taking care of myself

Ever since becoming a Mama, I have had to purpose to take care of myself and find ways to put myself first, which can definitely be a challenge. I think back to who I was before Olivia was born and it's almost a blur. My life became so much more vivid after she came along, because I finally felt like I stepped into living out my purpose - what God created me to do - being a Mom. But before becoming a Mom, I was a wife. And when the days are long and spent in yoga pants and hoodies, I find that stepping into my role as a wife is much harder. That's why I've found it is so important to take care of myself in the midst of all the roles I am blessed to have. And today I wanted to share a few simple ways that I do that. These are all things that I enjoy, that make me feel feminine, sexy, confident, and that make me smile. They are all incredibly simple but make such a world of difference.

Last Wednesday, Dustin surprised me with a date night out for my favorite pad thai. I am a lover of weeknight date nights because restaurants are never crowded, parking lots aren't full, and it is the perfect way to break up the long week. After dinner, he took me shopping. When Olivia turned a year old, I began to realize I rarely bought anything for myself, especially clothing. I found a few pieces that became my staples and lived in them because they were comfortable and functional for busy days caring for a baby and now, chasing around a toddler. Of course I had a few special outfits for weekends and date nights, but really...I rarely treated myself. It was such a welcome surprise when Dustin brought me to my all time favorite store and I got to try on so many fun clothes for spring and summer. I am branching out into brighter clothes {because my closet is basically all b l a c k + g r a y} and having a new outfit makes me feel so feminine. I still don't shop too often but get a few new pieces that I absolutely love every 2-3 months. And that is one way I take care of myself and put myself first.

Another way I do that is by painting my nails. Before having a baby, my nails were always painted. I did them every week - and loved it. After having a baby, I don't think I picked up a bottle of nail polish for over a year. When I realized how little I painted my nails, I started doing it again and had forgotten how much I enjoy it. It's a great nap time activity and when I look at my hands and see my nails are done, it just reminds me that I am a woman and that I took some time to pamper myself.

Aside from new clothes & painted nails, I love to take a weekly yoga class. Every Saturday morning I go to my favorite yoga studio and enjoy an hour long class. This is my "me time" where no one is talking to me, climbing on me, or touching me. Ha. It is the time that I am able to turn off my brain completely and get a great workout on top of it. 

Something else I do to take care of myself is find creative outlets for my energy and free time. I realize free time as a mom is rare, but when I do have it, I don't want to spend it just sitting and wasting it. I'm either napping {because naps are so underrated} or I'm doing something creative, like weaving or card making. Finding a hobby that is all mine {something that my husband and daughter don't participate in} fulfills me. I am able to put my talents and creative mind to work and watch something beautiful come from it. It is so rewarding and reminds me that God created me with unique gifts that I can use to bless others.

Finally, I take care of myself by staying in touch with my close friends on a regular basis. My best friend and I text every single day, no matter what is going on. We are a support system for each other and we encourage each other. As a wife and mom, she understands so much of what I go through and I understand what she faces on a day to day basis. We check in with each other and pray for each other. I know no matter what I need, she is just a text or phone call away. I think it is so important to have those girlfriends that you can talk with regularly, about everything and anything; someone that you can laugh with about the challenges of marriage and parenting. By keeping up my own friendships, I am reminded that I am still "me" even through marriage and motherhood.

What are some ways you put yourself first as a wife & mom?


shop spotlight || swell & cloth

There is no such thing as too many quilts & especially when they are as beautiful as the one I'm sharing with you all today. Handmade by Swell & Cloth, beautiful mama Kristen brought my vision to life with my favorite organic fabric line to create a whimsical and timeless quilt that Olivia and I both immediately fell in love with.

If you haven't ever cuddled under a quilt made with organic fabric, it's a serious game-changer. I never knew how amazingly soft it is and how you can feel such a difference every time you use it. I love the modern stripe layout of this quilt and the generous size, which will be perfect for Olivia's big girl bed when we transition her this Spring. The colors are vibrant and I love how all seasons are represented in the gorgeous fabric {Acorn Trail by Teagan White} -- with the peonies reminding me of Spring, the mint map at the bottom reminiscent of Summer, the laundry day center section of Fall, the birds + branches of Winter & the backing illustrating all four cohesively.

For Olivia's first Christmas, my parents gave her a beautiful crib quilt that was made using Teagan White's Fort Firefly collection, so it was a lot of fun to have another quilt designed using her newest collection. Kristen absolutely blew me away with her execution of this quilt; the quality, craftsmanship, and attention to every detail is so apparent. I believe quilts tell stories, hold memories, and are meant to be passed down to future generations. This quilt is a true heirloom and holds such a special place in our home.

Kristen is the talented Mama and creative mind behind Swell & Cloth, a shop that specializes in modern quilts and cozy swaddle blankets for babies and children. She shares more of her story below.

"I opened my shop in October of last year, pretty much on a whim. I enjoyed sewing and quilting for fun and I admired people who were brave and motivated enough to make it a full time thing. I started to think, "Why couldn't I? I'll make a few quilts, and just throw them up on Etsy...and if they sell, cool, and if not, no big deal." So that's how it all started. My first few sales were to friends and family and that helped build my confidence."

"My biggest hurdle has been the trial and error of finding myself and my own style as a quilter and as an Etsy shop. It's very tough to stand out from the crowd in a place where practically everything has been done. I've just had to trust myself, and constantly reevaluate and evolve accordingly. While sometimes a challenge, it's definitely a fun and rewarding process."

"Recently I've been specializing in whole-cloth quilts. They are a great way to show off cool fabric, since the fabric stays intact and they also give me a more affordable option to offer. Those are some of my bestsellers and a ton of fun to make. And then my newest little side project is going to be a line of more intricately pieced modern quilts, which are all going to be one of a kind and numbered. I'm going to call the line Modern Heirlooms. These will all be my original patterns, very simplistic and geometric."

"I'm inspired by everything around me. I'm a stay at home mom right now so my world is really small in that respect, but something even as simple as my daughters leggings. She has a really cool pair of leggings with a design that I'd love to interpret into a quilt! Lately I've been sketching quilts on graph paper and that's become very addictive. All in all the whole experience has been very fun and fulfilling. It's all a learning process and all about finding balance. I'm newly married and a mom of two girls -- Katherine who just turned 2, and Bonnie who is 10 months -- so things can get crazy, but I love it!"

what Swell & Cloth is known for || modern, handmade quilts and swaddle blankets for babies & children of all ages

what sets Swell & Cloth apart || Kristen is so purposeful in her design and execution; she takes the time to produce quilts that are truly one of a kind; she works closely with each customer to bring their vision to life in designing custom pieces and she wholeheartedly wants you to love the quilts she makes / Her genuine heart and desire for customer satisfaction shine through every interaction and every brilliant product she puts forth!

how to purchase || You can visit her Etsy shop here & purchase directly / Right now, I'm absolutely swooning over her newest geometric quilt that has the perfect splash of color for a baby boy or girl!

giveaway || Kristen has so generously offered to give away a $45 shop credit, which you can apply toward a quilt or swaddle blanket of your choice / To enter, simply complete the steps below in the Rafflectoper. Giveaway runs from Monday, February 23 through Sunday, March 1 / All entries will be verified & the winner will be responsible for contacting A Blessed Nest within 24 hours of being announced.

Happy Monday!


a lit list for wives & moms

As a wife & mom, I often feel like I am always busy. In the free time I do have, I love to slow down and do something relaxing but purposeful. My favorite way to do that is by curling up on the couch with a hot cup of peppermint tea and an intriguing book that is relevant to the stage of life I am in. And while I haven't completely finished any of these books yet, they are all becoming my favorite reads for lazy afternoons while my little girl sleeps, so I wanted to share them with you in this month's Lit List for Wives & Moms.

P.S. If you're still in search of what you want for Valentine's Day from a loved one, or you are looking for the perfect gift for a sister or friend, I would highly recommend any of these.

The Fruitful Wife: 
Cultivating A Love Only God Can Produce

This book takes a look at how to be the woman God is calling you to be - a woman who bears the fruit of the Spirit in your marriage and daily life. 

The author explores the biblical significance of all nine fruits of the Spirit, explaining how each fruit first begins to grow and then how each impacts your day to day life. I've found it relevant not only in my marriage but also in motherhood and enjoy reading it on a daily basis.

Nourished: A Search for Health, Happiness, and a Full Night's Sleep

Written by a mother and daughter duo, Nourished looks at ten of the most common stressors that mess with a woman's mind - daily challenges that routinely steal her peace and joy. Together, they offer up a way to live a less depleted and more nourished life. "Opposites in many ways mom and daughter share their successes and failures as they make peace with their imperfect bodies, create living spaces they love, get wiser in their relationships, tame jam-packed schedules, settle into God’s love, and more. In short, they stumble and journey together toward a life that better nourishes them - body, mind, soul and spirit."

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp what Really Matters!

I found this book after reading a moving article in the Huffington Post by Rachel Macy Stafford titled "The Day I Stopped Saying 'Hurry Up'" / Written by the same author, this book discusses how to find balance in a media-saturated, perfection-obsessed world with the goal of giving our loved ones the gift of undivided attention instead of constantly trying to conquer the to-do list. I am a very organized, Type A person and often find myself multitasking to the extreme. This book was one I bought with the hope of challenging myself to back off the lists and tasks, slow down and savor every day as a wife and mom. 

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Apparently everyone I know had read this book before I did, but I was so intrigued to learn more that I picked it up and got sucked in immediately. Going along with the previous book which encourages being present, this book explores how to find joy in the "midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties" / It begs the questions 'What does Christ-life really look like when your days are long and sometimes dark and difficult?' / Ann Voskamp invites you to embrace everyday blessings and embark on the transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling God's gifts. Being a person who tries to find joy in the little things and tiny moments every day, I knew this would be right up my alley.

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full: 
Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms

The title alone struck me and I knew this book would be so relevant to the season of life I am in. Even when I commit to reading the Word regularly, I often wish I was able to meditate more upon His word on a day to day basis in a way that connected with exactly what I was doing. This is an encouraging book for moms which helps us reorient our vision of motherhood around what the Bible teaches, showing us how to pursue a vibrant relationship with God -- even when discouragement sets in -- and it will help you to treasure Christ more deeply no matter how busy you are!

What books are you reading that have positively impacted your marriage & journey of motherhood?


lit list | february 2015

February is all about love so of course this month's Lit List is the same. There are so many fun books centered around the theme of love, hugs and kisses and below are our favorites in alphabetical order.

Picture {Hardcover} Books

Board Books

Below are some we don't own personally but that look super cute too!

I'd love to know your favorite books for this time of year!


practical shopping using a minimal method

Today I thought I would share how I organize Olivia's clothing and how I make an effort to keep everything to a minimum. I absolutely love shopping for Via and always dreamed of buying clothes for my little girl, but I still believe in moderation and honestly, I've found that I'm so happy with how I manage her wardrobe; she's always in fresh, fun clothes but I'm rarely spending much money. I have been doing this since she was about 6 months old and plan to do it with all our babes.

Plus, on top of it being stress-free, how can you beat saving money? I refuse to pay more than a few dollars for everyday clothing for a toddler, so I shop smart by using a gap card and stacking coupons + discounts where I am able. For example, I just purchased $166 worth of gap clothes for Olivia for only $22 {!!!!} using gap cash & a $40 reward that I earned by buying groceries + gas. 

This is my philosophy...

+ I only keep Olivia's clothes in her dresser, not in a closet. If it doesn't fit in her dresser, I don't buy it. When seasons change {and every 2-3 months anyway}, I go through her dresser and try to sell at least 1/3 of what she had worn the previous few months. What I don't sell, I save for future babies! I wash it, iron it and fold it and then pack it away by size in a large {clear} storage bin which we keep in our basement closet. When I do need to pull out all those clothes again, it will be no work at all.

+ By only using a dresser, it keeps me from overbuying and overspending. 
The dresser has 7 drawers, 4 of which are dedicated to clothing: 

(1) for pajamas, sweatpants & onesies {comfy clothing}
(1) for leggings & skirts {bottoms}
(1) for dressier pieces and coordinating outfits
& (1) for sweaters, pullovers and all seasons t-shirts

+ When I do buy clothing for a change of season, I buy multiple pieces from the same collection/line or pieces that will coordinate well together. For example, I choose one pair of leggings that will go with 3-4 tops. This ensures I will always have matching outfits but doesn't require me to buy pants with every shirt. Not only does that get expensive, but I don't have the space for it. When she was a newborn, we were given so many clothes that she didn't even have time to wear them all before growing out of them. The same is true now. I never want to buy clothes that she won't have time to wear, so I keep it really simple and always coordinate outfits.

+ I also buy a few special pieces {often neutral} that will work for church, events or special occasions -- such as a pretty dress, a fancier top or a bonnet {below} that I can add to every outfit all season long {my favorite bonnets here} / These are often my 'splurge' pieces and those that are from handmade shops that I love to support. By only buying a few of these, I stay in budget AND they get a ton of use!

+ Finally, I always have a few neutral cardigans on hand that can be thrown over every outfit and that will always match! For shoes, I stick to 1-2 pairs at a time and buy them AHEAD on sales {Mother's Day sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.}. Once she grows out of them, I sell them and get a new pair or two. We have loved Rose Gold moccasins so much the past 6 months and its been a perfect neutral to pair with every outfit / our other favorite pair this winter has been Moccasin Boots from The Little Design Co.

If you're looking to cut back on your child's wardrobe and incorporate a minimal method, it's so easy and so refreshing it will amaze you!!

Here's how:

+ Before buying any new clothing for Spring, sort through what your child has and either sell or donate 1/3 of it {or whatever you don't plan to save for the future}. Keep neutral pieces that still fit your child and that will serve as a foundation of their wardrobe {jeans, black or grey leggings, neutral sweaters and sweatshirts, etc.}

+ Then choose 8-10 pieces that will work all season long -- 2-3 pairs of bottoms, 2-3 tops, 2-3 special pieces and a new pair of pajamas or sweatpants {something comfy for lazy days}. If you can get them on sale or at a discount, even better! 

+ As the season goes on, pay attention to what you dress your child in the most. Do you put them in sweatpants more than leggings or coordinating outfits? Do you tend to favor the same top over others? This will tell you how to direct your shopping for the next season

{I noticed when Olivia was 3-12 months, I put her in the same outfits all the time -- a cute top and coordinating leggings ... I didn't put her in onesies often at all, so I started buying less of those and more 'outfits' / Paying attention to what your habit is will ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck and the most use out of your clothing!}

AND if you aren't as amped up for Spring as I am, below is a peek at what I scored using my gapCASH for only $22! See if that gets you in the mood for Spring! PS If you have gapCASH to use, there are so many great pieces out right now and you can get crazy good deals through 2/4! 

You can see how everything coordinates but that I still have countless outfit options! {I have 2 neutral cardigans and 2 pairs of sweatpants already from last season that I'll also incorporate along with the black & grey leggings I always keep on hand}!

Happy Monday!! xo

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