Delicious Wine Steal! (Exclusive Code for my Followers)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

This post contains affiliate links (I will receive a commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.) 

I've been getting wines from FirstLeaf delivered for a couple of years now and I love it. Not only are the wines delicious, but the packaging is gorgeous (as a former graphic designer, I fall for good packaging!)

Right now, go in here, take the quiz and use code HOLIDAYWINE21 at checkout and you'll get six full size fantastic bottles of wine for $24.95! You can choose reds, whites, or a mix. The quiz is very specific, so you'll get wines tailored to your particular taste. This will put you on a subscription, but you can cancel any time after the first delivery if you want to. I chose to continue and I get wine delivered every two months. You can adjust the frequency to be more often, or less often than that. 

In addition, you can order extra bottles any time you want, if you prefer to individually select each one. I find this is great for gifts. For instance, my parents are avid birdwatchers, so for Christmas one year I bought them a few bottles with beautiful bird illustrations on the packaging. You can shop by region as well (in the dropdown menu on this page.) 

It's not available in all states, and whether they'll leave the wine without an in-person signature will vary (in MA, at least for me, they leave it at my back door with no signature required due to Covid.) If you ever want to pause or skip a delivery, you can easily do that too. 

Follow me on 
Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom Facebook group for discussion and great shopping steals on clothing, beauty items, housewares & kids' stuff!! (Currently over 154,000 members in the group!) 

Favorite Clothing – North Face, Boden, Sorel

Thursday, February 11, 2021


This post contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.)

I've been waiting for a sale to post about this coat and then I discovered that today my boots and scarf are marked down too! North Face down coat is SUPER warm (I've worn in sledding with my kids and stayed warm for hours.) Grey, black, and a few of the other colors are 30% off right now. Plus size listing (same price) here. Also here in regular and plus. It's true to size and nice and long in the sleeves (I am 5'8" and wearing small.) 

Scarf is from Boden and is fifty percent off at post time, or more in the other colors!!! Would make an amazing gift. (Note: promos don't stack with the scarf.) 

Boots are Sorel and they're 30% off in several colors here. I find they fit true to size and are waterproof enough for puddles and cold days (but I wouldn't wear them in deep snow due to the lower height. Fine for commuting though.) 

Jeans are Sofia, only $22.50 (!!!) and they are true to size. If in doubt go up, not down. I'm wearing size 4, medium wash, long (29 inch) inseam. As you wash them again and again, the cuffs on these develop a nice frayed/distressed look. You can see this more closely in the pic below. 

The sweater I'm wearing in the above is a splurge, Boden cashmere (but it will drop 20% off in cart if you use E6W6). This runs small, so if you are at all between sizes, definitely go up one. 

Follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom Facebook group for discussion and great shopping steals on clothing, beauty items, housewares & kids' stuff!! (Currently over 154,000 members in the group!) 

Favorite Clothing Item – Patagonia Quarter Zip Better Sweater!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

This post contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.)

Do yourself a favor and head over to Patagonia right now for their off-season SALE! Includes lots of amazing kids' clothing!!! I have several styles of the Patagonia Better Sweaters and I wear them constantly in our New England (cold cold cold) weather. Check here for more Better Sweaters including men's styles.

Pictured above, the navy quarter-zip Better Sweater. I went up one size and am glad I did for this one, as it seems to run a touch smaller than the hooded type. On sale right now in three colors (check for your size in each.) I'm 5'8", 130 lbs and wearing medium here. 

It's nice soft fleece on the inside and I love the zip pocket detail on the arm: 

Shrinkage in the wash seems minimal, but to be on the safe side, I wash in cold and either hang-dry or just dry in the dryer for a few minutes before pulling it out (dries fast.) In medium, the body and sleeve length are both great for me at 5'8", it hits below the hip. 

Below is the hooded version. Similar to the quarter zip version in terms of thickness, details and fit. I went with a small for this one but in hindsight wish I went with medium, as I like having some extra length in the sleeves. If in doubt, go UP one. Check out the rest of what's on at Patagonia now too in their off-season sale!!! 

Follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom Facebook group for discussion and great shopping steals on clothing, beauty items, housewares & kids' stuff!! (Currently over 154,000 members in the group!) 

Deck Makeover (DIY) with Interlocking Teak Tiles

Monday, August 24, 2020

This post contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.)

We've always liked the pretty, open space on our covered side deck. But... something was missing. It had a not-very-attractive cement floor. Painting it wouldn't have been enough, covering with rugs didn't work (uneven shape due to the columns and chimney that cut in.) I consulted a professional and found out that building a regular wooden deck wouldn't be allowed either (something about the building codes and the deck having to be a certain amount lower than the doorway.) 

I found what I think is the perfect solution though – interlocking teak tiles! They snap into place and then, if needed, can be removed. (Note, it's a lot of work to remove a large number of them, so we plan on just leaving them out there for the Winter.) I installed them all myself. I only needed basic tools and a jig saw, to cut the partial tiles around the columns. (If your deck is an even shape, you may not need one.) 

Patio furniture is from the Torrey Collection at Pottery Barn. Love the removeable, washable cushion covers. The chairs spin around (fun for kids and adults.) Coffee table is the Abbott here.  Sunbrella outdoor cushions (turquoise) are here - SO comfy to lie on! Rug is from Serena and Lilly (pricey but fantastic quality, it is reversible and you can hose it down in the driveway when it gets dirty.) For a more budget-friendly rug with the same look, try this one. It's also in stock here. (There's a grey option.)  

Portable fire pit is a Solo Stove, which can easily be moved from place to place. We love it for a nice, hot fire for roasting hotdogs or marshmallows! Patio dining set is from Amazonia. Unfortunately the exact set is not in stock now but you can find others from the same line here. We love that the teak of the table goes nicely with the teak deck tiles! 

I got these pretty planters for the deck on Amazon. And check out some of my other planter pics here! 

Follow me on Instagram, and come join us in the Sample Sale Mom Facebook group for discussion and great shopping steals on clothing, beauty items, housewares & kids' stuff!! (Currently over 155,000 members in the group!) 


Complete Remission!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Coming up to our 15th wedding anniversary in just a few days! I asked Matt to hold up a letterboard sign saying "cancer free!" for Instagram but he thought that was cringe-inducing and refused. He was willing to pose for a normal photo though.

If you want to read my previous posts about what Matt has been through since last June, search 'cancer' in the search bar, or start here with the post about his diagnosis.

Exactly 13 months from the date of his first scan, Matt's most recent CAT scan (from July 6th) shows that he is in complete remission from Hodgkin's. We are SO happy to have this behind us.

His oncologist doesn't use the word "cured" until 2 years out, since sometimes Hodgkin's can come back. We were told there is something like a 15% - 20% chance of this happening, so he will be going back for more scans every few months to make sure the cancer stays gone.

We want to give huge thanks to all the doctors and nurses at Beth Israel who took such good care of Matt throughout his treatment!

We'd also like to remind all of you (again) to please go visit your doctor if you are experiencing any strange symptoms – even in the time of Covid, it's better not to put things off when it comes to your health. You can read about the symptoms of Hodgkin's here. (Note the one about pain in your lymph nodes when drinking alcohol. If you experience that, get to a doctor asap.)

A funny story I don't think I've mentioned before in my posts – in the weeks before Matt's diagnosis, we noticed our dog Felix was acting strangely. Although he's always been an affectionate dog with his family members, he seemed especially... clingy, with Matt. So much so that I took some photos of the behavior and we laughed about it. Note Felix, (that's his bum in the picture) pushed up against Matt even though it was a warm Spring night.

As a scientifically-minded person, I am fully willing to admit this might have been a coincidence, or due to the dog feeling some stress for another unknown reason. But there is evidence suggesting that dogs can, in some cases, actually smell cancer. (Note: oncologists' opinions welcome on this topic if you want to comment or message me!)

Since leaving Rue La La in April, Matt is very much enjoying not working (and spending time with our boys and Felix, who is not as clingy these days.) You may see him pitching in on our Sample Sale Mom facebook group from time to time – make sure to follow us there and on Instagram, if you don't already!

Memorial Day Sale at Backcountry!!! Marmot, Patagonia, The North Face, Salomon and More!

Monday, May 18, 2020

This post was sponsored by Backcountry and ShopStyle and contains affiliate links (I will receive a percentage of commission if you make a purchase through one of my links.)

I'm partnering with Backcountry to tell you about their incredible Memorial Day sale and share my outfit picks for Spring! For anything that isn't already on sale, you can use code 'SAMPLESALEMOM' to get 15% off your first order at

I'm excited about this for a few reasons - one, amazing brands from one of my favorite sites (I absolutely love the clothes I chose here, read on for links to everything.) Two, this gave me a nice excuse to take a day off and go out for a nice walk in the woods with my family, which is where I am the happiest! And three... new duds for my dog, Felix! (Isn't he the cutest??)

The past couple of Summers, I've taken the kids out west to explore some of our national parks. It's something we look forward to for months. I always order a lot of clothes and gear we'll need for the trip from Backcountry. Well, this year due to the pandemic, no trip unfortunately - but we can still get out and enjoy nature as a family and get some fresh air and exercise.

I was thrilled with the North Face Zoomie jacket I got for the transitional weather we're having in New England lately. It's wind and waterproof, hooded, really flattering on and fits true to size. Also it's fairly light/packable and will be perfect for when I am able to travel again! What I love best about it is the draw-string waist, which is totally adjustable. And it comes in lots of other colors (navy, black, tan, and the yellow is so pretty!)

I'm wearing this lightweight Patagonia patterned crew top (great for working out, runs true to size) and in some of the pics, the amazing Patagonia Hooded Performance Better Sweater. (The Performance models run small in the arms compared to other Better Sweaters, and long and lean overall. It's perfect for running on colder days.)

Here's a full shot of the Patagonia Hooded Performance Better Sweater. My leggings are Prana Pillar seven-eighth length here.

My shoes are these  Salomon Speedcross Trailrunners and wow, they are SO comfortable and also so cute!!! Great arch support. I went with my normal shoe size rather than my normal running shoe size (unlike with most running shoes, you definitely don't need to size up  in these.) My handsome Felix is wearing a brand spankin'  new harness and  leash by Ruffwear. (Backcountry also has  other styles, including front-clip harnesses and a  carry pack style.  We have been using Ruffwear for years and think they are the best for dogs!)

Here are some of my picks from the Memorial Day sale:

1. Boys Patagonia down sweater (Balkan Blue)
2. Salomon Speedcross Trail Running Shoes (I'm wearing these in the pics above)
3. Marmot Hailey Down Jacket
4. North Face Girls' Balanced Rock Insulated Jacket
5. Columbia Arcadia Jacket
6. Men's Patagonia Topley Down Jacket
7. Marmot Halo 6-person Tent
8. Women's North Face Aconcagua Jacket
9. Women's North Face Apex Jacket
10. Marmot Trestles Sleeping Bag
11. Women's Stoic Heather pullover (runs a little small so size up!)

Update on Matt (April)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Photo taken back in February, before we just stayed home and kept it allll casual alll the time. 
A lot of you who follow my facebook group have been asking me for an update on how Matt has been doing. I am happy to report that he is doing really well (he's outside playing basketball in the driveway right now while I write this.) It has been a long, strange year.

For anyone who has not read my previous posts, in June of 2019 Matt was diagnosed with Classical Hodgkin's Lymphoma – This was utterly out of the blue and made for one of the worst weeks of our lives. You can read about it here. You can see from his early scan in my follow up post here. Below is Matt's most recent scan, which was taken after 6 months of chemotherapy, on December 9th 2019.

See that tiny orange-ish ball that looks like a miniture sun? That is what remained of the 'hot' (or "live") part of the cancer in December. Surrounding it is a shell of 'dead' cancer. His oncologists decided that it was best for him to have 17 treatments of radiation in January, to make sure the cancer wouldn't regrow. Every week day for 3.5 weeks he headed in for a quick, targeted radiation treatment.

For anyone reading this who might be starting the process with a lymphoma now, or have a loved one starting the process, the chemo was not actually as bad as he had feared. Yes, it was debilitating and he lost his hair and eyebrows. Yes, he was exhausted and slept through many days and had to stay in the house to keep away from germs (which I'm sure most of you can relate to at this point!) And he had some degree of unpleasant side effects like neuropathy (numbness in his hands and feet). However, he only had a little bit of nausea and maintained a good appetite. He says the worst part was that first week, especially the biopsy surgery/recovery, which was quite painful. The radiation didn't have much of a noticeable physical effect aside from some fatigue. Interesting fact we didn't realize about radiation (at least on the chest, for this type of tumor.) You have to get tattooed for it! Yes, in order to get the radiation aimed at exactly the right spot, Matt had to have several little dots permanently tattooed on his body. They look like dark freckles.

Radiation takes a while to work, so we have not yet had Matt's final scans, but the docs are very optimistic that the cancer will be all gone. We are supposed to go back later this month, but his appointments may be pushed back due to Covid-19. Once he has a clear scan, he can schedule surgery to have his port removed. Then he will go back for scans often for the next few years, to make sure the cancer stays gone.

Once Matt was adequately recovered from his radiation treatments, he headed back to work - but not for long! At the beginning of March, Matt had jury duty that he had postponed during his treatment. He went in expecting to be sent home the same day, but he was instead chosen to serve as a juror on a first degree murder trial! Matt wanted to do his best as a juror and was excited to serve, but mid-trial, the state declared a mistrial due to Covid-19, and everyone was sent home.

Matt then went back to work for a couple of weeks... until he was laid off. Please do not feel sorry for him though! He feels extremely lucky to have finished chemo before the pandemic (he is no longer immunocompromised) and he's actually very excited to be stay-at-home-dadding-it for a while, and helping out more on our facebook page and group. (Please spread the word to friends about our facebook group and follow us on Instagram here. )

Huge thanks to Matt's doctors and nurses! Also to all of you who sent nice messages, and shared your stories of having been through this yourselves, or having a partner/sibling/parent go through it.


More information about Hodgkin's Lymphoma here. (includes symptoms. A couple of symptoms of HL are night sweats and pain in the lymph nodes after drinking alcohol - although Matt had neither of these symptoms.)

A couple of Hodgkin's Lymphoma facebook discussion groups I found helpful here and here, for anyone who has been recently diagnosed.