I can’t think of a single drawback that I have encountered other than a few awkward conversations when I try to explain why deals don’t thrill me the way they used to.

Maintaining a Minimalist Mindset

The typical consumer mindset has been fed by years and years of commercialism and profit-driven societal-standards. Changing this perspective requires some persistence and intentionality. It helps me to continue to watch vloggers, follow groups and websites and constantly check out more books on the topic of minimalism, simplicity, hygge, slowing down, faith, and similar topics that fall into this group I’m placing myself into. It’s a pursuit that doesn’t really end. There’s more we each have to learn.

I feel I’ve gotten off on a tangent, and I apologize but your message sparked reminders for me of why I’m happy with my direction and where I came from. I don’t want to be the girl who is always stopping by the thrift store or stalking the clearance shelves. I am not that girl anymore! Good luck on your minimalist journey! No matter how you approach it, I’m convinced you will be happier as a result.

 

What am I even doing here? Minimalism in the trenches.

Good morning! I wanted to quickly give an update on what I’ve been doing lately and where the blog is going. We have just wrapped up our homeschooling year and are looking forward to summer! It’s already hot as blue blazes around here, so I admit there has already been a good bit of water play and swimming which has been a welcome relief. We still have some math to complete over the summer but my two girls are now officially 5th graders and my wild little man is going to be in 5K. I can’t believe it! Each year of homeschooling has brought new challenges and I admit sometimes I do not feel equipped to do this job. However, for the time being I feel like this is where we are supposed to be. It’s hard but I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

When I rebranded the blog last year, I was uncertain of my direction. I was still focusing on deal alerts and was only in the first stages of what has become a big life change of simplifying, editing, and re-focusing. When I chose the name, I chose something that has deep significance to me, but I had no idea what a perfect choice it would turn out to be. Once I realized I wanted to pursue minimalism, it all started to click into place. Santee was absolutely and by far the most minimalist and simple place I’ve called home and it was the most peaceful oasis I have ever found. I love that my direction and blog home have merged into a very concise journey of simplicity and minimalism.

However, as often as minimalism is the focus of my posts, I want to make one thing very clear. Minimalism is merely a tool that I am using to reach my goals. Minimalism is not the end-game, not by a long shot. I talk and share about minimalism because cutting out the excess in my life has allowed me to have freedom and better focus on what is very important to me. My goal is to love God and love others. To seek His will for my life. To raise my children in the knowledge of Christ. To build a marriage based on a common goal of obedience to our Savior. So every tip, life hack, 10 ten list, or recipe I share is only a tiny effort to make more room in my life for what really matters.  And that’s what I want for my readers as well.

Psalm 73:25-26

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Thanks for being here! I hope you stick around; it’s going to be a great summer!

#momgoals and re-learning

We are taught as kids that we should have high lofty goals for our careers and futures. We are encouraged to “reach for the stars”. You can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do! If you work hard you can succeed. Awesome, right? The American dream is still alive today!

Yet once we start a family, we are bombarded with a completely different message:
“Find a new comfort zone.”
“Survival mode is normal, and lasts for 18 years.”
“Lower your standards.”
“Your house will never be clean again”
“If you’re sleep-deprived, nutrient-robbed and have no time to yourself, you are doing it right”.

Part of being a parent is realizing that it may not be possible to reach your goals (or that the ultimate goal of nurturing a family is more important than some personal goals we may have). A lot of my “progress” as a mom for the first few years was basically making peace with lowering my own standards. (I am a natural perfectionist and I do struggle with pride). After all, moms can’t have it all (indeed, no one can). Houses will be messy, bedtimes will be late, meals will be torture. That’s what we learn as a mom.

What if all of that is a distortion of the truth?

First, let’s look back on America’s generations before us, say pre-WW2 and earlier. How was parenting different back then? I’m sure there were lots of differences but just a couple stand out immediately to me. First, there was a supportive family structure in place for most young families. Parents were more likely to be living close to Aunts, Uncles, and Grandparents. It was normal and accepted that the “village” would help in child-rearing. Not to mention, most parents were simply not spread as thin between career and family.

Secondly, consumerism hadn’t taken hold of our culture. Instead of being bombarded with empty advertisements and sometimes dangerous “health” tips from a corrupt pharmaceutical industry, parents would get advice, for the most part, from the previous generation and raise their children accordingly. I can only assume there was less guilt and pressure for the most part…was the neighbor silently judging you over your fence as pervasive as the ever-present “mom wars” are today? I imagine not.

Now, I have to say right here that I understand that the above is dramatically over-simplified. I try not to look back on America’s history with rose-colored glasses, although I do sometimes feel envious of the simplicity of the past. I do know that social patterns are far more nuanced than I am describing and I have not researched these statements. Still, I think the two points stand: for the most part, there was a closer extended family unit and individuals were not bombarded with commercial messages and a corporate agenda to the extent we are now.  So how does that affect the way we approach our lives as parents?

I used to think I wasn’t exactly affected by commercialism. Because I never picked up the phone to order from an infomercial, I didn’t subscribe to popular magazines, and I wasn’t likely to buy the latest thing from the mall. It’s only since I have started to work toward minimalism that I realized I was affected by commercialism in a far more subtle way.

I truly and sometimes literally bought the idea that MORE was better and that success was defined by a large house, plenty of amenities, disposable income, and carefree consumerism. This is hard to admit,  because my own family has always been frugal and thrifty and in so many ways challenged the status quo. For me this dichotomy translated into a bargain-hunting version of shopaholic lifestyle. So I would try to emulate the lifestyle of excess in a second-hand, clearance rack, bargain basement way. It worked pretty well, I was able to find most of the latest and greatest at a fraction of retail. But I missed the fact that I was still buying the lie. 

More stuff doesn’t make us happier. It didn’t make me happier and it won’t make you happier. For most of us, more stuff, better stuff, nicer stuff and upgraded stuff does not make our existence easier or life burdens easier to bear. It simply adds more chaos, noise, and confusion to an already complicated existence. And it perpetuates this dangerous lie to our children that collections and accumulation leads to a better life. I am working hard to end this deception in our home and I know our lives will be better for it.

Are you ready to make a change? Read more about our journey to Minimalism. 

The Ultimate Guide to Rock-Painting

Welcome to the world of rock painting! My family is new to this hobby but we are happy to share what we’ve learned so far and hope you will comment with any ideas or products you’ve had success with!

First of all, if you haven’t heard much about rock painting or wonder what exactly we are talking about, check out this week’s article from Martha Stewart!

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know I am pursuing minimalism with a passion, and consequently I’m pretty choosy about starting new hobbies or collections. Rock painting fits PERFECTLY into the minimalism lifestyle. The best part of this hobby is that the art is shared instead of hoarded, and each rock is created to be a blessing to the community. I love that!

So let’s get to the specifics of rock painting, are you ready? Here is what you will need:

Rocks: “River Rocks” are usually what you want, because the surface will be nice and smooth to apply paint or markers. The Dollar Tree sells small bags of smooth black rocks that work well and are an easy way to start out. I’m looking for a good local source currently. These rocks on Amazon look like a good price for the weight. 

Paint: Most acrylic paint should work fine for painting rocks. We used whatever we have on hand for solid colors including craft paint, spray paint and leftover paint samples from the hardware store. My daughters can free-hand well with fine paintbrushes; but for someone like me, (who is artistically challenged) I needed something more user friendly. Which is why we ordered markers…

Markers: These markers by Uni-Posca are AMAZING for rocks! The color is so vibrant, the tip perfect for fine details and it’s pretty quick drying as well. The colors even layer well, with just a brief drying in between. This makes it easy to draw and write on even the smallest rocks.

Rock ID tag: If you are part of our Facebook page, you will want to tag your rock so that it can be shared and re-shared. Click here to download the labels for free! (For smaller rocks these will need to be trimmed to size).

Sealing Spray: The most important step is to waterproof your rocks before you leave them out in the weather. There are lots of clear spray products that will work for this, such as Mod Podge Spray or Krylon Clear Coat Spray. A few light coats should do the trick. You will be ready to hide just as soon as these have dried!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. 

 

Friday Favorites March Edition

It’s been a while since I have done a Friday Favorites, but I do a have a few new fun things that we are loving lately. Things have been super busy for work and homeschooling and my personal blogging has been put on the back burner, but I don’t want to leave it there! I only have a few minutes to create this post, so let’s get right to it. This post will contain affiliate links for your convenience! Don’t worry, it’s not all stuff!

Organic Mascara: I asked for this Organic Mascara (Endlessly Beautiful) for Christmas and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a bit pricey for me, but I have a really hard time with mascara irritating my eyes and have tried many brands. This is a nice, basic black mascara that is by far the gentlest I have found (better than Neutrogena, Almay, and Physician’s Formula). This doesn’t have some of the amazing features of drug-store brands (no extra crazy length or super waterproof coating) but it goes on nicely and stays well. Mostly, I am happy that I am not rubbing it off, so if you have sensitive eyes, I would recommend it.

The God-Centered Mom PodcastI’m ridiculously late to the Podcast Party, but I’ve recently been catching up and mostly choosing minimalist topics. But my friend recommended The God-Centered Mom Podcast and it’s been fantastic. The handful of episodes I have listened to have been incredibly thought-provoking and relevant to where I am right now as a Christian mom and wife! I am still processing the last episode I heard about “Smiling Depression”. If you have ever struggled with shame or perfectionism I think this will really interest you. Thanks Susan for letting me know about The God-Centered Mom!

A Streamlined wardrobe. I am loving my simplified wardrobe. I have not made the transition to a true capsule wardrobe. However, I am trying to move in that direction slowly, with practical steps. I have cleaned out my closet in phases so that after each purge my clothing becomes more “me”, more simple, and more functional. I’m loving it. I have been forcing myself to experiment with monochromatic choices and it has been surprisingly helpful. Just another way of cutting out decision fatigue in my life! Specifically, I purchased a couple of these soft and comfy tees in grey and black and have been wearing them weekly. 

Just one purse. I had no idea the bags I owned were really complicating my life until I got rid of them. I knew that I had neck and back issues so I decided to eliminate all of my heavy bags (even though they tend to be *nicer*: Goodbye to my lovely leather Michael Kors tote!). Also, I realized the patterned bags were just to difficult to match (Vera Bradley, I’m looking at you). Plus switching bags by mood or color was causing the clutter to build up and receipts to become lost. Guess what? I don’t miss those bags a bit! I received a lightweight Thirty-One hipster for my birthday last summer and have used it every day. Recently, I decided to make one more handbag purchase keeping in mind my vow for embracing neutrals: the Houndstooth print Kava rope bag. The compartments of this bag have taken me a little time to get used to, but I LOVE how light and comfortable it is. It feels almost strangely light on my back compared to a shoulder bag with the same contents! It’s obviously a casual bag, but it was time for me to admit that 99.99% of my time I am dressing casually, and HELLO!? there is nothing wrong with that!

Our evening routine: For the first time as a mom, I feel like our evenings (and mornings for the most part) are truly productive and we have formed actual habits instead of forcing ourselves through painful routines that just never became second-nature. Although I can’t completely explain how this process has been crystallized I will tell you it has 100% been about simplicity and mindfulness and all began by eliminating excess in every room of our home. Just embracing the idea that motherhood does not have to be a series of complete failures and looking for actual solutions to the problems has been revolutionary for me! It has become blissfully simple to leave our house neat each morning and go to bed with everything (at least in the living areas) in their proper place. I will try to blog more about this later! Right now, I just really intend this to be an encouragement. As moms, sometimes we don’t need to hear over and over: “it’s normal, everyone struggles like this, don’t strive for perfection”. Sometimes we need to hear, “Being a mom is hard. Look for the best way to succeed as a mom and work for it”. That’s what I am telling myself from now on.

Ellie HolcombMusic used to be a huge part of my day…. when I had my days virtually to myself. Now there is so much NOISE that I often hesitate to add to the audible clutter by turning on anything. But I realized that I missed inspirational Christian music, so I was pulling out my old CDs from the 90’s. Then a friend on facebook suggested Ellie Holcomb (thank you Rebecca!) and I have got to tell you that I AM HOOKED. She has a beautiful voice and a wonderful message that I really relate to. Here is one of her music videos, but I have been listening to Ellie for free using Spotify! Click here for her Album Red Sea Road.

That’s it for now! Have a wonderful weekend!

SnoSpice Review!

As a blogger, I get a lot of comments and solicitation to my email address, but sometimes I get really cool start-up companies offering to send free stuff. And when those products involve ice cream, you know it’s going to be good. Thank you Brett from SnoSpice for sending us these yummy flavors for free and giving us a chance to review them!

SnoSpice Ice Cream Infusions were created to add fresh flavors to vanilla ice cream. All natural, no sugars, and vegan and lactose free; these are perfect for so many diets and best of all, Made in the USA (yes!!!)!

Directions: Sprinkle on ice cream, Stir and Enjoy! Ya’ll know recently I’ve been working on minimalism and one of the concepts I have really tried to adopt is carefully choosing products that are high quality and also serve multiple purposes. That means limiting spices and condiments as well for the sake of simplicity and space. So at first I thought perhaps these specialty ice cream spices wouldn’t quite fit into my cupboard. However, after testing them out I have found great uses for recipes far beyond ice cream. Yep, these flavor mix-ins are keepers for sure. Here are just a few of my ideas for spicing up your diet with SnoSpice!

*Homemade Banana Cream: This is a recipe my kids adore and it is amazing how deliciously smooth and creamy it is with only two ingredients: frozen bananas and milk! I can’t wait to try SnoSpice as an extra little kick to give us some different flavor options!

*Smoothies: We make smoothies ALL the time in our Vitamix and absolutely love trying different flavors. SnoSpices will be perfect for adding a little extra “something” to these healthy combos, especially since we try to keep added sugar very low.

*Gourmet Oatmeal: I’ve talked before about how much we love our oatmeal (check out one of my favorite recipes of all time here). I buy a HUGE carton at Costco and keep our pantry stocked at all times. The secret is adding a nice scoop of butter and whole milk; I promise you will never feel the same about oatmeal again. At this very moment, my Instant Pot is full of raisin oatmeal that my son flavored using Cinnamon for Optimists. We will definitely be using the other SnoSpice flavors in the future for our breakfasts!

Dairy-free Desserts: When I was breast-feeding my son, I had to cut out dairy, soy, grains and eggs. For awhile it felt like fruit and veggies were all I was eating and boy did I miss ice cream. I did finally find delicious coconut ice cream but the flavors were super limited. SnoSpice would have been perfect to “spice up” the vanilla and add some variety to an already pared down diet!

Fried Apples: I happened to be making this delicious copy cat recipe of Cracker Barrel’s fried apples (totally recommend, by the way). Instead of plain cinnamon, I added Cinnamon for Optimists as well as a few shakes of Lemon+Basil. These apples were a huge hit for the whole family and my husband told me to ditch my apple pie recipe and just use this dessert as filling in my homemade crust!

*Coffee stir-ins: Confession: I am addicted to coffee and am trying to break my equally strong addiction to coffee creamers. In effort to simplify my diet and cut out extra chemicals, I have been sticking with sugar and half & half. It turns out I absolutely love the Pumpkin Carriage SnoSpice for coffee! I am not usually a huge pumpkin fan but this is delicious without having that artificial taste and it helps me cut back on calories by adding less sugar.

*Soups: last week I made Meatball Tortellini Soup from Great Food Fast in our Instant Pot. I used homemade bone broth from a good ole’ Costco rotisserie chicken and seasoned it with Lemon+Basil SnoSpice. Let me just say, this was the best version of this recipe we’ve made and it just might be because of the SnoSpice.

*Ice Cream: My entire family (four year old, ten year olds, hubby and me) really enjoyed stirring these flavors into vanilla ice cream. The children all loved Pumpkin Carriage the best, but surprisingly enough Lemon+Basil was my favorite! It’s the best of citrus plus sweet plus a little something else (obviously, the basil!). It’s nothing I ever would have thought to try but I can’t wait to taste it again. My husband preferred the Cinnamon for Optimists. Honestly, Turmeric’d was the only we tried that wasn’t a big hit for us, however, I am still very interested in using it in different recipes to take advantage of the health value I keep hearing about!

SnoSpice sent me their products to try out for free,  but this review is 100% honest and written by me. Thanks, SnoSpice!

Deal Alert + Amazing New Amazon Shopping Hint!

I wasn’t planning on blogging this morning; to be honest I was planning on cleaning the bathrooms. But I happened upon a good deal on Columbia Women’s Fleece Jackets that I wanted to share and at the same time I figured out something I have always tried to discover about shopping on Amazon. I’m pretty certain this trick will be a game-changer for me and some of you guys also!

As a reminder, these are Amazon Affiliate Links, so if you make a purchase, you will help support my blog (at no additional cost to you). 

First, check out this great deal on Columbia Women’s Benton Springs Full-zip Fleece Jacket! This morning they were running as low as $13 for certain size/color combos but I think now the lowest you will be able to find is closer to $16. Still an awesome deal, so click here.

Now check out this tip!

For years, I have been trying to figure out how to see the REAL deals on Amazon. I have even chatted with amazon reps a couple times trying to understand how the pricing works, but they have not been able to help me. For example, say you are searching for a particular brand but you aren’t picky about color. A product link may say, $9.80-$47.32 and you think, “wow, I would love to find the $9.80 size and color combo!” but when you click on the options there are 79 different possible selections and clicking through is super annoying and time consuming. At this point, I thought (and was told by Amazon) that there wasn’t a way to find that lowest price point other than random guessing. Especially with clothing or shoes that have different size/color combos this is really frustrating! But I found a way, and here it is, with screen shots. 

Step 1: Enter your search term in Amazon.com. In this case I entered “Columbia Jacket”, and these were the results. Then notice that the third result starts at $16.27 so let’s click on that!

Step 2: Once you clicked on the product, select a size and color combo and look to the bottom beneath the “add to cart” button. See, where it says “New (12) from $27.99….” ? Click that link. (Hint: a size and color from “other seller” won’t give you this option, so make sure you have selected one that is available via Prime)

Step 3: Now you will see the option to select size. You could click your desired size at this point, but I chose to click the “Lowest Offer for Each” button. Next select the color drop-down menu, and at the very top you will see “Lowest Offer for Each”.

 

Step 4: You will get to this page, which will show you the very cheapest size/color combos, starting at $16.27 for the size Large, purple dahlia/rosewater combo. Awesome, right?

 

I hope this helps you! Especially when you are shopping for multiple folks, several kids or are willing to buy shoes ahead at the right price point, this could really save time! Thanks for reading, and happy shopping.

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Quick Reviews of Favorite Gifts

This was a modest Christmas for us gift-wise, but it was thoroughly enjoyed. Besides taking two out of three children to Urgent Care on Christmas Eve, and less than stellar health we had a fun holiday with lots of family time. Gifts were not the focus of our celebration by any means but I do want to share a couple that were hits, along with their affiliate links for your convenience.

Razor Sole: For our ten year old twin girls, we were looking for an active toy and considered scooter upgrades, skates, and long boards. We wound up tossing the dice a bit and going with the Razor Sole, which I had never heard of but has good reviews. It’s kind of like a hybrid between a skateboard, scooter and skates.

This is a little intimidating for cautious kids and the first couple tries they were very timid. But after a couple hours at the park, they were thoroughly enjoying the fun of balancing and leaning to steer. The great thing about this toy is that it’s very low to the ground, so easy to jump off. It’s also very small and easy to carry/store (this is super important since we have no garage!). These are rated for adults and can be used for lots of stunts and tricks although I am not encouraging the girls to try anything like that yet! At about $30, I think this will get a ton of use and enjoyment over the next few years. Click here to check it out on Amazon. 

Brain Flakes by Viahart: This 500 piece building set has gone up to $19.99 but when we ordered it was only $12.99! The canister is small but there are plenty of colorful pieces for several children to build with. These were a surprise hit over the holidays with EVERYONE from adults to kids. I would like to caution that they are quite small and I would categorize them as a choking hazard, despite the fact that similar toys are advertised for toddlers. I will have to take some pics of some of the huge creations that the kids came up with. For $19.99, I think they are a great toy. For $12.99, this was a crazy deal and I love that they were fun for all three kids plus any adults within reach. Click here for similar toys at different price points!

I will share some more later! What were the big hits in your home this Christmas?

Happy New Year

I am feeling very optimistic about 2017 for our family. I feel so grateful for the blessings of 2016 and I can truly say that I feel more at peace than I have in a long time about attacking this coming year.

If I had really been on the ball with blogging, I would have a series of posts lined up to greet the new year. A minimalist challenge, a meal planning calendar, a homeschooler’s guide to getting through winter.

If I were on the ball, I would be hosting a giveaway, sharing DIY essential oil projects, and working on my Instant Pot Recipe ebook (this book does not exist, except in my imagination).

Instead, I am catching up on sleep. I am cuddling my kiddos. I am putting away holiday decor with more excitement and glee than I have ever had in opening a gift. I am staring at my new planner with stars in my eyes, imagining what the next year could be. I’m making lists and I’m taking my time. I’m thinking about a theme word to guide my year. (I’m considering the word savor. Kind of weird but it jumped out at me. Any thoughts?).

A dear friend asked me what happened to push me towards minimalism. I can’t exactly put my finger on when the change happened. As I rebranded my blog in the spring, I renewed my passion for writing, shifted my efforts away from looking for deals and began searching for my niche as a writer. But the significant change happened somewhere in between my Target boycott and when I started researching ethical shopping practices. In the midst of the busy everyday of parenting and life, I was crying out to God, asking Him for direction. I was so tired of being so overwhelmed and feeling like such a failure as a wife and mother. I begged God to show me another way.

God answered me very clearly by saying, “Stop valuing stuff”.

Soon after that moment, I read the article “How Getting Rid of Stuff Saved My Motherhood” by Allie Casazza and I knew that this was my answer. My answer was minimalism, and next I had to find out how to become it myself. I then began reading furiously everything I could find on the topic and spending every spare moment emptying our home and studying minimalism as if my sanity and survival depended on it.

In this process, we have filled and emptied both cars many many times. Boxes of donations, from furniture, clothing, gadgets. Tons of papers have been recycled or shredded. We’ve pared down, and pared again, and realized we still aren’t done. We’ve parted ways with items both sentimental and senseless. We’ve worked hard, we’ve had a few moments of panic and we’ve seen the holidays come and go with less chaos than usual.

So that brings me to today, January 4th 2017. I’m still tired and overwhelmed. We haven’t finished the process, there is so much more to do. But I am so hopeful and can’t wait to see what this year brings. Here’s to 2017!

Welcome to Chasing Santee, a blog about the sweet and simple things in life. Santee is my childhood happy place and I want this blog to be my happy place on the internet. I will be sharing homeschool insights, family favorites, household hints, simple recipes and an abundance of bargains. If you like to laugh, shop, eat, read, write or teach you will love it here!