Handmade | Ellis.Rose Child Fashion

Spring is here.  The sun is beginning to feel a little warmer and the windows have been opened almost every day the past few weeks.  I will be transitioning our closets to represent the nicer weather- packing coats and boots away and prepping drawers with capris and short sleeves.  

I have a little springtime treat for you today.  A little inspiration for your kiddo's warm weather wardrobe.  Ellis.Rose is a sweet handmade Etsy shop that specializes in creating the most adorable baby and toddler fashion.  

Ellis.Rose was created after Katie, mama of four, had her fourth babe- a little girl.  She started to make headbands and headwraps for her little one and they are precious.  The rompers and bloomers are so well-made and are the perfect summer outfit.   

Katie paired up this romper/headwrap combo when I asked for an eclectic outfit, and I love it!  The romper fit Julia like a glove and had just the right amount of stretch to fit her scrumptious rolls.  I always worry about headbands and wraps not staying on my babe's head.  This wrap was SO easy to tie (I love the bow!!!) and it didn't slip one bit, even when Julia was rolling all over.  


Head over to Ellis.Rose to see all the adorable patterns and handmade goodies in the shop.  And, while you're there, grab you some of the cuteness at 15% off with the code QUICKJOURNEY! You can also find Ellis.Rose on Instagram & Facebook.

Motherhood | Finding a Dry Diaper

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Huggies® for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Huggies® all opinions are 100% mine.
One of those Hallelujah moments as a mama is when your little bundle starts sleeping soundly through the night.  Those nights that I was up three, sometimes four, times a night left me dreaming of a full night's rest.  Luckily, my kiddos did pretty well with sleeping 8 hour stretches by 2 months.  It was so nice.  
Then, comes the next issue with sleeptime... full diapers.  Julia was sleeping really well and going through 12 hour stretches at a time during the night.  Although, this was very nice, she kept waking up wet and that was frustrating.  Waking up wet means that she needs to get a bath first thing in the morning, I need to change her bedding, and she has to be put into fresh jammies every night (lots of laundry).

As I searched to find a solution, I was excited to try the Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers.  I noticed right away that they had a nice, flexible waistband and that the legs held snugly and comfortably to Julia's chunky-monkey legs (one of her best features, if you ask me).  Guinnyth even loved the Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters, so she wore a few of them, too!
After over a week of trying out the diapers I was so glad to find Julia waking up dry and happy.  I no longer have to wash jammies and bedding every day and her little bum is happy, too.  Her delicate skin stays drier due to the layers that wick away the moisture, which is needed after 12 hours of sleepytime.
If you are looking to buy some diapers for your lil'one, the Huggies® Snug & Dry Ultra Diapers at Walmart.com!

Visit Sponsors Site

DIY | The Anatomy of At-Home Pictures

The photography industry is growing like crazy!  I am constantly amazed at the talent that's out there. I have spent oodles of money on photographers and pictures, and, to be honest, I haven't regretted spending money on a good photographer one time.  There are certain instances where hiring a photographer is a no-brainer: senior pictures, engagement/wedding pictures, maternity pictures, newborn pictures, and family pictures.  I would spend money on these occasions, hands down.  But, there are other situations in which I would opt to take my own photos.  

I'm going to share a few tips with you, today, to help you be prepared to take pictures of your little ones at home.  I enjoy taking milestone pictures of my kids (3, 6, 9, 12 month pictures for my babes and birthday pictures once they get older), but don't have the money to dish out every few months to hire a professional photographer.  And, let's be honest, if I'm going to pay any amount of money to hire someone, I will pay for one that I can guarantee will produce a great product.  If you are spending $100 dollars on an okay photographer, you are wasting your money.  If you are willing to part with your money, you should invest in a quality photographer.  It's worth it... trust me!

So, below is an example of a quick, six month photo shoot I did with our baby.  It was simple, didn't take a lot of time, and was free!  I have taken pictures of  my kids for five years now, so I have a little practice behind me.  I also enjoy looking at pictures on Pinterest, so I have ideas of the aesthetic I'm going for.  I am definitely a bright, minimalist picture taker (not a photographer!).  You need to do a little research and narrow down the kind of look you prefer. If you are new to this process, take it slow and keep your expectations realistic.  

  1. Set your baby up a few feet off of the ground.  This helps to make her (or him) at eye level and easier for you to photograph.  I always have someone there to help in case the babe begins to roll or squirm- safety first!  In this example, I used a cushioned ottoman, but I've also used a toy box and floor pouf before.
  2. Next, grab some cute blankets, quilts, fabrics, or even a simple sheet.  Here, I had a vintage quilt that was a family heirloom, a black and white striped blanket, and a fuzzy, white bathrobe that I used for the base prop.  It is always good to use texture below the baby if you are doing a naked-baby shoot.  If your babe was clothed with color and pattern, go with a simple, solid base blanket.
  3. Gather a few simple baby props.  Here, I used a baby bonnet.  I have used hats, headbands, wraps, and even kept a bare head before.  Again, the key is to not have too much texture, but to also have enough to add interest.  
  4. The last key to great pictures at home is to make sure you have good lighting.  In this example we are in our nursery next to the window.  This ensures that I don't have to use the flash and my camera can gather enough light to make the picture crisp and clear.
I hope you enjoyed this post!  Let me know if you try any of my simple tips and tricks.
Bonnet c/o of Roar Haus

Home | Motherhood Hacks

Sometimes, in life, we just need a little break.  A little breather, if you will.  I have a few little tricks of the mama trade I want to share with you that have made my life a little easier.  It might have saved me time, money, a mess to clean up, or just plain helped me to stay the course during a busy time of the day.

These are simple.  You might already be using them, but for those who aren't aware of these little mama lifesaving hacks, pack them away for later.  I use them every time and they are tried and true.

Cutting Pancakes, French Toast, or Waffles +  Do you try to cut your breakfast breads with a fork and knife?  You've been doing it wrong- trust me!  Grab a good pizza cutter and cut your time in half!  This is so simple I can't believe I ever used to use a fork and knife.  I have been cutting these breakfast items like this for years now.

Draining Beef +  A long, long time ago, I would keep a "grease container" in my fridge.  When I cooked ground beef or bacon, I would drain in into that container.  Well, I guess it is obvious that the more kids you have, the less space you have in your fridge for random containers.  A year ago, I read on DreaWood that they get a bowl, place tin foil in the bowl, and then drain their grease with a strainer over the bowl.  Once you drain your grease, you leave the grease in the tin-foiled bowl to harden.  Then, you pitch it in the trashcan.  No mess.  No yucky grease container taking up space in your refrigerator.  No extra dishes to clean!  I drain my grease like this every time and find it so easy!

Filling Muffin Tins + How many times have you filled your muffin tins only to drip the batter all over the place?  You lose batter and that which gets on the top of the tin is a bear to clean off once it is baked.  I found several years ago that using an ice cream scoop works so well with filling the cups with muffin batter.  I get the same amount of batter in each cup and it doesn't spill out as I'm transporting the batter from the bowl to the tin.

Cutting an Avocado + My love for the green fruit runs deep.  I eat avocados all the time- just ask my kids.  I put them in tacos, breakfast burritos, or mix them with salsa/pico to eat with chips.  The hardest part is getting them out of their skins and chopping them.  This is the easiest way to chop an avocado.  Cut your fruit in half.  Then, while the avocado is still in the skin, slice it into small squares.  After that is done, gently squeeze the flesh into the bowl you are using!  It is that easy.  Your hands don't get dirty and you get all the flesh out quickly and easily!

Trimming Fat off of Raw Chicken + My sister-in-law has a weird texture issue with meats, so dealing with raw meat is hard for her.  I learned this little trick from her!  First off, chicken is always easier to cut if it's still a little frozen.  Let it thaw a bit, but not all the way.  Then, use kitchen shears, NOT a knife, to trim the fat off of the chicken.  The shears are a lot easier to use.  You still need to use caution just like you would with a knife, but if they're sharp, the chicken will clean up so easily.

Cleaning Bathroom Counters + When I get ready in the mornings, I tend to leave a trail of mineral makeup behind me.  I really cannot stand messy bathroom counters or the film that sticks to them after I use hair products.  One way I have cut corners with cleaning my counters is by using my washcloth from the night before.  I use a (separate) wash cloth to clean my face, so when I'm finished with it and after I've applied my makeup, I use it to wipe down our counters and sinks.  It's nice to have it clean and not actually have to overhaul the bathroom.  I also do this with kitchen rags when I throw them in the washing machine.  I quickly wipe down the washer and dryer tops so they are dust and detergent free!  It just makes it look nicer.

If you have any great hacks for mamas, leave them in the comments.  These are all hacks I use every time!  They are easy and cut down on the time it takes to do simple tasks.

Style | Mini & Me

I love fashion.  I also love fashion with a cause.  Today, I am introducing you to a lovely boutique that mixes fashion and philanthropy.  Mini & Me started out as a mama and baby boutique and morphed into a much larger shop offering women's clothing, accessories, children's clothing, etc. 

Mini & Me supports the Sunrise Strong project.  This project gives comfort items and financial assistance to kiddos who are going through cancer treatment. Mini & Me offers certain items that are part of a one-for-one donation program.  When one of these items is purchased, Sunrise Strong donates a like item to theses families.

Susan, a mother of nine, runs this business with her family and has grown Mini & Me from the ground up.  I was so excited to collaborate with Susan and spread the word about her business and the Sunrise Strong project.  You can find Mini & Me here: Shop :: Facebook :: Instagram !

Mini & Me is giving away the Eliot Striped Top to a reader and is also offering 20% off of all purchases with the code QUICK.  This offer is good until March 31, 2015.  To enter the giveaway, use the rafflecopter below!
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Link Up | It's the Little Things

We've been enjoying the weather this past week.  It has been crazy beautiful and the windows have been cranked open as much as possible.  The sun has been streaming in and my spirits have been lifted from all the much needed vitamin D I've been getting.  One thing I love about our house is the natural light, but if I could go back and do it all over again, I would add even more windows.  You can't go wrong with lots of windows!

This past weekend the little girls struggled with a bout of sickness.  Guinnyth was croupy and Julia had a high fever for a few days.  Needless to say, that come Monday, I was in need of a little essential oil pick-me-up.  Thankfully, all is well now and the girls are on the mend.

Along with the lovely weather comes a lot of nature studies for the kiddos.  Liam and Ella love taking their notebooks outside and doodling everything they see.  They recently went back to the timber behind our house and sketched squirrels, deer, and sheds.  Guinnyth had to have her notebook, too.  She sat on the front porch and drew the chalkboard eraser dust marks.  It's not really nature, but whatever works.  To be honest, my favorite part of this picture are her little toes pointed inward.  

I have been utilizing the kitchen sink for Julia's baths.  I can get her bathed while one of the older kiddos washes up in the bathtub.  She's not a fan of baths and I can't figure out why.  I throw toys in.  I talk and sing to her.  Nothing seems to make her content.  I kind of want to cry, too, when I think about her being the last baby I bathe in our sink.  

This week I am co-hosting with Jess @ Sadie Sky Boutique and I'm so happy to share the "It's the Little Things" linkup here on the blog today! Be sure to swing by her blog, Sadie Sky Blog to say hi! I love peeking into her sweet family's life and seeing what's going on!

Living | Waking up Well

Did you know that through practice and commitment, you can turn yourself into a morning person? It's true.  You might see yourself as a night owl, but by practicing the habits of an early riser, you can reset your internal clock.  Maybe you like burning the midnight oil.  I have to admit, I prefer that at times, too.  But most of the time, I prefer getting up early and starting my day before the kiddos climb out of bed.

There are a few things that help me to enjoy my morning time.  I wanted to share them with you so you could jump on the early rising bandwagon, too, if you want.

Give Yourself Time + Nothing makes me want to stay in bed more than knowing I have to rush around to get myself ready.  Give yourself time.  Wake early enough that you can enjoy and savor your morning.  Part of this means getting enough sleep to wake feeling rested.  Another easy tip is to know what you want to wear and how you want to fix your hair before you hit the pillow at night. Having these things planned out will help the morning to seem more peaceful and enjoyable.

Open the Window Coverings + The first thing I do when I get out of bed is to open the blinds.  The natural light tells me that it's time to rise and shine and automatically wakes me a little.  I mentioned in this post how important vitamin D is for our bodies.  It completely changes my feeling for the day and puts a little pep in my step right out of the gate.  

Make the Bed + I know... your mom always made you do this.  I don't think I hardly ever made my bed growing up, unless I wanted a friend over and my mom made this my one concession.  As an adult, I automatically feel ready for the day when my bed is made.  If if get lazy and leave it disheveled it irritates me every time I walk into my room.  It just looks messy even if the room is clean.  I always take the 3 minutes I need to make the bed and make my room feel pulled together.

Cold, Lemon Water + After I make my bed, I pour myself a large glass of lemon water (18 ounces).  I drink this before I eat or drink anything else.  It wakes me, cleanses me, and keeps me from eating too much for breakfast (I love breakfast and tend to overeat all the delicious carby-ness).  It also keeps me hydrated while breastfeeding.  I usually pour the water, add ice, and put a drop of lemon essential oil in it.  It tastes great!  I am a huge water drinking advocate, so starting my day with this is huge for me!

Eucalyptus, Mint Soap + This might seem silly, but showering with a fresh, minty soap really wakes me up.  I have had a love for goat milk soap for years now and use a spearminty/eucalyptus soap.  It clears my sinuses and is such a nice, refreshing treat in the mornings.  It also reminds me of the time when I worked at an Aveda salon.  That place always smelled so, so good.

Coffee + Not everyone gets excited about coffee (I don't understand this!), but I do.  I love the whole experience.  A morning simply isn't complete without my k-cup of goodness dripping into my cheap, Target cup.  I love the smell of coffee and holding the warm cup in my hands is all part of the experience (after I consume my glass of water, of course).  

These are a few things that help me to wake up well and have a lovely morning.  What do you do to have a good morning?  

Handmade | SunWoven

Yes, yes, yes.  I love woven wall hangings... tapestries... fiber art.  Whatever you want to call them, they are beautiful and I am tempted to put one in every room in my house!  Erin is the owner and artist behind SunWoven, a hand weaving shop that offers premade and custom wall hangings.

Erin is a young mama who creates her amazing pieces with a delicious combination of wool yarns and even, sometimes, air plants.  She hand weaves each piece on her lap loom so each finished product is carefully made and unique from the others.

I was so excited to get a custom wall hanging for our house.  We repainted our master bedroom last summer and I have waited for the perfect piece to hang on our fresh walls.  This tapestry from SunWoven was exactly what I was looking for and totally pulls my little reading corner together!

I was super excited to get to share this amazing art with all of you! Hurry over to SunWoven and check out all of the beautiful pieces!  You can also find Erin here:  Etsy :: Instagram.

Style | Under Eye Brightening Tutorial

I'm a tired mama.  I get woke up at least once almost every night for one reason or another.  Even though I get woke up, I feel pretty good.  The problem I have is having tired eyes.  The dark circles under my eyes scream, "I need more sleep!"  I was beyond excited when Root came out with an Under Eye Brightening cream.  This stuff is wonderful for those dark circles.  

I have a pretty strict "cream before powder" policy when applying makeup.  I rarely ever apply cream after I apply powder.  Once you put a powder on your face, it's best to stick with powder from that point forward.  If not, you risk it getting gummy and cakey.  The only exception is with this brightener.  I apply my eye makeup and blush prior to applying this cream and I'm going to explain why.

I prefer having my eyes complete (aside from mascara- that's the last thing I put on my face, always.) so if there is some fallout from the shadows, I can easily brush it off without messing up all of my other makeup.  I also apply my blush before this cream so I can use the cream to highlight under my eyes and clean up any areas where my blush application might have gotten out of control.  Other than that... it's always creams before powders!

So, a must have tool when applying my Under Eye Brightener is the Mini Pretty Blender.  I gently squeeze it under running water to plump it up and then gently squeeze it in my towel to remove the excess water from the sponge.  This little brush makes it super easy to place the product where I need it most and to give me extra blending time due to its dampness.  Okay, without further ado... the Under Eye Brightener in action!

Check out my Natural Eye Makeup Tutorial and find out how I get my Messy, Beach Curls.

DIY | Metallic Easter Eggs

This post was brought to you by PAAS. All opinions are 100% my own. Find out more about their products here or connect with them on Facebook.

Every spring we do the same thing- decorate Easter eggs.  As a mama, it can get a little monotonous, a little same-ol', same-ol'.  When I was searching for ideas to make this year a little different, I came across the idea of metallic Easter eggs.  They are creative, easy, and perfect for my three older kiddos (7, 5, and 2).  So, when my PAAS Easter decorating kits arrived at my doorstep, the kids were ready to dig right in!   

One of my least favorite parts of egg dying is filling the dye cups.  I know, totally lame, huh?  I am probably the only person who dislikes measuring out the vinegar and reading the directions for each color, but this year, PAAS made it super easy on me.  They now have these dye cups with the color tabs secured to the bottom of the dye cup and handy-dandy little lines on the side so you know how much vinegar and water to put in each cup.  I will forever purchase these cups.  Period.

So, for all you egg dying first-timers (are there any of you out there??), you begin by hard boiling your eggs and then letting them cool in the fridge before you dye them.  Lay out newspaper or paper towels to catch the dye as the eggs dry.  A little "egg drying" tip... I put my kiddos' eggs on a cookie cooling rack (lay the cooling rack on top of a layer of paper towels) to dry.  

See those perfect little dye pads, securely fastened to the bottom of the dye cups???  Gah... I love them!  Okay, so now you have your hard boiled eggs, you have your paper towels/newspaper laid out to catch dye drips, and your egg drying rack ready to go.  Now, you fill your dye cups according to the super simple directions on the PAAS box.  Let the dye dissolve a bit and set your kids to the task!

This is the fun part, if you ask me.  Allow the eggs to dry completely- a few hours should suffice. Grab some metallic permanent markers and let your kids decorate their dyed eggs.  My kids did zig-zags, polka-dots, geometric shapes, and scribbles to finish off their eggs.  

If you struggle with doing the whole "egg dying thing" because you don't know what to do with them, here are a few ideas: 

+ Put them in a glass vase/hurricane vase and make them a centerpiece to an Easter meal.

+ Make a little nest with twigs and place them in the middle.  Put the nest on a wooden tray as a simple Easter decoration.

+ Let the kids decorate the garden outside with these colorful eggs in anticipation for Easter!

Be sure to ‘Like’ PAAS on Facebook for details about the Ultimate Egg Off Easter Egg Contest starting 3/18. You could win $1K!

Home | How to Beat the Winter Blues

It is March- the beginning of March.  And, here in the midwest that means that we are reaching the end of a long, hard winter.  It also means that I am getting antsy for warmer weather.  Open windows and lots of outside play sounds like a dream right about now, but we still have at least one month of cold, gray weather ahead of us.

So, today we're chatting about how to make your home feel a little more awake without spending a ton of money or decking it out like a big ol' Easter egg.  These are super simple and cost effective ways to beat the winter blues and trick your mind into thinking you've been getting plenty of vitamin D.  Here we go...

Open the Shades + This might seem pretty obvious, but so many people keep their blinds/curtains/shades pulled during the cold months and this really cuts down on the amount of vitamin D they might get.  Vitamin D is a lovely little thing.  It helps our overall health, but also keeps us alert and awake!  So, open those shades and let in the sun!

Paint a Room +  Last summer I had an antique gold bedroom.  My taste in home paint colors shifted to a cooler palette and right before the baby was born my mom and Mark painted it a nice, lovely white.  We were worried that it would seem like a white rental room, but it doesn't.  It was the best decision.  When the sun comes in, I wake so much better and the airy-ness puts a little pep in my step.

Pillows + I have pillows on my couch that are soft, comfy, and easy to manipulate.  They are also brown and burgundy.  They don't brighten our space or help reflect the light, so they make the room feel a little droopy.  A couple of years ago I bought a few pillow covers off of Etsy to create a breezy feel.  During the winter months, we can sport the brown and burgundy.  During the spring/summer months, we bring out the greens, whites, and blues.  It's an easy switch and I don't have to store entire pillows, just a few pillow covers that store away nice and flat.

Lemons & Limes +  Every hobby store has packages of faux lemons and limes.  They cost mere dollars and can really bring some natural color to a room.  About this time of the year, I swap out my pine cones and sticks for lemons and limes.

Plants +  Bring in the outdoors!  I stick to the fake variety, but if you have a green thumb, grab yourself a few real plants.  If not, just go to Ikea and spend a few bucks on some fake ones.  Put those little cuties in a white pot and call it a day- a spring day!

Candles +  Nothing speaks fall and Christmas time like a nice, spicy candle.  The same goes for spring and summer.  Light up a fresh, floral, or clean smelling candle.  I love Clean Cotton from Yankee Candle Co. and I also love honeysuckle candles.  If that isn't your jam, look for lemon, lavender, or rose scented candles.

Some of these things are very cheap, if not free, and can make all the difference in these last few weeks of winter.  Try a couple of them and see if that wards off the winter blues.

Homeschool | Learning Well Ecourse

As a mama, I would have loved a video ecourse on how to navigate through the experiences of motherhood.  Luckily, I had amazing women, and an amazing mama of my own, around me to help guide and shape me as a mother.  But, when I walked onto the homeschooling scene, I didn't have as much support.  There were a few women that I could reach out to, but the homeschooling waters were thin.  

I was asked to be a part of a wonderful project by a fellow homeschooling mama, Alicia, to bring resources and encouragement to all homeschooling mamas- new and seasoned.  No matter where you are at in this journey, you will always need that inspiration and pat on the back.   

This ecourse, Learning Well, is packed full of amazing homeschooling women to inspire and spur you on in your homeschooling journey.  You will have information available to you, videos to watch after your little ones are tucked in, and the tricks from those who have paved the way.  There will be homeschool room inspiration, lesson planning and "how to do it all" inspiration, as well as women sharing their favorite subjects and resources.  

This is a learning resource rich in wisdom and depth.  I am honored and excited to be a part of this project and to glean some information from these other women.  You can register online at Investing Love blog.

If you are new to the homeschool scene, or are considering it, make sure to check out my eBook- Beginning Homeschooler- and read about our journey as well as my tips on how to get started. 

Handmade | Pretty Little Layers

I love styling clothes.  I love dressing my little girls with pieces they can mix and match.  Having singular pieces that can be worn with multiple outfits makes it so easy for me to let my kids dress themselves and I still feel good about what they're wearing.  

So, one of the biggest fashion trends lately is the simple t-shirt.  It is casual, comfy, and everyone has one!  What I love about this trend is how the creative people at Pretty Little Layers have taken it a step further by printing something on the front.  Guinnyth is wearing the Glittered State shirt.  Not only does it have a bit of glam with the glitter, but it looks so cute with her polka-dot leggings and hightops.  I could go crazy snatching up all the adorable screen printed t-shirts Pretty Little Layers has in their shop!

Brooke, owner of Pretty Little Layers, is a mother to two little girls and has been married for 7 years. She is a simple person who loves anything that allows her to be creative.  That is how her shop was born- out of her love for simplicity and creativity.

Pretty Little Layers has several signature prints.  I love the Let Me Be Little print and the Fly Away With Me.  The simplicity of the shirts makes it so easy to layer and mix patterns with the rest of the outfit! 

Today, I get to give away a T-shirt of YOUR choice!  To enter, use the rafflecopter below.
For those of you who can't wait... use the code PRETTYQUICK for a 15% discount on these Ts!