Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favorite Posts of 2013 + Thank You

2013 was naturally another big year for us as we gave birth to our second daughter, Summer, on May 5th. You can read about her birth HERE. I cannot believe she is already just about 8 months old. And, for four months last year we were just a family of three. We celebrated Ellie's second birthday and I cherished my one on one time with her before I gave birth. She was also potty trained at 23 months old. We also made a few furniture updates to Ellie's room. We have done so much in a year and I can't believe it's passed already. Here are my favorite posts of 2013 beginning with Ellie's nursery:
We updated our downstairs hallway: wallpaper, new light fixture, and wall art. I am still in love with the wallpaper and love showcasing Ellie's art in our kitchen. I also added the turquoise chalkboard frame and pictures on the opposite wall.
One of my favorite projects this year was this easy and affordable bulletin board and Anthropologie inspired push pins:
I painted this wooden toy storage box using Annie Sloan Paint for the first time:
 I ordered this large print for our great room. Still one of my favorites:
I have also updated the look of my blog and am still finalizing the finishing touches. I worked with Teach, Pray, Love Designs on Etsy. She was very affordable, was flexible in her design, and communicated every detail through email. I love that you can now view my recent Instagram photos on my sidebar, as well as my recent Pins. If you move your mouse over the image it will expand. Another favorite feature is my new pink "pin it" hover button on each image. You can also follow me on different social media with a one button click. I currently use Bloglovin' to follow my favorite blogs and definitely recommend the site. You can click on the "heart" button to follow me.

Blogging is one of my passions and it's a creative outlet outside of being a stay at home Mom. It's also a way of documenting my interests and family life. I have expanded my blog into more of a lifestyle blog this year instead of just focusing on home decor. Since I now have two children I have many more interests than decorating, such as favorite finds, fitness, recipes, and style. I have incorporated weekend recaps and "five on Friday" posts, as well as recent purchases (always a fun topic). Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate every post comment and email!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

J.Crew Sale: Girls Picks

J.Crew Sale

Flower Dress / Heart Patch Sweater / Tassel Dress / Bib Tunic
Dot Rashguard / Floral Top / Bag
Heart Tee / Supersoft Tee / Heart Dress

Of course I had to choose my favorite sale items for girls. I have only ever bought Ellie clothes from J.Crew on sale or at their outlet store. The quality is great and I especially love their glitter tops. The dresses are super cute, too. It is probably best we don't have a Crewcuts in our mall (there is one at King of Prussia), but with sales like this one and free shipping it's hard to pass up these cute clothes!

J.Crew Sale: Boys Picks

J.Crew Sale 
Striped Tee / Pocket Tee / Henley
 Sweater / Bow Tie / Cardigan Sweater
Tartan Shirt

If I had a little boy to dress he would be wearing primarily J.Crew. I love the preppy, casual style. With a mix of surf apparel. I love little surfer boys! My nephews would look quite handsome in these items. Again, 40% off all sale plus free shipping with the code "shophappy!"

J.Crew 40% off Sale: My Picks

J.Crew Sale

Jacket / Cardigan / Blouse
Sweatshirt / Fair Isle Sweater / Silk Sweatshirt / Hat
Sweater / Skirt / Plaid Shirt / Merino Sweater

J.Crew is having a huge sale with an additional 40% off and free shipping on all purchases. Use the code "shophappy."

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year's Eve Picks

New Year's Eve Sparkle

Fit and Flare Dress / Metallic Tunic / Shimmy Dress / Floral Necklace
Sequin Sweater / Clutch / Earrings / Dress (just sold out!)
Sequin Skirt / Chevron Dress

Most of these items are on sale or under $100 (except for the top two dresses). My favorite is the metallic tassel top. We have nothing fancy planned for New Year's Eve, but we are having a party on the 1st to celebrate 2014!

Scenes from our Christmas

When Ellie walked down the steps Christmas morning her first reaction was, "Wow, lots of presents!" I think she was a little overwhelmed. She first noticed the doll table and chairs and slowly took in the sight around her. Her first gift to open was her new bathrobe, which she has been obsessed with. She even wore it out to Christmas brunch at my parents. She definitely loved her dollhouse the most and exclaimed, "Let's open it! Please let's open it!" Summer's favorite gift was a toy that spins, lights up, and plays music. She actually helped me pick it out at Barnes and Noble. It's nice to have some new toys for her to play with.
I got my favorite J.Crew socks and this bag I posted on my wishlist, but it was a lot bigger in person so I am going to exchange it for the leather tote that was also on my list. Nick also gave me new tall gray Uggs so my feet will be very warm on cold days at the playground. My parents gave us the Cutco knives I had picked out. I am very excited to use them!

After we opened gifts from Santa we went to my parents for brunch. I look forward to this every year. My mom makes the most delicious breakfast. Nick and I brought cinnamon buns we bought at the Reading Terminal the day before. A sweet treat. Afterwards we went home to relax and nap Summer before going to Nick's parents to see his side of the family. We also took a few family pictures. Looking back I wish we did something to get Ellie to give more a smile!
Then, we continued on to my parents for Christmas dinner. Another delicious meal. My Mom is an amazing cook. Presents at my parents was a little crazy with all the kids, but lots of fun. My parents gave Ellie a microphone and guitar and she wasn't shy about putting on a singing and dancing performance after dinner. She did not inherit these skills from me. My sister was on Face Time with us in England- the closest she was to being there with us and her first time not being home with us so that was tough on all of us. All of us received another great gift- I will be an Aunt again this summer as my brother and his wife announced they are expecting their 4th (yes, #4!!) baby. We are so happy and excited for their family. Here is a picture we took at the end of the night. My parents with all of their grandchildren:
My favorite thing about Christmas is not about the gifts, but about spending time with family. As long as I can remember my parents have been doing the same Christmas traditions and it is by far my favorite time of year. Now, my brother and I have families and we have still continued these traditions. Every year on Christmas Eve we would watch It's a Wonderful Life in black and white. My Dad still recites lines from the movie often. And, it seems like yesterday that I used to sneak up to my brother's room in the attic to share our favorite candy (Sour Patch Kids) in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. I only made it up maybe once since the hardwood stairs were so creaky my parents usually caught me.

I had fun shopping for Ellie this year. I did give her a lot of gifts for a two year old. But, I often say "no" throughout the year. When she wants a new toy at a toy store I say, "no." All year long the only things I buy her are new arts and crafts, books, and clothes. I don't buy her a new doll or the new popular toy. Her big gift was a new dollhouse and it's definitely big. I didn't realize how tall it actually was, but she loves it. She got a bathrobe and slippers because she wanted to "be like Mommy." She has been wearing them everyday. Santa gave her a few games (Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and Go Fish) and puzzles- one of her favorite activities these days. She loves putting the pieces together and literally will do the same puzzle over and over again. The girls also got new bath toys. Another favorite gift of Ellie's were her big girls sheets I got from Pottery Barn Kids. She was very excited when we told her we would be putting together her big girl bed. She also loved the princess wand I put in her stocking and even used the words, "abracadabra!"

Christmas Eve after we sprinkled reindeer food on the lawn, left a plate of cookies and carrots, and read to Ellie I was up late wrapping gifts for our parents and for my husband. I also thought I would have to put together the doll table and chairs, but I just had to attach the table legs (luckily). I couldn't stop laughing to myself over the size of it. I assumed it would be bigger, but it literally is doll size. Tinier than I envisioned. It's still adorable. Next time I should check measurements. My husband wasn't feeling well so it was just me and Christmas music. I love wrapping and I really enjoyed putting out the gifts and filling the stockings and writing a letter to the girls.
On Christmas Eve as I previously mentioned we joined the rest of my family downtown for our annual tradition of shopping at the Reading Terminal Market, a viewing of the Macy's light show, and lunch at Maggiano's. It was a fun and festive afternoon.

Christmas 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Merry Christmas Eve!
Here is our Holiday card this year:
On Ellie: Matilda Jane
On Summer: baby Gap dress / Ryan and Wren headband

I ordered our cards from Tiny Prints (complete with matching address labels). I love their quality and selection and am always so happy with their products.

Today we are joining the rest of my family for our annual tradition of a viewing of the Macy's light show, shopping at the Reading Terminal, and lunch at Maggiano's in the city. My favorite day of the year! We'll be missing my sister today, who unfortunately cannot make it home from England where she based with the Air Force. We will make a trip to the candy store and eat some extra red licorice laces and chocolate covered pretzels in her honor. Our favorite!

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Decking the Halls

Decorating our tree was so much more fun this year now that Ellie is so excited about Christmas. I don't know which she enjoyed more- unwrapping the tissue paper to reveal each ornament, in which she exclaimed, "wow! pretty!," or decorating the tree. Only one ornament fell and broke, but I will try to glue it back together since it was one of her "first Christmas" ornaments. We have a ton of ornaments and she still wanted more when we were finished. Afterwards she said, "thank you, daddy. Thank you, Mommy. Thank you for helping me decorate!" I love that she said we helped her decorate. I've always loved decorating the tree and it makes me so happy that she enjoys it as much as I do. My parents have given us (my siblings and I) ornaments every Christmas for at least the past ten years plus the ones I've given Ellie the past two years. I also bought straw ornaments and shiny red ones at Ikea a few years ago when we moved into our house. I love a tree that tells a story. Ornaments are great gifts. You can see our previous trees here, here, and here
Ornaments: Ellie's hand print at 8 months, a hand carved snowflake (Etsy), snowman (gift from my parents), straw ornament (Ikea) and 'S' from friends this year, Moravian star (one of my favorites!)- gift from my parents (Ten Thousand Villages)
As I previously posted, here is my boxwood wreath with my leopard bow still going strong on our side door (hung on the inside). I have been spraying it with a water bottle to keep it as fresh as possible.
I bought Summer a similar stocking to Ellie's at Target and had it monogrammed in the same font and color as ours. It's a little off center and doesn't match the rest of ours so I may have to replace next year. I picked up this chalkboard Christmas Countdown at Target in the dollar section. Isn't it cute?!
I made a festive tissue tassel garland for our gas fireplace and kept the mantel simple using silver and blues to match the rest of the decor in this room. I added our new monogrammed chalkboard print in the center (via Very Jane).
I added greens to our staircase and on top of the bar and decorated it with vases filled with silver ornaments, white and glass trees, silver pine cones and fake snow (both Pottery Barn), a Christmas printable, a large star ornament, and red berries. I also added a book, "Christmas Wishes," my Dad gave to me my senior year of High School. He wrote a note on the inside of the book. I love sentimental gifts like this one.
In previous years I also hung our cards along our staircase. This year I used two small command hooks and twine to create a card display. I used tiny clothespins to attach each card.
I have really loved doing Holiday crafts with Ellie this year. These are my favorite decorations! I hung the paper snowflakes Ellie and I made during the first snowfall. We also made pom pom art and painted ornaments:

Christmas, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week/end Recap

We saw Santa this past week and as I predicted Summer cried and Ellie smiled. I told Ellie that she had to smile for a picture after she told Santa what she and Summer wanted. When she asked why I told her so that Santa could look at her picture and remember that she wanted a dollhouse. She bought it and conversed him well before smiling for her picture. This girl makes me laugh! I love that she hopped right up on his knee and told him what they wanted with confidence.
I dressed them in their Holiday outfits. Ellie loved twirling in her dress!
Friday my friend Melanie and her daughter, Madelyn, came over for a painting play date. Melanie is a pro at handprint and footprint art. I have been wanting to do some for the Holidays and the girls hadn't played together in a while so it was a perfect day. Here are two of our gifts:
Saturday my friend Jen and her son, Cash, had us over for a Holiday mommy/child party. I wish I snapped some pictures of her beautifully decorated house. I was impressed when she said she didn't hire anyone to decorate. The food and drink stations were very festive and she had a craft table set up for the kids. Ellie was in car heaven as there was every electronic car to ride- fire engine, cars, and a train. She played with the other kids and I was able to catch up with friends and enjoy the most delicious Mommy cocktail. Summer stayed home with my husband and it was nice to spend one on one time with Ellie. Jen also has her own cake pop business called Sweet Details. I tried one for the first time. It was the most amazing cake pop I have ever tasted. I've been craving them ever since. If you are local you must think of her for your next party! Check out her website here. The red ones were red velvet on the inside. Yum!!
The weather was beautiful this weekend so after the party Nick and I took the girls to the playground and I ran with Summer. After we put the girls to bed my parents came over so we could have a date night. Sushi and wine at our favorite sushi restaurant, Ooka.
My husband and I both switched up our regular orders and tried something new. He got a sampler, which was amazing and I tried two new rolls. Both delicious.
Summer got her follow-up flu shot on Tuesday. She must have not felt well from it because since her appointment she did not nap in her crib all week! Needless to say it was a rough week on all of us. Luckily, she was sleeping well at night still. She finally napped in her crib this morning and she was a happy baby the rest of the day. Happy baby = happy mommy!

Tonight I am listening to Christmas music and starting to wrap gifts. I love wrapping so I am looking forward to this. Tomorrow I have a few last minute errands to run before Christmas Eve.