Favorite Baby Gifts

Today we're home, waiting on Hurricane Sandy to strike. Both of our offices were closed today, and because mass transit into NYC is shut down until further notice, I have a feeling I'll be home the next few days. As long as we have power and stay safe, I can't say I mind a few extra days with my baby boy. He even let me nap today!

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought I'd share some of my favorite baby gifts! Often times, I will want to give something special to a close friend, rather than purchasing off their registry. These are all gifts I've either given or received, and in my personal opinion are all wonderful!

Dahl House Frame
I've given this frame to a few friends as a baptism gift, and it was so well received. These frames can be personalized with just about anything, and you can choose the paint colors and grosgrain ribbon around the edge (you can't see it in this picture, but it is adorable!). They are all hand-made in New England, and are definitely timeless gifts that will last for years to come.

Etiquette Socks
These socks are ADORABLE! Perfect for when you want to bring a little gift once baby gets home from the hospital. The colors are fantastic, and Etiquette offers so many cute options in their gift packages. Everyone loves cute little baby socks, and you know that they'll get used often.

The Lab Onesie & BibPerfect for pet lovers! Etsy has multiple sellers that can customize onesies or bibs with a specific dog breed. The Lab only offers labs (obviously), and since Otto was becoming a big brother when A was born, these were a perfect nod to him. The onesie also has a matching lab on the butt - too cute!

Jellycat Stuffed Animals
These are the softest stuffed animals I have found, and are so well made. A has the elephant sitting on a shelf in his room, and I see another one in the near future as we approach the time to send our pacifiers off to the paci-fairy ;)

L.L. Bean Totes
Hands down, this is my favorite gift to give. Everything L.L. Bean makes is quality, and I can tell you from experience that I have gotten more use from the Extra Large tote than any other baby item we own. With all the traveling we do, this is perfect to pack all of A's essentials, and can stand up to the wear and tear of every day use. I love choosing the handle & embroidery color to match the nursery, and adding baby's new initials. This is definitely my go-to gift!

Custom Calligraphy Artwork & Frame
A new favorite of mine, Whoa Nelly Press will custom make calligraphy artwork with whatever quote you choose. This happens to be one I asked her to do for a friend expecting twins (her 2nd and 3rd babies), and paired with a mat & frame, is a perfect addition to any baby's nursery. This is a great gift for those friends who already have all the baby necessities, but you still want to give them something meaningful.

I'll be positing more gift ideas in November, so be sure to check back for those. Gift giving & holiday shopping are two of my most favorite things to do, and love to offer up suggestions for great gift ideas!

Stay safe friends!

Linking up with Debbie Doos!


What I'm Loving Wednesday

Our Bathroom
While we still have a few last minute things to do, I confess that I stand in the bathroom after A goes to bed, and admire every little detail. C and his dad worked so hard to get this bathroom done (3 consecutive weekends!), and listened to every last one of my type-A requests. It's beautiful, and I can't wait to share the whole room with you. For now, here's another iPhone picture. The artwork we added is sentimental to our family, and adds the perfect pop of color to the room.

New Boots:
The search is over. These will be in my hands by Friday, and I'm so excited!


Hutch Makeover Inspiration
Loving all the inspiration I have found on Pinterest for our hutch makeover!

Source: google.com via Jillian on Pinterest

(If you couldn't tell from my new favorite design - launched last week!) ... I'm obsessed.

Linking up with Jamie for WILW!


Window Shopping Favorites: Zara Home Kids

Happy Monday!

I've been browsing the Zara Home website ever since their launch last month, and have found so many things that I love! I have to say though, that my very favorite part of the launch is Zara Home Kids. Everything is cute, while still being timeless. And true to the Zara brand, everything is a great price!

Here are some of my favorites!

This toiletry case would be perfect for our many road trips. I've been needing a little washable tote to store A's shampoo, medicine and lotion while we're traveling.

This dishware and flatware set would be such a great gift, for a little girl or boy!

These towels are just adorable. I'm loving the plaid to replace A's baby towels - they are a great mix of playful and sophisticated.

LOVE this rug, just wish it came in more sizes!

This pillow and knit throw might be making their way into A's big boy room next year. So cute!

These sets of bibs are a perfect gift. I love bibs with timeless, playful patterns, and these fit the bill.

This fleece throw would be perfect on a toddler bed for the winter.

These storage baskets are so cute. I love the lace detail for a little girls room, but the liners could easily be removed for a boys room.

Love these chairs for a playroom - they are the perfect size for a play table, and are a great price!

I'll definitely be coming back to Zara Home Kids when I start putting A's big boy room together!
Hope you all have a great week.


Weekly Dose of Random

Remember when I said A was going through his 18-month sleep regression? Ha! Oh no no, that was not the 18 month sleep regression. This, is the 18-month sleep regression. Wednesday night, he was up 6 times, crying. Yesterday, he cried during both naps, and ended up not taking a second nap. He's only slept thought the night 3 times in the last 2 weeks. When reading askmoxie.org today (my go-to sleep site), I felt relieved to know what was bothering him. But I was not relieved to read that this can last for weeks or months. Months?!

• We’ve hit a bit of a roadblock with the bathroom. It turns out our tub has an “invisible crack” – exactly what the name implies, there is an unseen crack, causing the tub to leak directly from the center of the tub, while it is full. This means that the tub doesn’t leak during showers, but does leak during bath-time.

So, what's next? We’re replacing the tub this weekend. Replacing the tub = removing rows of our freshly grouted tile = not a happy hubby. But, we’re doing what we have to do… because being mad about it will not change the fact that there is a leak into our downstairs bathroom.

It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown is my new favorite movie. It brings back so many memories of my childhood, and I love seeing A’s face when I turn it on. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t blink for the 25 minutes it is playing, and he actually let me cuddle with him while it’s on. Win - win.

• Because I’m loving our bathroom, even if the tub has to come out this weekend, here are some more recent pictures. I’m so looking forward to the mirror being delivered, and getting artwork & hooks on the walls. And I’m also secretly excited to organize the vanity. Container Store, here I come!

• I love Beth Anne's blog, Okay, BA. You can read this weeks posts on Babble, here. I love that she is a working momma, and that she keeps it all in perspective, and that she is real. She doesn't pretend to have it all together, and admits when life is hard... and what I love most of all, is that she can still laugh about it all.

• Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at Dear Baby Owen – enter before midnight, tonight!

• Last but not least, a picture of my baby boy, who is so not a baby anymore.

I could eat him! (which is why I had to pin this).
Source: etsy.com via Jillian on Pinterest

Have a wonderful weekend!


Giveaway Reminder

Don't forget to stop by Emily's blog, Dear Baby Owen, for my very first giveaway. You can enter for a chance to win 50 Holiday Cards, designed by yours truly! The giveaway will close tomorrow night, at midnight.

And if you don't already follow Earning Our Stripes or 'like' Bella Carta Boutique on facebook, make sure to do both of those for an additional entries.

With only 67 days left 'til Christmas, wouldn't it be nice to cross 'Holiday Cards' off your to-do list?

Good Luck!

Next Time

Last week, my little baby toddler turned 18 months old. For some reason, that seems like a big milestone. One and a half. Closer to 2 than to 1. It is a big milestone.

I've been thinking a lot about Baby #2. And to be perfectly honest, the more I think about having another baby, the more I want to wait. I'm just not ready yet. Maybe tomorrow I'll be ready, or maybe in 3 months, or 6 months. But right now, I'm not. I'm soaking up every minute with A: he's so funny - so innocent - and I know that this time is fleeting. So today, I'm enjoying my one and only.

That said, I am also a planner, and naturally, like to think for a long time about big things. Like having another baby... how I would handle being a mom to two little ones... how our family dynamic would change... and how I would do things differently the next time.

The next time… I’ll ask for bonding time right after birth.
We were so blessed to have my mom in the delivery room with us, and my father and in-laws waiting right down the hall. All of them had been there, drinking lukewarm hospital coffee since 7:00 in the morning. A was born almost 14 hours later, and once they had him all cleaned off and C and I had a few minutes of meeting our little man, we ushered them all in to meet their new grandson. Those moments where a whirlwind, and oh-so special, but about an hour later I realized I hadn’t let A try to nurse. I fumbled with my nursing cover and tried to get A to latch while everyone smiled in new-grandparent bliss. It didn’t go well – maybe I was distracted, maybe there was too much noise, maybe he wasn’t ready…. Breastfeeding was a struggle from the very beginning, and while I realize there could be many reasons for this, I can’t help but wonder – what if I had more one-on-one time with A, right after he was born? 

The next timeI’ll bring the baby out early on.
I’m a rule follower. Most people see this as me being reserved, or overly cautious, but... it’s just who I am. If I’m following the rules, I’m happy. So when my pediatrician told me to keep A away from places that had re-circulated air, I listened. I didn’t bring him to the grocery store until he was 3 months old. So, we camped out in the house and took lots of walks around the block. Looking back, I wish I did more when he would nap in his car seat and in the Moby. We should have gone out to lunch more, or to see friends, or for walks around our favorite little towns. The next time, I won’t have the luxury of just staying at home (with a busy toddler, who can?!), so I’m going to have to bring the baby with me. But this time, I’ll be ok with it 

 The next timeI will throw away the sleep book.
A was the.worst.sleeper in the world. When he was a newborn, he’d sleep… but only on me or in the car. Once we hit 4 weeks, all bets were off and A was awake most of the day, until I gave into the swing, which he would eventually nap in until he was 7 months old. I know, bad mommy. I read every sleep book I could get my hands on. I wasn’t comfortable with cry-it-out, so I had to come up with my own approach. I’ll share my little secret with you: the baby will sleep eventually. A didn’t sleep through the night until he was 15 months old. And now? He's a decent sleeper. He's not doing 12-hour stretches, but most nights, he's doing 9 or 10. I put SO much stress on myself for months, for what? Because my child wasn’t sleeping like every book told me he should? He was happy, growing, thriving, meeting milestones. And me? I was a basket case. I talked about sleep to anyone and everyone. If the next baby is like A, it’s fine. I know I can survive on little sleep, and I refuse to stress myself out just because my little one isn’t doing something ‘by the book’.

 The next timeI’m going to give myself a little grace.
Next time, I’m sleeping when the baby sleeps. I thought I could be super-mom, and clean my house and do the laundry and reorganize my linen closet during nap time. Because nap time was never (until the swing… cue the angels singing!), I would just sit with A while he slept on me. And the whole time I’d be looking at the clock, stressing that my house was dirty and I could be doing other things. Next time, I’m going to savor those moments more. I’m going to sleep with my little baby, and cuddle when they want to. I’m going to slow down, and soak it all in. The laundry can wait until tomorrow, and so can the dishes and the linen closet and my email. Next time, I’m going to give myself a little grace.


{Bathroom Renovation}: Before Photos & Sneak Peek

Before I share some sneak peeks of the new bathroom (we're not really done, but we're almost there!), I wanted to share some pictures of the bathroom... the whole bathroom... pre-renovation.

I'm a little embarrassed to show these pictures in blog-land... but this bathroom was our reality for the last 3.5 years. Oh my goodness, I can't believe it has really been that long!


While I did nothing to retouch these pictures, I did clean the bathroom before I took them. That ring in the tub? SO gross. I have tried every product known to man on that tub floor, and nothing. So every night when A took a bath, I'd have to cover the rust ring with a bathmat. That heater that is rusted out? Total baby hazard. And those hotel vanity lights made the room feel like we were on a Broadway show.

I do realize how blessed we are to live in a beautiful home, but this bathroom was in serious need of an update. Here is a peek at the bathroom (as of yesterday). Please excuse the bad iPhone picture...I'll be posting more pictures this weekend!

Oh, and don't forget to enter the Bella Carta Boutique Giveaway over at Dear Baby Owen! And I'd love if you followed Bella Carta Boutique on facebook, too!


Bella Carta Giveaway & New Designs

Happy Monday, friends!

Head over to my dear friend Emily's blog, Dear Baby Owen, for my very first giveaway. You can enter for a chance to win 50 Holiday Cards, designed by yours truly! (and if you can't wait for the giveaway, you can use a promo code on Emily's blog for 10% off your order).

And if you don't already follow Earning Our Stripes or 'like' Bella Carta Boutique on facebook, make sure to do both of those for an additional entry into the giveaway!

I'm so honored that Emily agreed to host this giveaway. We've become fast 'blog friends' over the last few months, and Emily has been so encouraging with this blog, my business, and most importantly, with being a mom!

Oh, and here are the newest designs up on our Etsy site as of last night! Enjoy :)

my personal favorite: Insta-Christmas!


Bella Carta Boutique @ Holiday Gift Bazaar!

Bella Carta Boutique is participating in this year's Holiday Gift Bazaar, hosted by the Vanilla Tulip!

I hope you'll stop by to check it out (SHHH - there's a coupon code on the Bazaar website!). And while you are there, also check out all the other small businesses - there are some great shops participating this year. It's never too early to start shopping for the holidays!

Check back next week for a giveaway with one of my favorite bloggers, and for the release of some new designs!

Hope everyone is having a great week!




This little blogging community is so powerful. I'm always so amazed at how everyone comes together when someone is in need, banding together and asking for prayers.

I haven't stopped thinking about Julee, or her daughter Preslee, since reading Kelly's post yesterday. You can read the entire story on Kelly's post, if you'd like. There are way too many stories of lives taken too soon, but this one left a mark on my heart. Julee and Matt were a young couple, with an 11 month old baby girl, and their whole lives ahead of them. And now Julee is grieving for her husband and facing life as a single mom. My heart breaks for her, and pray that she finds peace and the strength to face every morning.

Please pray for the Turner family... and hug those you love a little tighter today.


Still Here

I was a bad blogger last week. And I'm not going to be a good blogger this week, either.

If you've been reading over the last few months, you know that our bathroom renovation began this weekend, on our one and only shower in our home. You also probably know that my son, A, is the worlds lightest sleeper. With all the work happening in our home right now, we've been shuttling back and forth to my parents house the last 4 days for naps and baths, and life is a little nutty right now. My parents have been so gracious to open their home to us, letting us come through like a tornado several times a day, and then cleaning up in our wake. They are our saving grace right now.

My in-laws were also down this weekend, to help us with the renovation. To say we are grateful for their help would be an extreme understatement. Whenever we're in the middle of a renovation, they always come to help, no questions asked, and save the day. We couldn't have done any of this, without them.

So yes, my house is a mess and we don't have a working shower. Neither one of those things will change this week, so we'll still be shuttling around to shower, and working late nights to finish up the bathroom.

Posting will be light this week, and I plan to be back next week with lots of updates, and maybe a bathroom reveal.

See you next week!


Three Years

3 years ago today, I married my best friend.

C is a wonderful husband and father, and truly is the rock of our family. In the 6 years we've been together, we've been through more than some couples face in a lifetime. C has helped me stand when I was weak, has dried my tears, and has shown how to keep walking toward the future. I laugh harder, and smile bigger, when he's around.

Thank you babe, for being everything I need, and more. I look forward to many, many happy years with you by my side. I just want to be the only girl, you love all your life.



Miscellany Monday

• We spent the weekend with some of our favorite people and had the best time. Weekends like this make me miss my friends even more. See you ladies SOON!

• I cannot believe the Real Housewives of New Jersey reunion. I'm trying to watch and type at the same time, and I can't. Did Theresa really just tell Melissa she was trying to copy her, because she was wearing glitter eyeshadow? Wow!

• I'm currently reading House Rules, by Jodi Picoult. I'm almost done, and I love it. Honestly, I love every single one of her books: they are always thought provoking and raw, and make you see both sides of a story. Did anyone ever ask you, if you could have lunch with one person, who would it be? (I had to answer that on a job interview once!). Jodi Picoult would be my answer.

• A peek at real life right now. Bathroom renovation officially begins on Friday. Hallelujah!

• A is going through a little sleep regression. At 4:00 every morning, he wakes up and wants to be rescued. Once he is in our bed, he promptly falls back asleep for another 3 hours. I can't say I mind the cuddles... I love the cuddles. But baby boy, we just got you sleeping through the night in July...could you maybe go back to doing that?

• I love, love love when my favorite shows are back in the fall. Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy, Smash & Blue Bloods will all be occupying space on our DVR this fall. Which means I have to delete some Bubble Guppies. Sorry buddy! 

• Blue Moon Pumpkin Harvest is my new favorite beer. I've tried a bunch of different pumpkin flavored beers, and this is definitely my favorite.

• While I realize the bathroom renovation hasn't truly begun, I can't help think about what our winter projects might be. This hutch is begging for a makeover. It once belonged to my grandparents, and for the last week, has been living in our dining room. It is perfect for our kitchen, and will give us some much needed storage!

• I've been doing a lot of online "window shopping" lately. Here are some of my favorite finds for fall!

via Wisteria
via Wisteria
via Pottery Barn
via Pottery Barn

• I had wanted to participate in The Nester's 31-day challenge, but just couldn't commit to posting everyday this month. I had promised myself a few weeks ago, to give myself a little grace, and a little more quiet time. Between being a mom, my job, the blog & my Etsy shop, I was being truthful in saying the challenge was just a little too ambitious right now. Maybe next year!

• Our anniversary is this week! I'm so excited to celebrate with my hubby. And I love a good excuse to sit on the couch and look through our wedding album :)

I hope everyone has a great week! Happy Monday!