Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live, Work, Create. Local.

Our lifestyle is changing. We went from a City to a Village. There are a lot of differences I will talk about as I continue to unfold our move here, but today I want to talk about supporting local businesses. This is something I always strive to do no matter where I am. But it seems like I have even more opportunity to do so in our new area.
We have one small grocery store in town, and it closes at 9:00 p.m. It houses a lot of our favorites, and we did find out that if you ask for something specific they will order it if they can. Nice!
We've only tried one (immediate) local restaurant so far - the diner downtown - and it is excellent! Mostly breakfast items, but very delicious!
We are close to one of my favorite little towns - Chelsea - so I was already a bit familiar with it before moving. We explored a little more last weekend and here is what makes me happy over there:
The Common Grill restaurant - award winning. Need I say more? We didn't eat here that day, but have eaten here many times previously. It's one of my favorite places to go!
Where did we end up eating? Zou Zou's Cafe. First time there. Loved it!
We went to an Amish furniture store to look for a dining room table set. Currently, we have a pub style table that only has 2 chairs. This worked while Richard was in a high chair, but he has long been out of that and we will soon be a family of 4. We opted not to have a formal dining room like we had at the old house (and never used). So we want to invest in something that is built well and will last. We have a set picked out to order once we close on our old house, and I am glad to spend my dollars at this business.
Another eventual plan is to replace the kitchen appliances. We walked by a local appliance store and saw in the window they had the brand/finish we plan to get (which was seen at a big box store). So when the time comes for that as well, I'd love to give them our business.
Santa got some early Christmas shopping done at 2 toy stores (while Richard wasn't looking). The local toy store we always supported in Battle Creek recently closed due to the owners retiring. I am glad that we have these new options close to us!
Being a creative person, I was thrilled to find USArt Quest! Here is another site for them, as they hand make about a million varieties of paper! I felt very welcomed when we stopped there. They offer lots of classes and fun events - perfect for organizing a bunch of my friends to come over for something fun to do!
Lastly, let's get to my new bag which inspired this post..... I got a mailer from Dayspring Gifts and fell in love with the recycled canvas totes they showed. So I decided to check their store out too while we were over there.
And, for the rest of my outfit, yet another jeans, tank, wrap "uniform". I swear, I can come up with tons of these combos!
Jeans & Tank - Motherhood Maternity
Striped Wrap - Meijer
Lenora Dame Starlight Mesa Necklace - Anthropologie
Minnetonka Mocs - TJ Maxx
See Biscuit peeking out the window? New neighbors were moving in across the street and the dogs were losing their minds all day! I must say, I do miss our fenced in yard!
And Mocha is faintly in the window here. They are getting used to their new lifestyle too, just like we are.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peacocks for Babies

When I was pregnant with Richard, of course I thought about what kind of peacock items I could get for babies/kids. I found a good variety, but most things were geared toward girls. Which sometimes to me does not make since, because the male peacocks are the ones with the pretty plumage. When we found out he was going to be a boy, I had to scratch a lot of things off my list....... nursery bedding sets........ frilly clothes. But I was still able to get him some plush toys, as pictured below. One plays music and the others have all sorts of rattles, crunchies and squeeky things. The Palmer House one he got when he was older on one of our overnight trips to Chicago (the peacock themed hotel we love staying at).
This time around, I wondered if I would be able to indulge in all those girly things. When the ultrasound revealed another boy, I had about 2 seconds of sadness and then I was over it. I love being a Mom to boy(s), so let's see what else we have that is more of the male peafowl type.
Jenni of Gnome Lover gifted me this cute onsie from Etsy seller Crawlspace Studios. I can't wait to see the baby in this!
Richard was a peacock for his first Halloween (see original post here). I just found the costume the other day when I was unpacking the baby totes, and I wondered if I will use it again for baby brother. We'll have to see if it fits in 2015.
But, out of everything, the most peacock items I seem to find that Richard enjoys are books. His daycare has a "Raising a Reader" program where we "check out" a bag of books every week. Our best surprise was when we got the book below and it had a peacock AND a railroad crossing sign! I have a huge train lover on my hands and railroad crossing signs are pointed out during every car ride. At our zoo, the peacocks seem to hang out by the mini railway as well. Must be a thing that peacocks like trains???
Limelight Larry is a book we discovered at the library, and we loved it so much I ordered it from Amazon. It is a great story/lesson, and the artwork is so beautiful!
This is the best page, when we both yell "Take up the whole page and show off!"
Three Hens and a Peacock was another add on to an order, and it is a really cute one as well.
Same with The Golden Peacock. I find that if I am coming up short for free shipping, I will add on a book. Our routine is to read 4 books at bedtime. We've created quite a nice collection of all kinds of books over the last 3 years and it is wonderful!
Inside graphics on some of the books..... swoon! 
I got Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? at my shower for Richard. What a surprise to see a peacock inside! After I had him, I was looking at books at Target for a friend's shower and saw the book was made with sound buttons! I just had to have it and it is hilarious now that Richard can imitate a peacock (among other animals, of course).
Richard knows that peacocks are Mama's favorite. It has been fun to collect these things for my kids, and I can't wait to see what I find in years to come. And by no means to I mean to sound like I am strict on gender things........ the other day, Richard saw a preview for My Little Ponies on a DVD he was watching. I told him that I had those when I was little and that they were packed away in the basement. He requested I find them...... and I did! He has his Dad's old Hot Wheels....... It's great to share your own childhood loves!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

One Month

Today officially marks one month until my due date! I had a doctor's appointment, and am now going every week. I don't have anything exciting to report (like, I'm dialated already). Just a good report of "everything is perfectly normal". However, we are in the mindset that this little guy could come anytime now (same as we were with Richard). Meaning, I am getting my bag packed and will have it in the car with me at all times. I will start to wonder with every outfit post, if it will be my last pregnancy post. Richard was 5 days early, not that it means anything this time around.
 We are just plugging along and in a nice routine. I do still plan to do some posts about the move / decorating as we have been having so much fun settling into our new home. I am preparing for my last day of work on November 7th, after being with Kellogg's for 10 years. But right now, I commute into the office every other day (an hour drive one way from the new digs) and work from home the other days. The drive has been peaceful and enjoyable, however the weather has been cooperative. I don't think I'd want to be that far from work long term because if you so much as have to stop at the grocery store on the way home, it seems to throw your whole evening off. All of a sudden I look at the clock and it's like "what the hell happened?"
 Things are getting more "real" as the days go on when preparing for the baby. We added the baby seat back into my car and put Richard on the other side in the backseat. After getting him out of the drivers side for 3+ years, it is SO WEIRD to get used to getting him out of the other side. I am anxious about getting around when I am by myself with 2 little ones. Richard is independent in so many things, but depending on his mood he still will demand help for things he knows how to do. I realize this may worsen when baby brother comes. I am sure that he will have days of being super helpful and others where he wants his Mama to dote on him. I know it will be an adjustment for all of us. The worries you have when you are having your first, like pretty much how to care for this little life in all aspects and what if, what if, what if....... pshhhht, I wave my hand at that. Even though all babies are different, I feel pretty confident in those aspects. So now the concerns are, how to handle a toddler AND a newborn.
 I've commented that my "uniform" the first 2 trimesters was dresses and skirts. So if there is a "uniform" for this last one, jeans with a tank/tee topped with some sort of loose kimono, cardigan, sweater, wrap, shawl, poncho type thing is it! This will be documented in my 3rd trimester review I am sure. I do feel a bit burnt out when it comes to getting dressed, which I know is normal. I think mostly because my footwear selection is limited. I have to plan outfits around the few pairs of options that fit my hobbit feet.
 Today's outfit is no exception. I am sporting a new shawl. When Jenni posted about Mara Hoffman's Eye Shawl earlier this year, I thought it was pretty darn cool. Anthropologie had sold out of them and it was hard to find elsewhere. I have long admired Mara Hoffman's designs (right now only owning this piece here). She is known for tribal designs with some collections leaning towards a specific culture. There have been quite a few pieces with Egyptian influence which is what I would categorize this as because of the eye. Being totally drawn into the tribal trend the last few years AND liking Egyptian history, this piece drew me in. Plus, it's unique color combination (neon pink, cornflower blue, mustard yellow) was like nothing else I had in my closet. I could not find the true Mara one, so this one is a knockoff that you can find here.
 I am wearing it with my all time favorite maternity jeans (Motherhood Maternity) that I seem to wear most every day, a non-maternity black top from Meijer (love the thumb hole detail in the cooler weather), and boots from Zulily. This last trimester "uniform" is going to be a great recovering Mom go-to outfit as well! Comfy and classic with coverage for nursing. I know I will be posting more of these combos!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Walk. In. Closet.

I am so excited to finally be able to show my new closet! I should start by saying that I have wanted a walk in closet since I was a little girl! My cousin had one, and ever since I saw it I thought it was the greatest. I used to try to make my closet (a traditional bi-fold door type deal) into a walk in closet. Don't ask - it's hard to explain - but my parents always made me put it back the way it was. Being that I am so passionate about fashion / jewelry, this space makes me so very happy. Out of all the houses we looked at (I estimate about 20) this was probably the nicest closet. Maybe there was one other that was better. I love everything about our new house, and this is just the icing on the cake. I wish my pictures would have been better, but with a window and a light, it was hard. Also, my nicer camera is the one that got the scratched lens a few weeks ago. This is the view looking in:
BUT! Before we get to the new, let's compare the old. I took these pictures before we moved. We lived in a house that was built in the 30's, so closets were very small. Being that it was also a cape cod, the upstairs ceiling slanted which decreased space even more. This was my closet in the master bedroom....... there was another closet in the upstairs living area that Jon graciously used.
To say that my closet was "packed" would be an understatement. It went back deep, but it was hard to get things in and out. I had a low bar with a shelf on top, a corner shelf structure, hooks on the wall, and a shoe hanger on the door. Any space between the hanging clothes and wall was taken up by shoe boxes and bags. Clothes would constantly fall off hangers and/or be wrinkled. No matter how hard I tried to purge things and reorganize, it was never good. I think even the movers (4 guys) were surprised by how much I actually had in there. Heck, even I was surprised once I saw it all out!

And here is a view into Richard's little closet, where I stuffed hung all my dresses since the bar was too short in my own closet.
Again, not ideal.
So, back to the new closet. I have room for a chair. A chair! There is also room to lay down and roll around on the floor, but don't ask me how I know that. I've had this funky chair (and matching ottoman) since before I was married. My girly self just loved the print but of course it never really "went" with anything in our house. I am so glad I have the perfect place for it now. It is great for sitting down to put shoes on or lay potential outfits on. Or just taking a rest to decompress and take in this new chapter of our lives.
The room is perfectly symmetrical. I have slanted ceilings again, but there is a window and the rack/shelf layout is the same on both sides. To keep with the symmetry, I put a mannequin on each side as well as a peacock canvas (a matching set I found at Meijer, our one stop shopping chain in these parts). The feather curtain is from Pier 1 and I have had some panels of it for years! Again, they never really fit into the decor but I used them a lot for table clothes at jewelry shows I did. The day we closed on the house, we brought over some things that we didn't want the movers to move. The first thing I did was put this window treatment up! I was so excited to do so! The pillow on the chair that matches is also from Pier 1.

Here is the view looking to the left. This side is all tops, and is organized by button downs, short sleeves, sleeveless, tank tops and scarves. After the break it continues on with long sleeves, jackets, cardigans and shrugs. The top shelf has piles of folded t-shirts and sweaters - not crazy about this section but I can't really purge these items until after I am pregnant and I can see how they truly fit. The shelf in the middle is all jeans and a few baskets - one of socks and slippers and the other of swimsuits. I made room for my jewelry chest which I've had since I was a teen.
Here is a view looking to the right. This side is all dresses and bottoms. It starts with maxi dresses (which slightly touch the floor, but no where near the mess I had before) then short dresses. After the shelves there are pants and skirts. There is a place for our ironing board, and the top shelf has shoes lined up. Probably the hardest part of organizing was the shoes. Some were in boxes, some were not. I debated on making both upper shelves totally dedicated to shoes (and throwing away the boxes) but I needed the space for my folded items on the other side right now. So I ended up just lining up the ones that didn't have boxes, and then stacking the boxed ones under my shorter hanging items. My tall boots are on the floor in the previous picture, and I still need to decide on some gadget to keep them standing upright. I am liking the cut pool noodle idea to stuff inside!
Here's a view of the left upper shelf on the door side. Three of the wire mannequins and the bird necklace rack are from Pier 1. The other wire mannequin I got a Joann Fabrics. All of these purchases were years ago and these have been well used for organizing jewelry as well as show displays. The peacock canvas was a TJ Maxx find.
The other side has a necklace rack that I made (see here), bracelet tree (Pier 1), peacock tin (Hobby Lobby), and an embroidered peacock hanging.
Everything I've used is stuff I've already had, just waiting for the right time to all come together. It is so great to have my clothes AND jewelry all in one place. At the old house, I had some of my jewelry in the closet and the rest in my studio downstairs. This way, I can match things up so much easier! The only purchase I made (so far) is new hangers. This might not seem important to some, but I am so glad I did it! I had plastic hangers in all sizes and colors. I knew I wanted the space saving skinny hangers that have a velvet like coating. As with anything, I did my homework and got the best deal I could find....... boxes of 50 from Meijers were $19.99 and I bought them on a weekend when they had 15% off general merchandise for MPerks members. I choose the tan color. I just love how uniform they all look, and how my clothes are not sliding off of them. I still have to decide how I want to convert my clip hangers which I use for pants and skirts. They are all different as well, and currently hold 3 pieces per hanger. I would like it if each piece had it's own hanger so I am on the lookout for what I like for those.
When I got stumped on organization ideas, I headed to Pinterest. I previously had belts in a basket. I loved this idea of put them all on a mannequin for easy viewing. I am using random peacock plates I have to "collect" things like all of my sunglasses here.
Tank tops - again, I always tried to keep them folded in a basket. That never lasted. This Pinterest idea of looping them all onto one hanger with shower curtain rings is working great! I used a sturdy wood hanger I had though to accommodate the weight.
Here's just a few more views to end on. Jon, again, has a separate standard size closet in the bedroom. Although that didn't stop him from claiming that he didn't have room for his suits and took up a small space behind my dresses for them!?!?!! We have never shared a closet, except maybe when we were first married in an apartment which I can hardly remember now! It feels so good to have this space and be better organized. It houses a lot of my peacock collection, and it a colorful mix of whimsy and funky which I guess best describes my style anyway.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Perfect Pregnancy Poncho

When I was newly pregnant with Richard, I was in Chicago and saw this pregnant gal with a poncho on. She looked so chic! I made a note to try to find one like hers but never got around to it. This time around, I thought of it again and did some random looking online. But I knew with Fall coming the stores would soon be flooded with several styles to choose from - all kinds of ponchos, shawls and wraps.
Last Friday, my friend Barb showed up to work in a lovely burgundy number! I immediately asked her where she got it - Macy's. I ran out there after work and opted for the grey one. The features I love about it are the turtleneck, the fitted wrists (to help balance out the volume), the little buttons on the wrists, and the fact that it was not too heavy of a knit. This non-maternity piece is great before AND after baby. I know I will wear it for years! You can't go wrong with skinny jeans and boots for an effortless (and comfy) chilly weather look. Since the front is a blank canvas, I tried on a few necklaces with it but I kind of prefer it plain. I wore this into the office, the same day my co-workers threw me a wonderful "baby shower/soon to be last day of work" luncheon.

Alfani Poncho : Macy's
Jeans and Grey Tank underneath : Motherhood Maternity
Bare Traps "Armandy" Boots : Macy's
Sunglasses : Zulily
Photos by Lisa

Thursday, October 9, 2014

$6 Necklace for the Win!

 So do you ever get a new piece of clothing or accessory, and you tend to wear it a lot right away? The excitement is still going on the TJ Maxx find I posted yesterday. When I saw the necklace matched all of the colors in this skirt, I put this outfit together. On this particular day, I went into the office as well as a doctor's appointment. And a few errands before heading home.
INC International Concepts Cardigan : Macy's (seen here)
Maternity Tank : Motherhood Maternity
Anthropologie Clifton Strands Necklace : TJ Maxx (seen here)
Bare Traps "Armandy" Boots : Macy's

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Anthro Fashion

The other day I ran into TJ Maxx for a quick look around. When I spotted this necklace in the jewelry case, I immediately knew it was from Anthropologie.
 My suspicions were confirmed upon looking at the tag : "ANTHRO FASHION". And look at that price!?!?!? I couldn't call the girl over fast enough to purchase it.
 Here is the stock photo from Anthropologie, when they carried the necklace last year. It's the Clifton Strands necklace and it retailed for $58.00. The last sale price was $14.95. Where does TJ Maxx even get their comparison price of $9.99 from!?!?!? No where close.
 I found so many things in my closet that this necklace will go with! It's first debut is this ensemble, which you can see basically the same outfit here just without the bump.
 Monogram "Nestled Owl" Tunic : Anthropologie
Anthropologie "Clifton Strands" Necklace : TJ Maxx
Sandals : see further down

 Another awesome end of season deal I scored recently are these wedges. They were an online only style that someone returned to Kohl's, and I scooped them up. Anytime I can get a $110 pair of sandals for $22 (plus my 20% off coupon), I am all over it! They are well made, leather, comfy, and my FAVORITE style sandal : a buckle across the toes and a buckle around the ankle. Years ago, I had similar sandals in this dusty blue color and they went with so much. They long wore out so I was glad to unexpectedly replace them. This color is no longer online (where you could have seen they were $22) but here is a link to the other colors they have for a bit more: