Whimsical September

What's Up Wednesday Link Up

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Happy Wednesday! I hope this blog post finds you well! Our weekend starts tomorrow as we head over to Fort Leavenworth to attend my FIL's retirement ceremony from the Army. We're looking forward to a fun weekend in Kansas City before welcoming my sister and Josh to Manhattan on Sunday! Absolutely cannot wait to see them!


Today's I'm linking up with Mix & Match Mama, The Larson Lingo, and Pinterest Told Me To for their "What's Up Wednesday" link up! I haven't played along in a few months, and today seems like a good day to do so. :)

What we're eating this week...
I can't say I've ever been a huge salad lover, but right now I'm on a huge salad kick! I've been eating at least one a day, and I'm hoping this kick lasts a long time. Ha! I was recently introduced to Panera's dressings that are sold in our local grocery store, and I cannot get enough! My current favorite salads consist of chopped romaine lettuce, diced red onion, sliced tomatoes, and hot shredded chicken that I cooked in the crock pot. I've been tossing them with either Panera's Fuji Apple Vinaigrette or Low-Sodium Balsamic. A little bit goes a long way flavor-wise. YUM! I found them in our refrigerated produce section at Dillon's (a sister store of Kroger).


What I'm reminiscing about...
Thanks to TimeHop I feel like I'm reminiscing about something all the time. My friend Hannah sent me this picture from her TimeHop a couple days ago, and it yanked on my heartstrings hard. Having some of my best girlfriends by my side during my pregnancy two years ago while I waited for Jamie to get home was really special. I still love these girls so much!


What I'm loving...
I've been loving going on morning stroller jogs/walks around local trails. The weather has been so pleasant in the mornings the last few weeks!

What we've been up to...
Jamie & I finally got the ball rolling and booked a short and sweet vacation just for the two of us in September before he takes off. We were dragging our feet a bit booking this trip, but we're really looking forward to some adult time (even though I already know we're going miss Hadley fiercely!).

What I'm dreading...
I am dreading watching Hadley and Jamie say goodbye to each other soon. Just typing that leaves the biggest lump in my throat. Anticipation for goodbyes are the worst, man!

What I'm working on...
Our MOPS group officially starts up next week, so I've been working diligently on getting everything together on my end as part of the steering committee. Excited to meet lots of new moms!


What I'm excited about...
I finally get to meet my best friend Jessica's baby girl in three weeks! I keep asking her to tell Mia to stop growing until I get there, but Mia just won't listen! I cannot wait to hold that baby.

What I'm watching...
I'm hooked on Bachelor in Paradise, just like I'm always hooked on every. single. dang season of this franchise. 

What I'm listening to...
My friend recently told me about Chalene Johnson's podcast series, and I'm loving them! During my solo runs I've been listening to her episodes instead of music, and I usually get so lost in what she's talking about that I temporarily forget the discomfort of running. If you're a blogger, I highly suggest her series called "Build Your Tribe".


What's your favorite back to school tradition?
Since Hadley isn't in school yet, we haven't established any back to school traditions, but if we do they will be very small! We didn't have any big traditions in my family for going back to school besides taking classic first day of school pictures. I'm like my mom and like to keep things like this simple!

Don't forget that Sunday is the last day to enter to win one of two $50 gift cards to do some shopping with Premier Designs jewelry! Click over to Monday's post to place your order for jewelry and enter to win one of the gift cards! 


Premier Designs + an Amazing Giveaway!

Monday, August 24, 2015

One of my favorite (of many!) things about having a blog is having the freedom to showcase some of my friends and their small businesses, and today I'm really excited to do just that! Keep a look out for a fantastic giveaway at the bottom!


Meet my sweet friend Julie, pictured near the center in a flowy white shirt. She and I go to church together and are both involved in MOPS, and I've really enjoyed getting to know her since we moved to Manhattan. She is a mom to three precious kiddos and recently joined the Premier Designs team. 

When I asked Julie why she decided to join Premier Designs, she said that she had three main reasons: "First, (my friend) Amanda always has awesome jewelry and she makes it look like a lot of fun. Second I know that I'll go back to being an optometrist once my kids are all in school, but for now I wanted something to do that I could call my own. Most of what I'm doing with Premier, I can do from home. There is no pressure or goals that I am required to meet. I also love that Premier is a christian company based on Biblical principles."

I was at her house recently for a jewelry party, and though I was excited to pick out a piece or two to purchase, I was more looking forward to some girl time with friends. I didn't expect to fall in love with their entire collection! Holy moly! If money grew on trees I would have stocked my entire jewelry box with their pieces. They're beautiful!

Here are a few of my favorites that I was gawking over at the party!

{Garden Party, $48, page 7}

{Full Bloom, $34, page 13}


{for football season! Roll Tide. :) Trunk Show, $29, page 23}


{Majestic, $59, page 52}


{Starlet, $39, page 60}




{Adoration, $39, page 74}


{Birthstones, $6 each, Page 113}


{personalized double-sided letters, $8 each, page 114}


The piece I walked away with that night was for my mom (Hi Mom! You already know this because I have a big mouth!), but since her birthday isn't for a couple weeks I haven't mailed it to her yet. I wish I could show you guys what I got her because it's so pretty! One of the best parts of what I got her is that I didn't break the bank buying her gift (she would kill me if I did!). 

If you have an additional second once you get to the end of this post, I encourage you to click over to her catalog here and just glance around. If you have a special occasion coming up where you need to find a gift, I highly suggest browsing Premier Designs to see if they have anything that fits. 

Julie would like you to keep in mind the August special! If you spend $75, you get any other piece that's under $50 for only $10!!

Once you are ready to order, please email Julie here to place your order: JulieWitt.PremierDesigns@yahoo.com

The deadline to email Julie with your order is Monday, August 31st at noon CST.

Giveaway time!
Typically if you host a party you get a free piece of jewelry of your choice. Since I'm technically hosting an online party I'm qualified for a free piece of jewelry, but I asked Julie if I could give that away in the form of a giveaway as a teeny thanks for your readership! So any piece of jewelry under $50 is up for grabs!

Julie also wants to throw in an additional $50 gift card for my readers, so today you have the chance to win TWO awesome prizes!

Please use the rafflecopter below to enter! TWO WINNERS will be announced next week!





a Rafflecopter giveaway


What Do You Bring A New Mom After She Has a Baby? 21 Suggestions

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Once a friend or family member has a baby, do you have a "go to" routine for when to go visit the new little one? Some people love welcoming visitors to the hospital, while others prefer a set amount of quiet time to adjust at home before opening their doors to company. I know many people who insist on bringing a meal along to meet the new baby, while others prefer to love on the baby and mom in other ways. 

{my daughter's newborn footprints - photo courtesy of Angela Ashcraft}


I have lots of girlfriends that are expecting babies, so I've been giving a bit of thought on how to best love on these friends. Every mom is very different and prefers different things, and I think it's important to honor their wishes and consider their personalities and your relationship before making a move. Becoming a new mom is a very tender time!

I recently asked a slew of friends and bloggers about what acts of kindness stood out to them the most after they had a baby, and if they had a routine for how and when they went to meet the new baby. Here are some of my favorite responses. 


For the Mom

"I buy (the mom) a gift card to a spa for a pedicure and manicure and take her with me a month or two after the little is born so that she has some friendly companionship. The baby gets quality time with dad, and the mom gets to feel like her old self." - Kim (1200milesaway.blogspot.com)

"Honestly, I think I'd rather have someone bring me something comfy to wear, like a big sweater or something from Pink!" - Valerie

"If I visit in the hospital I always bring the mom a cupcake from a local bakery. After giving birth you deserve a cupcake!" - Kelly

"I have given my friends new mommy care packages with goodies just for mom." - Shannon

"I got my sister a belly wrap! I knew she wouldn't be offended." - Kayla

"If she's breastfeeding, a batch of lactation cookies!" - Laura

For the Family

"I really appreciated when friends brought something for my toddler when they came to visit the new baby. It made him feel special too!" - Lisa (trueandfaithful.net)

"A small gift for the older sibling(s) is always appreciated as well - nothing crazy: a dollar bin toy, a coloring book, a special snack, etc." - Lindsey

"I remember when people would offer to come take my toddler for the afternoon so that I could rest once my baby was sleeping. That was such a gift." - Tonya

Food Options

"I always bring a meal - either a frozen one or a quiche. Something they can cook on their time. Unless I sign up for meal delivery I try to wait until things have settled down. This way the mother isn't bombarded and the meals are spread out." - Elizabeth (ReluctantLandlord.net)

"On the night we brought our son home from the hospital, my sister stopped by just to bring us dinner and snacks for the next day. She didn't ask to visit or even come in the house. Her understanding and honesty brought me to tears and was so appreciated." - Kate (thewisewife.org)

"Gift cards to quick places that dad can pick up on the way home from work are nice!" - Samantha

"One hot meal and one freezer meal". - Emily

"Meals were awesome! Extra points if they were in disposable containers I didn't have to wash and return!" - Rosa

The Gift of Time

"We brought our babies home almost immediately after they were born. Our friends and family waited for several days before asking if they could come over. Being able to stay in bed with the baby all day without having to worry about tidying up or getting dressed for guests was a wonderful gift!" - Megan (Welcometothezoo.ca)

"When we had our third baby my husband was in the middle of a deployment and had 10 days home. The nicest thing we were given was space and time." - Kim (sheisfierce.net)

Helping Out

"My mom is sending her housekeeper over to deep clean before I go into labor and then again after baby is here!" -Jennifer

"Depending on how well you know the person, it's nice to pick something to do when you visit - fold a load of laundry, clean a bathroom, do the dishes, clean the playroom or kids room. Everybody wants to see the baby but it's nice to remind the new momma that she doesn't have to play hostess too!" - Sarah

"(Someone) mowed the yard!" - Amanda

"Walk the dog! My pup is our other child and I felt so guilty not being as active with him as he was used to." -Faith

Other Ideas

"When I had my daughter, I was amazed at how many people sent us gifts in the mail. Even distant family friends and people I wasn't in touch with were so excited for us." - Heather (happyfitnavywife.com)

"When our first was born, our neighbors painted and hung a huge 'It's a boy! Welcome Home!' banner above our garage in the front. It was such a sweet surprise!" - Lisa (trueandfaithful.net)

Let's chat!

What's the nicest or most appreciated thing anyone has done for you after you had a baby?

Do you have a "go to" method for loving on a mom with a new baby? I'd love to hear more ideas.

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Stitch Fix #10 - August 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

I almost can't believe that I just typed "#10" in the title bar above! 

Welcome to my TENTH Stitch Fix review! What started as a late-night split-second decision to quickly make a profile and schedule a shipment just for fun has turned into almost a whole year of monthly surprises and new clothing. Here's to my next 10 fixes because I'm planning to stop any time soon. This is too fun. :-)

If you've been keeping up with my review posts, you know that I'm pretty particular when it comes to what I keep. I'm sure this may drive the stylists crazy (sorry!!), but because I'm not made of money I have to be super selective with what I pick. Just adding one needed item to my closet each month makes this service worth it though, at least to me. 

Out of my first nine fixes here's a look at what I've kept since I started Stitch Fix. Also take note of my 5,000 hair changes. ;)

Six tops...


three bottoms (two pairs of jeans & one pair of leggings)...


and two dresses!


Moving on to this month's fix!

Sweet Rain Purdue V-Neck Top



I actually really like the pattern of this shirt, but I'm not loving the loose semi-peplum thing going on. It also doesn't do anything for my shape, so back it goes.

Pixley Beaverton Split Back Knit Top



Duh! Keeping it! I loved this top when I pulled it out of the box, and thankfully I loved it on just as much! It's casual in the front, but the split back detailing makes it suitable for social gatherings as well. I really love this one and think that I'll love pulling it out of my closet to wear frequently.

41Hawthorn Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse



I liked this top better out of the box than when I actually put it on. It would be a perfect shirt if I were working, but I can't anticipate wearing it that often. To be honest, this one really comes down to a money thing. Of course I'd probably wear this every now and then if I had it on hand, but I really can't justify shelling out the money for a shirt I'll only wear a handful of times that I'm not totally in love with anyway. 

Evolution by Cyrus Tamy Short Sleeve Pull Over



I really, really love this top! I think it's much prettier in person than it is in these pictures. You should feel the quality! Whoa! I've never really seen anything like this top. The back is obviously awesome, and I love the diamond-shape detailing on the front. Unfortunately the price point was way too high for me right now. This is the most expensive Stitch Fix top I've ever received, and I'd be crazy to keep it. I'm glad my stylist included it for consideration though because I like to keep my options open.

Kut from the Kloth Aberdine Straight Leg Jean



These jeans are what dreams are made of! I'm wearing them as we speak. :) This is the fourth pair of bottoms I've received from Stitch Fix, and this will be the fourth pair I've kept! I love the Kut from the Kloth denim brand and would highly recommend trying them. Though there's nothing special about the look of these pants, they're extremely comfortable and fit perfectly. Super thrilled! I was skeptical if Stitch Fix would ever be able to send me a well-fitting pair of pants since I have such a hard time finding pairs that I like myself, but so far I've loved and felt confident in every pair they've sent. Confidence is key!

Purchased/Returned

Sweet Rain Purdue V-Neck Top - Returned
Pixley Beaverton Split Back Knit Top - Kept
41Hawthorn Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse - Returned
Evolution by Cyrus Tamy Short Sleeve Pull Over - Returned
Kut from the Kloth Aberdine Straight Leg Jean - Kept

What is Stitch Fix?

Stitch Fix is a stop-anytime apparel subscription service that sends customers five pieces of clothing and accessories once a month (or more or less depending on one's preferences) based on price points that one designates in her profile. Stitch Fix stylists hand-pick what to send each customer based on one's online profile created upon sign up. Customers are charged a $20 styling fee upfront per shipment, but the styling fee is later applied to any item(s) the customers chooses to keep.  If one chooses to send back all five items, Stitch Fix keeps the $20 fee. A customer's best bet is to keep at least one item since $20 has already been paid. Stitch Fix also includes a prepaid bad to send all unwanted items back. If a customer chooses to keep all five items, she gets a 25% discount off of the entire box. So awesome! I love this concept of shopping!

Additional note: Stitch Fix also offers petite and maternity styles!

My Previous Stitch Fix Reviews


Ready to get started? I think it's so much fun!

I'd love and appreciate if you used my Stitch Fix referral link to check it out! I do receive a small commission for referrals I receive which allows me to keep up these posts! THANK YOU to those who've used it in the past! Truly appreciate it, friends. :)

A Canadian Military Love Story: Ariel & DH

Today I'm really excited to share with you another military love story, except this time around we have our first Canadian military love story! Awesome! Thanks so much Ariel for sharing your story!


DH and I met at the Royal Military College of Canada in the new year of 2012. He was a strapping young cadet, and I was a hot young grad student taking the War Studies program by storm.  Because there were not many grad students my age, I had asked a professor I was doing research work for, if I could sit in on a Monday morning U.S. foreign policy course he taught – my favorite topic in school – and in which DH was a student. When we first laid eyes on each other he gave me a very greasy once over before plopping down in a seat in front of me. He proceeded to ignore me for the next month and in return I did not pay him too much attention either. I mean, who was this cadet to completely ignore me?! How rude! Instead I talked up everyone around him and that was that.

I ran into DH around campus a couple of times and would ask for help with directions – as I was often lost - and he was never able to be of use to me.  It was not until a friend request on Facebook that he started showing even the slightest interest in me. Insert awkward Facebook flirting. I gave him my number and told him to text me if he ever wanted to grab a drink. A week later I got this gem of a text “what’s cracking?” and the rest is history!


Because he only had 100 days left before he graduated and went off to complete his phase training, we decided to keep things casual in case we got too attached. 50 days later I asked him what “this” all meant. We had spent every night together, he had a key to my place and knew how to feed my cat. It was a bit too late to turn back, and we started talking about living together once he finished his training. Those 100 days ended with graduation, a commissioning parade, and the annual cadet graduation ball and the next day he headed off for training with a very teary goodbye.


After a very long summer apart I moved to Gagetown, New Brunswick to join him. He was going to be posted there for a year awaiting another course, and we didn’t want to be long distance for that time.  Have you ever driven 15 hours in a 2003 Dodge minivan with a cat and a U-haul trailer across three provinces in the August heat? Well I have! Our car broke down the second we rolled into the driveway that evening. Needless to say we ordered-in for dinner and spent the next couple of weeks settling-in while I looked for work. Within weeks we got a puppy, and then on my birthday he proposed! (Logical progression, right?) Within 48 hours of proposing he left for a month to go half way across the country with work. Because we wanted to be married within a year (and not do the unnecessarily long engagement) I knew that we needed to have many of our major decisions nailed-down within weeks.  While DH spent out first Thanksgiving away, I still managed to throw a dinner for twelve in our tiny basement apartment, drive across the country to give two conference presentations with a puppy who got exploding diarrhea in a hotel, deal with a hurricane and associated flooding, and plan a wedding - all before Halloween!

By the time he got back I had been baptized by fire into the life of a military spouse and have not looked back since.

Shortly into the New Year the military told us that DH would be starting his final training course in February, so we did what many in the military do and got legally married. We could not afford to pay rent at our apartment and for his rations and quarters, so we did ourselves a favor and legally became husband and wife. We were now exempt from paying for two dwellings, and we had saved ourselves the hassle of doing the legal bit at our upcoming nuptials.


Before our big wedding, DH finished phase training, I graduated from my master’s degree program and I moved us to Quebec while DH went on another course. Our big wedding was held on August 24th 2013 in Toronto, Ontario surrounded by family and friends in a very intimate setting.


We’ve been in Quebec since 2013 and are eagerly awaiting our next military adventure! DH has spent many more birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions and holidays away since our first thanksgiving. On average, he has been away for six and a half months a year since we met, so we’ve spent about half of our married life apart.


As with all strong military relationships, I keep our life together but he’s the glue that holds me together. I’m a better person for knowing and loving my husband, and I would not have it any other way!




Ariel Garneau is a home decor and DIY blogger for military families and those living in base housing. She enjoys the thrill of the hunt when thrifting and has never passed-up a good build project or furniture overhaul. Her eclectic style and love of bold colors used simply makes for compelling decor. She currently lives in Qu├ębec, Canada with her husband – a member of the Canadian Armed Forces – and their three pets. Come see what she’s all about at www.pmqfortwo.com



Ariel, thank you so much for sharing your military love story! 

Don't forget to check out to pop on over to her site here to check out her home tours, project gallery, and more!

DIY Wall Art & A Living Room Wish List

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

For almost a year I've been clueless about what to put over my couch. I didn't want to put a mirror because I already have a few of those on nearby walls, but I wasn't sure what I wanted instead. I knew that I wanted it to be some kind of large art, but we're talking $100 or more for something large at even the most inexpensive home stores such as Home Goods. I've been keeping my eyes peeled online and around town and figured when I saw what I wanted, I'd know.

A couple weeks ago Chelsea from Making Home Base posted about her large DIY wall art, and I was intrigued. I loved how neutral the colors were but how modern and a little funky it looked. I reviewed the materials and realized that I could create this whole project for less than $50 because I already had a couple of the required materials on hand. 


I followed her instructions pretty close but made a few changes regarding the type of paint and stain color. I also used different hardware to hang them. Overall her instructions were incredibly detailed, and I'm so happy with the final result! Hop on over to her blog here to glance at the directions and to check out some of her other DIY projects.

I still have a few things in my dream home book living room page I'd like for this room that I'd like to show you (maybe you have suggestions for this non-decorator?), but first I want to show you a few before and after pictures from last September to today! 

Before...


Currently...


Before (but after I painted the walls)...


Currently...


Before...


Currently...


If you were around a couple weeks ago for my most recent "Day in the Life" post, you may remember the picture of my living room that looked like a tornado swept through and are wondering where the mess went. It actually took this picture for us to realize that we needed to do something about the toy situation.


The following weekend after Hadley went to bed we sorted her toys in several categories: toys she hasn't touched in forever that we can add to her baby toys for a future sibling, toys that we could "surprise" her with in a few months as "new", and toys that are developmentally appropriate right now that she enjoys. After putting away the first two categories we created a new playroom for her in an extra bedroom with the toys we want her to focus on now.

And we have our living room back. 

SO HAPPY! 

So here's what I'm dreaming about for my living room!
Rug

I've been DROOLING over this Tuscan Moroccan Shag rug from RugsUSA for a long time, but there's never been a great time to drop $450+ on a 8x10 rug (imagine that!). Now I'm not so sure if this pattern would be too much with my wall art. Sigh. I might be back to square one!

Coffee Table

1 / 2 
We'd like something a little less harsh on our little bruiser when she bumps into the coffee table for the 20th time in a single day. :) 


Wall decor



I'd love a 10"x14" canvas of each of these pictures for the sides of our TV.

I'd also love some new throw pillows and maybe a pair of new chairs (Haaaaa! In my dreams!), but I don't have a clue what I'd be looking for! For now we're comfortable and very thankful for what we have! Besides, I think window shopping and dreaming is half the fun sometimes. 

Let's chat!

1. Do you have any suggestions for what I should put on the floor on either side of my TV stand? I'd love to put a green plant if I had hardwood flooring, but I don't think that's in the cards since we're out of here in two years. I'd love your input!

2. What color combination of throw pillows do you think would look great in this room?

3. How do/did you handle the toy madness?