Play Date and Mom Groups

When we first made the decision for me to quit my job to stay home with Brynlee, one of the biggest pieces of advice I received was to find a mom group. At the time I really didn’t think much of it. I had a few close friends who were stay at home moms and figured that was good enough.

But guys, being a stay at home mom can be really lonely! And even though I did have those close friends who I got together with sometimes, our kids were all different ages, which meant that in order to spend time together we had to coordinate nap, school and other activities (like dance, gymnastics and sports) schedules. Not an easy thing to do…

Then, last year when I enrolled Brynlee in dance I got to know the most amazing set of women who I am now so grateful to call friends. The best part, all of our kids are the same age and became friends while in dance so when we all get together the kids have fun and so do we.

And it is so good for my mama soul!

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We now try to get together at least once a week, we’ve had play dates at houses, been to the aquarium, arcades, taken the kids out for ice cream, are planning to visit the Children’s Museum next week and have some Zoo trips planned once the weather is cool enough for us to spend most of the day outside. We even have plans to start a soccer team with all of kids at the beginning of the year.

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Having some adult time with friends throughout the week is instrumental in my happiness and overall well being as a mama. It’s so easy to get lost in all things kids, there are so many activities we are constantly preparing for or chauffeuring them to. When I get this time, I’m a better mama, wife and friend. I feel more motivated to get stuff done around the house, on the blog and it really helps get my creative juices flowing.

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Some other benefits of finding a group with children the same age is that you are usually going through similar phases in parenthood and its a great support system. This group of ladies helped me find Brynlee’s preschool (which we love and couldn’t be happier with) and 2 of her girlfriends from our play group are also in her class, which made the transition to school really smooth for her.

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Even if you are not a stay at home mom, I would still recommend finding a moms group, there are lots of them on Facebook. Its fun for you and your child and the best part is that when you leave, your cup is full and your child is usually ready for a nap! And those are rare these days so I will take them when I can get them!

Today we are having a baking party with our kids after school, we are making cake pops and Brynlee is really looking forward to it!

What are some of your favorite toddler activities?

xo, Cassidi

White after Labor Day???

I dropped Brynlee off at Preschool the other day and while I was there, her teacher complimented the teachers aid on how great she looked that day. The first thing she said was “thank you, I know I’m wearing white (pants) after Labor Day, is that even a thing anymore that I shouldn’t?”

I’m not really sure where the whole no white after Labor Day thing came from, but personally, I love wearing white and really don’t care what time of the year it is. I mean, winter white is a thing too, right?

So today, I put together a few Fall outfits that incorporate white into them. You might be thinking I’m crazy for loving to wear white when I have a toddler with sticky hands who loves messes, but I beg to differ. Thanks to bleach, white is super easy to clean, much easier that something full of color!

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hat / scarf / top (maternity) / pants  (maternity)/ booties 

Keeping it casual with outfit 1, I love pairing chambray and white! Adding in the hat and a blanket scarf and this would be great for a coffee date/lunch with friends, preschool drop off or just getting together with fellow moms during a kid play date.

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necklace / sweater sweater / jeans / shoes

A dressier option for outfit 2, perfect for date night or a low key holiday party. I paired this with flats (because flats are basically my life now, hello always on the go toddler) but this could easily be taken up a notch with a pair of nude heels.

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vest / top / jeans / boot socks / boots

Another casual choice for outfit 3, great for preschool drop off, but I also love this one for a trip to the zoo or any other activity that might keep you outside for an extended period of time when its chilly. The vest would keep you nice and cozy and I love a good boot paired with boot socks!

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hat / scarf / coat / circle earrings /  bar earrings

I also put together a few  white accessories or ones that pair well with white. I love white and gold together and am pretty sure those gold bar earring will find their way onto my Christmas list. I love a white coat, I have one from a few years ago and always get so many compliments when I wear it. I love the bell shape on the bottom of this one, so feminine.

So, what is your take on the whole white after Labor Day thing, yay or nay?

xo, Cassidi

 

Junk in the Trunk 2016 Market Recap

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Oh my, do I love the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market! I usually go with my mother in law and sister in law and it has become a guaranteed girls weekend for us the twice a year it comes to town.

If you haven’t been, or have no idea what I’m talking about, it is basically a vintage/antique/handmade market that is held twice a year here in Phoenix (actually Scottsdale) and has recently expanded to a market in San Diego and Los Angeles. The two ladies who run it curate some of the best antique and handmade shops around (I think there were over 150 at the one this weekend) to make for one amazing shopping experience.

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We have been to the market a handful of times and have always found some amazing treasures. We learned our lesson quick, after our first market and have since sprung for the VIP tickets. Not only do you get some pretty sweet swag, like the hat and bag pictured above, but you get in a day early and are able to shop without all the crowds. Because on general admission days it is CROWDED!!! As in, you can barely move from booth to booth and it is crazy! Good luck getting what you came for…

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Part of the fun of the market is that you never know what you’re going to find! While I do follow a lot of the vendors on Instagram, it’s always a surprise to see what they bring. This trip I apparently focused more on the handmade, whereas our previous shopping experiences I’ve come home with more antiques.

I have been wanting an Olivewood heart for a long time and am so glad I finally got one! My mother in law, sister in law and I all picked out matching rose gold necklaces to commemorate our special time together! It will be so fun to all wear them whenever we do things together. And the lace hemmed tank is a pregnant girls dream come true! It is basically an extension for any shirt to insure no belly peeks out and even though it isn’t a maternity item, they run big and are super stretchy, I bought a medium and it fits great.

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I also picked a few things up for Brynlee. This dress from Royal Bowtique is perfection!!!! She wore it Saturday to the mall and we had so many strangers stop us asking about the dress. I couldn’t find it online, but hopefully they will restock soon! I’d love to find it in other patterns too! Also from Royal Bowtique, the rhinestone cat ears, they were the last pair and I’m so glad I was able to snag these for my little cat lover. She is obsessed with them and loves that they are sparkly! And the adorable unicorn horn has made Brynlee’s dreams come true! She wears it all the time declaring herself to be Princess Twilight Sparkle.

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And I couldn’t go without picking up at least a few things for the nursery. I am a huge fan of Yellow Bungalow Shop and have this print hanging in Brynlee’s room, so I was super excited to find some prints to add to the nursery. The vintage map print will go perfectly with the theme I have in mind, I can’t want to start hanging everything and see it come together. I’ll share my nursery plans soon!

We had so much fun at Junk in the Trunk and can’t wait to go again in April!

Will I see you there?

xo, Cassidi

DIY Grocery Bag Holder

This is one of those projects that I’ve wanted to make FOREVER and just kept getting put on the back burner until I could take it no more! I recently did an overhaul on my pantry and organized everything! I purchased some plastic baskets from the dollar store to help sort like things and this has really helped in keeping the pantry organized. It’s been about 3 months and things are still looking great!

Except in the grocery bag department… I usually use reusable bags anytime I go grocery shopping, but on the off chance I forget them or if I make an unplanned Target trip (which probably happens far too often), we end up with a collection of the plastic kind.

Previously I tried storing them in a basket on the ground, under a shelf, but it really didn’t do a very good job of keeping them corralled and they would often spill out onto the floor adding to the disorganized state my pantry was in. Once the pantry was organized, a grocery bag holder rose to the top of my to-do list. It’s super simple and can be completed in under an hour.

I picked up some home decor weight fabric from Joann’s, from it I cut:

1- 2″x 4 1/2″ rectangle (for the loop)

and

1- 20″x 24″ rectangle (for the main bag)

Also needed:

5/8″ elastic- Cut 7″

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Starting with your loop, iron your rectangle, wrong sides together, in half lengthwise. Open the fold, then iron each edge in to meet at the previous crease. Fold it all back up, press and stitch along the opening as close to the edge as you can. Set aside.

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Taking your main piece, fold in half right sides together lengthwise.

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Stitch along the long side using a 1/4″ seam allowance, forming a tube.

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On one open end, fold over 1/2″ and press, then fold over 1/2″ again and press.

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Open one fold, take your loop fabric, fold it over creating a loop and baste stitch across.

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Just sew along your loop, I attached it right at the seam so that when I hung it, the seam would be hidden in back.

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Fold your hem back over, hiding the raw edge, flip the loop up and sew around the perimeter of the bag.

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For the bottom, fold over 1/2″ press, the fold over 1″ and press.

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Create a casing by sewing around the perimeter of the bag about an 1/8″ away from the bottom. Leave a 2-3″ opening to insert your elastic.

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Insert a safety pin on one end of your elastic and start threading it through your casing.

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I like the pin the free end of elastic so it can’t slip through while I’m threading.

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Sew both ends together.

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Then sew your casing closed.

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Put your little helper to work stuffing the bag.

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Hang it up and you’re done!

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I used a command hook to hang mine and it’s worked wonderfully.

Hope this helps your pantry/ kitchen organization too!

Happy Sewing!

xo, Cassidi

Build a Bear

If you follow me on Instagram then you know last Friday Brynlee and I took a trip to Build a Bear for National Teddy Bear Day. We had scheduled a play date with a few of Brynlee’s friends to take advantage of their $5 bear offer.

Unfortunately, but the time we got there they were sold out of the bears. I have to admit that while I knew quantities were limited, I was a little disappointed to learn that they sold out in under an hour, we got there less than 2 hours after they opened. I figured that they would have quite a few for the promotion and probably wouldn’t sell out until late afternoon. Oh well, lesson learned, next time we know to get there before they open.

We still had a lot of fun, the staff there were all super friendly and I’d say Brynlee had a pretty perfect first experience at Build a Bear.

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I suppose it probably worked out that the $5 bears were gone, Brynlee had a lot of fun searching through the bins for the perfect friend. She initially chose Twilight Sparkle…

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But as soon as she saw this black kitty, Twilight was quickly forgotten.

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She thought the stuffing process was “so much fun” (her words) and loved being able to step on the pedal to help stuff her kitty.

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Before Brynlee inserted the heart, the associate had her do the most darling little dance to help give her kitty well wishes to be a good friend.

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I haven’t been to Build a Bear in a long time, so I was really impressed by just how cuddly these little animals were. Brynlee’s kitty is so soft and she loves to hold her, the kitty now sleeps with Brynlee and has been on multiple outings with us. Brynlee definitely loves her new kitty.

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One of Brynlee’s favorite parts of the whole experience was giving her kitty a bath. When she stepped on a pedal, air blasted out of the yellow nozzle and she scrubbed her kitty with a little brush at the washing station. She would have stayed there forever, but the store was incredibly busy and there was a line of others waiting to bathe their new friends too.

One thing that surprised me, Brynlee really wasn’t interested in finding an outfit for her kitty. All of her other friends picked out cute dresses or costumes for theirs, but no matter how many I showed Brynlee, she just didn’t care. I finally decided that I was being ridiculous for trying to get her to choose one when she wasn’t interested and instead should just drop it and save the $20+ dollars an outfit probably would have cost me.

 

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She did love the naming and creating a “birth certificate” part of the experience. She eventually settled on naming her kitty Sparkly, her black fur is super shiny when light hits it which does indeed make her look a little sparkly.

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Brynlee was so happy to carry her new friend out in the little house they provide. And bonus points to Build a Bear for creating a box house that is super fun to color afterwards.

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It took us about an hour and a half to get through Build a Bear and by then we were all starving. We decided to take the kids over to Panera for lunch, then end the day on a high note with some Gelato from Frost. Brynlee got the bubble gum and I got the dark chocolate and OMG it was so good!!! I also tried the hazelnut and will probably get that next time!

We had such a fun day with Brynlee’s friends and I loved having some adult time with the other moms. Brynlee kept talking about it all weekend long and couldn’t wait until Daddy got home on Friday to show him Sparkly and tell him all about our day. I love days like this with Brynlee, they are so special and I will always cherish these memories.

5 on Friday

Happy Friday Friends!

I hope you all had a wonderful (short) week! I’m looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend after the craziness of last weekend.

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1. We were super busy last weekend and have plans to lay low this weekend. Maybe work on the nursery a bit, spend time together as a family (yay! Daddy’s home!) and most of all relax! I might even sneak a nap or two in. On the menu is a family favorite, Damn Delicious Sweet and Sour Chicken, I have made this dish SO. MANY. TIMES. and it never disappoints! Definitely a healthier version of the take out fav and is so great for leftovers. We are also planning on smoking some ribs, no need to heat up the house if we don’t have to, right? We really like this recipe, they are literally fall off the bone, melt in your mouth delicious!

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2. Speaking of the nursery, I am in love with this quilt by Elizabeth Hartman! I’m trying to work up the courage to give this a go, it’s definitely more piecing than I’ve ever done. I’d make all the foxes in the color scheme I have planned for the nursery and I love the adding glasses option.

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3. I’d be remiss to not mention pumpkin spice latte season… As I’m sure all your social media feeds have been blowing up with PSL pics this last week. I really do love the pumpkin spice latte and look forward to it every year. Brynlee also got her first Starbucks this week, a chocolate milk that the barista graciously offered to make her when she was feeling a little left out during our coffee order. It made her day and now she is always requesting her own “coffee”.

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4. Also, don’t forget today is National Teddy Bear Day and Build a Bear is offering $5 teddy bears in-store today. We will be going with our moms group and a few of Brynlee’s friends. She’s never been before so I’m really excited to see her reaction to it!

5. Help!!! Brynlee has started waking up early wanting to come downstairs and play. Not super early, but somewhere around 4am-5am and definitely too early for me! I am looking for one of those night lights that you can program to shine a different color when its okay to wake up and when its time to sleep. I think that she just doesn’t realize how early it is and am hoping that this will solve the question about whether its time to wake up or not. So please, give me and and all your recommendations, or if you have any other suggestions to dealing with this.

Have a great weekend!

xo, Cassidi

Our Favorite Toddler Apps

It seems like tablets/screen time is such a controversial topic among parents these days, in my opinion, to each is own. You, as the parent, know whats best for your kid/s and family.

For us, we decided to get Brynlee her own tablet over a year ago and it has been a great decision! We do limit her screen time, while at home she rarely gets it, but when we travel or while we are grocery shopping it has truly been a blessing. It keeps her entertained while we are on the road and I no longer have to worry about her grabbing things off the shelves or trying to climb out of the cart while at the grocery store.

Today I’m sharing Brynlee’s favorite apps, some for learning (and they have been great for her development) and some just for fun.

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First, the tablet we decided on was the Kindle Fire, the non kids version. We purchased it on Prime Day last year and got a great deal! We also got the 2 year protection plan which replaces it should anything happen. We haven’t had to use it yet, but seeing as how it’s owned by a toddler and has repeatedly been thrown/dropped we feel much more comfortable knowing that it’s there.

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We also bought this case and it truly is amazing! As I said above, this thing has been thrown from shopping carts and is still in perfect condition. I really can’t recommend this case enough.

Our favorite learning apps, I can’t take credit for finding all of these. Shortly after we bought the Kindle, Brynlee went on a little shopping spree in the app store. We hadn’t realized that we needed to turn off the one-click purchasing power, I guess we just assumed it would automatically be deactivated unless we turned it on. Wrong assumption!!! $60 later she had multiple apps and a season of Paw Patrol downloaded.

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Super Why ABC Adventures– Brynlee plays this one a ton! It’s great for learning the alphabet and tracing the letters. In preschool they’ve been working on tracing their names and Brynlee’s teacher pulled me aside one day to tell me how amazed she was at how well Brynlee was at tracing letters, I think a great deal of that has to do with this game.

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22 Learn Preschool Basic Skills– is free! Has lots of puzzles, matching games and memory  games to name a few.

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Preschool Basic Skills– Another free one from 22 Learn. Teaches letters, numbers shapes and colors. Also, promotes tracing the letters, shapes and numbers.

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Monkey Preschool– This is one of Brynlee’s favorites! Puzzles, colors, matching and you earn stickers as you complete the “games”, Brynlee loves picking out the stickers.

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ABC Mouse– Not free, there is a monthly subscription and we actually don’t subscribe to this app anymore. I still mention it because it really is a great learning app. There is a ton of content and actually takes your child through a learning program. The reason we cancelled it was because we thought it was a little advanced for Brynlee. She didn’t use it to its full potential and the previously mentioned apps basically covered all the things she was using it for. We will probably subscribe again when Brynlee is a little older.

And now, just for fun:

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Mickey’s Color and Play– Of course Brynlee loves this one! It has a few scenes from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, as well as, Mickey and Minnie that you can “paint” and customize however you choose. You can also take pictures and use that as your “paint” in the picture, which might be Brynlee’s favorite feature. She is now basically a photographer with her Kindle.

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Paw Patrol Rescue Run– You pretty much do the same missions as the Paw Patrol does in the episodes, but Brynlee loves it!

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Disney Jr.- Watch many of the Disney Jr. shows and play the coordinating games. Brynlee love playing the games. You do need wi-fi for this one.

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Netflix Kids– Again, Brynlee can watch all her favorite shows. You also need wi-fi for Netflix, but its amazing how many stores and restaurants now offer free wi-fi and its great when visiting someone who might not have the plethora of toys/kid entertainment that your toddler is used to.

I hope you found these helpful and please share if you have any great app suggestions for toddlers. There are so many out there, it’s hard to wade through what is really good and won’t cost an arm and a leg in in-app purchases (I hate those!).

xo, Cassidi