A Song for Christmas: Silent Night (Sweet Melody)

Today, I just wanted to share a song I wrote that I got to share at church recently. What a blessing to get to share something I’ve written live and not just in a YouTube video… But that’s what you’re getting today- ha. Regardless, I hope it encourages you!

 

Four of my original songs are available for download if you’re interested (free! unless you just feel like being super crazy nice and leaving a tip, but you definitely don’t have to!) on noisetrade.com here.

(Did you know I shared some fun Christmas decor earlier this week? You can see my attempts at a “cozy minimalist approach to Christmas here.)

Shifting from Fall to Christmas Decor!

Well, the fact that you’re reading a new post from me right now is nothing short of a miracle. Because babies. I can hardly believe it, but sweet Evangeline is already two months old! What even?! And a post is coming (someday) which will feature a ridiculous number of pictures of her adorableness. But it’s a lot easier to sort through 20 pictures of decor versus 20 billion pictures of my new baby…not that I’ve taken that many or anything.

Anyway, because I haven’t gotten to share any of our fall decor this year (though I did document it), I wanted to include that as well as sharing what our Christmas decor looks like this year, since you know, fall is kind of my favorite thing ever…

So, here is a look at what fall looked like at our apartment this year.

fall-living-room-1

My favorite thing in this setup is either that light aqua throw pillow (from At Home, that giant Home-Goods-on-steroids-warehouse store) or that pumpkin painting, which I did real quick one afternoon.

fall-gallery-wall-2Also, that wreath is my new secret weapon, since I can decorate it for any time of year, not to mention it was $4 at Walmart!! #winning (My mom came for a visit and brought some other lovely things with her, which meant that some of the decor got shifted around and/or improved, but I failed to document that since, you know, it was right after Evie was born.)

I do also love that thankful pillow over on the brown velvet-y chair… It’s always hard to put that one away.

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That painting in the middle is a VERY rough attempt at copying The Umbrellas by the brilliant Renoir. I painted it in college, and it’s so far from perfect (cough* those disproportionately long arms * cough) but it brings me joy so I don’t even care that it’s sort of janky.

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I love that I can feel like the art on my walls has been updated just by switching out pictures! So I had to put up this “Autumn Dreams” watercolor, one of my most favorite fall pieces from the shop. Creating art is my outlet of expressing my unrequited love of swirly hair. Such profundity…

Then there’s the entertainment center. I really wish I had taken a photo after Mom came and I added two orange pumpkins to either side, because it looked so happy! But I was still pretty excited about trying out adding color with books. A-like so:

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Yeah, that cord… it bugs me that it’s in the picture, but whatev.

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I wanted to utilize oranges and blues (cobalt like on the Blue Willow dishes, and aqua because it’s my fav), and grabbing a couple stacks of books with those colors made me feel like I accomplished that.

So, there you go. I wish I had been able to snap photos of it after we’d added some things (including these two cute white and orange houndstooth patterned throw pillows from Target- that I got for like $8.50!!), but I still enjoyed this simple decor for fall. Of course, I still got to enjoy my happy fall wreath on our front door again this year, but you remember that since I think I’ve talked about it for like a year.

And now, Christmas decor!! I did a combination of switching out artwork again, using our normal Christmas stuff, and shopping the house (as The Nester says) for some red accents (i.e. the red pillows in the next picture).

christmas-living-room

I also found that blanket scarf that the entire world seems to have at a fall festival for super cheap, and discovered it looks super festive on my couch too! Those white trees light up and change color, so they’re on the coffee table for now since Lucy LOVES them.

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There’s that wreath. I just love it! Plus, throwing a bow on it that I already had was so easy, and now it’s “Christmas” decor. You can find that Christmas print of winter pines in my shop for immediate download or you can order a physical print (but I need all orders for physical prints in by this Friday at the latest!!)

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And the Prepare Him Room watercolor is in the shop too!

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This old painting is another that I did in college of berries in the snow. I like it because it goes along with everything without being super loud and distracting.

And of course, the Christmas tree.

christmas-treeEarly in January this year, we found this prelit tree for something like $25!!! It’s our first year without our wonky little 6 foot tree. (5 foot? 4? I don’t know, but it was falling apart and Ryan’d had it since before we were married!) Lucy gasped when she woke up the morning after he put it up and said, “I so ‘cited dekkate da chee!!”

lucy-and-the-tree

I mean… Is that not the most precious thing you’ve ever seen??? Ok, maybe I’m biased.

Moving on.

For the entertainment center, I basically just switched out orange and blue stacks of books for red and green…

red-books

 

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So here’s the big picture.

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Obviously, the ocean-themed baby swing isn’t exactly Christmassy, but it IS necessary to our sanity. (The baby on the other hand makes every room brighter!)


Also, I show you this next photo because of the banister, not because of the fact that it’s a selfie.

banister

It’s not the most voluminous garland, but you know what? It still makes me so happy. Oh, there’s another of those red bows (like on the wreath above the couch) on the end of the banister.

I guess I could explain that the reason I even have this selfie is because I have a billion photos of my babies on my phone and like, none of myself (since a typical day rarely has me looking this put together right now). Plus, I was headed to see two of my sweet voice students perform in a production of “Alice in Wonderland, Jr.” which was great! (I also enjoyed getting to go somewhere by myself. I mean, that is even more rare than me looking put together…)

I’m so enjoying this new season, attempting to navigate life with a toddler and a newborn, a crazy but lovely gift. Hope the little ways we’re making a lovely fuss inspire you to do the same, even and especially if the only place you can afford to shop is your house.

Imperfect, Artful Living. {Sweet Days + iPhone Memories + Art}

Man. I can’t believe our 2nd baby girl is about to join us. Any day now… Really. Any day. *AHEM.*

I was looking through my phone and the RIDICULOUS amount of photos there, and saw the increasing fullness of this year- from my belly to our schedules- and back to my belly. It’s been dizzying (sometimes downright nauseating- ha), unexpected, miraculously productive, risky, and so good.

 

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I’ve been so blessed to work on multiple custom orders for the shopnew exciting illustration projects that hopefully you’ll hear about some time, whimsical thank you cards, and of course the autumn pieces I shared recently which are my happy place. All of this means I’ve not only created more items for the shop, but I’ve had more business- real, actual business- from the shop this year! Easily more than double last year! That’s such a huge blessing.

 

Beyond work or the shop or any measurable productivity, as summer wraps up- ANY DAY NOW please– I find the deluge of iPhone photos reminding me it hasn’t been all to-do lists and travels (though often it felt that way). 

There have been coffee shop visits, in which much prancing around in tutus occurred:

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There was the annual weekend lakehouse trip with our small group:

 

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There was the incredible and unexpected experience of getting to perform 8 months pregnant at Gospelfest in Kettering, Ohio alongside 9 other artists (and Sidewalk Prophets!)- all of whom had to audition back in June (except Sidewalk Prophets…obviously). That process alone was a risk for me, and definitely a challenge, considering Ryan had to take the afternoon off work and lug a keyboard and equipment and our toddler across town to make that even happen!

It was one surprising moment after another- not the least of which was being asked by one of the audition judges to be on her radio show the day before the performance! I’ve definitely never done that before. Lucy enjoyed it, too!

 

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Oh, don’t mind my crazy eyes and dorky face. I was just freaking out a little…

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The concert happened the next day in an outdoor venue. Naturally, the weather decided to helpfully be either 91 degrees with 200% humidity or crazy thunderstorms that caused a 45 minute delay- RIGHT before it was my turn to perform. So, just more time for me to feel nauseous backstage, no big deal… (My husband was so awesome; at one point during our wait, he said, “You’re gonna Adele the crap out of this place.” I just love that man.)

 

poncho-tastic

 

In case you’re wondering what love looks like? It wears a raging bright orange poncho. And it runs through the rain to make sure all your stuff is okay.

Oh yeah! I had a booth there too… that’s the stuff to which I’m referring. All the artists had the option of utilizing a booth, and this was my very first time actually having all my Etsy shop stuff out somewhere for purchase!

 

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(Hey look- Bethany is totally hiding in the background! And WOW I’m so pregnant in this photo. Who knew I could get even more pregnant than this?)

That whole weekend was filled with such meaning and encouragement! Dear friends rode over with my parents- a 2 hour drive one way- to come and see me perform (and get totally drenched in sweat followed by torrents of rain). Not to mention people from our church who came out to support me, and even other extended family who I rarely get to see! I felt overwhelmed with encouragement and that they all took the time to come and be part of such a great experience with me!

Then, the last two weekends were occupied with two separate women’s retreats…at which I led worship. Because I’m super good at planning. Yet, in spite of how exhausting it is to really do anything at this point, all of those endeavors were such a blessing! I’ve prayed for God to open doors and provide opportunities for me to utilize the abilities I have, and I’ve even prayed for opportunities to risk!

This year has been chock full of those. Throughout the summer, I’ve just prayed desperately that God would help me get all the work done I needed to before Evie is born! But now, other than my desire for her to arrive, I’ve prayed that he would help me savor the sweetness of these days, of these answered prayers, and especially this time with Lucy before we go from a family of 3 to a family of 4.

Yesterday, I told Lu we were going to have special Mommy + Lucy time and do fun stuff. “Fun stuff!” she gasped, “For us??” Just like that, which was the cutest ever. I kept it simple, which is pretty much all I have capacity for anyway, and documented our “fun stuff” as follows:

  1. Fall Coloring Pages- free via Google!

coloring

I decided to make it feel semi-preschool-ish and talk all about fall, because obviously. So, after we talked about pumpkins and acorns and leaves and colored several pages, we watched some youtube videos for kids about fall which she loved. (Notice: she is looking super adorable in Ryan’s old Cubs t-shirt from when he was a little boy! How cute is that?!)

2. Making Peanut Butter Cookies! This was a brave activity for me to do with her. It was the first time I’ve ever had her help me make anything, thus I picked the easiest thing I could think of that was also cookies. My mom’s PB cookies have literally 3 ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes and BAM! Peanut butter cookie deliciousness. There is no possible way you can mess these up. Oh, and you can sprinkle sugar on the top of them if you want. That’s optional. However, making a criss-cross pattern with a fork on each one is mandatory. I’m pretty sure that’s what makes them so good…

 

Lucy was a great helper! She helped dump the sugar in:

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Then she got to help stir with the bright green “fa-tchua!” which pretty much made her life.

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And then that 10-minute wait, in which we could barely contain our excitement as the cookies baked… Then they were done!

 

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Then this happened so fast, I’m pretty sure she just inhaled it.

eating-cookies

 

These aren’t perfect pictures. They were not carefully curated to be part of a blog post. But they’re here because this is part of living beautifully.

This is part of leaning into the art made in the imperfect moments: when you still have storage bins in the middle of your living room that have been there for weeks or your little one is in mismatched pajamas, or you find yourself wearing the same top and leggings all the time because literally nothing else fits because of the new life preparing to arrive (as evidenced by this rare photo of my prego-profile… I don’t typically post lots/any of those).

 

prego

 

I’m happy sharing our moments of imperfect art with you. Freshly baked from my iPhone. With a criss-cross pattern and sugar sprinkled on top.

For a little while, I’ll take a breather from writing here. But rest assured I won’t be able to stay away long! See you soon- most likely with lots more iPhone photos. Much Love!

 

pb-cookies

 

P.S. I almost forgot!!! 4 of my original songs are NOW AVAILABLE on Noisetrade!!!!! Eeep! I’m SO excited about this!!! CLICK HERE to go visit the page and download them!

Closet Nursery! {Aka Let’s Pretend This is Another Room}

pomelierI’ve been pondering and planning and perfecting Evangeline’s mini-nursery in my head for months now. The key words here being “in my head.” I had envisioned one of these cute types of closet nurseries on Pinterest where everything is coordinated and somehow doesn’t feel like it’s just a storage space into which I shoved a mini-crib.

Which is how the closet-nursery felt for a long time. Here’s how it started just after we assembled (listen to me- “we”- you all know it was my husband, right) the crib.

 

shelves

Gah. So much stuff!!! Hmm let’s move those diapers down into that bottom left cubby and/or to other shelves, shall we?

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Ok, that’s a little better.

These last few weeks I’ve been scratching my head as to how to make the closet feel less, well, closety. And less crammed. And just generally more like a space I’m comfortable thinking about one of my children sleeping in.

The thing is, when I looked over those Pinteresty options, I noticed they all had one thing in common: margin. Did you notice there really is still a lot of space left over in all of those super cute pictures? Evenly spaced storage bins, shelves that only hold a few items… Like, where are these people keeping all their crap???

shelves-2

So, storage wise, it was okayish… I’m loving the turquoise containers for sure! But I wanted to move some of that bottom stuff (aka the wooden lazy Susan, the boxes and folders and just whatnot that isn’t kid-friendly). Still, it was starting to look more organized at this point, which was good.

But it was still pretty crammed. I determined to figure out a way to make it feel pretty and intentional and not like it was a catch all for all our possessions including our new baby, along with getting rid of the really heavy stuff we were storing above the crib. Because that just makes me nervous. You know, with all the earthquakes we get in the midwest…

 

So, here it is as of yesterday:

shelves-4

 

And here it is after I decided to move a bunch of stuff on the really high shelves up to our laundry room (downside: now my back hurts a lot- can I just go into labor already?). 

Finally! It feels- mostly- like a nursery. So, welcome! Let the explosion of pink and girly commence.

mini-nursery-full

Yes, somehow I managed to find new places for all the clothes that were hanging above those white shelves. Okay, maybe a couple things will be hung back up that made the photo less cute… And yes, there are still some empty boxes and possibly a trash bag with those aqua poms I love up on that top shelf. But not everything can be extricated from this closet, because valuable real estate, people.

I hung a gold polka-dotted scarf behind the crib, just for some interest, and this cute little canvas sign that says “You are the best adventure.” Yes, I know it’s not centered. That’s semi-intentional, semi-because of the white metal thing holding up the shelf above it.

…Which I managed to decorate a little bit! Yay!

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Look at those FABULOUS sparkly baby girl shoes!!!! Can you even handle it? And that sweet little air-balloon lantern was made by my ridiculously crafty and fancy sister-in-law, and was part of the Baby Sprinkle decor back in August. Isn’t it adorable? It says “Evangeline” on the little tissue bunting around it.

And what’s that? Is it pink flower poms? Is it a chandelier??

Nope! It’s a pomelier.

pom-chandelier

 

I felt like the space needed something above the little vignette area with the pictures and shoes. So, I hung these via packing tape to the ceiling… It’s possible that one has already fallen down. Ryan may have the job of securing them better to the ceiling. You’re welcome, hubs!

 

pink-shoes-close-up

gold-shoes-close-up

 

Remember the Reclaiming Abundance Project? That little pink frame has a verse from week #2, which was all about Lucy aka The Princess. Now our second princess is almost here, so it’s only fitting for it to be in her space too.

And the shelves. I wrangled those shelves until they felt less crazy, and here’s where things stand for now.

all-the-shelves

 

Better, right? I mean, it’s not perfect. But look! There’s actually some margin on some of them now! Including above them, which excites me to no end.

 

shelves-upper-half

 

The big turquoise bin was $5 at the Target Dollar Spot, the cute little pink bin was part of a gift at the sprinkle, and the top two little baskets I already had. Here’s a look at the bottom half of the shelf.

 

shelves-lower-half

 

The other turquoise bin was also a gift at the sprinkle. At some point, I’m hoping to get a couple bins or baskets to use on the shelf for all the clothes there. For now, all newborn-3 month stuff is stowed in the dresser we use as a changing table in Lucy’s room. So, this shelf is all 3-6 month stuff! Can you believe that? But it’s a combination of Lucy’s old clothes, other hand-me-downs, and gifts we’ve received. (Also, can you believe the incredible amount of diapers in there?! It’s so awesome. And it’s 100% a testament to people’s generosity to us as we prepare for Evie’s arrival.)

gold-stuff

 

This is basically the same. However, there’s just a smidgen more room for both the diaper bag and that super cute gold polka-dotted bin from Target. Somehow, I ended up with a lot of pink and gold things, and I love that! Now, it looks like I planned it as the mini-nursery’s theme.

 

cubbies-on-left-2

 

I share this just to show what’s on the other side of the crib. These built in cubbies hold things that aren’t super crucial right this second, or things like the big boxes of diapers that didn’t fit anywhere else (except above the crib), and/or mason jars which I have no other place for. Still! I think this closet is shaping up to feel very nursery-ish!!

 

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We already love you, Evie! Feel free to come any time!

How I Happy: August + September 2016 Edition

Before we get to the happiness, I think it’s important to articulate at least once every August (or you know, September… whatever) why August is the worst. Ok, MAYBE February beats it, but hear me out:

August is when summer is at its hottest, humid-est, gooey-est, and buggiest. For FIVE WEEKS.

And the bugs, people! Walking out of my apartment this August felt tantamount to the risk of walking across a busy highway; you never know when some big, terrifying thing will race out of nowhere- except instead of cars and semis, it’s bugs that WILL EAT YOUR FACE. Like the GINORMOUS locust-cicada-things that have recently found it pleasing to positively LURK on both stairways leading from our apartment down to the parking lot below.

What in the actual heck.

I don’t care if they don’t do anything, they are bigger than any bug should be allowed to be. (Grammar? That felt like a lot of “be”s… Who knows.)

Anyway, the heavily redeeming quality about August is that two of my kindred-spirit-est friends celebrate their birthdays this month. Fine, August. You can stick around. (Literally. Because you’re inherently sticky.)

August-Mockup-5

That’s a quote in my shop about August. A quote from one of the August-born kindred spirit friends.

“August is the month that stretches itself out on lavender horizons. Everything hushes. It’s the only time of year you can hear the last of the plants growing in their dirt beds. They are amber days with caramelized sunsets.” – Brooke Reed

Oh, Brooke, with your ridiculous, beautiful way with words… August sounds awesome according to her! However, I can’t think carmelized, lavender thoughts this year because I’m 9 months pregnant, so August just feels evil.

And yet, let the happiness abound! Without further ado and/or whining about summer, here are the ways I’ve been happying through August and September:

First and foremost, it’s SEPTEMBER! Or as I’ve previously dubbed it, “October Part 1.” I told myself that I’d allow myself on September 1st to begin decorating for fall. ***FALL!!!!*** Let’s just talk about the glories of fall from now until Thanksgiving, ok? Just kidding, you don’t have a choice.

  1. “Happiness” by Needtobreathe.

This song. This album. It’s my new happy place! Even Lucy loves it; she will request the “Happiness Song” every time we get in the car, or I open my laptop… or anything that plays music.

2. Mermaid & Fairy Thank You Cards!– I already shared about these a couple weeks ago

Fairy Card ScaleBut they really make me so happy just looking at them!! I want to send them to people for all occasions- not just as thank you notes! That wouldn’t be weird, right??

Mermaid Card ScaleAnyway, each pack comes with two of each design, so if you’re in need of some thank you cards and want to support my little shop, get you some whimsical, punny, thank-you-card goodness! You can see them here.

3. Elf Facewash + Moisturizer

elf-skincareFirst of all, let’s talk about the fact that the packaging is straight up pretty. Which of course, is crucial to any good skincare… Seriously, I was a little apprehensive to use these when I first bought them back in June, since it was the first time in 5 years that I’d purchased a different brand of face wash and moisturizer. But they have proved to be lovely- and to work!!! They just feel good on my skin, they smell wonderful (they’re not scented- it’s just how they smell). And plus, they are only $7 and $8 respectively!!!! Yay for cheap + pretty + smells good + feels good on my skin! If you’ve been wondering about that cute Elf stuff, I give it a thumbs up (in my highly unprofessional opinion).

4. Gevalia French Roast Coffee

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This is the BEST strong coffee I have found under $8. I think usually it’s about $6.99 depending on if you’re at Kroger or Walmart, and around here we consider it fancy if it’s not the absolute cheapest version of anything you can buy. However, because coffee reigns supreme above all other beverage or food items I consume (and because it makes me supremely happy), I have explained to my non-coffee-drinking husband that this is the one “fancy” item which I am happy to spend more on (aka HE will be happy about it too). Hey- I work from home, so I’m not eating out or taking weekly trips to Starbucks. So, I’m saving us money.

5. This story, by my friend, Libby. Wow. For anyone who needs to know that light shines in the darkness- that it even shined on the dark day of 9/11, read her unique and beautiful story of what happened to her, her mother, and other “plane people” when they were forced to land in Newfoundland that day and the days that followed.

6. Re-reading the Nesting Place + those tiny eclairs. (Which are from Aldi’s.)

nesting-place

I was possessed of a sudden desire to reread this book, which I’d first read back in January (one of the best Christmas presents ever!) and it just did my soul so much good to reread it now. I love it because it’s not just a book about home decor. I love reading Myquillin’s story- all the houses, apartments, rentals, and glorified-two-car-garages she and her family lived in over the years.

It speaks into my story, living in a third floor apartment and trying to figure out how on earth we’re going to make room for another person in here. Most of the time, I enjoy this place and this season, and I even like the challenge of moving stuff around and making it work for our family. But sometimes I have crazy hormones that hate everything and feel like nothing is working because those stupid boxes of things I can’t seem to find a place for will ALWAYS be in the way forever and ever amen and why haven’t I just thrown it all away yet??? Or sometimes, my brain cells evaporate and I have no inspiration whatsoever, and this book is good for that too.

Basically, it just feels like a good friend having me over for coffee and eclairs and telling me my home is beautiful. Right now. As it is. Stupid boxes and all. So, thank you, Best Friend the Nester… Nester Friend. Best Nester Friend. Bester Friend??

Of course, maybe I just wanted to reread it because I’m- wait for it- nesting. Bahahaaa.

 

7. Last but not least, Parks & Rec– I’m rewatching this series for maybe the 3rd time? 4th?? Anyway, apparently when I’m pregnant I turn on comfort TV (while eating comfort food in the last pair of comfort pjs that will fit me). With Lucy, it was Scrubs. With Evie, it’s Parks & Rec. But not really until the third trimester- both times! I don’t know why, but apparently this is something I do when I’m so pregnant I don’t feel like a person anymore.

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I mean, isn’t Ron Swanson just the greatest ever?

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And for some reason there is no meme for arguably my favorite Leslie Knope quote of all time, which is:

Martha, I’m gonna need two hours worth of waffles.”

 

I hope you enjoyed this double edition of How I Happy!

 

How are you happying?

NEW: Pumpkin-Spiced Prints for Your Autumn-y Pleasure!!! Plus an Announcement

It’s almost autumn. AUTUMN, YOU GUYS!!! Beautiful, lovely, pumpkin-spiced autumn. I’m always ready for it, as you know. I wrote a whole series last fall called “31 Days of Enjoy”, which was punctuated heavily by an outpouring of gushing my crisp, leafy love of Autumnal Everything.

 

Last year, I barely made it to October without talking about autumn at least a little. This year, I made it at least to September! I deserve a gold medal. Or maybe an orangey-red medal. You know what? I’ll settle for a pumpkin-spice latte.

 

And I managed to also wait until September to decorate, unlike two years ago(So, make that two pumpkin-spice lattes.) Barely. But I’m totally ok decorating for fall now, because a) baby is due the 27th, but who knows when she’ll come? and b) I’m quickly losing my physical prowess and motivation to accomplish things like decorating.

 

I don’t have pictures of decor today. But I DO have some really special lovelies I am just beyond excited to share with you!!! (And stay tuned for an announcement at the end of the post, too!) I’ve worked hard all summer on projects for the shop, custom orders, illustrations, and lots of new listings- I confess it’s been WAY harder to wait on sharing some of these even than decorating for fall!

So, here are three brand spanking new, watercolor outpourings of autumny happiness I illustrated just to spread my joy further this season! And guess what? They are for sale in the shop as of today!!!

autumn header full view

 

The first one- a redhead walking in the woods- can be customized with the quote of your choice for a smidgen more than the purchase price!

Etsy Redhead Angle EDIT

For example:

Redhead October Quote

Or maybe you like more swirly writing?

Redhead October Quote 4 Meddon

You can request whatever quote you want (as long as I can get it to fit and look right etc.) and what type of font you prefer, too!

Then the second listing (possibly my favorite) features another redhead- yes, another, because I am one so deal with it- surrounded by a happy mound of pumpkins, wearing a happy scarf, and drinking something hot and delicious. (Oh, and her hair is swirly and why can’t my hair in real life be like this?)

Autumn Dreams Angle 2 EDIT

Isn’t she just happy? I super love her.

 

Last but not least is a precious little family taking a walk in the woods together.

Etsy Family Angle

 

Aren’t they sweet with their little baby boy?

 

All of these cheery watercolor prints are 8×10 and are available as printable downloads in the shop! Visit the shop here to download yours!! Or of course you can order a physical print to be mailed to you as well here.

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: If you were thinking of ordering a custom piece from me, I’m only accepting new orders through September 15th- aka you have 10 days to order. 

Since I budget 2 weeks per custom order, that provides me about that time frame to finish up any lingering projects before the baby is due.

 

I hope you enjoy these fall pieces! And dahling, won’t you be so kind as to share a link either to this post or to my shop with people in your world? I would be so honored!

autumn header full view

Happy October Part 1! (I mean- September.)

 

Thank You Cards: Because Puns + Whimsy Can’t Go Wrong, Right?

Have you ever felt so thoroughly overwhelmed with gratitude towards someone that you painted a whimsical mermaid and fairy and made them into Thank You notes to send to that someone???

Thank You Tray

Well, that’s how I felt after the Sprinkle that my amazing- let me say it again, AMAZING- sister in law threw for me a few weeks ago. Wow. I confess, it was one of the most beautiful, fun, cozy, perfect showers I’ve ever been to- whether as the guest of honor or just as an attendee.

Also, I’m pretty sure she is the official Queen of Diaper Cakes. And Diaper Wreaths. And Diaper decor… All the diaper things.

Sprinkle 3

Yes. That is a diaper wreath above the fireplace. Epic. Then there was this big, lovely diaper cake (one of several, people).
Diaper cake 1

Those gold sparkly tiny baby shoes!!!

And then, there was some pretty fabulous food, too… Three words: Pink. Velvet. Cupcakes. (With cream cheese icing in the middle. Okay, more than three words.)

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I was truly overwhelmed by the generosity both of my sis in law and the dear group of friends and family who came! Lucy even got several big sister gifts!! Including this adorable crochet Elsa doll made by my mega-talented big sister:

Elsa

Btw, she has a whole Etsy shop of these fabulous crochet buddies called All on Hooks and Needles which you MUST look at!!! You can also see pictures of what she’s working on right now- before it’s even in the shop- here on her Facebook page! (Her shop even features an entire crochet Noah’s ark set!)

Lucy of course has been carrying her doll around ever since…

I know I received diapers at Lucy’s shower(s), but man, I feel like I’ve hit the diapers + baby wipes jackpot! There was a positive mountain of diapers once I got home and unpacked it all!!

Along with that, I received that gorgeous black and white striped diaper bag I’d been pining away for- which is big, structured, utterly practical, and completely beautiful on top of everything else!

I wanted to do something extra special as a Thank You for all those ladies. So, I painted a watercolor mermaid and fairy, and made Thank You cards out of them! (I say “I” however, my husband helped a TON with formatting and editing them so they’d be good quality!)

Thank You Cards 1

Fairy Card Scale

Of course, it wouldn’t truly convey my gratitude unless there were puns involved… So, the cards say, “Thank you fairy much!” and “You really mermaid my day!” respectively.

Mermaid Card Scale

And I decided, why not add them to the shop? So, as of today, they’re my newest listing! Dimensions are 4 1/4″ x 5 1/2″ and each 4 pack comes with 2 mermaid cards and 2 fairy cards.

Maybe you’d love some whimsical, punny thank you cards for your next outpouring of gratitude?? Click here to see the full listing!

How to Have a Fabulous Girls Weekend: 2016 Edition

Oh, the utter joy and funity of Girls Weekend!!! I think the last time I used the word “funity” was my post about hosting Girls Weekend last year…

I put a lot of thought, planning, and long Pinterest-sessions into this Girls Weekend, but I still followed the principles I outlined last year. Except a little different. Because I’m a million years pregnant.

So, using those same guidelines from last year’s post, here’s how they played out this year:

1. decide on a theme based on something general or an overall feeling

This year, I didn’t have as themey of a theme as last year (aka “Pretty Comfy Coffee Togetherness” which I maintain is super articulate). And actually, the theme stemmed from the decor, which was really pretty simple. Simple but impactful. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Looking at the happy, bright colors of my decorations, I decided to paint a little illustration and then print it off as little cards for everyone, just as a fun way to make it special!

Decor 5

“Colorful. Breathable. Fun.” Just a simple little watercolor piece on a half sheet of paper. Then I printed it on a half of a half sheet size… um, there’s probably an easier way to say that.

Decor 62. decorate with inexpensive yet WOW factor ideas

Ok, so just to remind you, these “guidelines” are borrowed directly from The Nester’s post about a girls weekend from several years ago… And my version of WOW factor = colorful poms.

Decor 1

I actually had these left over from a baby shower I’d thrown with a friend back in February!

Decor 3

Remember, last time I hung giant pink poms with those same white lanterns  and some tulle in the “entryway” of our apartment?

Pink Pom Entryway!

That was super fun, but that area is generally pretty dark, and I wanted these to hang somewhere they’d truly be seen and enjoyed. So, I tried taping them over the island, which I liked!

The rest of the decor came from the Target $1 Spot. Because obviously.

Decor 8 2

Decor 4

The bunting, the colorful feather banner, and the polkadot straws came from the $1 Spot, and the mason jars and burlap runners were also left over from that baby shower. I love that feather banner! It’s definitely made of like, plastic, but you don’t know that unless you feel the feathers.

3. cook something I’ve made before and only cook for the first meal and also make a few things ahead of time

So, this was kind of true, insomuch as I really only made one or maybe two meals? And most of the time, it seemed like this year we were all sort of collaborating on each meal- again special thanks to Kara and Heather, who really ended up doing 80% (99%?) of all food preparations.

Waffles and Quiche

Mmmm, waffles. I mean, those waffles were epic, you guys. They made me think of this:

Breakfast Food Meme

Also, I made that Pioneer Woman cowboy quiche (except I basically included the good stuff from both the cowgirl and cowboy quiche recipes, like bacon + sausage + mushroom + onions + cheese, and left out artichokes. Oh, and I definitely used frozen pie crusts versus making my own).

Scones

Mmmm, scones.

4. say yes when someone offers help

When I listed this tip before, I claimed that I’d taken it and helped it become the greatest version of itself. Little did I know how much greater it could become… If you’re not following my metaphor, I’m saying that I asked for help. Like a LOT of help. Before, during, and kind of after… Because again, I’m a million years pregnant.

Kara's Journal

May I add that as a result of being a million years pregnant, this year I felt more like the beneficiary of gracious guests than a gracious hostess. (Thank you, gracious guests!!!)

5. enjoy the people when they are here and don’t worry about cleaning every part of the kitchen to perfection

Because being together is such a gift, who cares if the sink is full? And yet, we did have to clean up sometimes, because there was a lot of stuff occupying our island… Like amaaaazing bread, made by Kara.

Kara's Homemade Bread

 

6. Keep a loose hold on your agenda. Plans are good, but not when they hijack the fun(ity).

This group of girls includes some of the most kindred spirits I know! We don’t really need or want lots of activities to fill the time. We basically spend 75% of the time talking in our jammies, coffee and tea in hand.

However, we do love a good coffee place… So, we found one in a super quaint town close by! It was so rustic and beautiful, with Joanna-Gaines worthy chandeliers and an upstairs full of welcoming nooks and lovely light.

Kara captured some beautiful shots of our time, and I begged her to let me share them with you! (She graciously consented. Thank you, dahling!)

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(I make it a point to have only super-mega-beautiful friends.)

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(See? And back in college, people used to mistake me for this gorgeous girl. I’ve never been so pleased to be mistaken for someone. Although, it was pretty funny when I got engaged and people kept congratulating her…)

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Kara wanted to snap a maternity shot, and I love this one! I don’t really have many- or any- nice maternity photos, so I love that she thought of it. She’s so good!

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“And on the eighth day, God made coffee.” Amen.

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This mug is so photogenic.

Group pic

Aaand obligatory group couch picture. There seems to be a history of group couch pictures…

This is what's actually normal for us.

This is last year.

couch picture

…We’re missing one dear girl in this one, but it IS a group couch picture. (And documentation that I got Kara to wear red lipstick one time.)

This weekend is one of the most sleepless times of the year. And it’s 100% worth it!

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We feel so blessed to be able to get together like this every year. I think we figured out that this was our 9th year of our “road trip” slash Girls Weekend!

The guidelines have worked well for us, and I hope they might work for you, too!

 

Are you interested in a pretty, custom designed card or print for your own Girls Weekend or gathering of kindred spirits? Send me a message! Go to my etsy shop and let’s chat. Fyi, I’ll be taking custom orders through September 15th, then I’ll be taking a break- errr, having a baby.

10 Days in Anaheim: Conventions, Libraries, + How to Disney with a Toddler

This has been possibly the most eventful summer of our marriage so far. I mean, from June-September, we will have had 6 weekends at home where absolutely nothing was going on..

It’s been a mix of big trips, small trips, and commitments that will lead right up to Evangeline’s due date. But the biggest trip of our summer was to Anaheim a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s the super-mega-abridged version:

  1. NACC for a week
  2. Disney for a day afterwards
  3. Ronald Reagan Library

Feel free to just scroll through the post if you just want to see cute pictures of Lucy at Disney… There are a lot of pictures, friends.

Here’s the super-mega-unabridged version (settle in, I hold nothing back. I’m like Tolkien in the second half of The Two Towers where he describes every gray pebble and boulder in Mordor):

It started on Friday, July 8th when we drove two hours to my parents’ house. The next morning, Ryan flew out early to Anaheim, while Lucy and I stayed with them until Monday, when we all followed. From the 12th-18th the NACC took place, which my husband works for, and which required him to basically work 6 or 7 AM until 11 PM (or later) for the whole week. Aka any time I saw him he was power-walking somewhere.

Jungle 1What an awesome week! Great speakers from pastors like Dave Stone and Gene Appel to speakers like Christine Caine, Bob Goff, and even Tim Tebow! Plus, Lucy did wonderfully, especially considering she’s 2 and requires constant attention (and entertainment). So, obviously, having my parents there was immensely helpful!

Jungle 2

And apparently, California is beautiful. Did you when there’s no humidity in the air, summer is actually pleasant?! Oh. You did? Because everyone knows that? Well, this was my first experience with it, and I finally understand why everyone loves when the whether is a “dry heat.”

Outside 2Every time we passed landscaped areas with palm trees, Lucy would cry out, “Jungle, Mommy! Jungle!” which was the cutest thing ever.

Outside

Thankfully for my mom and the childcare at the children’s convention, I was able to do some If Then Move work at the Women’s Gathering Place booth with Wendy, where we guided women through making Story necklaces (to go along with the NACC’s theme this year of “A Better Story”). 

Women's Gathering Place
It was so awesome seeing how God used the time they spent making the necklaces as a time of surrender and hope! Seeing people come a little more alive is part of why I love my work for Wendy.

WendyITM

A minute later, it seemed like the convention was over! It felt like a long and a short week at the same time… and thoroughly exhausting. (I’ve never been this pregnant at the NACC before. Yeesh.) And of course, my husband walked over 100 miles in the course of the week, so you know, he felt dead by the week’s end.

Friday evening featured a lovely dinner in the Packing District (which if you don’t know is basically a hipster-foodie’s dream), though unfortunately a not-so-lovely night followed for me…

Packing Disctrict Popsicles

Apparently my prego-self did not like whatever I ate there. But I prayed so hard that it would just be limited to the night, because the next day was our day at DISNEYLAND!!!

Though by morning I still felt weak, I just felt better and better throughout the day! And WHAT a day.

Disney 2

(Look at that baby girl. Also, that prego belly. Man, I feel like it’s a lot bigger even now.)

To say the whole experience was truly magical might feel like a cliche or something off a brochure about your visit to Disney, let me say it is also 100% TRUE.

Let me also say, I’d been dreaming of and planning for this trip in general, but especially our day at Disney, for months. (Don’t get me wrong- I was SUPER excited for the NACC too, but I’ve done that with a little one before. Disney is a whole different animal.) I had pinned a bunch of articles on Pinterest by moms detailing how to maximize your time at the parks with toddlers. Prized information indeed. Actually, I created a whole board just for the purpose, which you can see here if you find yourself planning a similar trip!

Knowing we only had one day at Disney meant that I had a very specific but also a very loose agenda. Because not to be Captain Obvious or anything, but toddlers don’t love waiting in lines for hours… So I only had 3 items that I’d listed as my top Wouldn’t-It-Be-Great-If-This-Happened things:

  1. Lucy meeting Mickey OR one of the others on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
  2. Taking her to the Disney Junior Live show
  3. Meeting Elsa + Anna.

Maybe this sounds silly to you, but I just felt like God was part of the whole day. I could just feel his delight in letting these things happen- things that weren’t necessary for survival or super important exactly- but just abundantly blessing us with beautiful, good moments.

Disney Jr. LiveAll three of those things happened within our first two hours in the park! Right after we got to California Adventure, they did a last call for anyone who wanted to see Disney Jr. Live- which was AWESOME. (If you have a toddler, I mean.) It’s set up like an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (Lucy’s all time favorite which she would watch absolutely all the time if I let her), in which they go to the worlds of Sofia the 1st, Doc McStuffins, and Jake and the Neverland Pirates. (Lucy likes Jake, but mainly she adores Sofia and Doc.)

Wonder

Her face. I can’t even. She was so filled with wonder and delight. Each portion had some cool effect which all the kids loved; “snow” falling from the ceiling, then bubbles in the Doc portion, then “gold doubloons” (aka circular cutouts of yellow and gold tissue paper). I know people always talk about the whole fun of Disney being witnessing your kids’ reaction to things, but I happily join their ranks and say how completely wonderful it really is!

Afterwards, we were fairly close to Elsa and Anna’s Royal Welcome (aka the meet and greet), so we headed over to that. One of the clerks at the entrance mentioned that Elsa had to run back to Arendelle on urgent business (keeping’ it real- gotta love that about Disney) and that she would probably be back around noon. Well, when the wait time is an hour and it’s 11:00 and your husband thinks logical thoughts, you get in line and hope Elsa is back in time.

Side note: we were only willing to wait for this because it was inside in air-conditioning. Plus, the waiting area had all these giant screens playing songs/scenes from all kinds of Disney movies, which helped us entertain Lucy, although she was definitely reaching her limits by the end of that hour.

Finally, we got into “the castle” and there they were! Elsa and Anna. You never know how your little one is going to react to seeing characters, and Lucy was just in total awe and amazement… and a little intimidated by Elsa, we think. Maybe it’s because we’d talked about seeing Anna the whole time, but not Elsa (in case she wasn’t back), or maybe it’s that Elsa has really big hair… Who knows? But I had to go sit with her on the floor- and they sat as well. They were fabulous and super friendly, but Lucy still kept her distance. Finally, she gave Anna a hug, but apparently just could not handle giving one to Elsa.

Of course, as soon as we left, she started crying, “Elsa Anna again!” So, clearly she loved meeting them. 😀

Possibly the best part of the day happened next. As we were deciding what to do next, Daisy Duck walked by with a staff member. I immediately asked if we could get a picture, but the guy said they were on their way to a photo op spot, and did Lucy want to walk there with Daisy? Um, YES.

By this point, she was also wearing her Sofia the 1st dress which of course looks PRECIOUS on her, and made this whole thing even more adorable… (Aaaand cue the onslaught of photos…)

A Walk with Daisy

She took Daisy’s hand, and they just walked along the sidewalk together like besties! Of course, my parents, Ryan and I walked behind- all with our phones out, incredulously taking as many pictures and videos possible, because that’s what you do when you’re at Disney with your child.

Window Shopping

BFFs

Daisy was so perfect- bending down and pointing in shop windows, engaging with Lucy, and when they got to the spot for people to line up for photos, she picked an ACTUAL daisy from the landscape and put it in Lucy’s hair.

Taking a Walk

Flower

I can’t even.

Lucy and Daisy

And just because it wasn’t perfect enough already, Daisy knelt down, opened her arms, and Lucy promptly threw her arms around Daisy, which I caught on video. #winning

After that, I pretty much felt I’d Disney-ed like a boss, so we just got to enjoy walking around and seeing all the wonderfulness around us. (Do you know how PRETTY it is in Disney? The whole thing is just beautiful.) We made our way over to the Star Wars area in Tomorrowland (because obviously!) and got lunch, where we were able to watch the Jedi Academy thing happening from our table!

Lucy probably loved this just as much as Disney Junior live. Almost. When Darth Vader left the stage, she was like, “Eh my Darf Vader go?”

After lunch, it was hot enough that we ducked into a close by shop, where naturally Papa caved and bought Lucy a noise-making R2D2 that lights up and has things that spin around the top of it.

What was left but to find Dory (ha. I didn’t do that on purpose) in the emporium and immediately attach herself to it? It was truly a perfect day. And by then, it was so busy and all the lines were SUPER long for things, and Lucy as well as the rest of us were basically worn out.

I know I’m documenting like Every Little Thing about that day, but I just have to, because we felt so over-abundantly blessed! To be there together, to see Lucy’s joy- it was magical.

Disneyland Mug

(So obviously I had to purchase the Disneyland Starbucks You are Here mug. Because it’s also magical. And SO PRETTY.)

The next morning, we ate at a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and gave Dad birthday cards, which he of course was a choked up mess over (which made Mom and I choke up too, as per usual- though Ryan knows we are always sappy about things).

Lucy at Coffee Bean Then we visited Discovery Church in Simi Valley, followed by an afternoon at the Ronald Reagan National Library!

It’s amazing how much is there to look at, inside and out! It’s surrounded by beautiful views.

Reagan Library View

Beautiful ViewLucy found it fascinating as well…

Sleepy and Reagan

Clearly, it was a full 10 days. But full of goodness, beauty, and gratitude.

Selfie of Us

Also, it’s probably unsurprising that we were left a bit catatonic when we got home. I mean, coffee seemingly had no effect on my fatigue whatsoever for like, a week. Of course, I’m also in my third trimester now- yay for the most cumbersome and arguably uncomfortable part of pregnancy!!

If you’re still reading, you deserve an award, because I know this was a wordy post. So many words. And so many pictures. I don’t often write such lengthy posts detailing trips like this. Admittedly, it’s mostly for family members and/or my own memory later when I’m like- what happened on that trip again??

Anyway, if nothing else, I hope some of these photos of our sunshine-filled week brought some sunshine into your day.

 

 

Baby List: The Pinterest of Baby Registries!

Whew! Our 10-day trip to Anaheim was pretty epic, but now that we’re back from convention, I think my brain has entered full baby-prep-nesting mode. (Or it will once I become less catatonic and have a few more nights of normal sleep in my own bed.)

I’ve been thinking and planning for baby #2 for awhile now, for all the obvious reasons. But also because we will have 2 kids under 3 living in our two-bedroom apartment, which we love! (Except the 3rd-floor part.) Admittedly though, our space is limited, so it’s been a really fun opportunity to be creative with what we have! I’m actually excited at the prospect.

Why I Use Baby List: The Pinterest of Baby Registries!And I’m extra excited, because my sister-in-law is planning a Sprinkle for me in a few weeks! Do you know this is a thing? Because I didn’t. Apparently, sprinkles are sometimes thrown for people who’ve already had a child and therefore a full blown baby shower isn’t exactly necessary.

Having a Sprinkle means I got to register again- which was way more fun this time around, because instead of the exhausting quest all over the normal stores, I just used Baby List!

 

BabyListLogo_GreyHorizontal

 

You guys. It’s like Pinterest, except it’s a baby registry; you can add anything from ANYWHERE on the interwebs to your registry. So, if there is an unconventional item you want or if something is listed more cheaply on a specific website, you can register for it! People can view the items on your registry so they know exactly what they’re looking for, see the quantity you prefer to receive, and read any notes or specifications you may have added to an item.

Baby List also has these Best of Guides which are great resources for helping you find specific products. It’s not just stuff Baby List decided was good because they’re paid to promote it; for each item featured on a guide, they share quotes and feedback from real live parents! The two I found most helpful were the Best Bassinets of 2016 and The Ultimate Guide to Nursing Bras.

While I haven’t shopped for a nursing bra, I have registered for a bassinet, which is on the list included in the Best Bassinets guide. It’s not too big, and it can be moved from room to room- yay!

Because of having to consider how much space everything will take up and being on our second little one, I thought I’d share my top 5 favorite things on the registry in case you are also in need of some good, space-saving and/or storage ideas for the next little addition to your family.

(Before I share the list, let me just say, I definitely don’t expect to receive everything on the list; I don’t know what people typically spend for these things!! But I love having an accessible list of things even just for my own reference, as well as where I found them.)

Top 7 Favorite Things on my Baby List Registry:

  1. Diaper Bagjujube diaper bagWhy do I need a diaper bag? Because my other one broke. It’s supposed to be this sturdy thing AND I got it from Target (so obviously it was high quality), and yet, it started falling apart a mere 3 months after Lucy was born! Granted it still functioned for us, but after our trip last week, the strap came completely off one side of the bag. Plus, it isn’t very structured and things spill out of it. So, I found this fabulous diaper bag!!! Isn’t it gorgeous? I read lots of great reviews on it, too. And because of Baby List, I was able to register for it at the cheapest price possible, even though it’s at Shoebuy.com and not a normal store.
  2. Another Diaper BagBetter Life Bags EmilyYou’re thinking, “You crazypants. Why did you register for TWO diaper bags?” Well, friend. The answer is because I discovered Better Life Bags. I love their mission as well as their products and the fact that you get to design your own bag (you get to select your leather, fabric patterns, whether your hardware is bronze/gold/silver, and inside lining color!), so I thought even though it’s way more expensive than anything I’d ever register for, I’d put it on there in case someone just wanted to support them. (I also registered for a handful of online gift certificates to BLB just because it REALLY is pricey and I thought if someone preferred to support them that way that would be cool. I still go back and forth of whether I should even have it on the registry, but it’s so beautiful! And so is the heart behind it. So, it’s still there for now. If nothing else, I just hope more people will look them up!) Apologies for the photo- unfortunately they don’t have a way for you to download an image of your design, even if you save it to the wishlist (it just shows up as the default picture).
  3. Bassinet- bassinetAs I mentioned, I loved the Best of Bassinets 2016 guide to check out different kinds of bassinets. With eight bajillion options for every kind of product out there, it was so nice seeing just a handful that are actually recommended by other people AND will fit in our space. This one has such great reviews both on the Best Of guide as well as Amazon! And it’s way cheaper than a lot I looked at.
  4. Mini-crib- mini crib

Why a mini-crib? Because the biggest challenge for us will be figuring out a place for Evie to sleep and/or storage (for both girls’ things). I had thought of the possibility of turning the large closet in the guest bathroom (which adjoins Lucy’s room) into a mini-nursery of sorts and promptly discovered closet nurseries on Pinterest (where else?)!

Obviously, Evie will sleep in a bassinet at the beginning, but I like to have a plan, and according to the dimensions, this mini-crib will fit!! So, I registered for it on Amazon. Eventually, she and Lucy can totally share rooms, but for the duration of time where she will be waking up and crying throughout the night, I don’t want to deal with Lucy waking up crying, too.

5. Sit and Stand Double Stroller- strollerOk. This is one of those things I wasn’t sure if we truly needed. But after discussing it with other moms of more than one child, I had to put it on the registry… Because there’s room for your baby AND your toddler. Plus, the toddler can sit or stand on the stroller in multiple positions- great for keeping busy little people happy! And Walmart carries it, which is super convenient!

6. These Polkadot Storage Bins- polka dot binBecause as I mentioned, storage is right up there in our top needs. These are SO CUTE! And they’re from Target, because that’s where all pretty things live. I registered for a couple other cute kinds of bins and such, but I think these are my favorite!

7. This pink bear wubbanub- pink bearYes, that’s what they’re called. Lucy has a lamb wubbanub that they gave her when she went into the ICU about a week or so after she was born, and she still loves it to this day! (Yes, I know she’s 2. No, I’m not worried about breaking the habit. Because if it’s in her mouth, she’s can’t cry as loudly when throwing a tantrum. Priorities, people.)

 

I could go on. But I told myself I was only going to list 7 things at most… So there you go! If you’re pregnant or have friends who are, I strongly recommend Baby List!

P.S. This probably seems like it was sponsored by Baby List, but just fyi it wasn’t. I just super love it and wanted to share!