DIY PLAYHOUSE

DIY PLAYHOUSE
DIY PLAYHOUSE

LEAVE HER WILD

LEAVE HER WILD
LEAVE HER WILD

PHOTOGRAPHY 101

PHOTOGRAPHY 101
PHOTOGRAPHY 101

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very merry - non nightmare over Santa - filled Christmas. We will be back to this space in the New Year. Please be safe and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones!!
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This & That

Are any of you watching The Affair? This show is so good that I am rewatching the finale just to make sure there is nothing that I missed. I am so sad that I have to wait until next October for season 3!

Anyway -- Christmas week is here and I am excited to start off the activities. I decided to take the week off between Christmas and New Years and I am so looking forward to that as well. I see lots of pajamas and snuggles in my future.

Natasha found the cutest ornaments on etsy and I totally bought one and asked the shop owner to back date it.  Cause ya know - I never got a "first Christmas" ornament last year. #whoops
I think it would make a great gift for any new mama. You can find it here.
Okay I am too heavily back into The Affair so off I go! If you're not watching it you're seriously missing out!! If you did watch it sound off below!
9

Red Handed

I have never loved Christmas more than experiencing it through the eyes of my child. Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'll be placing those glass ornaments just a smidgen higher and perhaps investing in a few more plastic ones!

Happy Friday!
11

For the man in your life

I can't believe a week from today will be Christmas Eve. Our presents are wrapped and everyone is checked off my list...well except David. I don't know why I leave the most difficult to the last minute. He says he is most happy with flashlights and knives (i.e. 100% BOY) but there are only so many of those I can buy. So if you have a difficult one like I do hopefully these ideas help you.

Also worth nothing the S'Well bottle I had on yesterday's stocking stuffer list comes in larger sizes. I bought him the 45oz for his birthday and I have to say it's pretty neat - plus it can hold a whole bottle of wine. Hence why it gets double the love.


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Under $25 stocking stuffers


pencils // bling brush // whisky ball ice mold
gold dots tumbler // nylon tote // Lost Ocean
S'Well Bottle

The countdown to Christmas is on. If you haven't finished your shopping - or worse - haven't started now is the time to get on it! These are all great options under $25!
5

Scenes from the weekend

Ahh Monday - no matter how many times we tell you we hate you, you still manage to come back around. We had a pretty awesome weekend that started with zebras and ended with making over five dozen cookies. I had two photoshoots on Saturday for friends of ours and I am so pleased with how the photos turned out. Even after having an SD card fry on me - it made me all the more confident that I love this.

I could have stayed at their house all day long. You can see a small preview of the session here.

After that session I headed into the base of Mt. Diablo to snap some more photos. Those {squeal!} are some of my new favorites too!

On Sunday it was pouring rain in the morning and P and I snuggled on the couch while watching Frozen. It was perfection because as you know getting an almost 16 month old to sit still is nearly impossible. Afterwards I headed up to my parents house for our annual cookie day tradition. Between the dough and the cookies I don't even want to know how many calories I consumed today!




Hope everyone had a great weekend!
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From baby nursery to toddler nursery

Even though I am trying to fight it as long as humanly possible the truth is this - I have a toddler. A wild, crazy, sassy, full of personality toddler. I still go to bed every night and watch videos of her and look at photos of her but I am also grateful for the rest. Little lady can be a handful!

We have started to phase out some of the "baby" things in her room which got me thinking about all the things that we still find super useful. So I thought I would share those items with you all in case you were on the fence about needing it or not.

If we have anything in mass abundance in Presley's room it is books. My goodness we have so many books we could probably read a different one each night for three months. It's a little awesome and a lot insane. I have found that books and toys alike need a space to call home at the end of the day. Which is why I am fan of baskets. Easy to toss them in without thought and easy for her to get to to inevitably pull out all over again the next day.

Where we live we don't have central heat and air (ugh, I know) and as the nights grew longer and colder I was beginning to worry about P's room getting too cold at night. We have a heating wall unit in the family room but the heat is unable to reach her room. When our baby monitor was showing the room temp in the low 60s I knew we needed a solution. 

I first ordered a different space heater off the internet and thought it would do the trick. My concern with a space heater (as many people's is) was that it could catch fire. So I researched and found one with a tip-off switch - it tips, it turns off. So when it arrived in the mail and I plugged it in there was one slight issue. It was HOT. Like burn your hand hot. So off it went and back to research I went. 

That's when I discovered the Sunny CS space heater by Vornado. This is a worried parent's dream for trying to heat up a small space. Not only does it have a tip-off switch, but it comes with loads of other really neat features as well. A crib sensor (heat won't turn off until the crib reaches the desired temp), cool touch case (no burnt fingers here!) and hidden cord storage.

The highlight of the machine is how efficiently it works. Now my daughters room is not that large, maybe 11 x 11 but this mighty little machine works in minutes to start notching up the temperature. I also have no qualms about leaving it on all night. Once the desired temperature is reached it will kick into fan mode - basically making sure the room stays at your set level of warmth. Now I don't worry about P being too cold and I can rest easy at night.

With an easy to read digital display and also a nice aesthetic appeal I know we will be using this for a long time to come. One last thing worth mentioning - it comes with a five year happy parent guarantee. That's quality!

When P was a baby I didn't have a diaper pail in the nursery. I have to laugh now because at the time I thought my house is so small I can just toss it in the bathroom. I'm fairly certain I bought a diaper pail on day 12 of her being alive. What I love about this diaper pail is it never makes the room smell. Don't get me wrong - the pail STINKS when diapers are in there and we open the door to drop one in. Once it's shut though it's trapped in there.

We are strong believers in white noise and this is on 24/7. It really helps to drown out other noises and we think it's a lot nicer than sleeping in silence. Woof - that's the worst!

I had started out with another monitor but felt the screen and settings were just sort of old school. There are a couple of things I really like about this monitor aside from the WiFi connectivity - which I love when I am at work. This is one of the only monitors that displays the time! Weird right? Maybe it's because mom's and dad's everywhere want to stay in denial about what time they are waking up in the morning to take care of their baby? I also like that this shows me the temperature (which is how I knew to get my Sunny CS!) You can download an app to your phone called Hubble, to log in and see your monitor anytime. You can also view a log of wake/movement times - it's pretty neat!

P received one of these for her first birthday. It took her awhile to use it - and she still doesn't grasp that she can sit on it - but she does love it. She is constantly scooting her wheely bug (her's is a ladybug) all over our house. Good thing my dog doesn't have a tail as it would have assuredly been run over by now!

Okay this is a total fun one but we adore our custom tepee made by Courtney of Tnee's tepees. P is just starting to see how fun it is to crawl in and out of it. When I see her reading books inside of it my heart just melts. Tnee's Tepees are way better than any other tepee I have seen - yes I am including all those big name box stores.  So if you need a tepee look no further!

*I connected with Vornadobaby to review the Sunny CS heater. Always and forever opinions here are 100% my own.



14

Happy Birthday David!

Happiest of birthday's to my main squeeze! Another year around the sun (thank goodness!) We love you!!! Excited for a new year sure to be filled with fun and adventure. xoxo


5

Spreading Cheer with Minted

One of my favorite parts of the holidays is sending and receiving holiday cards. Whether it is a photo card or a handwritten note, they are all my favorite. While there are many options to choose from for each special occasion I continually depend on Minted to help me spread the cheer.

Of course design is the most important element to choose from (of which they have hundreds!) but it is the address assistant that really has my heart.  It makes me feel so much more organized than I really am and I actually use it year round to help me pull up addresses. Lazy people of the world rejoice! (did I mention it's FREE?!)
This year we stuck with our photo shoot theme and went pretty traditional with red & green. As someone who tends to stick to neutrals it was a nice change for this year and I adore how it turned out.  Easily my favorite card yet! We have received so many gorgeous foil cards this year that I have been swayed to the other side...next year that is! This years card is the simply happy holidays card - quite fitting with that big old grin!
These were some other cards that were contenders this year

merry holiday photo cards
family album photo cards
cherry merry foil-pressed holiday cards
As you can see only P made the holiday card this year. That's because David is vey anti photos - boo him. So every other year he gets out of the card. Next year won't be so easy buddy!

*I received a credit towards my holiday cards as being a part of the Savvy Sassy Moms Products Scouts. Always and forever the opinions expressed here are 100% my own.


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Take a peek...


When I go to bed at night one of the things I do is check my Nordstrom wishlist. I always put things on there and check back for when it goes on sale. So I was pretty surprised to wake up yesterday morning and find all these items were 50% off! That's an awesome sale. Weirdly it's only girl stuff though...so apologies to boy moms everywhere. I snatched up the geo print tunic and the loved sweatshirt but all these things are so adorable. Would make great presents too! I mean what Elsa loving girl is not going to love that blue sequin skirt - don't "let it go" if you know what I mean!

Did you get anything? Spill!

UPDATE:

I went and looked again this morning and even more is on sale! Check out this adorable sweater (baby size here) for your little man, these cute fair isle print leggings and this shimmer metallic dress!

Click here for all the sale pieces!

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O Christmas Tree


tree skirt (West Elm - old) similar here, here & here

This weekend was all over the place. I was so excited to already have a handful of clients for my burgeoning photography business. So off I went with rain threatening my first shoot. It was a combination of a lot of things but I basically left feeling defeated. I blame a lack of confidence on my part and some hyper children on the other! Needless to say I think this weekend was a great learning lesson. It was also a great lesson to myself that I've got this - I just need to get out of my own damn head.

Sunday I had two sessions that got cancelled due to the rain so we trekked out to find our Christmas tree. It was actually just what I needed for a reboot. We were on the hunt for a silver tip but found they were pretty hard to come by. I think the one we got is one - but who knows!

All night P was enamored with the ornaments and wooden cranberry beads and by enamored I mean pulling them off! So the bottom half of the tree is all stuffed non breakables and the top half our nicer ornaments. No way is this mama putting a gate around the tree!

Now I am cozied on the couch watching The Affair - this show is too dang good I am bummed it's almost over! Monday we meet again...

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!
9

Wow Wow Wow

First I want to say thank you so much for all your kind words yesterday. When I announced my plans to finally be serious about my photography it made me feel so vulnerable. I was literally shaking when I decided to proceed with a Facebook page & website.

I am still scared. I already have had three people contact me (my first clients!) and I am terrified that my photos won't be good enough. When people ask you to take their photos at no cost - that is one thing. But now that I have ventured to the other side well I am hoping that I meet and exceed expectations.

I've never done anything like this. I have never thought that I was talented enough at something to honestly and whole heartedly go after it. But I am really really excited.

So I want to say thank you. For every text, Facebook like, message and email. I am blown away and inspired - and it all started right here on this blog.

Thank you.


7

Laura Parker Photography

When the year comes to an end (or rather a new beginning) it always gets me thinking about the future. We make resolutions, we create goals & ultimately try to better ourselves in the new year. While I have never taken my New Year's resolutions seriously this year I am going to change that.

A couple of years ago one of my many resolutions was to learn how to shoot in manual mode. Aside from making a baby (ha!) learning how to use my camera in Manual is the only other item I was able to cross off that list. I have to be honest and say it was truly out of necessity. I found that taking photos of my newborn baby on my iPhone was just not cutting it. Especially when it came to making prints. Lightroom, the editing software David had bought me for Christmas in 2013 was just gathering dust.

I began taking photos, mostly of P, and found that I was not only enjoying the technical aspects but I was truly enjoying the whole process. From digital image to editing to print. While I am still very much an amateur in my eyes people starting reaching out to me for their own photos. Me?!

So after doing quite a few families and recently being asked to take engagement photos (what an honor!) I decided it was time to leap. Say hello...


"If you're dreams don't scare you. They are not big enough"
So here is to new adventures, growing a thick skin and changes. 2016 you're more in focus than ever! If you're a fan of my photos I would love for you to give my photography page a like! Thank you so much for your support! If you're a Bay Area resident and looking for affordable photography please don't hesitate to contact me!
26

Candid Love

As someone who loves to take photos I often find myself behind the camera as opposed to in front of the lens. I love adjusting the settings in manual to get the perfect aperture, shutter speed & ISO. I also recently started shooting in RAW which means a much larger file size but also a lot more control post production. So when I hand over the camera to my husband with the correct settings I am hoping for another great photo - this time with me in it.

We were at a gorgeous location in the open space near our house. The sun was just starting to set in that delicious "golden hour" so many photographers chase. I had already got the shot I was hoping for of P for our Christmas cards and now I just wanted some of her and me.

David snapped away and as the sun sank further into the hills we packed up and hiked back down to our car. There has to be just one in there I thought.

When I slipped the SD card into my computer everything about the pictures was beautiful. I set it up just as it should be but when I looked at the photos all I could see was me.

I could see a pooch of my stomach, roots desperately needing touch up, and one chin too many. Pres looked so adorable I was bummed I didn't look the same.
Then the more I looked at it the more I sort of loved it. I was so wrapped up in my insecurities it took me a moment to see the magic in the photo. 

I rather have some slight imperfections (that I am assured are most visible to my own harsh eye) in photos than miss moments being in them. I know when P looks at all these pictures she won't see a mom who was insecure. She will see a mama loving her baby girl more than anything in the world.

Now that's truly worth a thousand words. 


19

Thanksgiving Recap

Having off the past five days was so lovely. We spent Thanksgiving up with my in laws and Sunday I had a girls day of shopping with my mom, sister and P. I am actually feeling recharged for Monday, especially since the city will be decorated for the holidays and who can't get into that spirit? Just a few snaps from our holiday hope you had a wonderful one as well! Now excuse me I have some serious Cyber Monday shopping to do!




11

Happy Thanksgiving!

We will be taking a little break from this white space to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. I hope that you have a wonderful holiday with yours!

I may even drag out the old maternity pants just so I can eat extra helpings on Thanksgiving!

Don't forget you have until Friday to link up your sweet treat - we do hope you join us!


Happy Thanksgiving!


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Holiday Sweet Treats | Italian Christmas Cookies

Hey everyone! I hope that you have already started to feel the spirit of the holidays surround you. I can't believe Thanksgiving week is here! I have teamed up with my fellow Savvy Sassy Mom Scouts to bring you a fun holiday link up!

For the week of November 23 - 27th it's all about sweet treats so I hope you will link up a beloved recipe to share. At weeks end we will be picking some of our favorites! So throw on your apron and come join me as I make a mess in the kitchen.

I have to give a disclaimer that these cookies have an acquired taste. In total honesty if you're not a anise fan (think black licorice) then you won't like these...but there is an easy way to switch up the flavor and I'll show you down below.

These cookies remind me so much of growing up and my mom baking them in the kitchen. When David and I first started dating I went over to his grandma's house with him and what do you know just came out of the oven?

Italian Christmas Cookies.

I believe our fate was sealed.


Italian Christmas Cookies

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder

Sift dry ingredients
Cream butter and sugar
Beat in eggs and vanilla
Add dry ingredients

Knead and add flour as needed to keep dough from sticking to hands

Pinch off dough, roll in hands
Form a log and twirl into shape

Place on greased baking sheets
375 degrees 10 min

Icing

2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
2 tsp anise (you can swap the anise with clear vanilla extract)
6 tsp water
stir until creamy

Dip cookies in icing and sprinkle 

Place on wire rack to cool

Now hop on over to see what my lovely co hosts are whipping up!

Joanna of Makingmine | Julia of My Life in Transition

How to join

  • Link up your favorite holiday sweet treat by putting the URL and name of your blog post into the InLinkz widget below.
  • Visit 3-5 other blogs in the Holiday Blog Hop and leave a comment on other posts.
  • Share this Holiday Blog Hop with your friends and readers on social media using the #SavvySassyHoliday hashtag.
  • Don't forget to head over to Savvy Sassy Moms next week to link up for Week 3 which is all about Dazzling DIY (decor, gifts, etc.)!

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FriYAY!


If you're a fan of Sugar Paper scoop up these goodies online or in store at Target. 
Free shipping no brainer!

I am ready to put away the pumpkins and start spreading the cheer. I bought P a cardboard reindeer  mount (from the dollar spot at Target) and I can't wait to dress him up for Christmas. I see pom poms in his future.

I  am not looking forward to that damn elf showing up all over social media. 

We finally had to suck it up and child proof our house. Walking has opened a whole new realm of trouble. Favorites include cleaning supplies, toilet bowl water and the dog's water. 

I hope you all have an awesome weekend! I am trying to crank out the very last of my holiday shopping before the stores turn into hysteria and the shelves all go empty!

Happy Friday!





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Currently

I can't take credit for these prompts - it's all Sara.

Making // Plans with Stephanie and Caitlyn for a girls weekend in Napa for next year

Loving // the second set of photos I took of P
Waiting // on lots of Christmas presents to arrive at my office. I started early this year and I am feeling so good about that!

Wondering // what songs on Justin Beiber's album are about Selena Gomez

Drinking // Martinellis Apple Juice 

Reading // I just finished the book Waiting to be Heard: The Story of Amanda Knox - it was so good I couldn't put it down! I rented it through the Overdrive app which is pretty awesome. You link it to your library card and can check out books at no cost.

Planning // a fun link up next week with my Savvy Sassy Mom Scouts - sweet treats for the holidays! I hope you will join us!

Wanting //  a pedicure  (see also desperately needing)

Looking // through glasses that seriously need to be replaced

Listening // to a preview of Justin Beiber's album, Purpose.  

Playing // stinky feet with P. She thinks it's hilarious when I smell her feet and pretend they are smelly. 

Enjoying // being a mama

Wasting // sleep because I am browsing social media

Wishing // to win the lottery

Marveling // at how small we really are in the universe

Needing // this book for little miss 

Anticipating // Adele's new album, 25, on Friday - I totally pre-ordered that!

Smelling // Pantene - I just can't quit this cheap amazing smelling shampoo

Wearing // Pajamas

Liking // the holidays - I love this time of year!

Noticing // how much my photography has improved over the year 

Thinking // about Paul Walker and how I still miss him 

Feeling // sad now that I thought of Paul Walker - ha!

Opening // a pint of Steve's Southern Banana Pudding ice cream - so freaking good.

Watching // The Affair, the only reason I have Showtime

Don't forget today is the last day to enter our Holiday Shopping Giveaway! Good Luck!



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4 things I'm thanking my parents for

The saying really is true that more often than not life becomes full circle. I am very much aware that I had it really good as a child. I always had a roof over my head, more than enough food on the table and access to education in addition to a myriad of other things. Although I may not have realized it back then here are four things I am thanking my parents for now.

1. Giving me a curfew

Honestly my 17 year old self is kicking me for typing this but it's true. I was so mad that I had a curfew when a lot of my friends did not. I had to come home at 11pm in high school and the first summer home from college it was midnight (which the curfew in college was so lame but I digress). Thank you for making me walk my butt into our house every evening because the truth is nothing good happens after midnight  - something P will also be learning!

2. My own bedroom

I was born 9.5 years after my oldest sister and 6 years after my middle sister, making me the baby by quite a bit. I am so grateful that my parents had the means to provide us with our own space. I may have liked to share the clothes in my sisters closets but we never had to share bedrooms. I really hope that I can give my children the same luxury.

3. Letting us have a pet

We didn't get a pet until I was about 10 years old (all in part to my sister bringing her home) but I was overjoyed my parents let us keep her. Shelby was my confidant, my companion, and so many of my memories from childhood involve her.

4. My sisters

I only want two children, but part of me thinks I may attempt a third if my next child is not a girl. The reason is because I cannot imagine P growing up without a sister.  The bond of sisters is really special and irreplacable. Sure it took us years to get here but knowing I get to have them my whole life is immeasurable.
Love you, Mean it!

What is something you would say thank you for to your parents?

(Psst....go tell them!)



10

Holiday Photos & Freshly Picked Winner

This past weekend I took P to the open space and snapped some photos for our Christmas cards. I did manage to get some sweet ones but I am going to try one more time today in effort to get both her and Finn to look at the camera. I won't hold my breath.

We didn't go the family photo route this year because honestly it was just too much work/effort (tell me I am not alone on that one?) Next year maybe I can pull it together. In other news I am seriously swooning over everything she is wearing, which may be more than half the reason she is the only one on our card. Finding clothes as cute as hers is near impossible!

I can't even tell you how much Presley loves her shoes. She will cry if you take them out and don't give them to her! These Freshly Picked Let it Go moccasins are perhaps my favorite color yet. I was so excited to break them out for our holiday photos. Let's just hope her feet slow down in their growth spurts!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway - winner was chosen via rafflecopter and is listed below!

plaid pillow - similar // red pillow - old

Congrats to Lesley I will be emailing you shortly!


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