our december

Happy Friday!! December has been a whirlwind for us and I can't believe we are just two days away from a new year. This month we have been staying busy with our master bedroom renovation, Dustin's job and our girls, as well as family events, Christmas and of course counting down the final weeks before our baby girl arrives. Olivia has had the past two weeks off school and dance so most days have been spent at home reading books in bed, doing puzzles, baking and taking lots of bubble baths. Our evenings have been filled with watching Disney movies, eating icecream and grasshopper pie (mine and Olivia's favorite treat this time of year...oreo piecrust, peppermint bon bon icecream, serve topped with hot fudge and whipped cream) and relaxing as a family of 4. Lots of yummy soup, chili, lasagna and cesar salads have been on rotation and now that all our Christmas cookies are gone I think I'm ready to whip up another batch of peanut butter blossoms, even though it's nearly January!

{all madly wish quilts are marked down this week no code needed and stay tuned for a special coupon code coming on Monday for 25% off your total purchase; our girls have two of her quilts and we absolutely love them!}

We had a wonderful, very low-key Christmas at home and Dustin had some extra time off work so us girls always enjoy that. Last Friday the 23rd we took the girls on a fun lunch date and to an old-fashioned candy store afterward.

black grid classy bow from cute bird accessories {save 15% on your total purchase through 12/31 using BLESSEDNEST15 at checkout}

Olivia asked for kitty socks and candy in her stocking this year and being that we were two days away from Christmas and I had no candy yet, I thought it would be the perfect occasion to take her to pick some out. She chose tootsie pops and mini gummy bears and had so much fun eating a few gummy bears each day, naming the colors and mentioning how cute and tiny they were. Girl after my own heart. I definitely think gummy bears in stockings is going to be a new Christmas tradition for our girls! Dustin and I watched our 3 favorite Christmas movies over the weekend after the girls had gone to bed (The Holiday, Home Alone and Elf) and spent Christmas Eve at my Aunt and Uncle's house, then hosted Christmas day.

On Monday the 26th my Mom and I went out for coffee and did our annual after-Christmas shopping and picked up a few things for next Christmas as well as some fun birthday gifts for Olivia. She doesn't turn 4 until May but I found an old fashioned paper doll kit and the sweetest tooth fairy book & pillow set so I scooped those up on sale. Shopping for little girls is so much fun, I have my eye on a Little House on the Prairie coloring book for her...one of my favorite books growing up.

When I got home, I got to work immediately taking down all our Christmas decor and though I planned to leave the tree up until the 31st, I had my Dad come over and haul it out a few days ago while Dustin was at work. It's amazing how much room you realize you have in your home when the tree is gone and all the decor is packed away. It felt so good to have a fresh, clean space and not be cleaning pine needles up for the millionth day in a row! I will miss the glow of the lights every night but the open space is so nice.

We are headed into the weekend with a fun date night on the agenda tonight and then ringing in the New Year at home tomorrow with the girls. I'm thinking some good Mexican food and homemade malts. Sunday is looking to be beautiful weather so we hope to get outside and enjoy some warmer temps and sunshine. We are just over 40 days from my due date and I am forever dreaming of meeting our new baby girl in 2017. Happy New Year, friends!! XO


parasol for the holidays

I have shared my love of Parasol products many times and the more we use them, the more I am convinced I'll never use another brand diaper or wipe again with my girls. 

If you haven't heard of Parasol, they are a modern diaper + wipe company whose diapers are luxuriously soft because they're made with a specially developed, ultra-soft topsheet layer that truly comforts your baby, and their innovative drylock technology offers excellent absorption without wasteful and uncomfortable bulk like many other "natural" diapers out there. It’s a thinner, softer diaper that not only performs better but which is made with carefully sourced baby-safe ingredients. Parasol diapers are super absorbent, hypoallergenic, latex-free, chlorine-free, fragrance-free and lotion free. They are printed in fun, modern designs using ink without lead or heavy metals. And I love that Parasol partners with independent artists to design the diapers!

And their wipes? Well, they not only smell amazing (think fresh cucumber + aloe) but are quilted to be comforting to even the most sensitive skin. Because they don't contain any harsh chemicals or fragrances like the majority of wipes on the market, you can use them everywhere + for everyone in your family. They come in standard size packs of 72 and also sleek travel packs of 20. I always keep them handy in my diaper bag, car, our bathrooms and nursery. Hands, faces, bodies, carts, counters, you name it and we use them.

Parasol is offering lots of fun holiday bundles this Christmas for gifting, and it's a great time to try their products if you've been curious to see what they're like but haven't yet taken the leap. The Holiday Cheer Box is perfect for giving Parasol products a try to see if they're a good fit for your family and little ones. The Holiday Cheer Box comes with two diaper packs, two full size wipes, two travel packs of wipes and a surprise gift -- a $62 value for only $30.

A Parasol Gift Subscription also makes a wonderful + practical gift -- especially for new & expectant moms. With the gift subscription, you can choose between gifting a 1 month, 3 month, 6 month or 12 month subscription. And if you've tried their products in the past and loved them as much as we do, a diaper and wipes subscription for yourself is another option. I love the flexibility with changing sizes, selecting patterns, managing the frequency of your deliveries and more. Parasol makes it so easy for us moms, with so many options for customizing a subscription to fit the ever changing needs of your family perfectly and being able to do it all with a few clicks from the comfort of our own home. Mom win.

So if you're still trying to figure out what to put under the tree this year, or what to give your girlfriends and family with little ones, hopefully that gives you a few ideas! They are the only diaper Poppy wears and I'm so excited to put our baby girl in Parasol once she is born! Hope you're all having a wonderful week!! XO


life lately

We have been enjoying a slow December so far, with some of our favorite holiday traditions and starting some new ones too. The girls are at such fun ages right now (Olivia is 3.5 and Poppy is 15 months) and I am trying to soak it all in before most everything changes come February. We are all so excited to meet our sweet little babe, but I am also being intentional about enjoying time spent with my two little girls before we add another, and making memories as a family of four this season. 

At the very end of November we went to our favorite local tree farm and cut down our Christmas tree. I grew up always having an artificial one but it was important to me and Dustin that we go to a little extra work and get a real one each year, especially when our girls are young. The smell + sight of it + experience of choosing it together, sawing it and hauling it home is so special to us. This was the first year Olivia really got into the decorating part of it, and every day she tells me "Mama, you helped me put the ornaments on the tree!" (Not the other way around...lol) 

She always points out her favorite (a honey bear bottle) and today rearranged a few and when I noticed I said, "Oh, it looks like the stork moved from one side of the tree to the other" and her response was, "Yeah, I put the stork by Wendell the narwhal so they could be friends." (We have a narwhal ornament she named Wendell after one of her favorite books). Um, seriously?! Definitely what Christmas is all about. These precious memories and seeing everything -- even tree decorations -- through her sweet little eyes.

We have also been doing a few simple Christmas crafts (drying orange slices for ornaments + garlands is definitely a new tradition added to our list), baking together (peanut butter blossoms are my absolute favorite) and watching sheets of snow fall and fall and cover everything in sight. We haven't gotten out yet to play in it, since it's been quite cold, but the snow right now is so light and fluffy. Snow angels + a snowman are definitely on our agenda this week!

We have also been watching lots of movies, making popcorn and malts and reading lots of favorite winter books and doing puzzles. Olivia had never seen Frozen before (probably the only 3 year old ever) but it happened to be on ABC last night and I was excited to see if she enjoyed it. Dustin put Poppy to bed and the two of us curled up on the couch watching it. She held my hand or laid her head on my chest for most of the movie and I just never want to forget those moments together, still and silent, snuggled up with my first baby girl. It really doesn't get much better than that.

We are also redoing our master bedroom, which of course I decided was a top priority at the beginning of my 3rd trimester. Dustin and my Dad got to work right away painting two weeks ago and our new bed + mattress arrived this past weekend. I have a few pieces of art I'm debating about hanging in there and still on the search for the perfect area rug & light fixture but have a few in mind. We have a ceiling fan now and while its been nice, I am looking forward to putting up something with a bit more rustic charm. It's been fun to see the transformation little by little and has definitely been much less work than our kitchen reno this summer! ;)

On cold days when Olivia doesn't have preschool, we tend to sleep in and enjoy a long slow breakfast and then the girls love taking a morning bath. Today they spent over an hour in the tub; I love letting them pick a handful of toys and then I throw in a few empty shampoo or bubble bath bottles they can fill and squirt with, some bubble wands and of course lots of bubbles. It's the perfect way to spend those cold mornings having fun indoors. 

I have my 32 week OB appointment this week and Olivia has her holiday dance recital, which she is so excited for. We are also picking up a custom barn door this week that was made for our living room that I can't wait to hang up & share!! Less than two months until my due date and all that's left to get is a crib! Hope you are all having a wonderful week and memorable December!! XO


hot cocoa bar

Every December my best friend and I host a girls night and Christmas cookie swap (something I look forward to all season long!) and I thought this year it would be so much fun to incorporate a hot cocoa bar! Christmas cookies and hot cocoa are pretty much a match made in heaven, and putting this together was so much fun. For our cookie swap, we ask everyone to bring 1-2 dozen of their favorite homemade Christmas cookies and then we serve a light dinner and let everyone enjoy dessert afterward. When we've all had our fill of cookies, everyone gets a brown kraft paper box to pack with an assortment of all the extra cookies to bring home.

If you are looking for something fun and easy to add to your holiday entertaining this year, a hot cocoa bar is definitely the way to go. All you need is your favorite cocoa, a way to serve it (I use this), mugs for your guests and your favorite cocoa toppings! We have this mug rack filled with mismatched mugs and I think it's so much fun to set it out and let each of my girlfriends choose their favorite mug, rather than using disposable cups. It makes it extra cozy to sip and enjoy!

Go-to cocoa toppings in our home have always been fresh whipped cream, mini marshmallows and peppermint bark, but I also included a few fun extras -- dark chocolate truffles that melt and give your cocoa the silkiest dark flavor (our favorite here), crushed heath bars, peppermint stir sticks and fudge pirouette cookies. Dustin kept trying to convince me to add chopped Andes mints and I thought mini caramel bits that you use for baking or warm caramel sauce would be fun. I've also seen sea salt, shredded coconut and white chocolate chips as toppings. 

The best part of hosting a hot cocoa bar is you can tailor it to your tastes and those of your guests; you can keep it really simple or go over the top with options. I used these wooden scoops and a mix of vintage icecream bowls and mugs to hold the toppings on a small table in our kitchen. Bringing in a little greenery, cut logs and a fun framed chalkboard print + gold garland finished it off!

I hope this gives you some inspiration for the holiday season ahead! Even if you aren't entertaining, having a hot cocoa bar set up at home for your family and little ones is a fun way to make the season extra special. Olivia loves snuggling on the couch between Dustin and me after Poppy has gone to bed and sharing a cup of cocoa with us. Having one set up in our kitchen this time of year will definitely become a new tradition!! XO


5x5 Holiday Gift Guide | Gifts for Kids

To round out the 5th and final Holiday Gift Guide of the year, I'm sharing all about my Top 5 favorite gifts for little kids, including our go-to bath products, some favorite toys to inspire and encourage imagination and a new tradition we started with Olivia this year that our whole family loves.

For the first 4 posts in the series, follow the links below:

I shared about this a few weeks ago on instagram @blessednestblog and it has quickly become a favorite new tradition in our home. The Giving Manger is an interactive Christmas tradition that focuses on giving + serving others, teaching our children (and reminding ourselves) about the true meaning of Christmas and allowing us to show Christ's love tangibly, even in small and simple ways. Each Giving Manger boxed set comes with a beautiful book to explain the idea behind the tradition, a wooden manger, straw to fill it with when acts of service are completed, and a baby Jesus for your child to lay in the filled manger on Christmas morning. It makes an absolutely beautiful gift for your own children and also for dear friends and their families. Hearing all the ideas that Olivia comes up with on how to serve and bless others has been my favorite part. She is so creative and has such a giving heart, the memories we've made have been priceless.

two | modern dollhouse from manzanita kids

I've shared many many times how much we love wooden toys in our home. They really are the only toys we own or that I will invest in because of how beautiful they are and how well they hold up through years of play. I love that they encourage imagination in my girls -- allowing them to be creative and think in new ways, instead of just pushing buttons on a toy that makes loud noises and needs new batteries every week. One of our newest favorite pieces is Olivia's modular treehouse dollhouse from Manzanita Kids. I shared about this shop a few weeks ago on instagram here (we love their deluxe shapes puzzle and rattles too...perfect for little ones) and we have been loving their products since they arrived. Olivia has a basket of Maileg mice and tiny furniture that she loves using with her treehouse dollhouse and I love that it can be disassembled and lay flat for easy storage. Because it's modular, it can be set up in different ways too! It's a great option if you're looking for a dollhouse for your child that isn't big or bulky. I love that it has a clean, minimal look and was made by hand!

three | a wooden kitchen with accessories

A few years ago we gave Olivia this vintage kitchen and it is by far our most played-with toy in the entire house. Poppy has loved it since she could pull up to stand and reach all the wooden food on it. She loves opening the doors, rearranging everything and especially loves playing with the toaster we have. Olivia is always cooking or baking with it and each year we love to add a few new accessories to go with it. For a look at lots of our favorite wooden food, you can find my post here. A few months ago I picked up this cake and cookie set and the girls have this icecream shop set that they just adore. This wooden icecream set also looks like so much fun and I love this darling breakfast set.

four | puzzles

Both Olivia and Penelope love puzzles. There are so many beautiful ones available and I can't ever resist a pretty puzzle. I love that I can stack them under our coffee table or in our end tables and they're always ready to pull out and play with. A few favorites of ours are here: petit collage forest friends / wooden alphabet puzzle / modern birds puzzle / custom name puzzle {save 10% using BLESSEDNEST10 at checkout} and this up to the moon one, which looks so cute and right up Olivia's alley!

five | tubby todd bath products

We love our bubble baths around here. So much so that if Penelope hears me running water in the tub (even if it's just me getting a shower started), she will be there in half a second trying to climb in. The girls have always loved bath time and I love finding high quality products I can use to make bath time more fun (and smell delicious). We have been fans of Tubby Todd since Olivia was a baby (their everyday lotion is so good I use it on myself!!) and they recently released a festive holiday bundle of their seasonal scented hair + body wash & lotion (mandarin & cranberry) and then a warm gingerbread vanilla bubble bath. These are the perfect stocking stuffers for your little ones and make baths this time of year extra fun! To win your own holiday bundle from Tubby Todd, find me on instagram @blessednestblog and enter today's giveaway {ends Tuesday December 13, 2016}.

I hope my 5x5 Holiday Gift Guide series gave you some new ideas for the loved ones on your list, or maybe some things you'd like to add to your own! Happy Wednesday!! XO


minted for the holidays

Minted is my go-to brand for beautiful stationary & modern holiday cards and we have been creating our Christmas cards with them for as long as I can remember, so I'm extra excited to share the cards I designed this year that we'll be sending out to our friends & family near and far. We love Minted for their support of independent artists, their wide range of unique designs for all styles & occasions and most importantly, their high quality products time and time again. Since Olivia was born in 2013 we have ordered the girls' birthday invitations through Minted and will of course be creating birth announcements in February once our newest little lady arrives! Speaking of which, how have 31 weeks of my 3rd pregnancy already come and gone?!

If you haven't yet ordered your holiday cards and are looking for some inspiration, below are my Top 5 picks for this year's designs, including the design we selected as ours!
one | two | three | four | five

I always love to create cards with multiple photos, especially for family and friends who haven't seen many recent pictures of our girls. I save all our Christmas cards each year and love looking back at the photo collages that captured their ages & personalities and the season we were in as a family. Joy has been a word that really described so many parts of our year -- especially the joy in finding out we were expecting our third little girl. That was definitely one of the highlights of 2016 for us, so I settled on the Encircling Joy cards {3} and loved how many options there were for color themes and personalization.

Another feature I was looking for in our Minted cards this year was being able to create a backer with info about our year and the Encircling Joy cards had a fun, modern "Year in Review" design that was so easy to personalize. I love when we receive cards that have a family's top moments and special memories from the year so to be able to incorporate a similar feature into ours was so much fun. 

Last but not least -- and I know I've shared this before -- but I am obsessed with Minted's recipient addressing service. It's free of charge and something I always take advantage of every time I order. All you have to do is input all the addresses of your recipients into an online address book on their website. This took me about 5 minutes total -- I'm a much quicker typer than writer! Then you can save the address book for all your orders in the future and it's there every time you log in to your account. After designing your cards, there is a spot to select "Free Recipient Addressing" right before placing your order. You are then able to go through your Minted address book and select all the people you want addressed on your envelopes. The addressing is absolutely beautiful, as it pairs with the design of your cards. But what I love most? When my cards arrive, all I have to do is put a stamp on them and send them on their way! Major mom time saver!

Do you send out holiday cards each year?! It's one of our favorite traditions, and I especially love opening the mailbox and finding cards from our loved ones that I can place on our fridge all season long! Hope you're having a wonderful week! If you've never tried Minted before, you can save 20% on your holiday card order using the code NCJOY {expires 12/12}. XO!


5x5 Holiday Gift Guide | Gifts for Babes

Happy December!! How are we already 5 days in to the final month of the year?! I am convinced that every month flies by faster than the previous one and before we know it, February will be here and we'll be welcoming our 3rd little girl! With Christmas less than 3 weeks away, I have two more posts in my 5x5 Holiday Gift Guide series, including Gifts for Babies today and Gifts for Kids on Wednesday.

For the first 3 posts in the series, follow the links below:

Of course as a Mama, shopping for babies and kids is my absolute favorite. We aim to keep gifts pretty minimal around here for our girls and instead try to provide a variety of experiences throughout the season that teach them why we celebrate Christmas and who it's about. A few of our favorite traditions are going to meet Santa's reindeer, baking cookies to give to friends and neighbors, watching Christmas movies, cutting down and decorating our tree together, reading all our favorite festive books, hosting friends and family and more. But I love for each girl to have a few simple gifts to open and below are my Top 5 Gift Picks for the Babes in your life!

one | wooden toys from smiling tree toys

We love wooden toys in our home (if you haven't already noticed from my instagram) and Smiling Tree Toys is a family run business based out of rural Minnesota that makes beautiful wooden toys of all types, including personalized teethers, the most darling name puzzles (above), shape sorters, vehicles, blocks and more. I love the smiling moon balancer for Olivia (above), she has so much fun stacking the pieces up and watching them tumble. Poppy is so into puzzles right now at 14.5 months, so we got her a wooden name puzzle, plus it's a great way for kids to learn their letters. Enter BLESSEDNEST10 for 10% off your total purchase at Smiling Tree Toys today through Sunday December 11.

two | cuddle + kind dolls

With little girls in our house, there is no such thing as too many dolls. I love finding unique, handmade dolls that each hold special meaning and will be cherished by not only our daughters but hopefully their daughters some day as well. But what's really special about Cuddle + Kind dolls is that each doll you buy provides 10 meals for children in need. Cuddle + Kind was started by a family of 5 on a mission to stop hunger in its tracks. All the Cuddle + Kind dolls are handmade by artisans in Peru (using the softest, cozy cotton!), which provides these women and their families with sustainable, fair trade income. The dolls come in two different sizes and a handful of designs for both boys, girls and gender neutral gifts. Olivia chose Chloe the Bunny a few weeks ago (read: the most pink doll they offer...) but doesn't know it is sitting in my closet wrapped up to go under our tree! I picked out Aspen the Penguin for Penelope but Olivia quickly renamed her "Poppy the Penguin"...hmm wonder where she came up with that ;) Each Cuddle + Kind doll is an investment in not only an heirloom piece for your child that makes a beautiful gift this season, but also in another child in their fight against hunger. When giving to your child also means giving to another one, I am all for it!

three | books

Of course books are always at the top of my list for gift-buying, we love children's books so much and have wall mounted bookshelves in both the girls' rooms as well as our playroom downstairs. We love to give the girls a mix of Christmas books and regular ones and books are always the gift I suggest when friends and family ask what they can give the girls. A few favorites at Christmastime for us have been The Nutcracker (above), The Twelve Days of Christmas (such beautiful illustrations!) and The Christmas Quiet Book. For non-holiday favorites, you can find lots of ideas on my Lit List page.

four | bibs

I love giving Poppy something that is practical but still fun and it seems we always need more bibs for mealtime in our home. They make a darling gift rolled up and tied with ribbon, fit perfectly in a stocking and there are so many options available! We love these aden and anais bibs, these little unicorn bibs and these bibs by petite pehr. Wash after wash, they all hold up so well and I always keep them handy, hanging on the back of our highchair, in the car, my diaper bag and more!

five | pajamas

Cozy pajamas make a great gift to open on Christmas morning and wear all winter long and are perfect for all ages. I love finding coordinating pairs for the girls. I love these heart of gold ones and this constellations set

What is your go-to gift for babies and little ones?! Watch for the last post in my 5x5 Holiday Gift Guide series coming on Wednesday and more about our hot cocoa bar coming soon too! Hope your week is off to a wonderful start!!

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