6.21.2018

minimal living 101

I've shared about minimalism over the past few years of blogging and how it's brought our family so much freedom and peace of mind. Since getting married in 2012 and then having Olivia in 2013, we have been pursuing minimalism as a couple and family and have been able to get rid of about 75% of our belongings over the last 5 years. I had the chance to speak on this topic to my MOPS group this past Spring and it sparked so many amazing conversations and got so many Moms thinking about it and wanting it for themselves, and because it's been so life changing for us, I thought it would be fun to do a post that offers a good overview of minimalism if you think it might benefit you & your family too! 


I am going to bulletpoint what I think is most important that you know about minimalism and then give you some steps to get started! I also have all my favorite articles linked under my minimal living page to serve as resources. 

what minimalism is:
simplified living
being thoughtful about what we bring in to our home
removing distractions that keep us from knowling & fulfilling God's purpose for our lives
an appreciation of space
prioritization of the things that really matter
getting rid of what isn't necessary
less stress
a means to allow you to accomplish what you were created & called to do
finding satisfaction in what you do have and treasuring it all the more
practicing self-control and teaching it to your children
putting people above possessions
knowing exactly what you own and where everything is in your home
only having things in your home that bring you joy
a lifestyle
a mindset

what minimalism is not:
owning nothing and living without furniture in a home with bare walls
the same as organization (you can organize all you want and still have a house filled with stuff)
about never buying anything
about feeling deprived
getting rid of everything once and then letting it reaccumulate

what minimalism means for us:
a clean & clutter-free home (even with 3 kids)
financial freedom
living debt-free
raising our daughters to value people more than things
kids that don't mind cleaning up because it takes only a few minutes
seeing creativity, imagination & sharing amongst our daughters
open space to play
room to breathe
joy, freedom & peace of mind
more time to spend as a family
less time spent cleaning, organizing, maintaining, working for and paying for stuff

how to get started
first off, download the YouVersion bible app on your iphone (its free) and complete the 14-day devotional "the more of less: a guide to less stuff and more joy" -- this is a great introduction to what minimalism is and asks thought-provoking questions to help you understand why you want to pursue it and gives practical steps to take, all with a biblical foundation. You can even do it with friends -- or your husband! -- and there is a "talk it over" portion after each reading where you can share your thoughts. If I have a friend who asks me to help them minimize, this is the first "homework" I give them, and I do it with them so I can get an idea of why they want to start and what they most hope to get out of it. 

secondly, pick a place to start. I suggest mentally categorizing things in your home and picking one of them to begin with (for example, KIDS, CLOTHES, KITCHEN, GARAGE, BATHROOM etc). If you pick KIDS, break it in to easy to tackle sections: BOOKS, TOYS, CLOTHES, SHOES or by space: PLAYROOM, CLOSET, BASEMENT etc. This will make decluttering easier to accomplish and give you an area of focus instead of just feeling overwhelmed and like you need to get rid of everything you own all at once ;) 

Let's say you choose KIDS >> BOOKS. Go through all the children's books in your home, wherever they may be. Which books do your kids never reach for? Which books do you not actually enjoy reading to your kids? Which books are falling apart so much that you can barely read them? Depending on how many you own, try to get rid of at least 1/3-1/2 of your collection. Pass them along to friends whose kids might enjoy them, bring them to "Little Free Libraries" around your city or donate them. If you're still left with a good size collection, categorize them and put them in clear plastic bins with labels (for example, by season or by theme...winter books, nature books, summer books, animal books). Store all the labeled bins in an empty closet and pull one bin out per month, rotating through the bins one at a time. Include your kids in picking which bin to pull out and have them help you put the books on the shelves. You will be amazed at how much more your kids enjoy reading the "new" books and you will have bookshelves that are clutter-free and bookcases that aren't overfilled. Chances are, your kids won't even notice you got rid of half your collection and you'll love how much quicker they can be picked up and the new spark your kids will get from them. Reading will become more fun for both you and your children. 

Let's say you choose KITCHEN >> DISHES. Most everyone has cluttered kitchen cabinets with little to no space for anything, even to put clean dishes away. Because of minimalism, we are able to live with so much empty and open space in our cabinets and always know where each specific kind of dish is. This makes mealtime and emptying the dishwasher stress-free. Chances are, you have at least a dozen sippy cups, half of which are missing lids or straws or spill everytime you use them or are ones your kids don't even like, etc. Keep 1-2 sippy cups (per child) that are used daily and get rid of the rest. Same is true with kids plates and bowls. How many do your kids use in a full day? Keep only that many and then run the dishwasher at night and you'll have them for the next day. Go through your own dish sets -- do you have a mix of dishes from your wedding registry, random dishes you've picked up during Target clearance sales and then dishes that don't match anything else in your kitchen or dishes with chips or that are cracked and broken? Pick one style set for your family and get rid of everything else -- ask a friend if they could use them or contact ministries or organizations in your area. Our church works closely with several that are always needing extra dishes. Do the same with silverware. Does your kid actually need 12 plastic forks?? Probably not ;) You get what I'm saying. It sounds so funny but this is actually the reality of it: people own so much more than they even know and often, it is stuff that has accumulated over years and years without even realizing it. 

These are just two examples, but I think the biggest mistake people make when starting to pursue minimalism is feeling like they need to purge their entire home in one day and they get so overwhelmed they don't even know where to start and then they don't start at all. Start small, with small spaces and small categories that you can tackle in an afternoon. Try to take on one of these every day, even if for only an hour while your kids nap or in the evening, put a movie on for them and ask your husband to watch it with them while you do some decluttering. Dustin continually says one of the things he appreciates most about me is my passion for minimalism -- it has impacted both him and myself, our marriage, our home and our family is such incredible ways. If your family understands the benefits it brings, chances are they are going to be supportive and willing to help you as you spend some time working through your home to minimize. 

third (and lastly), put a "one in, three out" rule in to place. This means, for every ONE thing you bring in to your home (with the exception of necessities like food, toilet paper, diapers, etc), take three things out of it. Did your child get a new toy? Have them select three toys they no longer play with (or if they're too little, pick them yourself) and pass them along to kids who will play with them. Buy new shoes for yourself? Go through your closet and pick out 3 pairs you haven't worn in years or that no longer fit you. Keeping this rule in place will help ensure that all the hard work you've done to minimize won't be erased in a few months. Being mindful of what you bring in your home -- and continuing to get rid of what you don't use/need regularly helps you to always be in a forward motion instead of minimizing for a month and then accumulating it all back the next. 

This post ended up being so much longer than I anticipated but I hope it gives you some practical ideas and a look in to the lifestyle we love so much. I'm so thankful God has given us the desire to pursue minimalism as a family and that even my girls are on board with it -- we all see and experience the benefits every day and I can't imagine living any other way! My dream is to write a book on the topic of minimalism for motherhood because of how life-changing it has been for me. As always, thanks for reading and following along. You'll be the first to know when it's released ;) 

6.15.2018

summer shoe favorites

Happy Friday!! Summer is here and we have been loving every minute of it! Between the beach, the splash pad, the park, picnics, popsicles, the sprinkler & all the sunshine, I wish Summer never had to end. I love not being on any sort of schedule, being able to have long slow breakfasts at home and spend all day outside with the girls. We only get 18 summers with each of our kids and I intend to treasure every moment of all of them -- even the hot sticky ones where my car is filled with sand and our laundry baskets are overflowing with towels & swimsuits and bedtime takes 2 hours because the sun is still shining...cause someday I'll look back and miss these days with my little girls and all the amazing + hilarious things they do and say.

To kick off the weekend, I thought it would be fun to share my top picks in Summertime shoes. Over the past few months I've completely revamped my wardrobe to be more minimal like my girls' is and I've been loving it. I've always kept my closet pretty minimal but I've moved toward a much more "capsule" wardrobe with staple pieces that can transition through all seasons (like this jacket that I throw on over everything). And through the process I got rid of all the shoes I wasn't ever wearing and picked out a handful of neutral pairs that are both stylish & comfortable (that I can also chase 3 kids in...) that I know I'll wear for many Summers to come. Shop my favorites below!

I've shared my love for Adelisa & Co's sandals for my girls but did you know they also make women's shoes?? Their Cruz sandals {one} are so gorgeous and pair well with everything. Plus with every purchase you're supporting the families in Nicaragua that make the shoes by hand. The craftsmanship is impeccable and the design is so timeless. Our favorite styles for our girls are these + these

My favorite pair to wear with distressed white jeans, the Crown Vintage Wedges {two} are the ones I most often put on for nights out with my girlfriends. They're also the shoes I brought on my trip to Nashville and walked all over the city in. They come in 3 colors, the cognac is definitely my fav. 

In Summers past I lived in Old Navy flip flops. While I still keep a pair on hand for when I'm in the backyard with the girls, I wanted to upgrade a bit and picked out a pair of White Mountain sandals {three} and Madden Girl sandals {five}. Super comfortable and perfect to dress up or down.

For something a bit fancier, I love these Franco Sarto sandals {four} in taupe. 

Perfect with ripped blue jeans, the Earth Origins wedge sandals {six} are so so comfortable, even on long walks or at the park. Crown Vintage also makes a very similar pair {here}.

Every Mama needs a classic sneaker for Summertime and I picked the Toms Del Rey pair {seven} out in the Wintertime and they sat in my closet for months as I dreamed of warm Summer days. Plus I just can't resist a good polka dot. 

Last but not least, a classy pair of black espadrilles {eight}. They round out the perfect Summer wardrobe and match everything.

Hope you all have the best weekend, celebrating the Dads in your life and soaking up the summer sun as a family. We are headed to a friends' house tonight for a pizza night and bonfire with the kids and then hoping to sneak away for a date night tomorrow before celebrating Dustin and my Dad on Sunday! XO

5.24.2018

celebrating summer with the baby jogger city mini gt

Happy Thursday!! We have been celebrating Olivia's 5th birthday all week and enjoying beautiful (and warm!) weather. Her party was on Sunday and we hosted over 50 of our friends & family which was so much fun. She chose Chipotle for her family birthday dinner (YES to not having to cook in this heat!) and then the only thing she requested was being able to go out for crunch cones with me just the two of us!! 


Even though May isn't quite over yet, it feels like Summer is officially here now that school is out. And when the temperatures rise high enough (after what felt like an extra long winter!!) we spend all day, every day outside. One of my favorite things to do with the girls is take walks during the day at a local nature reserve. It's less than 5 minutes from our house so we go there a lot. I pack a picnic lunch or we stop for breakfast smoothies in the cafe and then spend all day on the trails, exploring and enjoying the sunshine. The girls love collecting "treasures" they find along the way and we bring along our flower and tree guides for them too. All month long we have been taking along our new stroller, the Baby Jogger City Mini GT Anniversary Edition!! Baby Jogger is celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the popular City Mini and City Mini GT strollers by releasing a special edition with some fun upgrades and added extras!

It has been so much fun having some new wheels as we welcome Summer and get outside with our girls!

Penelope is almost 3 now so we rarely need to bring a double stroller along because she wants to explore much more than ride. (Though, after she saw Della riding in our City Mini GT she did ask if she could have a turn). I love that with my girls at their current ages (5, almost 3 and 16 months), this is the perfect stroller for our family because all 3 of them fit comfortably in it but it's still lightweight and compact. We have an SUV with 3rd row seating so there is plenty of room in the back for it, but it also fits perfectly sitting on the floor in front of the passenger seat if I've got the back filled with other things (you know, the standard oversized beach bag and beach towels and coolers and blankets and so much sand...). Talk about a Mom win. And because it's travel-system compatible, you can use it from birth (with the beautiful bassinet) on up to age 5 and beyond. 


A few other features I love:
*Adjustable handlebar to accomodate whoever is pushing it comfortably

*All-terrain tires; these are perfect for going off the trails and exploring through the woods.

*One-handed fold; it even has a "fold here" strap that you pull, which is perfect for Dustin because he uses our strollers much less often and tends to forget how to collapse them ;) 

*Oversized canopy; the days spent outside on the trails get extra hot and when Della needs a break from the sunshine, I love that she is still safely covered while riding.

*Lay flat recline; when Adaline was a baby I kept her on quite a strict nap schedule with two naps a day at specific times. Now that she is 16 months, her naps are much more flexible and often when we're out and about. She can nap comfortably because the seat can be reclined to lay flat in seconds.

*Hand-operated brake; every stroller we've ever had uses a foot brake and I love being able to brake the stroller with one hand easily and quickly


If your family loves being outside as much as ours does, head on over to my instagram @blessednestblog because I'm GIVING ONE AWAY to one of you!! One follower will win a Baby Jogger City Mini GT Anniversary Edition stroller ($379.99 value) for all their Summer adventures!! Whether you're expecting your first baby or have older kids, this stroller is a Summer must-have! Giveaway runs Thursday May 24 through Monday May 28 and the winner will be randomly selected from the entries. Once selected, verified & announced on the original post, the winner will have 24 hours to claim their prize by sending me a DM @blessednestblog. If the prize is not claimed, a new winner will be drawn and announced. 

5.18.2018

friday favorites

Happy Friday!! Feels like forever since I've actually sat down in quiet to blog, probably because it has been. My days lately have been consumed with park hopping & playdates & getting ready for Olivia's 5th birthday party this weekend and trying to keep the girls busy now that Olivia is done with school until Fall. The weather has been gorgeous so we have basically been outside from sun up to sun down and the girls are loving it. I have so many fun things I wanted to share so I had to jump on and put together a quick Friday Favorites post!!


First up, the prettiest floral water bottle. I was ordering something from Target.com earlier this week and I randomly came across it. I love the 20 oz size, the fact that it keeps my water extra cold all day and the price can't be beat. 

The wedge sandals I'm loving this Summer. I brought them on my trip to Nashville last month and walked all over the city in them. Cute with jeans & dresses and available in three colors!

Olivia lives in dresses during the Summer so I recently picked up this dotted pinafore from Alice + Ames. Such a pretty color and polka dots are our fav.

The temps have been in the 80s for the last two weeks and our favorite way to beat the heat is running the sprinkler in the backyard. We have this one and the girls love it. 

We are having a birthday party for Olivia this weekend and while I was getting everything for it at Target, I picked up a few cases of Bai Bubbles for ourselves. I rarely drink anything other than water so these have been such a treat -- the perfect summer drink. Our favorite flavors so far are Pink Grapefruit, Black Cherry & Blackberry Lime. 

The girls have been wearing these flamingo pajamas every night, so cute and on sale! Available in 6-12 months up to 6T so all three of my girls can match!! 

What's on your list this month?? Share any favorite things below!! Have the BEST weekend!!

3.13.2018

Spring Baskets & Gift Guide

One of my favorite things as Spring approaches is putting together Spring Baskets for my girls. You can see what I put in last year's baskets here. Having three little girls makes everything sweet but especially at their current ages I feel like I had so many options of what to fill them with & I had so much fun!


I love doing a mix of practical things they'll use (books, pajamas, sunglasses, bubble bath) as well as some fun things I know the girls will play with every day. I picked some new clothes for the warmer weather & the cutest swimsuits by one of my favorite brands, Tea Collection, a few new sets of their favorite Maileg Mice from My Sweet Muffin, bows & bracelets, hair clips and for Della, some new cuddly things! I always try to choose baskets that aren't traditional Easter baskets so they can be reused around the house instead of sitting in storage for 364 days out of the year ;) Last year I used Pehr Designs Pint Bins and now we use them for their toys, dolls and shoes. This year I fell in love with these darling wire baskets from the Hearth & Hand line and I know the girls will love carrying things around the house in them and I'll also use them for decor and in our kitchen.

One of my very favorite parts of their baskets is something that doesn't actually fit in them -- new floral rainboots from London Littles! Olivia and Poppy love puddle jumping (and I swear they can spot a puddle a mile away) and I love all things floral, so these seemed like the perfect addition. I even got Della a pair so she can be just like her big sisters.


OLIVIA'S BASKET:


PENELOPE'S BASKET:


ADALINE'S BASKET:
Briar Handmade Spring Bonnets
{Use code NEST15 for 15% off your purchase through the end of March}


Other favorite items to fill baskets with are new art supplies, bubbles (the perfect backyard entertainment as the weather warms up), stickers or small bath toys. Once it arrives, I'll be adding the Tubby Sweets Bundle, with one bottle in each of their baskets. We did this last year and it was perfect!

What are you gifting this Spring?? Have you filled your little one's baskets or are you still on the hunt for the perfect thing??

3.02.2018

spring playlist

We always have music on, whether in the car, on my phone or through our Google Home in the kitchen, especially when I'm cooking dinner. The girls love to dance and I'm convinced you just can't be in a bad mood when you're listening to good music, so I thought it would be fun to share a few favorites of ours that have been on repeat lately! 


Hope some new tunes get your weekend started right!! XO

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