Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Best Stuff At the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale

1. Gray top (just $35!), 2. Beige bag (under $50!), 3. Off-the-shoulder top, 4. Striped shirt (under $60), 5. Pink dress (under $100), 6. Blush dress (just $40!), 7. Sneakers (under $60!), 8. Gray bag (splurge!); 9. Sandals (under $50), 10. Sleeveless top (just $35!), 11. Jeans (under $100)

The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale is officially on! That means, up to 40 percent off through June 4th. Here are a few pieces I'm loving right now. Nearly all are under $100 (that pink dress! that striped shirt!), with many of those being under $50 (that $35 top that comes in a million colors! those sandals!). And, yes, there are a few splurges thrown in, too. (Here's looking at you, #gorgeousgraybag.)

I've linked to everything shown above, below, and added a few more fun things, too. Happy shopping!

P.S.: And in case you missed it, here's the last time I wrote about shopping at Nordstrom. (hee hee!)


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

4 Highly Addictive Podcasts To Download Now

Jackery portable charger // pink headphones // t-shirt

Do you guys listen to podcasts? In the past few months, I've become a huge podcast fan. It's become my go-to activity (often replacing reading, sadly) to do on public transportation, in the car, when I'm putting on my makeup, or when I'm just walking around town. 

My favorite podcasts are the ones that feel like a good Netflix binge in the sense that it's almost impossible not to go right into the next episode. And since I'm always looking for new ones, I figured you might be, too. So, below, I've gathered my four current favorites. Whether you're an avid listener or just looking for something new to try after discovering S-Town (which I have very mixed feelings about, BTW), here's four truly amazing podcasts to download right now. 

• In the Dark: In 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling, his brother, and a friend were accosted by a stranger on a dark road in their rural Minnesota town. Jacob was taken by the man; the other boys were told to run for their lives. After that night, Jacob was never seen again. It was a terrifying crime, but no one was ever arrested--that is, until a week before this podcast (which just happened to be reopening the Wetterling case) aired, when a man finally confessed. You might think that would have put a dent into the story, but it didn't at all. Using interviews with key players in the case (the parents, neighbors, other possible victims) and actual videos and news footage from the time (it's chilling when you hear Jacob's friends and brothers decribe witnessing the kidnapping), the podcast looks back at the many mistakes the police department made in nearly every step of the investigation. It's heart-wrenching, scary, and all in all, an amazing story. 

• Up and Vanished: 12 years ago, Tara Grinstead, a beloved teacher and former beauty queen, left a party a few blocks from home in her small Georgia town--and was never seen again. In this riveting podcast, a filmmaker re-investigates the case, looking at every angle from the shady ex-boyfriend to the younger ex-student she had dated to the possibility of a police coverup. What's really cool is that the story is told in real time (he recorded an episode each week as the investigation proceeded), so the podcast has many twists, turns, and surprises--including a HUGE one about halfway through.

• Missing Richard Simmons: In February 2014, Richard Simmons abruptly disappeared. He stopped teaching classes at his fitness studio. He ended contact with lifelong friends. He made no public appearances. He wouldn't even answer the phone. He had suddenly and effectively vanished. This podcast follows one of Richard's friends who is trying to figure out what happened. Is Richard depressed and suicidal? Is he sick? Transitioning into a woman? Controlled by his housekeeper who might also possibly be a witch? Is he even still alive? The search for these answers is fascinating, mesmerizing, and sad.

• Pod Save AmericaThis one isn't true crime, but it's awesome. I eagerly await the episodes each week, listening to them the second they hit my phone. But first, big disclaimer: If you are a Trump fan, it's not for you. But if you are absolutely horrified by him, you'll love it. I'm a total junkie,  myself--a "Friend of the Pod," if you will. First, it's absolutely hilarious. While I'm listening to this podcast, I often find myself cracking up while walking down the sidewalk (and thus, looking like a total idiot!). It's also educational. When you're a regular listener, you'll feel smarter and much more informed about the world, politics, and current events. Start here with the original podcast, and then if you like it, you can move on to its sister shows like Pod Save The World and Lovett or Leave It.

Now tell me your favorite podcasts! What are you listening to--and loving--right now? I'm always looking for new shows to download. And have you already listened to any of the four I mentioned? If so, thoughts?

Friday, May 12, 2017

18 Cool Things You Need To Click On Today

For the past two days, I've been at the Mom 2.0 conference in Orlando. (Not sure what that is? Here's my write-up of the 2016 Mom 2.0 and here's a little about the 2015 Mom 2.0.) I arrived early on Wednesday--a few hours before the official start of the conference--which meant I got to relax and listen to podcasts at the pool, while drinking an iced latte and eating a watermelon salad and sweet potato fries. In other words, HEAVEN.

Ever since, it's been pretty much nonstop seminars, speakers, and networking. Last night, however, I did get to take a fun excursion. As you may have seen on my Instagram Stories, I was able to take a fun VIP trip to Universal Studios Orlando with the Today Parenting Team, where we went on the new Jimmy Fallon ride, sampled food from the soon-to-open water park, Volcano Bay, and even had a private party at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! (I felt major guilt being there, though. My newly Harry-obsessed daughter is going to be so jealous!)

Today it's more seminars and networking--and then I head back to see my fam! I've been Facetiming with my kids twice a day, but I can't wait to get back and kiss their smooshy cheeks.

If you're celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday, I hope it includes some relaxation for you. :) But whatever you're doing this weekend, make it a great one! Here's a few fun things to check out while you're enjoying it.

• I've been loyal to this Dolce & Gabbana foundation for years (and it's amazing!). But I ran out two days before I left on my trip, so I had to look through my stash and find something new to try. So, now I've been using this Laura Mercier Silk Creme Moisturizing Photo Edition Foundation for the past few days and I absolutely love it. I've actually been startled by my reflection a few times (!), because it makes my skin look almost flawless. (And in real life, it is sooo not flawless...!) It also lasts really well--I haven't had to reapply at all during the day. Definitely a keeper!

• As I've mentioned before, Ann Taylor makes awesome, not-too-expensive tops that you can wear with jeans or dress up with a skirt or nicer pants. So when they have sales, I stock up. Right now they're offering 40 percent off with code FORYOU, so I want this sunny yellow one, this gorgeous blue one (so good with white jeans, right?), and this white one with delicate little dots.

• I met the popcorn company G.H. Cretors at Mom 2.0, and I am OBSESSED with this flavor. They put cheddar cheese popcorn and caramel corn into THE SAME BAG, so you get salty and sweet at once. Genius, right? And so yummy...

• If you have a little girl, you need to get her these Reebok sneakers! They are '80s fantasy shoes come to life and my daughter loves them just as much as I do!

• Loved this: 30 little things that mean a lot to kids. (Definitely going to be incorporating some of these!)

• What I want for Mother's Day.

• Funny, too-true cartoon.

• Mila Kunis surprises her parents with a home makeover, Ashton Kutcher helps, and the whole thing is just really adorable.

• I hate to admit it, but I've secretly done many of the 21 Things All Cat Owners Secretly Do.

• This is how Molly Ringwald really felt about her Pretty in Pink prom dress.

• I'm not typically the type of person to bawl at those my-dog-is-my-best-friend-and-saved-my-life videos, but well, this one got me.

• Lake Michigan is so clear right now--it seriously looks like a swimming pool in these photos--that there are tons of shipwrecks (!) that are now totally visible. So cool!

• Loved the surprise twist in this Humans of New York post.

• Mother's Day...when you've lost your mom.

And in case you missed it...

• I showed how to throw the world's coolest playdate.

• Isn't this really what we all want for Mother's Day? (Be honest!)

• My son turned four and I had feelings about it.

• When your kid wants two totally different birthday party themes, this is how you make it happen.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

On Turning Four

Braving the rope bridge just this morning

Four years ago
My little boy--my youngest--is four today. Four! It's hard to believe it's been four whole years since, as he put it this morning, "the stork snuck me into your tummy." 

And what an eventful four years it has been! Happy birthday to Nate, a little boy who...

...has taught me that boys and girls are, in fact, very, very different. Oh my god. Boys are a freaking handful, you guys. Whoever said that girls are easier when they're younger (but harder when they're older) and boys were the opposite, was SPEAKING THE TRUTH. 

...has zero sweet tooth. None! Case in point: This week I asked what birthday treat he wanted me to bring in for his class celebration, and he said, "Grapes." so amazingly curious! He asks question after question when we're reading books. He finds every cool-to-him stick or rock at the park (then stuffs it into his overflowing jacket pockets). And he wants to know how everything works, like just this week when he was examining the inner workings of a flashlight. Of course he did it while sitting on the toilet. As he was pooping. And then accidentally dropped all of the pieces into the toilet. Yes, I'm sure one day I'll find the story of me reaching my Ziploc-Bag-gloved hand into that poop-filled toilet to retrieve the three AAA batteries to be funny, but well, we're not there quite yet.

...despite being active and loving to climb, has never once climbed out of his crib. That means, at four years old, he blessedly, still sleeps in that crib. I know it's bad and that we need to transition him, but it's hard because it's also just so, so good. Don't worry, honey: I'll move you to a big-boy bed before college. (Probably.) just the sweetest thing ever. We all know most guys reach a point where they have a hard time saying, 'I love you,' but this little boy is in no way there yet. Nearly every day, and for no reason at all, he'll turn to me randomly and say "I love you, mommy." Never fails to melt my heart. (Then I say, "I love you more," and he replies, "No, I love YOU more," and we go on and on like that. Yes, we are that couple.)

So, for those reasons--and a million more--happy birthday, Little Naters. I love you. More.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Throw The Coolest-Ever Playdate {In Partnership With Disney}

We recently visited Disney World as a family (post coming soon!), so my kids are definitely feeling the residual effects and are realllly into all things Disney right now. So, when Disney recently invited me to create a "Disney Kids Preschool Playdate," I knew we had to do it. (After all, we know how much I love to throw a good kid's party!)

To get us started, Disney sent us an American Tourister Stormtrooper suitcase (which my son now keeps on display in his room) filled with some party supplies to inspire us (many of which you'll see below) and a few fun surprises like this Dory Pillow Pet. Then, I started planning. I debated whether I was going to throw a big all-out bash or a smaller event, and in the end, I decided to go little. I set out to invite just a handful of friends and create the coolest, most fun playdate ever! After all, why do playdates always have to be the same old thing? With this one, I learned pretty fast that a few decorations and a couple of fun extras elevate a ho-hum playdate to hall-of-fame status.

Now, because it still was a playdate, not a party, I didn't go crazy with the decor and kept it pretty simple. I used the Disney tablecloth, paper plates, napkins, and swirly hanging decorations that had been provided. Then, I supplemented those with my own finds: Pez dispensers, plus a bunch of souvenirs (hats, light-up wands, etc) that we had just bought on our trip, all of which I repurposed as decor. I also ordered some (very affordable) printables off Etsy for the food labels and water bottle/juice box wraps. (FYI, wrapping drink containers is one of my favorite ways to make a party look more festive and cohesive. It's also stupid easy, but looks hard, which is pretty much the ultimate, right?)

For eats, we had Mickey-shaped veggie chips, tri-colored tortilla chips (Mickey colors!), "Hot Diggity Dogs" (a.k.a. frozen pigs in a blanket), "Minnie" PB&J sandwiches (I used this cookie cutter), some PopSecret popcorn, and Mickey-shaped watermelon (praise that cookie cutter!). For dessert, we snacked on these yummy Disney cookies, plus cupcakes, which I dressed up with these adorable Disney wrappers and toppers

For activities, we started with a fun, easy craft: making Mickey sorcerer hats by decorating blue party hats with glow-in-the-dark stars. Then, we moved on to a matching game (I used pictures of Disney attractions that I simply printed off the computer and cut out) and a rousing game of Hidden Mickey. (I had taped a bunch of blue Mickey heads--again, just printed off the computer--around the yard, and they loved running around as a group to find them!)

And because every souped-up playdate needs goody bags, we had 'em! The kids left with Good Health Mickey-Shaped Veggie Chips, Disney Pez, a Mickey lollipop, Disney Junior Play Packs, and a box of HP Social Media Snapshots--sticky-backed photo paper, which will allow mom and dad to print out their favorite pics from Instagram. (These are really cool, BTW!)

And most importantly, the kids had a blast. Now, does every playdate need a theme and goody bags and decorated juice boxes? Of course not. I am definitely not doing this for every playdate going forward! But once in awhile, it's fun to step it up a bit, right? Now and then, it's kind of nice to create a little wonder and surprise, and turn your home into your own, well, Magic Kingdom. :)

Have you guys ever thrown a themed playdate for your kids? Tell me about it below! 

Thank you to Disney for partnering with me on this post!

Monday, April 24, 2017

When Your Kid Can't Decide on a Birthday Theme (a.k.a Our Paris/Disney Descendants Party)

paris party birthday cake

paris party decor

We recently celebrated my daughter's seventh birthday (party photos coming soon!). But it was around that time that I realized that I had never posted photos of her sixth birthday. (D'oh.) But, really, the reason is simple (and stupid): The pictures were just not good. So every time I went to work on the post, I became annoyed. Unlike birthday parties past, we didn't hire a professional photographer--something I regretted immediately upon looking at the pictures--so I just kept putting the post off and putting it off. And then suddenly she was seven, and I hadn't documented my daughter's birthday simply because every photo wasn't Pinterest Perfect.

So, here I am. With my crappy iPhone pictures. And we're all just going to deal with it, okay? ;)

paris party decor
paris party

paris party ideas
paris party

If you're confused what kind of party this is by looking at the photos, you'd be forgiven for that. My daughter went back and forth between two party ideas, and in the end, announced she wanted both. So we did a mash-up of the two: Behold our "Paris and Disney Descendants Party." I'd venture to say we may be the first and only ones to do this combo.

I went with the red, white, and blue version of Paris (versus the pink macarons-and-poodles thing that you see a lot), which seemed to fit in better with the Disney stuff. I ordered instant downloads of Paris and Descendants-themed art off Etsy, then printed them out for wall decor. (I'm still planning to re-use the Paris prints in a gallery wall for her room, but considering it took me a year to do this blog post, I'll probably be doing the gallery-wall blog post--and, okay, the actual gallery wall--around the time she leaves for college.). I scattered a few cheapie Eiffel towers all around, wrapped water bottles and juice boxes in Decendants printables from Etsy, added a few red, white, and blue balloons, and propped up Paris- and Descendants-themed books that we already owned as additional decor.

I covered the tables in French flag tablecloths and scattered Eiffel Tower confetti on top. The birthday girl's outfit was a replica of a Disney Descendants "Evie" costume (sewed by my mom!), and her American Girl doll was dressed in a matching version. A giant Eiffel Tower scene on the wall doubled as a photo backdrop
paris party

disney descendants favors

And my mom made the cake! We topped it with a mini metal Eiffel tower and some super cheap plastic Descendants rings. Done and done.

For entertainment, the girls colored French-themed pictures when they first got there (I just ripped out pages from some French coloring books), and then settled in for a magician show. (The magic show certainly wasn't Disney-ish. Or French, but oh well. C'est la vie.)

The favors were my favorite part! I made little baggies with a macaron pen, a macaron lip balm, an Eiffel Tower crayon, Paris tattoos, a Descendants ring, and an Eiffel Tower sugar cookie (again, made by mom!). Tied each bag up with red, white, and blue ribbon, and voila!

(Did I mention that I was super busy around this time and ended up having to pull this all together in a week? Thank god for Amazon Prime, patron saint of slacker moms everywhere.)

All in all, despite the lazy planning, my daughter and all of her guests had a great time. And, really, what could be more magnifique than that?

So merci for allowing me to go back in time to share my seven year old's sixth birthday party. See you in a few years when I reveal pics of the bash we just threw for her seventh! (Kidding. I hope.) 

Friday, April 21, 2017

15 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

rainbow flowers
I'm obsessed with this photo by @thebelleabroad. It looks like a rainbow unicorn secret garden, but it's actually the entrance to a resturant in London! Instagram #goals.

I've been totally MIA lately and I really apologize! Been crazy busy with writing, work events, planning parties, and who knows what else. I'll have a lot of fresh content for you soon, but wanted to pop in now to share a few fun links. And it's quite a mix today! We've got cool clothes (most on sale!), must-have beauty products....annnnd the heart-wrenching story of parents emotionally abusing their kids on YouTube. (Eek.) So, yes, let's just say, today is a bit of a grab bag.

In real life, this weekend, we're laying pretty low. We have a few birthday parties and school-related events, and I've got to catch up on some work. Hoping for some good weather--but the forecast doesn't look super promising. (Spring, where are you??) Well, whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. In the meantime, here's a few great reads, clicks, and deals. Enjoy!

• One of my favorite things to wear in the spring is a breezy top and jeans. Soo...I just bought a couple of spring-y tops online at Ann Taylor, and was surprised how flattering and cute they're in person. Now they are having a 40% off sale (use code WARMUP), so I'd recommend checking them out, stat! I already own this lace-sleeved top, this blue tank, this blue ruffle shell (one my my faves--I want it in the other color now!), and this white knotted top (FYI, this one runs big. I'd recommend sizing down). And now I have my eye on this muted lavender-gray top, this pleated-shoulder blouse, and this patterned, long-sleeve top.

• Such a good deal: These adorable eyelet dresses are under $100 even before the sale. But now you can get an extra 25% off with code HOPTOIT.

• Current beauty obsession: This SPF primer from Coola. It feels weightless, really helps makeup last longer, and has SPF 30!

• I love Birks in the summer, and this studded version is like their badass, even-cooler sister. Need! 

• This white-lace dress is pricey, yes, but it's nothing short of stunning.

• How sweet and summery is this strawberry cosmetic bag?

• I've been testing this It Cosmetics concealer for the past few months, and it's definitely awesome. It's super thick, so your dark circles stand no chance. I love it!

• Have you ever tried Eggs Goldenrod? I haven't, but they sound incredible. Want to make asap!

• Easter for grownups: chocolate bunny shots.

• Dreamy braids!

• I love this story by friend Alison Brod: How I Used a FitBit to Bond With My Son. (Totally want to steal this idea and use it with my iPad-obsessed daughter!)

• Made me laugh: Ulta Releases Line of Shitty Hair Ties To Give Cheap-Ass Friends

• An 8-year-old boy and his little sister really want McDonalds, so he takes his parents' car and drives there. Best part: says he learns how to drive by watching YouTube.

• Larry David's daughter has a new online series and it's totally "Curb Your Enthusiasm" for the millennial set. And it's funny!

• Have you guys heard of the YouTube family that is basically emotionally abusing their kids (but calling them "pranks") on camera for clicks and likes? This video is hard to watch, but I'm so glad this guy exposed them. It's important to know what's out there--and I'm hoping that YouTube pulls their channel and these people are investigated. I'm actually thinking of doing a longer post to further discuss this. (Are you guys interested?) But oh my gosh: Poor, poor Cody. :(