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Live the Fancy Life coffee date

Sometimes on Mondays and Fridays, I’m going to be writing a post called “A coffee date” in 2015 and it’s going to be casual and random. Super random. It’s going to be like you stepped into my home and we are just chatting about whatever. Today begins this new feature.

Live the Fancy Life coffee date

And today’s topic is something I’ve been wanting to share for a while, but it felt random. This is the perfect little forum. Grab a cup of coffee (oh how I wish I could actually get you a big mug of coffee with whip cream and sprinkles). Today I’d like to introduce you to a few members of my blog tribe. These are half of the women who have become my closest confidants in the blogging world (and often in my personal life too) and women who run some amazing sites.

Live the Fancy Life coffee date

Did you know there’s an underground world of blog groups that chat, support each other and more? This is something I knew nothing about until Sharon hooked me up two years ago. Eye opening! Mind blowing!  Read More »


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Our holiday home and a white fireplace mantel

Grab a cup of coffee and get cozy on the sofa. I have some fun images of our family room to share today. And there are a lot of them! And since I know you will ask, here are all of the shopping resources.

Fireplace shopping resources: Pom pom garland | Customized stockings | Geometric candle holders | Birch bark wreath | White lantern | Whitewashed ladder | Monogrammed blanket | Wicker basket (similar) | Deer (similar) | Bottle brush trees

Tree and entertainment center shopping: Walnut entertainment center  (ours was actually purchased at Room & Board Outlet | Peace sign (Joann Fabrics) | White animal ornaments and here  | White curtains | Tree skirt Cloud garland on tree

Furniture: Sofa | Rug | Lamps (LOVE THESE SO MUCH!) | Tray table

Our family room and our holiday home

Our family room is nearly complete. We had some measurement issues so we are now waiting on two sweet chairs, an ottoman, a side table and a few little things. The room is simple but OH SO comfortable!

Our family room and our holiday home

We just wrapped up our Very Merry Cocktail party and it was SO much fun! But I’m looking forward to enjoying some last-minute Christmas shopping, time with my boys and a few sweet nights at home in the next few days after we’ve all been sick this entire week.

Our holiday home

I’m excited to add some color in with pillows and other accessories, but I love the bright neutral coziness.

Our holiday home and a white fireplace mantel

Today, I’m SO excited to share images of our home decorated simply for the holidays. Let’s start with our mantel. For the first time in years, I actually really love how things turned out. I’ve been slowly collecting things I’ve loved for years now and it’s feeling really complete.

Our holiday home and a white fireplace mantel

Our holiday home and a white fireplace mantel Read More »


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Our holiday home family room tree

It is well into the holiday season. We just wrapped up our Very Merry Cocktail Party and we’re preparing to host Christmas next week with our families. I’m SO excited to take Bodhi shopping to pick out gifts for his grandparents, his daddy and brother this week. He really wants to use his own money from his piggy bank.

Today I’m sharing a few of my favorite Christmas items for kids. I try to buy one really nice holiday decorating thing each year. Last year we splurged on a 9-foot tall tree. We stick with artificial due to two very sneaky and curious cats who will eat the needles from real trees and oddly, leave the faux trees alone. This year we splurged on an advent calendar.

Amazing holiday decor items for families with kids

Tree rattle | Santa is coming to Minnesota book or if you’re from anywhere else, try this link. Read More »


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HD Kindle Fire Kids edition

With holiday travel taking place for many families and the anniversary of our big trip to Sri Lanka coming up, I thought that revisiting our trip a bit and talking about travel with children would be helpful. Let’s start with a photo of Bodhi sleeping peacefully on my hubby’s shoulder at a tea plantation in Sri Lanka. Awww… He’s already so much bigger.

Sri Lanka 2014. B sleeping at a tea factory.

Last year when we traveled to Sri Lanka with Bodhi, we knew we had to bring a huge variety of activities, snacks and more to keep a 2-year-old occupied for 30+ hours of travel each way. At that point, we hadn’t been big on screen time. He rarely watched TV, never played with a tablet or our phones and really just used books and puzzles as activities at restaurants and more.

HD Kindle Fire Kids edition (3 of 7)

The Amazon Fire HD Kids Edition tablet is the perfect option for travel. And would make a great gift for kids. I LOVE the book options on the tablet. Bodhi is a huge fan of being read to, but it’s nice that this tablet will read to your kids in many of the stories and it’s a much lighter option that lugging along his five favorite books.

HD Kindle Fire Kids edition (6 of 7)

Despite best intentions, sometimes kids break things. Amazon launched the Fire HD Kids Edition, a tablet that comes with the first ever 2-year worry-free guarantee. That means if anything happens, send the device back and they’ll replace it for free – no questions asked. And this isn’t a toy – it’s a full-fledged tablet. The Kids Edition features a quad-core processor, a vivid HD display, front- and rear-facing cameras and Dolby Digital audio. Read More »


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MOP_8093

We had our family lifestyle session at home with Melissa Oholendt Photography on Sunday. Melissa is amazing in so many ways and makes the photography sessions very stress-free with no expectations. She somehow magically finds these little moments of perfection amidst the chaos that is life with two children, especially when my 3-year-old is hyped up on a gingerbread cookie and my normally very smiley baby is a grump. I digress. Clearly not over it yet. Today, I wanted to share my two secret weapons that help me feel photo and party ready even with my baby weight still hanging on.

Christmas family photo session at home

With the holiday season in full swing, our cocktail party coming soon and more, I have two big secrets for getting camera or party-ready. So mysterious, right? ;)

Secret #1

I started using Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips not that long ago and while I haven’t used the entire package, I’ve seen a noticeable difference in my teeth. It feels so good to slowly see improvements and I feel much more comfortable smiling a full blown natural smile. My teeth weren’t terribly discolored, but I drink a lot of coffee, so I’m sure they were slightly stained. I also know that we are all our own worst critic, but there is something magical and wonderful about having a sparkling smile for the holidays and all year long.

Crest Whitestrips make smiles sparkle for the holidays #CrestSupreme

Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips at Target make perfect stocking stuffers for your husband, wife, partner, mom who loves coffee as much as you, or if you’re like me and fill your own stocking, for yourself. Crest’s best whitening system gives you professional results for a flawless holiday smile–right at home.

Crest Whitestrips make smiles sparkle for the holidays #CrestSupreme

My cousin is a dental hygienist and I asked her months ago for recommendations on going in for a professional whitening and she recommended just using white strips. That’s what she does and she literally has the most beautiful perfect smile (yes, that’ you Erin!). Don’t waste your gift-giving budget on $500 professional whitening treatments when Crest 3D White Whitestrips Professional Effects is just as effective. Get $7 off your purchase of Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips at Target.com. 

Secret #2 

This one is a little embarrassing to admit. Are you ready for it?

I typically pay to have my make-up professionally done for photos. Investing in photos is a big deal to me and a long time ago I worked with a friend who is an amazing photographer. She told me that the difference between women with and without professional makeup is dramatic for a number of reasons. First, if you feel confident, you’re more likely to look natural and beautiful in the photos. You will act like yourself and not worry so much about things you consider to be flaws. You are also way more likely to like the photos and not just dislike them because of something that you don’t like about yourself.

Second, professional makeup photographs better. It’s that simple.

While paying for makeup is an investment, photos are a much bigger investment. It’s worth every penny for me. And you can go really natural. I always ask the makeup artist to make sure I still look like me, just a little better.

Do you have any dirty little secrets to get yourself photo-ready?

Get photo or holiday-party ready with Crest 3D White Luxe Supreme FlexFit Whitestrips at Target.

Top two photos by Melissa Oholendt Photography.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


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Roasted Red Pepper and Olive tapenade with cream cheese spread on crusty baguette Mezzetta Memories

Thanks to Mezzetta for sponsoring today’s recipe and post. Be sure to enter the Daily Gift Basket Giveaway with Mezzetta.

I am 100% in the holiday spirit right now. Our halls are decked. Really really decked. Many gifts are bought and now it’s time to enjoy traditions with family and friends. We start our holiday season off this Saturday with our Very Merry Cocktail Party with friends. It’s a great way for us to catch up with friends, old and new, since many people stay inside all winter long. I also can’t wait to host our families for the holidays.

With the holiday season in full swing, I love to have ingredients around for quick and easy appetizers that I can whip up on short notice, whether it’s for a more formal party or a quick last-minute get-together with friends or neighbors. Today I’m sharing the easiest appetizer recipe and it is delicious. This olive tapenade with roasted red peppers is salty and fantastic with whipped cream cheese spread on a crusty baguette. The best part is that with the exception of having a lemon around, everything else is a non-perishable that you can have on hand.

Roasted Red Pepper and Olive tapenade with cream cheese spread on crusty baguette Mezzetta Memories

As a kid, I loved the more casual feeling of Christmas Eve. Our family, still to this day, does a meal of appetizers on Christmas Eve and a larger main dish meal on Christmas Day. Delicious french bread or a baguette is always a great base for a hearty appetizer and is sort of a comfort food even when it’s finished with something a bit more interesting such as this delicious tapenade. Having appetizers, decorating a Gingerbread house and opening a few gifts by the Christmas tree is our typical Christmas Eve tradition. Appetizers make it fun to enjoy the evening without a formal sit-down meal.

Mezzetta Memories holiday (5 of 7)

While we already have our menu set for our Very Merry Cocktail Party on Saturday, this appetizer would be such a great option. It’s easy, can be made ahead of time and is a perfect single serve item that people can grab off a tray and enjoy.  Read More »


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Last time we chatted about money with SunTrust Bank was just before Thanksgiving, but now we’re well into the season of spending. Our family has made some fun changes this year including doing a “white elephant” exchange instead of a gift exchange, adopted a few families instead of buying gifts for each other and more. These changes will definitely help all of us enjoy the holiday season in a more meaningful way.

Meaningful within your means

Sometimes staying on budget, even when following SunTrust’s holiday budget sheet is hard. Unexpected things come up. Or you spend more on someone than you planned for a variety of reasons. For me, I’ve spent more on a few things out of the need to order online right away. I probably could’ve waited for a sale, but I’m trying to get things done to avoid feeling stressed.

SunTrust Bank has created a Holiday Planning Guide of ideas and advice to help make your holiday meaningful within your means. My favorite thing is their list of steps to take to avoid breaking the bank. Read More »


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Live the Fancy Life Gift guide Gifts for babies who are 3 to 9 months oldWhile baby stuff is THE ABSOLUTE CUTEST, I find it best to stick to practical items that are slightly fun or I buy up a size or age since Ezra will have no idea he is receiving gifts. I put together a gift guide that is based on the things I’m buying or asking for this year for Ezra. I’d only add this sweet chair to the list because Bodhi still uses his and I even fit in it for story time at night. Definitely go with the oversized version.

OK, where were we? Back to our gift guide for babies ages three to nine months. Enjoy!

Tummy time mirror
We love this one by Manhattan Toy Company, but this Skip Hop version is pretty great too.

Textured ball set for baby
Ezra is all about the texture lately. He loves touching things with his fingers and of course, putting everything in his mouth.

Minnetonka Moccasins for baby
I know that Freshly Picked moccs are all the rage for babies right now and we do own a pair we picked up during a sale, but I LOVE the classic look and the much more approachable price tag of Minnetonka Moccasins. These come in three colors and seem really practical for small babies! This gift is a bit more for mom and dad, but babies don’t know the difference anyway and I think most parents agree that toys are not a great investment most of the time.

Haba swing
For a larger gift, this swing is great. It can, apparently, hold up to a 60-pound child which could potentially bring you to age 5 or so. Some reviewers say that baby will outgrow it by the size of their middle a bit sooner, but a fun gift, nonetheless. I also love this “air fairy” version which is available on Amazon Prime.

Wood teething toys
Ezra wants EVERYTHING in his mouth right now and I like to keep these in several places throughout the house to keep him occupied.

Other safe teething toys
I love Lifefactory teething rings and there are so many other great options out there including the ridiculously popular Sophie the Giraffe.

Baby Paper
This stuff is so simple and so fun. I’ve seen DIY options as well, but if you’re keeping the holidays simple like we are, just buy it. It would be a great stocking stuffer or regular gift.

Anything from The Land of Nod’s baby toys section. Seriously. Anything! :)

Again, I feel like I could go on and on. I may do a second “gifts for baby” guide soon.

Affiliate links included. 


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8 Easy and affordable holiday traditions you can start today

I’m all about living a beautiful and creative life, but I’m also a big fan of making life fun, manageable and practical.

golden light under the Christmas tree

So, I know you can peruse Pinterest and find loads of ideas for holiday traditions to start with your kids. And a lot of them are good. Really really good. But sometimes it’s nice to keep life simple, right?

8 Easy and affordable holiday traditions you can start today

While we are doing a couple of semi-elaborate things, I’m trying to start traditions that are easy and manageable for me to continue year after year. And even these simple traditions will feel magical for most kids. Read More »


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Very Merry Cocktail Party Beaujolais bar (5 of 9)

Our very merry cocktail party is coming up quickly.  I’m excited to be working with Georges Duboeuf and One2One Network on this sponsored postThis year we are including a lovely little Beaujolais bar with Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau.

Very Merry Cocktail Party Beaujolais bar (8 of 9)

It was easy to put together the Beaujolais bar since the bottle is filled with fun and festive colors to play off of. For our very merry cocktail party this year, we are using a color palette of red, minty blue/green, white and grey. It’s a fresh look that goes well with our home decor and looks lovely with the bottle.

Very Merry Cocktail Party Beaujolais bar (4 of 9)

We planned a fun menu this year for the party. I don’t want to share too much in case my guests are reading, but I will say that cheese is a great food to pair with Beaujolais. For cheese, anything goes except strongly flavored or heavily aged cheeses. Beaujolais Nouveau is all about experiencing life’s simple pleasures and nature’s seasonal gifts.

Very Merry Cocktail Party Beaujolais bar (6 of 9)

Beaujolais Nouveau’s flavorful, vibrant berry notes and silky palate can be enjoyed on its own or paired with your favorite foods. Enjoy it slightly chilled and always with good friends and family. And a party is never complete without a party favor for our amazing guests who we are so grateful to have in our lives. Read More »