shop spotlight | bloom-prints studio

This week's Shop Spotlight is extra close to my heart, since it features one of my favorite handmade shops owned by my dear friend Amy -- artist, teacher and Mama to the sweetest little girl. Amy created one of the first pieces that went in our baby girl's nursery and it is something we will cherish forever.

Amy owns Bloom-Prints Studio, where she makes and sells the most beautiful custom hoop art that can be personalized with a name, date, verse or quote. Anything you can imagine or envision, Amy can bring to life. I just love that about her! She created this floral antler hoop for Poppy and every time I walk in the nursery it is one of the first things I see and my heart is just so full.

Based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Amy Kavelaris owns and teaches ALL ages at her eclectic art school, Bloom-Prints Art Studio and serves as a fine art juror for national art competition. Through this studio space, Amy also sells her oil on canvas paintings, portraiture and precious, custom Hoop Art Keepsakes for sweet nurseries and children's rooms. All looms are hand-crafted from vintage fabrics of the highest quality and each silk bloom is hand-selected from local small business that Bloom-Prints collaborates with. Bloom-Prints believes in collaborating continually with small business and uses fabrics and supplies strictly from vendors they have created relationships with.

Amy began her creative process making these sweet keepsakes when decorating for her daughter Mila's nursery in Spring of 2014. She wanted something classic, charming, and full of whimsy. A touch of vintage, combined with a modern-day touch. After her nursery was featured on a Pinterest post by Disney Baby, requests for Bloom-Prints custom Hoop Art began to blossom and it makes Amy's heart swell to think she can be the tiniest part of these sweet baby's lives by creating a custom keepsake for their rooms. 

I have been loving all things floral lately -- for myself, our home and of course, for my girls. Floral is seriously a trend that will never fade, or at least not in my book. I love the rustic look of our custom hoop combined with the feminine florals that add the perfect pop of color for our sweet girl's room. 

Alongside my hoop I received the most beautiful hand written card from Amy, sharing her heart and how she had prayed over my girls with every stitch. I am so blessed to call her such a dear friend and just adore everything she makes. The quality of her hoops is unmatched; it is unlike anything you could ever find in a store and each hoop has it's own special touch, look and finish. 

Amy offers a wide variety of hoop styles in her shop, including so many fun designs for boy nurseries. I adore this arrows one and this vintage car one. For little girls, antlers and flowers are at the top of my list but I also love the be brave hot air balloon hoop and this vintage floral one. Swoon. As a Mama, there is just something so special about seeing your child's name in front of you in a piece of art on display in your home, and Bloom-Prints Studio is the perfect shop to create a one-of-a-kind piece to do just that!

Amy is so generously offering a custom hoop to one Blessed Nest reader! You will be able to choose from two different styles and personalize it with a first and middle name. Our nursery would be incomplete without this beautiful piece of art and I'm so excited that one of my followers will have the opportunity to add one to their babe's special space. 

To enter, simply complete the steps below in the Rafflecopter. The giveaway runs from Wednesday, May 27 through Tuesday, June 2. All entries will be verified and the winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced. XO


our weekend

I hope everyone had an amazing holiday weekend! We packed a lot into four days but still were able to relax a bit and enjoy some beautiful weather. Plus lots of good food and sleeping in, which is always a win in my book.

Friday was Olivia's Birthday Eve, so I baked up a batch of her favorite banana chocolate chip muffins  and as soon as Dustin got home from work, we packed up and headed for the park. Two of Olivia's favorite things right now are blowing bubbles and wearing sunglasses. We enjoyed family time together on a big blanket under the sunshine with muffins and lots of laughs.

Afterward, we headed home for a taco night. Olivia is all about guacamole and Mexican food {wonder where she gets that from?} so we thought tacos and guac would be the perfect birthday eve dinner. Afterward, I was in the mood to do more baking so I made a big pan of one of my all-time favorite summer desserts, strawberry rhubarb crisp. It's one of those desserts that gets better every day it sits as the flavors marry; we enjoyed it with vanilla icecream of course and put a candle in Olivia's bowl for her.

On Saturday, to celebrate Olivia's 2nd Birthday, we headed to the Zoo. She absolutely loves animals and we were blessed with beautiful weather. The monkeys were definitely her favorite, and she rode the beautiful new carousel for the first time with Dad. She probably could have stayed on it all afternoon.

After a few solid hours at the Zoo, we headed home to relax. On Sunday, we slept in and then made a big breakfast before running some errands. We hit up some of the memorial day sales and I picked out some new threads for summer and my baby bump. I've been living in maxi dresses and skirts and have been loving all things floral. 

Most of Sunday was rainy, so we decided it would be the perfect afternoon to finish the nursery. We had painted it last Fall and had most everything done except for hanging prints, pictures and our mirror. Dustin brought my vision to life for a beautiful gallery wall and I had so much fun putting the final touches on all the shelving and tiny details. I love that I get to enjoy a finished room for a few months before baby girl arrives. We moved the glider from Olivia's room into the nursery so now we spend nights in there reading together, and it's so special to see Olivia in her little sister's room playing and reading. We will be getting Olivia's new bed set up in her room soon and then the last step is moving her crib in for our babe.

On Sunday night, I made a big pot of our favorite grass-fed beef chili and after Olivia went to bed, Dustin and I watched a movie. We don't watch much TV but we are big movie-watchers. I love cozying up with popcorn and a big quilt in our basement for a good movie. The perfect way to relax.

On Monday, we ran some errands and I did some cleaning. Monday marked 25 weeks into my pregnancy. It's crazy to think that I'll be full term in less than 3 months and could have a baby by mid-August! We are all so excited! 

We ended the long weekend with a double date night with our best friends, who are also expecting their second {and are due in less than 2 weeks!}. We enjoyed dinner at our favorite spot and then took a long walk in one of the most beautiful parks before stopping at an old-fashioned creamery for waffle cones. 

The weekend was even better than I hoped it would be. Lots of new memories, lots of time spent with loved ones, and lots of progress made in the nursery. I can't wait to share a full tour with all the details soon! Check back tomorrow for an extra special Shop Spotlight and giveaway featuring one of my dearest friends and the most beautiful piece she made for our babe's special space. XO


homemade pop tarts

All week long we've been celebrating Miss Olivia's upcoming 2nd Birthday and I've had so much fun finding new ways to make this week extra special. One way we did that was by making homemade strawberry poptarts! The recipe was highly requested so I wanted to share it below, incase you're feeling adventurous this weekend and find yourself craving buttery, strawberry-filled pastries that make you feel like a kid again.

The original recipe I followed {here} yields 9 full size poptarts, but I ended up with 10 and some mini ones {which I loved!}. Depending on how thin you roll your dough and the exact sizes you make, you may end up with anywhere from 9-12. These are about the same size as those you would buy in stores {and super filling}, but the next time I make them {yes, I am already planning on making them again, and soon}, I would make them half the size to be a bit more kid-friendly, perfect for little hands {and smaller appetites}.

homemade strawberry poptarts

what you'll need...

for the pastry //

+ 2 cups all-purpose flour {I used Cup4Cup gluten free flour}
+ 1 TBSP sugar
+ 1 tsp salt
+ 1 cup {2 sticks} unsalted butter, cold {but not frozen}, cut into roughly 1'' squares
+ 1 large egg
+ 2 TBSP milk
+ 1 additional egg, whisked {for assembling pastries}

for the filling //

+ 3/4 cup jam or strawberry preserves {I used homemade small-batch strawberry jam from @messmakerbaker ... amazing!}

for the frosting //

+ 1-2 TBSP cream cheese, softened
+ 1 cup powdered sugar
+ juice from half a lemon
+ 2-3 drops of food coloring of choice {we used neon pink}

what you'll do...

1. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt; pour into food processor. Add pats of butter one by one and pulse until butter is pea-size and dough mixture holds together 

2. In a small separate bowl, whisk together 2 TBSP milk and 1 egg

3. Transfer dough to large bowl and add milk+egg mixture; mix with your hands until just combined {it will feel sticky but try to work milk+egg in as best you can}

4. On a floured surface, transfer dough and knead carefully until it becomes less sticky

5. Divide the dough in half and work to roll each half out to form 9''x12'' rectangles

6. Once rolled, divide each rectangle of dough into nine squares roughly 3''x4'' {or more/less depending on size of poptarts} / use a sharp knife to make clean cuts & don't be afraid to use a ruler if needed!

7. Using a pastry brush, brush the whisked egg over half of your poptart squares

8. Top each half with a spoonful of your filling and lay the other half on top, sealing edges by pressing a fork into each side

9. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown {oven times may vary and I left mine in closer to 25 minutes}

10. Remove from oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack; let cool completely before frosting

11. To make the frosting, simply mix all the frosting ingredients in a bowl until well combined; add more lemon juice to thin it out and more powdered sugar to thicken it according to preferences; drizzle generous spoonfuls of frosting over cooled poptarts and if you want to get extra fancy, top with sprinkles!

{If this sounds like too much work, you can always buy store-bought pie crust and roll it out to the same 9''x12'' rectangles and cut as directed / For the filling, use anything you love or have on hand -- I would love to make them with our favorite raspberry preserves and have my eye on messmakerbaker's seasonal rhubarb preserves for my next batch!}

If you make these and love them as much as we did, I'd love to see your pictures. Just tag me @blessednestblog on instagram / Happiest weekend! XO


Olivia's 2nd Birthday Party

Our sweet little girl turns 2 in just three short days. We have a tradition in our family that birthdays are spent just us, so we celebrated with a big party surrounded by friends & family this past weekend. Olivia was in awe of all the people there that love her so much and it was such a joy seeing her so happy. She was a pro this year at unwrapping presents and still as dainty as ever as she dabbled at her pink cake like a little lady.

Being 6 months pregnant, I wanted to keep her party super simple. One of my favorite prints of all time says "Do you suppose she's a wildflower?" and that was the inspiration for Olivia's Garden Party. She has been a lover of flowers since she was just a tiny thing so it was perfect, especially in Springtime.

For decor, we just filled our house with fresh cut lilacs and I made a few bouquets of felt flowers displayed in antique vases. I hung a colorful tassel garland around an old chalkboard and then tied balloons to her highchair. She is so into balloons right now and loves pointing out that one of her balloons was a giant gold "2" and then holding up two fingers to tell me how old she'll be.

Olivia got a mini vanilla raspberry cake and I had a special custom banner made for her cake and added two gold candles. For our guests, we served our favorite german chocolate cake from a local bakery and lemon cream cake. All the cakes were displayed on rustic tree stumps that Dustin cut for me. I loved the look of it and will definitely reuse them in the future! 

Olivia wore the most beautiful tutu that went down to the floor. Her toes were covered so when she walked it looked as if she was a little garden fairy floating from room to room. So many fun memories and her smile a mile wide made for the most perfect celebration. 

One of my favorite pictures of all time of these two!

crown / top / skirt {custom order}

We are celebrating our little lady all week long and the unending joy she has brought to our lives over the past two years. I still can't believe next year I will be throwing birthday parties for both of my sweet girls.

Find all of Olivia's 1st Birthday Party details here // Happy Wednesday! XO


shop spotlight | a summer afternoon

There are few things more lovely in a nursery or playroom than classic, handcrafted wooden toys. The art with which they are made, the skilled hands that created them, the story behind them, and the simple beauty and timelessness of their design, all wrapped up into modern toys that my sweet little girl can't get enough of. Because of that, I'm so excited to share with you one of my very favorite shops for such toys -- A Summer Afternoon

Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, A Summer Afternoon specializes in eco-friendly, handcrafted wooden toys that encourage creativity and aid in a child's crucial development through all stages from newborn on. All their toys are made with non-toxic materials and are free of harmful paints, treatments and additives. Oh and did I mention they're gorgeous?

Olivia is all about building things right now, so I knew the block wagon would be a perfect fit for her little hands. She loves to stack, sort and rearrange blocks in every which way, and I absolutely love how the blocks fit perfectly into the wagon for storage. She loves pulling the wagon around the house  -- it is the perfect size and weight for her age, and it's one of those toys I never mind leaving sitting out because its just that beautiful.

The quality and craftsmanship of their toys is unmatched, and every time we play with her blocks I am again amazed that they were made by hand. With a perfectly smooth finish and such attention to detail, I just cannot get enough of them, and neither can Via. 

Our sweet baby girl on the way also has a piece from A Summer Afternoon awaiting her arrival in her nursery -- a wooden ferris wheel. There is something so whimsical and playful about a ferris wheel; I have memories of going on them even at a young age at tiny carnivals near the small town I spent my summers in. Olivia has enjoyed playing with the ferris wheel and I'm 100% sure my heart is going to explode when my girls play with it together as our babe gets older. 

The wooden ferris wheel is durable -- making it an ideal toy for toddlers -- but so beautifully crafted that it makes the perfect family heirloom. I know with certainty both of these toys will be pieces all our children will play with and that we will pass along to their children. The ferris wheel rotates with ease and comes with 8 passengers that can be removed and replaced effortlessly. Olivia loves watching it spin and oohs and aaahs over it every time. 

A Summer Afternoon also offers a wide range of teethers, rattles and gift sets perfect for new babies, as well as an incredible developmental shape stacker and the sweetest cars and trucks. I also think this hardwood workbench and tool set would be perfect in a little boy's nursery and just swoon every time I look at it. {And I'm pretty sure that before too long I will figure out a way to incorporate it into Olivia's collection}. I love that A Summer Afternoon offers something for everyone at every age. Their toys make the perfect baby shower and birthday gifts that are unique and will last for years and years to come.

You can read more about A Summer Afternoon and the incredible owners behind it below

"Hello! This is Erin and Aaron, the wooden toy makers of A Summer Afternoon. We are a husband and wife team making wooden cars, rattles, teethers, blocks, developmental, Waldorf and Montessori toys. All of our products are lovingly made out of quality, natural, eco-friendly materials, safety-tested and always approved by our own young children. Whenever possible, we use untreated re-purposed wood, and recycled packaging materials."

"We started this business so that we could really enjoy this time as a family, while our boys are young, and because we wanted them to have quality, natural toys that are handmade in the USA. When creating new designs for our toys, we always keep in mind the developmental skills we would want to encourage in our own children, such as fine and gross motor skills, sorting, counting, and especially creativity and imagination."

"All of our products are finished with non-toxic, child-safe linseed oil (comes from flaxseed) or natural food-safe beeswax. We pride ourselves in making safe, fun, beautiful products that are durable enough to be passed down for generations. We hope you and your little ones will enjoy our products as much as we do!"

Aaron & Erin are so generously offering both a discount code AND giveaway for Blessed Nest readers. Save 10% off your total purchase Monday May 18 through Sunday May 24 using the code BLESSEDNEST10 / Start shopping HERE

And because it's Olivia's birthday week and this is one of my all time favorite handmade companies, they have decided to give away any one item of the winner's choice from their wonderful shop! To enter, simply complete the steps below in the Rafflecopter. The giveaway will run from 5.18 through 5.24 and all entries will be verified. The winner is responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced.

I hope everyone's week is off to a great start; we are celebrating our sweet birthday girl all week long and more details from her party this past weekend will be on the blog soon! Happy Monday!


our weekend

I hope everybody had a wonderful weekend! Ours was a lot of fun and I got to do a lot of relaxing {read: bubble baths every night and a spa pedicure}, which was perfect before our busy week ahead. We have close friends in town from California this week visiting with their beautiful new baby girl and we have been making some progress on our babe's nursery while also getting ready for Olivia's 2nd birthday party this weekend. We found the perfect chandelier on Friday and will be hanging it up in the nursery tonight. When we were pregnant with Olivia, we chose a chandelier for her nursery and I knew I wanted to do the same for her little sister.

We spent our weekend eating lots of good food {including my favorite bakery treat - tea cakes!}, grilling out and getting some things done around the house. Dustin surprised me with a fun trip to a new Nordstrom Rack that just opened {seriously, amazing!} and I picked out a new watch + wallet that I've had my eye on for some time. Olivia chose a beautiful floral scarf for me and then decided to keep it for herself. 

Mother's Day this year was extra special since I was able to celebrate with both my little girls. Dustin took Olivia to one of my favorite boutiques last week {without me knowing} so she could choose a card for me. Best gift ever. There is nothing sweeter than seeing your little girl's color crayon scribbles inside a card that she chose all by herself. He gave me a beautiful necklace with our girls' names engraved that I can't wait to share soon!

We ended our weekend with lots of books in bed and surrounded by fresh cut lilacs, my favorite. I am continually amazed at this life I have been given and the gift of motherhood and my two daughters. My heart fills more every day. XO



I always joke with my husband that candles are a love language -- alongside icecream, bubble baths and fresh flowers. For me, there is no such thing as having too many candles, because not only are they useful {we almost always have a candle burning, day + night} but they are beautiful just sitting out in your home, they make great gifts, and you can always find one you'll love because the variety these days is seriously endless.

My favorite types of candles always come in pretty jars with gorgeous packaging...the kind you find nestled in a corner of a little local boutique, those that aren't mass produced across the country for big box stores but that are hand-poured, high quality gems in a jar. That's why I'm so thrilled to be sharing Vellabox, an incredible candle subscription service that actually delivers these beauties to your door each month. Now, seriously, could mail days get any better?

"Vellabox is a subscription box service that delivers amazing artisan candles every month. We wish to bring new energy & excitement to the hand-pouring artisans of the candle industry.  It’s our belief that in comparison to the “corporate” candle market, these artisans offer a superior product at a better value & their candles are made with greater passion.  We plan on providing an outlet for the most incredible candles in all the land, showcasing brands that are truly unique."

"The candles that we choose and deliver are artisan, all natural 100% soy candles ( and perhaps sometimes Beeswax).  The large majority if not all of the candle makers we are working with hand pour their candles- They are not mass produced with any of the harmful and non eco-friendly chemicals that you find in other some larger mass produced candles/ candle companies.   All of the candle companies we seek out and are currently working with are both based, and produce their candles in the USA."

"It’s our mission to curate the absolute best seasonal selection of all-natural candles. When we discover that perfect candle, we feel truly compelled to share it with you. It’s our promise to continue to deliver them to your door month after month. You’ll be thrilled with any option you choose. The time has come to light up your life with Vellabox."

Vellabox sent May's Luxe box my way to try out and they seriously nailed it with both of the candles! They are two I would undoubtedly buy myself had I come across them in a store. They are both light and refreshing, perfect for Springtime but not overpowering. Being pregnant, I am incredibly sensitive to a lot of scents, especially those in candles if they are too strong. Both of these are such high quality and brands that I recognized immediately. They came packaged in the most lovely box and were the perfect pick me up for the rainy day they arrived on.

I'd love for you to try out Vellabox if you are as much of a candle lover as I am! You can sign up for each subscription level below and save $5 off the first month of any of the three box levels using the code MOTHERSDAY /
** Valid Friday May 8 through Thursday May 14 only **
Simply click the links below to sign up yourself or gift a subscription to a loved one!!

>> The Standard <<
$10 / month + 1 {4 oz} candle monthly with approx. 25 hours of burn time
$2 S&H

>> The Aficionado <<
$20 / month + 1 {8 oz} candle monthly with approx. 50 hours of burn time
Free shipping

>> The Luxe <<
$30 / month + 1-2 candles {12 oz} with approx. 75 hours of burn time
Free shipping

Hope you have a great weekend!! I'll be heading to one of my favorite craft fairs on Saturday morning with my Mom and then sleeping in and enjoying a lazy breakfast in bed on Sunday morning with my hubby and little girls. Happy {early} Mother's Day to all the wonderful Mamas out there! XO


top picks in board books | May Lit List

It's a new month (yay for May!) and I'm so excited to be sharing an all new Lit List. Children's books are one of our favorite things and I am always on the hunt for new, modern books that are not only beautiful but meaningful or educational. 

You can find all my previous Lit List posts below:

And for new books every week, follow along on instagram @blessednestblog under the hashtag #BlessedNestLitList

This month I'll be sharing a handful of board books that we just LOVE! Olivia is now able to sit with picture books and look at them without destroying them, but she still really enjoys board books. I always keep them within access for her, whereas our picture books are generally kept higher on shelves. Flora and the Flamingo is one of our favorites!

In the world of board books, I recently discovered the Alain Gree series {above} and still cannot get over the old school illustrations. My First Book of Letters was the first one I purchased and as soon as it arrived, I ordered the rest! Olivia is really into saying her letters right now and recognizing different objects on each page. These books are perfect for that!

I also love Orla Kiely's board book series, because seriously, I love Orla Kiely and her beautiful designs. I gave this series to Olivia about a year ago and they are still some of her favorites. 

I also spotted this beautiful bound baby book by Orla Kiely, perfect for pregnancy and your first year with baby!

Another favorite board book series is by Xavier Deneux and called TouchThinkLearn. I randomly came across these at a bookstore about a year ago and bought one to see if Olivia would enjoy it. I then ordered the other three in the series a few weeks later. I am ecstatic that two more are being released this August and can't wait to put them on our babe's nursery bookshelves. 

A few interactive board books we've been enjoying are below. Any time I can get Olivia involved and participating, she loves it even more. Whether it is following a trail through a book with her finger, playing with a finger puppet or mix and matching pictures, these are so much fun!

Snuggle the Baby // A PERFECT book for getting a child ready for a new baby, this book is one of V's most requested and I love how she can participate as we read

Finally, a few random board books that we've been enjoying are below. I love their modern illustrations and simple concepts, perfect for a two year old to understand and enjoy.


It's a....

We are so excited to share that Olivia is getting a little SISTER this Fall! We could not be more thrilled to be adding another sweet girl to our family. 

Growing up, I always wanted a sister; I'm an only child and dreamed of the bond I would have with my sister -- a connection truly unlike any other in the world. There is no better gift I could hope to give Olivia than a little sister of her own.

We are all just over the moon excited, can you tell?! 
Give us all the pink girly goodness, we can't wait to meet our sweet little bundle of joy!

We have had a name chosen since we first found out we were expecting on New Year's Day and I absolutely love being able to call our babe by her name. It makes pregnancy even more special. As an early Mother's Day gift, Dustin gave me a necklace engraved with both of our daughters' names...and putting it on for the first time was so surreal. I officially have GIRLS! What a gift from God.

So excited to share more in the coming days + weeks! XO

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