Friday, July 21, 2017

When Your Kid Has A Portrait Session With Sweet Little Smiles Photography--and ROCKS It

child photos
photography new jersey

sweet little smiles photography
new jersey photographer

new jersey photographer
hoboken photographer
Photos above by Sweet Little Smiles Photography

child modeling

Some of you may remember when my daughter had a "modeling" job last year, posing for a class held by Shana Pangione of Sweet Little Smiles photography.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Shana asked if we'd be up for modeling for another class, and we couldn't say yes fast enough. First, Sadie loves to pose. (Seriously. Check out my Instagram for proof!) She doesn't get nervous and has so much fun when she's in front of the camera. And second, I am obsessed with Shana's work.

I love the dreamy, airy quality that her pictures have, and the way she blurs the background so heavily, so that the focus is solely on your cute kids. And she always gets the good shots! This shoot took less than ten minutes and I love every image she captured.

If you're in New Jersey or New York City and are looking to book kid's photos, a family session, or a maternity shoot, I highly recommend her. And if you're looking to get better at shooting your own kids with that fancy new camera, check out her classes for moms. Who knows--maybe my daughter will be one of your models! 

Thanks so much to Shana for another beautiful shoot. Please do think of us again, because Sadie is hooked. And really, I am, too. :)



Friday, July 14, 2017

14 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

alphafoodie
If this isn't #avocadotoastgoals, I don't know what is. Photo via the insanely amazing @alphafoodie.

Can you believe we're halfway through July? Summer is going way too fast. And of course, it's a rainy day in New York City today, so it doesn't even feel like summer. (Womp, womp.) Hopefully this weekend will be better! What are you guys up to? We're heading out to our lakehouse with some friends to hang out during the day (follow along on my Instastories!), and then I've got a lot of work to catch up on in the evenings. (My Saturday nights are lit, you guys.) Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope it's a great (sunny!) one. Here's some fun links to check out in the meantime.

• As I mentioned earlier this week, I've partnered with Grove Collaborative to offer an AWESOME deal of three Mrs. Meyers products (hand soap, lotion, and dish soap) plus a really nice ceramic sink tray for FREE with any $20 purchase. I use Grove to buy all of my cleaning and home products now (they carry really nice, natural stuff and the prices are shockingly good), so I bet you'll become hooked on the site. Or just take the free stuff and run! Ain't no shame in that game. The deal ends THIS SUNDAY July 16th, so hurry! Click here to get the free stuff.

• If you've even glanced at a blog in the last 24 hours, you know that the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is going on right now. I opted not to do a full post on it (#bloggercliche), but there are some pretty awesome deals, so I wanted to feature a couple of my favorites here. I've got my eye on these studded booties (they're under $80!), this long, slim cardigan (um, how is it only $31?!?), this blue velvet dress (so unique for date night or even a wedding--and it's $92!), these super flattering jeans (full disclosure: Amber Fillerup posted about these and said they made your legs look skinny, so now I MUST HAVE THEM), this millennial pink sweater with the prettiest sleeves ever ($45!), and this stunning Rebecca Taylor floral top paired with this gorgeous brown leather skirt.

• I started testing this It Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact foundation last week and I am hooked! I love that it's got really good coverage--my skin looks (relatively!) flawless with it on--and it comes packed with anti-aging ingredients and (hallelujah) SPF 50!

• I've also been testing this Bioeffect Volcanic Exfoliator for the past few weeks and I'm really, really into it. It's a very cool formula (a clear gel with tiny specks of black lava rocks floating in it) that's not gritty at all, but still leaves skin super soft.

• This was a really fun article to write: For Refinery 29, I talked to past male Bachelorette contestants to find out what kind of beauty and grooming stuff they did to prep for the show.

• One more from Refinery 29: I gathered some great beauty products to get you vacation-ready fast.

• As I've mentioned before, I love podcasts. So I was fascinated to find out there are people who listen to podcasts sped up 1.5x to even 3x faster, so that they can listen to them in a fraction of the time. Sounds completely crazy, but I'm also...intrigued. Have you guys done this before? I feel like I wouldn't be able to follow along if it was that fast! But now I feel like I have to try...

• This is really scary: Boxed mac n' cheese contains high levels of really bad chemicals--and even the organic stuff has them. :(

 I can definitely relate to this post: "I'm Not a Crunchy Mom Anymore."

• Loved A Beautiful Mess's tutorial on creating a family photo gallery wall--and I totally want to make one now! (Click here to pin the tutorial.)

• Gender reveals weren't really a thing when I was pregnant, but they sure are now. And I guarantee it's going to be a long time until someone tops this one.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Found four great sandals that are super comfy and cute.

• Gave my tips for staying safe while driving.

• Shared photos from my daughter's (faux!) sleepover party. (Speaking of that post, here's a fun little video of the party that I created later for Facebook.)

Have a great weekend!







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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Here's How to Get *FREE* Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Products From Grove Collaborative

grove collaborative


Have you guys heard of Grove Collaborative? I hadn't until about two months ago when a friend turned me on to a deal they were offering at the time. So, I tried them just to get the deal--and I've since become a total convert and a frequent Grove user! 

And now I'm the one who has a deal for you...

If you're not familar with Grove Collaborative, it's an online site that carries natural products for home and body, and somehow, they manage to offer these high-end, normally pricy brands at very competitive, very affordable prices. In addition to Mrs. Meyer's, they carry Method, Caldrea, Seventh Generation, Acure Organics, Jason, and many more. 

Now, no one could accuse me of being someone who loves cleaning (my husband and mom are probably cracking up at that sentence right now!), but I think we can all agree that using fancy cleaning products that smell amazing makes the job way more fun, right?

grove collaborative

Well, I love Grove so much that I partnered with them to bring you this deal, which they are only offering through July 16th. With your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative, you will get the following (full-size!) items for FREE:

• Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap

• Mrs. Meyer's Dish Soap

• Mrs. Meyer's Hand Lotion

• Grove Collaborative ceramic sink tray

• Free Shipping & a 60-day VIP trial (VIPs get free shipping on every order, free gifts, exclusive sales, and more)

The products and tray alone are a $30 value, so it's a great way to check out some really nice home products that you otherwise might never have tried!

(*FYI, if you're already a Grove Collaborative customer, you aren't eligible for the deal, but you can purchase the sink tray for 25 percent off!)
grove collaborative
You can cancel anytime, so honestly, it's worth at least placing one $20 order and getting all the free stuff! Then you can decide later whether or not you want to continue ordering through them. (That's what I planned to do when I got my deal, but I've totally stayed on and order all of my cleaning products through Grove now.)

Don't forget: This offer ends July 16th, so grab your free Mrs. Meyer's products and tray now!







Note: This is not a sponsored post and I was not paid to feature these products, however I will receive a small affiliate commission from any purchases.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The 4 Most Comfortable Sandals (Cute, Too!)

most comfortable sandals for work
Clockwise from top left: Ecco pewter 3-strap sandals, Ecco Black three-strap sandals, Teva Livia Lux Natural Sandals, Teva Nova Lux Black Sandals (on sale!)

Last summer, I was doing a ton of walking, so I was looking for a pair of sandals that was super comfortable, but still cute. Turns out, that is not an easy combo to achieve.

But I did it! I found these Tevas, which have leather straps and totally do not look like Tevas. I ended up loving them so much that I bought the same pair in tan, and alternated between the two pairs all summer long. I wore them with shorts, jeans, casual dresses, even some work clothes. I fell in love!

But then a funny thing happened. I became addicted to them! They are seriously so incredibly comfortable that they ruined me for regular sandals. I mean, I'll wear thin leather soles to go out to dinner or for a more special occasion, but for every day walking (picking up my kids, running errands, going to casual events), I am all about my comfy-as-sneakers sandals.

I've broadened my horizons this summer by adding two more comfy-cute sandals to my wardrobe--and I wanted to share them all with you.

These four sandals are--hands down--the comfiest sandals you will ever own. And they are cute as heck, too! Scoop them up--and wear them happily. 

Just don't get mad at me when you become addicted, too...

Clockwise from top left: 

1) Ecco Babette 3-Strap Sandal: This one is probably the most obviously comfy-looking of the bunch, but the metallic leather makes it so much cooler. Note: It runs small, so I'd recommend ordering a size larger than usual 

2) Ecco Soft 5 3-Strap Sandal: This one feels like you're walking on clouds. And I really think the chunky black leather straps give it an almost Alexander Wang vibe. Love wearing this one to toughen up a sundress!

3) Teva Terra-Float Livia Lux: It's almost identical to the one below, but has thicker, more intricate straps. Also comes in black and brown (and the brown is ON SALE)! 

4) Teva Terra-Float Nova Lux: This was my original foray into comfy sandals and it's still my favorite. It's so beyond comfy, surprisingly chic with the thin leather straps, and it works well with any outfit. I have it in this tan color, too. And both colors are currently ON SALE!

Which pair is your favorite? And do you have a favorite comfy-cute sandal that I have to try? If so, give me a link below and I'll check it out!







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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Here's Why You Need to Ditch Your Phone When You're Driving

distracted driving
reality rides simulator

texting and driving

distracted driving simulator


This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.

Fourth of July isn't just a day of fireworks, bomb pops, and patriotic Instagrams. I was surprised to learn recently that it also happens to be the deadliest driving day of the year. And that's not just because there are more people on the road, many of whom have had too much to drink. Distracted driving is a huge part of the problem, too.

That's why Allstate is bringing an interactive pop-up event to 50 cities across the U.S. and Canada to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving through their Reality Rides simulator.

I had a chance to try out the simulator earlier this week when the tour came to Lower Manhattan in New York City. Here's how it works: You get into a (real, stationary) car and buckle up. You're then handed a phone, and you start to "drive," following your progress on a curved LED screen behind the windshield. Suddenly, you start to get texts that you're supposed to respond to. But, just like in real life, that takes your eyes off the road, which is never a good thing. The first time I tried the simulator, I rear-ended a car stopped at a red light. The second time, I ran right into a newsstand—and a person.

Eek.

Although I'm not someone who ever texts when driving, the simulator is a good reminder just how important it is not to be that person.

Because distracted driving is scary stuff. Now, I live in a walkable city with great public transportation and really crappy parking, so I honestly don't drive very much. But when I do (usually when we go to our lakehouse on the weekends), the fact that I'm always a little "rusty" behind the wheel makes me extra careful about minimizing distractions.

So, over the years, I've developed a few rules for staying focused while driving, and I wanted to share a few of my top tips with you.

1) Don't use your phone. I mean, duh, right? This one seems obvious, I know, but so many people think they can get away with that one quick text or call. And hey, I get it. I am attached to my phone 99 percent of my waking hours. But not while I'm driving. If I get a call or a text and I can't wait until I get to my destination to answer it, I'll pull over. It's not that hard.

2) Put your phone away. It's not enough to just avoid using it. I find it helpful to physically get it out of my sight. I shut mine away in the center console (or keep it tucked in my purse on the floor of the passenger side) when I'm driving. Otherwise it's too tempting to sneak a peek at the phone if it buzzes or rings.

3) Consider Bluetooth. This allows you to make hand-free calls, so you're not looking down at your phone to dial or search for a contact. We have one of these installed in our own car, and I personally still find it a bit distracting, so I tend to keep my driving time 100-percent phone-free. But my husband definitely uses the Bluetooth. Many new cars come installed with the technology, but if yours doesn't, you can buy a kit like this one and you'll be good to go.

4) Give your kids something to do. One of the most distracting things for me is hearing my kids fighting or complaining. That's why I'm all for iPads (or books or travel games) in the car. If the kids are entertained, they're not screaming, arguing, or whining that they're bored.

So that's how I plan to stay safe this holiday weekend and every time I drive. But I'd love to hear your tips, as well. Do you guys have any strategies for staying phone-free and focused while driving? Are you sticklers for avoiding texts and calls when you're driving, too, or do you sometimes sneak? Be honest!

And of course, if you'd like to find out when Allstate's Reality Rides tour is coming to your town or if you're ready to pledge to "X the TXT" (I've done it!), visit facebook.com/XtheTXT.

Thank you to Allstate for partnering with me on this post.







 ** This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.**

Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Throw A (Faux) Sleepover Party!


Photos by Morgan Bayard


My daughter wanted a sleepover party for her 7th birthday, but I wasn't into the idea. Seven seems too young, right? Sure, I had had my own sleepover birthday parties for years when I was growing up, but 1) I think I was slightly older when I had my first one, and 2) I remember every single one devolving into an us versus them scenario with half of my friends mad at the other half--and one of those halves stamping off in the middle of the night to go sleep in another room. By breakfast time, all was usually forgiven, but did my kid really need all that drama so soon? Nope.

Around that time, my cousin happened to mention that "faux sleepovers" were really popular in her area, and it sounded like just the thing. For anyone who doesn't know what that is (I didn't), it's all of the fun of a sleepover--the pjs, the movie, the popcorn, the bonding--but none of the sleeping! Everyone leaves to go to bed at their own home. Genius! My daughter was into it; I was in love with it. Faux sleepover party, it would be.

And it ended up being the easiest party I've ever thrown! Decorations were simple. I went with a pink-and-gold color scheme and just hung a few balloons and banners. I also hung up a piece of printable art from Etsy that said "Sweet Dreams." Etsy printable wall art is one of my favorite ways to decorate for a party, because 1) It's cheap. (This one cost just a few dollars.) and 2) It can be repurposed as wall art for her room after the party. As a bonus, this Etsy artist also shrunk the art down for me, so that I could also use it as favor tags!

When it was party time, the girls arrived in their pajamas and got to work on an art project: decorating pillowcases. I bought fabric pens and cheap white pillow cases from Amazon, and the girls really loved making them. 

Next, came the movie. My daughter had chosen the new Adventures in Babysitting. (This was after we considered the original Adventures in Babysitting--one of my favorite movies back in the day--but thank god we gave it a preview watch. Thirty years later, it seems really sexist, and even racist in parts--definitely not for a seven year old. My daughter deemed it "boring" anyway.) 

And can I just stop and sing the praises of movie-watching at a party? WHY DID I NEVER THINK OF THIS BEFORE? The kids sat there quietly for 2-plus hours, while my parents and a few friends and I sat upstairs drinking wine. I'm usually running around crazy-stressed at my kids' parties, but this time I was practically bored! 

During the movie, the girls munched on popcorn topped with candy from a candy bar I had set up. (I had worried that I had bought too much candy, but the girls ate ALL of it. Many of them had more candy than popcorn. Sorry, parents.) Halfway through, we brought out pizza and they ate that while watching, too. 

(Side note: We had been worried about being able to pop enough popcorn for all of the girls at once, so we went ahead and splurged on this big, old-time-y popcorn popper. We expected we'd re-sell it after the party or something, but turns out, we use it all the time now! Weekend movie-watching popcorn has gotten a serious upgrade. The kids love it!)

I also had a hairstylist from The Glam App come to braid their hair during the movie. (She set up a chair in the room, and one by one, the girls would come up to get their braids.) This was a big hit, and I'm so glad I did it! The hairstylist even brought ribbons to weave through their braids, which was really cute.

After the movie, we had a gorgeous, sleepover-themed cake created by GoodieBox Bake Shop, and then finished up with a dance party. The girls went nuts dancing and singing. It was so cute!

Favors were pink fleece blankets tied with gold ribbon and a cute "Sweet Dreams" favor tag, along with a bag of milk and chocolate chip cookies. (My mom made the cookies!) Then, everyone left to sleep...somewhere else.

A good night, indeed.

--

So, tell me: Are these faux-sleepover parties popular where you guys live? (I've heard they're also called "Sleepunders.") I hadn't ever heard of them before, but I love them now! So smart for girls who are fascinated by sleepovers, but really too young to go to them.






VENDORS

Cake: GoodieBox Bake Shop
Happy Birthday bunting: Amazon
Pennant Bunting: Amazon
Pink fleece blankets: Amazon
Sweet Dreams printable: BlueSkyWhimsy on Etsy
Favor tags sticker printable: LilRbwKreations on Etsy
Fabric pens: Amazon
Pillowcases: Amazon
Pink plastic tablecloth: Amazon
Gold sequin table runner: Amazon
Gold star paper plates: Meri Meri
Rose-gold forks: Amazon
Pink/purple napkins: EtsyStudio
Gold candy bowls: Amazon
Popcorn boxes: Amazon
Old-time-y popcorn popper: Amazon

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

My June Favorites

1- dress (on sale!) // 2 - bag // 3 - book // 4 - art // 5 - mascara // 6 - blush // 7 - beauty blenders // 8 - toothbrush // 9 - pancake pan // 10 - chip & dip server // 11 - sunscreen // 12 - moon cheese // 13 - hand vac



There are so many fun things out there right now, and I've gathered a few of my favorites here. Some are on my personal wishlist; a few are things I already own and LOVE. Happy shopping!

1. Tory Burch dress (on sale!) - I've been stalking this dress for months now online. I didn't want to pay the full price ($400!) when it first came out, but now it's on major sale, so I think I might pull the trigger. It would be perfect for vacation, but also dinners out or even just running around the city on a hot summer day.

2. Kate Spade bag - I love a small, crossbody bag in the summer (who wants to lug around a ton of stuff in the heat?), and I'm just dying over the cute red ric rac trim on this one!

3. Do Not Become Alarmed book - I was looking for "best beach reads" online and this one kept coming up. It sounds awesome--and scary! (The premise: Two groups of parents lose their kids--eek!--while vacationing on a cruise ship.) It's been described as a page turner that you'll read in one day. SOLD.

4. "Three Crystals" framed print - The photographer Timothy Hogan shoots these really stunning close-up images of crystals. I really love the details and the colors on this one!

5. Tarte Gifted Smart Mascara - Always looking for a new mascara and this one sounds really great. (Plus, how cute is that packaging??)

6. Benefit Galifornia - Speaking of freaking-adorable packaging, this blush from Benefit could not be better looking. (The actual peachy-pink blush laced with gold is totally gorgeous on, too.)

7. Beauty Blender Summer Fling set - Just ask any makeup artist: Nothing's better for natural-looking foundation application than a Beauty Blender. And, because you know you need a new one (admit it--yours is looking gross, right?), this set of three featuring new summer colors (lime! orange!) is super tempting.

8. Phillips Sonicare Diamond Clean Toothbrush - I started using this toothbrush a few weeks ago, and my teeth have never felt or looked better. It gets them SO clean and smooth. Plus, it's rose gold!

9. Emoji Pancake Pan - This pan makes adorable emoji-shaped pancakes. I want it to seriously step up our weekend pancake game, and of course, for the Instas.

10. Melamine Chip & Dip Server - These melamine dishes look like something you'd find in your favorite Mexican restaurant and they're incredibly, surprisingly affordable. 

11. Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen - This is my favorite sunscreen right now. It's super light (feels like nothing going on and there's zero greasiness) and it smells, deliciously, like licorice.

12. Moon Cheese - My favorite snack! It's 100-percent freeze-dried CHEESE. Sounds kind of odd, I know, but it tastes like heaven. Trust me.

13. Bissel Pet Hair Eraser - I have a dog and a navy-colored velvet couch, and let me tell you, the two do not mix. I had resorted to covering my couch in blankets, but that just looked so stupid. I found this hand-held vacuum on Amazon and it's been a lifesaver. It sucks up the hair easily and quickly, and it's actually kind of fun and satisfying to use.

Do you guys have any of these things yet? If not, which ones are on your wish list now? Tell me below!







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