Bee stings, camping preparations, “just go play” and drinking too much coffee

Good morning, er (almost) afternoon.

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I’m on my third cup of coffee for the day. It’s one too many and I know that. But I have been struggling falling to sleep lately and so I popped one of my Unisoms last night from back when I was pregnant and then woke up groggy. And then I made it through a miserably hard work out at boot camp and now I’m staring down a busy day of laundry, camping preparations, late work meetings for Alex, and lots of cleaning. Thus the third cup. I know, it’s a vicious cycle. I’m sure I’ll struggle falling asleep again tonight.

In the cup: 6oz Starbucks Espresso Roast brewed, 2 tablespoons collagen, 1/2 teaspoon coconut oil (<affiliate links)

The girls love to scream “LOUD NOISES, LOUD NOISES” while I mix my coffee in the blender.

P.S. Isn’t my new mug pretty? You are my sunshine is one of our family songs (I know, real original) and I fell in love with this cup when it was on Zulily recently. Speaking of bees, Eleanor just got stung as we were getting out of the car.

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What is that thing? Ew! She is so brave. She cried. We iced it. And now she is doing just fine. I truly hate bugs. Even more now because they really like to pester my sweet baby. She always has a million bug bites!

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I’m using this minute to make a to-do list of all I need to get done today. I’m feeling a little stressed that Alex won’t be home to help, but also incredibly excited for our family camping trip to the beach this weekend. We haven’t been to the beach or camping all year and it is long overdue.

It feels like this week has flown by. With all the fall activities beginning this week, the short work week (even though Alex still worked Monday) and our upcoming trip, it sure has been quite a week. Most notably was our first experience at Community Bible Study. The girls and I both had a blast and I am excited to join this new community of women. I got dressed up and even curled my hair for bible study on Tuesday, that’s how excited I was!

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I dressed the girls up too…

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Eleanor actually loves matching her sister. She asked to wear these dresses again today. Trust me kid, if I could I would buy all the Eleanor Rose dresses for you and your sister to wear! Especially the release next Wednesday.

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This is my not so subtle hint to all my loving family (emoji winky face)…size 18 months and 3-4 please in those amazing striped pants (emoji kissy face). (Hint you have to be on at 7am CT to snatch it up!)

I know I have an Eleanor Rose problem.

My little is already down for her nap, and my biggest is playing peacefully on her own. Somedays I feel guilty for writing or reading while she plays, but then I just remember the wise words of my friend Brittany and I am reminded how important independent play is for these littles, and then I let them play and do the things they want and then I get to do the things I want. It’s perfect.

But speaking of…I should probably make constructive use out of this downtime and start tackling the to-do list! Tomorrow I’m going to post our packing list for camping with toddlers and I’m hoping to be back Monday with some of our best experiences from the weekend!

Do you camp with kids? Where is your favorite place to go on vacation?

 

Shopping with toddlers made easy

We were just talking last week about how amazing my job as a mom is, right? There are so many amazing things to love about being a mom. But I tell you, my least favorite part is taking the kids shopping. I’m sure this parenting issue is on your radar too amidst all the back-to-school action.

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We have a big trip coming up in just a few weeks and we need some very specific outfits for the events on this trip. Hunting for a specific item makes shopping even more stressful. We needed to pop in and out of stores quickly and having the kiddos in tow did not make that easy. In fact, this weekend was an absolute nightmare and I nearly lost my mind on multiple occasions. So it is only out of making mistakes that I can write this post. And believe me, most of these tips will not classify me as a “good parent” but I will at least have my sanity at the end of the shopping trip!

Affiliate links are included in this post. When you click through and make a purchase I receive a small portion of the sale. Thank you for helping support this blog and my family through purchasing through links!

Tip #1 DON’T TAKE THEM

I know, I’m a genius! Mic drop. End of sentence. The end. I mean this one tip can save us all. I could stop writing this article now. I actually tried all weekend to book a babysitter so Alex and I could shop alone but it didn’t work out. So on Saturday my expectations crashed after the first stop and we called it quits. Calling it quits could be a tip all its own. But I’m assuming if you are reading this you probably need to get it done. Most days I would just opt not to shop at all. But when that isn’t an option then book a babysitter if you can. It is worth the money. I will even save money when my kids aren’t with me because I tend to make better, more rational decisions. So if this post does anything for you, let it take away the guilt of hiring help so you can shop.

Tip #2 Shop online

There were a few things we needed to do in person this weekend (tux rental, try on dresses, etc.) but when we could we always wound up online, after the girls were in bed, making the difficult shopping decisions. It’s so much easier to compare prices, sort through options and make a choice when there are less distractions. Since becoming a mom I have the most difficult time making decisions in the store. I wind up buying it all to take home and sort through, hoping to return the things I don’t really want or need. Sure shopping online has its own risks and you may wind up needing to return some things but online shopping saved us this week! I nearly bought a dress for $400 in the store because I liked it so much! But once home I could rationalize that the similar dress from Rent the Runway! (<affiliate link) for just $70 would be so much better for our budget. Plus I know I will only get one use out of this dress so buying would be ridiculous!

Tip #3 Screen Time

Watching my one and a half year old stare blankly at Dora on my phone screen doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy, but it sure helps when I’m trying to have a serious conversation with my husband over how wide a bell-bottom needs to be. On Saturday we were attempting to be that family who never uses screens yet has magical powers to keep their children from spraying shoe polish all over the Jos A Bank. We failed miserably. On Sunday we wizened up. With LeapPads and iPhones in tow we made it through the mall. I learned my lesson the hard way. Not that I would before, but I really will never judge another mom for her use of screens with her children. Thank goodness we have these devices! What did our parents ever do before?

Tip #4 Bribes

Ok, so bribes don’t entirely work for our strong-willed toddlers. They don’t have a great grasp on the concept of “if this then that.” They are better at instant gratification. But occasionally it’ll work. We had been telling Eleanor for days that we were going to take her to the “Baby Store” (American Girl) and while it didn’t ensure her good behavior it did give her something to look forward to. We forgot to actually bring her baby with us which we tiptoed around by saying we were bringing the present home for baby. It was quite an expensive bribe but we were planning to do it anyway. Normally we would promise something like a cookie or smoothie instead.

Tip #5 Babywear

Our one and a half year old loves riding in the Ergobaby carrier. And our almost four year old can still fit in it and doesn’t entirely mind it. When one kiddo gets out of hand in the stroller they get to ride on our backs. We are still hands free and if they are on the back shopping is a breeze. Alex and I will alternate who is carrying based on who needs to try on clothes. But seriously, babywearing is the answer to everything, isn’t it? They certainly can’t get into too much trouble on our backs!

Introducing Adapt Carrier by Ergobaby-Newborn to Toddler

If you are a mom, likely you have already tried some or all of these tips for shopping with your toddlers. Which of these tips works best for you? What are some of your best tips for taking your kids shopping with you?

Meal Plan

Well it’s not Monday. I took a holiday. But I didn’t want to leave you hanging without a meal plan. Quite honestly I love posting these and it is a great resource for me when I need inspiration in the kitchen.

Once upon a time Alex remarked that we never eat the same meal twice. He would fall in love with something that we cooked but I would always insist on trying new things. We rarely had meals on rotation. Things are quite different now. Each week I am reaching for my favorite quick and easy meals and I find comfort knowing something is going to turn out the way I expect. Enter another week of tacos, cauliflower pizza and sausage and sweet potato skillets. Here goes last week’s meal plan:

Sunday: Chili Lime Burgers with roasted potatoes

Monday: Mac and Cheese Spaghetti with bacon and peas

Tuesday: Cozy Millet Mushroom Bowl

Wednesday: Taco Skillet

Thursday: Spicy Shrimp with Cauliflower Mash

Friday: Sausage/Apple/Brussels Sprouts/Sweet Potato Skillet

I leaned on Alex quite a bit for cooking this week. I say it week after week but I have been in quite the funk lately. I’m so grateful Alex picks up the slack where I leave off. He affords me a break when I need it, I just need to learn to ask for help more. This week was a bit weird because we were supposed to go out of town then that was canceled, then we booked a camping trip and then that was cancelled. So we wound up in town cooking through our meal plan.

Sunday– we made Chili Lime Burgers from Trader Joe’s with quick roasted fingerling potatoes. I can’t remember why we were in a hurry, but this meal worked perfectly. We planned to make something green to accompany but were just too tired. I believe Alex did all the work here.

Monday- This meal is perfection. We will be putting this on our rotation. If you recall we removed dairy (and many other things) from the girls’ diets last month. Well this month has been all about reintroducing all those foods. So now they are finally eating dairy again but we are limiting it to the lactose-free or friendly dairy (aged cheeses, goat cheese, etc.) I only used butter and aged cheddar to make the cheese sauce in this recipe and we used gluten free spaghetti noodles. It was so, so good!

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Tuesday– we had friends over for dinner and I made a double recipe of Oh She Glows Cozy Millet Bowl and still we ate the entire thing! This is one of my all-time favorite meals. The rosemary pairs nicely with the mushrooms and kale and the resulting gravy is savory and delicious! P.S. Her new cookbook, Oh She Glows Every Day: Quick and Simply Satisfying Plant-based Recipes just released and is on major sale on Amazon! I love all of her recipes.  And oops! I forgot to take a photo since we were eating with friends.

Wednesday– We love tacos and rarely make them the same twice. This taco skillet recipe was so delicious and we just used tortilla chips to dip. And more aged cheddar for garnish.

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Thursday– I actually tried a new recipe this week and this one did not disappoint! I am touch and go with shrimp. It’s not always my favorite (unless I’m on the coast and someone else is cooking for me!) We made many changes to this recipe. I used Old Bay blackened seasoning on the shrimp. I made a batch of kale chips instead of sautéed. I’m sure the meal would be delicious either way!

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Friday– We should have been eating seafood on the beach. However plans change and I’m just thankful we didn’t experience anything more inconvenient than changed plans with a hurricane passing through. We used our camping food for dinner on Friday. Alex tossed all of the ingredients into our giant electric skillet and let it cook until done. Chicken sausage with sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts is one of our favorite go-to meals.

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Our Wal-mart total this week was $122. Once again, we made several trips to the grocery store throughout the week that totaled around $50. It seems our average grocery bill each week is pretty close to $175. It seems so high but I’m having a hard time getting it down. I think for now I’m going to start budgeting between $150-$175 a week and just let it be.

What was your favorite meal last week?

It’s Friday!

It has been a slow week over here. Running like molasses! This doggone heat just won’t break and the girls and I have a case of cabin fever. I want so desperately to get out of town and all of our attempts are being thwarted.

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Do you read the verse of the day on the Bible app? Today’s verse is Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Pretty fitting since this weekend will be full of stillness. I’m desperate to be moving and do stuff, but maybe God has other plans for us this weekend. So instead I will make plans to dig into this book:

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And just relax with the family. I also invited ourselves last minute to a friend’s get together to make sure we had some fun holiday plans since our’s have changed.

So there’s not much to say today except TGIF! Am I right? I’m calling it the official last Friday of Summer and I couldn’t be more happy. I’m hoping a new season will bring some new fun. Despite writing this week about the benefits of working out and the joys of motherhood, I seem to need convincing of my own (maybe that’s why I wrote those pieces!) and some cheering up, and I’m hoping cooler weather and pumpkin-flavored everything will do the trick!

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Have a great weekend friends! Cheer me up in the comments with your weekend plans or what you are looking forward to most this Fall!

What makes being a mom fun?

We live in an age where information is so readily shared. I don’t know about you, but most of the articles I read on Facebook revolve around how being a mom is so difficult. Most days I read those words and sigh in relief. I am not the only one who feels this way. It’s true, being a mom is tough work. And I’m so thankful that I am able to be part of a larger mom community on the internet. Isn’t it reassuring when we can relate to others’ experiences?

What I don’t read often enough, however, is how moms are enjoying their work. We are all so quick to share the tough stuff (see How to Potty Train in less than a year and Parenting Three Year Olds), but how often do we sit around and talk about the joy that comes with parenting? Quite honestly most days are hard, but I want you to see the joy in my everyday too.

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For starters, isn’t it just pure joy that these littles love us more than anything in the entire world? And most likely they will for the rest of our lives. Despite all the hard times in life, my mom is still my number one. When I just want someone to be around, she is that person. I know that she will have my back no matter what for always. And I get to be that person for Eleanor and Ruthie. But of course this is talking big picture. What makes being a mom fun day-to-day…

I get to call the shots. All of them.  All the time. Occasionally this becomes overwhelming and I beg and plead for someone else to make decisions, but with the help of my husband we are 100% in charge. Bedtimes at 6:30pm- oh yes! Ice cream for dinner- occasionally.  Isn’t it fun being in charge? Of course it comes with its own struggles, like when we set consequences we really aren’t ok with and then we have to stick to it. But the inner-rebel in me loves being in charge.

I get to play. Eleanor and I will sit and color for hours. We read books. We bounce around the playground. I play with play-doh and blow bubbles. And like so many things I take this all for granted. While others are slaving behind their desks and rarely get to see the light of day, I’m outside in the sun playing tag.

I get to teach. I know this is challenging at times and certainly when I’ve repeated myself for the umpteenth time I too feel bursts of frustration. But you know what else I feel? Absolute pride and joy when I see my daughter master a skill that I have taught her. When I watch Ruthie point at a color or shape correctly or listen to Eleanor sound out a new word my mommy heart just bursts. There is absolutely nothing more amazing on this earth than having the responsibility to teach our children.

I get to relive my childhood favorites. Eleanor is at an amazing age. She is interested in so much but still lets me pick out just about everything (with some convincing). This month has been all about “The Little Princess”. Last month was “Little House on the Prairie”  (and our love continues) and before that was “Parent Trap” and “Punky Brewster” and “Secret Garden” and American Girl dolls. I love introducing her to all of my favorites and she loves it too! We listen to audio books in the car, watch the movies, and read aloud at home. Meanwhile, I am so thankful to be a girl mom. I’m not sure what I would do with boys!

Sometimes being a mom can be really, really hard. But so much of being a parent is also amazing and fun and it is easy to forget that when we are in the thick of it all. What are your favorite ways to have fun as a mom?

The pros and cons of working out

While working in the childcare room at Burn Boot Camp yesterday I kept peeking into the gym to see the workout. In my mind I was weighing whether or not I would stay for the 9:30 class. This pretty much happens every day and I get so close to talking myself out of going.  As I was putting on my gym clothes that morning I even went as far to mention to Alex that “I hope to get use out of these today” since I seem to be talking myself out of workouts more often than not lately.

I looked over my shoulder at one point and saw the women doing planks and blurted “I quit!” to my co-worker. “I quit working out, this is not for me anymore!” Although not serious, the thought crosses my mind so often that I wonder why I bother. Why do I work out? Why do I keep punishing myself day after day?

pros and cons of working out

First, the cons. Why do I ever consider quitting?

The sweat. Wouldn’t it be nice to get dressed and do my hair each day in the morning and look great the rest of the day? Most days I wind up in my sweaty gym clothes well into the afternoon until I can get a chance to shower.

The effort. So much of life feels like hard work right now. I’d love for just one thing to be easy…like maybe yoga. (Yogis don’t hate…I know it’s not really that easy)

I’m so tired. But really I am. I am so tired all the time. And no, I’m not pregnant. I’m just a mom. But really, that hour might be better spent taking a nap in the back of the gym instead.

If this is the great debate going on in my head each and every single day, how do I ever actually make it into the gym and begin a work out?

The after. All of the above just melts away half way into the work out. I am pushing myself harder each minute I am there because I know afterward I will feel like super woman. The endorphins far outweigh all the negativity that comes before the work out begins.

The calories. Let’s be honest. It’s much easier to justify that evening glass of wine or handful of chocolate chips when we burned a few, am I right? Not that it ever really keeps me away, but I sure like not feeling guilty.

The fitness. Every time we workout is like making a deposit into our fitness bank account. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier the next time, but over time results keep us motivated and driven. When I slack for a time it certainly makes it more difficult to come back.

The sanity. I am so much more patient. So relaxed. And accomplished after a workout. A good sweat session definitely keeps me sane.

What are the ways you talk yourself out of going to the gym? What helps you stay motivated?

 

Back to…

Everywhere around us change is happening. My Facebook feed is littered with back to school pictures. Everyone’s first day of preschool and kindergarten immortalized by social media. As I sit here embarking on just another Monday I am envious of the other moms who are waving goodbye to their littles on their first days.

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It’s not that I’m actually ready to send my kids off, and not even that I’m desperate for a break. I’m really just desperate for change. Unlike most of the entire population I love change! Love, love, love it! I’m over here scribbling new schedules and planning new activities to give me a small semblance of change. I too want to embark on a new season and a new phase of life.

I know I sound crazy. While other moms are shedding tears because they aren’t ready, I’m feeling ready for anything. I’m tired of the same day-to-day business…cook this, clean that, wipe this (usually a butt). I am trying to convince myself to enjoy the monotony. My time will come too soon when change will be all around and I will be wishing for time to stand still. I remind myself how lucky I am that we get to do whatever we want day to day. Each day can be,and is, its own adventure. I need to relax, take it easy, and enjoy this wonderful ride. Let time slow down and let this one last year of nothingness pass at a crawling speed. Slow deep breaths. Y’all have fun with your change and your kids running out the door. I’ll be over here attempting to soak up the tedium.

 

Meal Plan Monday: Trader Joe’s Haul

Last week we found ourselves in Charlotte on Saturday morning, the perfect excuse to get our grocery shopping done at Trader Joe’s. While we sat at breakfast I made a quick meal plan and grocery list and Alex and I went to the store…without the kids!

While Trader Joe’s tends to be a little more expensive than Wal-mart and the shopping is a bit more chaotic since I can’t online shop, we still managed to stay in budget and buy many of our favorite TJ’s goodies! Here’s a quick look at our meals last week and our favorite Trader Joe’s buys.

Saturday: Cauliflower Pizza

Sunday: Tuna Zoodle Casserole

Monday: Turkey Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries

Tuesday: Greek Pasta Salad

Wednesday: Crockpot Quinoa Enchilada Casserole and chips

Thursday: Greek Pasta Salad (again!) with other picnic snacks

Friday: Chili Lime Chicken Burgers, Roasted Potatoes, Kale Chips

Trader Joe's Favorite Picks

We absolutely love Trader Joe’s! Not all of these items were on our shopping list this week, but these are our favorites from the store.

Chile Lime Chicken Burgers//Riced Cauliflower//Tuna//Three Buck Chuck//Coconut Cream//Coconut Flour//Turkey Burgers//Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups//Roasted Plantain Chips//French Green Beans//Raisin Rosemary Crisps//Coconut Oil Spray//Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta//Enchilada Sauce//Cranberry Chevre//Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract

We utilized many of these items this week to make quick and easy meals on a budget.

On Saturday I had just read Emily’s blog post about her Cauliflower Crust Pizza recipe and was excited to be at Trader Joe’s to pick up the supplies. It was so good but my hungry family could have eaten two trays of this pizza!

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Sunday I used the Zucchini Noodle Casserole recipe from Inspiralized to make one of our favorite go-to meals. This is reminiscent of Tuna Helper meals from childhood and will usually be gobbled up by my children. I love using Trader Joe’s red can tuna in this recipe.

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Monday was quick and easy Turkey Burgers, Green Beans and Sweet Potato Fries straight out of the freezer section of Trader Joe’s (no shame!). We ate at a friend’s house while Alex helped build a deck.

Tuesday I let Alex take the reigns on this quick meal while I worked at boot camp. The Trader Joe’s gluten free pasta has the best texture. We mixed with olives, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers and Italian dressing for an easy weekday meal.

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On Wednesday I forgot to throw the ingredients for this meal into the crockpot until the very last minute. I’m happy to report that it will cook on high in less than an hour! In the crockpot went a cup of quinoa, two bell peppers chopped, a can of black beans and the whole bottle of enchilada sauce. An hour later and it was ready. We piled the mixture on tortilla chips with melted cheese for a nacho dinner.

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Thursday, when I realized Alex only used half of the olives and artichokes for the pasta salad I sent him to the store for more dry pasta so I could quickly mix another batch of Tuesday’s dinner. We also grabbed hummus and carrots and took our meal on the road for a picnic at the winery to listen to the live music of one of my favorite musicians.

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Friday night we used up the last of our Trader Joe’s haul grilling the Chile Lime Chicken Burgers and roasting fingerling potatoes. I also made a batch of kale chips and cooked the rest of the green beans.

I could shop at Trader Joe’s every week and eat the same 5 or 6 meals on repeat! I just wish we had one closer.

I can’t find our receipt from our haul but I remember we spent $144. I still had to hit up Wal-Mart for toilet paper and a few other odds and ends. I spent about $175 total on groceries this week including Alex’s run on Thursday.

What were your favorite meals this week? What are your favorite Trader Joe’s foods?

 

 

Family Fun Friday

A quick look at our family fun this week. Unfortunately the heat is getting to us and keeping us indoors lately but we did catch a bit of relief on Monday and Tuesday this week.

Family Fun Friday

After the gym on Monday we just sat in the grass outside and ate a granola bar together, sang songs and ran around (them, not me– I was wiped from Insanity and Piyo!) It felt so nice to have a break in the humidity if only for a few days!

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Tuesday our activity of choice was the library. I promised Eleanor if she napped well I would take her to rent the Veggie Tales: Penniless Princess. We just listened to The Little Princess audio book together and she had fun watching the Veggie Tales put their spin on this classic novel. We have also watched the other two versions of this movie and the Veggie Tales version is her favorite. While at the library the girls played quietly for over an hour. When they had their fill and started acting wild it was time to go!

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We had a fun swim party on Wednesday with some of our Burn Boot Camp friends.  I have been lazy and not taking the girls to the pool often enough this month so it was great motivation for us to get back in the water. We brought a picnic lunch and stayed all morning until naps.

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Although the heat came back with a vengeance we made it to the playground with our friends on Thursday morning. I love the park but my only struggle is that all the other moms pack snacks and I don’t. I try to teach the girls that other families do things differently than ours but it is always a struggle when my kids beg for snacks and I don’t have any. I don’t mind other moms feeding my kids but I always just feel so bad that my children eat their snacks. Admittedly I did forget to pack waters on Thursday and it was incredibly hot so my kids also drank from our friend’s water bottles. Sorry friends!

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And on Fridays we stay home.

What activities did you and your kids get into this week? I am hoping to have a few more adventures before summer is over but for now our weekly rotation of park, library and swimming will suffice.

Create Your Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Last year I stumbled on the idea of a capsule wardrobe and was immediately excited.  I began to weed through my closet and realized that the clothes I was getting rid of were the ones that hung in the back, never touched anyway. Having a capsule wardrobe is like only wearing your favorite clothes every day. I only wear my favorites anyway so essentially I had a “capsule wardrobe” but with a whole lot of clutter.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe

I narrowed my closet down to just my very favorites. I took stock of what I had and what I felt I needed to add to complete my wardrobe and suddenly shopping was fun! With a plan and a budget I set forth to add quality pieces that would accompany my existing clothes.

When all was said and done I had less than 40 items in my closet. For the first time my side was less crowded than Alex’s! And yet with less clothes, I felt like I had more complete outfits and had more fun getting dressed. Picking out clothes to wear didn’t feel like a chore anymore. I was excited about every single piece. In short, creating a capsule wardrobe was one of the best choices I have made this year.

How to begin your seasonal capsule wardrobe:

Make a list of the ideal wardrobe.

Check Pinterest for more seasonal capsule wardrobe ideas. Or check out my lists below. Yours will likely not be an exact replica of any other wardrobe. But knowing what a complete wardrobe might look like will help you recognize the clothes you want to keep. Here is a suggested list:

  • 5-10 pairs of shoes
  • 10-15 tops
  • 5-10 bottoms (shorts/pants/skirts)
  • 2-3 dresses
  • 3-5 layering pieces (sweaters, jackets, scarves)
  • 4-5 accessories (watch, necklace, earrings)

When creating this list keep in mind the season and your location. Here in North Carolina our fall can sometimes feel like summer so I’ll keep a pair of shorts in the mix as well as light layering pieces. Also consider the roles you play in life. Are you working a mom that needs business casual but also weekend clothes? Do you enjoy nights out and need more fun tops and accessories? I am a SAHM and admittedly I live in jeans and t-shirts. Having jackets and scarves and necklaces helps me mix up my classic mom uniform.

Sort your existing clothes. 

There are many ways to do this. I like taking everything out, sort, and then put back in from my STAY pile. You may find that you can easily choose what is going to leave your closet and just pull it out and leave the rest. This is dangerous however, and you may find yourself going back many times to weed through. It sounds like a ton of work but if you have an afternoon I encourage you to just empty and start from scratch. You will find you are way more discriminating in your choices.

To start sorting you should have four piles: STAY, MAYBE, NEXT SEASON, AND LEAVE. These piles might change as you get through your process. You may put more items in the leave pile that were originally a stay or maybe. But don’t go backwards. If you have already decided it should leave, don’t move it back to maybe. Trust your gut. Keep only clothes that are in good condition and fit you right now.  This is a seasonal wardrobe so if you think your body size may change in the next few months just toss those clothes in your NEXT SEASON pile. Also, only keep the clothes that you love and feel confident wearing.

Pay attention to the colors and styles in your wardrobe. An ideal capsule will have a harmonious style and most of your tops are able to be worn with your bottoms. When having a difficult time deciding what stays and goes consider if the colors and patterns work with the other pieces in your wardrobe.

Get rid of the extras.

Immediately bag your LEAVE pile and get it out the door. Trust me, you don’t need as many clothes as you think you do! Put all your NEXT SEASON clothes in a bin. I don’t get super picky about these clothes. I know that there will be more LEAVE’s out of this pile but I wait until the appropriate season to decide. Some clothes you will keep through all seasons, like a great pair of jeans and your tees, but many will be seasonal. It is important to know that you don’t have to stick to 40 items for an entire year.

Take inventory. Build your wardrobe.

Check out what remains in your STAY pile. Maybe it’s best to lay it out on the bed or go ahead and get it back on hangers and in the closet. What do you have? And what is missing from the list we discussed above? Are there pieces in your MAYBE pile that really fit the bill? Once the clutter is gone, you might find that the MAYBEs are beginning to fit back in. Or maybe now it’s obvious they should go too. Now is the time to start building your wardrobe. When hitting this stage I always start with what I already have. Don’t go shopping until you have found a place for everything that is left. When this is done, if you have any MAYBE’s left it is time for them to go.

GO SHOPPING!

What’s left on your list? Unfortunately for my budget I had a lot of missing pieces my first go around. I needed a great pair of jeans. The kind you want to pull on Every.Single.Day. I needed some plaids, and layering pieces. And I really needed a few new solid tees for everyday wear. I shopped at a local women’s consignment sale and was able to get most of my pieces. But then I took to my favorite stores, waited for sales and ultimately just bit the bullet. A little bit of investment goes a long way on quality clothes. Most of the items I bought last fall I will be repeating in this year’s capsule. If you have the budget splurge just a little on quality items. For me jeans and layers are important to splurge on. I will keep these items for years. I basically ruin t-shirts in a season so I tend to go for cheaper but sustainable options like Everlane.

It sounds wild but get your shopping done quick. Don’t wait around. You will have an incomplete wardrobe and your capsule will fail. You will feel discouraged and hate it and feel like you have nothing to wear. Complete your capsule. Do it once and be done. Do not add along the way. I was so nervous about spending money all at once but I ended up spending less in the long run. Once my capsule was complete I didn’t need to shop for the entire season!

Prepare for next season

But if you do feel like shopping, only buy for the next season. It is actually fun to buy clothes and hide them away. Just like when you were a kid and your mom took you school shopping but you couldn’t wear anything until the first day of school. If you buy throughout the previous season, you will be ready to go for the next. Once my fall capsule was finished last year I would start looking for items I wanted to add to my winter wardrobe like puff vests and a great wool coat.

My Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Fall Capsule Shoes

Shoes

Shoes are the easiest to start with. I already own all of these except the leopard loafers and am on the hunt.  My flats are both from Target I’ve had for years. I also found my black booties on sale for $9 at Target two years ago and they are most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. My Steve Madden tall brown boots were a Christmas gift two years ago and my nude/blush leather Tom’s were a birthday gift last year. The only other pair I am considering for this year is a great pair of Hunter Boots, a splurge but also an item that I will keep for years to come. These are the only shoes I need, but you may decide to add a few more to your capsule. You may want an additional pair of booties in a more neutral color or need a few pairs of heels for work.

Fall Capsule Layers

Layers

Layering pieces are also pretty straight forward. I am excited that I do not need to add to this list at all this season. I bought my army green jacket last fall when I first did my capsule. I realized it was the one key piece missing. This year I also bought a jean jacket on sale at the beginning of summer and it will be great this fall. I also have a white and black cardigan because these are my go-to items when I need a layer.

Fall Capsule BottomsBottoms

I am sticking with basics on the bottom this fall and keeping only my favorites out. These great black khakis from Gap, a pair of boyfriend jeans from Loft and my beloved Paige skinnys. As I mentioned above, I’ll keep out a pair of shorts for transition into Fall. I am resurrecting my beloved maroon khakis from Gap this Fall and also on the hunt for these amazing moto leggings. I love using a little color on the bottom since I tend to stick to neutrals on the top.

Fall Capsule Tops

Tops

Just 16 pieces for me unless I find something absolutely perfect while out shopping. Many of the shirts above I already own and will reuse from last year or transition from Summer to Fall. I tend to gravitate to Loft and Gap for tops but am looking to purchase from higher quality, more ethical lines. Unfortunately most of my Loft shirts fall apart after just one season. On my list to purchase this year is that amazing black and white striped heavy weight tee from Everlane. I also just purchased my new beloved “Sunday Funday” tee and the pink and gray t-shirt dress from a local boutique.

Fall Capsule Accessories

Last on the list are accessories. I am definitely a less is more gal so feel free to go beyond what I have listed here. A statement necklace would be a great addition and would add a pop of color to a neutral wardrobe. And scarves would also be fun but I personally hate wearing scarves. I currently own all of these pieces except the backpack. I have had the Everlane Mini on my wishlist for a long time!

I am now one full year into using a capsule wardrobe and am a complete convert. I am way more likely on a daily basis to get out of my “athleisure” and into real clothes. Once the real clothes are on I’m also more likely to accessorize and do my hair and make up.

What do you think? Are you ready to create your own capsule wardrobe? What would you add or take from the one I created? If you have questions about sources leave in the comments. I’ll also be happy to do a follow up post with sources.