9.22.2014

shop spotlight || dandy lion co.

Today's Shop Spotlight features my go-to shop for one of my absolute favorite styles for Olivia: high waisted skirts and shorts. Dandy Lion Co. not only offers the most trendy high waisted pieces, but an incredible line up of handmade clothing for boys and girls, that is both stylish and comfortable, all made by the beautiful mama Chrysti. 


I had the privilege of collaborating with Chrysti & featuring Dandy Lion Co. this past summer in my What V Wore series where I showcased her gorgeous high waist lemon shorts. From the moment they arrived, I fell in love, and my heart exploded when I put them on Olivia. There is just something so perfect about a little girl wearing high waisted clothing that makes me swoon. After realizing we were completely smitten with Chrysti's shop, I knew I had to feature her in my Shop Spotlight, and especially to showcase some of her new Fall pieces!

With such a wide variety of pieces for all seasons, and styles, I love the versatility of Chrysti's products. A high waist skirt can be worn in the summer with a tank top, the fall with leg warmers, the winter with tights & the spring with a light sweater or jacket. I also love that so many of her pieces can be dressed up or down depending on what they're paired with -- cozy sweaters or casual t-shirts. Versatility is key when designing Via's wardrobe because I focus on a handful of my favorite staple pieces that can be paired together for any season or style and that go well with all her shoes and accessories.


Chrysti shares her story below

"A little about me and my business -- I started Dandy Lion Co. in October of 2011. My inspiration behind opening was the fact that I absolutely loved to make my daughters' clothes. My oldest was 3 and my youngest was only 4 months. So it was a slow start to say the least. I loved to shop for and coordinate fabrics for their outfits, and because I was getting several requests from friends and strangers inquiring about my girls precious clothing, I decided to turn my creative outlet into a shop on Etsy in hopes to sell a few pieces a month. I named my shop Dandy Lion Co. Dandy meaning very good, and Dandy Lion being a play on dandelion -- something every little one loves -- and it just sounded fun and playful, like a child."

"The most challenging part of running a business is juggling it with motherhood, it can be tricky. My youngest is in preschool 2 full days a week. So I have two days plus nights to keep up with orders, emails, and networking. I want my girls to see that working hard and staying dedicated pays off, and to also teach them to have fun and love what they do. Owning a small handmade business allows me to be flexible with my schedule. And having this creative outlet has been so good for me during this time in my life."

"Outside of our regular routine I am an avid runner and lover of the outdoors. I have completed marathons, an Ironman 70.3, and a couple ultra marathons. That might sound intense, but it is absolutely one of the most calming and relaxing things I do. Training runs allow me time to meditate, be creative, sweat, etc. And when it comes to race day, completing is a great reminder that hard work and dedication pays off. I believe doing these runs coincides with success in all areas of life. When I'm feeling tired or burned out I remind myself life is a never-ending marathon. There are moments when it's easy and smooth, and moments when you feel ready to give up, but you don't."

"Family time is the best time. We love to get outside as a family. Whether it be hiking, biking, walking to the park, a beach day, it is so important to my husband and I to teach our girls to love and appreciate all that nature has to offer. A typical night in our home involves us putting a record on and my husband whipping up something delish, he is a phenomenal cook. I'm spoiled in that area. At the end of the day family time is so important. We sit down at the dinner table every night and catch up on everyones day. It is my absolute favorite time of the day."


what dandy lion co. is known for || modern children's clothing with a focus on color, pattern & comfort // high waisted styles in skirts, shorts + pants

what sets dandy lion co. apart || I love that Chrysti initially started because she enjoyed making clothing for her daughters. I can see the love she has for creating in every piece we have from her -- not only is it well made but it is so thoughtfully designed, because she holds all the clothing she sells to a high standard as if it were all for her daughters. I know she only wants to sell the best of the best, and I can see that in just looking at her products on Olivia. They are just perfection. I also think her high-waist style in general sets her apart, as well as her one of a kind patterns, like the wild horse print pictured above.

my favorite products || Where to even start? My #1 for Fall is the disco dot high waist skirt, mostly because Olivia can wear it year round; I love pairing it with sweaters and moccasins for cool autumn weather and I can't wait to dress it up with tights and glitter for the holidays. I love that the pattern is retro but still modern and classy. And I mean, come on. Perfection.

I also love the pin stripe high waist shorts & the metallic dot high waist skirt, which is going to be what V rocks for New Years. For tops, I love the gold gingko leaf tunic top & the feathered tunic in navy and mustard. // I've also been eyeing this gorgeous 'lucy dress' since it was released a week ago & I love her new baby line, especially the peach print harems & knot hat.



quality + craftsmanship || Everything we have from Dandy Lion Co. is well made and stands up to all of V's wild adventures, whether it's simply smelling the flowers or running around the yard playing hide and seek with her Daddy. The fabric is durable but not stiff at all, and everything holds up in the wash which is a must for childhood. Every detail is considered and I just love that!

overall opinion || I not-so-secretly wish that all of the high waist skirts came in my size, because I would wear them every day -- not only are they stylish, but they seem so comfortable. And let's face it, Olivia has more style than I ever will // I love the elastic waistband which makes it super easy to put the shorts and skirts on and take them off. Olivia is so comfortable in anything from Dandy Lion Co. because of the design; she can move and do all the exploring her little heart desires but still looks so feminine and proper. It's one thing to have cute clothing, but its another for it to be comfortable on your little one, and I just love that these pieces accomplish both!


value + recommendation || I absolutely love what we already own from DLC and I can't wait to order more. Chrysti is so sweet and incredibly talented, and her shop is such a success because of her passion and the products she puts out. She recently expanded to offer a DLC baby line and is always coming out with new pieces that are equally as wonderful as what she already offers!

coupon code || save 20% off your total purchase with the coupon code blessed20 || valid 9.22-9.28 only // start shopping here

giveaway || enter to win one item of your choice from Dandy Lion Co. // simply complete the steps below in the rafflecopter to enter. giveaway runs from monday sep 22 through sunday sep 28. open to residents in US and Canada. all entries will be verified. cheers to a new week!

9.16.2014

replay recycled || review + giveaway

For the past six weeks I've been featuring a series all about toddler meals. Each week, I shared three meal ideas and a snack complete with easy how-to directions. My goal was to create simple, healthy meals that busy moms (and dads) can put together in no time at all, but that were still flavorful and fun for playful kids to eat. 


Instead of another set of meals today, I'm delighted to be sharing all about my favorite mealtime products, made by Replay Recycled.


For months I was on the search for the perfect toddler dishes. You know, ones that you actually love to use and that aren't covered in cartoon characters? Nothing against those of course, but I wanted something modern and classy that I didn't mind looking at, say if we just happened to leave them in our sink, dish drain or on the coffee table... 

Vibrant colors were a must have because Olivia is drawn to all things colorful and repeatedly says "pretty" when certain colors catch her eye. I also wanted toddler dishware that was affordable and environmentally friendly, and a double bonus if it was made in the US. So when I came across Replay, I knew I had found what I was looking for.


There are so many things to love about Replay, and after using them for the past few months and seeing how they not only live up to my expectations but far exceed them, I am certain I will never go on another toddler dishware search again.


what I love || 

     the colors // There are 10 color choices in all and every single one is vibrant and bright. I love deciding what color to use based on what I'm serving Olivia and it will be so much fun as she gets older and can learn her colors during mealtime.

     the mix + match possibility // Because there are 10 gorgeous colors that all pair so well together, I love that you can mix and match cups with utensils and divided plates to always have a new 'set' to use every day. You can even create holiday themed place settings by pairing traditional colors together, like red, orange & yellow for Fall, green & orange for pumpkin meals, red & green for Christmas, and more. 
How much fun is this new Halloween set?

     the weight // I love how light weight the utensils, bowls and divided plates are without being flimsy. When you first look at them, it's easy to wonder if they'll be heavy but they are super light and easy for even small toddlers to carry (yes, Olivia sometimes walks around with her plate and spoon after meals and occasionally I find an empty bowl tucked into her toy bin).

     the deep scoop of the spoon // When Olivia first started using utensils and learning how to self-feed with them, it was important to me that the utensils she used would set her up for success. The deep scoop of the spoon helps her to get food on the spoon and it actually stays there as she brings it to her mouth.

     dishwasher safe + BPA-free, phthalate-free and PVC-free // I love knowing all of the Replay products can be thrown in the dishwasher without any issues and that the material on which I am serving food to my daughter is free of toxic chemicals.

     USA made from recycled milk bottles // This one is an obvious perk, because I know when I purchase from Replay that I am getting a high quality product that was made in the US, not something produced in mass quantities overseas. It is made of recycled material that is creatively being used for a new purpose; it's better for the environment and for your family and a product you can feel good about using.

     stackable design // Kitchen cabinet organization is a must for me, and I love that I can stack the plates and cups so easily to save space and keep my cabinets clean.

     the price + durability // Replay is so affordable and because of the materials and the way Replay products are made, they are durable and can stand up to even the toughest toddler, so you won't need to replace the products every year the way you do with many other brands that cost significantly more.


my 3 favorite products ||

     divided plates // Hands down, these are my favorite product that Replay makes. We have them in all but one color and they are perfect for easy portioning and self-feeding. For meals, I set up a spot at our coffee table that Olivia has with her placemat, plate, cup and fork+spoon and she loves to stand there and feed herself, going from one food to another in each section. They are also great if your child does not like to have his or her food touching, and I love the overall plate size -- large enough to fit a good sized meal without being too big. I've had plates in the past that are divided but the smaller 'side' sections can barely fit any food. These are the perfect size with deep walls that keep food in and off the floor!



     utensils // Because they are so lightweight, colorful and a great size for small hands, these are our go-to utensils and have been since Olivia started learning to self-feed around 12 months. The forks allow a child to easily 'stab' food but are not actually sharp at all because of the durable 'rounded' tips, so I feel comfortable letting Olivia use them independently. I always have a set packed in my purse or diaper bag and they come in handy no matter where we go, but are slim and can fit in even the smallest of places.

     snack stacks // One of Replay's newest products, I absolutely love their snack stacks. You can mix and match colors and each one has a lid that screws on to keep food fresh. We use ours for dry foods and wet foods, and they are the perfect way to bring snacks along for a picnic at the park.


I absolutely love using our Replay products with Olivia, and I also think anything from Replay would be a great gift for a child's 1st birthday, paired alongside a fun book about food [one of our favorites here]. Not only would it be fun to give, but it would be functional as a child moves into solid foods and self-feeding. Pair a divided plate set with a coordinating color utensil set & a sippy cup and you're good to go! 
giveaway || Replay is so generously offering a HARVEST SET to one lucky Blessed Nest reader! The Harvest Set includes 4 spoons and 4 forks, 4 bowls, 4 divided plates & 4 drinking cups. To enter, simply complete the steps below in the Rafflecopter. The giveaway is open to residents in US and Canada and will run from Tuesday, September 16 through Monday, September 22. All entries will be verified and winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced.

9.15.2014

shop spotlight || guguberry

This week's Shop Spotlight is on Guguberry, one of my favorite shops for modern baby and child accessories, and owned by a dear friend of mine -- beautiful Mama of 5, Keri. With a wide variety of bibs and scarves in sophisticated and trendy patterns, there is sure to be one you can't resist picking up. I'm pretty sure I would buy every single bib set if I could, because Keri styles them together so well and they are not only high quality but so cozy, Olivia doesn't even realize she's wearing them!


I've had the privilege of getting to know Keri over the past six months and Olivia has been using her products since early 2014. From the moment I came across her shop on Etsy back in March, her gorgeous bandana bibs caught my eye and it seems every week she is releasing beautiful new patterns and pieces for both boys and girls. 

There are so many things I love about Guguberry, but my favorite is the wide selection of fabrics. Babies and toddlers drool a lot, and it's important for moms to have products they can put on their babes that not only protect their clothing and skin from drool but are still comfortable and functional. Guguberry offers bandana bibs, single wrap infinity scarfs, double wrap infinity scarves, and my new favorite -- infinity scarves with a snap in the back. They are easy to put on, easy to take off, and look just like a stylish scarf but serve a purpose as well. A win-win for busy moms and teething babies!


Keri shares her story below

"I started my business in April 2011. It began because I just wanted to sew something, so I bought a basic pattern from Hobby Lobby of a traditional style baby bib. I also made a few felt and fabric headbands. At the time, I didn't even know what Etsy was! But my husband created an account for me and came up with my logo, name and business cards. You can see who the creative one in our family is!"

"My shop name -- Guguberry -- is Zulu for "precious." As you can imagine, it seems like every name under the sun is already taken, but once you get a little creative (my husband again, not me), we found and liked how Guguberry sounded and LOVED the meaning behind it; we believe each life is so precious and has a purpose in this world. I actually came home from book club one evening to find a whole list of names my husband had come up with for me to look through. He is such a sweet guy!"

"Of course, I'm most inspired by cute babies but also by beautiful fabric. There isn't one product I love creating more than another -- I honestly love them all. I love getting a new fabric print in the mail and seeing it turn into a darling bibdana or drooler scarf."

"The most challenging part of running my own business is trying to find time. I could sew 24/7 and it still wouldn't be enough. The never ending battle of knowing when to not be sewing and focus on my family can sometimes be difficult. I often feel exhausted in the evening and debate whether I should stay up late working or go to bed to get a good night of sleep. Balancing those choices is my biggest challenge right now. But I find it so rewarding to see the finished products and to know they are going to babies all over the world. That's a pretty amazing thing."


"The best part overall is hearing back from customers and knowing you are meeting a need with the products you are creating. It's so fulfilling to know that other moms are happy using items that you spend so much time making and laboring over, trying to make sure they are as perfect as can be. Another part I've loved is just getting connected to the community of handmade. It's very cool."

"As far as my personal life, I used to be so embarrassed to admit that I didn't go to college. I graduated from high school and then a month later married my high school sweetheart. He is two years older than me and was in college already; I used to think I was "less than" for not continuing my education, but now I look back and am so glad I didn't go to school, knowing I would have spent a lot of money without being sure if it was worth it. In my heart, I've always wanted to be a wife and mom, and stay home to raise my children. I know that is exactly what I have been called to do! I do think college is wonderful and hope all my children attend, but I will also be sensitive to their choices after high school if they choose something else."

"Finally, I've been married for 13 years now and I just love that my husband and I grew up together. Having five children, there is always a little chaos with everything we do, but it's a wonderful chaos. Our children are Aidan (11), Elizabeth (9), Grayson (7), Emma (4) and Ethan (1.5). They are a joy and I'm so glad we get to be their parents, even on the most challenging days (which we have many of right now)!"


"Outside my business, my life is very busy with just trying to maintain some order in our home with laundry, dishes, toys, and it seems there are always crumbs everywhere. I love to read and enjoy a cup of coffee in the afternoon when its quiet and my youngest are sleeping. I love meeting friends at Panera Bread to have a caramel latte and share our hearts. My favorite movies are Narnia, Pride and Prejudice and Dan in Real Life. If I could, I'd love to just sit at the beach all day and read. I'm a terrible cook and I so wish I was better at it, but my husband and I get to have a date night on Friday when my mother in law comes to spend time with our kids and in so many ways it is a huge blessing that we don't take for granted!" 

what guguberry is known for || modern bandana bibs & drooler infinity scarves in vibrant, stylish patterns // headbands + head wraps in the same fabulous selection of patterns


what sets guguberry apart || I absolutely love how many pattern choices are available for both girls and boys. So many accessories are tailored to little girls, and of course I can't complain but I know sometimes Mamas of boys feel left out. When we go shopping, my husband even feels like women have way better clothing stores than men, which I think is hilarious! I love that there are countless options for boys as well as girls, and equally as lovely gender neutral choices. Some of my favorites for boys are here, here & here // for girls are here, here & here // top gender neutral picks are here, here & here


my favorite products || this mauve polka dot scarf is my absolute favorite piece in the whole shop // this vibrant floral bib as well as this one // this agave field drool scarf // this arrow aqua bandana bib [a perfect gender neutral piece] // & finally this tiger stripes in blue bandana bib [above] that I will buy someday when I have a little boy!


quality + craftsmanship || Keri has perfected her products top to bottom and I absolutely love how well made they are. When something arrives from her shop in the mail, I know I am getting the best of the best. The materials she uses and the way she executes her design makes for high quality products that I not only love to put on Olivia but would be equally as proud to give as a gift to a new Mama. 

overall opinion || From the moment I discovered Guguberry months ago, I have been nothing short of impressed with both Keri and her wonderful shop + products. Her selection of products is out of this world, her fabric choices are phenomenal and her customer service is top notch. Beyond that, she is one of the kindest people I've ever met and I am so blessed to call her such a sweet friend. I also love that her prices are so affordable for the quality you are receiving. 

value + recommendation || Through all the bibs and scarves we've had, I've never had an issue with a snap breaking, a seam coming undone, nothing. And believe me -- Olivia isn't always just a little lady that sits and sips tea (surprising, right?) -- she can get down with the best of 'em and sometimes this means the quality of what she wears gets tested to the limits. Fortunately, everything has stood up perfectly, even wear after wear and wash after wash. I also think it's so special to give gifts that are handmade for Moms to Be or New Mamas, and one of these bibdanas or drooler scarves would be the perfect final touch to a thoughtful gift. 


coupon code || blessednest10 || save 10% off your total purchase today only [monday sep 15] || start shopping here

giveaway || Keri is so generously giving away a $30 shop credit to Guguberry to put toward any products of your choice. To enter, simply complete the steps below in the Rafflecopter. Giveaway is open to residents in US and Canada and will run from Monday, September 15 through Sunday, September 21. All entries will be verified and the winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced. Happy Monday!

9.11.2014

DIY || rustic picture display

I have been anticipating sharing this DIY for some time now & am so excited that today is the day! For months I had been wanting a way to display black and white photos without having to frame every single one and bit a million nails in the wall. After searching and searching for the right display both in stores and online, I came up completely empty so my handy husband and I decided to design our own. 

While there are a few steps involved, this is certainly a DIY project you can complete in a weekend. It is inexpensive and the finished result is well worth the work. Ours is hanging over our oversized sectional in our basement and it brings the whole room together. Plus I've always felt a big part of making your house a home is hanging special photos. It's amazing how much cozier our basement is now that this is part of it. On our display, I show the progression from our engagement photos through current day of Olivia. It is such a joy to see how far we've come in just a few short years! 

I also love that I'll be able to easily change out which photos I display as the seasons change and we have new photos printed. You could even hang special cards, love notes, or anything you wanted in place of the photos. The vibe is rustic & its not only functional but seriously gorgeous.


what you'll need
(3) 1x6 pieces of wood, each 5 feet in length // We bought longer pieces and cut them because Home Depot didn't sell the exact length we needed
(1) small can of stain // We used Varathane 'Dark Walnut'
(1) rag for staining
(6) eye screws // approximately 1/2 inch in length [keep in mind the wood is only 1 inch thick] // also called screw eyes, eye bolts, etc. 
(1) roll of 18 gauge wire, a minimum of 3 yards in length
(2) packets of mini clothespins, a minimum of 24 to allow for 8 photos per board
(6) picture hangers to attach to the back of the boards // These often come with very tiny nails but we found the nails to be useless, so we purchased equally small screws and used them...
(12) tiny screws or nails (see above), 2 needed per picture hanger
(6) screws to hang boards on wall // We used drywall screws that were 1 1/4 inches

drill / wire cutter / crescent wrench / level / tape measure / pencil 


what you'll do
(1) start by cutting each of your boards to be 5 feet in length (if needed)

(2) in a well-ventilated area, stain each of your boards using wood stain and a rag; set aside to dry

(3) stain your clothespins if desired and set aside to dry // initially, I didn't plan to stain them but the richness of the wood looked odd against the unstained clothespins so I spent 15 minutes staining them and was really glad I did

(4) once your boards have dried, lay flat to attach the picture hangers onto one side for hanging // using a hammer + nails or a drill + screws, attach two picture hangers per board, approximately 12 inches in on each side (3 feet apart)

(5) next, flip your boards over to attach your eye screws
          » using a drill, pre-drill a hole for each eye screw that is smaller than the screw itself
          » we positioned our eye screws 2 inches in on each side
          » your drill bit for creating the holes must be smaller than the screw diameter itself, so for example our eye screws were 1/4 inch in diameter so we used an 1/8 inch drill bit for pre-drilling

(6) once your holes are pre-drilled (2 per board, 2 inches in on each side), screw in each eye screw by hand as tightly as possible; when you can no longer tighten it by hand, use a crescent wrench to finish tightening and be sure on your last turn they are oriented up and down

(7) next, string your wire:
          » unwind 4-6 inches of wire and wrap it tightly around one eye screw
          » taking your time, wrap it 4-5 full turns around the screw
          » without cutting, stretch your wire to the other end of the board and give yourself 4-6 inches of extra wire then cut
          » repeat this step with the second eye screw -- wrap the wire tightly around the screw 4-5 full turns and trim if necessary
          » repeat above steps on the second and third board
          » the most important thing is that your wire is very tight -- you do not want it to droop once you hang photos on it, and even though photos are very light, the weight of them will bring the wire down; to ensure your wire is as tight as possible, use your crescent wrench to tighten one eye screw on each board until the wire is taut (about 1-3 full turns)

(8) next, using 6 screws and a drill, hang them up in your desired location -- keep in mind they are 5 feet long and should be spaced adequately so your pictures do not overlap the boards; your attached picture hangers are approximately 3 feet apart and that helps to gauge where to drill in your screws
          » we used a tape measure and pencil to mark our holes before drilling and then used a level to ensure their position

(9) finally, once boards are hung in place, attach your photos to the wire using mini clothespins and arrange as desired; our photos are 4x6s and I've found that 6-8 per board looks great


It sounds like a bit of a lengthy process, but it goes super quick! If you want to complete this in a weekend, I would suggest getting everything & staining your boards + clothespins on a Saturday and then attaching all the hardware and hanging on a Sunday! If you like this DIY & do it in your home, I'd love to hear from you! We are so pleased with how it turned out and had a lot of fun designing it start to finish! Happy almost-weekend!

9.10.2014

our fall bookshelf

Last Friday, a big brown box was dropped off on our front steps and inside it contained one of my favorite things: a treasure trove of children's books. A few more boxes have arrived since then as I basically ordered Olivia a mini 'library' of children's books for Fall. They are all as amazing as I hoped they would be & we spent part of our weekend rearranging V's nursery, styling her bookshelves & of course...lots and lots of reading. 


We have so many new favorites & I'm so excited to share them with you here and then a little bit more in depth over the next few weeks and months in my #BlessedNestLitList series on instagram. Not all these books are Fall-themed, but they caught my eye because of their beautiful and colorful covers. I love styling book shelves for the changing seasons, but the books don't always have to be related to that season. For example, Henri's Walk to Paris has nothing to do with Fall...but the cover is perfect to remind me of the changing leaves. I have so much fun getting creative with styling and these books are truly works of art.

I've divided the list below between board books and hardcovers. Most often, I keep the hardcovers up high out of reach on shelves, and I keep all the board books in fun bins where Olivia can reach them to read whenever she wants. I love that she has her own little stash of books she can look at, and then the hardcovers are special ones we read together.


I chose a few bear-themed books for Fall & Winter, as well as the classic Halloween stories and of course, some that just screamed 'Fall' to me both because of their covers and their story lines.

Board Books



If you haven't heard of BabyLit series, they are board books based on classic literature that teach children about numbers, letters, and basic concepts. So much fun! Over time we've collected almost all of them and there are so many that are fitting for Fall!




You can read more about what's on our playroom bookshelves here & find about our favorite reads for the first year here & don't forget that today is the last day to enter this giveaway!

9.09.2014

toddler meals | week 6

Fall is officially here & Olivia has been enjoying all things pumpkin right alongside Dustin & me! Her favorite new 'treat' is my pumpkin donut holes and of course pumpkin yogurt. Today is the 6th post in my toddler meal series, where I share simple and healthy meals for playful kids by offering a easy breakfast, lunch and dinner menu suitable for any day of the week. As a busy Mom, I want to serve meals that can be put together in no time at all but that still provide the nutrition my growing toddler needs!


breakfast || pumpkin yogurt, diced peaches & pumpkin spice waffles

+ We eat a lot of gluten free foods in our home just because we all feel better doing so, and I love making my own waffles using my favorite waffle cookbook and then freezing them to use as needed. I either use King Arthur's Gluten Free Pancake mix (equally perfect for waffles) or Cup4Cup Gluten Free flour in my recipes. I make a big batch on a Sunday afternoon, freeze them in quart sized freezer bags and just toast them before serving! Nature's Path also makes gluten free Pumpkin Spice waffles if you're looking for something extra convenient.


the how to ||

» pumpkin yogurt // Our favorite kinds are here & here // I serve very small amounts just because of the sugar, but since Olivia doesn't drink milk, whole milk yogurt is a great way for her to get enough calcium (and cheese of course!)

» diced peaches // I've been buying crates of fresh peaches from Trader Joe's and they have been phenomenal. I love to slice mine thin and throw it in the freezer for a treat, and for Olivia I just dice a few slices for her

» pumpkin waffles // I use any pumpkin waffle recipe that catches my eye & I simply sub the flour with gluten free flour (see above) or I use the King Arthur mix to make them; I freeze them in quart sized freezer bags for up to a month

lunch || tuna salad, string cheese, pinto beans & sweet potatoes

+ Tuna can be an excellent source of protein and healthy fat that your growing toddler needs; be sure to choose a high quality tuna that is the lowest in mercury, such as Tongol, labeled "chunk light." Look for tuna that is wild caught, not farmed. Natural Sea is our favorite brand because it is pole and line caught, packed in spring water and there is no BPA in the can lining. Keep in mind that the smaller the tuna, naturally the less mercury it will contain. Albacore is the largest of the tuna family and should be avoided for toddlers. Fish can also be an allergen so it isn't recommended that tuna is served to a child under one year and if you have any concerns, check with your health care provider before incorporating tuna into your toddler's diet +


the how to ||
» Warm pinto beans on the stovetop in a little bit of olive oil or coconut oil

» Peel, cube and steam sweet potatoes // I do this on Sunday nights and have them ready for the week ahead of time and then just heat up each serving as needed

» Peel apart string cheese or cut into small pieces // Our favorite here // Olivia absolutely loves string cheese and it's a great snack to share together -- I peel and she eats!

» Toddler Tuna Salad // I take one 5 oz can of high quality Tongol tuna [our favorite here] and drain it; add 1 TBSP of Just Mayo, 1 TBSP of finely minced organic celery and S+P, then I split it into 2 servings // You could add shredded carrots, red onion, green onion, etc. to accommodate your child's preferences. Also be sure to purchase tuna that is packed in water, not oil & I love Natural Sea brand because it's packed in spring water that is so refreshing and yummy!

dinner || white cheddar bunnies, diced avocado & warm quinoa salad

+ Last week I made a capresé quinoa salad for a lunch date with a girlfriend and I thought it would be fun to see if Olivia liked quinoa as much as I do, especially because its inexpensive, packed with nutrients, super easy to prepare and naturally gluten free. She went absolutely crazy for it plain, so I amped it up a bit with some chicken sausage and steamed butternut squash to make a toddler-friendly warm quinoa salad, perfect for cool nights this Fall +


the how to ||
» White cheddar bunnies are a treat that Olivia gets every once in awhile, and about the only thing she eats that comes prepackaged...there is just something so yummy and rich about white cheddar // Our favorite here

» Dice a ripe avocado into age-appropriate pieces // I serve half an avocado as a side to her meal and store the other half in the fridge with the pit left in to prevent browning

» Cook quinoa according to instructions; add cooked chicken or turkey sausage (our favorite here) and steamed butternut squash // While my quinoa is cooking, I remove the casing from the sausage and cut it into medallions, then heat them in avocado oil in a small frying pan and dice them; I also steam cubed butternut squash to add but you could sub any of your child's favorite vegetables!

I'll be sharing a few more meals as the month goes on as well as a special feature on Re-Play, my favorite shop for toddler-friendly dishware!


9.08.2014

shop spotlight || mirasol farm

This week's Shop Spotlight features Mirasol Farm, one of my all time favorite shops for organic soaps, lotions and other body products that are created with both the customer & the environment in mind. I am head over heels for their products and their incredible customer service for so many reasons and as a busy Mama, life is all about enjoying the simple pleasures, like soap and lotion that not only smells incredible but that you can use without concern or hesitation.


Because I have sensitive skin, for many years I've been on the search for the perfect bar of soap without all the chemicals that many store-bought bars contain. Not only that, but I wanted it to smell amazing. With no pre-made bases, artificial fragrances, parabens, petroleum products or plastic packaging, these products are ones I love to use myself and feel equally comfortable using them with Olivia. 

Back in May I was at a large craft fair and had the pleasure of meeting the owners behind Mirasol Farm and checking out all their fabulous products. This feature has been in the works for months now and I am especially excited to finally share it! I'm also giving away a set of 3 bars of soap of the winner's choice so one of you Mamas can pamper yourself!


Mirasol Farm offers handcrafted skin care inspired by organic oils and herbs, in support of fellow organic farmers worldwide. They are based out of River Falls, WI and many of the ingredients are grown on their farm or wildcrafted locally in western Wisconsin. In their shop you will find organic cold-pressed soaps, creams, lotions and specialty skin care. Their vegan-friendly moisturizers are offered in blue cobalt glass bottles which is my favorite way to purchase lotion -- the deep blue is beautiful and each batch is handcrafted in small quantities to ensure a high quality product that moisturizes, is easily absorbed and makes your skin feel luxurious.


Below Casey & Olga share the story behind Mirasol Farm

What is Mirasol Farm? Who are the people behind it?

Mirasol Farm is a place—our home and organic farm—as well as our business name. We’re Casey and Olga, and we live just south of River Falls, Wisconsin. Mirasol Farm is the manifestation of our dream of small-scale sustainable agriculture, and we love the mad earthly science of turning essential oils, organic oils and butters, and botanicals into skin care products that elevate the spirits. Formerly social justice workers, we try to run our business with attention to the principles of respect, compassion, and fairness. Olga balances farm duties with her other passion—working to end violence against women and children—while Casey works full-time running the daily farm operations.

How did Mirasol Farm come to be?

When we met, Olga had been living in D.C. and Casey in northern Minnesota. Very different backgrounds, but our common dream was to find a way of living simply and working from home, so we bought a retired dairy farm in western Wisconsin and spent a year fixing it up with the idea that we’d do some sort of sustainable agriculture. It’s been our labor of love. The Land Stewardship’s Farm Beginnings Project helped us to focus and distill our ideas. Now seven years later, we’ve built on Casey’s love of making soap and growing and wildcrafting herbs into a variety of organic bath and body products.

How did you arrive at the name Mirasol?

Mirasol is Spanish for sunflower. It's a metaphor for turning your face toward the sun... and a blend of Olga’s Latina roots with one of their favorite locally-grown ingredients -- sunflower seed oil.

What's the process like from idea to product launch? 
Share an example from one of your favorite products

Most of our ideas for new products start as special requests or gift ideas from customers or friends. For example, a good friend became pregnant several years ago. She was also a doula at the time, working for a non-profit organization that was helping pregnant women in prison. The idea arose to develop an Organic Mama product line with postpartum bath tea and massage oils—first for Casey’s friend, then more widely as a fundraiser for the nonprofit. The bath tea recipe has been tweaked over the years—again, thanks to feedback from customers and friends. It’s a very interactive process.

What's the line of products that you're most proud of and why?

Still, soap. It’s Casey’s first love. Even though organic ingredients are expensive and limit our profit margin, we’re especially proud of making organic soap. Most exotic oils—like coconut and palm, both essential soap ingredients—come from countries and peoples far away, and we feel that our buying decisions help support organic farmers around the world, healthy rivers and forests, and the human family.


what mirasol farm is known for || handcrafted skin care inspired by organic oils and herbs, grown and sourced locally and produced on their farm in western Wisconsin

what sets mirasol farm apart || I have been in awe of this shop from the moment I came across their products months ago. Casey and Olga are incredibly warm and friendly, so kind and generous. Their products are top of the line and such a wide variety is offered that it would be impossible for someone not to find something they love. With both invigorating and calming scents, ingredients you can pronounce, and a passion behind the product, this shop is in a league all its own. I love the wide selection of products and scents offered -- everything from organic soaps to lotions, lip balms and linen sprays, belly butter and postpartum bath soaks...they have it all. My husband loves their products as much as I do and that is truly saying something.


my favorite products || Toasted Almond everything! We have the lotion, calendula cream, soap & lip balm. I can't get enough! All Fall I'll be baking almond pound cake, almond shortbread & eating almond toffee so of course I'll be using my toasted almond products alongside it. And the #1 item I'll be giving for gifts this Christmas? Toasted Almond soap. It's that amazing // I also love the oatmeal lavender soap, wild orange soap (perfect for this cooler, cozy season), litsea & avocado soap (especially for washing my face), and the rosemary mint lotion for foot rubs! Their soap sampler packs are a great product for gift giving if you're unsure of what scents a friend or family member prefers and they would be perfect in a guest bathroom at home. You can choose between packs of 6 and 12 soap samples and they come packaged so perfectly. 


quality + craftsmanship || Each product is handcrafted by Casey & Olga using the highest quality ingredients from their farm and local area. The quality of the products show through in how they are packaged, how they look and smell, and most importantly -- how they feel on your body. Attention is paid to every detail and they have clearly perfected their formulas for each & every product available.

overall opinion || Mirasol Farm offers the best organic soaps and body products I've found, period. The scents, the quality and the customer service keep me coming back again and again, and I'm so delighted to have found a shop I can rely on for not only myself but my family.


value + recommendation || If you're in need of soap, lotion, or any body products, I highly recommend Mirasol Farm. They are phenomenal in every way -- their products are ones I will always stand behind, and they are incredible people that worked to bring their dream to reality. They are especially close to my heart because of their Midwest roots, and River Falls specifically is where my dad grew up!

coupon code || blessednest15 // save 15% off your total purchase through sunday, september 14 // start shopping here

giveaway || Casey & olga are so generously offering three bars of soap to one lucky winner! You'll be able to choose your scents from the wide variety they offer. All you have to do is complete the steps below in the rafflecopter; the giveaway runs from Monday, September 8 through Sunday, September 14. The winner is responsible for contacting a blessed nest within 24 hours of being announced. All entries will be verified. Happy Monday!


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