7.22.2016

friday favorites

We started a complete kitchen renovation about 7 weeks ago, which is the 5th major renovation we've taken on since buying our first home (basement, basement bathroom, laundry room & master bathroom). I wouldn't necessarily call our house a "fixer upper," as nothing really needed major updating when we moved in, but over the past 4 years we've really wanted to go room by room and make it our own and transform it to be the most functional for our family. The kitchen was the final piece of the puzzle and almost two months later (with Dustin doing most of it himself given his background), we are nearly done! 

Our cabinets were installed this week, we chose a rustic barnwood flooring and that went in and everything is painted a warm gray. Our appliances are being delivered tomorrow and I am so excited to be able to cook again with our new range and to finally have a dishwasher! We went with white quartz countertops with some light grain in them and we're doing a white subway tile backsplash with a darker grout. We have a mix of shaker style white cabinets, chrome pulls and open wood shelving, and one of our walls is completely shiplapped and painted white, but I still haven't decided if I'll be putting art up on it or creating an open shelving pantry with jars for food.

I shared a look at a few of the kitchens I drew inspiration from back in May in a post here. For the most part we've stuck with our plan but made a few small changes, including a white farmhouse sink instead of a hammered copper one. After looking more into how much upkeep it would need, and knowing white is so classic and pairs with everything, we opted for that instead. And we all know one of the best parts about renovating a room is finishing it and decorating, so to kick off the weekend I've rounded up a handful of my favorite kitchen items for this week's Friday Favorites!
one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten / eleven

Clearly I am drawn to everything white and mint! I have a mint kitchenmaid mixer that was a wedding gift from my parents, and I love the idea of having a retro toaster {3} to match. I love the versatility of latte bowls {2} and how much fun it is to mix and match colors. We use ours every single day. Every kitchen needs a yummy-smelling candle and this one in mercury glass {4} is my absolute favorite. 

For tea drinkers, I love this black and white tea canister {6} and this coffee one that matches. I love the idea of gold or rose gold flatware, a fun alternative to silver and this set {8} is so sleek. We love making pancakes or waffles on the weekend and this handled batter bowl {9} would look just as nice sitting on an open shelf as it would in use.

I think my favorite of all these finds is the modern breadbox {7}. It's inexpensive and I just love the look of it. So many bread boxes I've found are so bulky and take up so much space. I also love this serving tray, another super versatile piece, especially for entertaining.

Have you ever taken on a major renovation?! It's always a rewarding process watching your vision come to life and your old space transformed, but I'll definitely be excited when it's complete and we can start enjoying it! 

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! XO

7.20.2016

best of the nest | sugarboo designs

This week I'm thrilled to be sharing one of my all-time favorite brands for gorgeous home decor, Sugarboo Designs. Based out of Atlanta, GA, Sugarboo Designs was founded by artist Rebecca Puig and her husband, Rick, in 2005. Rick and Rebecca are parents to Jake and Sophie, who serve as the inspiration behind many of their pieces as well as the source from which the name "Sugarboo" was chosen, in reference to the nicknames they have for their children.

Rebecca always desired to create products that remind people of the ones they love most and recalls loving to paint and create things since she was a little girl. She attended the University of Georgia and graduated with a Studio Art degree. Her inspiration comes from her family, nature, animals, children's art and folk art. Evident in many of her pieces, Rebecca loves mixing old and new, light and dark and anything with a message. "I believe in putting good out into the world whenever possible," she stated, "My hope is that each Sugarboo piece we send out into the world will add a little good!”

I absolutely love every single piece from Sugarboo Designs, I don't think I could ever choose a favorite. They all have the perfect mix of rustic sentimentality but are versatile to fit in any space for any style. Sugarboo Designs is most well known for their wood signs and coordinating pillows, but they offer a wide range of home decor pieces as well, including wood decor, candles, picture frames, furniture, blankets and more. Many of their signs include their classic cursive script font and often involve repeating words or phrases. Sugarboo signs make the perfect addition to a child's room or nursery, master bedroom or family room, especially with how touching and heart-warming they are. They create so much warmth and comfort in any space.


One of their most recognized collections is the book series, which consists of wood signs ranging in size from 17"x25" to 3'x4' that are designed to look like book pages with famous lines or quotes on them. They also have a beautiful coordinating poetry series. With over 30 different quotes and poems to choose from, each piece is available in cream, charcoal and white and all are incredibly stunning as a focal point in any room. We have the 2'x3' Audrey Hepburn one hanging in Olivia's bedroom, which will eventually become the room her and Poppy share. Olivia has been asking to share a room with her baby sister for several months now and as soon as I saw it I knew it would be the perfect piece to hang up for my little girls.


Hanging it in her book corner seemed like the perfect spot for it, and I love that it is the very first thing you see when you walk into the room and that it makes such a statement. My hope it that it serves as a special reminder to our girls as they grow up and that it plays a part in teaching them about what really matters...about what happiness truly is and always taking time to laugh, cultivating beauty on the inside through their joy, attitudes and perspective and remembering that each day is a fresh start with limitless potential.

Because we love Sugarboo Designs so much, I've partnered with them to offer an exclusive discount for my readers to save each of you 15% off your total purchase from Sugarbooandco.com; simply enter NEST15 at checkout for the discount to be applied. This savings is valid from Wednesday July 20 through Wednesday August 3, 2016. 



And to sweeten your week, I've teamed up with Sugarboo Designs to give away a $100 SHOP CREDIT to one lucky winner to apply toward your own favorite pieces in their shop! To enter, visit my instagram @blessednestblog and find the original post with details. The giveaway will run one week and the winner will be announced there. 

Hope you're having the best Wednesday! Our kitchen cabinets are being installed as we speak so we are all extra happy campers over here!

7.13.2016

summer lifestyle favorites

A few weeks ago we did a summer lifestyle session with our amazing photographer, Ashley, who has been photographing Dustin and I since we were engaged in 2011. A wedding, two babies and many sessions later she just has a way of bringing my vision to life every time. 

I really wanted this session to reflect our family in this season and the playfulness of the girls at each of their ages. Olivia (3 years) and Penelope (10 months) have so many similarities and are both so silly, though Poppy almost always has a serious look on her face, which I love. 

Olivia is our free spirit, wild at heart but so tender and sensitive, always telling me she loves me and wanting to snuggle and hold hands. Penelope has the sweetest little features, big blue eyes like her big sister and such a fun personality that we get to see more of every day. 

I wanted this session to feel natural, unposed and just really warm and candid. As our family grows, these sessions just get better and better. I remember last summer having done our maternity photos at sunset and loving them so much, but having these photos with both our little girls takes the cake for my favorite session yet. 

Here are a few favorites below. 
Sources for outfits & accessories can be found at the bottom of the post.


on penelope

on olivia
floral crown / mustard skirt / striped top out of stock {similar here} / bracelet stack

on me
floral dress out of stock {similar favorites here} / ankle boots

on dustin

extras

Do you do photo sessions every summer?! They are one of my favorite parts of the year! I've already started planning our next one this Fall to celebrate Poppy turning one, time is flying!
XO

7.06.2016

best of the nest | parasol co.

You know you're a mom when new diapers & wipes show up at your front door and you feel like a kid on Christmas morning because you're just that excited to try them out on your little one.

Over the past 3+ years since Olivia was born, I've tried just about every diaper & wipe there is. I've used the classic brands the girls started wearing from day one in the hospital, more natural and eco-friendly subscription brands as well as a random handful of others. I've never been too picky on diapers and ended up just sticking with Pampers because that was what I'd always used but in the back of my mind always wondered if there was something better out there. 

Wipes were another story. I couldn't ever find ones I loved. I always felt like I was settling. The more natural brands always ripped or would tear when I was using them, or I would try to pull one out and 10 would come with it. Convenient, right? Some just didn't smell refreshing at all and others were full of chemicals (and smelled like it!). I've probably tried about every wipe that exists and never fell in love with any of them.


Then I was introduced to Parasol Co. and every diaper + wipe dream I'd ever had came true. I don't know if diapers and wipes can truly change your life but if there was ever a brand to do it, it would be Parasol Co.

The diapers are so soft (like luxuriously soft) because they're made with a specially developed, ultra-soft topsheet layer that truly comforts your baby, while their innovative drylock technology offers excellent absorption without wasteful and uncomfortable bulk. It’s a thinner, softer diaper that not only performs better but which is made with carefully sourced baby-safe ingredients. And you can tell the difference just by comparing your every-day-run-of-the-mill diaper with these side by side; Parasol diapers aren't stiff at all, something I've run in to with lots of other "natural" diapers, and I love that!

Parasol wipes smell like cucumber and aloe ... um, I'm never using another wipe again thank you very much. The wipes are quilted so they're also incredibly soft, not to mention they smell so fresh, I even use them on my own face! I've always wanted a wipe I can use for diaper changes but also that I want to reach for to wipe the girls' faces and hands after meals or out on the go and this is it. Oh and when I just want to pull out one, I only get one.

Parasol Co. diapers are super absorbent, hypoallergenic, latex-free, chlorine-free, fragrance-free and lotion free. They are printed in modern designs (finally, a diaper that I don't want to cover up!) using ink without lead or heavy metals. Parasol Co. partners with independent artists to design the diapers and when you order you can choose between three different sets of styles. They launched their first collection in collaboration with artist Ashley Goldberg. Our favorite is the Dream Collection {below} but they also offer The Delight Collection {their classic prints} and the Discover Collection {a set inspired by the outdoors}. View all styles here


Their wipes come in travel size {20} and full size {72} packs and the travel size are perfect for my diaper bag. Unlike most travel size wipes, Parasol Co. packs have 20 wipes instead of 10. I don't know what it is but when I'm out and about with the girls, between changes and bathroom trips and snacks and lunch, 10 wipes doesn't last me long. I love the packs of 20 and how convenient they are. Parasol Co. wipes are naturally scented with cucumber, a soothing blend of chamomile, oat and marshmallow extracts plus moisturizing aloe vera and Vitamin E. Did I mention they smell amazing?!

My favorite part about Parasol Co. is the company itself -- their values {read more here}, passion for their products, customer service, flexible subscriptions, partnership with hand-picked artists to create their exclusive designs, and really every detail big and small that goes in to making the experience of parenthood richer, better and more beautiful when you're using their products...including the sticker on the inside of the wipes reminding you that as a parent, you're kicking butt!

Because we love Parasol Co. in our own home so much, I want to be sure you can try them in yours with savings. You can receive $20 off your first subscription using the code BLESSEDNEST at checkout by subscribing here. If you want to give them a try first, Parasol offers a free trial here with 8 diapers & a travel pack of 20 wipes for only $3 shipping. If you try them out or end up subscribing, I'd love to hear what you think! 

Hope you're all having a wonderful week! Our kitchen cabinets arrived today and all that's left to do before they go in is paint the walls and install our flooring. The countdown is officially on!!

7.01.2016

easy fruit pizza

Happy Friday! I can't believe we're kicking off July already! We have a four-day weekend with Dustin home so us girls are all excited for some fun plans and time relaxing as a family. 

This past week I made one of my favorite desserts ever -- fruit pizza -- and everytime I make it I'm always amazed at how easy it is! This would be a perfect addition to your cookout this weekend and is even better the next day, so delicious and refreshing!





what you'll need
(1) roll refrigerated sugar cookies (16.5 oz)
(1) package cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 kiwifruit, peeled, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 cup halved or quartered strawberries
1/2 cup apple jelly or apricot preserves (optional)

what you'll do
1 // Heat oven to 350 degrees

2 // Using a rectangular cookie sheet or round pizza pan, spray bottom with cooking spray or line with parchment paper or a baking mat {I always use a silpat baking mat to ensure it doesn't stick}

3 // Roll out sugar cookie dough into pan, either forming it into a large circle or rectangle; press evenly into pan to form the crust

4 // Bake 16-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown and then cool completely, about 30 minutes

5 // In a small bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy

6 // Spread mixture evenly over cooled crust

7 // Arrange fruit as desired over cream cheese

8 // Optional to add jelly or preserves by brushing it lightly over fruit {I don't ever add this but some of my girlfriends always do}

9 // Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour

10 // To serve, cut into wedges or squares; cover and refrigerate any remaining pizza

Hope you have the best weekend and Happy 4th of July!! XO

6.30.2016

the real magic of motherhood

As many of you know, we are in the middle of a major kitchen renovation. We are no strangers to renovating, as my husband is a contractor & master licensed plumber and this is our 5th major reno in the 5 years we've owned our home, during all of which I've either been pregnant or both pregnant & caring for a little one. 

The other day I had a rather emotional conversation on the phone with my husband during lunch, getting updates on a few different pieces of the puzzle as far as the progress of our kitchen was going and I began just feeling so overwhelmed and discouraged. Renovating while taking care of two kids can be trying at times. It is definitely a season that requires extra patience and grace -- for all of us.

After I hung up the phone Olivia could tell I was visibly upset; she walked over to me, put her arms around me and as her soft curls brushed my face she quietly said, "I know, Mama, I know" as if she completely understood every emotion I was feeling, as if no one in the entire world got it more than she did. My little girl, the one who made me a Mama, comforting me so wholeheartedly. Before I could even respond, in the perfect way that she does, she began singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," the song we sing to Poppy whenever she's crying -- in the hopes that it would have the same effect on me as it does for her.


In that moment -- that messy and real and raw moment -- all of a sudden, despite how things looked from my perspective, all I could see & feel was magic. A moment so special that your heart totally and completely bursts and you are certain you've existed your whole life to experience. Those are the moments you live for, the ones that remind you that every single thing you are doing as a Mom is worth it. The day to day routines and responsibilities, the mundane tasks that seem so insignificant on the surface, the minutes that turn into hours & hours that turn into days & days that turn into weeks into months into years of selfless love and sacrifice for your child or children, sometimes all while wondering if it matters. If what you're doing and the choices you're making and the lessons you're teaching and the words you're speaking...if it matters or if it's sinking in. Or if you're making a difference at all. Or if you're doing it right or falling short or failing altogether. 

But through all that wondering and questioning and uncertainty, when you least expect it, everything comes together in the most magical moment. 

In a moment when you experience your 3 year old singing a song to you that she knows to sing to her little sister when she's sad. In a moment when you hear your first baby telling your second baby that she can share her blanket and bear while they eat breakfast together in bed. In a moment when your daughter throws her arms around you and says "Love you, Mama" for no reason. In a moment when you look into your child's eyes and see that you were created to be their Mom; you were made to love them forever. In a moment when they light up at the sight of you or so effortlessly fall asleep nestled in your arms or reach for you when you're near because they feel safe beside you. In a moment you just get to sit back and watch them live and explore, accomplishing something new or discovering the beautiful world around them, seeing everything through their eyes and the perfect way they see it. Those moments? They are pure magic. They are the real magic of motherhood.

For those of you who are moms, you're probably already aware that motherhood isn't always glamorous. To be honest more often than not, it's far from it. But what it is made up of -- the day to day tasks of diaper changing & hair brushing & meal making & tear drying & hand holding & book reading & back rubbing & softly speaking & gently reminding & often repeating & always praying & endlessly loving -- are moments delicately laced with magic. You just have to look close enough to see them.


My days are filled with more & more magic moments -- "heaven moments" as we call them in our home, moments so good you can hardly believe you get to experience them this side of heaven -- the more I look for them. When I keep my eyes and ears and heart open, on the lookout for moments like that, I find them. When I am present, I find them. When I push my to-do list aside and set my phone down and forget about what could or should be done and instead focus on my daughters, I find them. Over and over I find them. And over and over my heart fills with gratitude for each and every one, no matter how small or simple they seem. And at the end of the day I reflect on each moment, often sharing with Dustin my favorites as he shares his favorites with me. We lay in bed completely in awe at the fact that our beautiful daughters create so much magic without even realizing it, and that we have the gift of experiencing it all.

That's the real magic of being motherhood. And it makes everything else motherhood entails -- even the hardest parts -- worth it. 

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