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shopping

Back to School Buying Guide: 3 Tips for Seamless Shopping

We’re well into August and let’s face it, you’re practically being hit in the face by back to school ads; in fact they started about a week after your kids got out of school if you live in the North East. As a former teacher, I loved this time of year; it signaled a new beginning, but as a parent I’ve come to find it to be among my most stressful times of the year.

I’ve been around the back to school block quite a few times and although I have not mastered the balance of enjoying this final month of freedom, I know a lot about how to make the leg work for the first day relatively seamless. If it’s your first go-round with the back to school shopping extravaganza or you could use a few tips to keep sane read on.

1. Stick to the list your teacher sends home

Seriously, buy what’s asked for and nothing more; you’re teachers know what your kids need and there’s no extra credit for extra stuff; in fact it may be prohibitive to your child’s organization as  more stuff = more mess and more mess means more chances of important items falling by the wayside.

So, put that cute package of Hello Kitty crayons back on the shelf, along with the really cool erasers for the pencils your kid does not need and move on.

2. Think practically & long term

Do not purchase expensive items covered in your kid’s favorite character. Today, my kindergarten age son loves Star Wars before that Super Heroes . Today, one of his best friend balked at taking his Ninja Turtles back pack to camp while my son insist the sports back pack that’s in perfectly good shape only be used for sports. Notice a trend, they are fickle little beings who commit to trends for short periods before moving on to the next super cool “it” thing.

Instead stay neutral, let your child choose a color, skip the flashy prints and buy a quality product with a great warranty. This way you won’t have to replace what they refuse to use because it is no longer cool come December; maybe it will even last more than one year.

And speaking of the following year… I’m a big fan of LL Bean: free shipping, fast product delivery and they offer hassle free returns if need be. Avoid the junior or x-small backpacks- nothing fits inside especially if you’ll need room for snow pants and boots.

3. Hold off on replenishing the wardrobe

Back to school is the worst time to buy clothes for your kids. You’ll find stores packed with fall attire that’s pretty much a month or more ahead of what your kids will need to wear. Wait until post Labor Day (or if you can Columbus Day) when prices fall before stocking up on cool weather wear. You’ll save and your kids will be wearing their new clothes when the weather is in line with the styles. My kids are still in summer clothes through most of September, so if you need something new and cute for the first day choose something summery that’s on sale because you can get it super cheap and they can still show off their new school clothes.

Then mix yourself a cocktail because you’ve mastered back to school shopping with 3 simple tips.

-Mastering the back to school mayhem, Jess

Share your back to school shopping tips with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch

Colorful Mommy & Me Boho Bracelets Tutorial

Create This Nordstrom Inspired, Mommy and Me Look with Our Amazing Matriarch How-To

The bohemian trend consistently reminds me of warmer weather.  I tend to stock my summer wardrobe with a lot of boho-esque pieces.  I love the comfort and  freedom of the loose, flowy fabrics when the temperatures soar.  With little effort, you can rock your inner bohemian goddess and look put together at the same time.  That’s a win win for any mom in a rush.

Recently, I came across some really fun, colorful, boho-chic bracelets at Nordstrom and I was inspired to recreate the look for less.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that these bracelets are very easy to make and look store bought. As I noticed my daughter picking them up and putting them on the moment each was completed, I decided to make her a matching set that fits perfectly.

Here’s what you need (all can be found at Michaels or your local arts and crafts store):

  • Different Variations of Colorful Beads
  • .5mm or 1mm Stretchy Elastic Cord or String (I prefer clear so you do not see the string when the bracelets stretch apart)
  • Closed Jump Ring in the Finish of your choice
  • Embroidery Floss in the Colors of your choice
  • Clear Glue

Step 1 – Stringing the Beads:

String the beads of your choice on the stretchy elastic cord.

**Tip**

Keep your string attached to the roll until you have completed stringing the beads.  This will help keep the bead in one place.  Once you have finished stringing the beads, tie a knot at the end where you inserted the beads, leaving about 1.5 inches from the knot until the end of the string so as to tie the sides together at the end.  It’s better to be generous and leave more string than less as you can always cut what you don’t use. If you don’t leave enough room at the ends then you will not be able to secure the beads properly.

Step 2:

Once you have finished stringing your beads, double knot the cord on one side (so the beads are held together).  Next, take the pair of scissors and cut the other side of the cord that is still attached to the rope.  Be sure to leave at least 1.5 inches from the end of the knot to the end of the string for the final tie.  Double knot that side of the cord so the beads do not slide and are held in place.

Step 3 – Making the Tassel:

Take an embroidery floss color of choice, that is already looped (most already come this way).  Grab your scissors and cut the floss in the middle of the loop.  Take one end of the floss bunch and wrap some clear tape around the tips.  Insert the taped side of floss through the middle of a closed jump ring.  Once the floss is inside the ring, cut a 3 inch piece of floss and wrap it around the nape of the thread (below the ring), securing with a double knot.  Next, remove the tape at the end of the tips and cut the tassel to your desired length. 

Step 4:

Once the tassel is complete, take one end of the clear cord and insert it into the middle of the tassel closed jump ring.  Finish your bracelet by securing with a surgical knot.  I like to apply 2 surgical knots and finish off the bracelet with some clear super glue to insure that the knot does not slip out of place.

These bracelets are perfect for infusing a little boho into your summer wardrobe or accentuating your swimsuit while sitting on the beach or by the pool.  Plus, they attract lots of compliments.  Make this your next mother and daughter project on a rainy day, not only will you love them but your daughters will be so excited to have a matching pair!

If you love these boho bracelets but don’t have the patience to try the look for less, here are a few of my favorites:

Just one Bohemian bringing colorful accessories to your summer wardrobe, Thia

Try this project at home with your mini me and share your experience with us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using#amazingmatriarch. 

“Indulge, Fashion + Fun for Moms” at Simon Malls Thursday, 5/7/15

This Thursday get set to to shop at Simon Malls. Greater Boston area malls are eager to offer mom a little FREE Mother’s Day pampering at their  Indulge, Fashion + Fun for Moms events taking place at malls across the Commonwealth. Each event has a donation component supporting causes that benefit women in need.

Events include:

Burlington Mall, 75 Middlesex Turnpike, Burlington, MA  from 6:00 – 8:00pm (Center Court, level 1)

You’ll find inspiring fashion displays by Burlington Mall Retailers, making it easy to recreate the look that night by buying at the the stores within their roof, beauty tips and tricks to make you feel like the Amazing Matriarch you are, food and drinks samples, live entertainment and giveaways. Feel good by donating to a worthy cause, as The American Cancer Society will be onsite promoting their Burlington’s Relay for Life, Making Strides website and “Look Good Feel Better” program which offers assistance to women who are undergoing cancer treatment to help make them feel beautiful. A $5 + donation lets you leave with a Simon Mall cosmetic case complete with a passport entitling you to samples from on-site retailers.      

Emerald Square Mall, 999 South Washington Street, North Attleboro, MA from 5:00 – 7:00pm (Center Court, level 1)

Check out the fashion displays set up by  Macy’s, JCPenney, LOFT, and New York & Company then tag along on a  guided “Mommy Crawl” that will bring you to participating retailers throughout the mall where you can update your look for less by enjoying  special offers each retailer is offering for this event only. Nibble and sip on  the food and beverages out for sampling.

The Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Research Foundation will be at Emerald Square to promote GloriDays, a 44-mile, multi-day journey through scenic East Bay, Rhode Island. All money raised at Indulge will be used to support the foundation’s future Survivorship & Wellness Center. For a minimum donation of $5, you gain access to the Mommy Spa along with spa swag, mini massages, manicures and special surprises. Any mom spending $100 gets a Simon  insulated wine tote. Cheers!

Northshore Mall, 210 Andover Street, Peabody, MA, 5:00 – 8:00pm  (Lower Level Nordstrom Wing)

Take in the fashion Show emceed by Aricia Symes-Elmer along with local moms from North Shore Modeling. They’ll be wearing looks from Northshore Mall retailers.  Take advantage of beauty tips & mini makeovers from Northshore Mall retailers, dig into food and drinks out for sampling, take advantage of  in-store events & sales with Northshore Mall retailers, admire the live entertainment. Those who want to up the fun factor and get creative can register for a VIP Glass Painting Class with The Painter’s Pub for $20! $5 from every painter’s ticket will be donated to several local families to support their fight against breast cancer, use the links provided to sign up:  5:30p.m. Session: http://bit.ly/1JbQ0b or 7:00p.m. Session: http://bit.ly/1PYtBnq. Drawings and giveaways will be taking place throughout the night. And those who spend $150 in the Northshore Mall or with local vendors during the event should bring their receipts to Guest Services to receive an exciting gift!

South Shore Plaza, 250 Granite Street, Braintree, MA, 5:00 – 8:00pm (Lower level Nordstrom Wing)

Make your way to the South Shore Plaza for Freeze Modeling Fashion displays by mall retailers, beauty tips, live entertainment and giveaways. Sip, and savor the food and drink samples while socializing at this great event. And for those who can’t make it but want in on the freebies, spend $150 between May 4 and May 7th for a free gift bag. The American Cancer Society will be hosting a VIP Entertainment Center – Make a donation to The American Cancer Society for access into the VIP Entertainment Center which will include a Fortune Teller, a photo booth and make your own wine glass charm! 

Solomon Pond Mall, 601 Donald Lynch Boulevard,Marlborough, MA, 4:30-7:30 (JC Penney Court)

Peruse the fashion displays featuring seasonal  must haves for mom’s closet while enjoying the tasty treats, wine and beer samples. Make time for a beauty session; hair, nail and skin consultants will be happening on-site. Look into your future with a Tarot card reading and be ready to win because Solomon Pond Mall will be giving away prizes at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30. If you find great goods and spend $100 or more Thursday, May 7 thru Sunday, May 10 at Solomon Pond Mall retailers you’ll be eligible for a free cosmetic bag filled with goodies with valid receipts from Guest Services. 

Square One Mall, 1201 Broadway, Saugus, MA, 6:00-8:00pm (Center Court)

Check out the fashion displays by Square One Mall Retailers, get complimentary beauty and fashion tips, and enjoy live entertainment. $100 in purchases gets you a Simon-branded insulated wine tote. Bring receipts to the Indulge Registration Table between 6:00 – 8:00p.m. on Thursday, May 7.

The Mall at Chestnut Hill, 199 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA, 5:00-8:00pm (Bloomingdales Fashion Court)
Along with  fashion displays by The Mall at Chestnut Hill Retailers you’ll find beauty tips including a “Mini Class” on Botox and Wrinkle Fillers by Newton’s La Residencia. There’ll be plenty of food and drinks for sampling, live entertainment and giveaways.

Not to be forgotten, Simon’s New Hampshire Malls are also offering Indulge events on Thursday:

Pheasant Lane Mall5:00 – 8:00p.m. Center Court, 310 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, NH

The Mall at Fox Run, 4:00 – 7:00p.m., Sears Center Court, 50 Fox Run Rd, Newington, NH

The Mall at Rockingham Park,  4:00 – 7:00pm, Lord & Taylor Court, Level 2, 99 Rockingham Park Boulevard, Salem, NH

The Mall of New Hampshire4:00 – 7:00pm, Macy’s Court, 1500 South Willow Street, Manchester, NH

Each New Hampshire location is offering a variety of fashion, beauty, food, and other exciting activities, entertainment and giveaways and details can be found on each mall’s Facebook page.

In addition to the Indulge festivities every mall is offering moms and moms-to-be across New England the chance to enter to win 1 of 5 spa packages valued at $500.

Simon’s Indulge events are free and open to women of all ages. For more information, visit the participating properties Facebook pages.

“Simon has had a longstanding tradition of celebrating Moms and the important roles they play in our lives,” said Brian Nelson, Regional Vice President of New England. “Held right before Mother’s Day, Indulge events create a perfect opportunity for Moms – who always think of others first – to focus on themselves and enjoy a social evening of fashion, food and fun.” 

We say, Thank you Simon Malls for recognizing and celebrating the Amazing in every Matriarch!

-A mom who feels good when she looks good, Jess

Fill us in on your Simon Mall shopping adventures at Indulge, Fashion + Fun for Moms, or any day! Send us comments and pictures at: Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us using #amazingmatriarch and Simon Malls using #SimonIndulge

Fashion Find – Super Cute, Winterproof Sorel Wedges

Once upon a time, my feet were adorned in the highest of heels. Each day I’d pair my of the moment outfit with a coordinating member of the two to three inch collection that took over my closet. But that was when I had a corporate job, and I could not even imagine Pirate Booty fingerprints smeared on my designer duds, or breaking into a full sprint after a toddler to keep him from running rampant in a parking lot.  Since my kids came along my feet have found a new home, a not so fun selection of sneakers, riding boots and hideous, but warm, boots for arctic days standing around ice rinks, and ski slopes while my kids take lessons.  Notice the trend? Not a lovely pair of heels in sight.

As winter is the absolute worst footwear season (most days I dress for comfort and warmth, not to look stylish, and that includes my footwear), I was determined to solve my footwear conundrum and get back to my previously taller self.  I started seeking a pair of winter wedges. After a lot of research, I found myself circling back to Sorel’s new winter boot line.

I bought the Joan of Arctic Wedge Ankle Boot, and after a few moments of skepticism, and a walk two doors down to Jess’s house without even a single stumble on our slightly snow covered street, I decided that these are the most AMAZING shoes in my entire (not just mom) collection!

An ankle height bootie,  this treasure has everything you could ever possibly want or need in a winter boot.  They are stylish, comfortable, waterproof and extremely warm. These booties are really versatile, you can dress them up or dress them down; great with skinny jeans (my choice most days), casual winter dresses, a black mini skirt and tights, or leggings. They also have really good traction if you are walking on ice and I can easily bust into a full on sprint after my kids when needed.

They are my new go-to boots for winter; unless I am trudging through 4+ feet of snow playing with my kids.  If you are looking for a boot that’s fashionable, comfortable and waterproof, that you can wear out at night or on the playground by day, check out Sorel’s winter boot line.

– Delivering style, comfort and warmth one step at a time, Thia

Treat Yourself to a Winter Refresh at Pyara Aveda Salon & Spa

The face of serenity

Once upon a time I took really good care of myself. I got regular massages, exercised  each day, got highlights every 8 weeks and even kept my attire up to date.

Enter children, a lack of free time,  and a budget to adhere to (kids are really expensive) and self-care became secondary. Although my days of relaxation and of beautification have decreased, I occasionally  shell out some serious cash to a sitter to sneak in a few solo moments at a really great spa.

The hip vibe of the salon area at one of my faves (and a 2015 10best Boston Spa winner), is Pyara Aveda Salon and Spa, makes me feel young again, while the serene lower level spa helps  me look it. With a mere three hours to escape it all, I stepped back in time to the world of a younger me and let myself relax while I enjoyed a refresh.

I took three hours away from it all

In just three hours, I went from drab to fab with a customized facial, blow out, hand treatment and make-up touch up. Allowing me to walk out beautified and energized.

Cold winter days in Massachusetts create dry winter skin, making a facial a must. Targeting your specific needs, your specialist begins with a short list of questions to ensure you get the facial that’s right for you. Using Aveda products and their trademark Chakra balancing methods, Pyara creates a whole body experience in a relaxing environment.

I truly let go for the first time in months and let myself enjoy every minute of this treatment. From the essential oil that was applied to my third eye (I chose tangerine because it made me feel happy) to the neck, shoulder and foot massage while my masks were setting, I thought about absolutely nothing. I could have stayed in that room, on that table all day, but alas the treatment ended and it was time to get prettied up.

Upstairs, in the salon of Pyara, I met with a Master Stylist, who, after a brief consultation, got to work on my extra thick hair (it takes a solid hour to go from shower to somewhat acceptable on a regular day so for me a blow out is a real treat).

After  a complimentary head and neck massage I made my way to an adjustable  wash table- a real score for the 5’1″ me who’s often craning my neck in discomfort, with feet dangling when getting a pro wash.  At Pyara, I  was able to kick back (the seats have foot rests), relax and let someone else wash my hair for a change.

Back at my stylist’s table  my locks went from drab to fab in the skilled hands of my blow dryer wielding wizard, in what seemed like no time at all.

Ready for the final touch, their on-staff make-up artist began working her magic on my hands with a  moisturizing treatment before  getting to work on on my make-up. The revelation was amazing; I was aglow from my facial with my features defined in a natural way. I looked like a woman who spent time caring for herself on a regular basis.

The best part, Pyara has a retail store within its walls allowing me to update my beauty supplies without an extra stop. Armed with a list of Aveda products recommended just for me, I worked my way along the shelves choosing the products I wanted.

One last gratuitous self-check and I was ready to step back into real life where this me time made a the most difference.

-A gal getting a little glam on a regular weekday, Jess

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