Gifts Holiday Shopping

Holiday Gift Guide: Wine Lovers

November 14, 2017
wine lovers, holiday gift guide

Giving a nice bottle of wine for a gift is pretty common, but there are so many more gifts for wine lovers out there. I have more than half the items on this list, so I can attest to their usefulness and/or quality. I want this item since we always have open bottles of wine sitting out on the counter when we have people over, and I’m paranoid we’ll leave a wine stain on our marble counters.

We used to always put wine in my little bike basket (or in the bottom of the stroller) and bike to a neighborhood BYOB restaurant when we lived in our old neighborhood. If you live in an area like this, I think this gift would be so fun!

Most of these gifts are a great price point, and some could double as a white elephant gifts, too. If you missed my last gift guide, which includes gift ideas for the kids, holiday lover, hostess and home decor lover, check it out here.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 89 | 10

Let me know if you’re a fan of any of these! Happy shopping and cheers! 🙂

LL

Family Holiday Home Design + Decor kids

Thanksgiving Kids’ Table & Tips for Entertaining Kids During the Holidays

November 10, 2017

I just love the holiday season, and Thanksgiving might be one of my favorite holidays because it’s a great time to get together to see family and friends. Because of the season of life we’re in, it means we are often accommodating to feeding and entertaining children who come over for these family and friendsgiving get-togethers. Eating is still hit or miss for us with a toddler, so keeping him occupied while food prep is happening is key. I love putting crayons and stickers out for the kids to get a little crafty with before they eat dinner!

In my head I’d like to think I can create amazing Pinterest-inspired tablescapes, but in reality, I’m barely getting by, so this Thanksgiving kids’ table setting is very accessible for anyone using some basic festive items you can get at Target or Amazon. Some of my decor like the chair backers and plates I picked up on sale from Pottery Barn Kids in previous years, but you can find pretty similar pieces out now like these backers and plates that are adorable. I found some other kids’ table decor items that are on sale like these platesbowlsplacemats and napkins.

I’ve included a few tips below for keeping the kiddos happy and occupied while the adults are mingling or doing food prep.

Tips for Keeping Kids Entertained during Thanksgiving

  • Crayons with built-in coloring placements are perfect for the kids’ table, and it also gives you the opportunity to talk to your kids about what they’re thankful for this season so you can write down those memories. I’m a sucker for my my kid’s homemade art, so having him color a place setting every year and seeing how they progress over the years is something I plan to do for the next few years. We are having our second annual Friendsgiving ( pot luck get-together with all my yummy holiday favorites) so I’ll probably use this tablecloth for a larger kids’ table.
  • These cute pumpkins are festive and are great way to bribe the kids to eat some veggies. These little jelly pumpkins are delicious, too.
  • Give them some things to keep them entertained after dinner, too. I’ve filled the chair backers with fall stickers, playdoh and bubbles, which are all some of Braden’s favorite things right now.
  • Make things personalized. I love the little place card settings, as it makes each child feel special and causes them to know they have specific spot claimed at the table which, in turn, might make them stay put for a little longer than usual. 🙂

I feel like I’m learning new tips all the time about being a mom and dealing with toddlers. If you have any secrets for making the holidays fun and stress-free for the whole family, I’d love to hear them!

thanksgiving kids table

 

pumpkin candy, thanksgiving kids table

thanksgiving kids table

chair backer, kids thanksgiving table, thanksgiving decorThis table and chairs are my husband’s from his childhood. He can remember eating at this table with his siblings during the holidays, and I just love that we have it now and Braden is using it everyday. I have dreams of B and his cousins eating together at this little table! We did repaint it to make it feel a little more modern.

thanksgiving decor, thanksgiving kids table

thanksgiving decor, thanksgiving kids table

 

 

 

Fashion + Style

Burgundy Shirtdress with High Low Hem

November 8, 2017
burgundy dress rachel parcell

I mentioned that this was my favorite color of the season, and when it’s paired with a classic shirt dress silhouette, I call that a win. Add to cart with no hesitation.

I am just so impressed with the quality of this material. It looks luxe like satin but it’s actually a polyester blend, making it a fabric that doesn’t wrinkle. Total score. I love satin and other materials that, unfortunately, are typically dry clean only but the downsides of these fabrics are that they wrinkle after just sitting for a few minutes. This dress, however, didn’t have that problem, and I just love the classic style of it, so even though it feels very on-trend right now, I do believe this is a piece I’ll keep for a while that I can wear for years. The way I’ve styled it is probably how I’d wear it for church, but would probably wear a closed-toed heel for a work meeting or throw on a pair of booties plus a chunky sweater cardigan when it gets cooler. What I love most about this dress is the high low hem. I think it makes the dress.

Sizing tip: I am wearing a small in this dress for reference.  I’m always on the fence about sizing because I have broad shoulders but I would say this dress is true to size. I did buy a small in a top from this line, and it was a tad small, so I’m pretty sure I’m a medium in tops. I’m sure many of us follow Rachel Parcell, and I love that she has created these feminine pieces that aren’t totally breaking the bank.

rachel parcell dress, burgundy shirt dress

I think this shirtdress might be sold out in some size, but I know that happened a week or so ago then it got restocked, so check back! Also, I’ve linked to a few other burgundy dresses that are just as versatile as this one.

  • Another classic style, this wrap dress would look great worn to a winter wedding or holiday party.
  • Everyone needs a least one cozy sweater dress!
  • Well, maybe you need two sweater dresses 🙂 Love these ruffle sleeves.
  • This simple knit dress is a a great basic and only $42.

Gifts Home Design + Decor Shopping

Holiday Gift Guide: Hearth & Hand with Magnolia at Target

November 6, 2017
gifts for kids, gifts for holiday, joanna gaines, target, hearth and hand

hostess gifts, holiday gift guide, home decor gifts, magnolia home, joanna gaines, target, hearth and handI know I’m not the only one drinking the Fixer Upper/Magnolia/Chip and Joanna Gaines kool-aid. The Gaines’ authenticity and refined modern farmhouse style has won over many, myself included, and their new Hearth & Hand partnership launched at the motherland yesterday.

Perfect timing since it seems everyone likes to get rid of all their pumpkins as of Nov. 1 to trade them in for wreaths, garland and shiny Christmas décor. I don’t really have my life together to be at this point yet, but I definitely made a trip to Target this weekend and scoped out the best of the new Hearth and Hand line to put together this little gift guide for you. Overall, there is a little bit of everything at various price points, so it’s pretty easy to get a piece of their style without breaking the bank. And, all of it just really, really nice quality, too. Win, win!

I have been jotting down more holiday gift guide ideas, and I’ll be sharing at least one per week since I’m all about the online shopping these days since I don’t like to take my kid with me into stores unless I like apologizing repeatedly to sales people and haphazardly trying to refold everything he touches. :/

What’s on your wishlist from the Hearth & Hand with Magnolia collection? Let me know!

For the kiddos: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

For the festive holiday lover: 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

For the hostess: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

For the home decor enthusiast: 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

 

Fashion + Style Loving Lately... Shopping

Loving lately: Burgundy

November 3, 2017
burgundy fall picks

Burgundy, bordeaux, wine, merlot, oxblood  — whatever you want to call it, I’m all about it! This lovely hue might be my favorite of this season. I have an outfit or two coming to the blog soon so stay tuned next week for the first. 😉

I love the richness of this color and how it makes everything look a little luxe, especially in autumnal materials like velvet or suede. This color has been around for a while and I’ve dug this off-the-shoulder top out from last season to wear once again. I just can’t get enough. I know this hue is here to stay for many fall seasons moving forward!

Here are a few of my favorite finds:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

  • This simple v-neck tee such a great basic! I have several of these tees in different colors and I’m definitely adding this one to my shopping cart. A simple tee and cardigan plus jeans is a go-to outfit for me!
  • I snagged these lightweight tassel earrings a few weeks ago when they were 50 percent off. I got a ton of compliments on them when I wore for the first time last week.
  • I own a ton of red shoes, but none that are a deep red or burgundy. I’m a big fan of Tory Burch flats, and I have several that I’ve had for years. I find them to be really comfy. I believe I’ve had my classic black Torys  for 12 years, and they’ve been resoled twice, so definitely worth it if you take good care of your shoes.
  • This cute tassel clutch is a great size, and I have the red version of it.
  • This simple long-sleeve dress is something I picked up recently and it fits really well and can be dressed up or down. I wear a medium for reference.

Any other burgundy picks I should add to this list? I’d love to hear!

Houston is pretty much shut down today to celebrate the Astros win. So pumped for the city, but did not want to deal with the downtown traffic and having a toddler there during naptime. Momma needs a break. 😉 Have a good weekend!

LL

Fashion + Style

Leopard Faux Fur Vest

November 2, 2017
jcrew faux fur vest, leopard, fall style

faux fur vest, jcrew leopardjcrew faux fur vest, leopard, fall styleleopard faux fur, fall style, jcrewjcrew faux fur vest, leopard

You’ve probably heard it before, but leopard is really considered a neutral nowadays. While this faux fur vest isn’t as versatile as a pair of leopard flats, it’s certainly still worth adding to your fall wardrobe! This vest is currently under $80 right now, and it’s so worth it. It’s super soft, and my kid proceeded to pet me repeatedly when he saw me wearing this two weeks ago.

I paired it with other basics — a chambray shirt and distressed black denim — all of which I’ve had in my closet for years to keep it casual. I would also pair it with a navy striped turtleneck (as pictured on the retailer’s website) or a simple black dress like this. I love that it has pockets, too (as any good vest should!)

P.S. J.Crew has so many good things this season, and they’re having an awesome sale right now so hop on that before it ends!

Not only is leopard a good idea when it comes to closet staples, but also it has become quite popular on the home decor front. I’ve been eyeing a few leopard pieces for several rooms in our house. Wouldn’t this rug be amazing in an office or in a master closet? Also, I’m loving these pillows!

Vest | Chambray Shirt | Jeans | Booties (Sole Society – old, but they have tons of great options) |Handbag (Marc Jacobs – old)

Leopard must-haves that I currently own or have nearly identical versions of these pieces

Scarf

Flats

Slides

Cardigan

Clutch

Pumps

Leopard Wish list

Booties

Blazer

Rug – I want this rug for my office  but need to convince my husband!

Pillows

Anymore I should add to my list? Let me know. 😉

jcrew faux fur vest, leopard

Family Fashion + Style

Plaid for Mom and the Mini-me

October 23, 2017
mom and mini matching, mommy and me, navy plaid button up jcrew,

I never thought I’d be one who would play matchy matchy with her kid. Honestly, I found it a little obnoxious when moms did this, but then I realized that I sort of love it when I see families do it…in small doses. Tell me I’m not the only one!?  Honestly, there is so much I didn’t think I would do until I became a mom to a sassy little boy. Monster Jam – check. Learn all the names of construction equipment – check. I’m currently re-learning the different types of dinosaurs. #boymom

There’s only a short window when you can be twins with your mini,  so I’m going to take advantage while I can! I think it would be 10x worse if I had a girl. This is the first time I’ve really done this with Braden, and it wasn’t even my intention at first. I received this plaid shirt in the mail and went into the store to make some other returns, and I spotted this little mini version of it and immediately scooped it up! I think little boys in button down shirts are just the cutest.

I’m also a big fan of this classic shirt style. I have quite the collection, and I wear them weekly for work and casual wear. While I’m no stranger to  button downs, this one is on serious rotation partially because of the mom and mini aspect of it, but also because plaid just screams fall to me. For reference, I order a tall in most shirts from here, and they fit me so much better. (I am wearing a 6 T to avoid button-gaping.) I love this shirt because it instantly makes you look fall-ready and would look perfect with a black or navy skirt for church, too.

jcrew plaid, mom and mini, mom and toddler

matching mom and mini, jcrew plaid

toddler fashion, mom and me, jcrew plaid

We’re all about the fist bumps.

plaid button down, mom and mini, plaid jcrew shirt

mom and me, toddler fashion, mom and toddler fashion, jcrew plaid shirt

Of all the things I’ve had a chance to do in this life, I’m most proud of just being this kid’s mom.  (Sappy,  I know, but so, so true!)

Mom: Plaid button down shirt | jeans | Booties  – Sole Society (old) but similar here | Necklace

Mini: Plaid oxford shirt | Shorts – Baby Zara (old) | Shoes – Baby Gap but similar here

Fashion + Style Shopping

Velvet pieces I’m loving lately…

October 20, 2017

velvet, velvet accessories, velvet trends

I had a burgundy velvet blazer from college (I’m talking 2004, people) that I recently gave away to Goodwill. Maybe I should have kept it! The cut was a little dated so I don’t feel bad about it. I was originally on the fence about velvet. But, I’ve found a few pieces that look luxe that have made me have a change of heart. I’ve rounded up a few pieces I have my eye on.

I think the key to wearing velvet is to let it be your standout piece. Don’t go overboard and wear multiple velvet pieces. I recently picked up a pair of wine-colored booties, and a pair of floral velvet booties which were at steal at 40 % off. I don’t think they’re available anymore, but here is another great pair for under $60!

I tend to gravitate toward velvet accessories. This is an easy way to jump on this trend without spending a ton. How cute are these earrings?! I probably wouldn’t wear a velvet dress but I love the idea of a velvet blazer. Most of the time blazers don’t go out style and this black one is timeless, so worth the price in my opinion.

Be careful when hopping on trends like velvet. The No. 1 thing I would recommend is to not buy something and then just never wear it. This could very well be the case if you buy something velvet. Be realistic about your lifestyle. If I bought a velvet dress, I would probably wear it once this winter and be done with it. I just don’t have anything planned right now where a velvet dress would make sense for me. Perhaps explore Rent the Runway to hop on this trend or just stick to something really budget-friendly like the earrings.

There are some great sales going on this weekend where you can find some great velvet finds like some of these that I’ve included here!

1 | 2| 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7|8 | 9 | 10

Anthropologie: 25 % for ANTHRO perks members on 10/20

GAP: 40% with the code MORE (good through 10/20 at 11:59 ET)

LOFT: 40 % off everything with code FRIENDS ( good through 10/22 at 3am EST)

Ann Taylor: 50% off everything with code ALLTHEWAY (good through 10/23 at 3 am EST)

Banana Republic: 40% purchases $200+ with code BRTREAT (good through 10/23 at 11:59pm ET)

Happy shopping!

Fashion + Style Food

Fall Favorite Recipe: Pumpkin Bread

October 18, 2017

fall baking, kitchen

There are two things I believe you should go big or go home on: baked goods and cheese. I think lowfat or low-calorie homemade baked goods usually taste terrible or unsatisfying. Same on the cheese front. I would rather just indulge in something delicious and satisfying in a smaller portion so I don’t feel ripped off.  Perhaps I just haven’t encountered a good recipe for a lowfat or healthy cake, pie or bread that I like, so I am certainly open to suggestions. I feel this way about ice cream, too, but I think there are some good alternatives with fro yo and coconut milk ice cream. But, I stand by the belief that you live only once and you might as well use some sugar or butter instead of unsweetened apple sauce to make something taste yummy. 😉

I eat pretty healthy most of the time, which basically forces my family to eat healthy, but as we enter my favorite season of the year, I want to start baking some of my go-to recipes that are more of a splurge from our regular eating habits. The world calls this season fall or autumn, but seasons can be so hit or miss in Texas.

So, I like to call this pumpkin season!  ‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin, including this pumpkin bread my friend Jeanette shared with me years ago that I believe she got from her MIL. I’ve adapted it a little over the years since I’ve made it so much, and I’ve included those notes below. I try to eat organic most of the time, and I’ve made note of that below in the ingredient list, but use absolutely whatever is in your fridge.

I haven’t met a single person who didn’t LOVE this recipe. Braden is a big fan, and if he knows we have it, he’ll request it multiple times a day until it’s gone! It also makes such great gifts for friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers, etc. I’ve passed the recipe along to a ton of people, so I thought it was only fitting to share it here as well.

Ingredient List

3 1/2 cups flour

3 cups organic sugar (I reduced from the suggested 3 1/2 cups)

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons nutmeg

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

4 large organic eggs, beaten

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil ( I have also used Canola oil and it turns out the same.)

2 teaspoons vanilla ( I use Mexican vanilla  – my fave which I have also used in this recipe.)

1 15 ounce can organic pumpkin ( I stock up on Trader Joe’s canned organic pumpkin every year!)

1 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Sift dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into 2 well greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.* Test with toothpick. Can be frozen for later use. (I’ve never done this but I’m told you can.) Refrigerate after defrosting.

*Some ovens vary. My oven tends to be on the quicker side, and I just watch it and it usually ends up around 50 minutes bake time. It also depends on the loaf pans. When I make mini loafs, they definitely take less time.

I love this fall loaf pan my friend gifted me a few years ago. Williams Sonoma still has it and it makes such a pretty loaf perfect for the fall season. Another pan I love is this ruffled loaf pan. Also, I  always stock up on decorative, disposable mini loaf pans every time I’m at HomeGoods. These are perfect for teacher gifts, which apparently must be given at all times throughout the year. Who knew? I’m kidding (sort of). I didn’t discover this until this past year, so I’m all about the homemade baked goods as gifts since it’s something I can easily whip up with very little notice since I  seem to forget that I need to do this until the night before. Also, this kitchen towel, y’all. Kind of the most adorable pumpkin thing I’ve picked up as of late. How cute would this be as a gift with some homemade pumpkin bread?!

 

 

Breaking out the fall clothes

Pumpkin season also means cozier fall clothes. I love this tie bell sleeve sweater in an oatmeal color. It’s pretty lightweight, so it’s very wearable right now. I love the tie detail on the sleeves- very on trend right now, but the color of this sweater still makes it classic so I know I’ll wear it beyond this season. The creamy color makes it versatile for wearing with normal denim or colored denim. These jeans are so comfy and are less than $70! The hem makes them ideal for wearing with ankle booties. I’ve worn this top with wine-colored denim and some burnt orange jeans (two of my fave fall hues!), too.

fall loaf pan with leaves | pumpkin kitchen towel | mini loaf pans (similar) | marble serving board | tie bell sleeve top | Jeans | necklace

Let me know if you have any pumpkin recipes or other fall recipes I should try. I love to cook this time of year, and I plan to share more recipes soon!

LL

 

Family Thoughts Working Mom

Thriving vs. Surviving

October 12, 2017

I’ve taken an unintentional hiatus from blogging and frankly a few other things in life because of my schedule the past few months. For the first time in probably 15 years, my workout routine has been relegated to twice a month spin or yoga classes, and I’ve definitely suffered from it since exercise is such a huge stress reliever for me.

I’ve felt a shift the past few months that has led to some big life changes, most notably me quitting my full time public relations job that I’ve had for nearly ten years. I’m currently working on a contract basis through October to finish out some projects and help my team transition then I’ll be closing the door to that chapter of my life.  What got me here? Well, I can attribute this decision to a couple of things that have happened over the past few months or longer.

New job for Ben = single mom half the month. In May, right after we got back from Maui, Ben started a new role (same company) which meant he was heading to Midland, TX for two weeks out of each month. This was a huge shift for our family, one that I knew would be hard for me and even harder for Braden, but I just didn’t realize how challenging it would really be. I am so, so thankful that Ben is a hands-on dad. We are both in the thick of it every day, tag teaming childcare, bedtime routines, pediatrician appointments, dinner – really everything. To have your other half taken out of the mix half the month is a shock to the system. For me, as a working mom it has been extremely hard to balance school pick-up and drop-off every day, dinner, bedtime with a toddler who recently made the shift to a big kid bed, etc. I’m sure this sounds like everyday life for many so you might be thinking I just can’t hang. But, I have self awareness to know that I was just getting more and more overwhelmed and was reaching my breaking point.

Braden just adores Ben too, so it was tough trying to explain to him on a daily basis that daddy wasn’t coming home for a while. We got him an airplane to show him that dad flies out, and we facetimed at least once a day. While those things helped, Braden still wanted his dad’s presence and that was something I could not give him, which left me stressed, frustrated and emotional, which then led me to be short on patience with him. This became a vicious cycle where I was becoming a stressed out mom that wasn’t being there for my family in the way I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be counting down the minutes until bedtime every night so I could have a mere 30-45 minutes of personal time a day. I started to feel really guilty that I was feeling this way and the guilt just started eating away at me.

I went to the lake in South Carolina last month, and I finally finished The Magnolia Story, the book by Chip and Joanna Gaines I started reading several months ago, but never quite got into it enough to finish it. I can read multiple books when I travel, especially on the plane so vacations are always great for me to catch up on books that have been on my reading list and I do recommend reading this one! One thing Joanna did talk about in the book was getting to a point of thriving versus just surviving. I was definitely surviving as a mom, and that was just not good enough and knew I needed to change something. My job is pretty demanding. I lead a team of great people, but I get pulled into a lot of different directions and usually work more than 40 hours a week, often bringing my laptop home to answer/catch up on emails or edit/review work people have sent me that I couldn’t get to during normal business hours since I’m in a ton of meetings. Jumping online after Braden went to sleep most nights left me mentally and physically exhausted. I realized work was the one thing I could control in my life so I decided leaving my job was the best thing for me and my family. I know I wanted to continue working, but I wanted something that gave me the flexibility I needed and realized that was working for myself. I have been approached for consulting or freelance work quite a bit over the years but never felt like I had the time to pursue it. It’s pretty common in my industry of PR and marketing to work independently. I think I was scared to take this on, but honestly, I know I am great at what I do, and I just sort of needed to take a leap of faith. So, I’m branching out on my own, offering PR and marketing services to brands and companies. I’m excited to start this new career adventure and am using the next month to try to get organized and learn as much as I can about starting a business.

Another huge reason I left my job was because it was adding to my stress level in a way that just wasn’t healthy for me. I became very anxious and really had trouble sleeping. It just kept getting worse and worse which impacted other aspects of my life. I didn’t have the energy or patience to be a mom to a sassy little toddler, and I became a wife that complained so much to my husband. I started to really hate that about myself. This wasn’t all work related – it was just one of the many layers that was causing me to NOT thrive.

People say it all the time, but the time when your kids are young really passes by quickly. I can’t believe I have a three-year-old. I want to be a present, happy mom that enjoys every day, and I need to be present more than ever since Braden is totally going through the threenager stage, testing us all the time lately. I have certainly had happy moments the past few months, but the stress was taking over, and I just couldn’t do it anymore.  I wanted to stop keeping my head above water. I want to thrive again so I can expand my family one day and be the best mom and wife possible.

People who know me in my day-to-day life know that I lost a baby last December pretty late in my pregnancy at 22 weeks. I mentioned it here, but didn’t talk much about it on my blog or social media. It was so devastating for me, and it really changed me. It’s hard to articulate just how much. I find myself looking at the piece of paper I have with her small little handprints and footprints and the jar with her little ashes, and it just hurts my heart to think about what life could have been with that baby. I try not to dwell on this too much because it’s obviously not productive or healthy, but I do often think about her and our little family of four I could have right now. It makes me realize how much I do want another baby, and I hope that happens for my family again one day.

This is getting really quite long so I appreciate you reading if you’ve gotten this far! Bottom line: I am making life changes that put me in a place to be thriving not just surviving. We only get one life and I want to live it fully and authentically.

So, what’s next for me? I’m focusing on myself a little. I am hitting the reset button so I get to a space where I feel inspired again. I’m not rushing every day to get some place when really the only place I truly want to be is at home with Braden. I’ve enjoyed leisurely mornings, making breakfast and not fighting traffic. I’ve only been doing this for a week, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it.  I’m learning how to navigate life as a small business owner with a flexible schedule working from home. I want to blog more as it’s been a fun creative outlet for me. I’m focusing on getting back into a workout routine again, so I feel good and less stressed. I know there are certain things I’ll miss about my job. I have a great team, clients I really love and get to interact with some smart marketers that have taught me so, so much the last ten years. Most people at work have been overwhelmingly supportive of this step I’m taking, and I’m so grateful for that and those people in my life. But, I know it’s time to do my own thing.

I’m not sure how it’ll all pan out, but I’m excited for this new adventure.

More soon,

LL