Monday, April 10, 2017

Weekend with the Sister Bunny

This weekend was our neighborhood's annual Easter Egg Hunt.  We have a community center with a large mall of grass where the association holds 3 separate egg hunts based on age.  The littlest kids on the lawn, the middle kids (4-6yrs) by the splash fountain, and oldest at the playground. They have a dj playing favorites like N*Sync and Whip and Nae Nae, a bounce house, and Peter Cottontail and Mrs. Cottontail, although the girls just called her Sister Bunny.










Despite it being chilly that morning it warmed up quickly and became the perfect hanging on the porch drinking some beers type afternoon.  We got a lot of yard done, something that seems endless, and got started repainted our powder room.  It's the final room we have left to paint, aside from a few closets and laundry room.  It was a baby food pea green, which wasn't the worst, but definite not my taste.  Plus, the bathroom is an interior room, so there are no windows and it felt really dark.  We decided to go with white, a first for us, since we wanted something to brighten it up and we've monopolized every other shade of gray.  I'm current staining some DIY floating shelves and figuring out a way to hang our new rope mirror.  Details later after everything is up.

The girls are home for Spring Break this week, so trying our best to enjoy the weather and stay as busy as we can.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sister/Sister - March 2017




Everyday I'm reminded just how fast time is going.  Next week, I register Ashlynn for Kindergarten and Kenley has been waking up just looking bigger.  It's been a long time since I've blogged chronicling their growth, or blogged at all, but here is just a little snapshot of things I never want to forget. I am about 3 years over due on a Sister/Sister update afterall!



Ashlynn

Just a few weeks shy of turning 5, this girl is becoming quite the artist.  Her favorite activity is definitely coloring, art in general, or anything crafty.







I finally gave her a Lego set over the weekend because I finally can see she has the concentration to complete them on her own.  I held off of buying them because one, they can get pricy, and two, I figured if I tried to force the activity on her I'd be the one building it then she'd just want more.  I'm not sure she'll be a Lego fanatic like my brother and I were, but it's definitely the perfect quiet time activity for now.  



Her favorite toys are her stuffed puppies.  Not that good ol' bunny doesn't reign supreme, but of all her dolls and toys in general playing with her stuffed puppies is tops.  Vet check ups, grooming sessions, birthday parties, she basically runs her own little humane society.  

She's loving soccer and pretty good too!  Definitely has her head in the clouds at times, but it's tough staying focused for a 4 year old.  She's not crazy aggressive, but she comes to play.  She's scored some goals and isn't afraid to hold back.  It's going to be exciting to see her talents grow and interests change over the years.

As mentioned in the last posts, she's a beginning reader and doing fantastic.  I know she'll be going into Kindergarten confident and ready.

She also keeps referring back to that time on "Green Patrick's Day".



Kenley

One of my favorite things ever, that I just have to have written down is Kenley's bedtime routine.  This girl is sucker stickler for routine.  After jammies and teeth, she needs to get her "fast kiss and round and round in my bed" from her daddy.  Fast kiss being where she run and jumps into his arms and gives him a kiss on the nose.  Then he carries her to her room where she goes, you guessed it, round and round like a helicopter before being dropped into her bed.  Every night.  After that, we do three books.  Usually a rotation of Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin, Big Dog Little Dog, If I Were a Bunny, Brown Bear, The Little Mermaid, and the Alphabet Book.  Which skipping the last two, she can recite them all word for word and "read" to me. After that it's time for a cuddle.  Probably close to a year ago now, I would initiate the end of book time and beginning of cuddle/bed time with a back rub.  She pulls up her jammies and asks "rub my back" as she rolls over into a little ball with her bottom in the air.  After a little back rub, she flips over and says "now rub my belly!"  - like she's a damn puppy!  It always cracked me up, but it's become the routine, so much that now it's how she puts herself to sleep.  She'll rub her own belly and be out within minutes.  It's the cutest and funniest quirk.


And despite the drawn out routine, she still ends up in our bed every single night.

Since turning 3, the "toddlerness" of K has just been thrown to the wayside.  Her self control, specifically of her emotions, has improved by leaps and bounds.  When she does begin to meltdown or show signs of a tantrum starting, it's so much easier to communicate with her and have her communicate back which was really hard for us for a long time.  Her speech and communication in general is just blossoming, and she's real goofball always cracking herself up.

She is currently obsessed with Trolls and Princess Poppy.  Aside from actually watching Trolls, on a sad to admit almost daily basis, we always have "troll music" on - the Can't Stop the Feeling station on Pandora.  She loves singing, dancing, and acting out the scenes from the movie.  So now in addition to the color red and Everest from Paw Patrol (a show we never watch since we dont have nickelodeon), Princess Poppy is an official "my favorite". Which she loves telling people her full name and all her favorites upon introduction.  "My name is Kenley Blank and my red is my favorite.  And Everest.  And Princess Poppy."



K's first preferred activity is cuddling up to a movie, her second favorite activities are swinging at the playground and playing with the Little People toys.  Also dancing.


I can't wait to see these girls grow, but also begging for time to slow down!





Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Learning in Style with Carter's for Kohl's


“This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I was paid for this post and received the included Carter’s clothing as compensation.”



I mentioned a few weeks ago how Ashlynn has really taken off in her new transitional kindergarten classroom.  She's reading short stories (we love BOB books), starting to write more than just her name, and probably through genetics has an affinity for (simple) mathematics and numbers - mom and dad both have accounting degrees after all.  Kenley has been thriving just as well for her age at 3, she can spell her name, is practicing writing it, and loves counting to 20, especially if it involves a game of hide and seek!




At the end of each week, the girls bring home their school work in their take home folders.  A variety of worksheets and art projects.  I started keeping a lot of them since some are half finished or would be perfect for some 'school' play at home.  I love watching Ashlynn play teacher and read her storybooks to Kenley and help her identify the sight words.  I'm not kidding at all when I say Kenley can recognize some sight words (at, can, go, that) better than certain letters of the alphabet, cart before the horse much.  Girl needs a little work with her Cs (she says D), Is (J), Ps (B), and Ts ("ta ta"), nightly reading of Alphabet book is helping!  Kenley also loves coloring in the pictures and counting along on the math worksheets. 



This totally brilliant chick just recently learned our home address by heart.  Her teacher sent her home with some 'high five hands' that we placed on the back door and by the end of the week she could recite our address without looking.  It was such a genius way of teaching memorization, especially since our new address is pretty difficult!




They have really gotten into more make believe play lately which has made me so happy.  I felt like for so long I would have to guide them, give Ashlynn ideas, or play with her to stimulate creative play, but finally they will play "birthday party" with their dolls, Doc McStuffins with their doctor kits, or go on an airplane ride all on their own without fighting or getting bored quickly.  It really is one of my proudest moments seeing them play so nicely together and making memories.  It's even better when I see them doing things like "camping" on the stairs or taking their flashlights into the coat closet to tell silly stories, just like I did with my brother growing up.


I also know that while the girls are absorbing the world like a sponge, they need to be comfortable. Of course, it doesn't hurt when they can be well dressed too!  I love that when I shop the Kohl's Carter's Department, I'm able to find absolute steals on adorable clothing and pajamas that let my girls go to school and play at home in comfort.  Ashlynn frequently complains about wearing jeans or 'scratchy' (woven cotton) tops and Kenley still will only wear things that twirl.  The last thing these girl need is to be fussing with itchy or tight clothing while they should be busy learning or playing make believe.   


Of course the same can be said for bedtime.  We are a weekend jammie family, and typically stay in our pjs until it's time to leave the house.  And like school and play clothes, we love pajamas that are as cozy as they are cute.  The girls love wearing their coordinating ballerina nightgowns and pj sets, and dancing around the house while we make chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.   Bedhead and bunny, and all!




Carter's pajamas have been part of our girls wardrobe since they were babies wearing onesies non-stop.  And now, I'm still able to shop at Kohl's and pick up Little Girl sizes (shedding a single tear) for Ashlynn as she approaches 5 years old.  A tried and true brand for our household that can outfit our girls from bedtime, to playtime, to the classroom and always make looking pulled together a breeze!


Kohl's is currently having a Kid's Sale from March 17th - April 2nd, you can take $10 of any $40 purchase with code KIDSALE10.  Shop all the latest spring styles now!


stretchy denim jacket (girls) | bird print sateen dress - currently out of stock



*** This post may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of
those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies. This post also contains affiliate links.  These links are not affiliated with Kohl's. 

Thank you to Kohl's for the opportunity to share how Carter's helps our girls create and learn without sacrificing comfort and style.***

Monday, March 6, 2017

Amazon Children's Book Sale!

It's that time again, loads of our favorite books are marked 40-50% OFF - most are $10 off their retail prices!  Great time to stock up on books for your own family, Easter baskets, or to hoard for birthday presents - my go to present for all the classmate/neighborhood friends, I always have stack of new books hidden in my closet to pull out when I need something last minute or to even entertain my kids through an extra long day.





Antoinette - $10.20
Miss Moon:  Wise Words from a Dog Governess -$7.99
Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color - $7.99
Bloom - $7.49
This is Sadie -  $8.99
Beyond the Pond - $6.99
If I Had a Gryphon - $7.99
Strictly No Elephants - $8.99
The Day The Crayons Quit  - $8.99
The Wonderful Things You Will Be - $7.99
Rosie Revere Engineer - $8.47
Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast - $8.85
The Giving Tree - $8.31


 (amazon prices are always subject to fluctuate)



Don't forget to check out all the classic board books too, loads on sale for $2.99 - $3.99 and make wonderful additions to baby shower gifts or first birthday presents.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Calm and Coastal Dining Room with Minted Art


Our home is finally coming together and starting to feel like a cozy home with our personal touch on it.  For so long, we just had our belongings placed randomly here and there from our effort to unpack, but nothing felt like it was in place. Since the holidays are long over and all the decor is packed away, I've slowly been more thoughtful about what we need to finish off our spaces.   Of course, I'm still in the midst of finishing our kitchen cabinet paint job, but I finally got a hold on the dining room.  


This room is just immediately to your right when you walk in our home.  It's small, but serves it purpose even if we don't eat in there regularly.  We used our old kitchen table since the dimensions fit nicely and it would have been too big for our breakfast nook.  I dug out a mirror and some sconces that I had packed away since we moved from our townhouse four years ago.  I always wanted to use them in our previous dining room, but we never got a table for the room and it remained empty for the whole time we lived there...  which might be why I wanted to finish this one so bad!


We installed the new light fixture the weekend we moved in and it works perfectly with the vibe of the room.  You know I'm a sucker for all things coastal, bright, and textured.  I love mixing wood tones, greenery, and my classic blue and white porcelain.  We painted below the chair rail a bright white and still have framing out the wainscoting on our to-do list.  The paint above is BM Lily White, and it definitely is more of a light blue than white!  It feels bright and adds color without being too saturated or too blue. 


We ended up placing our industrial bookcase in the dining room since our buffet fit nicely in our kitchen and we already had a built in in our great room.  It was a little difficult to style, but we are getting there. I flanked each side with a black and white edited iPhone pic of the girls from our visits to the beach.  I love the personal touch of family photos without them being too family photoshoot. The black frames fit right in with the wrought iron light fixture, bookcase, and Pottery Barn sconces. I'm on the lookout for a plant stand and a fern to fill in the back corner.  And I would really love to find or build a bench for the front side of the dining table, if you spot a seagrass one let me know!  It would really help lighten it up.  Add some seating and move the two chairs to the head of the table. I also think it will make the table a bit more inviting from when you walk in the door or other direction from the kitchen.



Over by our window, we hung a set of breezy white curtains and placed our old wine bar.  This was one of our very first furniture purchases together and for an assemble yourself Crate & Barrel piece, it's held up quite nicely over the last nine years. It fits perfectly in the space and is a great way to keep our wine bottles, stemware, and bar tools nicely organized and stored in an accessible spot.  Let's just say the upper shelves of 42" cabinets are not a 5'2" girl's best friend.  It's also the perfect space for styling vignettes. 



A collection of items we've had on hand came together so nicely with our brand new art.  I have been selecting abstract art that evokes the sea on my inspiration boards for ages, I was so happy when I finally was able to pick a piece from Minted's Art Marketplace.  I love that Minted supports independent artists and is frequently adding new offerings.  In fact, the print I chose, Neptune by Julia Contacessi, is a limited edition which is always something special and unique.


I love the colors and movement in the print.  I wasn't sure if I wanted it matted or with a border, but I kind of love the full bleed paired with the thin matte brass frame. The mixed metal definitely keeps the room from all being all matchy and provides a bit of extra texture and color and pairs so lovely with the artwork itself.


Honestly, this print could have worked in so many spaces in our home since we are carrying the coastal vibe throughout, but I'm so happy I was able to finish off this space.  Especially since it's the first view guests see when stepping through the door.  The 24x24" size is perfect for the space and it was ready to hang when it arrived.  Easy peasy. Perfect.

Oh and because we all love a good before and after...





Do you have a space you are dying to finish off in your home?  Is there a certain style of art you'd love to own?  Check out Minted's fine art selection this weekend and take advantage of Free Shipping with code SHIPFREE.




**Disclosure: I received a credit to Minted to facilitate my personal experience and honest review**

Monday, February 13, 2017

BeautyCounter, Rodan +Fields, and Other Things Your Friends Try to Sell You

A few weeks ago I came across this article on Refinery29 and sent it to my friends.  You see, while I have some weird personal aversion to joining a MLM (multi level marketing) company and selling products to my friends, I do however purchase a lot of products from these companies and absolutely LOVE them.  I've gone over some in the past, but I thought I'd give another ringing endorsement for things I've found that I love - that in no way, shape or form, benefits me through sales, commissions, click throughs, etc.  These opinions and experiences are truly my own!

(last bit was tongue in cheek, friends... but seriously, this is an honest non-sponsored review.  I am however plugging my girlfriends who sell these lines, because if it wasn't for their persistence, I wouldn't have become a fan myself and they are my girls so I love to help them out.  If you are looking for more information feel free to reach out them, they are more than excited to help convert you into becoming a believer too.)



A new to me line that I've seen blogged about for a good year or so is Beautycounter.  I first noticed some of their makeup - the SkinTint and Lipsticks - popping up in some lifestyle/fashion bloggers haul posts, then I noticed a line carried at Target.  I didn't even realize this was a network marketing company until six months ago.  When I learned about the company's mission, I was hooked the same why I was and am with brands like Honest Company and SoCozy.  I will do anything to minimize my and my family's risk to cancer causing pollutants and nasty chemicals.  Beautycounter is 'committed to a health and safety standard that goes beyond the requirements of the U.S. law.  More than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals have been banned from their products offered, and yet the company ensures these products will perform and are as indulgent as any other beauty or skincare item in the market.'  That's a mission I'd love to support, and I'm a big believer in backing (buying) products from company's you believe in.

While, I have been using Rodan + Fields skincare for a few years now, more below, I have been really interested in Beautycounter's makeup line.  I don't wear too much make up to begin with, but it's something I would love to switch over to brands who use more natural ingredients. One of my closest friends, Sarah, sent me the beloved Skin Tint Foundation, in linen, to test drive when I told her I was interested after she signed up to be consultant.  I was a afraid the color would be a bit too dark for my winter skin, but it blended so nicely.  I'm not a liquid foundation lover, but this make up wears more like a BB Cream or tinted moisturizer.  It's not heavy and while it smoothed my complexion it wasn't cakey or thick at all.  Perfect for when I want a bit more coverage for a night out.

Sarah also sent me the charcoal mask to try.  I had tried one from Ulta and years ago won a MAC one through an old fashioned blog giveaway, so I knew I would love this one too. My skin feels clean, smooth, and exfoliated after 10 minutes of use.  And it's always fun to scare the kids ;)


Lastly, I've been using the Lip Conditioner in Peppermint, and am obsessed.  I keep it with me all the time and I've stopped using most of my chapsticks.  It gives my lips a nice gloss finish, and keeps them soft and moisturized.  I've been letting the girls use it too (with my help, because I refuse to let them steal it all), but considering they basically put on so much chapstick it could be considered a snack, I'm glad they are using something made naturally with safe ingredients.  And their lips are shiny like mommy's too!   If you are looking for more information about the line, check out the website or email Sarah!



I've had some readers/friends reach out in the past asking about my experience with Rodan + Fields (check out my first review) and two and half years later I'm still going strong in using their products daily.  I will say the Rodan + Fields sellers, my friends, definitely fill up enough my facebook feed that I would consider hiding their posts, but it's true, the products work!  The Refinery29 article mentions the Redefine line, which I personally cared for a bit less than the Reverse line I'm currently using now for the third time, but I still enjoyed the products especially the PM face cream.  I just need a bit more help in skin tone evenness and dark spot control than I do wrinkles.

Earlier this year, they released a second reverse line. The original is the Reverse Brightening focused on evening and brightening complexions and the new one is a Lightening line focused on dark spots, age spots, and patches.  I already have my order ready to go when I run out of the products I am using now.  I'm so glad they altered the regimen to include these products because it's exactly what I need. You can see my first experience with Reverse, two years ago, in the picture and post linked above. Below is my progress from the last 4 weeks, since starting back up after taking a good six month break due to laziness -oops!   The change is minimal in photos, but what I notice most so far is less visible wrinkles and a more even skin tone.


I've also been using the Micro-dermabrasion Paste which is super comparable to Philosophy's Microdelivery Peel.  The R+F tub is about twice the price for non perks members, but it's at least twice the size (2oz vs 4.2oz).  I use it about twice a week and it really helps slough off any dead dry skin.  I purchased it back in June and still have close to half the jar left. I also use the Eye Cream and the SPF25 Lip Shield. The lip shield is a classic chapstick compared to Beautycounter's lip conditioner, tube vs pot, but for days at the playground or pool it's the best way to help protect my skin. With all the sun damage I inflicted in my teens, SPF is my bestest friend these days in my 30s.  The eye cream is thick and creamy, not greasy too light, and absorbs quickly.




Lastly, I love my DoTerra oils.  I have my own account set up and refill whatever it is I need when my supply gets low.  I'm not a crazy oil lady who diffuses every day in every room, but I do love using oils for health - I pop a OnGuard capsule as soon as I feel a tickle in my throat, and use the OnGuard oils on the girls when sickies are going around at school.  The peppermint has proven to me to be a fever reducer and I have used hand in hand with tylenol when the girls can't seem to shake a fever with meds alone.  Breathe blend is another savior for when the girls are congested and wake themselves from coughing fits or can't breathe through their stuffy noses.  And of course lavender is used almost nightly to help with a good night's sleep.  Whether rubbed on feet with a rollerball bottle or a few drops in body lotion after a bath.

I also love using the lavender rollerball to help soothe bug bites in the summer or even over scrapped knees and boo-boos to heal faster.  Lemon essential oil is my work horse in the kitchen keeping my counters and stovetop sparkling clean and neutralizing any stink coming from the garbage disposal or trash can.  I use a lot more, but those are definitely my go-to keep on hand oils and blends.


Overall, the side hustle game is strong in 2017.  Voodoo oils, skincare, stretchy pants, or protein shakes, smelly candles; you name it, you most likely have a facebook friend selling it!  For a long time I saw it as people looking to shill possibly questionable products as a way to line their own pockets, similar to students selling wrapping paper or chocolate bars to fundraise (ie, junk I don't need, but feel obligated to buy).  And when your friend is asking you to support their venture, it's sometimes really hard to say 'no thanks' and not think that they should just cut back on the Starbucks if they are looking for some extra income.  However, I now see these products and companies are more than a way make some side cash.  I've learned a lot of these products are worth the hype, and when you are going to buy a lipstick or sunscreen regardless, wouldn't you rather support a friend?  I can't say every network marketing product out there is a winner, but these are few I'm happy to throw my support behind.  I definitely suggest reaching out to your friends you see non-stop posting and ask them what it's all about!


Do you sell for a network marketing company?  I would love to hear about some lesser known products or experiences you might have had either using products or working for a company like this!