Friday Favorites 1.18.19

January 18, 2019
With school cancelled for an "ice day" on Wednesday and a long weekend already on the books to observe MLK day, we ended up with a random mid-winter, week-long vacation this week and it's just what we needed! The grand finale comes tonight with a big snow storm anticipated, so I'm hoping to end a week of arts, crafts, baking and snuggles with a snowball fight tomorrow morning. Here are the things I'm loving this week:

Photo via madebymary.com
Favorite Little Necklace: I love the symbology of evergreen trees. I love that they are unbending in the storm and that they remain tall and strong even in the coldest times. I love that they take warmth and strength from within to remain green when everything around them is grey. This is the sweetest handmade necklace and I think it's the perfect tiny reminder of the strength we have within or would also be a lovely gift to give someone going through a tough season. Definitely on my wish list.

Favorite Accessory: I recently did a little chop job on my hair and I forsee a collection of knotted headbands like this one being a part of my winter, spring and summer wardrobe to complement the new style. I love the luxe, velvet texture for winter, but am looking forward to hunting down a few warm weather styles (like a sweet blue and white striped cotton version?) for when the weather breaks. Besides a great hat, can you think of a better pairing with dry shampoo to help make #momlife a little more stylish and fun?

Photo via acozykitchen.com
Favorite Sweet Treat: With Valentine's Day less than a month away, I'm looking for a new recipe to try making with the kids for a little celebration that we will have at home. I want to try something different & a little unique instead of taking the heart shaped sugar cookie route and these chocolate buttermilk biscuits sound like a gooooood excuse to have dessert for breakfast on Valentine's Day.

Photo via chicwish.com
Favorite Festive Sweater: Speaking of Valentine's Day, I think that this sweater is probably one of the cutest things going if you are looking to get a little festive for the holiday. Full disclosure, I wasn't a big Valentine's Day person until I met Kyle (cue: awwwww), but the holiday got even MORE saccharine sweet once we started having kids. To me, there is nothing I love more than making things into a celebration for my babies and they make even the littlest things feel like a reason to celebrate. Sure, a sweater with heart patches might be a little campy, but my kids will get a kick out of it. And hey, if "camp" is good enough for the Met Gala then it's good enough for me.

Photo via jomalone.com
Favorite Fragrance: I decided that my long-time favorite fragrance deserves a moment in the spotlight this week. My favorite London based brand, Jo Malone, is behind Wood Sage and Sea Salt which is listed as a unisex cologne, but to me is the perfect blend of fresh & woodsy scents without being masculine at all. The fragrances from this brand are designed to be layered, but I love to spritz this one on solo after a nice, hot shower or before heading to an evening out. I don't care for heavy fragrances and I find this one to be perfectly light. For me, a little goes a long way and I have used the same bottle for the last few years.

Coffee Talk: Recapping "The Last 90 Days" Challenge

January 15, 2019

At the end of 2018, I decided to join thousands of people around the world (at least, the Instagram world) to complete the Last 90 Days Challenge with Rachel Hollis, author of "Girl, Wash Your Face" and well renowned motivational speaker. I promised myself to do a check in when all was said and done from an accountability stand-point, so today I'll share a little recap of the Last 90 Days.

To catch you up to speed, the idea of the challenge is to refocus the idea of "New Year's Resolutions" and commit to living the last 90 days of the calendar year strong the same way we dive into the New Year with laser vision on life changing resolutions- that are often a 180 degree switch from the behavior we exhibit during the holiday season. When you think about it, it's a lot harder to really get moving from a holiday party/cocktail/gifts/spending spree stall vs. already having your feet on the ground and running. Ok, makes sense.

The challenge starts by setting you up with "The Five to Thrive" which are five habits that, according to Rachel Hollis, if implemented daily, will set you up to be your best self, follow through on goals and commitments and allow you to end your year on the upswing making the New Year a time to continue on with your goals at top speed. Here are the "Five to Thrive":

  1. Get up an hour earlier than you normally do and use that time for yourself.
  2. Workout for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Drink half of your body weight in oz. of water each day.
  4. Give up one food category you know you shouldn't be eating.
  5. Write down 10 things you're grateful for every single day.

The five habits are accompanied by podcasts, a daily Instagram live and a hashtag based on-line community to help motivate and align accountability.

So, how'd I do? What were my takeaways? When it came to the "Five to Thrive," I'll say that October was the right time of year for me to make a pit stop and check in on these habits before the holidays kicked off. I definitely increased my water intake which I hadn't been as diligent about since my last pregnancy and committed to giving up a food category (and stuck with it!) for the Last 90 Days. I did like the practice of writing down a list of things I am grateful for daily, but as the 90 days went on, I found that I moved quickly from handwriting them to typing them into my phone to eventually just reflecting on them nightly before I fell asleep. Still, a nice habit to form.

When it came to waking up an hour earlier than normal- I will be completely transparent. This did not happen in any way shape or form. Haha. Call it an excuse if you like, but when it comes to my lifestyle and having four kids age 4 and younger, sleep is an extremely precious commodity and when I can get it and get it well, I refuse to throw off that delicate balance. So when someone is teething or we are in the middle of a regression or a nightmare happens, I am more worried about getting an adequate amount of rest than an hour to myself at the beginning of the day. Instead, I make sure to communicate with my husband and find intentional quiet time for myself throughout the week as needed- at whatever time of day we can make it work. I can see myself enjoying a peaceful kick-start to the day as we get older and our schedule changes again though. And working out? That did not happen as regularly as the "Five to Thrive" guidelines recommended, but again I tried to adapt this challenge to best fit my lifestyle.

I think overall the Last 90 Days has the potential to make a huge impact on the dedication and perspective you have toward a healthier lifestyle if you are truly able to commit the time. For me, the daily IG lives, the podcasts and the extra social media options would have put me behind a screen instead of in front of my kids, so on top of the "Five to Thrive," there were not enough hours in the day for it all! I did find that the challenge helped inspire me to be more intentional with my time and diet, as well as commit to personal goals I had set earlier in the year. So, if the whole 90 days aren't for you or you also feel like there are a lot of "extras" required from a time commitment perspective, I would recommend at least checking in with yourself, your ambitions, and your goals before the year comes to a close to see if you can help the "New Year, New You" get off to a head start. 


Fashion Finds: The Flare Jean Trend

January 08, 2019

Alright, the truth is that this particular pair of flare denim has been hiding in my closet since well over four babies ago, but when I saw the trend start creeping back into the sartorial now, I had to dust them off and take them for a spin. And while they might not hug in all the right places the way they used to, the styling options are so fresh that I'm rolling with it and giving myself grace plus an excuse to shop for an updated pair. If you are channeling your inner Joanna Gaines or just looking to give your ankles a breather after years of skinny jean suffocation, there are really great options at a variety of price points available.

The trend isn't so forward that it feels intimidating and it isn't SUCH a throwback to our youth (a la The Return of The 90s Everything) that it still feels relatable and doable. You can take the classic, tucked-in route pairing a button up oxford or plaid shirt with a leather belt, a vintage take with a band tee and handkerchief tied in your hair or wait for warmer days and pair the cropped version with a peasant blouse which feels just the right amount of boho without veering into twee, costume territory.

If denim is a way of life for you, as it is for me, and you're looking for an easy update for your weekend wardrobe and beyond, check out the selection of flares below. Links are included under pictures. Happy shopping!























Motherhood Musings: Why Guilty Pleasures are the Right Stuff

January 07, 2019


Guilty pleasures. We've all got 'em . Those little habits that aren't incredibly harmful, but too much fun to quit. Like a little whipped cream on top of your morning latte because no one is watching or belting out every lyric of a throwback rap song once you drop the kids off at school. Man, I love a good guilty pleasure indulgence. And I think that they are good for the soul.

Whether it is the day to day stressors on your mind or just the overwhelming amount of bad news that comes across all platforms constantly, it's nice to have a little moment that's reserved for escaping it all. We spend so much time aiming to be so good and so perfect when in reality there is so much bad and nasty out there trying to drag us down. Especially in Janurary. Stick to the diet. Find the perfect fitness routine. Limit screen time, limit spending, limit frivoloty. Now this is not to say that these aren't key components to becoming the healthiest versions of ourselves (crucial to being good parents!), it's just that all this restraint turns us into really pent up "good people" who are just one bad day away from lashing out and throwing all our progress out the window. A healthy lifestyle has to include living. So, I vote to enjoy all things in moderation, strive to be the best version of yourself, but let a little naughtiness in to release the pressure! Find your guilty pleasure and just own it.

For me, it's ABC's powerhouse franchise, "The Bachelor" and all its spin-off series glory that I just can't quit. I don't know if it's even responsible for me to like this show anymore amid the current era of female empowerment, but here we are at the start of another season and here I am just waiting to put the kids to bed and hit play on the DVR. Is it right to watch thirty predictably gorgeous women vie for the heart of one eligible bachelor while producer prompted drama ensues and (usually) a few good fashion moments and travel goals play out? Probably not. But after a long day of trying to be so good, so patient, so present and so ahead of the game, my guilty pleasure lets me kick back for an hour and sets me up for the week ahead. So pass me a glass of champs and a good face mask, "The Bachelor" is back and I'll be indulging all season long: guilt free.

Friday Favorites: 1.4.19

January 04, 2019
It's the first Friday of 2019, but would you believe me if I told you it's also the first NICE Friday of the year? You know you're from Michigan if 48 degree weather calls for opening up the house and letting the fresh air in. We all have on socks and an extra layer of clothing. We'll be fine. Anyway, the first Friday of the year also calls for the first Friday Favorites of the year! It's 2019, we're in bold, new frontier. Here are the things that I'm loving this week.


Favorite Space
2018 was so hectic for us. Between settling into a new school, new area and welcoming a new baby, we didn't get to focus on house projects the way that I dreamed we would the first year in our new house. I'm hoping that 2019 allows us to make room for some of the projects that I have up my sleeves (or "Investments that we're making to our home to increase the value," as I like to refer to them to my husband). Here's a glimpse at our gal, Violet's, room in our old house and I do miss it since this was her first room and nursery. It still gives me all sorts of inspiration for her new, "big girl" space.

(image via Summer Fridays)

Favorite Beauty
I am in serious need of changing up my skincare routine. It's the first time I haven't been pregnant in 4 years and I feel like my old products have started to boycott against me. This face mask/moisturizer/primer/elixir from heaven gets rave reviews, it green & clean and cruelty free. It's been in my cart for too long and I think this is the season to give it a whirl.



Favorite Shoes
Much like a handbag, I feel that I usually wind up with a pair of shoes that becomes the star of the season. I purchased these little oldies last winter on super sale, but really didn't start giving them their moment until the past month or so and now, let's face it, I probably wear them TOO much. I found a similar pair on sale at Macy's (here) and, although sizes are limited, another super similar pair for a steal at Target (here).

(image via Netflix)

Favorite Show
My husband and I are working our way through "7 Days Out," the six-part documentary series that follows the week leading up to major cultural events (think restaurant opening, space mission, couture fashion show) and so far it's great! The episode on the Westminster Dog Show DID inspire us to watch Christopher Guest's "Best in Show" immediately following, but we got our culture AND our laughs that way, so I'm not complaining.

(image via Pinterest)

Favorite Pick-Me-Up
Lastly, a little passage from one of my favorite writers to serve up some New Year's inspiration as we step fully into 2019.


Fashion Finds: Viva la Hygge!

January 03, 2019
It's freezing cold and wet, but we're not held captive to a full-on blizzard, so just staying in and wearing PJs is not exactly an option. Sweater weather lives on and if you are in the midwest, like I am, it won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I was browsing Nordstrom's website today and found a few pieces that caught my eye- all neutrals and a few pastels to cleanse the sartorial palate of all those OTT holiday offerings. Check them out below (links under images) in case you are looking for a 2019 update to your cozy collection. Viva la hygge vibes!





























Motherhood Musings: Banana Bread and Lessons in Love

January 02, 2019

This morning we woke up and started our official shift out of the holiday routine and back to real life. We woke up, had our breakfast and our coffee, wiggled out of PJs and into regular old clothes, kissed Daddy a million times and waved him off to work. It's 2019 and just like that a new year takes off, not without a tiny hint of pressure to embrace it fully instead of go into it kicking screaming that the lovely holiday season is over.

Christmas presents have found (slightly more) permanent homes throughout the house. A few extra loads of laundry beckon. The fridge needs to be cleared out and a couple of bananas on the counter turned a little overripe. It's a sure sign that we need to keep the easy pace of the past week going and make a batch of Banana Walnut Bread together. Little aprons on and measuring cups in hand, grab a recipe and begin one of my favorite activities: time in the kitchen together. Swap the white sugar for brown sugar and, always, add extra cinnamon and vanilla. Not only does the house smell amazing, but we get to welcome Dad back home with one of his favorite treats.

I love teaching my kids the value and reward in making something by hand for the people they love. Plus, we got to turn something old into something new. Both of which feel like pretty good lessons to have in our hearts at the start of a brand new year.

Banana Walnut Bread Recipe
Inspired by the recipe found on Food & Wine, tweaked by me!
Also, feel free to add about 8 oz. of chocolate chips if you're feeling wild.

3 oz. roughly chopped walnuts
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1/2 cup canola oil
2-3 medium overripe bananas, smashed (reserve this job for an eager 2 year old if you have one)
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray or a light coat of canola oil.

Combine dry ingredients (minus the walnuts) in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together.

Combine the wet ingredients (including the bananas) in a mixer and beat on high until smooth and creamy.

Stir in the dry ingredients until blended. Fold in the walnuts.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until a fork inserted into the center comes out smooth. Let cool. Cut a slice. Smother with butter. Pour coffee. Enjoy!

@sweetlouiseandco