10.18.2017

our favorite oil accessories

Happy Wednesday! Our week over here is flying by and we have been having weather that is out of this world!! Yesterday while Olivia was in school, Penelope, Della and I met up with some friends at a local orchard that we hadn't been to before, so much fun. It's always a blast to discover new places that quickly become your favorite.

If you haven't seen yet that I am sharing about our essential oil journey, I started a few weeks ago with a new account on instagram @blessednestessentials. I have been posting about my passion for natural health for quite sometime now and was always getting questions asking if we use essential oils, how we use them, what our favorites are and why...so it felt like the right time to jump on in with an oil-exclusive account.

One of my favorite parts about essential oils is that once you have a starter kit, the DIYs are pretty much endless. Especially as we approach the holiday season, I love using our Young Living oils to create thoughtful gifts for friends and family, as well as around our own home to "ditch and switch" from toxic products to products that are safe for our whole family. Below are the products I most often use for all the my oiling! 

One of the very first ways we started using essential oils back in 2015 was to replace dryer sheets. They are one of the highest sources of toxic chemicals in your home...and probably the last thing you want on your clothing and childrens' clothing. Simply ditch the dryer sheets and switch to wool dryer balls...put a few drops of your favorite essential oil onto each ball and toss them in while drying your clothing. I especially love using lavender when I am washing bedding and the girls' blankets. 

I most often use vintage alphabet rubber stamps for the kraft tags and also love making labels for the glass spray bottles using this label maker. I pick up all my mason jars for soaps, scrubs and other gifts at local craft stores. They are often very inexpensive. I use the 16 oz glass spray bottles for my Thieves cleaner (mix 1 capful of Thieves Household Cleaner with 2-3 cups water) and try to keep one on every level of our home so it's within reach whenever I am cleaning. 


Young Living's V-6 is my go-to carrier oil, and I also use Fractionated Coconut Oil (FCO) which you can buy from Amazon and many health sites. I also love YL's aroma glide roller fitments, which turn any bottle of essential oil into a roller. We especially love using them on our KidScents oils and lavender. 

If you would like to get started on your own essential oil journey, you can find more information in this post. You can follow along on instagram @blessednestessentials and of course, email or message me with questions anytime!

10.13.2017

friday favorites

Happy Friday! Dustin took today off work so this morning I got some girl time with Olivia and Penelope while Della was napping at home, a great way to start any day! All 3 girls just miraculously went down for their naps so I have a few minutes to blog before Dustin and I have lunch together in the backyard. He went to pick up one of our favorite lunches, the parmesan-crusted milano salad from Biaggi's. If you guys have one near you, seriously it is so good!! Tonight I have a girls spa night with my girlfriends and I cannot wait for that either! Definitely a fun weekend so far!


It's been awhile since a Friday Favorites post has gone up and I have so many things to share!

one | I get asked often what my favorite diaper bag is and hands down I say Fawn Design every time. I was first introduced to the brand when Penelope was born in 2015 and used a black Fawn bag and loved it. It has the perfect amount of space for 2+ kids, still room for my stuff and tons of pockets which = organization, my favorite thing ever. I've tried many different diaper bags over the past 4 years and keep going back to my Fawn bags. This Fall I've been loving their Gray bag because it matches everything. I recommend them to every new mom because if a diaper bag is not only functional but stylish, total win!

two | On the theme of my favorite things for motherhood, we have these glass bottles for Della and I absolutely love them. We used Dr. Brown's bottles for our first two girls but I really wanted to switch to glass when Adaline was born and they are as amazing as I hoped they would be. I picked them up when they had a friends & family sale and after my discount ended up getting the whole set for $40 plus free shipping, so watch for sales to scoop them up! They would make a great gift for a new Mama as well.

three | Our favorite hair clips for the girls are from Ryan & Wren. Poppy and Olivia wear them daily and I always make sure to have a few in my diaper bag when we are out and about. Over the past few years I've had a chance to design some festive clip sets with the owner Mary, who is so wonderful. The clips come in so many fun colors and the glitter ones are the girls' favorites!

four | Fall is the perfect time to pull out a Gathre mat for outdoor activities or indoor art, picnics and playtime as the temperatures drop. We love them and use ours daily (our favorite sizes are the Midi and Maxi). Enter ABLESSEDNEST at checkout for 15% off your purchase at Gathre through the end of the month.

five | We may be getting a little ahead of ourselves as far as the seasons go, but I recently picked up this book for Olivia and we are both loving it. It is illustrated by one of my favorite artists and both the pictures and text are just darling. 

six | Now that summer is over, I am in full-on purging mode, getting rid of most of the girls' outgrown clothes, selecting a few of my favorite pieces to hold on to for next season for their sisters and then adding some new pieces in to their wardrobes. I also pulled out all our fall boots, cozy socks & winter knits and have been organizing it in their rooms and in our front entry. My favorite storage are the pom bins by Pehr designs. If you've been following for awhile you know I used a set of three pink pom ones for the girls' Easter baskets this year (here) and I also love them for toys, books, dolls, swaddle blankets and diapers & wipes. We have a few different sizes but the ones we have the most of are the pints and bins. I keep this one in Della's nursery with rolled up swaddles in it and the same one in Poppy's room with her dolls. This size is perfect for the girls' hats, scarves and gloves in our entry way as well as their shoes and boots. 

seven | Another question I get a lot via DM are my favorite water bottles and dishware for the girls. Each of our girls have an ELLO Luna water bottle in different colors and we love them! I shared about them a few months ago when we first got them and recently added this purple one for Della. They are a great size, dishwasher safe and the straw makes it easy for kids of all ages to use, even our littlest lady.

eight | I picked up flannel sheets this week in the gray stripe print for Olivia's bed and can't wait to get them on this weekend so its extra cozy! I also love these (on sale!) and these for a toddler bed.

nine | My favorite swaddle blankets from Max + Moose release in 3 new colors on Sunday -- birch (my fav!), maple & blue spruce. I have used just about every swaddle out there since Olivia was born and Max + Moose remain my favorite. Think of them as your favorite tee in blanket form -- they are cozy, soft, have just the right amount of stretch and are great for tiny babies through childhood. All our girls love them and our collection is ever-growing!! 

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend and if you have any favorite things we need to try, be sure to share them below or send me an email or DM! XO

10.10.2017

our weekend

We have been spending every moment possible outdoors this month, as the weather has been incredible and we know all too soon the snow will be flying!! We have a tradition of going to our local landscape arboretum each October with our girls and we took advantage of the beautiful weather and visited this past weekend. 


They have miles and miles of walking (and driving) trails through the woods, dozens of gardens, flowers & plants, water fountains and water falls (anyone else have kids who are obsessed with water fountains??) and then this time of year, pumpkin houses, scarecrows throughout and lots of fun festive decor. The girls love counting pumpkins, running through the woods crunching leaves, treasuring hunting for acorns and of course, enjoying snacks and a picnic lunch amongst the gorgeous scenery! If there is ever a time to get outside and admire all the breathtaking views and changing leaves, October is it. 






Hope you had the best weekend as well!!

10.08.2017

goat milk recipe

Last week in my instastories I shared that I am supplementing with Adaline and using a homemade goat milk recipe. I had so many of you message me asking for it so I thought I would post it here! 

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, the most important thing is a fed baby :) I have loved breastfeeding my girls but always had a lower milk supply, so I supplement with a homemade goat milk formula. 

It was really important for me to find an alternative to traditional formulas because they are often very high in sugar, soy and of course, cow's milk (dairy). This recipe was recommended to me by our chiropractor Suzy, who is also my boss ;) You can read more about my (very part time) job here

Suzy used this recipe with her own kids and we have loved using it with ours. Because I started supplementing with it around 6 months, I modified it slightly from the original recipe. I talked with Suzy specifically on what I could nix from it because of what I am giving Adaline regularly in her diet. Obviously, for a newborn it would be a bit different since their sole source of nutrition is milk. 

I would recommend talking with your pediatrician, chiropractor, or holistic healthcare provider if you are thinking of doing this. For us personally, it has been amazing. None of the girls ever dealt with spitting up, digestive issues, etc. and I love that it allows me to control exactly what I am putting into my baby's body because I make it all at home myself. Finally, the recipe calls for raw goats milk, which is ideal, but we use store bought because getting it raw is much more challenging unless you've got connections with farmers nearby!

Below is the recipe and the ingredients that I put in mine have asterisks. We introduced it to Della around 6 months.

Goat Milk Formula 
This recipe is adapted from Sally Fallon's recipe from Nourishing Traditions
{makes 35-40 oz}
*2 cups raw goat milkRaw goat milk is the best option for your child because it provides the most enzymes, proteins and nutrients. Raw is going to be the optimal choice if you can find it. Try to find a farmer or friend with goats to purchase it from. The other option is purchasing goats milk in the grocery store; it is found almost everywhere

*2 cups filtered water / Start at 2 cups filtered water and as your child grows, increase the amount of goats milk (around 8-10 months)

*1/4 cup liquid whey / Suzy recommends using Suero Gold (This is a product from cows but contains Beta A2 protein which is very similar in goats milk; if there is a severe milk intolerance, you can use goat yogurt for the whey) -- I get this at our chiro clinic but I believe it is sold in Whole Foods as well for about $6 a bottle which lasts several weeks

1-2 teaspoons blackstrap molasses / Start small; she prefers using 1 teaspoon and working up in quantity as child gets older

*1-2 teaspoons high quality real maple syrup / This adds carbohydrates that are necessary for brain growth and a slight sweetness (Do not use honey or agave syrup)

*1/2 dose liquid B Vitamin: The B Vitamins are a must when it comes to this recipe because goat milk doesn't have high levels of B Vitamins; Suzy recommends MoRs by the brand Systemic Formulas which is what we use -- This is another item I get from the chiro and I believe you have to be a healthcare provider to order Systemic Formulas products directly. Any high quality liquid B vitamin should work, you can even go to Whole Foods and ask someone in the supplement section what they would recommend

*1/4 teaspoon powdered probiotic: A multi-strain probiotic that is of the highest quality is preferred {we use this one}

*1/2 teaspoon fermented cod liver oil (FCLO): Green Pastures is the best brand of FCLO {here}; you can also sub Innate Choice Omega Sufficiency {which is what we use here}

*2 teaspoons coconut oil / Extra virgin, cold pressed, unrefined. This is critical for MCT fats (medium chain triglycerides) for brain development and fat for satiety and fullness; it is also anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, which mimics the same properties found in breast milk {I warm it on the stove in a small butter melting pot and use the immersion blender on high as I am pouring it in and it seems to blend much better than if I were mixing it in as a more solid form}

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil / For monounsaturated fats

1/4 teaspoon high vitamin butter oil or 1 teaspoon sunflower oil Suzy recommends the Vitamin Butter from Green Pastures

2 teaspoons nutritional yeast / This also contains important B vitamins; you can buy this in bulk at co-ops and Whole Foods for a great price; make sure it is gluten free

*1/4 teaspoon acerola powder / We use Perque Vitamin C powder {here

Directions: 
Put the goats milk, filtered water and whey in a glass mixing bowl or large glass jar; add the rest of the ingredients and blend with an immersion blender until completely mixed together. If you don't have an immersion blender you can also use a regular blender. Store in the refrigerator in glass or stainless steel. To heat, fill a bottle (we use a small funnel) and place the bottle without a top on in hot water. I have a 2-cup glass pyrex measuring cup that I fill 2/3 the way full with water, warm it in the microwave for 90 seconds, and then set the bottle in it to warm. I don't cap the bottle until I am ready to give it to Della because the heat can sometimes push the milk out the top. 


A few other tips:
This formula can have a darker color than breastmilk and other formulas. 

When the formula is cold, the oils will separate but they will become uniform when you heat the bottle in warm water. 

When I make it for Adaline, I only put the ingredients above that have asterisks. So I don't put in molasses, olive oil, vitamin butter or nutritional yeast. I also do a 2:2 ratio of goats milk to filtered water. She is 8 months so I may modify this in a few weeks but for now I do 2:2. 

The list can seem long at first and if you haven't ever made homemade formula, I understand how intimidating it can be. If you need to supplement, it seems much easier to just buy it from the store and mix powder with water. But, for us, it's incredibly important to minimize the amount of soy and sugar, as well as cow's milk products, in our girls' diets. This has been a big key in that. 

The length of time one batch will last you varies depending on how much milk your baby is consuming. I make a double batch about twice a week and make it in large glass mason jars. I get everything out at once, only have to wash my immersion blender once and then have two large containers ready for the week ahead.

I get our goats milk at Whole Foods, filtered water and maple syrup at Trader Joe's, probiotics and coconut oil from Amazon or Whole Foods and everything else from our chiro. Remember, quality is key; even if you can't find these exact brands, that's okay. Just make sure each ingredient is high quality from a trusted brand/source. 

There is a learning curve to making it, but once you make it a few times you will realize how easy it is. I can make a double batch in less than 10 minutes. I had the recipe memorized after just making it a few times and love knowing I am able to offer a healthy alternative to store-bought formula. 

I hope this helps each of you who have asked about it. You can always send any questions you have my way. Hope you had a wonderful weekend! We spent most of ours outside and we are loving everything about Fall! XO

10.02.2017

happy october!

Happy October! We had beautiful weather this weekend so we enjoyed a trip to a local nature center, where we found a handful of all different sized turtles sitting on a log in the sunshine, definitely the highlight of our time there! We also hunted for acorns and crunched a lot of leaves!


October is one of our favorite months of the year. Dustin's birthday is this week and the leaves are all really starting to turn. We love the cooler weather, pulling out our fall pajamas and cozy blankets. I also love having a diffuser going in our kitchen and doing lots of baking and cooking. Chicken chili, mulled cider & pumpkin bars are a few things on my list this week! And maybe chocolate souffl├ęs for Dustin's birthday...we'll see if I am up for that ;)

On days we aren't out & about, we have been taking it slow at home. I usually try to make sure one day during the week we have nowhere to go and nothing to do, either Wednesdays or Fridays since Olivia is off school those days, and then do the same one day each weekend. Saturday is usually our family day, spent outside with the girls doing different Fall activities like visiting the orchard, going on a nature hike, having a picnic with friends or going to the park. I'm pretty sure our weekends don't ever go by with at least one trip to the park. Seriously, Poppy can spot a slide or swings a mile away!! On Sundays after church we usually grocery shop and then lay low, especially if Saturday was busy. Bonus points if everyone naps on Sunday afternoon!!


I thought it would be fun to share a few of the things we've been loving so far this Fall! Our favorite ribbon dresses and peplums for the girls just dropped last week from Childhoods. They are so cozy and the clothing I put them in most often on cool Fall days. Now if they just came in my size!!

I also love this similar peplum top; the girls have it in Heather Gray and it is the softest piece of clothing they own. It comes in a few colors, I love the Winter Wine and the Raspberry Tart is so bright and fun!

For pajamas, my favorite for quality are from Mini Boden. We love the "Twin Pack Cosy Long Johns" and they most often sell them in sets of two for $60, but with a 20% off coupon you can get them for $48 and free shipping. I usually wait until I have a $15 gift voucher (I get them in the mail every few months or by email) and then buy a set for $33. They come in sizes 3Y up to 14Y. You can use the code 5M4R at checkout for 20% off and free shipping on your first order!!

I also just stumbled upon this gnome pajama set and well, lets just say its a long story, but our girls absolutely love gnomes. So I scooped these up for them right away!

We have also been enjoying Fall Diffuser blends using our YL Essential Oils. I most often have a diffuser going in the kitchen, the living room or the playroom because that is where we spend most of our time during the day. A favorite of mine right now is Fall Leaves: 6 drops orange + 1 drop patchouli + 1 drop ginger. We diffuse essential oils instead of burning candles, as they are much safer and completely non-toxic, which is so important especially when my girls, including Adaline, are breathing it in. It makes the house so cozy when a diffuser is going that smells just like the season outside!

We spend a lot of time reading books inside as the temperatures drop and are always adding new ones to our collection. A few of our favorites right now are The Little Yellow Leaf, Room on the Broom (Poppy asks for this one every single day at nap time and we pretty much watch the 20 minute animated version every night before bed), Fall Ball, It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! and Curious George's Day at the Farm, which is fun to read this time of year and has flaps to lift that Poppy loves.

My mom stopped over last night with homemade chicken wild rice soup and cornbread, right before I was about to start preparing dinner, so that was a total treat!! How good does it feel to not have to cook once in awhile?! Soup in a big mug and windows open with a cool breeze have me so thankful Fall is here and we're looking forward to all that is to come!! Hope you are enjoying the season as much as we are!!

10.01.2017

why young living?

A question I get often about essential oils is “Why did you choose Young Living?” 


There are so many different essential oil companies but for me, the choice was obvious. As the leader in essential oils since they first came on to the market in 1994, Young Living’s vision is to bring the life-changing benefits of essential oils to every home, every family and every lifestyle. You can find EOs just about everywhere these days — including health food stores, co-ops, fitness centers and more. But did you know that very few are actually pure, therapeutic oils that contain the benefits that Young Living’s do? If you’ve tried oils you picked up from the grocery store and feel like they aren’t working, its probably because they aren’t. Often, synthetic chemicals are added to the oils you find in stores, even when their labeling says “pure.” Once you switch to, or start with, Young Living, you will notice a difference as great as in the quality to as simple as how they smell. 

Another thing I love about Young Living is their transparancy for their Seed to Seal guarantee. Young Living owns their own farms, both in the United States and around the world, and anyone can visit the farms to participate in both the harvest and distillation process. In the front of this year’s catalog, you can read about each of the farms and learn which oils come from where as well as see photos from each location. I love knowing exactly where each oil is beginning, especially if it will eventually end up in my home and used on my family & children. 

Each batch of Young Living’s essential oils is rigorously tested both in-house and via 3rd party testing. At Young Living’s farm, weed control is done by hand and all the pest control is done with essential oils!! With over 20 years of experience and research, and the largest selection of both singles and blends available on the market, Young Living is a natural fit for our family.

If you have specific questions about Young Living’s products, oils or Young Living as a company or want to get started with Young Living, send an email to me at blessednestessentials@gmail.com and I’d love to help!

9.22.2017

friday favorites

Happy first (official) day of Fall! We have a heat wave here and it's feeling more like Summer but that isn't stopping us from doing all of our favorite Fall things! It's been awhile since I've done a Friday Favorites post and there are so many good things right now that I have to share!


one | First up, the neatest new board book series that the girls can't get enough of, Mrs. Peanuckle's Alphabet Library. The first two books (Fruit Alphabet + Vegetable Alphabet) were released this week and 4 more are set to come out in February & May that I am so excited for. The illustrations are just so vibrant and fun and I love that it is a great way for toddlers to learn the alphabet and as children get a little older, especially for Poppy and Olivia, it teaches them all new kinds of vegetables and fruit that they may never have seen or heard of, like dragonfruit, okra and more. It also includes facts on each page that even I didn't know before reading, like that vanilla is a fruit that grows from an orchid!  Bonus points for a children's book that teaches the adults. The set of these would be the sweetest gift for a 1st Birthday and they are on repeat over here in our house!

two | It doesn't take long to look at my feed and see our Gathre mats in the majority of our photos. We use them every single day and take them everywhere we go. We have two midis and two maxis  (one square and one round) and love them all for different reasons. The midis are the ones I most often throw in my diaper bag or stroller for on the go. We keep a maxi in our backyard shed for whenever the girls are outside and then I try to keep one in my car as well. They are great for the park, the beach, picnics, art activities (we always take ours out when the girls want to do watercolors), ideal for inside + outside and even just cozying up with a big quilt and a stack of books, like we did last night to celebrate the last day of Summer. Gathre just recently released their FW17 collection and the colors are phenomenal. Below is Hunter and it is my new favorite! Be sure to watch for an exclusive coupon code for Gathre coming next week on instagram ;) 


three | I shared this ruffle-hem top in a Fall Clothing Favorites post here a few weeks ago but yesterday was the first day both Olivia & Poppy wore it (if you saw yesterday's stories, P was wearing it on our errand run). That was, until the temp crept up so high by midday that I had to change them back in to summer clothes!! It is probably the softest shirt in their wardrobe and goes with anything & everything! Peplum style anything is a favorite on my girls. On sale and comes in four colors, including the gray ones they have! 

four | The girls love to dance and since we added a Google Home to our kitchen earlier this week, I am continually hearing them say (actually mostly yell), "Hey Google, play some country music!" (start em young) and I came across a new song on Spotify that I'm loving called Written in the Sand by Old Dominion. It's always fun to find new favorites to add to our playlist, especially for kitchen dance parties.

five | This apple cider waffle recipe is on my radar for brunch this weekend.

six | Our fav bow shop ever, Wunderkin Co., restocks their Fall 1 Collection one last time on Monday at 10am MST (set an alarm, because things go quick!). All of Hillary's bows are so timeless, well made and guaranteed for life. Our new favorite for Della from this collection is the Aster oversized pinwheel (below); it is the perfect dusty-gray-pink-neutral bow that matches everything. I also love their oversized schoolgirls for Poppy and Olivia, especially at our lifestyle photo sessions. We try to keep things pretty minimal around here but with three girls, there really isn't such a thing as too many bows, is there?? 


Hope you have the best weekend!! XO

9.21.2017

fall + our new routine + life lately

Happy Thursday! It seems like the past two weeks have flown by and here we are, almost done with September. We are getting in to a new routine, which has been such a nice change of pace and one of the many things I love about Fall. In addition to the leaves changing & apple cider-everything!


Olivia started school two weeks ago and goes 3 days a week, one half day and two full days. Her Fall session of swimming (one afternoon a week) kicked off this week and AWANA started last week as well! This is her first year attending AWANA and so far she is loving it. If you aren't familiar with it, it is a weekly group for kids ages 3 and up that meets in local churches (ours is where she attends preschool and where I attend MOPS) for one hour each week (usually on Wednesday nights) and teaches kids about the Bible, works on scripture memorization and includes a workbook plus games & activities. Last night as I was tucking her in she quietly said, "First John four ten. God sent His son" -- It totally took me by surprise and melted my heart; that was the first scripture she has ever memorized and after only one week of AWANA. Watching your child learn and make connections is such a good feeling!!

Both my Mom groups have also kicked off this month; I attend one at our church one morning a week and then I have MOPS every other Friday morning. I find staying connected with other Moms in similar seasons of life is a huge key in my well-being. Getting out of the house, even if I am tired, and bringing the girls along to the childcare to play with their friends is so important. It gives me a break from them, gives them a break from me and creates connection & builds friendships. If you aren't involved in any Moms groups like that, see if you can find one in your area. I look forward to them every week!! 

Having Olivia in school three days a week has been a total change for me; some mornings when Olivia is at school and Della is napping, it's just me & Poppy and it feels like I have just one kid again! I can't even imagine how I will feel when all 3 are in school and how much I will miss them. But soaking up that one on one time with Penelope has been one of the most special parts.

Outside of that, we have been enjoying the gorgeous Fall weather we've had lately. We've made multiple trips to our local orchard, been cooking & baking all our favorite Fall dishes and getting outside as much as possible. Della is so quick and tries to eat just about every leaf she sees whenever we're outside so I have to be on my game with her!! She is crawling at lightening speed and pulling to stand (cue the tears). We also witnessed earlier this week as she climbed up stairs! I don't remember Olivia or Penelope being this active at such a young age, but my guess is that she is just trying to keep up with her big sisters!! 


Finally, if you follow along with me on instagram @blessednestblog, you have probably seen that I recently started a new account for essential oils! We have been using EOs for just over two years now and they have made an incredible difference for us in our home, family and overall health. I've gotten so many questions about them and how they've changed our life so I thought it was about time to start sharing!! I'll be starting to post regularly on there all about how we use them, what my favorites are, how you can get your own & more. You can follow along @blessednestessentials and I'll be adding helpful information & regular blog posts on the topic to my essential oils tab here.

So that's all for now. Hope you are having the best week and a wonderful start to Fall!! We've got our windows open, the girls are napping and Dustin is picking Olivia up from school. We're throwing garlic chicken on the grill tonight and baking some acorn squash and then planning to take a walk after dinner with the girls in their new pajamas, a favorite tradition of ours year round!!

So far I'm loving Fall, Olivia is loving school, Della is loving to climb + crawl & Poppy just loves playing with all her big sisters toys when she's gone!! :) As always, thanks for reading & following along!

9.07.2017

our fall bucket list

Our favorite season is here and even if it isn't "officially" Fall yet, it most certainly feels like it in our house! The girls have loved wearing cozy jammies to bed and sleeping with their bedroom windows open and I have a never-ending list of all the fall recipes I want to start whipping up. A few of the leaves have already started turning here and some have even fallen to the ground so I spend the majority of my time outside these days making sure Della doesn't eat them when I'm not looking ;)

We have already visited our local apple orchard to kick off the season, a family tradition we started last year on Labor Day. There is so much to look forward to in the days and weeks ahead, even just the simple afternoons spent in the backyard on our gathre mats with quilts & stacks of the girls' favorite books. I love the cooler weather, cozy sweaters, dressing the girls in boots, tights & hoodies and of course putting Della in our favorite bonnets. Olivia is at such a fun age where she is right by my side for all the activities and genuinely appreciating them as much as I do. I cherish the time spent with my girls and especially love watching as my first baby girl has grown to be my best little friend. We are looking forward to carving pumpkins, roasting the seeds, visiting the orchard about a dozen more times and bringing home cider licks to enjoy after dinner.

I always love reading about what other families look forward to most this time of year so I thought it would be fun to share our Fall Bucket List! 


Olivia loves crafts and art of all kinds so I am excited to do some special crafts with her as well as find some that I can include Poppy in, beyond just coloring with crayons. Every year we love going on walks and collecting leaves for art, you can see in the photo above her hand is full of them that she found at the orchard! Creating leaf families or collages using lots of different colored leaves is definitely on our list.

I also have always wanted to make homemade apple sauce (using this recipe), not just because it looks & sounds amazing, but because I can just imagine how incredible our house will smell all afternoon! A few other favorite Fall foods in our home are chili & cornbread, roasted acorn squash (topped with a little bit of sea salt & brown sugar) and hot apple cider, steeped on the stove in a big pot with lots of mulling spices. We host a small group in our home every other month and hot apple cider is always a hit for entertaining too.

When Olivia and I have some time at home just the two of us (usually during the afternoon when her sisters are sleeping), we go straight to the hammock in the backyard to snuggle up and either just relax or read together. I am looking forward to doing that with her as long as we can, with our coziest quilts and some pumpkin snacks.

Whether you keep it super simple or go all out for the season ahead, I think there is just something so magical about this time of year. Having little girls to share the season with just makes it that much sweeter. So thankful for our family and all the good things ahead!! What are you looking forward to most this Fall??

9.05.2017

Tips for Better Photography / #TheMomBlogCollective Week 3

Happy September!! One of our favorite months of the year is here and we are beyond excited. We kicked off the month by celebrating our 5th anniversary on September 1st, spent the weekend at the state fair and apple orchard, and then I took Olivia on a special lunch date because she starts school next week. We ended our long weekend with chicken chili and a pajama walk around the neighborhood, came home to all the windows open and a cool Fall breeze rolling in. And of course finishing off the apple turnovers we picked up at the orchard yesterday morning.


If you've been following along for awhile you have probably seen the series I launched on my blog and instagram in the beginning of August called #TheMomBlogCollective, where each week I team up with a handful of my favorite mamas and we answer the questions we most often get related to blogging, instagram, motherhood & more. Today is the third post in our series and it's all about photos and editing. We'll be sharing our favorite tips and tricks for editing photos, our go-to apps and even how we get our kids to cooperate in front of the camera (read: bribery). You can find my first post here and the second post here.

So 99% of my photos on my blog & instagram are shot with my iPhone 7 plus. I have a DSLR but rarely reach for it, especially when my arms are already full with three kids. From time to time I do use my DSLR, but I am still learning how to shoot manually and how to edit the way I like. So to keep it super simple, I make sure my iphone is always near me when I am hoping for -- or trying to capture -- a special moment.


I think the two biggest keys to taking great photos are (1) having natural light and (2) the editing. Whenever I can shoot in natural light, I take advantage of that. In the Spring & Summertime and even in to Fall, that most often means being outdoors. When that isn't an option, say for instance if I am photographing a product in the middle of Winter, I make sure to shoot in the brightest & lightest places in our home, which is usually my kitchen. Having natural light minimizes the need for editing and makes your job as the photographer easier. I think of having natural light as someone else doing the work for you ;)

The second key is the editing. My favorite app for editing on my phone is VSCO, but I also like Afterlight. I almost always brighten my photos, add warmth and tweak the contrast and saturation.

Below is an example of a photo I took yesterday at the apple orchard of Adaline which showcases the original photo (1) and how I edited it to create the final photo (4). It was about 11am, I had lots of natural light and I positioned her underneath a tree where she would mostly be in the shade but some sunlight would be peeking through, one of my favorite things to capture in my photos when I am shooting top down. 

She is the happiest baby so getting her to smile was pretty easy (in between her trying to eat the leaves...) but when my girls aren't cooperating, I have a handful of go-to phrases and jokes that always make them laugh. Sometimes Dustin or I will tickle them or I'll just pretend I'm going to lunge at them to tickle them and that gets them smiling and laughing authentically and then I snap snap snap.


1. I start with the original photo.


2. I put a filter on it using VSCO -- I vary my filter depending on my subject and the overall feel I am going for. This is A4, which creates a very vintage look. 


3. Next I added warmth and a tiny bit of brightness; this is very subtle but something your eye may be able to pick up on. 


4. Finally, I modified contrast and saturation to create a brighter color and more vibrant feel, which is most noticeable in her bonnet and the yellow leaves around her.


Everything I have learned about photography, editing and capturing the simple everyday moments and turning them in to beautiful photographs is truly self-taught. I am not an expert by any means, and I really just learn as I go. Find an app you love, practice with different filters, play around with editing and over time you will find your style and what really pleases your eye. 

Of course, as Moms we often envision the "perfect" photograph of our children and rarely do they just sit all in a row and cooperate. If only it were that easy!! 

Olivia is almost 4.5 and is by far the easiest to photograph, because she basically stands, models for me and loves it. Poppy turns 2 this upcoming weekend and hardly ever stops moving, so she is the most challenging to photograph. Adaline is in the middle -- sometimes she will lay there still, but most of the time she wants to explore & discover everything around her, especially since she began crawling right before she turned 6 months old. 

I usually bribe Olivia and Penelope with snacks that are somewhat healthy but feel like a treat to them and that can be handed to them one at a time, so I'll say "Smile for a picture and I'll give you a treat!" then after they do, I give them one, and repeat. When we have sessions with Ashley, we do the same, and then they usually get to look forward to one special thing at the end of the night, such as icecream or a movie. Olivia is very motivated by these rewards and Poppy could go either way, sometimes she cooperates and other times she wants nothing to do with it. I know as she gets a little older it will get easier, because when Olivia was her age (18 months-2.5/3), she did the same thing and now she is incredibly willing to stand and smile for the camera. Running around is more fun than standing still for a two year old, so if you have a toddler who you find incredibly hard to capture, just keep trying and sooner or later it will get easier! And remember snacks are key ;)

I hope this gives you some insight in to how I capture and edit my photos and as always, if you have specific questions feel free to ask! You can also check out all the other posts today sharing about the same topic for lots of different tips and perspectives! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!!


9.01.2017

essential oils starter kit

We love oils in our home & family, especially with our three daughters. Whether for yourself, your children, friends & family or your own home, Young Living offers a wide range of products for all ages & seasons of life and oils can be used in so many different ways. 


First visit THIS PAGE to sign up. You will want to enroll as a Member versus a Retail Customer. Joining as a Member gives you access to all the oils and every other YL product at wholesale cost; this does not mean you have to sell oils or become a distributor, it is simply a way to get the oils for your family at a lower cost than Retail and take advantage of other perks that Membership offers -- such as Essential Rewards, where you can select specific products you want at a lower shipping cost and earn a percentage back each month plus free products on top of that!

On the righthand side you will see a box to input a Sponsor ID and Enroller ID. This is where you will enter the following number: 12921835; be sure to type that in both boxes. This will add you to my specific team! If the number is already there, you don't have to add anything and can simply click "Continue"
After you click "Continue" you get to choose your Starter Kit! This is the first step in getting your hands on oils and a Starter Kit is an excellent way to get a range of Young Living's most popular oils at a price much lower than purchasing each of them individually. You will also be able to select a diffuser for your home. The Premium Starter Kit is Young Living's most popular kit and comes standard with a Dewdrop Diffuser, but you can also upgrade to another style if you prefer by selecting the corresponding box. You can also click any of the gray tabs to view the other starter kit options.


With your Premium Starter Kit, you will get a diffuser of your choice and the following 11 oils: 
Lavender, Frankincense, Copaiba Vitality, Peppermint Vitality, Lemon Vitality, Thieves Vitality, DiGize Vitality, Purification, RC, PanAway and Stress Away, as well as other products and samples to get you started. The value of the PSK is over $300 so it is a wonderful way to begin with the most commonly used oils at a significant savings.

Next, you can join Young Living's Essential Rewards program, which is a monthly auto-ship program I love, because I earn a percentage back on what I am spending (in the form of points to use to "buy" oils in the future at no cost; you can spend them as soon as you earn them or save them up for a few months and then place a larger order) as well as get different products for free every month as part of the monthly promotions. Most months I earn over $100 in free products, which ultimately saves me from buying them and gives me an opportunity to try products I may not yet have in my daily line-up. You can add the products you want to your Essential Reward order and set it up at the same time you are buying your Starter Kit so you don't have to pay shipping twice.

When I first got started and bought my Premium Starter Kit, I set up my Essential Rewards account as well and added some household basics such as Thieves Foaming Handsoaps (one of our favorite YL products ever!), Thieves Cleaner, Aromaglide Roller Fitments (to turn any of my oil bottles in to rollers) and a few other oils I knew I wanted that weren't included in the starter kit.

If you'd like to join the Essential Rewards program and take advantage of earning a percentage back, discounted shipping rates on your orders and getting free promotional product each month, you will click "Customize Monthly Order" under the Essential Rewards section.



It will then take you to a Monthly Order Catalog page where you can add your products either by typing in the item number or the name. The oil we use more than any other is Lavender, which is product #3575, so I typed that in the box and then hit enter. If you send me a list of the products you are looking at in addition to your starter kit by email, I can send you all the product numbers to save you time. You can also type in the oil name or product name if you don't know the number!


A new page will open and you will see the product you were searching for with the name on the left and then the "+ Add Product" button in teal on the right. If this is the correct product you want to add to your order, click this and a new page will load.


You can continue typing in the names or product numbers of the items you would like to add to your order. Each time you've successfully added a product, you will see it says "Item Added" and once you are done adding everything, click "Save Monthly Order"

After clicking "Save Monthly Order" it will take you back to the page you were originally on and you will want to click the small box under the gray section that says "Confirm Monthly Order" -- This adds the previously selected products to your Essential Rewards order. You can enroll in Essential Rewards anytime; a benefit of doing it as you are ordering your Starter Kit is that everything will ship together and you will only pay shipping once.

 If you decide not to participate in the Essential Rewards program, but still would like to add several oils or other YL products to your order to ship with your Starter Kit, you can scroll down and under the "Step 3: Continue Enrollment" box, click the green "Add More Products" button. This will take you to a "Quick Order" page where you will repeat the steps above, typing in either your product name or item number, hitting enter, adding them one at a time using the "+ Add Product" button and then when you are finished, clicking "Checkout"


It will return you once again to the page you were previously on and you will click the teal "Next" button. After doing that, you will reach the "Information" page, where you will enter your Name, Address, etc.

Here is where you will also create a Username and Password for quick log in, as well as a 4 digit Pin Number. Finally, select the most fitting option under the "Commission Processing Information" if you plan to grow this as a business and would like to earn commission in the future. You can always select "Individual No social security number required" and add your SSN in the future should you need it.

Last but not least, you can read through the Terms and Conditions, which are all linked in blue, and click the box that says "I have read and agree to the terms and conditions..." and then click "Agree and Continue"

Finally, it will take you to a page where you will see an option to select your Shipping Method using a drop down menu and enter your Billing Information. You can pay using a Credit Card or PayPal and click "Next"

Follow the final steps to confirm your order and then you will receive an email with your order details and membership information. You can always email me at ablessednest@yahoo.com with any specific questions as you are going through this process or once you have completed it. It is so nice to have someone taking you step by step through the sign up process because for many, it's something totally new and I'm always happy to help.

When you sign up on my team, in addition to all the Young Living Membership Benefits, you will have the option to join several private groups on Facebook exclusively for members of my team. You will also receive a welcome package with one of my favorite Young Living Essential Oil handbooks, welcome information and handouts on how to get started using your oils. You will get continuous one-on-one coaching with me by email or phone, where you can ask anything & everything about what oils we use or specific ways they can benefit your family. This is also an opportunity to ask questions about taking your oils a step further toward creating a business. You will also get special gifts from me! 

Below are some links that may be helpful as you are getting started:

GENERAL INFORMATION:
About Essential Oils // This is a great place to begin if you don't know much about what essential oils are or their benefits

Young Living Seed to Seal Guarantee // Learn more about why we chose YL and why they remain the world leader in essential oils

Essential Oil Safety Guide // Find many FAQs on oils & safety

Our Favorite Oil Accessories // Find all my go-to products for using our oils and creating household products and gifts!

PRODUCT LINKS:
Essential Oil Singles // A product list of every YL single oil

Essential Oil Blends // A product list of every YL oil blend

At Home // A product list by category of all Young Living Home Products

MEMBER SPECIFIC BENEFITS:
Member Benefits with Young Living // Learn about the benefits you will receive when you become a YL Member

Essential Rewards Program // Learn more about why we participate in Essential Rewards and all the benefits that come with it

For all the ways we use oils -- and to learn our favorites in our family -- be sure to follow along with my oil page @blessednestessentials on instagram and "like" Blessednest Essentials on Facebook for even more oil posts and special giveaways!

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