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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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

I Tried The Aveda Invati Hair Thickening System {Plus, A Giveaway!}

In partnership with Aveda.



photos by Raquel Bianca Photography
Last month, I told you about my post-partum hair thinning, and how the hair on my head basically revolted after having my second kid (yes, that innocent-looking little boy above!). I also told you how I was going to be testing out Aveda's Invati system to try and bring my hair back to life.

A reminder: Invati is a three-step system containing a shampoo, a conditioner (there are two types: regular or intensive), and a leave-in spray. So, I've been using the Exfoliating Shampoo, which removes pore-clogging sebum and product residue; the Thickening Intensive Conditioner, which helps thicken and prevent breakage (it also moisturizes like crazy); and the Scalp Revitalizer, which features an Ayuveric blend and stimulates the scalp with massage. 

Well, I've been using it for several weeks now and I'm ready with my report: I do notice a difference. My hair feels noticeably thicker, and when I look at these photos now, I feel like it really looks fuller, too! The immediate benefits of the product are the real deal--your hair will feel much "bulkier" even the very first time you use it. Mine definitely did. But I'm starting to notice some other benefits, too, which is cool. For one, my hair seems to be breaking less easily, which means I'm losing less hair when I style, so BIG PLUS there! 

I also really appreciate that there is nothing gross or medicinal about the line. Products of this nature aren't typically accused of being super appealing, but these really are. Everything smells awesome (they have that great, herbal, "Aveda" smell) and feels good going on. Even the leave-in (which, truth be told, I was nervous about) is nice. It's very light and feels cooling and kind of refreshing--it's not heavy or slimy or anything like that. I also really like that all three products also come in adorable travel-size bottles (that's them in my "what's in my makeup bag" pic above). It's great because you can totally take them to the gym or on vacation and not miss any precious hair-thickening, scalp-stimulating time. 

Anyway, I'm very excited to keep using the line and see where my hair goes from here. Stay tuned...

So, would you like to try it now, too? Well, you're in luck! Once again, I've partnered with Aveda to give away five complete, full-size sets of all three products, valued at $123. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and good luck!
Thank you to Aveda for sponsoring this post.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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!)







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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." 

...is 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.)

...is 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.