Baby + Toddler + Kid Fall Style and $50 For You!

Every time a new season rolls around, I somehow give myself the excuse to buy the kids what feels like an entirely new wardrobe. Hello, they don't have any clothes for the season that fit them because they grow so fast! So, with fall officially here, I gave myself permission to stock up for the kids' fall and winter wardrobes! Little Lady June is almost in 2T, so I'm officially shopping for two toddlers now! Thank goodness for companies like The Children's Place who can outfit my kids in cute clothes without a big price tag.

 First up? A cute outfit for each kid. Can't you just see HDawg and LLJ hanging out in those cutie pie outfits? I kind of want to steal that pom pom sweater from Lu. Next, I stocked up on the essentials like tees, tights, leggings and jeans for the kids. With basics like these pieces, it's easy to stretch a kids wardrobe. Just add a sparkle skirt or cute sweater and you've got an outfit! Can we talk about those critter tights? LLJ clutched onto those the minute she saw them and only let go so I could wash them for her to wear! I kind of want to borrow those, too. I also stocked up on these dino undies for H because a) who doesn't need new underwear? and b) his little hiney is so frigging cute in them. I had to exercise a lot of restraint to not post a picture of him modeling them... he would probably hate me in 10 years if I had!

Oh and because holiday pajamas are clearly another priority in any kid's wardrobe, we can't forget the awesome Halloween pj's modeled by my cute kiddos here. You can find HDawg's set here and LLJ's set here.

Now, it's time for you to snag $50 for yourself to spend on your kiddos at The Children's Place so you can stock up on cute outfits, basics and, of course, holiday jammies. Simply click to enter, no sharing required (but if you want to share, it will get you bonus entries)!

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Thanks to The Children's Place for partnering with me on this post.

Office Refresh + Tips on Working From Home

As you guys know, I'm a career gal. While I do love spending my time blogging about interior design and smooching on my cute babies, I also enjoy practicing real estate law. I'm lucky to have a part-time work schedule (about 25-30 hours per week) and I work at least 50% of the time from home. So a good home office is mucho importanto to me. That's why I shared with you guys here about my office refresh plans. The main objectives? New rug. New desk chair. Update art. Reorganize. And I'm proud to say that I can check, check, check and check that list off!

Let's start with the chair. The chair. All the heart eyes. I've been pining after this chair for years now, so it was about time I finally bit the bullet and purchased it. I will admit that it's not quite as comfortable as I had imagined (I think I was searching for rainbows and puffy cloud seats since I had built up the chair to that caliber in my head) but it is still very comfortable for long work days. And I can't even begin to tell you how much I love looking at it, for what that's worth! Those wooden legs are amazing.

I pulled this classic rug in from our living room (since I replaced it with my new double layered jute and shag rugs!) and absolutely love it with the graphic herringbone print chair.  The colors are subdued enough that they feel muted in the room, which is just what I wanted. We also pulled in our Expedit which is a hot mess and therefore is not pictured but has quickly become an amazing place for me to store all of my crafty junk and some kiddo toys. We also reorganized the office by moving the craft table (otherwise known as a butcher block) back to it's old spot as pictured here. It looks that neat and tidy today, promise. (side eye)

Finally, let's focus on the creme de la creme of the room: the new art. I can't even begin to tell you how obsessed I am with this new piece. The large scale print (and the ridiculously amazing whitewashed herringbone frame) is from Minted- their art shop is just blowing me away lately. This is Kristi Kohut's "Beauty Inside" print and... I... just... love... it. Like, a lot. I could (and do) stare at it all day long. It's just breathtaking. It was exactly what I needed to bring this space up a notch (or three).

Since I've been successfully working from home for almost two years now, I thought I'd share some of my favorite tips to being a great work-at-homer.

Keep your workspace separate from the rest of your house. Even if you don't have a room to dedicate as your home office, make sure you have a home office space. A separate desk, a separate table or even a separate TV tray. Whatever it takes, you need to keep your work things away from the rest of your at-home world. It brings clarity in terms of when it's time to work (at the separate space) and when it's time to turn it off (when you're in the family space).

Stay organized with your time. It is soooo easy to step away just to throw one more load of laundry in... and run the dishwasher... oh and Tucker needs to be walked... which reminds me to finish the thank you notes before the mailman comes... and I really need to hose down the porch furniture... but first let me make a quick run to Target... yeah, then it's 5 PM and you got nothing done! Make sure you set blocks of your time for work and for breaks so you can get things done around the house.

Keep yourself equipped. Pretty much, Staples needs to become your BFF. Make sure you have everything you need to run a successful office, just like you would out of the home. I invested in this printer over a year ago and it changed my work-at-home world. I review a lot of long documents, so the scanner and double-sided printer makes things much easier to keep up with when I'm out of the office. It's not the prettiest thing in the world (although it's sitting on David's grandmother's antique sewing cabinet, which I love!) but I don't know how I'd function without it! I also couldn't live without my Mac and programs like Adobe for combining scanned closing documents and that kind of thing. So clutch.

Don't be afraid to get childcare help. While everyone's situation is certainly different, I did want to point out that my kids are not home with me (most of the time) during the day when I'm working from home. A lot of people think that working from home means the kids can stay home with me all day. And while that would be great, nothing would get done. I'd feel guilty about ignoring the kids while I tried to work and guilty about not focusing wholly on my work. Plus, I'm pretty sure the folks I work with don't want to hear Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on in the background while we're having a conference call. Just a thought. So the kids go to school on my work days and stay at home on my weekdays off! For what it's worth, a huge key to my successful work-at-home career is to have childcare during my working hours. 

Do you have any thoughts or tips on working from home? I'd love to hear them!

Thanks to Minted for providing the art shown in this post.

DIY Fall Felt Pumpkin Pennant Banner Tutorial

I'm not much of a "change the whole house" seasonal decorator (well, besides Christmas... gotta go crazy for Christmas, right?) but I do like to make at least one little seasonal spot in my house. In this house, it tends to be the living room fireplace mantel. I pulled out some pretty autumn natural elements from my stash, added the cute acorn garland (Target) and crafted up a felt fall pumpkin pennant banner to grace the mirror.

All you need for this project is some felt, a sewing needle and thread (if you want to stitch the sides like I did), twine, hot glue and a wooden dowel.

Start off by cutting your felt in a pennant shape. Make sure both sides are even! (I might have had to cut twice, appropriately measured cutting is not one of my skills) Then cut out your letters and pumpkin shape. I freehanded these but you could easily create a quick template by printing a stencil.

The next step is optional, but I wanted to spruce up the banner with some extra texture, so I loosely stitched the sides of each piece of felt. It's not perfect, but I think it adds to the rustic, camp-y vibe I was going for. Next up, if you're interested, you can stain the wooden dowel. I used this pen which was super easy. Otherwise, skip forward and hot glue the letters to the pennant and the pennant to the wooden dowel.  While that dries, simply wrap the twine around the dowel (I hot glued each end to be sure it stayed put). Once everything dries, it's ready to hang!

For more of my fall + autumn crafts and decorating ideas, check out this page.

Favorite Back to School Gear: Preschool + Toddler

My little ones might only be in three-year-old preschool (HDawg!) and a Toddler class (Lu!), but it's still officially back to school time around here. The other day, H told me that "you go to school to learn and read a book and eat lunch and a snack." It's clear he's got his priorities straight when it comes to his education. My first back to school priority for the kids? Making sure their school gear is ready to go!

Falling in line right behind an adorable book bag and sharpened pencils, organization labels are super important to me when it comes to back to school gear. For years, I've been a fan of Mabels Labels. I use their personalized, waterproof (dishwasher proof! washing machine proof!) labels for the kids' bags, clothes, shoes, show and share items... you name it, I label it. Shown here are the customizable Write Away Labels but my favorite pack that I order each school year is the Ultimate Back to School Combo Kit.

Also, snacks are always a good idea. While I could pretend that HDawg's first question when he gets in the car after school is "hello my beautiful mother, how are you doing and can I tell you about all of the incredible things I learned today?" the truth is that he really says "what's for snack?!" I pass out easy snacks like Plum Organics Fruit & Veggie Mash Up (dairy free!) or sometimes just a banana or an apple and the kids go to town.

And, of course, it wouldn't be back to school without some snazzy new outfits. In the first photo, the kids are dressed to the back to school nines in their royal blue tops from French Toast. They've got such a classic selection, including chinos and polos, some trendy tops and of course their well-known school uniforms. I also picked up a few fall items for the kids from some of my other favorite toddler brands, including Old Navy and Gap. Some of my favorite new buys for the toddlers are listed below!

So what are your favorite back to school items for your toddlers and preschoolers?! Please tell me your kids like lunch and snack time as much as mine?

I received some of these products in connection with my role as a product scout with Savvy Sassy Moms. For more information on the product scout program, check it out here. As always, both mine and my nuggets' opinions are our own.

Our New Double Layer Rugs in the Living Room

One of my favorite ways to make a big change in a rental house is to switch up the rugs. Our rental house has some crazy orange toned hardwood floors (although I cannot complain... even odd colored hardwoods are better than gross carpet any day!), so it's important to keep 'em covered to add some style. We have had this rug [similar style here] in the living room (of three houses!) for the past several years, and while I love it, I was ready for a change. Plus, we are in the process of moving around the furniture in our living room (more on that later, that's another post about breaking all kinds of design rules... so ignore the furniture layout for now!) and the 8x10 size was looking a little small.

 A few weeks ago, RugsUSA had an 80% off sale (right now they have a 70% off sale, still not shabby), so I finally pulled the trigger. For a whopping $360 total (you read that right), I picked up two natural fiber large rugs- a 9x12 braided jute rug and a 6x9 shaggy wool rug. I've always wanted a jute rug in our living room, but was afraid to take the plunge in case it wasn't cush enough for the kids to roll around/play on. With the double layer rug, I get the best of both worlds. The large (inexpensive) jute rug  gave us the larger size we needed but the shag rug gave us the comfort. Double thumbs up for all that amazing texture going on, as well.

So far, we're happy. The braided jute rug has held up great so far with no issues (although I did notice a few pieces of sharp broken plastic imbedded throughout the rug?! major fail from the packaging department). The shag rug is shedding which doesn't really bother me (we've got Tucker dog hair I have to manage on a daily basis, so a little extra fuzz doesn't phase me) but Little Lady June freaks out when the fuzz gets on her hands. Any suggestions about how to minimize the shag rug shedding?

All in all, I'm happy with the purchase. I think the new rugs bring a fresh, modern pop to the living room. We have since moved around the furniture since the temporary set up you see here, so ignore that and stay tuned for some further living room revamp action.

5 Things I Learned From Failing Whole30

I'm not a medical professional nor nutrition expert- clearly! I'm just an average girl sharing my story about food and how it affects me and my family. Take it with a grain of salt. Ha. Get it? Food and salt. #seewhatididthere

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that at the end of July, I started the Whole30 program. Why? Primarily, I wanted to "reset" my body. At the end of May, I completely stopped breastfeeding Little Lady June which ended a three-and-a-half year trek of back-to-back pregnancy, nursing, pregnancy, nursing. Phew. My body pretty much hated me for that and by July, I was a hot mess. Hormones raging, weight gain, hair loss, still no cycle (since 2011!), fatigue and general unease in my own body.

So, I wanted to reset. Get my body back on track. After doing some research (here lies my error, per David... I considered Pinterest my "research"... I did read the actual Whole30 website but, truly, not a lot of it is scientifically backed), I decided the Whole30 plan would be a perfect fit. It promises to "reset" your body and get you back in check by eliminating many different foods, including sugar, grains, legumes and dairy. The plan is to consume only whole, non-processed foods. Sounds easy, right?

Well, 30 days later, I can honestly report that I failed. Badly. But I can't say that I'm disappointed that I failed Whole30. Why? Because I learned from it. Isn't that an old saying? Learn from your mistakes? Yeah, that. I'm not saying Whole30 was a mistake, but it definitely wasn't a good fit for me. That's right, I'm glad I failed Whole30 because it taught me some really great things about myself and my nutrition. Let me explain.

1. In preparing for and participating in a few full days of Whole30 and a few weeks of a partial Whole30 plan, I learned SO much about some important nutritional facts. For example, sugar. That son of a gun is in everything. The hippie natural peanut butter I spend $6 on at the grocery store? It has sugar in it. Second ingredient. Our unsweetened almond milk? Sugar (in the form of the ingredient carrageenan). Ketchup. Salad dressing. You name it: sugar, sugar, sugar. While I thought we were maintaining a balanced, low-sugar diet, I was actually filling our family's diet with sugar on a daily basis! Whole30 taught me to cut ingredients like hidden sugar out of the staples of our diet. While I disagree with cutting sugar altogether as Whole30 requires, it was so helpful to learn about where those hidden sugars are and dramatically reduce the amount of sugar I ate each day. I sleep better at night and generally feel better without a crap ton of sugar in my diet (that's a medical term, duh). And now I don't feel bad slipping the occasional cupcake into the mix, knowing I'm cutting sugar elsewhere. Another great nutritional fact I finally picked up through Whole30 is protein for breakfast. It's a game changer! Instead of being hungry at 10 AM, a nice chicken sausage + avocado or eggs keeps me full and feeling awake through the morning.

2. Our family ate pretty healthy already. The main goal of Whole30 is to step away from processed foods and stick to a "whole" foods plan. And I was pretty interested to realize that our family does eat mainly whole foods. Without dairy in our diet (because of H's food allergy), our main processed food is carbs. We cut some of that with substitutes like lettuce buns (hello, my children love lettuce, I had no clue) and fruit instead of crackers for a snack. David and I are really guilty of giving the kids processed snacks- animal crackers are so much easier in the car than washing, cutting and cleaning up fruit, ya know what I mean? So that was a huge blemish in our diet that was rectified during my kinda-Whole30-plan. The rest of our regular meals- typically meat and veggies- is pretty compliant! Below is sampling of the foods I ate during the challenge, which are all pretty common meals in our diet anyway.

3. Telling me that a certain type of food is off-limits only makes me want to eat it more. This is totally a mental thing but it's true. Whole30 has a big list of items that are off-limits, including a few things that are relatively healthy staples in our diet: peanuts, beans, soy products, quinoa. I am sure the Whole30 folks have great reasons for prohibiting these products (to help people determine allergies or sensitivities I believe is the main reason), but it felt like an arbitrary distinction for us. So I quickly added those items back in, which led to my fast descent into Whole30 failure. Also, I basically live or die for my afternoon coffee/sweet snack and pretty much cried when I couldn't have apple + peanut butter + Enjoy Life chocolate chips or Kashi Cinnamon Waffle + Enjoy Life chocolate chips (my two favorite snacks... you see the running chocolate chip theme??!). Which is crazy because those are relatively healthy options. So I ate them. FAIL!

4. I really needed to exercise. As I embarked on this Whole30 adventure, I realized that I was paying so much attention to my diet and how it affected my body but I wasn't focusing on exercise at all. When I officially "quit" Whole30 after a few days, I pledged to quasi-continue the plan but also to immediately incorporate exercise, as well. David is currently training for a marathon and is super active, so he's inspired me to get my butt in gear. I joined a gym and while you won't find me hogging the treadmill or pumping iron (is that a thing people say??! side note: one of my best girls just informed me that pumping iron is actually very vital to our health and something I should prioritize... which I will now! thanks for the info, Court!), I am attending 2-3 classes a week which I love. Yoga, kick boxing, spin, step, all kinds of good stuff. And I feel great! Whole30 and my attempt at feeling better through my diet made me realize how important it was to exercise, too.

5. You've got to do what works for you. I have read so many glowing reviews of the Whole30 plan and I'm truly happy for those folks. But personally, a life without a cold beer and peanut butter just ain't worth living, even for thirty days. While that's slightly dramatic, it is important to know what works for you. Because of HDawg's severe dairy allergy, we already have so many food restrictions in our life, it really doesn't feel healthy to continue to add in more limitations. Especially when I'm realizing we already make so many healthy choices already. That's why I tweaked the plan, to work for me.

So there you have it. I definitely FAILED the Whole30 challenge, but I'm glad I did. As an update, I am feeling great. I'm more toned (thanks to exercising!), sleeping more soundly (goodbye sugar!), started my cycle (sorry if my father-in-law or someone else is reading and doesn't want to hear that, ha!) and feel like a new woman. If you're feeling like you need a reset, I strongly encourage you to try the Whole30 OR, more importantly, your own version of it. Do what works best for you and your family and make sure your choices are long-term and lasting! Don't feel bad if you fail, too, as long as you are making changes that are best for you. We can be Beauty School Drop Outs together!

Let's Kick It: Soccer Themed Birthday Party

H told me many months ago that he wanted a soccer themed birthday party for his third birthday. With an indoor soccer complex down the street that hosts kids birthday parties, I was sold. Done and done. But when the soccer facility told me they did all of their own decorating in the party room and provided all of their own paper goods, I kind of stomped my foot and was like "butttttt I'm gonna have to bring some extra stuff." In true blogger form, I filled up that party room with all kinds of cute paper goods. Unfortunately, some terrible lighting and a rushed timeline (we had to spend awhile sanitizing the room to make it allergy friendly!) means I didn't capture the best photos. But, the joy on my child's face during the entire event makes up for it. Kid loves him some soccer! Also, clearly I'm not the soccer player in the family since I ordered football themed party gear with the thought that soccer fields also have painted yard lines.... #oops #tomatotomahto #soccerschmocker 

dairy free birthday cake and other dairy free treats, homemade (H helped!)
personalized soccer jersey, Etsy

Can we talk about how time literally flies right on out the door... HOW is my baby three?! I'm still processing that. Every day, I see the little boy he is turning into show more and more. While I miss that baby/toddler phase with him, I am so proud at what he is becoming and what lies ahead for his sweet little self. We love you, H!

Looking for more kids party inspiration?

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