A Nutcracker Suite Seventh Birthday

With Disney’s new rendition of The Nutcracker opening in theaters tomorrow, I thought it only fitting to share pictures of Holiday’s 7th Nutcracker themed birthday party!

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Nutcracker Snowball Ornament Craft Time!

Nutcracker Snowball Ornament Craft Time!

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Senior students from Texas Ballet Theater came. They read a Nutcracker story and helped the kids become different characters from The Nutcracker!

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Nutcrakcer and Mouse King masks along with foam swords for everyone on the trampoline were a huge hit!


Practically Easter

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It's hard to believe Easter is right around the corner! For the past two years, I have been on a major purge of ALL the things. For a person who loves to shop and surround myself with beautiful and high quality items, it has taken me on a journey to find the right balance of things which "spark joy" without turning into clutter that tries to steal my happiness! For me, things must be high quality, beautiful, AND functional. One of the biggest lessons I've learned over these past few years is that with children's toys, more is not better! In fact, when I invested time, carefully paring down Holiday's belongings into high value, beautiful, and functional items, I found that she played SO MUCH MORE than when there were too many things to choose from. When we were left with the best and then I carefully organized and displayed them in a way that allows for easy play, a lot more play and imagination happen. 

In view of my purging journey, I cannot, in all good conscience, offer you a list of items which will steal your joy come summer! Instead, I felt it necessary to offer you more practical and thoughtful ideas to add Easter joy to your springtime traditions. I hope you find a thing or two you and your little ones will love as much as we do! 

This year's list is set up a little different. There are pictures of a lot, but not all of the items. Click links below each picture to see all the items! 

 

Spring & Summer Wardrobe

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Easter obviously coincides with the change of seasons. As the warmer days start approaching, many of us will be switching over closets and drawers for spring and summertime wear. If you'll be buying warm weather gear for your little ones, anyway, why not fill their Easter baskets with items that are both fun AND practical?! Here are some ideas! 

Girls Rain Coats and Rain Boots

Boys Rain Coats and Rain Boots

Umbrellas

Native Shoes

Flip Flops

Our Favorite Kids Tennis Shoes (Water versions too!) 

Warm Weather Pajamas

Swimsuits for Girls

Swimsuits for Boys

Tuga Reversible Bucket Sun Hats for Girls

Tuga Reversible Bucket Sun Hats for Boys

Boys & Girls Baseball Caps

Sandals

Spring/Summer Color Hair Bows

Replenish Spring & Summer Toys 

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Spring is a great time to clean out broken bubble wants, random pieces of sidewalk chalk and sun-bleached pool toys. Throw out the old and start the season with fresh and fun supplies which happen to make GREAT Easter basket fillers! 

Pool Toys

Finding Dory Shell Race Diving Game 

Super FUN Pool Floats

Goggles

Bling2O Goggles

Beach Ball

Polarized and UV Protectant Kid Sunglasses

Kites

My Favorite Kids Water Bottle

Super Cute Personalized Decals for Your Water Bottle

Jump Rope

Light Up Hula Hoop

Our Favorite Bubbles Ever

Sidewalk Chalk

The BEST Personalized Beach Towel (these beach towels are blanket soft wash after wash) 

Replenish Art Supplies 

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I feel like this one is only practical if you take time to get rid of the old stuff! Fresh art supplies really do inspire creativity. The rainy spring season and long summer days will be here before we know it and art is a great boredom buster! 

Markers

 Colored Pencils

Our Favorite Crayola Inspiration Set

Poster Paint Pods

Watercolor Paints

Paint Palette for Mixing Watercolors

MUST HAVE Erasable Markers

Sparkle Gel Crayons

Rainy Dayz Gel Crayons

NOYO Crayons with Watercolor Effects

The Best Natural Beeswax Crayons for Little Hands

Crayon Rocks for Helping Learn Pincer Grasp

Oil Pastel Twisty Stix

Chunkies Paint Sticks

Chalk Pastels

Playdoh

Eeboo Sketch Books

Eeboo Watercolor Paper Pad 

Backyard Nature Explorers 

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To quote one of my very favorite characters, Dorcas Lane from Larkrise to Candleford, books are my one weakness! As a homeschool mom, I am surrounded in children's literature 24/7. I teach as many subjects as possible using wonderful, beautiful, and lyrical children's books. I used to think that we had enough books and that Holiday was too old for picture books once she was fluently reading chapter books. I could NOT have been more wrong. Cultivating a wonderful home library has been one of the best investments we've ever made. At age 7 and a voracious reader, Holiday is still absolutely delighted by worthwhile picture books. Most are written with the intent of a parent reading to a child, so the language is sophisticated and beneficial. 

Up in the Garden, Down in the Dirt

The Complete Brambly Hedge

Brambly Hedge: Spring Story

Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales

Our Favorite Peter Rabbit and Friends Little Book Set

The Country Bunny

The Wind in the Willows

The Secret Garden

James Herriot's Treasury For Children

The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies

Make Way for Ducklings

Fletcher's and the Springtime Blossoms

Tasha Tudor's A Tale for Easter (one of my favorite children's illustrators) 

Eloise Wilkin Stories: A Little Golden Book Collection (Also a favorite illustrator- this is my absolute favorite collection of Little Golden Book stories, especially for your littlest ones) 

The Egg Tree

Hedgie's Surprise

Spring Thaw

Ten Magic Butterflies

The Legend of the Easter Robin

Bunny's First Spring

When God Made Light

When God Made You

The World is Awake

When God Made You by Jane Meyer (different book, same title as one above) 

Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing

The Easter Story

My Book About God: A Little Golden Book

Egermeier's Bible Story Book (I like this one for kids who are reading chapter books fluently on their own) 

The Jesus Storybook Bible (My favorite Bible for little ones) 

A Few Extra Gift Ideas 

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This is listed above, but this is the personalized beach towel from JoAnn Grace Designs and it is absolutely LOVELY! It feels like a super soft blanket and the quality has never diminished wash after wash! CLICK HERE TO BUY

This is listed above, but this is the personalized beach towel from JoAnn Grace Designs and it is absolutely LOVELY! It feels like a super soft blanket and the quality has never diminished wash after wash! CLICK HERE TO BUY

My Favorite Things

Better late than never-- right?! There are still 11 shopping days left until Christmas Eve and, let's face it, WE are always the last ones to buy for! I tried to keep the list confined to what you can still get in time for Christmas, lots on Amazon. They are all tried and true things that I love and use regularly. Hope you love it all as much as I do! Merry Christmas- Lindsay Bennett 

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This year's Christmas mantle and fireplace. To the right, you'll see my cliche, distressed barnwood ladder. It's an awesome Etsy find and- cliche or not- it makes me happy every time I look at it! Find it below in several color and size selections, available on Amazon Prime! 

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So I'm slightly OBSESSED with these number hooks. I have three sets of them. One here in my entry way, one in my guest bathroom (pictured below) and I also a set outside for pool towels. Best of all, they're also an Amazon Prime item. Quick tip if you purchase these- take the screws it comes with, stick them in some styrofoam, and spray paint black. 

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I love really good dish towels, nice and absorbent ones that seem to go a long way. An even bigger bonus for me is when they come out of the dryer and they're nice and crisp, not curling along the edges. These Pacific Home Dish Towels fit the bill perfectly. I prefer them OVER my Williams Sonoma towels! Bonus, there's a red striped set too which is adorable as a hostess or teacher gift this year (it's what I'm giving for hostess gifts and neighbors this year.) 

I love a good cloth napkin just as much as a good dish towel. These black and white buffalo check are a year-round match at my house (I have a lot of black and white accents.) The BEST part about these napkins is that they're wrinkle-proof! Seriously, pull them out of the dryer, fold, and they're ready to go for the next time. NOTE- this price is for a set of TEN! If you want to make this a super special gift, have the corners monogrammed with a single initial. 

I've had a serious throw blanket addiction for many years now. This is my current fave- Merino Wool Buffalo Check Blanket from Woolly Mammoth. If you do not like the smell of wool, this isn't for you, because it's all wool and wool smells like wool. This blanket is quite large and it keeps you perfectly warm, but not sweaty, as only wool can do. It's the perfect layering blanket for your bed as well- breathable, but keeps the coziness in perfectly.

Some of my regular blog followers might be familiar with my story of how I started getting sick from our old, nonstick pots and pans. That nonstick coating is full of toxic chemicals which can start leeching into your food over time. As soon as I realized the source of the constant headaches, I switched to cast iron cookware, namely Le Creuset. They are pricey, but they will last beyond your lifetime. Recently, I discovered Staub Cookware. They are extremely comparable to Le Creuset, still spendy, but less so than LC. The other thing I really like about this French Oven is that it has a lid! Most of the LC pieces don't have lids and there are just many times that I found myself wishing I had one. This French Oven is 3.75 quarts. I use it for anything you would use a skillet for. It's a little smaller and more shallow than your traditional Dutch Oven, but I love the depth for catching grease and splatters. This is my go-to pot for nearly everything. It's even big enough for family-size batches of soup and chili, but small enough to fry eggs in if you so choose. The color and rooster and just perfection for my taste, but there are lots of other colors to choose from too. See all the Staub on Amazon here: 

I own these Woolrich Flannel Night Shirts in every color available. They are so comfy and fit true to size to a little roomy. Better yet, the style is a little ambiguous-- is it a night shirt or is it a cute tunic/ dress? I "may" wear as both. If your size or color selection is sold out, look around online-- lots of outdoorsy type companies carry Woolrich products. 

I think almost every year's Well Styled Mama list has featured some pair of slippers. These are my newest slipper and they're from Vionic. If you're not familiar with this brand, you should be. Vionic makes footwear that have full support in them which is a dream come true for someone, like me, with plantar fasciitis. Since purchasing and wearing these slippers most days, almost all of my PF symptoms have disappeared full time! Worth every penny! 

I live most of my life in leggings and there just isn't a better, more flattering pair out there than these Active Medium Compression Leggings from Spanx! They are light and give you the perfect amount of smoothing shape without causing any subsequent bulging or weird lines anywhere else. Don't be scared by the "compression" term-- they are just slimming, you won't feel sucked in at all. I found them to be true to size. 

My newest, favorite find is this Curtis Air Pot. I bought three of these to keep Hot Cocoa Hot and ready to serve a party for 65+ people I hosted this week. You can use these for coffee or any other hot beverage. I made a large batch of cocoa on the stove in my large stock pot and it filled all three of my air pots perfectly. It kept the cocoa amazingly hot ALL NIGHT long! Each one served about 10 large 16 ounce cups of cocoa. Note, these have a glass interior. As other reviewers have noted, be sure to open up all the way and make sure your glass survived the holiday shipping craziness. Out of the three I ordered, one of mine did have broken glass. Amazon was awesome and overnighted me a replacement I had in hand within two days of receiving the broken one. These are SO easy to use and solve such a such a big problem of keeping a large batch of hot drinks going all night! 

Earlier this year, I found these amazing PinkyUp tea items at my local Kroger grocery store and I've been obsessed every since. This 3PC tea mug allows you to steep a perfect single serving of either bag or loose leaf tea. Check it out in pictures below. I love the red for Christmas and Valentine's Day, but the "Hey There Hot Tea" is my daily, go-to, tea mug! And the spoons below... completely divine! 

These spoons... they are seriously a must have! Note there are two different sets of these. Amazon only has one set available, but both are available at pinkyuptea.com Each spoon in the set of 2 has a different saying: You're my cup of tea, Hey Sugar, Stir things up, Time for tea-- all adorable! 

Stir Things Up Tea Spoons by Pinky Up, Set of 2  (NOTE: this item is labeled incorrectly on Amazon, it is for the spoon set, not an infuser) 

Stir Things Up Tea Spoons by Pinky Up, Set of 2 (NOTE: this item is labeled incorrectly on Amazon, it is for the spoon set, not an infuser) 

And just in case you'd like to be a tea drinker, but don't know where to start-- START HERE! I first had this flavor during High Tea at The Plaza Hotel in NYC and it's been hard for me to switch back to anything else because it's just THAT good (well, if you like warm, spicy tea.) 

I feel like I keep saying, "I'm obsessed..." in this blog post, but I guess the whole idea is to share what I'm obsessed over this year! Puffin/Penguin Classics are everything you want a hardcover book to be. They are absolutely gorgeous and when you're not devouring the pages, they are SO beautiful on all your open shelving. I have many of these classics (in kid friendly titles) for Holiday, but these are my very own until she's old enough to steal them. Note- Puffin is Penguin's children's brand, but they are all the same company: 

So, telling you right off the bat that these bookmarks (and everything else in her Etsy shop) are amazing, but TODAY (December 13, 2017) is the last day to order in time for Christmas-- so hurry on over! I'm ordering these for myself and got Holiday a set for her stocking of all her favorite literary heroines. 

The below item is from one of my absolute favorite podcasts, The Read Aloud Revival. Even if you don't tune into this one, you will not find a better bag for your books out there. It has been carefully reenforced to carry a HEAVY load. It even has the perfect zippered pocket inside so you don't have to keep looking for your library card. You won't be disappointed! 

Most of this year's post has a relaxing vibe to it. For perfect relaxation, you need the weighted eye mask below filled with flaxseed. You can heat it up in the microwave OR freeze it for whichever you need for headache relief or just to relax. It smells really good and the back has a smooth, satin lining. I bought these for my mom and sisters as soon as I experienced it for myself. The perfect little indulgence...

So if you blow your hair out with a blow dryer, you cannot go another day without the Full Pint Dry Bar Brush. It is a game changer... and maybe even a life changer. If you ever lamented that you can't blow dry your hair perfectly like your stylist, it could very well be because you don't yet have this brush. I even had an expensive brush before this came into my life and this one changed everything! Note: this brush comes in three sizes, this particular one has been the best and easiest to maneuver for me. The Full Pint is the medium size-- there's also a Half Pint and a Double Pint. 

So in the past, I've posted about my Chi Touch2 blow dryer, which has also been a game changer. HOWEVER, after using all year, there are 2 things I'd like to change about it (even though it dries your hair so smoothly and in record time.) So, #1, It gets a little heavy in the hand, the Buttercup is slightly lighter. Also, because I'm blowing mine out straight/ smooth, I always use the smoothing attachment and I inevitably knock it off the dryer at least twice which drives me nuts that it doesn't stay on better. So here are two NEW options for you that knock it out of the ballpark (seriously all the DryBar stuff [except for the 3-day Bender which was a miss] are absolutely fantastic.) I like the full size Butterbup, but I like the travel size even better-- and it's so lightweight. Since I still have the full size Chi Touch2, the travel size is perfect for on the go. Once you use a REALLY GOOD blow dryer, you won't be able to settle for what the hotel has there for you. Check around for pricing and free gifts! Some of the gifts with purchase INCLUDE the $40 Full Pint Brush above. Also, if you still have your Ulta 20% off total purchase coupon lying around-- USE IT ON THIS! I'm including the Ulta link below, the extras in it (for the same price are unbeatable)