8.27.2015

shop spotlight | alexandra rose handmade

I'm so excited to be partnering with gorgeous Mama of two Alex of Alexandra Rose Handmade to kick off the launch of her gorgeous Fall line! I've had the privilege of working alongside Alex multiple times throughout the launch of my blog and her shop and her high quality handmade clothing & baby products are the best of the best. In her shop she offers leggings, dresses, head wraps, drool bibs, wooden teethers, burp cloths and more. Her patterns are always on point and her fall collection has me absolutely smitten! I could buy it all and can't wait to get Poppy's little legs in these gorgeous modern leggings!

leaf leggings / burp cloth

You can read more about her shop below

"Alexandra Rose Handmade was started on the kitchen table of our tiny two bedroom house almost 5 years ago, not long after the birth of my first precious baby boy, Isaiah. Making practical, fashionable and high quality baby items quickly turned into a passion and an amazing creative outlet. After our second sweet boy, Maddox, joined our family my incredible husband, Mark, encouraged me to take the plunge and turn AR into a full time business. I have been nothing short of blown away...this hobby turned business has exceeded even my wildest expectations. Your support means the world to me. I hope you know that whether you're buying our products for your own precious baby, or as a gift, so much thought, care and intention went in to the hand making of each and every item."

oversized burp cloths

The quality of all ARH's products is unmatched, and I LOVE her oversized burp cloths, especially as a new Mama essential (and the perfect baby shower gift!) -- they are extra thick and absorbent but still stylish, a total win. They're perfect for all kinds of messes and they easily double as a changing pad, lap blanket, tummy time mat or a special lovey. Because of their tri-fold, they easily fit in a diaper bag for on the go and I have ours stashed in baskets around the house with diapers and wipes for when our little lady arrives.


To celebrate her Fall launch today, you can save 10% off EVERYTHING from her shop using the code BLESSEDNEST at checkout {discount valid Thursday, August 27 only} AND because we love our ARH products so much, I'm giving away a shop credit for you to choose your own favorites! To enter, head over to my instagram @blessednestblog and follow the steps listed. Giveaway runs today through Wednesday, September 2nd and the winner will be announced on the original post on instagram within 48 hours of it ending. 

8.25.2015

our weekend

This past weekend was one for the books, with lots of relaxation and finishing up a few extra special projects. Add to that some great mail for baby girl and our home, homemade chili and a lunch date out with my hubby, and it was a total win. 


Friday afternoon I got my hair done and then enjoyed grocery shopping solo and a trip to a few of my favorite boutiques. I picked up a scarf & sweater that just shouted fall. I also stumbled upon antique hydrangeas at Whole Foods on sale for the weekend, and dried a bunch of them all around our house in antique pitchers. I absolutely love hydrangeas, especially when they're the most gorgeous vintage colors.

On Friday night we relaxed and took it easy at home; I made a big pot of grass fed beef chili (our favorite!) since it's been feeling like Fall lately with all the cool weather we've been having. Saturday morning we slept in and knocked a few projects off our list, then Dustin and I enjoyed a lunch date out while Via spent the afternoon with Nana.

After lunch, we came home to a sleeping girl and a storm rolling in. Dustin decided to take a nap while I relaxed on the couch and indulged in a Fixer Upper marathon, one of my all time favorite HGTV shows. 

On Saturday night, we finished up our bedroom gallery wall and hung some more art that had arrived that morning in our updated living room. Sunday was another slow day; Dustin got up with Olivia and took her to church while I slept in and woke to an empty house, then made my favorite breakfast -- french toast & sausage -- while enjoying peace and quiet and a little bit of Flea Market Flip! 

After breakfast, I settled into a hot bubble bath. I take baths almost every night but there is something so nice about one in the late morning. When Dustin and Olivia got home, we played outside and made some lunch, then it was nap time. I packed my hospital bags and Dustin mowed the lawn. Dustin had plans on Sunday night with some friends so it was just me and V, such a special night spent together knowing the nights of just us are coming to an end. 

We've also officially finished our living + dining room update with all new furniture, new lights and a bunch of new decor and art. It feels so cozy and rustic, it has become my favorite spot in the house, and a perfect start to my favorite season. Our days now are just spent making memories and relaxing as much as possible, wondering when our little babe will make her entrance into the world. We are just so excited and I'm thankful that our weekend was so special. Who knows, it might have been our last as a family of three! 

8.20.2015

shop spotlight || noble carriage

Let's face it: Life as a Mom is busy! Whether you have one babe or a houseful, it often seems there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done and still be present with your little ones. My constant focus -- especially as we prepare for Penelope -- is to give 100% of my attention to my girls when they are awake and save my "to-dos" for nap time and after bedtime. I've watched as time has flown by and Olivia has grown from an itty bitty baby to an intelligent and independent little lady right before my eyes in what feels like a single moment, and no matter the demands on me in every other realm of my life, I want to go to bed each night knowing I didn't miss a thing as a Mama.

That being said, one of the to-dos that always seems to be on my list is finding the perfect gift for expectant Mamas, because all my girlfriends are either pregnant or just recently had babies. Today I'm so excited to share my newest obsession for gift giving (and if we're being completely honest, for finding the most gorgeous pieces for my own girls) -- Noble Carriage, an online shop -- owned by Jen Hartford -- for top of the line 100% organic baby clothes and eco-friendly toys and accessories; their mission is quite an ambitious one and, well, noble.


"We started Noble Carriage as a way to address the growing concerns of sustainability in fashion and the harmful effects that this industry has on farmers, the environment, and ultimately the end consumer. This challenge is far greater than just one company can tackle, so we focused our efforts where we could have the most profound effect: babies."

"Truth is, most non-organic cotton is not good for babies or the environment. The use of toxic chemicals to treat cotton and dye the clothing makes even the cutest clothing harmful for a baby’s skin. In the first few years of life, your skin will be the most susceptible to whatever it comes in contact with. Therefore, wearing organic clothing, using eco-friendly cleaning products, and eating healthy food are invaluable to a baby’s long-term health."

Owner of Noble Carriage, Jen Hartford, is an award-winning designer by way of San Francisco ad agency, Hub Strategy and Communication. She also co-founded the made in the USA bow tie brand Tasty Ties, where she developed the brand from the ground up and learned first-hand about manufacturing a product.

In 2014, Jen gracefully switched gears into her newest endeavor as founder and creative director of Noble Carriage, an online shop for organic baby clothing. Jen Hartford created Noble Carriage to help moms find clothing for their baby that is not only super cute, but good for the baby and the planet.


At Noble Carriage, you’ll find the best 100% organic baby clothing and eco-friendly toys and accessories all in one place, making it the perfect one-stop shop for gift buying! All of the brands Noble Carriage sells meet their list of sustainability standards:
  • 100% Certified Organic
  • Fair Trade
  • Made in the USA
  • Locally Made
  • Handmade
When you visit the Noble Carriage website, you can trust that every product has been hand selected and will be safe for your baby and the environment. 


In addition to hand-picking your favorite goodies from Noble Carriage, they offer Organic Gift Bundles that take all the guesswork out of choosing a gift for a new Mama; these are curated boxes with 3-4 items in each by theme. In addition to their wide selection of products by many of my favorite brands, they offer free shipping and free returns on all orders. 

A few of my other favorite items from Noble Carriage include this gorgeous organic floral dress (on sale!), this wooden donut teether & all the darling animals from Hazel Village.


Everything from Noble Carriage just has me swooning. These beautiful goodies for Penelope feature three of my favorite eco-friendly companies and I love the convenience of picking them all out in one place! Their mission, customer service and products are truly the best of the best! Whether you're looking to add a few high quality pieces to your own child's collection or pick out a gift that will forever be cherished, Noble Carriage is the place to do it. And because we love Noble Carriage so much, I'd love to give away a $75 shop credit to one of you to pick out your favorite pieces! 

TO ENTER, head over to my instagram @blessednestblog, find the photo with our favorite items as pictured above and follow the steps listed. The giveaway will run from Thursday August 20 through Wednesday August 26 and the winner will be announced directly beneath the original post on IG. The winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours or a new winner will be drawn. And if you just can't wait, visit the Noble Carriage website to sign up for their email list and you'll receive a 10% off coupon for your first purchase!

8.18.2015

our favorite toddler snacks

Last Friday I shared an archive of all our favorite toddler meals, based on a 6-week meal series I did last Fall. In addition to healthy, simple meals, I am always on the lookout for easy snacks that I don't have to feel too guilty about giving to Olivia. 

When we're at home, I always try to offer fresh snacks, such as fruit that is in season, peanut butter and apple slices, yogurt and granola, a fruit & veggie smoothie, half an avocado, almond butter on toast with banana slices, etc. But some days we are out and about and taking the time to prepare a healthy snack isn't always an option, so below I've rounded up our go-to snacks that can be packed in my diaper bag or grabbed in an instant. 


Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps // Our favorite flavors are Original and Parmesan Rosemary ... If we're at home, they're great topped with cheese and turkey or ham

KIND Granola // We love the Maple Quinoa Clusters flavor but every one we've tried has been delicious! It is gluten free, which is an extra bonus if you are gluten sensitive. On the go, Olivia loves eating it plain but at home I serve it with milk or on top of yogurt

Horizon Organic Sandwich Crackers // These come in peanut butter and cheddar, and we love both of them! A small handful always fills Olivia up and I like that she gets a little bit of protein with them


Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks // These are more of a treat than a go-to snack; every flavor is so yummy! 

Chobani Greek Yogurt tubes // High in protein, these are a great way to pack yogurt on the go -- you can freeze them for a few hours and then they'll thaw in your diaper bag; I also like how easy they are for Via to eat ... they come in a few flavors but the banana is her favorite

Organic Valley Stringles String Cheese // Who am I kidding? These are one of my favorite snacks too! Especially paired with pretzel crisps. Obviously, you don't want to pack these for all day errands because they should be kept refrigerated, but I'll throw one in my bag on our way out the door and Olivia can munch on it in the car shortly after we leave


18 Rabbits Jr. Granola Bars // I came across these a few months ago and was intrigued by their unique flavors; each bar is a rather small size perfect for toddlers and great for a quick and easy snack

Annie's Organic White Cheddar Bunnies // A great alternative to traditional goldfish, Olivia loves these yummy bunny crackers ... they come in yellow and white cheddar and we're fans of both

Trader Joe's "Just a Handful" Trail Mixes // This is one that depends on the age of your child, but Olivia loves trail mix! Our favorite flavor is the "Just almonds, cashews and cranberries" but TJs sells all different mixes. I like that these are already pre-packaged and can be stored in my diaper bag indefinitely. Plus, nuts are packed with so many awesome nutrients so we always keep them on hand


GoGo Squeeze // These are a must for us, with so many flavors and super easy to eat mess-free, plus no sugar is added to them (unlike many other store bought applesauces). Apple Cinnamon and Apple Berry are two of our favorites, but we've tried them all and I don't think Olivia has ever turned one down. When its hot out, I throw one in the freezer for 10 minutes and it's a perfect backyard treat.

Simply Balanced Fruit & Grain Bars // I bought these on a whim when they were on sale and I think Dustin finished the box before Olivia had even had one! I reach for these to pack when our breakfast is on the go if we have an early morning or some place to be. They come in blueberry, strawberry and apple -- our favorite!

Other on the go snacks we always have on hand include classic animal crackers (our favorite are from Trader Joe's) and Mom's Best Brand dry cereals ... Olivia likes the Honey Grahams and Toasted Cinnamon Squares and they're perfect for munching on from her snack cup in the car or grocery cart! I love to spend time preparing fun and flavorful snacks for her at home but life as a Mom is busy and these make it a little easier! 

8.14.2015

toddler meal archive

Last Fall I featured a 6-week series all about toddler meals || Below is the photo archive with all the meals and snacks featured -- Click on each picture for the full post with all meal details / You can also find them linked by week under the BABY + TODDLER page and for peeks at what meals Olivia is enjoying, head to my instagram @blessednestblog and click on the hashtag #BlessedNestToddlerMealSeries

BREAKFASTS











LUNCHES








SNACKS






DINNERS








Happy weekend!!

8.12.2015

life lately

With less than four weeks to go, all three of us are getting so excited to meet Miss Penelope. Olivia was born at 38w2d which means in two weeks from today, Poppy could be in our arms if she arrives when her big sister did. I don't think it's fully set in that we'll have a newborn again, as my parenting mindset for what feels like so long has been all toddler. But I can't wait to see her squishy face, kiss her little lips and soak in the glory of new baby smell.


Being so close to delivery, I thought I'd share a few things we've been up to lately as the final weeks come and go before we transition to a family of four!

Dustin works Monday to Friday but gets home by 3:30pm, (which I love!) so during the week we try to spend a few fun nights out and about with Olivia and a few low key nights relaxing at home. Since I stay home, even if I run errands or have some things going on outside the house during the day with Olivia, I'm always excited to get out in the evenings all three of us. Olivia usually naps 2-5pm so that is my time to blog, answer emails, meal plan, read, and rest. Once she's up the fun begins!

Our outings usually consist of visiting our favorite parks, taking a walk, grabbing icecream or visiting with friends nearby. Nights in are almost always spent grilling and hanging out in the backyard; the weather lately has been a total dream. This past Monday night I hosted a girls' night and we made homemade chicken spring rolls and did some baking. It's always so much fun to entertain, one of my very favorite things!

On the weekends, we try to squeeze in a date night to dinner just the two of us and then one special big activity with Olivia. We love taking her to the waterpark, zoo, or lake. We also focus on 1-2 things to accomplish each weekend, whether it be something around the house or some other incredibly exciting task -- like washing and vacuuming the car and installing P's carseat.


Last week I decided I wanted to rearrange our entire living + dining room and after we did, I came to the conclusion it was time to sell our old furniture (from when we bought our home in 2010) and revamp the whole room. That was our big and exciting project last week and weekend; we chose a new rustic coffee table, two mismatched antique end tables (one with storage so I can hide books and toys), a set of two new Edison table lamps and a super cozy shag rug. The last things on our list to complete the space is to find a new light fixture for over our dining room table, which I plan to pick out this weekend, and to hang up a corner gallery wall. It was so much fun to redecorate and I joked with Dustin that furniture shopping is my love language! 

Aside from that, our free time together is spent playing with Olivia, reading, visiting with friends and checking off the final things on our to-do list. It's been a really fun and calm summer overall; the timing of her arrival has been perfect because we've been able to soak up one last full summer with our little girl. I couldn't be more excited to kick Fall off with a new babe in my arms and my two year old sweetheart by my side. The best season of all is right around the corner and I am over the moon at all the fun to come! 

8.03.2015

shop spotlight | bonbonsito

I have always loved creating -- crafting, card-making, DIY projects of any and every sort, and have even tried my hand at sewing and quilting a few times. There is so much joy in having a vision and then bringing it to life with your own two hands, making something beautiful out of what was once nothing more than an idea in your head. 

This week's Shop Spotlight is extra special because it features a shop that does just that -- creates something beautiful out of fabrics and thread purely for the love and joy of creating. Bonbonsito is owned by beautiful Mama Eunice, who started entertaining the idea of making dolls when she had her first son. She expressed at that time she never knew where to start, but then began creating her handmade dolls after her second son was born. The real dream of doll-making fully came to life when she found out she was having her third little one -- a baby girl. All the things she ever wanted as a child started flourishing within her and by the time her daughter was six months old, she had completed her first doll.


Her shop name, Bonbonsito, comes from the nickname she calls her kids -- bonbonsitos, meaning "little marshmallows" and as soon as it came to her, she knew it was a natural fit. Eunice's inspiration comes from children and children's stories -- anything magical and with imagination. "I'll be sitting and just day dream about a forest girl with bunny ears and dress," she shared. She enjoys sitting at her desk and drawing out designs as they come to her, entertaining any and every idea that comes to mind. Eunice expressed that the most enjoyable part of owning her own business is having people -- especially children -- gasp when they see her work. She describes it as confirmation that there is magic in her pieces, though she considers herself more of a maker than a business owner. 


Aside from her gorgeous shop, Eunice loves spending time with her husband and three children. She enjoys the outdoors and her boys love climbing rocks and the freedom of nature. Both her and her husband work full time so free time is often scarce, but they are actively involved in church ministries and she has the help of her own Mom, who is both a babysitter for her three little ones and a seamstress who worked in the bridal industry for over 30 years!


In dreaming of this absolutely gorgeous doll for our sweet Penelope, all I shared was that I love vintage floral. Together we decided on a bunny and I left the rest up to Eunice's imagination. As soon as she arrived -- packaged in the most beautiful sheer bag with a tiny tiny button closure, my heart swelled at her beauty. As much as I love to create, my own two hands would never come close to making such a perfect, flawless doll. The love poured into every inch of this doll is truly unmistakable and even pictures could never do her justice. I am forever grateful to be giving such an exquisite doll to our sweet baby girl. She has no idea the treasure that is waiting for her once she arrives, but what a gem it is! 


I love Eunice's kind and thoughtful heart, her creative perspective, and her passion for creating. In addition to her custom dolls, she makes beautiful bears which she sells in order to raise funds for orphanages in Honduras. One of her dear friends lives out there and has a desire to incorporate music programs into the orphanages for the children. For each bear doll she sells, not only does she make another for the orphanage but she donates all profits made from each sale. 


If you are looking for a one of a kind piece for your own child, a gift that will forever be cherished, a personalized piece for a birthday, Christmas or other special occasion, a doll from Bonbonsito could not be more fitting. I have been so privileged to display a beautiful doll from her shop in our home -- in Poppy's nursery -- and would love to give away a $50 shop credit to one of you to apply toward your own custom doll! Head over to my instagram @blessednestblog to enter to win. 

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