Best of the Beach {Mama + Mini}

This post is sponsored by Aveeno®. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I only partner with brands that I truly love. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

We returned this weekend from Charleston and it was hands-down one of our most memorable vacations. I can’t wait to share with you all of my recommendation for the charming city of Charleston! Today I thought it would be fun to share a few of our favorite items that we took with us to the Isle of Palms beach everyday!

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Of course a cute swimsuit, floppy hat, and pink sunnies were a must, but I want to share about the sunscreen we fell in love with this trip too! We were sent the Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection Sensitive Skin Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50 to try and I can honestly say we are obsessed with this sunscreen. I love to use the Aveeno cleanser and lotion products on myself so I was really excited to try out their sunscreen.

The first thing I loved about it was that it’s a thicker sunscreen, not runny like most. It was quick and easy to rub into the girls’ skin without leaving a white residue.

A couple other things I love about the Aveeno sunscreen is that it provides broad spectrum protection from UVB & UVA rays, and is formulated with oat to help lock in moisture and sooth delicate skin. The sunscreen is also tear-free, water resistant for 80 minutes, hypoallergenic, and does not contain any dyes, parabens, phthalates, or fragrance.

my swimsuit / her swimsuit

Do you have any upcoming trips to the beach? I hope you can add a few of these favorites to your beach list!

Gifts for Mom

Can you believe it’s already May?!? The month of May is definitely a favorite with Mother’s Day AND our anniversary– celebrating NINE years this month!!! We also have lots of fun trips coming up that we are looking forward to, including a trip to the beach next week! This trip is much needed after watching the snow fall again today. Yes, snow in May…

I thought it would be fun to share a few favorite things I found when shopping for my Mom and MIL (annnnnd possibly a few things I found for myself). Enjoy!

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Have a great rest of your week!

XO

A Party Animal Party

I can’t believe that my sweet Emery is TWO! I had the most fun planning her birthday party this year with the theme, “party animals”! I couldn’t have thought up a better one for her as she loves ALL animals and truly is my little “party animal”.

For her birthday I decided to have the party in the morning for a few reasons.

Reason 1: nap time – I have always planned an afternoon birthday party for the girls and kick myself every time as I realize that it’s right during their nap time, as well as other kids who attend the party. Most families show up late because their child was sleeping or leave early so their child can go nap. So this year I thought, “why not have it in the morning so kids don’t have to miss their nap!?”

Reason 2: a morning birthday party means breakfast/brunch. And honestly that is Emery’s favorite meal of the day so it seemed fitting for her party.

Chicken & waffles were a huge hit! I just stuck frozen Belgian waffles in the oven and ordered a tray of chicken from Chick- fil-a!

milk glasses / straws

When Emery’s friends arrived, they picked out a party hat to decorate however they would like! To make the party hats, I covered regular party hats from Target with kraft paper and hot glued a colored pom-pom on top made by Apricot Polka Dot. I laid out ribbon, stickers, markers, and washi tape for our guests to decorate their party hat! I then ordered these animal masks that they could wear it with their party hat!

I used this tutorial to make the party hats for the plastic animals!

For the party favors, I filled mason jars with animal crackers and printed out these tags to tie around the lid!

animal heads / woolie ball garland / felt party hats

Party Details:

 animal heads

woolie ball garland

honeycomb decor

straws 

 paper plates

pom-poms for party hats

felt party hats on animals 

plastic animals 

A huge thank you to my friend Mel, who made the amazing cake! She has made all of the girls’ birthday cakes and we joke that she is in it until their wedding day cake!

Happy Birthday Emery Jane! You are the silliest, sassiest and sweetest little girl and we are so blessed to have you in our lives. We love you to the moon!

Spinach & Bacon Quiche

For Christmas morning I made this quiche and it was so good that I have been making it frequently on weekend mornings. With Easter this weekend, I thought it would be a good recipe to share if you are still trying to decide what to make for brunch. My plan is to make them Saturday and re-warm on Sunday since the hustle will be real that morning with an Easter egg hunt, getting dressed, and out the door to church. While the quiche is best straight from the oven, it still tastes great re-warmed!

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cup half-and-half or milk

2 cups packed freshly chopped spinach

1 pound bacon cooked and crumbled

3/4 cup swiss cheese

1/2 cup cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust

(optional) 1 tablespoon chopped onion

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender.

Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set. Cut into wedges and serve!

egg board//rolling pin//russet measuring cups//nut bowl

p.s. all four of the items listed above are 20% today with code (discount reflected at checkout)

What are your plans on Easter Sunday? Do you plan on making brunch or going out to eat?

Have a great week!

Easter Basket Favorites

Easter is just right around the corner and I finally finished the girls’ Easter baskets. I thought I would share a few of the favorites I found this year to fill their baskets!

1  // 2 // 3 // 4 //5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Next week I am going to attempt dying eggs with the girls using natural food dyes. Here is a little inspiration I have found from Pinterest. I will let you know how it goes. I can only envision little hands stained pink and my kitchen also looking like a dyed easter egg.

Images via Pinterest

I’ll be pinning more Easter ideas so come follow me here! I am also planning on using these rose gold storage baskets for the girls’ Easter baskets! They are the perfect size and I plan on using them for book and toy storage when Easter is over! Hope you are having a great week!

A Toddler Diaper Bag

I recently cleaned out my diaper bag and realized that things like pacifiers, 200 bibs, stale baby puffs, and teethings rings probably weren’t needed anymore. (Cue the tears)  The girls are only 21 months apart so I feel like I have always been packing a diaper bag for a baby. With Emery turning two next week, I can officially say that we are now packing a toddler diaper bag. And soon, very soon, I may not even need to pack diapers. So while repacking my bag, I thought it would be fun to share what I have found handy in our current toddler diaper bag.

Fawn Design diaper bag – Hands down the best diaper bag EVER. Loving the new spring colors, especially this color “bloom”!

Tote Savvy diaper bag insert – fits in just about any bag I own to add more pockets for organization

Annie’s Fruit Snacks & Pure Growth Organic Snacks – these snacks are our current favs to pack!

Ello water bottles for kids –  I love the size of these water bottles as it carries just enough water to get us through our errands. It is an open spout so Emery is still learning how to drink from it but is getting the hang of it without too many spills. This water bottle is also perfect for helping littles learn how to drink from a cup as well! It also locks which is helpful too!

sunglasses – These Anthropologie sunnies are a new favorite pair–and they are cheap!

Ready for Anything Pouch – this awesome little pouch can hold your cell, credit cards, lip gloss, check book, pen, etc.– honestly it’s a mom’s dream come true. If I am shopping sans kids, it’s nice to just run in with this so I don’t have to carry a huge bag in.

Spotted Zippered Pouch – Gimme ALL the cute pouches. A toddler diaper necessity.

Gotta Go Buffalo – cutest book ever. I love to always pack a small board book and switch it out for a new one every couple weeks. Books can usually buy me some extra time if we are somewhere with a wait like the  doctor’s office.

Tegu Magnetic Blocks – an easy and entertaining toy to pack.

Parasol Diapers – These have been a recent find but I am loving how absorbent they are and the most adorable prints!

Water Pure Wipes – I use wipes for more than just a diaper change– messy faces, spills, sticky hands, etc. These wipes are COMPLETELY chemical free, 99.9% water and .01% citrus extract. And I may add the softest wipes I have ever had experience with. These are wipes I don’t think twice about using to wipe messy faces or hands.

Tubby Todd Dream Cream – We live in a climate where we are constantly having to moisturize our hands. This dream cream is a favorite to pack for them and myself.

Gathre Changing Mat – the BEST leather changing mat ever! And this new floral print?!? LOVE!

I hope you can find some new favorites to pack in your diaper bag from this list!

What are you currently packing in your diaper bag??

Toddler Travel Tips

1. Senny Books: We had a three hour flight recently and this Senny Book kept Emery (who is almost 2) occupied for most of the flight. This little busy/quiet book is a MAJOR win for our upcoming trips this summer. A Senny Book is a book made out of different textured fabric and other materials such as buttons, snaps, and zippers to help your child develop their gross and fine motor skills. This sensory toy is also perfect for working on color recognition, cognitive skills and imagination. My girls love the garden page in their book where they can pick the veggies and put them in the basket. It’s the perfect travel size and weighs almost absolutely nothing– so easy to pack for traveling.

2. Dr. Pops suckers: I almost always have a sucker in my bag for “emergencies” when we are out and about. If I can tell that one of the girls is on their last leg, and about to completely lose it–a sucker seems to always save the day. When we fly, I usually just have the girls take drinks from their sippy cups during take-off and landing to help with their ears and the changing altitude, but sometimes they aren’t thirsty so I offer them a sucker to help with this. I recently found these little tricky pops that the girls still love even though they don’t know they are actually good for them. They are all natural, with no artificial colors or flavors, and no preservatives or sugar. Made with real honey & eucalyptus oil AND they give them a daily dose of vitamin C while helping their immune systems.
3. Babyganics antibacterial travel wipes: I really try to keep the girls hands germ free as much as possible while traveling. Aiports just gross me out, especially this time of year when every sickness out there seems to be circulating. When we get our seats on the plane, my husband and I always make sure to wipe down our seats, trays in front of us, back of seat–pretty much anywhere we think that the girls might touch during the flight. These wipes are antibacterial, safe for kids, and awesome for just clean-ups too. On our last trip, there were multiple times that restrooms were out of soap, so I was thankful to have these to wipe their hands until we could actually get to a sink with soap.

4.play wallet: I saw this idea on Pinterest about a year ago and we still take these wallets with us when traveling. I found clearance wallets at Target for the girls, or the one I linked on Amazon is only like $10. I filled the girls wallets with old club cards, empty gift cards, and play money. Emery especially loves to take the cards all out and put them in different slots and Adelyn just begs her dad to give her real “dolla” to put in hers. Easy to pack and easy entertainment.

5. Snacks are a must when going anywhere with kids. I buy different things every time we travel, but always take fruits snacks–never forget the fruits snacks. I typically try to buy items that won’t get too sticky, are easy to clean, somewhat healthy and filling, and maybe contain a little protein. I found a few that I have bought on Amazon from our past trips which are all linked here: Pure Organic banana and strawberry sandwiches, dried apple crisps, almond butter packets, Bobo’s Oat Bars, dried coconut chips, fruit/veggie packets, variety nut packets, and fruit snacks.

6. When we travel, I always make a trip to the dollar store before to buy cheap toys that will entertain them during the trip but can be thrown away when we get home. I have recently found a few great small travel toys on Amazon that we pack in the girls’ backpacks each time we go on a trip: tangle fidget toys, doodle pro clip on, baby travel flash cards, scratch art on-the-go, reusable puffy mermaid sticker set,

7. Ziplocks are such a lifesaver when traveling with kids. I pack all of their outfits in gallon sized ziplocks so that I can just grab a bag for each day from our suitcase. I also use the ziplocks in my carry-on bag to separate different items so they can be reached easily. One bag with diapers, wipes, and changing pad, another with all the snacks/suckers, one with antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizer, chapstick, comb, and pony tail holders, and the last one with their toys. I also pack a few extra bags for dirty diapers to be thrown away in, if one of the girls didn’t finish their snack or breakfast, or if we need to collect trash.

I hope you can find a few of these items helpful for your next trip! What tips do you have for traveling with kids?

Family Travel Guide: Asheville, NC

We recently took a family trip to the south to visit my husband’s brother in Knoxville, TN. It was a jammed packed week of seeing lots of new places as we traveled to three different states and stayed in four different places–but we had the greatest vacation as a family. We flew into Atlanta as we found cheap flights and drove up to Knoxville where we stayed with Garth’s family for a couple days.

After just a few days in Knoxville, we then drove up to Sevierville, TN to stay a night at the Wilderness at the Smokies,  an indoor waterpark. We couldn’t believe all the things that Sevierville offered for families to do and will definitely be making a trip back when the girls are older. You can see all the attractions here. Before making it to Sevierville, we drove up to Cades Cove to explore as well and it was incredible. I can only imagine what it looks like in the summer. Daffodills were just starting to bloom and the rolling hills were beginning to turn green. As we drove through we saw turkeys and deer, but in the summer it’s very common to see lots of black bears. Cades Cove is in the Smokey Mountains so the scenery is beautiful and it was once home to numerous settlers who’s homes and churches are still standing. These are all open to the public to explore inside which was so neat to see these incredible structures dating all the way back to the 1800’s. Also, if you are in Sevierville, please do yourself a favor (if you love Mexican food) and eat at El Paso. Please. It was hands down some of the best Mexican food we have ever eaten.

Where to Stay

Once in Asheville the next day, we checked in early afternoon to our hotel and made some dinner reservations for the evening. We stayed on the Biltmore estate at hotel called the Village and would highly recommend this place for families. It was just built a little over a year ago, so everything was very new and clean. The Village had such a neat atmosphere with a modern farmhouse feel throughout the hotel and rooms. White barn doors to the bathroom, a trendy coffee shop called “The Kitchen”, and an actual farm on the hotel property were just a few of my favorite things. It was walking distance to shopping, an ice cream shop, and even a winery. Our stay also included breakfast at their restaurant, and I am still dreaming about their pecan waffles–so good! If you stay at a hotel on the Biltmore property, you also get free admission your entire stay to the Biltmore which can save you quite a bit because I believe tickets run about $50 a person (lower for children).

The Biltmore

Most of our stay in Asheville was experiencing The Biltmore. If you aren’t familiar with The Biltmore, it was George Vanderbilt’s 8,000-acre estate–the largest home built in America with over 250 rooms. It is spectacular and is something that I believe everyone should see sometime in their life. It reminds me of chateau’s that I visited in France so it gave me a major travel-bug to go back to Europe soon. Come to find out through the tours that the Biltmore was actually modeled after French Renaissance chateaus and they brought workers from Europe to build it.

We had unlimited passes to the Biltmore because we stayed in the Village on the property, so we did the self-guided tour when we arrived. There is also audio tours available which I would love to do next time but with the girls, we knew our time around the Biltmore had to be quick in order for us to avoid any possible melt-downs. Once we walked through the Biltmore, we did the rooftop tour which was also included with our stay at the hotel– or the cost was $19 per person. Again, another reason to stay on the Biltmore property because it does include one free tour of choice. We loved the rooftop tour as it took you places that you couldn’t get to if you didn’t take the tour. It took us out on private balconies and even the attic of the Biltmore. It was quick, which was great with kids but you do have to climb a decent amount of stairs which is something to consider.

**side note: The drive from the hotels on the Biltmore estate to the actual Biltmore home is about 15-20 minutes, its a very scenic drive but something to consider if you are needing to make a certain time for tours.

We took the roof-top tour in the morning, and planned to do the legacy tour where a motor coach takes you around the property in the afternoon. However, we didn’t plan it out well enough around nap-time and Emery was still sleeping so we decided to skip. So while all the girls took a nap, the guys went and did the sporting clays session where they had fun shooting clay targets. After they finished, we took the kids back up to the Biltmore to explore the gardens. Even for February, the grass was turning green and there were tulips and daffodils blooming. There is also an indoor botanical garden which was absolutely beautiful with some of the most interesting plants I have ever seen.

(This tree was called a Puff Ball tree and had bright neon pink puffs all over it. It reminded Adelyn of the Trolls movie so she was convinced there were trolls living inside them)

There is so much to do at the Biltmore but we feel like we missed quite a bit by going in February which is the off-season. There were so many things closed and the weather was chilly and windy. It was so nice to avoid the crowds, but we would love to travel to the Biltmore in the summer so we can do more the outdoor activities they have and see the gardens in full bloom. The morning before we left, we walked down the Antler Village shopping area next to our hotel, which had the cutest little farm full of chickens, goats and donkeys. There is also a fun little shopping area, an ice cream shop, and a winery in this area.

Next time we visit, we would love to take the girls on their horse-drawn carriage rides, try stand-up paddle boarding, and maybe go horse back riding. You can also do hiking, biking, Segway tours, Land Rover tours, tour a winery, or float the river. So much to do at just the Biltmore!

Where To Eat

We loved our included breakfast at the Village hotel in their restaurant called the Village Social. For lunch we ate at The Kitchen, another restaurant in the hotel that had great coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, and salads. For dinner the first night, we ate at Tupelo Honey Cafe and it was so so good. I highly recommend this restaurant for great food and it accommodates kids as well. They had awesome speciality drinks, homemade biscuits with blackberry jam with every meal, and the best southern meals including the sweet potato pancakes & chicken.

For the next night’s meal we ate at Chestnut which was recommended to us for a nicer dinner downtown. I thought it was good, but very overpriced for the amount and quality of food. Our girls were also ticking time bombs because it had been SUCH a long week of traveling and they were so over having to sit down in another restaurant. I would recommend this restaurant possibly sans kids.

After eating at Chestnut, we walked across the street to Double D’s which is a double decker bus that  serves desserts and coffee in. Such a neat concept and the brownie sundae was ah-mazing. The atmosphere was fun, but there is limited seating obviously because it’s on a bus, but if you went in the summer they do have outdoor seating.

The morning before we left, we made a trip to The French Board Chocolate Lounge. A very trendy cafe with a European feel. The girls were in chocolate heaven as they sampled brownies, chocolate cake, and cookies. I got the salted maple hot chocolate and it was the perfect combo of sweet and salty. If you are in Asheville, this place is a must–especially if you are a chocolate lover.

Other recommendations that we missed out on and were top-rated on Yelp were:

White Duck Taco Shop

Wicked Weed 

Corner Kitchen 

& Rhubarb 

With the weather being chilly and windy, we didn’t get to explore the downtown area as much as I would have liked to, but it seemed like there was some really neat restaurants and shops!

The city of Asheville is beautiful and charming– a place that we can’t wait to go back to. I think we will wait awhile until the girls are older and can do more, but I believe this city has many things and sites to accommodate almost any age.

If you have been to Asheville, what other recommendations would you make??

Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! The last couple of years I have really come to LOVE this holiday. I have to be honest, I really just love it because it’s another fun holiday to celebrate with the hubby and girls. Annnnd an excuse to make heart-shaped pink pancakes. I never really liked Valentine’s Day growing up because it was always a holiday where most of my friends received flowers or chocolates from their boyfriends, while I, boy-friendless, got a nice Valentine from my mom. p.s. Thanks mom for all the Valentines growing up!

So now, married with children, I have really grown to love it. I guess though I still think of the girls, like myself who may dread this holiday, or those who are widowed, single, or going through a break-up. I try to make an effort this month, to reach out to anyone that I know may be feeling lonely or need a “little extra love”. Isn’t it funny that a holiday celebrated can make people feel excluded or sad?!? I hope that Valentines Day can slowly become a holiday where everyone is included and that it can just be a way to show love or random acts of kindness to someone in your life that may need it the most this month.

My grandma recently shared with my that she attended “Senior Prom” this month, that her church put on for her. As she was describing all the details, I asked her if they took her photo so I could see her all dressed up. At that instant, her eyes filled with tears and with a smile she said, “yes, they took my photo, but I was missing your granddad terribly at that moment”. A holiday that can be filled with such love, sorrow, anger, or disappoint. More than anything I hope to encourage you to reach out to someone this month that may need some encouragement or just a simple act of love. “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier” -Mother Teresa

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share a little “love themed” photo shoot I did for a few companies and their upcoming spring lines! The girls had a lot of fun taking these because balloons were involved and music. You can see Emery busting a move in a couple of these photos!

Clothing: Peyper Kids (spring release March 1st)

Bows: Free Babes (spring release February 27th)

Shoes: Zimmerman Shoes

Photos were taken by Liz Osban Photography.

I hope you all have a VERY happy Valentine’s Day!

Strawberry Heart Pastries

I think one of the best parts about the upcoming holiday is all the creative heart-shaped breakfasts. Pancakes, waffles, egg in heat-shaped toast–it’s all so fun! What’s even more fun is making it for two very excited little girls who love anything to do with hearts (and the color pink). This past weekend I made pink heart-shaped pancakes with sprinkles, and when I put the plate in front of Adelyn she literally let out a squeal. And I pretty much blew her mind when I finished with a dollop of whip cream on top. The holidays are so much fun with children, and each year just gets even better.

To beat our Monday blues, I decided to try out a new recipe with the girls to help carry on the excitement of the upcoming holiday. They had a ton of fun helping me make them, especially Emery who loved being the taste tester. (see below)

I’m not going to lie though, it took me about 5 cups of coffee to power through cleaning the mess of the kitchen when we finished breakfast. Somehow the mess of cooking seems to almost triple when including kids. However, I do love having two cute helpers in the kitchen and looked forward to many, many more years of baking with them.

I considered making heart-shaped pop-tarts this year, but then I came across this recipe to make pastries and thought it would be fun to try! I would definitely recommend these for your upcoming Valentine’s day breakfast or really any breakfast throughout the year because they were SO good!

Enjoy!

Strawberry Heart Pastries

Ingredients

1 sheet puff pastry
2 oz (1/4 cup) strawberry cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 Tbsp strawberry jam
2/3 cup very small diced strawberries
1 large egg whisked with 1 Tbsp water
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese & jam
  3. Cut pastry into heart shapes using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter. Transfer hearts to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing 1 1/2-inches apart.
  4. Using a toothpick or pairing knife, lightly score a heart inside of each cut-out heart coming about 1/3-inch from the edge, without cutting entirely through bottom of the dough.
  5. Add 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture to center of each heart then spread outward without covering the 1/3-inch edge.
  6. Add strawberries over cream cheese layer.
  7. Using your fingertip brush the 1/3-inch edge with egg/water mixture.
  8. Bake for 14 – 15 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack then dust with powdered sugar.

recipe adapted from Cooking Classy