My Zara kids haul is not huge, but I love their stuff so much right now, I still had to share. Specifically, their artisan capsule collection has me dead, but I didn’t get too much from it because sometime I think I push my own monochrome style too much on my daughter, and let’s face it – babies are cute in colors!
And when I say I got these, I actually mean I sent my MIL the links for everything and told her this is what Gigi wanted for her birthday.
Holy cow. I really cannot believe that a year has come and gone so quickly. I’ll skip all the cliche mushy feelings, and just skip to the important stuff – her birthday party.
I really don’t have a ton of friends, which sadly cuts into Gigi’s friend circle. (Sorry Georgia; mom’s a loser.) So the party was all adults, but I swear I’m working on some baby friends soon! I had the Pinterest Mom Guilt (it’s real guys!) and have been planning an elaborate party and cake smash for months. I went through several themes from flamingos, swans, zoo, fiesta, to stars, and finally landed on a tea party, because it sounded easiest and cute. And my planning just really went downhill from there. The cake smash? Don’t hold your breath. 2 weeks later and that hasn’t happened yet.
I ordered the cutest tea stuff from this UK company called Party Ark. It was all really cheap, but the shipping was $20. They have the same stuff on Amazon, but it’s WAY more, so it’s still worth it to order directly from them. I mixed and matched stuff, and then bought these cute cups while I was at Target. My mom had pretty silver platters and flatware that we mixed in for serving. I got these cups, these plates, these napkins, and this treat stand.
I cook for a living, so I always feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me, to have decent food. In the end though, I nixed all the recipes I had been pinning, and made a DIY tea sandwich station. Having other people do all the work is pretty genius. I cut up bread with cookie cutters, and had chicken salad, smoked salmon, thinly cut veggies, micro-greens, and spreads. I also put out veggies, fruit, and all the typical party stuff.
The real theme of this party, was probably that I cheated in every way possible. I am slightly ashamed to say that I bought rice crispy treats from the grocery store, and dipped them in candy melts. Palmiers were purchased from Costco, and then I spent way more time than I’d like to admit on her birthday cake, which was topped with puffs and yogurt melts (I’m pretty sure I invented this idea, and I felt really proud of it.)
What I skipped:
Basically, everything. I just ran out of time! I’m in the midst of starting a new business, had family coming into town, and lots of other lame excuses. I nixed basically all decorations. My mom got flowers, and had enough pretty platters and china, that I didn’t think we needed anything else. I ran out of buttercream and time, so the mini cupcakes didn’t get done. I wanted to do a photo booth backdrop which was also neglected. I balanced it out by spending way too long on the cake, and doing ridiculous things like watercoloring signs, and personalizing treat bags of tea that nobody took. In the end though, Gigi had a great time eating tissue paper and flinging her cup, so I’ll call this first birthday partea a success!
First Birthday Partea Inspo
So if I had more money and time, I would have definitely amped it up a little, but really wtf does a one year old care? Below is some Pinterest inspo to make your party cooler than mine!
If you have children and you aren’t a total nazi when it comes to screen time, chances are you and your kids have watched at least one toy unboxing video on youtube. For those of you with social lives, the toy unboxing world is big business on youtube, and people make millions… yes millions, uploading these videos. Side note: why am I not pimping out my children making these videos yet?
Ive become quite the toy video connoisseur and consider myself well versed in all the dumb toy and ‘surprise balls’ that are on the market. Most kids toys are designed by people on acid (I’m assuming here) but there is one toy that really resonated with me. Warning to readers: I’m about to show my crazy here in a major way…
Enter LOL Dolls. “Little Outrageous Littles”….yea I know. I can feel you judging already. Shut up.
The whole idea is this mystery ball with all these layers, each layer revealing a surprise. Each doll comes with shoes, an outfit, and an accessory. They also come with a little ‘bottle’ to feed them water- thus revealing the final surprise… does your doll spit, cry, or pee? Some dolls also change color if you dunk them in cold water. This is the official site for LOL Dolls that goes way more into depth on all the different dolls…
I can feel you rolling your eyes…stop.
Yes, LOL Surprise Dolls are cute, and they have the fun surprise element, but the thing that really got me addicted was how elusive these suckers are. Finding these feels like hitting the lottery and brings me back to being a kid on the hunt for Beanie Babies. Honestly I live for the competition. I was never athletic in any way so I get all my competitive juices out through shopping. Better believe I can outshop anyone.. not joking.
My girls like these but If I’m being completely honest I like them more. I don’t actually want them per se… I just want to find them all and conquer the world of useless plastic items (thats a real title you can win right?) Ive been snagging these dolls whenever I find them and was hoping to use them as potty training incentives. So far no progress has been made on that, but I am the proud owner of an entire box of LOL Dolls I found at Toys R Us! And yes, last week I fought the urge to throw a completely stocked LOL Doll display into my Target cart.
The craziest part of all of this was I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write about this for fear I might inspire others to start looking for these. I need help.
Side note: According to this article the evil genius is planning to unveil new dolls come fall. LORD HELP ME.
Italian Meringue Macarons – I have a love/hate relationship with macarons. Of course, they’re beautiful (and delicious), but they are also touchy to make. Over-mix them, under-mix them, too much moisture, and your macarons are ruined. The perfect macaron should have a smooth, shiny surface, well-developed “feet”, and a moist center. I have had several batches of traditional French meringue macarons fail on me, and each time I was mystified as to what I did wrong. Then I discovered the Italian meringue method, and haven’t looked back since. There is an extra step of cooking your sugar before pouring it into your egg whites, but the results are worth it. The ones pictured here are from a batch I made for my friend’s baby shower. She requested “pink glittery” ones, and they turned out cute. Edible glitter isn’t quite as bad as regular glitter, as far as sticking everywhere.
As you can see from the photos, some of them still had a little bit of a bump from piping them, which means that my batter was a bit too thick and could have stood a few more folds when I was mixing them, but I would rather under-mix then over-mix,
because if you over-mix and knock out too much air and they will end up flat.
Before you start:
Make sure you have everything ready to go. Let your eggs sit out to room temperature, weigh out your ingredients, and pre-heat your oven. Line your baking sheets with a silicon mat or parchment paper. I like parchment for this, because then you can draw circles on the bottom-side to make sure your macarons are the same size, but they do come off silicone a bit easier. Read full directions first, so that you know precisely what you need to do.
2 baking sheets
parchment paper/silicone mats
fine mesh strainer
digital or candy thermometer
Piping bag and tip
150 grams almond flour
150 grams powdered sugar
55 grams + 55 grams egg whites (room temperature)
150 grams granulated sugar
50 grams water
gel food coloring (optional)
Sift almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl. Mix in 55 grams of egg whites until it forms a thick paste. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
Combine granulated sugar and water in a heavy bottomed pot, and stir until dissolved. Once it is dissolved and begins to simmer, STOP stirring it. At this point if you continue to stir, it will cause your sugar to crystallize. Cook until the sugar water reaches 244 degrees F (soft ball stage) and take off heat immediately.
When the water is almost to temperature (I usually start at about 215 or so), start whipping the remaining 55 grams of egg whites at medium speed, until they reach soft peaks. If they reach soft peaks before the sugar water hits soft ball stage, turn the speed down to low.
Turn mixer up to high, and slowly pour the sugar mixture down the side of the bowl, and whip until it forms stiff glossy peaks. If you are going to add color, do it at this time.
Fold the meringue into the almond paste, 1/3 at a time. Mix until it falls off your spatula in ribbons. The ribbons should dissolve into the batter in about 20 seconds.
Pour batter into piping bag, and pipe into small rounds (1.25″-1.5″ in diameter) and hit down on counter top once or twice to knock out some of the air bubbles, and help smooth the tops.
Rest for 30-60 minutes, until the tops dry out and a skin has formed.
Place macarons in oven (only bake one tray at a time) and turn heat down to 300˚. Bake for 15-18 minutes – until the tops don’t move away from the feet when nudged. Carefully transfer parchment paper to cooling racks to cool completely.
Once cooled, match up shells with the closest size mate and fill with your choice of buttercream, ganache, fruit curds, or jams.
That’s it… you’re done! Leave me a comment and let me know how they turned out. And especially for those of you that have had trouble with the French method, let me know how you liked the method for Italian meringue macarons!
Yes, Its risky taking fashion advice from a mom from the midwest… I realize that Minnesota is hardly a hotbed of sartorial action. However I promise you, I do my homework. These are the trends I think will be big this Spring/Summer 2017. Shopping links in pictures.
The western trend is big this year in accessories… shoes and belts with the big buckles. Small or large, I love the look of a big buckle and I think its such a fun way to add hardware and shine that isn’t jewelry to an outfit.
Get the look:
Frills and ruffles are super in right now. I was never big of frills but this year the frills are all across the board which is great since you can find the one perfect for your body type. Frills are definitely going to draw the eye to an area, so be sure that the frill/ruffle is showcasing an area of your body you are confident about.
Get the Look:
We have Gucci to blame for this trend. Floral embroidery is huge… HUGE. If you aren’t ready to slap flowers across your body I think an embroidered bag or shoe is a great way to incorporate this trend into your wardrobe.
Get the look:
This is a big trend with shoes right now, but if you are super adventurous there are some cool ways to wear metallics as well. I think shoes are the most fun way to wear metallics and not feel super conspicuous.
Get the look:
Think SUPER distressed. Some of the new silhouettes are very different so this trend may take some getting used to. One of the major players in the distressed denim game is an old favorite from my college days, the denim skirt. Thankfully its a lot longer than the skirts from back then. Fringe and asymmetry ….you want your distressing to feel haphazard and not ‘cute’. For jeans the silhouette seems to be the mom jean. High waisted, uneven hems, and cropped length are also good bets.
Get the look:
I think this is my favorite trend. The best part about an embellished shoe is its your whole outfit. Jeans, white tee, and cool shoes… BAM.. you’re set. Here are some of my favorite incarnations of the statement shoe:
Get the look:
So stripes aren’t really a new thing…. but they are big this year.
Get the look:
Bonus Trend: Mixing Patterns
This trend is really cool if you are bold enough to try it.
If you are still reading this, you deserve an award! I know my 2017 Spring Fashion Trends report was a long one, but I didn’t want to leave anything out. Coming up soon: another haul, and I review the Dyson Supersonic Dryer.
Little People Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace
So I have to admit something, I’m horrible at picking out age appropriate toys for my kids. If you have ever walked through the baby/toddler toy isle you know what I mean when I say that the toys look…. lame. It doesn’t help that my kids always gravitate towards the ‘big kid toys’ whenever we are at Target. Enter the Little People Disney Princess Musical Dancing Palace:
Our first encounter with this toy was at a family function. I couldn’t tear my girls away. I chalked it up to a classic case of ‘toys that aren’t mine are the best kind of toys’.
My mom mentioned getting the girls something for Valentines day and I mentioned that they were obsessed with the Little People Palace, but that it was most likely a fluke. I was astonished when lighting struck twice. I had two toddlers playing with The Disney Palace for hours…. HOURS. This was an amazing feat for any toy considering the average toddler attention span.
I can’t say enough good stuff about the Disney Princess Muscial Dancing Palace. If you are nicer than I am you will keep it stocked with fresh batteries. I choose not to have the sound on because I can’t handle the repetitive songs, in my opinion the only downside to this toy. We also grabbed a set of extra princesses and this Little People Cinderella’s Coach.
I have another Little People toy I will be giving the girls shortly, and if its even half the hit that the Disney Princess Palace is I will be letting you all know. I included all the links to the Little People stuff below:
So thanks to Kelsey’s generosity and the fact that we perfectly timed having a baby girl a year and a half after she had two, half of Gigi’s wardrobe is hand-me-downs from the twins. Funnily enough (wait, is funnily actually a word?), whenever we actually do buy stuff, half the time it’s stuff that Kelsey bought the girls too!
We went to Scottsdale Quarter again, because we live in Arizona, where everything is gravel-y and brown. Not the best for a baby that can’t walk yet. The no walking thing, also makes it a little difficult to photograph the entire outfit, but sometimes Georgia just isn’t that considerate of my needs.
The weather in Phoenix is all over the place, and this morning it was cold (mid- 50’s), so I put Georgia in this faux shearling Old Navy vest, which was from the twins. Her bow is from Dillard’s, which is the baby bow mecca for anyone looking! This one is nylon and super stretchy. The nylon ones from Nordstrom started leaving dents on her forehead at just a few months. (She has a really large head to hold her giant brain.)
Where to Buy:
Jersey Leggings – H&M
Sweater – Similar style Gap Kids
Vest – Old Navy (Ok since this was purchased a couple seasons ago, and it’s off-season I couldn’t find anything similar. But if anyone wants to drop a couple hundos on a real shearling vest that their baby will ruin instantaneously, then there is this one on clearance at Barney’s!)
Headband with Bow – Dillard’s
If I’m being honest ‘hauls’ are hard for me to organize. I buy constantly….little bits and pieces all the time. Ask my husband….its bad. That being said heres the items I’ve already purchased for Spring 2017.
This is the ultimate ‘statement’ bag. Its giving major Chanel vibes with the tweed and the chain strap. Theres a subtle metallic silver woven into the tweed, and the denim color is gorgeous… its just amazing. All for a mere $40. Comes in a cream and black color way as well.
I know what you are thinking… ‘Its not even March yet Kelsey…CHILL’.
Well I can’t chill… in general.. BUT I also know that stores run out of holiday stuff fast and usually don’t replenish. Most of the good stuff isn’t available for purchase online. Plus, if you are planning on doing a basket and filling eggs you are going to need even more supplies. So drop what you are doing and head to the store for your own Easter basket haul… after you finish reading this post.
I think I’ve mentioned this earlier but we try not to do lots of sugar in holiday baskets…we meaning my husband (sorry hun I know I’m addicted to chocolate). I’ve made several promises to him that although I may be a goner, I will do my best not to raise my girls to be chocoholics. Yes, its sort of a pain to not include treats but it opens up the door to get creative.. So lets tackle the basket:
These baskets are from Homegoods. FREAKING LOVE HOMEGOODS. I know the Pottery Barn ones are cuter but I have a trick I’ll show you later pertaining to baskets. And I’m sorry, I just don’t see the value in a $100 basket…These ones were $12.99. Baskets are baskets people.
Ok toddler style – I’m back for another OOTD. We went and visited Amys Cupcake Shoppe in downtown Hopkins, and if you are local to the Minneapolis area… GO! I can’t say enough nice stuff about this place. The cupcakes are awesome, and I’m a tough critic… I usually hate the cupcake places people rave about ( I like to be difficult to please… obviously). I swear I have the unique ability to taste preservatives/chemicals in baked goods from miles away, Amy’s passed this test with flying colors. The best part about Amy’s is this cute play area. I had only planned to stop and pick some treats up to bring home… but as you can see from the pictures that wasn’t gonna happen. Apparently play kitchens are way more fun if they aren’t at your house.
I’m really feeling floral embroidery and bombers… and since I can’t find adult versions for myself I’ve chosen to live vicariously through my children.