12.18.2014

stocking stuffers for your littles

One of my favorite parts about Christmas is stuffing stockings for Dustin and Olivia. I just love seeing three stockings hanging on our antique hutch and putting tiny little presents in each of them as Christmas approaches. This year, with Olivia being 18 months, I had so much fun finding goodies that I knew she would love and have a lot of fun with but that were still practical too. Below are a few of my favorites. 
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12.

I absolutely love Tegu and what the company stands for. If you aren't familiar, they make heirloom quality magnetic wooden blocks that encourage a child's imagination and creative play. We actually didn't get the 8-piece travel set for V {1} but instead got her the 24-piece set, but I love the size of the travel set and how easy it would be to slip in a stocking {or a diaper bag for on the go fun!}

There is something so sweet about Matryoshka {Russian nesting} dolls and I always played with them as a little girl at my Grandma's house. I got her a snack cup set {2} and measuring spoons for her stocking and they'll be perfect in her kitchen for play.

It's no secret that I love getting creative at mealtime and I am always on the hunt for innovative and high quality toddler mealtime products that Olivia can use and play with. Oogaa offers spoons in the shapes of trains (3), planes, tugboats & trucks, as well as other mealtime products such as divided plates and bowls. All their products are BPA free, dishwasher- and microwave-safe. 

I am so excited for Olivia to open up her two boxes of Mix & Match cards {4} from Petit Collage and thought one box would just fit in her stocking. They have all different styles for boys and girls and Olivia loves to sit and sort cards so I know these will be a hit! With 24 cards you can mix and match to create silly characters, these will be so much fun. I also love their petit puzzles and they would be great for stockings for 2- and 3-year olds.

This deer by Maileg {5} has always been a toy that caught my eye and I can just picture it peeking out the top of a baby's stocking on Christmas morning. How perfect.

Olivia loves playing with kitchen toys and since Santa is giving her a vintage kitchen for Christmas, I picked up a few sets of fun cupcake molds at a really great price from Home Goods of all places! Any of these would be great for the stocking, but my favorites are the aristocakes, the yumbots {6} & the fresh picked berry boxes

Wee Gallery Art Cards {7} are perfect for younger babes and captivate a little one with their bold black and white images and repeating patterns. With a wide variety of cards to choose from, these are so sweet.

Every year after Christmas, my mom and I scout out all the 50% off deals at tiny little shops and local boutiques and last year we found a bag of Tree Tops {8} for only a few dollars. I packed them away and then pulled them out this year and we have had endless entertainment spinning all the tops on the coffee table and floors! They are so high quality and so much fun for adults and children alike.

Another fun and modern snack container {9} - this one by Boon - it's fun for kids to open and close and holds just the right amount of kix or cheerios for snacktime. I grabbed the pink and purple one for V on clearance at Babies R Us awhile go and know we will get a lot of use out of it. I have been so happy with every product from Boon we've ever purchased. The Odd Ducks {12} are also on our wishlist because Olivia is crazy about ducks {how that started, I have no idea}.

Another idea for a younger babe is a wooden teether. The Kitty is one of my favorites and definitely one I'll pick up in the future when we have another girl! Little Sapling Toys is a fabulous company that offers all kinds of wooden toys and a huge selection of teethers perfect for stuffing a stocking! They also make gorgeous personalized ornaments for the tree.

What's a stocking without a little bit of something sweet? Olivia loves GoGo Squeeze pouches as a midday treat and so I slipped a few in her stocking. 

Finally, I picked up a few Hello Kitty Christmas coloring books and a pack of gem crayons from Target a few weeks ago, and will roll the coloring books up in her stocking with the crayons tucked inside! 

What are you putting in your little's stockings? What are you hoping will be in yours?
I've already snuck a peek at mine {of course, completely by accident} and discovered a new floral iphone case and pom pom maker...and a tube of urban decay red lipstick that was at the top of my list. Surprisingly, I totally don't mind that Dustin didn't wrap them ... or I wouldn't have been able to peek!
Only 7 Days until Christmas! Have a wonderful weekend!

12.12.2014

quinn popcorn {best of the nest}

One of our favorite snacks has always been popcorn. For years the only kind we made was air-popped, since both Dustin and I knew enough to know that microwave popcorn was full of junk that neither of us wanted to put in our bodies. We didn't even give microwave popcorn a second thought. 

That is until I read about Quinn in a local food magazine, and after a positive review I was interested to give it a try and see for myself. I picked up a box of Real Butter & Sea Salt and knew it would be the perfect addition to our weekend movie night. After the first taste, we both knew it was all over. This stuff is crazy good.


Read more about Quinn Popcorn below

Kristy, founder and CEO of Quinn, started Quinn Popcorn with the mission of cleaning up microwave popcorn, and now she creates snacks that are defining simple, honest, and transparent food. 

Her innovation lead to reinvented microwave popcorn, the first chemical free microwave popcorn on the market, and her new Quinn Popcorn Farm-to-Bag supply chain transparency program is another first. Kristy shares her story and mission in a 2 minute video here: http://www.quinnpopcorn.com/popcorn-reinvented/cleaning-up-food/
In 3 years Quinn Popcorn went from an attic based start-up to a national product found in thousands of stores across the US. The mission is just getting started as Kristy continues to push the boundaries of natural foods.


Microwave Popcorn Reinvented:
+ The first microwave popcorn free of synthetic chemicals
+ Pure Pop Bag - The first compostable and chemical & plastic free microwave popcorn bag
+ Organic Popcorn, expeller pressed oils, rBST free dairy
+ Innovative flavors like Parmesan & Rosemary, Vermont Maple, and Real Butter
+ Spice pouches make for fun, hands on popping and allow for better ingredients

Farm-to-Bag Popcorn:
+ The first snack to offer a completely transparent supply chain
Non-GMO Certified, organic coconut oil, organic dairy
+ Snackable Superfood Flavors - Kale & Sea Salt, California Olive Oil, Organic Coconut Oil
+ Low calorie {less than 40 calories per cup}


what we love about Quinn || 
+ Real ingredients {Non-GMO corn, RBGH-Free dairy & no preservatives}
+ I love knowing exactly what is in the food I'm eating, and Quinn offers that -- the ingredients {and even the locations they are from!} are listed right on the box 
+ I love the convenience of microwave popcorn but the quality of something so much more
+ I love that the oil and flavorings are something you mix in yourself {the 'pour & shake' concept} -- and I know it will be so much fun when Olivia is a little older and she can help by shaking the bag 
+ Each flavor stands up to its name in an exceptional way - you get exactly what they say and exactly what you want!


microwave popcorn flavors ||
+ real butter & sea salt / 'crazy idea #764: microwave popcorn with real butter' -- no butter flavoring, just rich and smooth butter the way it should be

+ parmesan & rosemary / what more needs to be said? its just that good. {more here}

+ vermont maple & sea salt / 'like a fresh stack of flapjacks that you can eat with your hands' / sweet, salty & slightly addictive ... a bit like kettle corn but with smooth maple syrup {more here}

+ hickory smoked cheddar / double smoked paprika is combined with Kentucky made cheddar to make this popcorn rich without being over the top {more here}

+ olive oil & herbs / using California grown and pressed olive oil, basil, oregano, tarragon and a little garlic, this popcorn is said to be like fresh, super deluxe garlic bread but remains the lowest calorie popcorn Quinn makes {more here}

+ just sea salt / this flavor showcases the organic, Midwest grown butterfly popcorn for its natural crunch and corn flavor and is the perfect canvas to add your favorite toppings or to eat as is - pure and simple {more here}


+ kale and sea salt / green, sweet and salty - a light superfood with an addicting crunch.... {more here}

+ popped with extra virgin coconut oil / light simple popcorn with a hint of coconut

+ california olive oil / full, rich olive flavor - low cal and delicious

+ cheddar & chipotle / cheddar popcorn with a little smoky kick {more here}


our favorite flavors || We tried every flavor of the microwave popcorn except Olive Oil & Herbs since it wasn't available anywhere near us / We tried 3 of the 4 farm to bag varieties as well ... Find our favorites below!

+ My absolute favorite flavor is Parmesan & Rosemary -- it is a rich mix of flavorful parmesan with a hint of rosemary which adds depth of flavor ... why is Parm so amazing on popcorn? Seriously, I could eat it 7 days a week! 

+ Dustin's favorite for microwave popcorn is a tie between P&R and Real Butter & Sea Salt, which was the first flavor we tried and a classic that is just so good

+ For farm to bag, the Kale was our #1 - super fresh, crunchy and a great snack any time of day {or night!}


We can't get enough of Quinn Popcorn and everyone we've introduced to it has fallen as hard as we did. Talk about major success on their end -- and well deserved in every way!


coupon code || Save 15% off your entire purchase using the code QPLASTMIN and receive free shipping on orders over $29! If you order by Monday, December 15 your 'corn will be to your doorstep by Christmas! / Start shopping here

giveaway || Kristy has so generously offered to give away a prize pack from Quinn to one lucky winner, including a box of parmesan & rosemary, vermont maple and olive oil & herbs / Simply complete the steps below in the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway runs from Friday, Dec 12 through Thursday Dec 18. Winner will be contacted via email and must respond within 24 hours to claim their prize or a new winner will be selected. All entries will be verified. Have a wonderful weekend!

12.08.2014

shop spotlight | my dear fellow co.

I have a confession: I am a collector hoarder of stationary. Cards and art prints are my jam. Boxes and boxes of beautiful cards just waiting to be written sit organized in our basement closet. I frame them, display them, mail them and save them. Every card my husband has ever given me {even the very first card he gave me when I graduated high school in 2008} has been saved, read, re-read and cherished. 


There is just something so special about paper goods, especially in place of electronic communication. There is a feeling so lovely that comes when hanging up a handmade art print in your home for the first time and then seeing it every day, or mailing out a festive card to a friend across the country. My favorite shop for said prints and cards? My Dear Fellow Co. 


Based out of Dallas, Texas, My Dear Fellow Co. is made up of a husband & wife dream team - Samantha and Aaron Johnson, who founded the company in March of 2014. Samantha and Aaron strive to produce paper goods of the highest caliber by maintaining a clear focus on detail and excellent design using the highest quality materials available. All the paper goods are hand crafted and assembled at the company's studio in Dallas and printed on FSC certified, 100% post-consumer recycled paper made from renewable energy.


Samantha is the creative mind behind the matchless combination of design, color and style. She is a graphic designer and illustrator whose focus is to create designs that are whimsical and original. Her husband Aaron focuses on the day-to-day operations by managing the professional direction of the company.


Read more about their story below

"My name is Samantha Johnson and I am the designer and owner of My Dear Fellow Co., a paper goods brand based out of Dallas, Texas.  I work along side my husband, Aaron, who helps with the management of the business. 

Aaron and I met in college about 5 years ago. He has a degree in business, and I have a degree in graphic design. I guess you can say we are quite the perfect match for My Dear Fellow Co.

One of our greatest priorities is to produce high quality eco- friendly paper goods. All of our products are proudly made in the USA, and we use the finest materials out there. We have our paper goods professionally printed locally in Dallas to ensure product quality and consistency, and all products are hand crafted and assembled in our studio. 

I have always had a passion for illustrating and designing my own handmade cards. A lot of my inspiration comes from vintage children’s books, and I love incorporating that nostalgic feel into my cards. I draw my ideas on paper and then transfer them to the computer and finalize the design using a drawing tablet. 

My hope is that My Dear Fellow Co. will inspire people to bring back the lost art of sending handwritten cards to their loved ones. We hope you enjoy our products made with love from Dallas, Texas!"


what My Dear Fellow Co. is known for || specialized paper goods, stationary and art prints with vibrant colors and unique designs, handmade by a husband and wife team in Dallas, Texas

what sets My Dear Fellow Co. apart || I absolutely love the one-of-a-kind designs of all the prints and cards and the fact that this shop is run by a husband and wife team which each have their own roles and strengths but that work together so perfectly; the high quality of each product also sets My Dear Fellow Co. apart.





coupon code || Sam & Aaron are so generously offering 20% off your total purchase now through December 15 for Blessed Nest readers using the code BLESSEDNEST20 / start shopping here

giveaway || enter below to win 1 art print of your choice and 2 cards of your choice from My Dear Fellow Co. / giveaway is open to residents in the US and runs from monday dec 8 through sunday december 14. the winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced or a new winner will be selected. all entries will be verified.

12.05.2014

cranberry orange muffins {gluten free}

I had a lot of people inquiring yesterday about the muffins I had posted so I wanted to share the details! They are some of the most delicious muffins we've ever had and the best part? Not only are they gluten free but they are super easy to make, since each batch starts with a pre-made mix from my favorite gluten free bakery, Brody's 579. 


You can read all about Brody's 579 in a recent Shop Spotlight here
To purchase the mixes {including the Cranberry Mix}, visit the website here.

Any mix can be shipped directly to your door and made in less than half an hour. Pictured is the Cranberry mix with my own twist on it -- I added 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and the zest of one orange to the batter before baking and then topped the muffins with extra zest right out of the oven. Easy, right? A festive treat for Christmas morning or any time of the year. I have plans to make them again soon and top them with homemade candied orange peel. Talk about mouth-watering.



All the muffins from Brody's 579 make a great breakfast, snack, or midday treat. We even freeze them individually {they stay so fresh!} and take them out one at a time when we want them. Olivia and Dustin both love them as much as I do and I love that they're gluten free. I'd highly recommend placing an order for the holidays to make entertaining extra easy. Other favorites include Banana, Banana Chocolate Chip, Chocolate & Pumpkin. Happy weekend baking!

12.04.2014

festive florals

The trend I am loving the most this season is florals. Who says florals are just for summer? Clothing lines and handmade shops alike are both killing it with festive floral pieces and I just can't get enough. I even have a floral phone case on my Christmas list. Find all my favorites below.


The floral baseball tee {1} is just too good, and it was the first purchase with my gapCASH yesterday. It's lovely in every way and I can't wait to use it as a transitional piece from winter into spring. I love the mix between casual and feminine.

I am also loving the basic floral onesie {3} and matching sherpa lined floral jacket {4}. Perfect for layering and keeping cozy as temperatures drop.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a few classic books with covers by Anna Bond {6} when they were all 50% off at B&N and I just love the look of them for a nursery, young girl's room or anywhere in our home. I love reading longer books to Olivia a few pages each night and these are perfect. 

With lots of my close friends expecting, I couldn't resist the gorgeous floral knit blanket {7} from Lou Lou & Co. I'm not so secretly hoping I have an excuse to keep it for myself for a little lady in the near future. It's just darling.

Our all-time favorite pajamas come from Hanna Andersson and I love the exclusive collection offered by Serena & Lily. Made of organic cotton in beautiful patterns and with a lifetime warranty, these are the best of the best for your babe {8}.

The vintage floral leggings {10} are one of my favorite finds from this whole collection and would be the perfect pairing with basic tops and neutral jackets for winter.

Finally, this sherpa lined floral vest {12} is one of our winter staples and has been since mid-October. Super cozy but not bulky and a piece Olivia wears almost every day! It's now sold out online but I've still seen it in stores {similar here}.

A few of my other floral favorites by some of the best handmade shops in the biz? 

floral sailor bows from free babes
floral bandanas from the bird & elephant
floral crowns from fancy free finery
& of course, these moccs.

Happy Thursday!

12.01.2014

shop spotlight || sigikid

As a very little girl, my best friend was my teddy bear. I grew up with it and it seemed that everywhere I went, my teddy went with me. I knew I wanted to give Olivia the same opportunity to form a bond with her own teddy and when I saw the Sweety Bear from sigikid, I knew I had found what I was looking for.

I am thrilled to be featuring sigikid in today's Shop Spotlight; with a wide range of products for the littlest of babies to the busiest toddlers and even for young and older children alike, sigikid offers the highest quality products perfect for the modern day family. They are all so unique and filled with character and that is perhaps what I love the most.


As soon as Olivia saw the bear sitting on our kitchen counter, she was drawn to it. I love the bright colors and patterns of the arms and legs but the familiar brown face and body that is extra soft and cuddly. I handed it to her and she gave it a big hug and then a wet kiss on the nose. Since then, we don't go anywhere without it and it's the perfect playtime and nap companion. The quality is outstanding and even with all the adventures the two of them go on, I know the bear will stand up to it all.

Read more about sigikid below in an interview with Eva {CEO of the sigikid US branch and daughter of the sigikid founders}

 How and when you started your business

sigikid was founded in 1968 in Germany by my parents. Back in the day, there were not many plush toys available that were really soft and cuddly. Most toys were in fact quite stiff and naturalistic looking. My parents saw an opportunity for soft toys that were safe, cute and cuddly, but that could also be machine-washed and handed down to the next generation. They were also convinced that cuddling and playing is a fundamental need you never grow out of. Over the years sigikid became the go-to brand in Europe for “playfully different” plush toys, dolls, rattles, music boxes, and organic baby toys made with the highest quality materials with a focus on imaginative and contemporary design.
Where your shop name comes from
My mother’s nick name is Sigi (pronounced with a hard g, as in “garden”), short for Sigrid. And my brother is the first kid, thus sigikid! sigikid took off in 1968 and is still today a true family business, with my brother at the helm in Germany and my husband and myself as his business partners in the US.
What inspires you
Our main inspiration is good design. And with good design we actually mean, the best design possible. Good design doesn’t have to be complex or complicated. Simple forms and shapes drive our products. There is just something about the sigikid toys that feels intuitively right for children. Our toys are old-fashioned in the sense that they are not battery-operated and don’t make any beeping sounds. And we don’t produce anything that could be remotely perceived as aggressive or confrontational. Our toys’ faces have gentle, kind features that are hand stitched, not air-brushed. sigikid toys simply encourage imaginative play.
What products do you have the most fun creating
This is an easy one: It must be our designer plush line, called the BEASTS! sigikid in Germany employs a design team. As a special challenge and treat, the designers can let their creativity go wild and crazy and design their heart out with the BEASTS. It is really fun to see the first sketches that then turn into a sigikid BEAST.
What have you found most challenging or rewarding throughout your business journey?
There is an abundance of toys out there at very low price points and with low quality standards, in terms of durability, design, look and feel. Even though many parents have become much more quality-conscious of big items like strollers, cribs or high chairs, toys are often an afterthought and viewed as disposable. At sigikid, we strive to counter this notion. We’d like to see parents be more demanding when it comes to what their kids play and cuddle with. Quality, design, sustainability, machine wash-ability – these are all key attributes for a well-made toy.
Overall what has been the best part of owning your own business?
It is a true blessing and a lot of fun to work in the toy industry! We really feel that we can make a difference with our products that counter the trend of poorly designed toys. We are very excited about bringing old-school toys with a modern look to the US.
Sharing about yourself personally – education, hobbies, family, etc.

My husband and I met in graduate school (in Monterey, CA). Back in the day, we had no idea that this would lead to what is now sigikid-usa. We feel very fortunate that we can continue the family business that was started more than 45 years ago in Germany. We have a 4 year old who is already learning about what it means to be an entrepreneur (even though he probably thinks that everybody has a warehouse full of plush toys to play in). He is the ultimate toy tester! And he is the one who reminds us that working is just another form of playing if you are only passionate about it.

what sigikid is known for || one of a kind plush toys and animals that are cuddly, safe, and made for play and imagination; high quality products designed with a child's world and perspective in mind that are set apart by their features {innovative design, sustainability, machine washable & hand-stitched finishes}

what sets sigikid apart || Just looking at the wide selection of products online and the ones in our own home and Olivia's nursery, the modern and creative design is what sets them apart, alongside the passion that Eva and her husband Lucian have -- the same passion passed down from Eva's parents, the sigikid founders / I absolutely loved reading the story of how sigikid came to be, how the name was chosen and what they are most passionate about as they create each product. The toys and plushes are 'playfully different,' as Eva said. They are the kind of product you want to invest in, give to your children, or wrap up as a gift to a new baby or young child. This is because of that passion, which drives each design and carries each product to such a high level of quality and value.

my favorite products || Olivia never took a pacifier but instead always loved having a little blanket to carry and hold. I found so many sweet options for this and just love them all / In addition to the bear snuggly {pictured above}, I love the organic dog snuggly {below} and the mouse snuggly.


I also love the entire Sweety collection, including the Sweety bear that Olivia has as well as the fox, and the kitty cat {pictured below}. They are seriously so soft head to toe, one of the many reasons Via loves carrying hers around.

I have been so impressed with this company and am privileged to be featuring products that are not only beautiful but have become such favorites for Olivia. With unmatched quality, thoughtful design, and one-of-a-kind products, they are sure to become a favorite in your family too.

coupon code || sigikid is so generously offering Blessed Nest readers an exclusive coupon code to save 15% off their total purchase now through December 14 using the code 'blessednest15' // start shopping here

giveaway || enter below to win a $50 shop credit to sigikid to choose your own toys and plush animals / simply complete the steps below in the rafflecopter to enter. giveaway is open to residents in the US only and will run from Monday, December 1 through Sunday, December 7. all entries will be verified.


happy Monday!

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