February 5, 2016

What the heck I've been up to lately

Long time no see, friends.  I didn't mean to take such a long break away from here I just needed to take some time for myself.  I wouldn't even remotely say it was "blogger burnout" because that implies that this blog is a chore or drags me down or was something that I needed a break from.  And thats not at all the case.  In fact, it's so much more than that.  Somewhere over the last few years I've lost myself.  I lost my center.  I lost my happiness.  I think this happens to so many of us.  Maybe you can relate?

I don't know if it's still called post partum anxiety & depression when it unravels three years later.  I do know that it didn't feel like the commercials you see on tv with the checklists.  It just felt like my life.  I didn't realize I had a problem until I suffered a few debilitating panic attacks last fall and sought treatment.  Part of which included a panel of testing to make sure I was physically healthy.  Apparently I'm not dying.  Apparently it's not "normal" to always think that you are.  Sometimes a mole is just a mole.   So many of us suffer from anxiety and it doesn't always look like you think it does.  Through recovering I'm realizing how far gone I was and just how much better my life can be.  I actually have a few instagram friends to thank for that.  For extending their hands out to mine when I reached out.  I'm forever grateful.  And for a few of my friends here locally who have been helping me steady my step and making sure know I'm not alone by just showing up.  Simply showing up for someone is enough.  And my husband, my rock.  But that's a conversation for him alone.

Sometimes feeling stuck doesn't look like not getting out of bed.  Especially when you have small children who need to be fed and cared for and loved every day not just some days.  Feeling like you could harm your children doesn't always look like a monstrous evil act lurking in your thoughts but a simple lack of confidence in your ability to keep them safe and alive and happy.  I know food allergies have played a huge role in my line of thinking but I think much of it has been lurking around forever.  Mostly rooted in self doubt.  Apparently stress and an easy going attitude aren't mutually exclusive.

So there you have it, OCD, perfectionism, depression, anxiety, panic attacks.  Why the heck am I publicly sharing this?  I'm not worried about the stigma.  There are plenty of reasons you might not like me but I can assure you this brand of crazy isn't it.  That's part of who I am and I will proudly share it with the world.  Because I'm also really creative.  And smart.  And thoughtful.  And a freaking awesome wife and mother.  I love the crap out of my husband and my kids.  And I'm all kinds of full of empathy and love to help others.  And I'm turning into a pretty good vegan baker.  And I make a ridiculously good chicken broccoli casserole.  And I like to read.  And listen to podcasts.  Oh, podcasts are my new favorite.  I have a few favorites I'd love to tell you about.  It's really nice to just sit and listen to someone else without the ability to interrupt or add in your own experience.  I think that's good practice for the real world.  And I could win a Real Housewives of everywhere trivia tournament.  Like, rock it.  And I learned that I could give up wine without even thinking about it but not coffee.  Lord, please don't take away my coffee again.  And I like taking really long walks but still hate to run.  I'm starting to learn that saying, "No, that doesn't work for me" is so much better than saying Yes and then regretting it.  And I used to be really fun and funny and I'm slowly getting that back too.  And I'm good at photography.  And I love to write.  No, more like I need to write.  And I love cute outfits and pretty rooms.  And putting together mood boards.  And imagining all the pretty stuff I'd buy if I won the powerball.  And finding recipes I may or may not ever make.  And blogging.  Yes, blogging.

So now that I've taken some time to sort through was brings me joy and what I want taking up space in my head and in my life I'm excited to say that this blog is on that list.  And as much as I want to make it 100% about the pretty I just can't.  I thought for awhile that might be a bit better for me.  To keep it all light and positive.  I need to mix in a bit of the real and dirty and raw in with that even if it's not popular.  Even if it leaves me wide open.  Vulnerable.  I have Brene Brown to thank for that via my very brave friend Katharine.  I wanted to be sure of that before I moved forward.  Writing and blogging helps me look inward which is an important part of my recovery.  I'm excited to use this blog again as a place that brings me joy and connection.  I hope it can do that for you too and that you'd still like to move forward with me!

I feel like this is where I should share some uplifting quote on being courageous or strong or whatever so I guess I'll hop on over to pinterest now and find something fitting.  Although really my husband said it best this morning, "You can't just stay home and vacuum forever."  That sentence gave me the courage to hop back on here today and I hope this post gives you the courage you need today too.

December 1, 2015

Family Room Christmas Tour | Part 2

Welcome!  Welcome! I'm sharing more of our family room Christmas decorations this morning!  Of course if you follow me on instagram than you may have noticed that I've already swapped the art all around since I photographed this.  What fun would it be if I left it all the same all the time?!  I feel like I should offer you a gingerbread latte or a hot chocolate to snuggle up with.  This room is just so warm and cozy in person, I wish you all could come check it out!

Now that I just said gingerbread latte, have we talked about how I'm on week three of no caffeine?  Which means three weeks with no coffee?  Let's discuss real quick.  It's been hard.  Really hard.  Really really hard.  But amazing.  I'm glad I'm doing it.  But I miss it.  Maybe I really am a coffee addict because it's a struggle every single morning not to go make myself a cup.  I didn't anticipate just how much of the routine I'd miss.  I tried to replace with decaf calming tea the first week.  What a joke.  I'd rather just have a big glass of water.  The tea actually tasted great but it reminded me of what I'd rather be having in my cup.  I might buy a box of decaf coffee to make in the mornings if I still really miss the routine in a few more weeks.

I'm loving the cozy winter wonderland theme!  All that faux fur is the best snuggled up in the morning and evening.  I love that I can leave those out after Christmas as well.  And those bottle brush trees have been such a hit with the kids.  I decided to only use things on the coffee table that they could mess around with. They like to rearrange them and bring little toys in to play in the forest.  So cute.

bottle brush trees
boxwood wreaths

November 30, 2015


It's cyber Monday ladies!  Who's ready to get your Christmas lists knocked out?  I know I am.  My birthday is this week so I might just ordering a few pretties for myself as well.  Oops!  Let the fun begin!

Minted is my most favorite and they're offering 20% off Christmas Cards and 25% off prints today!  A few of my most favorite art prints have come from their art shop!

J.Crew is having a mega sale with 30%-40% off regular priced items and up to 50% off final sale with code: MONDAY.  Not to be missed!  I'll pretty much just take one of everything on the gift guide!

Hayden Reis 25% off with code: CYBERMONDAY


Anthropologie everything ships free plus 25% off sale XTRAGOOD

KATE SPADE 30% off everything

Tory Burch spend $250 and get 30% off

Wayfair up to 80% off

November 25, 2015

Men's Holiday Gift Guide 2015

I LOVE GIFT GUIDES!  One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to look through the toy catalogs that rolled in for Christmas.  All the fun gift guides I see all over remind me of those and I just can't get enough.  I hope y'all find them fun and helpful too!

Today I've rounded up my favorite gifts for men.  I pretty much just let Matthew take the lead on this one.  I pulled up the Nordstrom site and let him go to town on all his favorites!  Lots of good stuff to be found for the many men in your life. 

shop the post:

Thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.  It's always so nice to partner with a company that I've been supporting for years and who makes shopping so simple.  They've also made it easy to check out top gifts for men by price range as well if you need something under $50 or under $100 (like this patagonia fleece).

November 23, 2015

Family Room Christmas Tour | Part 1

Best part about decorating early for Christmas?  You get to enjoy it more and when the holidays roll in you get to sit back and enjoy it!  I'm a convert!  In all reality, we typically don't start to decorate until the Sunday after Thanksgiving and then it's a slow and steady pace until Christmas.  But this year my nephews are staying with us for Thanksgiving and my sister and I wanted to give them matching Christmas jammies and let them open their gifts to each other.  Create a little mini Christmas for them sine they rarely get to be together on this big day.  I decided to embrace the casual and cozy side of Christmas that I often overlook and decked the halls in our family room!

I realized when I started writing this post that the picture overload was crazy so I'm breaking it up into two posts.  Even then, it's still picture overload.  Sorry, not sorry.  I'm sharing the Christmas tree side of the room today and I'll share the sofas side tomorrow!  I wasn't exactly sure where I was going with the decorations until I came across this black and white buffalo check ribbon and I knew it would tie the kids tent (here but she's already closed Christmas orders so you can find one similar here still) in with my otherwise neutral things perfectly.  Our tree is a mix of silver and gold with lots of ribbon and sparkly stars.  In fact, there is absolutely nothing breakable on it so I don't have to worry about little kids running circles around it!  So important!  I'll have to show y'all my ribbon trick too.  It makes a faux tree look so full and pretty!

I can't even tell you how pretty this room feels at night.  The soft golden glow is unreal.  And the warm cozy faux fur everywhere is just what the doctor ordered.  I'm pretty excited to that a lot of that can stay up well into snow season!  Sadly that will be through early March around here.

herringbone blanket
black and white kids tent (similar here)
Snowflake ornaments 

November 19, 2015


I always get really nervous but also really excited to show y'all our home.  It's always a work in progress over here and I love to document that along the way.  This room has quickly become my most favorite for it's blend of function with the pretty.

Like I already said, this room isn't finished but I decided that f I'm going to show you my family room all decorated for Christmas this year, I thought it was only fitting to show you how it looks normally.  I'm not going to say it's some big reveal because there are still many things I'd like to tweak.  But, I'm really happy with it overall.  We all are.  It's light and bright and relaxing.  All four us practically live in this room! 

The sofas are big and comfy and washable (hello, they have to be!)  The coffee table is topped with vinyl faux snakeskin so it's Clorox wipe-able.  There is also lots of cozy floor space for playing!  The walls and trim are painted Sherwin Williams designer white.

Source List
Moroccan Trellis Rug in Tan-Rugs USA
Chairs-Arhaus Outerbanks Chairs in Lindy Natural
Wood Side Table-Homegoods
Moroccan Pouf-Serena and Lily
Coffee table-thrifted but I love this one and this one
Dipped Wicker Basket-homegoods similar
Square cocktail table with nailhead trim- similar
Chenonceau Pillows on chairs-Spark Modern
White Linen Curtain Panels- Ikea
Square Wood Mirror-Homegoods
White Lamps-(Hoomegoods) similar | similar
White console Tables-similar | similar |
White Sofa + Loveseat- Rooms To Go Cindy Crawford Off-White Denim
Lumbar Pillow-Schumacher Garden of Persia-Dove
Linen Leopard Pillows-Arianna Belle
Linen seafoam lumbar pillow
blue havana pillows
light blue dash and albert pillow
framed black and white art print
Clare Elsaesser Print
Art above sofa and beach art in the corner-me
black and white kids tent (similar here)
linen storage bench
french laundry basket
herringbone blanket

November 16, 2015

Christmas Room Tour Sneak Peak

I've been working on getting our family room decorated for Christmas early this year in order to share it with you!  I can't quite share it all yet because I promised another local site they could share it and I don't want to spoil all the fun.  But I'll have it all for you here on the blog soon!   I am so happy that now, when I really need it, I get to sit back for the next few weeks and just enjoy this festive space.  The whole room is decked out in a way that I've never done before.  I can't wait to share it with you!  It's so dang fun to have a Christmas Room.  And there are no breakable apothecary jars full of glass balls or prickly pine needles getting in the way of real life.  That's so important to me.  My five year old and almost four year old are loving it so much which makes my heart happy too!

 I mentioned last week that I had suffered from a panic attack on Halloween and I had another one this past Thursday.  To say it's taken a lot out of me is an understatement.  Emotionally, physically.  I was able to get in with a new physician on Friday afternoon who is helping me get back to a better place.  And I'm so damn thankful for a few of you who have been through this before reaching out to me.  It is always better knowing you are not alone.  I have a feeling this is going to take some time.  My biggest trigger is Tagg.  Feeling so fully responsible for keeping him alive took me over the edge, literally!  ha!  Obviously that's not going anywhere so I'm going to have to learn how to get back down off the cliff.  This is a journey I never would have guessed I'd be on.  I am laid back and worry free.  Only I'm not right now.  I know the holidays can add a lot of stress and anxiety on anyone so I will happily share what is working for me as I work on myself.  The first thing I'm doing is giving up coffee.  Probably.  That might prove the hardest part of all of this.  Wish me luck :)

November 12, 2015

Toys and Shoes for Kids that are a hit year after year (kids gift guide)

When it comes to outfitting the kids, I take the same approach I take myself.  Buy a few things you really love and wear them.  Simple right.  There are few staples that we keep going back to for the kids each time they grow.  I've rounded up a few of the shoes and coats for girls and boys that we've been buying for years and will continue to buy in bigger sizes as they get older.  They're cute, comfortable, and hold up well.  I've come to realize that too many options causes more craziness and having a smaller selection for them to pick from makes life easier on everyone.

I'm also sharing a few of the toys we acquired over the last few years that are still getting played with.  So refreshing to see things that last and evolve with them as the kids get older.  Their interests are certainly expanding and we add new things in, but it's nice to see some old standby's still get used.

I thought this was perfect timing since so many people are trying to get started on their Christmas lists.  Everything I've rounded up is something we have and love and I really think your little bugs will enjoy as well!

toys! toys! toys!  As much as I can attest to both of my children being obsessed with boots, they are 3.5 and 5 and toys steal the show.  I've rounded up all of our favorites plus a few more that they love at friend's houses.

A special thank you to Nordstrom for sponsoring this post.  I know there are many places you can find these items but it's so nice that Nordstrom is now carrying them so you can shop in one place.  Makes life so much easier when you're tracking your holiday spending or need to make a return.  And you can do it all from your house so you're not running around town sourcing toys from one place and boots from another! 

November 10, 2015

Poncho Obsessesd

I found a super cute poncho at Marshall's last weekend and I've worn it three days in a row.  Not even kidding.  I had no clue something so comfortable could actually still look cute on me.  I kind of assumed I'd look bigger and older.  But nope.  I feel very chic and effortless.  And Matthew complimented me on it last night.  Bam.  Tagg did ask if I was wearing a rug though.  You can't please everyone I guess, ha!

Now I'm on the hunt for a few more now that I know just how awesome they are and I feel confidant that I can continue to pull them out year after year.  Definitely an investment piece in my wardrobe.  I'd like one in a solid cream I think next!

Ugg Australia poncho || Belted turtleneck sweater || asymmetrical poncho ||  ponte neuf poncho || plaid peter pan color poncho

Just pair the above with leggings or my favorite skinny denim jeans (look for less) and you are chic and ready to roll in five minutes flat. I love that.

*affiliate links used

November 9, 2015

FALL UPDATES + Nordstrom Clearance Sale!

I know I've been missing around here for a few weeks.  Life has been getting in the way again.  I'm knee deep in fall sessions for photography.  And I've had some volunteer stuff to get through at school.  Which is all amazing.  I've been so lucky to be able to maintain that side gig over the past few years.  I am really fortunate to still take on new clients each season, but it's the return of past customers that is the best.  It is incredible fun to see babies grow up right in front of my lens.  Many of these families feel like friends and it's such a fun time for me to capture their growing children and families.

It hasn't been all fun and games though.  I've been feeling really overwhelmed with Tagg's food allergies and asthma lately and keeping him safe and included in things.  I'm not sure if my recent post tipped the scales for me and there was a lot more emotion waiting to come out that I just sealed back up.  The week before last was a doozy.  Sick kids, sick me, no one was sleeping.  I had a lot on my plate and on Halloween night I suffered from a panic attack.  It was horrible and terrifying.  I'm going to write a post on that soon.  I mentioned it on instagram because it feels right to talk about it and I think it's good to share with each other.  I'm a humongous believer in letting things out.  Letting go and letting God.  Neither of which you can do if you're holing it in silently.

I also have been keeping my eye on some of the sales going on and the big Nordstrom clearance sale is no different.  The weather here is shifting and I'm happy to get some new warm and pretties.  I know a new sweater won't solve my anxiety.  But I can look cute in the waiting room while I wait to talk to my doctor.  Or while I grab coffee with a friend to let it all out.

cowlneck long sweater ($27.90 and obsessed with this in every color!) || peplum open front cardigan || geo pattern open cardigan || long open side sweater || fringe poncho || toggle sweater cape || black long sleeve a-line dress || fuzzy fleece one button cardigan || Jack Rogers lace up Wedge Booties || Sam Edelman d'orsay pumps (obsessed with every color and this price is bananas! $65!) || leopard flats || tory burch cross body bag || tory burch handbag || infinity scarf

*affiliate links used 

October 20, 2015

My Four Favorite Hair Products (including the $4 game changer)

I get complimented a lot on my hair which kind of blows my mind because my hair has always been my least favorite. It doesn't "wash and wear" well.  It's wavy and a little wiry and needs some heat to get it to behave.  But with a few tricks over the past year or so I've grown to really love it.  I like the undone look that can be created a curling wand and ability to wear it for a few days and I get questioned a good bit about what products I use.

I give most of the credit to my friend Marie at Salon Van De for helping me get the golden blonde color I like best and a cut that works well my wavy style.  I have a lot of hair and long layers help weigh down the puffiness.  My hair likes to go big if left on it's own!  I would have rocked the dallas look in the 80's.  My hair color is naturally very dark brown and I tried to go back to that natural color for a few years but never loved it.  I'm also going grey and white.  Not just a few stray hairs like many women in their 30's get, I'm talking full on white hair in the front and salt and pepper in the back.  Thankfully the blonde hides that much better.  In fact when I tried to maintain a more light brown the front looked super platinum streaked because of the white strands and that wasn't a look I liked.  Yes, I have full on white roots in the front of my head.  In fact, you can sometimes notice my hair looking lighter in pictures on instagram and that's usually because I'm due for a touch up for my white roots!  My mom and grandmother both danced right over gray hair and went white early so I should have seen this coming I guess!

As for the style, there are two cheap drugstore products I use every day.  Every single day.  NOT YOUR MOTHER'S CLEAN FREAK REFRESHING DRY SHAMPOO ($4 at Target) and L'OREAL Elnett Satin extra strong hold hairspray ($12ish at Target). These two are total game changers for me.  If I want to go a few days without washing my hair I just spray it right before bed and again right when I wake up.  It absorbs any oil on the roots and helps bring back the curl. 

I don't use any specific kind of shampoo.  I've tried them all and love some more than others but typically I just pick up something from Target when I run out and forget to stop by a salon for something nicer.  While my hair is wet I use a quarter size dollop of Aveda Smooth InfusionIt's like lotion for your hair and does a tremendous job of keeping my hair from drying out.  After that I spray on Aveda Brilliant protectant spray and comb out the tangles.  This helps against heat damage from the blow dryer and curling wand.

I try to let it air dry as long as possible and then use the hair dryer on medium to get it completely dry.  Then I straighten it with my hair straightener.  I'm not trying to get it completely straight but rather take the pouf down a notch.  My hair expands when it dries and gets really big.  Then I curl it with a curling wand and spray each curl with hairspray.  Next I brush it out and begin to hand curl each piece back together with my hands.  Basically I just twist to redefine the curl and then spray with hair spray.  I think the brushing it out and then re-twisting by hand is what gives it a more natural look.  It feels a little bit too done when I skip that part.

The whole thing takes a good thirty or forty minutes or so which is why it's really awesome to get a few days out of it.  And, if anything, I prefer it the next day so I'm happily able to shower and style at night instead of rushing in the mornings.

Any tips or tricks you have to get a few days out of your hair style?  I'd love to hear them!

October 19, 2015

Fall On The Go

In typical blog girl fashion, I'm obsessed with fall.  The parties, the cool air, the changing and falling leaves, the festivals and holidays and traditions.  And after a long summer of being lazy and off schedule, I pretty much pack in as much as we possibly can between October and December.  And I get to start drinking my coffee nice and hot again.  Love that.

To make my mornings a little bit easier on the go I've been using Comfort Cups® by Chinet® insulated cups.  I'm a slow coffee drinker so I usually end up taking my drink with me everywhere.  When it's to fun places like the pumpkin patch or even the routine like carpool and grocery shopping it's not always easy to tote around an empty cup with me while I'm there.  But leave my coffee at home?  Never.

I set up a little coffee station last Spring and have loved corralling everything I need together, it's so much easier than grabbing things from behind the cabinet when I'm half asleep.  I've added in some comfort cups with lids to that station too.  They're the perfect size for my 12oz coffee I make in my Keurig (actually I run a 6oz twice).  Easy for me in the mornings when we're rushed but also really nice when friends or my in-laws stop by and want coffee or some hot apple cider on the go.  My mother in law drinks coffee slower than I do.  One cup is an all morning affair!

Now that it's officially pumpkin season I want to try my hand on making some of the homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup I've seen floating around Pinterest.  Any of you made your own syrups before?  It looks really easy.  That would be such a fun gift idea too.  A little basket with Comfort Cups, a box of K-cups, and a bottle of homemade pumpkin spice syrup.  I know what the teachers at school might be getting soon!  And I bet they'll appreciate something coffee related that's convenient and disposable.

You can check out more fun fall ideas here on Style Me Pretty Living.

Compensation for this post was provided by Huhtamaki, Inc. via AOL Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not indicative of the opinions or positions of Huhtamaki, Inc. or AOL.