these are a few of my favorite things

we put up our christmas tree over the weekend – is there anything better than that golden glow of white lights at night!?! – and our elf ‘eddie’ has returned!  the poor guy isn’t very creative – he must be tired.  i really hate to steam roll through thanksgiving, but i’ve really had christmas on the brain and i’ve made a good dent in my shopping.  the plan is to keep the momentum going so i can just do the fun christmasy stuff thru the month of december.  today, i thought i’d let you in on a few of my favorite things that you might want need to add to your own christmas list!  these are things i own and love and can give a hefty stamp of approval to.  everything is linked up below.

bralette – ok, i have given up on legit bras because i am done being uncomfortable.  these are pretty, feel like you aren’t even wearing a bra, and are pretty inexpensive as far as bras go.  sold.

leather jacket –  well, it’s faux leather, but looks and feels like real leather.  i had been searching for about a year for the perfect moto jacket (that wouldn’t break the bank), and this. is. it.

patagonia – this pullover is so warm, it feels sorta like wearing a blanket, which is basically my idea of heaven.  i have it in white, which i was worried about, but i’ve managed to keep it white for about a year, and that’s sayin’ something.

dutch oven – i have had this one for about 8 years, and it’s great.  it’s a less expensive version of this, and it has performed so well.  i use it at least a few times a week, especially in the winter when soups are on the menu more frequently.

hydroflask – ok, this is silly, but it’s practically my fourth child with as much as it gets carried around.  i am trying to be better about drinking more water, and this thing is great, keeping it cold for hours.  make sure you get the straw top, because water just tastes better out of a straw.  ;)

copper mugs – the moscow mule has quickly become a favorite at our house, so copper mugs to serve them seemed just right.

tote – this thing has taken a beating, and the more it gets used the better it looks.  one downfall is that it just has one small pocket inside, but it hasn’t been a deal-breaker for me.  they have it in a cross body version that would be great too.
wallet – ok, this is pretty big for a wallet, but it holds everything and then some and can double as a clutch.  it’s on major sale with kate spade’s early black friday sale.
zella leggings – i had heard from a few people that these are THE leggings.  i finally bought mine at the nordstrom anniversary sale, and they were so worth it.  they are mid-rise,  reversible (one side is matte and one side is more shiny (but not too much)), and so comfortable.
now, quick!  start that wish list!
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our gratitude tree

one of the greatest gifts my parents gave was teaching me to be grateful.  i think it’s led to my ‘glass half full’ outlook on life, and it’s a gift i want to give my kids as well.  they will probably grow up wanting for nothing – we have a roof over our head, plenty of food and car to get us where we need to go, among many other things.  i don’t want to guilt them, but it’s important that they understand that there are so many who are struggling just to get their next meal or to find shelter each day.  we’re starting with a simple, age-appropriate, and visible idea this holiday season with our gratitude tree.  we’ve been at it for several days, and each of us has the chance to write something that we’re thankful for each day – and we’ve seen everything from family members to food to barbies and hot wheels.  hey, it all counts!  and they’re really into it.  i had originally thought it would be a thanksgiving activity, but the kids have gotten so excited about it that i think we’ll keep it up through christmas and keep adding as we go through the season.




it’s the last thing we see before we go upstairs at night, and a nice reminder for all of us to count our blessings.


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diy choker & 3 ways to wear it

you guys, this is literally the easiest diy.  it takes about 5 minutes and it will save you so much money…that is, if you’re in the market for a choker.  i was shopping for one of these and finding them for anywhere from $35 – 45 when it finally dawned on me to just try it myself.  the supplies are readily available at a craft store, and it cost less than $15.  so, here’s the diy:  cut your cording to your desired length (mine is about 5 feet, but i might shorten it a bit).  thread a few beads on each of the ends and tie a knot at both ends to keep them on.  the end.

here’s what i used:  leather cording; i couldn’t find the exact beads i used online (they came from the jewelry section at michael’s), but these are similar, and these would be cool.  really, anything goes.


look 1:  simply wrap the cord around your neck 2 or 3 times and leave the ends looseimg_0157

look 2:  wrap around your neck twice and tie the ends once.  you could double knot it too.img_0160

look 3:  wrap around your neck twice and tie a bow.  img_0169

i think i might try it in velvet next!  if you’re not into diy, here’s an option.

thanks to my cute assistant for his photo skillz…img_0162


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non-toy gift guide

i just heard that we only have 5 weekends left until christmas – say what!!!???!!!  it still feels warm and fallish here in KC, and i haven’t really had christmas on the brain…until now.  i’m trying hard to get my ducks in a row early this year so i can really enjoy the season and not get stressed out by the gift-buying and wrapping that i usually leave to the last minute.  i’m sure each of your kids, like ours, knows exactly what they want from the toy department, but here are a few non-toy ideas that are going to be appearing beneath our christmas tree.


  1. tee-pee – what kid doesn’t love a cozy little spot to peruse a book or play?
  2. lego book – what do you do with all those loose legos!?!  this book gives tons of ideas to build something new
  3. special skirt – chloe will lose her head when she opens this, and she will probably wear it basically every day, so the cost per wear will be pennies.
  4. yeti in my spaghetti – every time chloe sees an ad for this, she talks about how bad she wants it.  done.
  5. boogie board – i think my kids are a little young for this right now, but keeping this idea in my back pocket for the next time we take a long road trip.  would be great for practicing letters, numbers, math problems or just doodling.
  6. slippers – um, they’re fuzzy mice for little feet.  i can’t.
  7. watercolors – kids.  paint.  wonder.  enough said.
  8. bean bags – these are happening this year, and i got them personalized with each of the kids’ names.  i think they’ll like that special touch, and they’ll know who each one belongs to.  maybe no fighting since they will each get one!?!  we can only hope!
  9. indoor snowballs – i feel like this could use up a lot of pent-up energy in the basement this winter.  i’m lookin’ at you, beckett – our own personal energizer bunny.
  10. apron and utensils – for the little chef!
  11. kinetic sand – my kids play with this for hours, and i just added some to their wish list to add to what we already have
  12. purse – you can probably tell that chloe is into all things sparkly at the moment.  she is three after all!

now, i’d love to hear what non-toy items are going to be under your tree this christmas!



capsule dressing – for kids

i saw a quote the other day – ‘motherhood has a very humanizing effect.  everything gets reduced to the essentials.’  meryl streep said it, and it hit so close to home for me, particularly right now.

having a third child has been amazing and has also turned our life upside-down.  now, all moments are accounted for.  there is hardly ever a time that someone isn’t needing something – snacks, shoes tied, where’s this toy, diaper change, snacks, play with me, another diaper change and more snacks.  so, as i reflect on this past year of being a family of 5, i have felt overwhelmed for the majority of it.    like, drowning.    super drowning.    so much of what happens on a daily basis is out of my control, and i am trying to react as the day unfolds – moods of kids, how well they sleep at night or nap time, etc. so i think i was craving an outlet where i could have some control.

that brings me back to the point.  reducing to the essentials – streamlining.  i have been doing my best to pare down in every way.  house tchotchkes, clothing, books, toys (some i rotate in and out), kitchen items, you name it.  i am FAR from done, but i have made a lot of progress.  now this doesn’t mean i don’t buy things.  i do, but i try to be A LOT more thoughtful about what comes into this house.  because stuff for 5 people, well, there’s a lot.

one way i’ve tried to be more conscientious is with clothing.  i started reading the blog unfancy a while back and it really resonated with me.  have you heard of a capsule wardrobe??  it’s narrowing your wardrobe down to things that flatter and fit and all work together each season.  i think it’s fascinating.  she has written a lot about it, and if you’re interested, i suggest you check her out.  weirdly, she was the photographer at the wedding of a friend of mine – before she started her blog, i think – and is so sweet in person.  it comes through in her writing, and ya just feel like you’re her bud.  …i digress….  so i’ve tried to employ some of these capsule ideas with chloe’s closet. here are a few tips that have helped me.

  • pick a color palette, and stick to it.  i chose raspberry, navy, black and white as her staples.  pretty much everything in her closet is one of these colors right now.
  • think hard about what your child wears happily.  this is all in an effort to make getting dressed EASIER.  chloe wants to wear a dress pretty much 100% of the time, so that’s really all i purchased for her this fall.  she can wear them with bare legs in early-fall and throw on some leggings or tights as the weather cools down.  she does have two pairs of jeans, but wears them probably once a month.
  • think about pieces that will play well together.  i bought chloe a few tops that we can layer under short-sleeve or sleeveless dresses, and she has a few tops and sweaters that we can layer over.  since everything is in the same color palette, it all can swap in and out, and even when she picks her clothes, it looks acceptable…for the most part. ;)
  • when you’re shopping, remember what you have already.  i used to buy things just because they were cute.  then i’d come home and feel like she had nothing to wear since none of it worked together (i used to do this for myself too!).  sound familiar?  now, i know chloe has plenty of dresses, so the only things she would need at this point would be layering pieces – a shirt with a cute collar , a vest, or possibly a skirt to go with some tops.

the has helped both of us.  i know exactly what she needs and doesn’t, and she has gotten more freedom to dress herself.  win!  so, tell me – have you experimented with a capsule wardrobe??


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a few words on style

i am an observer by nature. if you know me, you know i’m also a questioner – where are you from, how many siblings do you have, what do you do for work, do you have kids?  some people might think i’m interrogating them, but really, it comes from a genuine place of curiosity.  i’m curious about people, and what we wear is part of that picture.  i look for inspiration everywhere – from magazines to blogs to IG to…wait for it….REAL LIFE. i love to see how people have developed a style, how they turn a trend on its head or re-interpret some thing that’s been around for ages.  so, all that to say, if you are curious, i’m going to put myself out there and show you some things that are in my daily rotation.  now, let me be frank.  i am a normal person doing normal things and wearing normal clothing.  i hope that’s relevant to you – it is to me.  i will not be wearing prada or galavanting in mykonos while doing so.  on the daily, i am taking my kids to school and changing diapers and going to target and bringing kids to sports practices.  and i guess i like to feel somewhat put-together while i do all that.  you’ll see A LOT of jeans, some dresses and probably even some athleisure wear.
it took me a long time of being a stay-at-home-mom to stop buying things that don’t fit my lifestyle. i think i was living in a bit of fantasy-land, where i was still trying to reason that I would wear dressier items, but then would consistently reach around them in my closet.  i’ve finally come to terms with what my lifestyle is – casual – and i’m trying hard to work with it by giving things my own spin.
i’m doing all this with the hope that it might give you an idea or spark a bit of excitement about getting dressed in the morning (or afternoon, i’m not judging).  bear with me as I develop this piece of the blog – it’ll be a work in progress.
and, let me ask you – what would you like to see??
(this is me being pretty awkward.  things will get better, i hope.  ;) )
jacket: found this one at tj maxx, similar from the same brand
t-shirt: old from j. crew factory, similar
jeans: old from the gap, similar
sunglasses: similar
shoes: sold out in most places, similar, similar, similar
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halloween recap

every year, i see a family that dresses up as a unit, and think ‘next year!’  well, beckett is 6, and i’m thinking this might have been our last year with any gentle influence on what to wear.  chloe first declared she wanted to be a mermaid – no surprise there.  so, we scrambled and tried to think of something sea-worthy but also ‘cool’ in the eyes of a 6-year-old.  a shark.  the idea for hudson to be a lobster followed quickly, and when i went to get chloe’s costume and found an octopus ‘skirt’, i knew it was meant to be.  jared was a scuba diver, and we were ‘the family that dresses together!’  it didn’t make a lot of sense until we were all together, but i’m glad we got to do it at least once.


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5 minute face

i keep things pretty simple when it comes to make-up.  if i’m in a super-hurry, it’s just tinted moisturizer and blush, and if i’m going all-out, i add a little eyeliner to this mix (let’s be honest, that’s probably about twice a month).  but my typical day includes (from l to r) a brow pencil, concealer, mascara, tinted moisturizer with spf, and blush.  i’m not super loyal to many products, but one thing i always come back to is the voluminous mascara from l’oreal.  i’ve tried a million brands from drugstore to department store, and this is the ONE.  the nars blush and josie maran tinted moisturizer are newer in my rotation, and i am loving them.  the blush (color is ‘orgasm’) is just enough color, and the teensiest bit of shimmer, and the tinted moisturizer provides just the right amount of coverage.  my skin leans to the dry side, so i usually slather on a serum or moisturizer even before this step.  also, that pink blending sponge is great, particularly for concealer.  all in all, though, it’s about a 5 minute process….with hudson at my feet pulling out all my hair products and scattering them around the room.  hey, whatever it takes to get the job done.

what beauty products can you not live without??


life lately

october has quite possibly turned into my favorite month.  the stress of the start of school and activities has subsided (not to mention the heat and humidity), and we can jump into fall fun headfirst.  the weather has been amazing, and we have packed each weekend with a jillion activities, and while we’ve been so tired at the end of each weekend, we have spent our minutes well.  around kansas city, fall brings pop-up fun of so many kinds – apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and farms turn into gathering places, many of which you could spend your entire day.  we visited alldredge apple orchard in platte city a few weeks ago.  it’s a smaller scale spot, great for little kids, and ours were perfectly happy for a few hours – jumping, chasing chickens, picking apples, and jumping some more.  brace yourself for an onslaught of pictures…







the next weekend, we visited fun farm in kearney.  it is acres and acres of activities – all kinds of farm animals, another huge jumping pillow, ‘gold’ mining, a corn pit, a train, a treehouse, a corn maze, and even a (somewhat sketchy) carousel. my kids were in heaven.


this baby… looking a lot less like a baby lately. img_9589

and this boy… looking a lot more like a teenager (with the ‘tude to match).  i can’t take it.  img_9594

the corn.  they could have stayed in it all day…..and we were finding it in pockets and shirts and pants and diapers all day as a result.  img_9626img_9641


i’d say they had a good time.




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diy {decanters}

i saw some liquor decanters a while back, and the price tag was something like $200. i loved them, but not $200 loved them.  i decided to try doing it myself and they turned out so great i gave them as christmas gifts.  these could be a fun housewarming gift too!  it doesn’t take a lot of time, just a little patience, and there is so much room to improvise with these.  you could write in cursive with the etching cream, make different patterns, i even had a friend who did a set of wine glasses with all different letter C’s as a wedding gift.

here’s what you need:  glass bottles (you could really use anything that’s smooth glass.  these are what i have, and you can choose from a bunch of lid options), etching cream, an old paint brush, painters’ tape, and vinyl letters.

first, wash and dry your bottles.  you want them to be really clean, so the letters stick well and don’t allow any etching cream to seep under them.  apply your letters, and then use painters’ tape to make your borders.  really smooth down your letters and the tape to make sure they are sealed to the glass.  i made the etching go about half-way around the bottle, and you can see below i had my letters ‘rest’ on the bottom border.


apply the etching cream, and let it sit on the bottle for a bit (consult your bottle to see how long your brand recommends).  don’t cut this part short or the etching won’t be as ‘frosty’.  IMG_1754

rinse off the etching cream, peel off the letters and tape, wipe down the bottle to get it completely dry, and voila!  seriously, it’s that easy.



i also did a set just using the vinyl letters that turned out great too.  less time, and a totally different look, but just as unique.



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