January Buys

Today I just wanted to share a quick post of a few recent buys from the past few weeks that I’m loving! First up is this super cute Drunk Elephant set. We are headed on vacation & little sample sizes are perfect for travel and fun to try while on vacation! I’m really eager to try the D-Bronzi for a little vacation glow & the Marula Oil is supposed to be really great.Drunk Elephant Out of Office Set also here

I also grabbed my favorite brand of retinol. I’ve been using the .5% for years, so I just upped to the 1% and boy is it strong! I’m definitely peeling a bit, so I’m only going to use this every 3 days or so & work my way up.img_9778Skinmedica Retinol

This is my absolute favorite brow pencil! I go through one of these every few months.Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz

I love Hanky Panky underwear but hate the price. I recently discovered these & they are amazing dupes! And you can’t beat 2 pairs for $9.97! I highly recommend these!Felina Lace Thong

I snagged these AG Farrahs which are one of my fav style of jeans on sale! Just a nice medium wash and I love the raw hem. And I apologize for the wrinkles on this blouse – I literally just took it out of the package! This color is just so phenomenal & unique…I couldn’t resist and it was on sale!Jeans // Blouse

I absolutely adore the rib detailing on this sweater and it is so soft! And it’s on sale.Sweater

I actually got this several weeks back during J Crew’s big after Christmas clearance. I love a good fair isle sweater. It’s still available and on sale and comes in 3 color options.Sweater

Another pretty blouse in a unique color that was on sale! I love the ruffle details and I’ve been trying to add more gray/silver to my wardrobe.Blouse

Last up – these moto leggings! I’ve been eyeing these for years & when they went on sale a few weeks back I decided to snag them. They fit really amazing with a super high waist that just sucks everything in!Moto Leggings

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Evan’s Pup-tastic 4th Birthday

Evan’s Pup-tastic 4th Birthday

On Sunday my little Evan turned FOUR!!! I can’t believe how quickly the past 4 years have flown by. I’ve been trying to convince myself he’s still my little baby, but he’s turning into a bigger and bigger boy by the day. He is such a spunky and funny little character, and brings so much joy and laughter to our family!

For his 4th birthday we celebrated with a simple little Paw Patrol themed lunch with a few close friends. As most kids around his age love Paw Patrol as much as he does, all the kids had a blast and loved all of the decorations! The party didn’t quite go off without a hitch…when I went to pick up his cake the bakery had forgotten to make it. They frantically threw one together for me, but the regular decorator wasn’t there, so the cake didn’t turn out as I had hoped. But at the end of the day, we ended up with a cake and a happy birthday boy so that’s what matters!

Instead of party hats we had Paw Patrol masks!The guests went home with a sticker activity set and some fruit snacks

For food we served pigs in a blanket from Trader Joe’s, fruit, chips, and two kinds of puppy chow – the Original version and a Cake Batter Puppy Chow.

Sources for all party supplies:

Happy Birthday Banner

Paw Patrol Balloons

Plates, cups, straws, blowouts, masks

Paw patrol candle

Sticker activity set

Dog bowls

Silver cake stand

If you decide to throw a Paw Patrol party for your little one, make sure to sign up at Nickelodeon for a birthday phone call! Paw Patrol made a special birthday phone call to Evan on the day of his birthday and it was so cute and special!

For his birthday gift, we gave Evan the Paw Patrol lookout tower…and when Evan unwrapped it, it was the hit of the party! My kids have both been playing with it together nonstop for 2 days now – it is a really great toy! We also popped into Build-a-Bear yesterday to get him a special birthday bear (make sure to sign up to take advantage of their count your candles pay your age program!) and he loves his new special friend.

Happy birthday my sweet Evan! I love your independent spirit, sweet heart, and funny sense of humor – and I’m so thankful to be your mama.

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Tips For Traveling With Kids

If you have kids, you know the nightmare that is traveling with them. The first few years are pretty brutal, but thankfully we are finally seeing our way out and it’s becoming a bit easier. Last summer we flew to Hawaii & we took our first red eye. Cole is at an age where he is overall super easy, but I was really dreading it and expecting the worst with Evan. But I prepared as best I could, and the trip really couldn’t have gone much more smoothly! We have a vacation coming up very soon, and as I’m planning and preparing to pack I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips I’ve learned over the years.

Bring a “go bag” I had a mommy friend, when Cole was a baby, who told me this was her name for a bag she would pack for her little one. As we all know, kids are most interested in new toys. So she would go hit up the dollar store, or the dollar bin at target, and fill it with all kinds of new, interesting goodies! The key is – don’t give it to them all at once. Let them pick out a new item from the bag every 30 minutes or so. I love Pottery Barn’s backpacks for kids!

Tablets I am a firm believer in do what it takes to keep your kids happy on the plane. If that means 6 hours of screen time – I’m all for it. I will often let them pick out some new games they want before the trip (don’t let them play them ahead of time!) so they have new games to play on the plane which they are really excited about. Also download a few favorite or new movies they haven’t seen from Netflix. If the airline has in-flight entertainment, make sure you download the airlines app prior to the trip so you will be able to access the service. I also make sure to bring headphones and chargers. And these iPad cases I have (this one and this one) are great for watching movies since they stand!

Get cozy I want the kids to be comfortable so I dress them as close to wearing pajamas as possible (without wearing actual pjs). Think sweatsuits, tee shirts, cozy socks and comfortable sneakers. Bring along a travel blanket, pillows, comfort items like a favorite stuffed animal – anything to help them relax and settle in. Also if their ears have trouble with the pressure, you may want to pack some gum or some candy they can suck on to help alleviate it.

CARES I’ve never brought car seats for my little ones on the planes (I just don’t want to deal with lugging it around!), so I’ve opted for the CARES airplane seat harness instead. If you do prefer to bring a car seat, there is this cart to help you transport it.

Stroller and buggy board This is my most used stroller and it is the perfect stroller for traveling! It is very durable & also very light and small at the same time. It also has a reclining seat, a storage basket, and even a small canopy. It is also an amazing price! A few years back when we went to NYC with the kids – we bought this buggy board for Cole to ride on as we knew he would get tired walking all over the city. This stroller is absolutely durable enough to handle pushing two kids!

Travel car seat As I mentioned above, I don’t like hauling car seats along with us on vacation, so I love this handy little portable booster seat! Evan is still a bit young for it so we still rent him a car seat, but this has been great for Cole.

Medications It’s always a good idea to keep some essentials on hand so you aren’t trying to run around and hunt down Tylenol or Benadryl at the airport or once you get to your destination should you suddenly need it.

A separate change of clothes I always pack a change of clothes in our carry on just in case someone has a spill mid-flight or in case our luggage gets lost! I once had bags get lost for the majority of my vacation (thankfully pre-kids) but I learned my lesson to always keep at least one extra outfit with me.

Snacks and disposable sippy cup I always grab a few snacks prior to our trip to keep in my carry on. Many airlines now charge for snacks, and my kids can occasionally be picky and not like what is available. I like to always have something on hand I know they will eat – and the airports/airline snacks are really overpriced. I also like to have a few treats on hand like fruit snacks and lollipops as rewards (or for emergency distraction should there be a meltdown)! I also always pack a few disposable sippy cups for my little one & I have the flight attendant put his drink in there rather than a regular cup which is way too easy for a little one to spill!

Antibacterial wipes and baby wipes I’m not a germaphobe at all – but airplanes really gross me out. I feel like they are soooo dirty, so I always wipe down our seats, arm rests and tray tables as soon as we board. I also bring a pack of baby wipes to clean up any messes/sticky faces & hands.

I hope you find this helpful! If you have any questions or any tips to share, please leave them in the comments 🙂

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My Closet Reveal

My Closet Reveal

A bit of a backstory; after 3 years at our last home, we decided to seriously consider a move early last year. While we really liked our last home, we never loved the location as it was several miles out of town & a bit of a drive for everything we wanted to do. It was also not zoned for the greatest elementary school so we had Cole enrolled in private school – which really had become a nightmare situation for so many reasons. We started looking around and had found a community we really loved that was up in the foothills outside of Boise…but we just couldn’t pull the trigger because we were worried about being in the same situation with feeling a bit too isolated. Then we came across a brand new community in a location that couldn’t be more perfect for us. Minutes from downtown, right next to the Boise river, hiking in the foothills right down the street, and in a 10/10 ranked K-12 public school district. Although we were very familiar with the builder, the house wasn’t even built & the finishes were all pre-selected so we would not be able to make any changes. We also had to try to decipher blueprints and try to determine if we even liked the floor plan! However with how hot the housing market was (and still is!) in Boise, we knew we had to make a quick decision. We submitted our offer in June, the house went up and was completed by mid August, and we moved in a week before Cole started his new school. I can’t even tell you how stressful it was, but now that we are here, I’m so thankful we took the leap and absolutely love our new home, neighborhood and school! Evan even started preschool at a little school that is in our neighborhood and he absolutely loves it. There’s shops and restaurants we can walk to, a new huge park being built across the street, and we are in biking distance of downtown. It really couldn’t be more perfect for us!

It was such a whirlwind moving in, and I’m finally starting to catch my breath and want to start working on finishing decorating all the rooms in the house this year. But one of the things I want to focus on first this year is getting my storage spaces in order. First up was getting my closet completed! The closet in this house is actually quite a bit smaller than the closet I had in my last house, and also not nearly as functional for me with very limited shelving. And while I was spoiled in my last closet with floor to ceiling shoe shelving, my new closet had absolutely no designated shoe shelving. I knew I was going to have to maximize every inch of space, and the only place to go was up. I ordered multiple floating shelves from Ikea and had them installed in the empty space above my clothing. While it’s certainly not the typical place to store shoes, it is actually working out very well for me! I keep a step stool tucked in a corner so I can access my shoes easily. I also desperately needed additional shelving space for a place to store accessories, so I added this DIY island. I had looked around one for awhile, but the most affordable option I found was this $900 option, so on the hunt for something more affordable I found this Ikea hack! I modified the design to fit my smaller space, and I placed 2 Kallax units back to back with drawers placed in 2 cubbies. I left the rest of the cubbies open to place folded scarves, jewelry trays, hats and some of my pretty designer shoe boxes which also double as additional storage space! I’m still hoping to find a scrap piece of quartz or granite that is the correct size so I can put a table top on the island to make it look like a custom piece! What you need to build the island:

All of my display pieces are several years old. The necklace bust display, bracelet holder, and mirror were all purchased at Target. The ceramic tray was from J Crew, the small silver ring cup was from Target, and the silver tray was from Home Goods. Since they are all long sold out, here are some similar options!

Stacked jewelry trays for costume jewelry (similar here and here)I used 6 Ikea Lack Shelves to create the shoe shelving in my closet. This brand also has multiple sizes available and is very affordable and I think this would be such a neat option for a more industrial looking space!I utilized built in cubbies to store purses, folded jeans, and folded sweaters. I use fabric bins to store seasonal stuff like my ski gear, winter accessories like hats and gloves, and swimsuits.Everything is hanging on slim velvet hangars to maximize space and I also organized everything by color and type of item.In the drawers, I keep accessories like sunglasses, scarves, belts, and additional jewelry

Replacing the light fixture to a fun chandelier is definitely on my to-do list this year as well. But overall I’m really pleased with how the space has turned out and it has been very functional for me. If you are looking to give your closet a refresh, or maximize a smaller space, I hope this was helpful! Thanks so much for stopping by!

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Easy Weeknight Vegetable Beef Soup

Easy Weeknight Vegetable Beef Soup

I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for awhile as I’ve been making this soup several times a month all fall and winter! This week seemed a fitting time to share as it was the perfect meal for our first night back to school and our busy routine yesterday. I had found a few vegetable beef soup recipes online a few months back that just didn’t quite suit my tastes or turn out quite correctly, so I spent some time perfecting this soup and it has become a family favorite! It is so simple to make and is also ready in minutes, which is perfect for busy weeknights.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced (or I often use approximately 20 baby carrots since I usually have them on hand)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

  • Turn Instant Pot to Sauté; add oil and heat until hot. Add onion and sauté for approximately 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes more. Add ground beef and sauté until beef is browned through. Drain and turn instant pot off.
  • Add can of stewed tomatoes with liquid and break into small pieces. Add tomato paste, oregano, cayenne, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir all ingredients together.
  • Add carrots and potatoes, then add broth. Stir to combine all ingredients.
  • Place lid on instant pot and close vent (seal). Press the manual button and set the timer for 4 minutes. Once the timer beeps, do a manual release of pressure by turning the seal to vent. Once the pressure is released, remove the lid and enjoy!

*Note: This could also be made in a crockpot or stovetop if you don’t have an Instant Pot – although I use mine a ton and think they are absolutely worth the investment!

This soup does have a little heat, so if you don’t care for that you can reduce the amount of cayenne or crushed red pepper (or exclude!). What is so great about this soup is you can really customize it to suit your tastes. You could use ground turkey or chicken, add other vegetables you like (such as corn or celery), and use your broth of choice should you prefer beef or vegetable. This soup also manages to be low in calories, and still very filling!

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Ringing in 2019

Ringing in 2019

My pajama bottoms (old – similar), My sweater // Kid’s pajamas

Our Christmas vacation is winding down with the kids headed back to school tomorrow. It has felt like we’ve been on vacation forever, and also feels like it flew by at the same time! I confess – it’s been a super lazy and relaxing vacation with lots of sleeping in, lounging in pjs, and snacking on junk food. It’s been great, but I’m really ready to get back in a routine and get back to healthier habits!

Today I wanted to share a peek at how we rung in the new year! As I talked about in my last blog post, we aren’t really into going out to celebrate NYE and wanted to have a quiet celebration at home with the kids this year! We had a pajama party/game night complete with yummy snacks and a fancy drink bar. We set up a little photo booth area with this backdrop and also grabbed some props and hats at a local shop. We used the Pocketbooth app on my phone to create the photo booth photos.

We loaded up on glow sticks and the kids decked themselves out with them! I grabbed ours at the local dollar store. We also filled up about 30 balloons and the kids had a blast playing with them!img_8921

We also lit some sparklers outside! This was the best photo I could get – it’s super hard to get long exposures of kids who don’t hold still!Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

I found this printable online and grabbed the plastic flutes, plates, cups, wooden silverware, and noisemakers at a local shop. I grabbed the rock candy at a local candy shop as well (you can also find it online).img_8922

The full drink bar! I made crockpot hot cocoa and had an assortment of toppings.

We also made s’mores! This handy little s’mores maker was a hit and is perfect for cold winter nights.img_8932

And we capped off our evening with some sparkling cider with rock candy!img_8962

We actually made it until midnight, and we watched the giant potato drop here in Boise while popping party poppers and blowing on noisemakers. It was the perfect, low-key celebration with my little family!

As far as New Year’s resolutions…I’m not a big believer in them and don’t typically do them. That said, I do want to continue to improve on personal goals of mine/get back on track with healthy habits. My top 3 goals for the year are:

  • I want to commit to unplugging every evening for at least 2 hours to just focus on my kids. It’s so easy to get caught up with checking/responding to emails, scrolling social media, reading news articles, turning on the TV (not to mention all the household chores!) – and before I realize it, hours have passed! My kids are growing up so quickly and I really want to make sure to be more intentional about spending focused time with them everyday.
  • Get back to running regularly! I had a little health set back in November and completely fell off the running wagon. After I got feeling better, I had a hard time getting motivated again with the cold weather and feeling so overwhelmed with holiday activities. I want to get back to running a minimum of 4 days a week.
  • Get back to tracking my food. I did keto for nearly a year, and while I think it is a fantastic diet, its not something I personally wanted to stay on forever. But it was a great kickstart to dropping some weight and getting into healthier eating habits. My sugar intake has dropped dramatically & I often find things to be way too sweet now! One thing that also worked well for me is intermittent fasting & tracking what I eat. I do want to continue with a low carb diet (not as restrictive as keto), and be stricter with intermittent fasting and really being mindful of what I’m eating. I’ve been completely off the wagon over the holiday season, and definitely want to ditch the holiday pounds and get back on track!

As with any year there were some ups and downs in 2018. We moved into a new house (moving is always super stressful!) but we are thrilled with our new home and our new location. Cole started a new school, which was a huge change and also a bit stressful – but he has completely adapted and is much, much happier at his new school than he was at his last one! He had a pretty terrible experience at his school last year, and a big part of our decision to move was to get our kids into a really good school district this fall. It was a challenging & stressful experience for our family dealing with a pretty awful school situation, but we are now so thrilled that we took the leap as it clearly turned out to be the right decision and we couldn’t be happier. Evan also started pre-school, and it has been so wonderful for him in so many ways. We traveled to Hawaii for ten days and also spent a really fun week with Jon’s family this summer. I’ve been volunteering at the kid’s schools regularly which has been so wonderful. I’m thankful for all the memories made this past year, and am looking forward to what 2019 has in store!

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Making New Years Eve Fun for the Family

Making New Years Eve Fun for the Family

(Throw back photos from last New Years Eve)

I have to admit…I’m just not a New Years Eve person. The thought of going out to parties or a bar until midnight sounds…exhausting and kinda miserable. Last year we did force ourselves to venture out to a family friendly party, but we were home by about 9:30 pm. We’ve come to realize that we are just happiest at home ringing in the New Year in our pajamas with a mocktail in hand and sharing the evening with our kids. So if that sounds like your kind of New Years celebration – read on! Today I wanted to share a few ideas to celebrate the holiday and make it fun for the whole family!

Dress up! (Or down!)

Even if you are staying home, you can make the evening a little more fun by dressing up in your fanciest dresses and bow ties! Or you could also dress up in “fancy pajamas” like this grown up set for my little boys, and for me I’m loving the idea of wearing velvet or silk pajamas.

Fun snacks

One year for NYE I made a fondue dinner which was a lot of fun! This year I’m loving the idea of having a hot cocoa bar for the kids, and also thinking of buying this s’mores maker to make s’mores! Another fun option would be an ice cream bar!

Mocktails

We always get sparkling cider and toast one another in fancy (plastic) champagne flutes. It would also be fun to make up a family signature drink or browse Pinterest for some fun ideas. I think this looks super cute and you could customize it with any candies you like!

Make it a game night

My kids absolutely love board games, so our plan this year is to have a marathon game night! My oldest loves card games & Battleship, and my little one loves Don’t Step In It and Don’t Break The Ice. We’ve also been having a lot of fun playing games with our Alexa over the holiday break! Our favorite games are Would you Rather, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and Trivial Pursuit.

Have a photo booth

I’m planning on setting up a photo booth to take some silly photos this year which I think will be a lot of fun! I bought this backdrop, and I may jazz it up with some balloons or a garland/banner. I would also like to get some fun props & set up the camera on a tripod & use a photo booth app!

Slumber Party

To tie in with our fancy pajamas, it would be fun to set up a slumber party in the living room! We could get out the kids teepee, and build forts and basically make the living room a big cozy bed!

Add some ambiance

I love getting party hats, and also thinking it would be fun to get some glow sticks to wear too! Having a disco ball or some colored lights make the atmosphere fun, as well as a fun playlist of music – ask Alexa to play a New Years Station if you don’t want to make your own! My kids also go crazy for balloons – so just having a bunch of balloons for them to play with (or go a step further with a diy balloon drop!) would add that extra bit of fun. (Here’s my hack for blowing up a lot of balloons in a short time! I have this vacuum which I use, but I also just saw that Target has this handy dandy little machine!)

Countdown

For the really little ones, there probably isn’t much chance of them making it til midnight, so for those like us on the west coast, you can watch the ball drop in NYC and celebrate that as midnight. A mom friend of mine has the genius idea of changing all the clocks in their house ahead a few hours that day, so the kids really do think it’s midnight when it’s actually only 10 pm! Netflix is also doing some countdown programming for kids this year as well. If your older ones can make it until the actual New Year, it’s fun to watch a live countdown that is local or in your time zone. Here in Boise, we drop a giant potato that we stay up to watch live on TV (only in Idaho!).

Make some noise

To celebrate the New Year, having some noise makers or confetti is a must! You could also just bang pots and pans, and I’ve heard of the idea of breaking open a piñata at midnight which would be a lot of fun! We’ve done sparklers before too for some at-home fireworks.

Wishing you and yours a happy and safe New Year! See you in 2019!!!

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