Trend setting: Fashion advice from my four year old.

Everything I know about fashion, I learned from my four year old. She is the most fashion forward girl I’ve ever met – absolutely fearless and always on trend. She MAKES trend and marches forward with confidence. Here are a few fashion tips from the cutest four year old in the midwest.

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1. Create a balance between dressy and casual with a sun dress and cute sneakers.

Pro tip: Summer dresses can happen all year with cotton tights and a sweater.

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2. Accessorize like there is no tomorrow. Take risks and embrace your attitude.

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3. Don’t conform to society’s expectations: Princesses can be super heroes, too.

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4. Don’t worry about matching. All you need is confidence and cute shoes.

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5. Tell your mom to spend $5 to get this bun cover and you can be ballet chic with little to no effort!

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6. Cute pig tails and a smile go a long way. Warning: Be prepared for old ladies in the super market to absolutely lose it. Sacrafices must be made for fashion, ladies.

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7. A skirt and / or black leggings are all you need to make any outfit look intentional and chic. If you want striped leggings and a floral top, grab a solid colored skirt. Want a different patterned top / skirt combo? Black leggings, my friend. Black leggings are nearly always the answer, really.

That should get you started. What’s your favorite fashion tip?

 

Back to School Shopping: Preschool Chic

Last week I shared with you my favorite places to buy clothes for my kids – highlighting some clothes that my soon to be 2nd grader son would like. Today I thought I’d share some things from the same stores that I’d buy for my nearly 4 year old daughter who is going to 4K in the fall.

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Top: Floral Cap | H&M

Middle: Minnie Hoodie T | H&MBicycle T | Lands EndRed Minnie T | Old NavyButterfly T | H&M

Bottom: Polka Dot Twirl Dress | Lands EndFloral Shorts | H&MFloral Shirt Dress | Old Navy

BB is one of those girls who can rock pretty much any look, but we both tend to gravitate towards classic feminine pieces with a slightly edgy twist. And like any preschooler, she loves when a piece of clothing features one of her favorite characters from TV, books or movies.

Both of my kids love hats and this cute floral hat from H&M is right up her alley. In the second row, the Minnie Mouse Wearing a Hoodie t-shirt is something she’d go absolutely gaga over. At $9.95 this shirt would be a splurgey kind of purchase for us. The cute butterfly top, however, is only $4.95! It comes in a few different styles so you can stock up on this one! I also looooove the cute floral shorts in the bottom row. BB loves to mix patterns and she could have a field day with these.

I saw two pieces from the Lands End toddler selection that particularly made me swoon – the pink bicycle tee is so classically chic, I’m kind of in love with it, but at $17.50 I’ll probably wait to see if it goes on sale. The polka dot dress in the bottom row is just too cute for words – this would be an adorable First Day of School look, don’t you think?

For half the cost, Old Navy has a cute shirt dress on sale for $13.97 that would also be First Day Adorable. I also found a super cute red Minnie Mouse tee there that I know my daughter would love.

Where do you shop for your kids’ clothing?

What tv or movie character would your kids most like to wear on their shirt?

Back To School Shopping: 2nd Grade Boys

We’re halfway through the summer so despite my best efforts to be living In The Moment, my mind can’t help but occasionally turn to the coming school year. My son will be starting 2nd grade this fall and of course he’s going to need some new clothes. Before I hit the ground running, I like to do a little online window shopping to get an idea of who’s running some good sales and who has the best looking styles this season. I tend to get most of my kids’ clothes at Target, Lands End, Old Navy and H&M – depending on the price, style and quality of said item.

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Boys Straw Hat | H&MSlim Jeans | H&MOozma Kappa Tee | TargetYoda Man Tee | Old NavyGangnam Style Tee | H&MBoys Slub-Knit Henleys | Old Navy

H&M always has ridiculously cute kids clothes for really good prices. I get fantastic deals there for outerwear, hats, belts, and basics like the slim jeans or that adorable straw hat for only $9.95 each (in the collage above) and the cute button down in the collage below for $12.95. Their stuff is good quality and trendy for a great price so mom & kid will both be happy.

I also have great luck at Old Navy, especially if you shop their clearance sections. They always have something on sale so I like to stop in regularly to pick up pieces throughout the year. They have great screen tees like the Yoda shirt above (on sale right now for $9.97) and cute classic styles like the striped henley (also on sale for $10).

I’m at Target several times a week for everything from groceries to towels to stationary and more. I have great luck there for kids’ clothes, too. How adorable is the Oozma Kappa tee from Monsters University (above)?

Then there’s Lands End – where I like to shop for a few quality pieces that will last me more than one season – maybe even more than one year. Their jeans are a bit more expensive – the pair below are $29 – but they are  super durable with reinforced knees and double-stitched seams. They have inside-adjustable waistbands so you can tighten or loosen to get the best fit. So despite being more expensive, I consider these jeans to be a good deal. I also loved the  graphic moon tee and the striped hooded t (below) – which are each available in multiple colors / styles. These will provide a little extra warmth on those in between season days.

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Button Down Shirt | H&MGraphic Moon Tee | Lands EndStriped Super T Hoodie | Lands EndClassic Fit Iron Knee® Jeans | Lands End

Where do you like to shop for your kids’ clothes? When do you start shopping for “back to school” clothes or do you just shop all year long as they need new things? We tend to do a little of both.

5 things I’m loving on Tuesday.

Because it’s Tuesday and apparently I have nothing better to do, here are 5 things that have me doing a happy dance these days:

1. I got my three year old the cutest wool jacket at Old Navy. Not only is it ridiculously adorable and a perfect fall jacket, it will actually work with her Halloween costume this year. She’s going to be a young Amelia Pond, the 11th Doctor’s most recent companion on Doctor Who. Why yes, I am a giant nerd. Technically the coat should really be blue, but I decided this jacket was too adorable to pass up and that in the dark it should be fine (and okay, fine, that almost nobody is going to get the costume anyway).

2. The cakepops at Starbucks have continued to make me deliriously happy. I like to get the pink one for my daughter who loves all things pink and pretty – and the salted caramel mocha pop for me which is totally the drink in cake form and should be illegal.

3. I recently downloaded John Mayer’s newish album, Born & Raised when it was being offered for $5 (click to see the current albums being sold for $5). I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to purchase this one, not knowing if I’d enjoy his new almost country sound, but the whole album grew on me very quickly. Definitely a country / classic rock vibe, but still the same old John underneath it all, the John who could sing the phone book and I’d buy it.

4. A lesser known but equally amazing musician that everyone needs to know about, is Rebecca Loebe who you may have seen on The Voice last year on Adam Levine’s team. I’ve been a fan of Rebecca’s for almost 8 years now since she performed at a small coffee shop concert series at my college and her voice continues to blow me away. Definitely check out her new CD, Circus Heart on iTunes or get the physical CD through her website. She is one of the most talented, amazing singer songwriters I’ve ever heard.

5. Lastly, I found the perfect jeans. Finding a pair of jeans that fit your body perfectly, don’t stretch out over the course of the day and are affordable enough to justify purchasing is something I thought was impossible until discovering the Westport line at Dressbarn. I never would have thought to check there for jeans, but they fit me perfectly – perfectly!!! Pear shapes rejoice and other shapes? Try em out, too, just in case. I am thanking my lucky stars for stumbling across these and a couple of washes and several wears later, I’m still very happy with my purchase. They come in pretty much all sizes, including petite.

That’s all for now, I’ll be back soon with some book reviews, I promise!

things momma doesn’t like: a short list

I know the main purpose of this blog is to talk about the things that I love – little reviews and babblings of the products, tv shows, food and moments of life that make me smile. But occasionally some stuff comes up that I don’t like. And I think, “Maybe other people don’t like it either.” or “I could save people some time trying this one and spare them the suffering.” So here are a few things that I don’t like.

  1. Those stupid captcha things that guard machines and people lacking super human vision and deduction skills from posting a comment. I get it – spam comments suck, but you know what else sucks? Having to spend 5 minutes trying to type in absolute nonesense into a tiny box so that I can leave someone a comment. I am not a robot – but I also don’t know what 573 foidhsfioshios means and when you purposely make the letters illegible by knotting them all up together? Seriously? Seriously, who do you think can read that? What is wrong with real words? Just take a picture of real words! Or ask me a question to prove I’m not a robot like “Are you a robot?” Or, better yet, come on – let me just leave a comment! Here is a list from someone smarter than me with lots of better suggestions than the dreaded captcha.
  2. Mini skirts. When I was a teenager, I wore short shorts with pride and never thought too hard about skirt length unless there was a school dress code requirement (fingertip length, anyone?). Now that I am an overweight, over-intelligent over the dating scene grownup and mother of two, I have a different view point on mini skirts and shortie shorts. Beginning with, “I won’t wear them.” And not just from a prudish standpoint and not because my thighs are kind of horrendous – but because they are not flattering for my shape. Just two extra inches of fabric that bring a skirt from above the knee to just below makes all the difference in the world on my shape. And also frankly, as a mother, I am starting to find some validity to the idea that some short shorts are TOO short. They don’t need to see all of that – this isn’t a beach, this isn’t an underwear commercial. Put some clothes on – sometimes a dress is not a dress anymore – sometimes it is an ill fitting shirt and you need to put pants on. I get it – young, pretty, skinny girls look good in short skirts. And if their mother doesn’t mind and they don’t mind, then good for them. But clothing manufacturers? Please stop forgetting about the rest of us. I just want a pretty a-line dress / skirt that dips JUST below the knee. Not a mini. Not a maxi. Please?
  3. Cleaning – as evident by the growing mess in my office. I know I just told you I was a grown up, but would someone please come finish my dishes, teach my children how to put their toys away and do something about my paper clutter? And then come back and do it again next week? I think this might be a called a maid and so also, can I please afford a maid? Hint to husband: I see a terrific Christmas gift idea here. Do you think Amazon sells these?
  4. School fundraisers that are stupid. I never thought I’d hear myself saying something like “Why can’t we sell overpriced candles or $10 bins of popcorn instead?” and then my son started school. And I learned just how absurd fundraisers could get. This year they are selling the equivalent of Lunchables for Dinner Pizza Kits. I am apparently supposed to be peddling pizza kits with little squeezie packages of tomato sauce and shredded cheese and “meats” and those break and bake cookies with god knows what ingredients in them to my friends and loved ones. I don’t even feel comfortable buying one for my family, let alone trying to convince the people I love and admire to shell out their cash for this stuff. I spent ten minutes trying to figure out if the kits were freezable and what the shelf life was like before I realized there probably isn’t a shelf life at all.Honestly, just stop it already and ask me to cut you a check.
  5. Peas. Can’t stand em.

What things have been making it onto your Slanty Face list lately (  :-/   )  ? Feel free to vent with me in the comments section below!

momma loves: little man styles

While I was preparing splurges vs. steals ideas for the post about my daughter’s wardrobe wish list last week, I got kind of sidetracked by how ridiculously adorable the kids’ clothes are at H&M. For some reason it surprises me every time and then I’m again reminded that the clothes are also pretty affordable and last the kids awhile. Some of my favorite things from each of their wardrobes are from H&M.

Anyway, we didn’t really do “Back to School” clothes shopping for my 6 year old son this year because frankly he’s still nearly the same size he was last year and a lot of his stuff still fits. I figure we’re more likely in for winter wardrobe shopping, maybe even spring. I picked him up a few extra pairs of jeans and a new shirt and pretty much called it a day.

So seeing all the cute back to school ads and blog posts (like Design Mom’s posts on her kids’ back to school wardrobes – gah) has me feeling a little left out and wishing he’d grow eight inches tomorrow (knock on wood though, seriously, momma’s on a budget!). In the meantime, here are some adorable looks from the H&M kids department that I would buy him if he woke up tomorrow two sizes bigger.

Pants

Basic Pants (comes in tons of fun colors) for $9.95 each | Slim Jeans $14.95

Tops

Hot Like Wasabi Shirt $14.95 | Henley Shirt $12.95 | Button Up $9.95

Sweaters / Sweatshirts

Hoodies (assorted colors) $14.95 | Wool blend Sweater $19.95

Shoes & Accessories

Boots $24.95 | Flat Cap $6.95 | Bow Tie (bow ties are cool!) $4.95

Winter Gear

Star Wars Hat $6.95 | Gloves $4.95 | Cap $12.95

My kids can both pull off a lot of different “styles” – but my son’s clothes are largely casual prep or dressy preppy, whether I pick them out or he does. He’s very into stripes and patterns and likes fun bright pops of color (who doesn’t?). Momma likes to fill his wardrobe in with some timeless pieces which are very similar in style to my own wardrobe truthfully. The whole thing together works very well and I’ve found H&M has a great assortment of clothes that fit that mark perfectly.

Do you do traditional back to school shopping for your kids or (like mine) do you find they need new clothes during a completely different season most years?

momma loves: splurges & steals for tiny fashionistas

I love shopping but buying clothes for myself can be a bit soul sucking frankly – after finding something cute for a good price, I still have to find one that fits – and pass the Husband Seal of Approval (he’s pickier than I am, getting easily put off by one too many frills or fancy details – he’s a simple guy, what can I say?). The clothes that end up making the cut can be far and few between. My daughter BB on the other hand is terrifically easy to shop for and being young and energetic (read: three) means that fit is simply never an issue. So then the issue is cute, quality and for a price I can live with.

BB rocking a cute $5 cotton dress from H&M
BB rocking a cute $5 cotton dress from H&M, white sweater & pink headband  from Target

Hanna Andersson is a kids’ clothing company that I truly covet. Every time their catalogs come in the mail, I pore over the new fashions, picturing my gorgeous daughter in their amazing outfits. I’ve gotten her a few of their dresses over the years, but I’ll be honest I tend to come up on the wrong side of the sticker shock so we don’t own a lot of their things as much as I admire their high quality, soft & durable products. I tend to get the majority of her clothing at Target, Walmart, H&M and Old Navy. A lot of times I’ll use the Hanna Andersson catalog as a jumping off point for style ideas and see what I can make happen in other stores – and what I’d rather splurge on at Hanna Andersson.

Wanna play a little game of Splurge vs. Steal? I’ve rounded up a few pieces from Hanna Andersson that I am truly coveting right now ; and some similar pieces at some of my go to stores for a stylish bargain. Which items would your splurge for and which would you go for the steal?

  
Spinstripe Dress at Hanna Andersson $46 or H&M’s Striped Dress for $24.95?

Not Old Enough For A Boyfriend Jeans at Hanna Andersson for $42 or Cuffed Skinny Jeans at Old Navy for $19.94?

Lacey Ankle Tights at Hanna Andersson for $18 or Pink Leggings at H&M for $6.95?

 

Flower Appliqué Boot by Beekos at Hanna Andersson for $78 or Floral Boots at H&M for $24.95?

   

Crochet Flower Cap at Hanna Andersson on sale for $20 or Sweater-Knit Flower Hats at Old Navy for $12.94?

Are you a bargain hunting mama or a quality first and foremost advocate? Which of these items would you splurge for the high end pick, which would you jump for the bargain? Any other clothing brands that you are obsessed with? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments section!

Momma loves shoes : Looking for chic, comfy, affordable sandals? Try Earth Spirit!

SandalsGrowing up, I wore pretty much exclusively cheap shoes. And okay, cheap clothes, too. I went with the theory that spending less meant having more – more clothes to choose from, more shoes, more handbags. It seemed like simple math.

It wasn’t until I was a grown, married woman that I started to consider the idea of quality over quantity. It happened with shoes first. After hearing the words “my feet hurt” one time too many, my husband informed me bluntly that it was because I wore cheap shoes with no arches. He assured me that if I got myself a good pair of shoes that my feet would feel a lot better – and probably my back, too. He started me out with a ridiculously heavy pair of keen hiking shoes that I hated because they were (in my opinion) ugly but loved because my feet had never felt so good. I begrudgingly chose them over my other shoes each morning because apparently comfort was winning over style. Suddenly the girl who “never wore sneakers” because they were ugly, was wearing them on a daily basis.

Eventually that old pair of Keen shoes began to give out and I started looking into a replacement. I was determined to find a pair of shoes that were as comfortable as my Keens but cuter, please! It took a bit of trial and error to find a shoe that fit within the constraints of aesthetically pleasing, comfortable good quality and also, price. I was willing to spend more, but only so much more. After conquering the world of sneakers (with an insanely comfy pair of Sketchers if you’ll believe it) , I moved onto dressier clogs, winter boots – I discovered brands like Dansko, Aerosoles, Clarks, Naturalizer, etc. – and eventually sandals.

Sandals gave me a bit of trouble. Some were so outrageously expensive that I just couldn’t stomach it, particularly after having just spent so much on my other shoes. But in the summer months and often spring and fall, too, I tend to live in a good pair of sandals so I was determined to find something that would work. I tried a pair from Lands End for not too much money, assuming that Lands End must equal good quality. They were cute and fairly comfortable but to my dismay they completely wore out after one summer. Unacceptable when the Birkenstock folk can wear their sandals for years and years.

This year I was feeling stingy and still a bit burnt after my Lands End sandals experience – I hadn’t decided whether I wanted to replace them or look into repairing them and how much would I let myself spend, when one day I was walking through my local Walmart and spotted these. Why I was even in the shoe department of a Walmart, I honestly cannot tell you. I have never had luck buying shoes there, but I spotted these sandals by Earth Spirit and several other pairs by them as well. Walmart carries several styles of Earth Spirit shoes and each cost between $20-25. Seriously. I was skeptical and assumed they were cheap and / or not as comfortable as they looked but I hesitantly tried a pair on and… oh. Not bad. I showed this pair to my husband saying something like, “Look, cute – cheap – comfortable – arches?” and he looked them over and agreed – they looked like great sandals. And for the price he agreed I should give them a shot. If they don’t work out, I can always buy something else later.

Well guys, it’s been a few months now and I can now say with confidence that I adore my Earth Spirit sandals! They were comfortable out the door for basic daily walking and after living in them for awhile I can now do fairly long walks in them, too with little complaint. My sneakers are wondering why I almost never put them on any more and the answer is Earth Spirit. Ridiculously comfortable, so cute (seriously, these might be cuter than my Lands End pair) and SO affordable. I am sold.

Have you tried Earth Spirit sandals? What did you think of them? What’s your favorite shoe brand?