2015 Gift Guide: Hers

Monday, November 30, 2015

My list of holiday wishes this year mostly revolve around fashion. When I find myself with a free minute, I love to shop, or in lieu of that...catch up on my favorite fashion blogs. When I can find time to shower and make myself presentable in between cooking, cleaning, exercising, running errands, or keeping C out of trouble (not as often as I'd like), I love getting dressed in something other than my standard daytime 'mom attire' of yoga pants and sweatshirt. Something about making an effort to do my makeup and dress nicely just raises my spirits and gives me joy. Key components to happiness, and a good focus for the new year! Without further adieu...my 2015 wish list.

2015 Gift Guide: Hers

Hunter Original 'High Gloss' Boots // No, these are not likely to keep my feet terribly warm during the upcoming winter months, but after winter comes spring, and along with it sloppy...slushy...wet...muddy...messes. These rain boots (size 9, black gloss) would be great for the inevitable...and sure to be fun...upcoming days of puddle jumping with C.

The North Face 'Nuptse 2' Vest // I'm all about layering lately, and this puffer vest (medium, black) from North Face would be a great addition to my closet.

Pearl Earrings // I've been drawn to pearls lately and wearing my fake version almost on a daily basis. I'd love to have some beautiful 'real' pearl studs for dressing up my everyday look. T - in case you're wondering...I'd like the same-ish size that my current pair are.

Show Tickets // It's been a loooooong time since I've been to a show (something I absolutely love to do), and after hearing nothing but amazing reviews, I'd LOVE to see The Book of Mormon. Lucky for me, it happens to be coming to Minneapolis this May. I'd love a pair of tickets and an overnight getaway to the cities!

Wildfox Catfarer Sunglasses // After scratching my favorite pair of sunglasses over the summer, I've been burning through cheap-o pairs ever since. I recently tried on these shades, and fell in love. I can't resist a good cat eye!

Black Booties // I've been on the hunt for the perfect pair of black booties all fall to pair with skinnies, leggings, and maybe even dresses. I think these Vince Camuto 'Hillsy' booties (size 9, black leather) are exactly what I've been looking for.

Columbia 'Kruser Ridge' Softshell Jacket // My fall/spring weight jacket leaves something to be desired as it's been pretty much worn threadbare. I came across this coat (medium, black) on a recent shopping trip, and think it'd be great to have for that 'what-do-I-wear' in between weather of fall and spring.

New Balance '696' Sneakers // I'm always on the lookout for a great pair of casual sneakers, and these (size 9, navy grey) make the cut. I just love the sparkly accents!

Born Julianne Black Flats // Still on my list...new black flats (size 9). Not exactly very practical in the middle of winter, but it'd sure be nice to have them stowed away for when the temps are back on the upswing!

Cozy Sweaters //  I love being all cozied up in a warm sweater during cold weather, and would love some new staple pieces to add to my winter wardrobe. I recently stopped in the Loft and stumbled across this loop stitch cardigan (medium) that is so unique and would be so cozy for curling up by the fireplace on chilly winter days (50% off today with CODE: CYBER50)This cowl neck sweater (medium, teal deep) would be perfect for wearing with leggings. I've also had my eye on this cozy cardigan (small/medium, mulberry) for the longest time, and imagine I could count on some serious snuggle time with C once he discovers it may even be more soft than his favorite blankets! Last, but not least...this cape isn't technically a sweater, but would be equally cozy this winter!

Watch // After wearing a watch most of my adult life, after my most recent timepiece bit the dust, I never replaced it. I love the modern look of this Kate Spade Monterey watch (30% off today! CODE: SHINE), and think it is a great option for everyday wear.

M.A.C. Gift Set // New makeup is always such a fun gift to receive, and this 'Enchanted Eve - Nude' gift set from M.A.C. has several items - and the right color!! - that I've been wanting to try out.

Holiday Dishes // I love the festiveness of some good holiday dishes, and these don't disappoint. The plain red Cambria collection from Pottery Barn would be perfect for mixing and matching with my everyday dishes for a little extra fun around the holidays. I'd love to start a collection that could multi-task and be used not only for Christmas, but also for Valentines or July 4th. Note: I'm not looking for the entire set, and would love just the dinner plates (set of 8) and soup bowls (set of 8). I also think these winter fauna salad plates would be super fun for accenting all-winter long rather than being specifically tied into Christmas.

2015 Gift Guide: Toddler

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On to the fun stuff! C's holiday wish list. I'm not sure if there is anything more exciting than looking through toy departments and magazines filled with awesome kids toys. T is convinced he grew up in the wrong era, and I'm not so sure he might be right! Kids toys these days...it seems anyways...are so much cooler than when we were kids!

2015 Gift Guide: Toddler

Anywhere Chair // C is his name, but snuggling is his game. This snuggly sherpa regular size anywhere chair (not personalized) is sure to be a hit with C for the hours he spends 'reading' the many books in his library. Also a bonus - it's lightweight, and has a slipcover lining that could be thrown in the wash if it ever got spilled on.

New Musical Instruments // C absolutely LOVES to play music. After receiving a drum set on his birthday, he has literally played with it Every. Single. Day. since. Earlier this week, at Time-Out-Nursery, when I went to pick him up, they had a box of musical instruments for the kiddos to play with, and HE. WAS. FASCINATED. I know he'd love to expand on his at-home instrument collection, and there are so many amazing option to choose from. In particular, he was loving these heavy-duty drums, and I think he'd have a blast with all of the options on this music center.

Bear Plush Rocker // C tested out a similar plush rocker at our local library the other day, and had so much fun. He is pretty curious about bears, and is all about anything soft and snuggly, so this rocker (not personalized) is sure to be a hit.

Guidecraft Kitchen Helper // C loves to help in the kitchen...a.k.a. be absolutely positive he's not being left out of anything important...and always wants to see what is going on above his head while I'm chopping veggies and getting dinner ready. He's not old enough to stand on a chair and know that he has to stay exactly where he is, so this kitchen helper would be great to keep him safe when 'helping' in the kitchen. Even better...it folds up and can be stored away when he's not using it!

Athletic Gear // C could use some new athletic wear for winter, and I'm loving this 'electric blue' UnderArmour warm-up set (2T, Amazon - Also found in-store at Scheels, not available online). Speaking of Scheels, they also have an Iowa Hawkeye warm-up set (2T) that would be perfect for celebrating the Hawks winning the title this year :) :) :)...Here's to wishing! Also on C's list...a new pair of plain black Nikes, Nike Flex (size 7, Amazon) or Nike Free 5.0 (size 7, found at Nike outlet for less $). If you have a mind to shop for clothes, I expect he'll wear size 2T until spring. Plain clothing without screen prints or graphics are preferred for mixing and matching with other items in his closet (unless athletic gear).

Wood Blocks // C is all about knocking over blocks. It'd be great to have a wood block set that he could use to learn to build towers, towns, or anything his little imagination desires in the new year.

Farm Equipment // C would love a few new pieces of farm equipment for his collection. He's particularly fond of pushing around the BIG heavy-duty tractors just like the one he got to ride in with Grandpa and his uncles this fall.

Collapsible Tunnel & Ball Pit // Collapsible wintertime fun at home?! Yes please! When the question of suggestions for indoor wintertime activities for kiddos was recently asked in my mom's group, several mom's suggested that a bounce house at home during the winter has been a huge hit in their homes. I have a bit of an issue with entire rooms being eaten up by toys that are not easily stored away, so I'm not completely sold on this idea...yet...but after watching C climb through tunnels at the park this fall, and play in a ball pit at Time-Out-Nursery, I think he would have so much fun with this collapsible tunnel & ball pit at home during the long winter days ahead!

2015 Gift Guide: His

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Staying on track with holiday wish lists, I give you T's list. This year, hunting gear and new technology are right at the top. It can be hard to pinpoint the perfect wish list for T since he doesn't usually ask for much, but I think this is a pretty good compilation. If anyone is in the know about how to get the Hawkeyes to a National Championship game, that's really the main thing T is wishing for this holiday season!

2015 Gift Guide: His

KUIU Camo // Super Down Jacket (XL, vias camo color) and Super Down Pant (XL, vias camo color, OK with solid color). T has been freezing in his tree stand lately, and wants to add some more insulation under his hunting gear. He'd also love a pair of these scent-proof merino (XL) socks.

Ivation Long Range Wireless Thermometer // T has been wishing for a thermometer that will sound an alarm when his smoker temperature goes above or below a certain temp while he is sleeping. Originally thinking he wanted one that had an app available, he's changing he tune after realizing he'd still have to be within a set distance from his smoker. This thermometer from Ivation not only measures the temperature of the smoker, but also has a second probe that measures the meat temperature. Win. Win.

Sorel Caribou Winter Boots // It has recently be brought to my attention, after T borrowed his dad's boots this week, that T does not own a pair of winter boots. How this is possible living in NW Iowa, I'm not sure, but the fact remains. No. Winter. Boots. This pair from Sorel (size 13, 'bruno' color) would get him all set up and ready for the winter ahead.

Food Saver // Still on the wish list this year, T would like the FoodSaver V4850 to seal up delicious leftover smoked meats. This model has awesome reviews, and would be great for avoiding freezer burn.

iPad Air 2 // T's iPad stopped working a couple of months ago, and he is completely lost without it. He'd love to get back into his groove with a new iPad.

LaCrosse Alphaburley Pro Side-Zip Real Tree Xtra 1000 Gram Hunting Boots // T is convinced that he needs to have rubber hunting boots to better control the scent while hunting. He did actually put a little effort into researching the perfect pair...with a little steering from brother-in-law N...and specifically landed on this pair.

Leupold RX-1200i TBR Rangefinder // T would love to have his own rangefinder for hunting. He's been borrowing his dad's on occasion, but the dynamic of two hunters-one rangefinder doesn't really work. This one comes highly recommended from T's brother-in-law N, hunter extraordinaire.

Reed & Barton 'Windsor' Julep Glasses // Still on the list from last year! Apparently not a passing phase...T would like to have a pair of these pewter mint julep glasses for sipping the official drink of the Kentucky Derby...you know...the one day of the year that it happens.

45 lb Dumbbells // T would like to expand on his at-home weight collection. A.K.A. He thinks he's buff. On his list this year are two 45 lb dumbbells. Good luck getting them wrapped and under the tree! In a list of other items not in T's current wardrobe, these sweatpants (size L) would be be great for staying warm during winter workouts.

Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover // After adding a black R1 Patagonia fleece to his collection earlier this year, T has been wearing it on the reg. His everyday wardrobe would benefit from another color choice, and I think that both the grey forge and navy colors (size XL) would look nice on him.

2015 Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers & Secret Santa Ideas

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ahhh...the holiday season is upon us. It is currently a white out outside, and it had me thinking with Thanksgiving less than a week away, I should probably start to put some serious thought into holiday wish lists. Sometimes I think it's so easy to get wrapped up in searching out the perfect holiday wish list, that some of the smaller and more reasonably priced items on my list go without mention. Not every gift has to be a 'big ticket' item, and little packages often pack just as much punch and excitement upon receiving as the bigger items. Here's a list of some little things I'd like to find in my stocking or under the tree this holiday season!

Stocking Stuffers and Secret Santa Ideas

Lakeable Perfume // Buy Local! At a recent mom's group meeting, we had a guest speaker come from Okoboji Skincare and talk about makeup, skincare, etc. She recently created this all-natural perfume that is inspired by scents found around Lake Okoboji. After smelling it, I've got to agree, it evokes memories of warmer days spent by the lake, and is a great everyday scent that I'd love to add to my perfume collection.

Shiseido Benefiance Intensive Eye Contour Cream // I've recently been experimenting with different skin products, and after being told by the kind lady at the Estee Lauder counter that current recommendations by beauty experts state that we should start using eye cream at just 16 YEARS OLD, I'm feeling about a half a lifetime behind the game. This cream from Shiseido has awesome reviews, and I'd love to add it to my daily skincare routine.

The Dreamer Flannel PJs // I'm a sucker for new PJs, and would love this new flannel pair (size medium, red/green lurex plaid) from Victoria's Secret. I just love how festive they are!

Kendra Scott Makeup Bag // My current makeup bag is about eight years old, and completely falling apart. No jokes. I LOVE how this one has built in storage for makeup brushes, and a separate area for makeup products. Bonus...it's currently 50% off!

Laura Mercier Spiced Rose Lipstick // I LOVE myself a good lipstick, and my go-to color of choice has recently been discontinued. I think this spiced rose color is gorgeous, and is a great somewhat 'nude' color for everyday wear.

Sonoma Lavender 'Snow Leopard' Neck Pillow & Slippers // On a recent trip to the spa, I was blown away by the amazing calming effect of a warmed lavender scented neck pillow. This would be just the thing to help me relax and recenter at the end of the day after dealing with all of C's wild and crazy toddler antics all afternoon. The matching slippers are cute too!

Wolf Designs Chloe Zip Jewelry Case // I'd love to add this good quality 'zippered' jewelry case to my travel must-haves. We are honestly on the road about 3 out of 4 weekends in the month going here or there, and my current jewelry case just doesn't get the job done (doesn't zipper shut, and is always popping open spilling jewelry). I love the layout of the compartments in this case, and think it is just the right size for travel.

Sigma Beauty Brushes // I recently started using brushes to apply my makeup, and am completely amazed at how much they make a difference. The brushes I currently use are not very good quality and always shedding, so I'd like to upgrade to some better quality brushes. The specific brushes I'd love to add to my collection are: Sigma F80 (foundation), Sigma F86 (under eye concealer), Sigma F70 (small concealer), Sigma F10 (Powder/Blush), Sigma E55 (eyeshadow), Sigma E45 (eyeshadow crease).

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer // Keeping with the makeup theme...I keep seeing this product from Smashbox popping up on various beauty blogs, not to mention it has amazing reviews. I'm curious to give it a try and see if it's all it's cracked up to be! I do currently use a lid primer...and believe it is an absolute must-have when wearing eyeshadow. Mine is starting to run low, so I'd also love to try this Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer.

Headband, Scarf & Gloves // The crazy snow coming down today has me wishing for new winter accessories. I love the light blue color of this headband/scarf/mitten collection from Loft, and think it'd look cute for tromping around outside on our outdoor adventures this winter.

Paddywax Bergamot & Mahogany Candle // I love myself a good smelling candle...(after C goes to bed usually since it's proven to be too much of a distraction to eating, playing, getting anything done besides exclaiming 50 times about how 'hot' it is)...and think this Bergamot & Mahogany scented candle from Paddywax smells great. There's also a scent I love from Pottery Barn called Winter Woods, but alas, it isn't available online.

Stay tuned for the rest of this year's gift guides!

Friday Five

Friday, November 13, 2015

A couple of weeks ago, T & I made a trip to Minneapolis and I was FINALLY able to get my hands on this bookcase and these baskets from IKEA. They've been on my list for a long time to help with some organization in C's closet, but shipping to our area costs about 3x as much as the piece itself. Since we are rarely in the cities, we never had the opportunity to stop at IKEA until our recent visit. The box, while not enormous, was certainly not super compact, and it was a bit of a circus trying to stuff it into my small vehicle...(cough cough...need a bigger car please!) Yesterday, I got around to putting it together with my little helper by my side. C was fascinated by the entire project, and had to climb all over it, inspect the packaging, help me hammer in the pegs, and screw in the screws. Teamwork!

I've been working on dwindling down my closet this past few weeks, and am getting rid of about half of my current wardrobe. Seriously....you should see the stacks in our bedroom. I have so many articles of clothing that don't fit right, don't make me feel great, are worn out, aren't great quality, aren't in style, or I haven't worn in years, and I'm tired of them taking up valuable space in T & I's shared closet. C has been enjoying watching as I play dress up with my wardrobe, and in lieu of having my best friends travel from afar with champagne in hand, has been my own personal little audience of one for my Sex & The City moment.

C outgrew the inflatable duck tub we had been using for bath time, and recently made the change to the full-sized bath. Since he's still little and slippery and loves to wiggle around, I picked up this bath mat to help him get some traction during bath time. 

In case you are looking for your next great bottle of wine (lets be honest...who isn't?), may I suggest to you the Wall Street Journal Wine Club. T & I have been members for the better part of a year now, and have LOVED the variety, price-point, and quality of the wines in each box. Cases arrive quarterly (or however often you prefer) filled with red, white, or a mix of both. You can read and write reviews of what you think, scout out additional bottles you might like to try, or peruse the seasonal/special monthly cases available for purchase. Also included in the case are tasting notes that give a little info about the wine, vineyard, region, winemaker, and food pairing suggestions. Awesome!

Earlier this week, channeling his inner kid, T rented the latest Disney-Pixar collaboration...Inside Out. It was a great animated movie all about feelings. You know...the basics like joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear. Anyways...a big part of the movie focused on memories, and how they form who we are. Whether they go into long term storage, or slowly are forgotten as we make new memories. I won't lie, T & I both had tears, so if you rent this, make sure you have a box of tissues handy! It got me thinking about the random everyday memories I have with C that I hope never to forget. Little things like his excitement over bath time; his joy over being chased or wiggling out of a diaper change; his fascination with playing music, watching diggers, or going for tractor rides; his love of getting into mischief and unloading an entire wipes container when I'm not looking (yes...that happened); how excited he gets about going to the park, visiting the beach, or swimming; the way he contentedly crosses his feet when he is eating dinner in the high chair at the table with T & I; how he gives me a smile right after I tell him how much I love him before turning the lights out for the night...or how if he doesn't smile, then I know he may fuss a little before falling asleep. These little moments...when you add them all up...are really what life's all about.

Throwback Thursday: Reading

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A little 'Throwback Thursday' for you...a.k.a. I forgot I took these pictures back in July, and they were just too precious to be forgotten in an obscure folder on my computer. As I've mentioned several times before, C LOVES reading...a trait I'd like to think he got from his mama since I couldn't even tell you the last time I saw T read something other than a medical journal or an iPad screen...Oh wait! He did recently read a book about home-brewing on his Kindle. (No, in case you're wondering, he hasn't convinced me that we have room to start this potential hobby in our basement.) 

Pretty much since the first day we brought C home, we have been reading to him on a daily basis. Reading is part of our morning, nap time, and bedtime routine, and has often been part of C's playtime when I'm otherwise occupied with mundane tasks like laundry...cooking...cleaning...you know...all the things in life that still have to be accomplished even when we have an adorable little person in our lives that would probably rather be playing with us. Sigh... I've got to say though, when C gets a little too quiet in his room while I'm working in the kitchen and I go sneak a peak to find him intendedly studying a book about the Iowa Hawkeyes, or his mini book series about Rescue & Emergency Vehicles or Tractors & Farm Trucks, my heart does a little flutter. I do love him so! A good book has been known to calm a meltdown, ease the logistics of travel, and maybe even help C to learn a thing or two about the world he lives in!

Over the summer, aside from one of C's favorites, An Okoboji Day, we read several books about boats...and tried to no avail to get C to actually say 'boat' as his first word. We're still waiting on that one, but we do know how to make all the sounds of various boats thanks to this book, and have recently been enjoying this bedtime story about  a little tugboat who helps all the other boats in the harbor, but needs a few boats to help him when he is tired and ready for bed.

I can only hope that C's love of reading will continue as he grows older. Maybe he won't love the same books that T & I loved as kids (ahem...Goosebumps), maybe he'll take a liking to comic books, magazines, the Harry Potter series, or maybe even books about how things work. Whatever and wherever his interests may lie, I just hope that he'll always carve out time for reading and learning. There are just too many wonderful stories and things to learn about the world not to pick up a book and turn a page! Oh...In case anyone is wondering...I just finished All The Light We Cannot See, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is waiting on my nightstand for my next read. To see what else is on my reading list, follow me on Goodreads!

'The more that you read, the more things you will know...The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!' ~ Dr Seuss

More true words have never been spoken.

A (Few) Days at the Park

Thursday, November 5, 2015

As the season of warm weather outdoor play draws to a close, what better way to reminisce of days gone by than a collection of snaps from some of the best outdoor adventures at the park. 

Aside from things like reading...or eating one too many of Grandma J's chocolate chip cookies...one of C's all time favorite activities is getting outside to play at the park. He's not too particular about which park, or any specific playground equipment, but if he can snag someone's fingers to walk with as he explores all of the different nooks and crannies, he's a happy boy. Bonus points if there happens to be a slide and other kids to watch! Without further adieu...I give you the very best of park season.

Sooooo excited!

Earlier during the summer, Arnolds Park installed a new Harmony Music Park right outside the amusement park. When C discovered it one night on our way home from dinner at Maxwells, it was instant love. I still hold that in his mind...July 29, 2015 goes down as the best day of his life thus far. Once he discovered that he could use the provided 'sticks' to bang on the instruments to make music, our quick trip back to the car was seriously lengthened. He walked us between instruments, testing each one to see how it worked. When it was time to go to the next instrument, it was meltdown city...after each and every instrument. Since the initial visit, I'm happy to report that we have been back several times to enjoy the park and avoided any incidents of meltdowns. Whew!

Playdates at the park with cousin J are always so much fun!

Please mom...don't make me go home!!! I LOVE the park!

Of course, T had to take C on the very tallest slide in the park.

Typically, we tend to end up at the parks that are on our walking or biking routes, but every so often, we get to explore parks that are not in immediate vicinity of our home. Just this week, we discovered two new parks that were so much fun that we may just have to expand our everyday park radius. I'm not sure who had more fun...C or Papa T! I'm also pretty confident that any future vacations we may plan may need to have some serious thought put into there being parks nearby! 

'We didn't realize we were making memories...we just knew we were having fun.'
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