At Home Teeth Whitening: Does It Work?

This past summer, I was researching professional teeth whitening. I noticed that my teeth were looking dull, and they had started to make me self conscious. I knew I needed to do something about them. In true Sara fashion, I procrastinated because I was reluctant to shell out the $400+ needed for the whitening. So it was a little ironic (and just my luck) that Smile Brilliant reached out to me to try their professional teeth whitening kit. Now that was something I could jump on board with!

Smile Brilliant was the perfect solution for me because it is the same solution that a dentist near me would use and it is custom fitted to your teeth. I have sensitive gums but Smile Brilliant is safe for both enamel and gums, and can be used on sensitive teeth. I had almost zero sensitivity during the process! And most importantly, the results are noticeable and PERMANENT.

The kit is initially mailed to you with “molding clay” so that you can make impressions of your teeth. I was super nervous about this step, and worried that I would screw it up. Luckily, they send you extra clay for just that purpose but I did not end up needing it. The directions were very clear and straightforward, and the molding was actually a very easy step. Then you mail back your impressions in the prepaid envelope, and about two weeks later you receive your trays. I had imagined a thick, sports-type mouthguard to get mailed back to me but the trays that were sent back were super thin and lightweight. No one could even tell I was wearing them when they were in.

*Funny story* I was putting my son to bed while wearing the trays, and he had no idea that they were in. Well, I sneezed, and the trays flew out of my mouth. He started screaming, “Daddy, come see what happened to Mommy!” I couldn’t stop laughing. Anyways, I digress.

Now for the whitening:

Each night I would apply a small strip of whitening gel to the trays, and leave them in my mouth for about two hours, depending on the night. I was worried about sensitivity, so I started with about 30 minutes, and worked up to two hours but I had almost no sensitivity.

After your trays are in for your desired amount of time, you take out the trays and brush your teeth as you normally would, and follow with the desensitizing gel. I will say, this was the hardest part of the whitening. I go to bed early, so finding time to have the trays in for an extended period was challenging. Even though I started putting them in right after dinner, it was still tough to fit it in. But for deep stain removal, more time is needed.

It took about a month to reach my desired whiteness, and I think I may continue the process longer. That’s also the great thing about Smile Brilliant – I already have my trays so I would just need to purchase more whitening gel. You can see my results here: 

If you are interested in trying Smile Brilliant for yourself, you can use the code: “joggersandgymshoesblog15” for 15% off your kit!

I am also giving away one at home whitening kit. That’s a $150 value! Entering is simple. Just click here! The giveaway is open for one week, and you will be contacted by email if you win.

Will you try it for yourself?


Professional Teeth Whitening

Basic Invite

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Can you believe that it’s already time to start thinking about your fall family photos? I’m no where near ready for fall but I love any opportunity to pick out new outfits for the kiddos. Sadly, school will be back in session before we know it! Summer is so bittersweet.

I’m at that stage in my life where every weekend there’s a baby shower scheduled or a first birthday. Holiday cards are always sent. Fall family photos are always taken. I’m constantly on the hunt for the perfect card whether it be for my daughter’s birthday party or Christmas cards to send to my family so I was really excited to discover Basic Invite.

What sets Basic Invite apart from other online stationary companies is that they are one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant previews online. Once you select a design you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 different color options so you can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. You can choose from over 40 different colors of envelopes so that you can make your invitation stand out even before it is opened. And ALL of their envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed. #momwin!

My favorite feature is that Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation so you can see exactly how it will print, as well as the paper quality, before you ever have to place your final order.

I know it is early to start thinking about holiday cards BUT Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to simply share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media to request their friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in the customer’s account and can then be selected during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders. Get those fall family photos booked ASAP!

Right now Basic Invite is offering 15% off with coupon code: 15FF51

Some my favorites are their baby shower invites – gender neutral baby shower invitations and owl themed baby shower invitations, and of course, their holiday cards.

I hope you enjoy Basic Invite as much as I do!



In Collaboration with Basic Invite. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



The Toughest Age Yet


Being a mom is the hardest job you will ever have. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Oh hell no. I’ve heard that once you have two kids, any number after that doesn’t matter. Two is the hardest it is going to get. I don’t know if Dean and I will be ones to test that theory because two is so freakin hard. And then you go through a period that we boldly thought the kids were getting easier. HA! I know, I know, I can hear you all laughing at how naive we were.

And just when you think that life with two kids is getting a little easier, one of them turns four, and you the ground rolls out from under your feet all over again. FOUR. Four is the toughest age yet, at least in my opinion. I imagine there studies out there saying how teacher’s kids are worse behaved than most kids but I’m afraid to look. That’s got to be it, right?

Chloe has reached a whole new level way beyond threenager. Not only has the three year old sassiness stuck around guns blazing but the two year old tantrums have come back with a vengeance. The letters B-R-A-T come to mind. We have also learned that biting, hitting, and pinching are effective ways to resolve an argument. Telling your mom 20 times each day that she “is mean” is the way to get what you want. Screaming in stores and restaurants. Four has been awful. What happened to my sweet little girl?

Now don’t get me wrong, there are days that I just adore spending time with her. She can carry on a conversation and tell stories for hours. She likes to shop. She likes to go out to eat. She is turning into a little person and that is so much fun to watch. But on bad days, look out. There is no reasoning with her. She is so strong willed. And the worst part is, you just don’t know what might set her off. I understand tantrums with Ryan. Although equally frustrating, he’s TWO. It’s expected at two. It was not expected at four.

Four has given me a run for my money.

I know it will get easier. And I’ll miss these days someday. But right now, please send wine.



The Perfect Petite Summer Maxi

Dress // Shoes // Sunglasses

I am normally not a huge wearer of dresses. They just don’t fit in well with mom-life, and kindergarten teacher life. Dresses aren’t really practical when you are sitting on the floor for 90% of your day. I also tend to shy away from maxi dresses because they swallow my petite frame (I’m barely pushing 5’1″ if you are wondering). I just can’t pull them off.

Enter THIS DRESS. And maybe you are thinking, “Well Sara, you can’t pull this one off either.” But let me tell you, it is one of the most comfortable things I have ever worn, and the perfect dress for summer. This maxi dress hits me at the perfect ankle length so that my shoes don’t get all tangled up in it. It’s also long enough that I can sit on the floor in it without worrying that something inappropriate might be hanging out. It also comes in a pretty blue color (pictured below), and I debated which color for awhile. I ultimately went with the red because I wanted something a little “spicy” for summer. 😉

I already see myself wearing this dress every weekend. It’s so versatile. I wore it to a birthday party in the city this past weekend, and I plan on wearing it to my mom’s retirement party in a few weeks. It would also be perfect for BBQ’s, baby showers, summer festivals, street fests, concerts in the park, the list goes on…

Snag this dress soon because it will sell out!



Book Review (2)

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This winter took a toll on my soul. I found myself feeling anxious all the time, and I was having trouble sleeping. Deciding I needed to do something to get out of my funk, I made the conscious effort to read more books and watch less tv. I am absolutely LOVING this change in my life. I am sleeping better, and feel calmer. I honestly don’t miss tv. I can catch up this summer. Right now, I so look forward to climbing into bed with a good book. I am excited to share with you all of the amazing books I have read recently in my “Book Review”.

  1. The Last Mrs. Parrish: Of all the suspense on this list (titles 1 – 4), this was by far my favorite. Amber befriends Daphne in an effort to steal her husband and her life. It had a twist that I loved, and didn’t see coming. It was so hard to put this book down. I stayed up really late finishing it one night. This is a must read!
  2. The Wife Between Us: If you enjoyed The Last Mrs. Parrish, you will love this book! Don’t read them back to back like I did though as they have a similar theme. This one had a twist that I didn’t expect at all, and it shook me a little bit!
  3. The Safest Lies: I enjoyed this book a lot but it gave me nightmares. Didn’t stop me from reading it though 😉 Basically, the mom in this story was kidnapped as a child and, out of fear, has not left her house in 17 years. Her daughter is trying to live a normal life but after coming home late one night discovers that her mother has vanished. I loved the story, and the characters. This book ended kind of abruptly though, and that is one of my pet peeves. I need to know exactly what happens to everyone, and this book didn’t give me that. Still a good book, and I recommend it!
  4. The Marriage Lie: This was another easy read, and I enjoyed this book but it was probably my least favorite out of all the the suspense on this list. The husband “disappears”, and  is presumed dead. The wife spends the book digging up secrets from her husbands past, and trying to discover the truth about what happened to her husband. I liked the story but I didn’t love the characters, and felt it needed more of a conclusion but I still enjoyed reading it!
  5. The Light We Lost: This book was one of Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book club pics, and it was uh – maiz – ing. I needed a break from all of the thrillers and suspense I was reading, and this book was the perfect choice. It’s your modern day tragic love story but it’s so well written. I loved the characters. I loved the writing. In fact, as soon as I finished it, I reread it. It was that good! Read this book!

What books have you been reading? I’d love to add some new ones to my list!

Becoming a Morning Person

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Top // Jeans // Shoes // Bag

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If I can become a morning person, anyone can! If you read this previous post, then you already know how much I love sleep. I never thought (before I had kids) that I could be the type of person who wakes up before dawn, especially when the option to hit snooze is still there. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will never fully be a morning person. I just love sleep way too much. Getting out of my warm, cozy bed while it’s still dark outside breaks my heart a little. But with a full time job, and two small children, it is one of the better ways to find balance.


You’ll have to start going to bed earlier. This was really hard for me at first because after the kids go to bed is my only time to veg, hang out with Dean, watch Netflix, wash dishes, put away laundry, etc. But after a few 5:00 am wake ups, your body will be craving bed vs. Netflix much earlier. It only took me two days of waking up an hour early for my body to adjust, and for me to be ready for bed an hour earlier. I had to give up my Netflix watching but honestly, I should probably give up some screen time anyway. I aim to get in bed around 9:00 pm, and then read for a half hour. By then I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. It’s important to go to sleep when you hit this point, and not try to power through it, no matter how good your book is! Then you’ll hit “over tired”, and you’ll actually have trouble sleeping. So get those chores done early, and be ready to relax at least a half hour before you close your eyes. Easier said than done, I know.


Set a few different alarms for a few different times. I’m not kidding. I set three, each five minutes apart. The first alarm wakes me up. I don’t get up but I become aware that I need to get up soon so I don’t fully fall back to sleep. By the time the second alarm goes off, I’m a little more awake, and start waiting for the third alarm. By the time that one goes off, I’m usually ready to get up. Usually. 😉


Plan your time wisely. Make sure everything is set out and ready to go. For me, it’s working out so I make sure my clothes are laid out, and that I have an extra water bottle and small snack in my purse ready to go.


Remind yourself of why you are waking up early. Is to workout? That’s what it is for me. Tell yourself why it is important. There are mornings where I really need to convince myself to get out of bed. It really is a daily struggle. But then I think of all the things I have to do later in the day, and know that if I don’t get up now, my workout will not happen. Plus, I’m not sacrificing any time with the kids.

Are you a morning person? I’d love to hear your tips!

6 Things that give me mom guilt

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The only top you need this winter also here // Hat // Leggings // Boots

shop the post and other cozy favorites

Mom life is funny. The second I am away from my kids, I miss them. Dean and I just booked our first big trip since having both the kids, and it’s not for FIVE months but I ALREADY miss the kids. What is wrong with me?

We all know that being a mom is exhausting; sometimes it’s physical, sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes mom life makes me want to pull my hair out. Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s maddening. Sometimes it’s boring.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids more than anything in the world. All I do is think about them ALL day long. They are the best part of my day. But sometimes Momma needs a break, am I right?

These are some things I do to keep my sanity as a mom but make me feel guilty afterwards:

  1. I count the minutes until bedtime. I do love my kids, and I don’t do this everyday but those hours on a day like this can certainly drag on.
  2. I lock myself in the bathroom. I don’t do this often, and I only do it when Dean is home. But I will stay in there and let the kids pound on the door screaming for me while I organize cabinets, try out different nail polish, etc. etc.
  3. Let all hell break loose while I eat chocolate upstairs. The kids may be screaming at each other and there is the sound of toys crashing down but I’m still upstairs just eating my chocolate. If someone was hurt, they would come tell me. Yup…I’m the world’s worst mom. Please don’t judge me.
  4. Pretend I am not on my phone. But I am. I am not good at make believe play – never have been. When I was a kid, I was always crafting. That made sense to me. Playing pretend did not. I actually used to have “stationary stands” instead of lemonade stands, and I would try to sell paper that I had decorated. Haha. So sometimes playing baby over and over again can get a little tedious. Momma needs an outlet.
  5. Take my kids to daycare when I am off of work. I mean, is there anything better than being ALONE in your own house?! Before kids, I never knew how much I would appreciate this but it is AMAZING. It’s honestly like being on vacation.
  6. I don’t let the kids help me. We all know that kids learn through doing, yada yada yada. But sometimes, I just want to get something done QUICKLY. Chloe loves to help me make my lunch at night but it means that a task I already loathe takes 20 minutes instead of 5. Sometimes, I just need to get the show on the road.

What gives you Mom Guilt?

Shopping My Closet

To My daughter On her 4th Birthday


Four years ago, on a bitter cold Friday night, Dean and I were eating dinner at the Giordanos that was ten feet from our condo in the city. We were too terrified to even speak to each other. It was the quietest dinner we have ever eaten. Dean was worried about how our life would change after Chloe was born, and I was petrified of my impending c-section. Chloe was breech, and my c-section was scheduled for that coming Monday. (To this day, I am sad that I spent the last weeks pregnant with Chloe absolutely terrified. I am one of those rare breeds who LOVES being pregnant. I think it is just simply fascinating. I wish I savored her little kicks and hiccups just a bit more.)

That night I laid in bed unable to sleep (per usual at this point). Around 2:30 am I got out of bed to pee, and instead my water broke. It was literally right from a movie which I hear is very rare. There was a pop, and then lots of fluid. Ewww. 😉 Dean couldn’t possibly believe that I could be in labor early so he went back to bed while I dilly dallied calling my doctor. I don’t think she believed me either because there was no rush from anyone to get to the hospital. I think we got to the hospital around 3:30, and then sat in Triage for another half hour. Now keep in mind, I have had ZERO contractions at this point. I still don’t think anyone believes that I am in labor.

Skirt // Jellies

Finally, they call us back and examine me. It’s maybe 4:30 at this point. They check to see if Chloe is still breech. She is sadly, even after all the voodoo nonsense I tried. I am also dilated to 8 cm, and still NO contractions. Everything after that happened so fast. As terrified as I was about having a c-section, I am glad it happened the way it did. I had no time to panic. So after that, they called my doctor and rushed me up to prep for my c-section. I remember having my first contraction on the elevator ride, and it was the most intense pain I have ever felt – even more so than my natural birth with Ryan. By the time we got up to the surgery floor, I was already 9 cm dilated and Chloe’s foot was starting to come out.

What happened next is pretty much a blur. I was frantically signing papers, and Dean was whisked away. Finally, my doctor arrived and I broke down in tears. She took about 10 seconds to calm me down, and then said we had to move. Next it was Epidural (didn’t even feel it), lotsssss of pressure and pulling, and Chloe was born. I’ll spare you c-section details but even though I would never recommend one, and I absolutely hated it, it was not AS bad as I thought it would be.

And there she was, just like that. My dream come true.

This was Chloe’s position in utero. One leg up, one leg down.

(My favorite picture ever)

You, my baby girl, are my reason for being; the sun in my sky. I never really knew what love was until I met you. You have taught me to love so unconditionally. I hope you know how loved you are.

As I watch you continue to grow, I am awed at this person that I helped create. You have become such a little person with such a huge personality. Your vocabulary shocks me daily (in a good way 😉 ). You are too smart for your own good, and I have never met someone so observant. You pick up on way too much, and remember WAAAY too much. I honestly don’t know where you came from.

You are the best big sister to Ryan. He is so lucky to have you. I imagine you will be police-ing him for years to come.

I hope you will always keep your sense of humor, your strong will, and I hope you will always be brave. But my wish for you, above all else, is that you continue to be kind and happy.

Happy 4th Birthday, Baby Girl. I can’t believe that you are four.