Friday, August 17, 2018

Five on Friday – Affordable Trendy Tops Under $16

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you know that I am a bargain shopper.  When it comes to closet staples that will last a long time I will spend a little bit more to ensure that I’m getting quality items, but when it comes to trends?  I’m always looking for a steal!  To me, there is just no point in spending $50 on a top that I’m only going to wear for a couple of seasons. 

I was recently on searching for something totally unrelated to fashion, but I somehow managed to stumble upon a super cute top, and I noticed it was only $5.  After seeing that one, I started to browse a little bit, and I came across so many cute tops that I just had to share them with all of you! 

O N E – Off the Shoulder

I love every. single. thing. about this top!  The bell sleeves, the off-the-shoulder, the ruffle at the top, the pin strips.  This one may make its way into my closet.  It’s only $15.98.

T W O – Ruffle Sleeve

This is the top that I initially stumbled upon.  $5, y’all.  You cannot beat that price!

T H R E E – Nordstrom Knockoff

Y’all know those Lush tunics from Nordstrom that everyone raves about?  Well, I found a dupe!  Only $8.99 and it comes in two different colors!  The Lush tunics are on sale right now and they are still $27.90 on sale, down from $42.00.  $8.99 sounds mighty good, doesn't it?

F O U R – Bell Sleeves

I love the bell sleeves on this one!  It comes in four colors and it’s only $9.96.

F I V E – Polka Dots

Y’all know I love polka dots and the little twist in the front and the bow on the back makes this top so fun!  Only $15.98!

S I X – Cross Front Floral

The print on this top and the cross front is soooo feminine and pretty.  It comes in four prints and colors and it’s only $13.99!

S E V E N – Kimono

Holy gorgeousness, Batman!!  I could not be more in love with this kimono!!!!  The print, the lace edges, the crocheted openings, and the bell sleeves.  I am in love.  I think I just convinced myself to buy this one!  And it comes in six different prints and colors.  :o)

E I G H T – Plaid

Well hello, plaid, bell sleeves, and tie-front top!  This top has so many different trends going on but I LOVE it.  It comes in four colors and it’s only $14.46!

Walmart is now doing free two-day shipping on orders over $35!  You can have these pretties in your closet in no time!

Happy Friday, y’all!

*Linking up with A Liz Adventures and Carolina Charm for Five on Friday, A Little Bit of Everything for Friday FavoritesMeet @ the Barre for Friday Favorites, and Cup of Tea for High Five for Friday.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Girl Chat - Favorite Quotes to Live By

Happy Thursday, y’all!  Today is our monthly Girl Chat link-up and I am so excited about this one because we’re discussing our favorite quotes to live by.  I have always been a sucker for a good quote, because I truly believe that words have the ability to motivate, inspire, and encourage.

Some of my favorite quotes are from the bible and some of them are from public figures, but the majority of the ones I find myself really relating to and appreciating are actually from song lyrics.  I’m a huge music lover and music has always played a very prominent role in my life. 

Without further ado, some of my favorite words to live by…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” – Proverbs 3:5 

This is probably the single most important quote to me.  It helped me through a very hard time after my miscarriage back in 2010 and it is a verse that brings me comfort any other time that I’m struggling.  I’m a major worrier and an even bigger over-analyzer and this is a great reminder to just stop and give it all to God. 

“Never give up.  Never surrender.” – Galaxy Quest

This one may seem weird, especially since it’s from Galaxy Quest (which I’ve never even seen), but after I gave birth to Jacob I suffered from some bad nerve damage in my left hip/leg and I couldn’t walk for months after he was born.  I also suffered from a bunch of other pain/issues and it was just a really tough time.  I saw doctor after doctor after doctor and none of them could figure out what was wrong with me.  None of them could even tell me if I would be able to walk again, and it was terrifying. 

One night as I was sitting next to B on the couch and nursing Jacob, that show Wipeout was on (do y’all remember that?) and one of the contestants (who was a complete and utter goofball) kept shouting, “NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!”  It was so silly, but that quote has stuck with me all these years. 

My nerve damage eventually resolved on its own, but I was left with an abundance of other issues and pain from compensating for so long that no doctors/specialists/physical therapists could figure out.  Years upon years of pain went by without any relief or answers and there were so many times that I almost just gave up even trying to figure it out anymore.  But then I would remember this quote, “Never give up, never surrender.”  And so I didn’t.  And six years and more than 20 doctors/specialists later I FINALLY found the doctor who was able to help me get to feeling better.  I still have a little bit of pain from time to time, but my quality of life is so much better now.  I would have never found her if I had given up, and I’d still be in lots of pain to this day.

“Celebrate we will because life is short but sweet for certain.” – Dave Matthews Band

I think we can all agree just how true this quote is… life goes by in the blink of an eye so we might as well make the most of our time while we’re here.

“All you need is love.” – The Beatles

So simple and yet so true.  Because if you have love, most everything else will fall into place.  And even if it doesn’t, at least you have love.

“Let your faith be bigger than your fear. – Unknown

This is another great quote to remember if you are a worrier like I am.  This one really hits home with me.

“The future is no place to place your better days.” – Dave Matthews Band

Start living NOW.  So many times I’ve caught myself saying, “Well maybe one day I’ll do that when…(fill in the blank – I get married, have kids, have a bigger house, have a nicer car, have a better job.)”  Don’t wait until your life is “perfect” before you finally start living.  There is no moment like the present!

“Keep your head up, try and listen to your heart.  Be kind always, no matter.  We all grow up and some day we’ll say goodbye, so shine your light while you got one.” – Dave Matthews Band

More sage advice from my favorite band.

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

Because this world could use a little more kindness.

“There is always something to be thankful for.” – Unknown

Because no matter how many trials and tribulations there are in this life, there are so many good things, too.  Always try to find the silver lining.

“Love the life you live, and live the life you love.” – Bob Marley

We only get one life, so make it count!

Happy Thursday, y’all!

*Linking up with Home of Malones for Thoughts for Thursday.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Back-to-School Command Center for a Small Space

*This post may contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through or make a purchase.

As a parent of a little one in school, there is so much to keep up with that it can be completely and utterly overwhelming.  There are forms to fill out, behavior charts to initial, book bags to carry, lunch boxes to pack, snacks to bring, homework to keep track of, events to attend, show and tell items to bring, special attire to remember (church days, spirit days, etc.), and the list goes on... 

… and on and on and on. 

I have always been an extremely organized and have-my-biz-together kind of person, but I have never felt quite so unprepared and overwhelmed as I did when Jacob first started school.  When he started Pre-K4 (AKA real school) three years ago, I was stressed out TO THE MAX.  I knew that I had to figure out a way to get organized and stay organized… otherwise I was going to lose my mind. 

But how?  I’ve always coveted all of the spacious, organized mudrooms I see on Pinterest with their individual cubbies and drawers for each member of the family along with ample room for umbrellas, hats, shoes, and anything else you could possibly need to take with you when you leave the house.  But sadly, we don’t have a mudroom. 

Since we don’t have one, I decided to utilize the space that we do have (which isn’t much) and I have to say, the space might be small, but it sure is mighty!

We always park our cars in our garage, so the garage door that opens to our kitchen is the door that we use 99% of the time.  Just behind that door there is a little corner comprised of two very narrow walls.  One is about 25 inches wide and the other is a mere 12 inches wide.  Even though it’s small, I decided to make the most of that space and create a command center there since it’s right there when we walk in the door each day.

I knew that I wanted to have a place to hang up notifications and newsletters, a place to file paperwork, a place for the kids to hang their jackets, and a place for the kids to put their book bags and other things they have to take to school.

First things first, I searched for a bulletin board to fit the space, but since my needs were so specific (I needed something taaaallll and skinny) I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.  Instead, I headed straight to Lowe’s and picked up a piece of soundboard for $9.  Soundboard works exactly like a bulletin board, and it is CHEAP.  As a matter of fact, the sheet that I bought was so large that I was able to make another bulletin board for my home office from the same sheet.  The guys at Lowe’s cut it down to size for me right there in the store, and then I was on my way!  I then picked up some fabric and ribbon and I made my bulletin board using this tutorial.  B hung it for me and it fit just perfectly in that space!

I ended up finding a paper file hanger (similar here) for the kids’ school papers at Marshall’s and I also found a little hook hanger (similar here) at Marshall’s for the kids’ jackets.  Finally, I grabbed a couple of plastic baskets at Walmart (similar here) to hold their book bags.

The bulletin board contains the following:

1.      A page that I typed up containing all of my notes – church dress days, dismissal times, uniform requirements, a list of things that each child needs to have each morning while we’re getting out the door (book bags, lunch boxes, snacks, homework, signed folders, and a blanket for Olivia), and other random notes that I need to remember
2.      A copy of the school calendar with all of the holidays and early dismissal days
3.      A pocket folder that holds Jacob’s class handbook and weekly newsletters (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
4.      A pocket folder that holds Olivia’s class handbook and weekly newsletters (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
5.      A pocket folder that holds Jacob’s homework requirements, AR information, and homework assignments for the week (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
6.      A pocket folder that holds Olivia’s homework requirements, which isn’t much right now (I just used a 10x13 envelope and cut out the top to create a pocket)
7.      A copy of Jacob’s Daily Checklist (this is placed inside a plastic page protector which turns it into a dry erase surface so they can check off their daily duties with a dry erase marker)
8.      A copy of Olivia’s Daily Checklist (this is placed inside a plastic page protector which turns it into a dry erase surface so they can check off their daily duties with a dry erase marker)

As you can see, I put the kids’ names on the bulletin boards and then all of the folders, notes, and daily checklists for each child are under their names. 

Jacob’s jackets hang on the left hooks of the coat rack and Olivia’s hang on the right hooks.

The baskets on the floor under the coat rack hold the kids’ book bags as well as their bibles that they bring to church on the weekends.  The baskets are large enough to also hold Olivia’s ballet bag as well.  Jacob’s basket is on the left under his stuff and Olivia’s is on the right under her stuff.

The metal file hanger was originally bought to hold the kids’ school work, but since it has three slots, I decided that one of them could be used to hold Brian’s mail.  He was really bad about letting his mail stack up a foot high on the countertop and I just couldn’t stand it, so I designated the bottom slot for his mail, and then the top slot is for Jacob’s school work and the middle is for Olivia’s. 

With regard to school work, every day when they come home, I remove all of their work from their folders, look at all of it, toss the non-important stuff in the recycling bin, and save the items that are special (artwork, excellent grades, special projects).  The items I save are placed in their file slots each day and then twice per year (once at Christmas break and once at the end of the school year) I go through their file slots, photograph each item, save the very special pieces that we want to keep forever (only a select few) and then recycle the rest.  The items we save forever are then placed in their School Paper Keepsake Boxes that are in kept in their closets.

This method allows me to quickly and easily put away their school work on a daily basis instead of having to photograph our favorites and run upstairs every single day to dig out their keepsake boxes.  When the time comes to clean the files out and move them to the keepsake boxes, the process is pretty streamlined and only takes about 30 minutes.

I also found another little metal wall organizer (similar here) that fits perfectly under the file organizer and that is where B keeps his wallet and hangs his keys.  No more stuff all over the kitchen counters!  WOO HOO! 

During the summer all of the school stuff comes down from the bulletin board and the Summer Bucket List goes up!

I’d say that’s really making the most of our space, huh?

If you want to see a live look at the command center, head on over and follow me on Instagram!!  I posted several stories about it and they are saved in my “Simplify 4” highlight in my Instagram bio.  I posted these before everything was totally done, but it’ll still give you a good idea of where everything is.

And if you want to make a similar station of your own, I found some items on Amazon that would be perfect!

Bulletin Boards – here, here, here, and here
Folders for Bulletin Board – here
Plastic Page Protectors for Bulletin Board – here
Coat Hook Hanger – here, herehere, and here
Baskets – here and here
Paper File Hanger – here, herehere, here, and here
Wallet and Key Hanger – here and here

Happy organizing!

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*Linking up with The Pleated Poppy for What I What I Wore, Pumps & Push Ups for Oh, Hey Girl! Link-Up, The Mummy ChroniclesTucker UpShopping My Closet for Style Me Wednesday, Classy Yet Trendy for Trendy Wednesday Link-Up, The Blended Blog and Jessi's Design and Going the Distance for What's Hap-"Pinning" Wednesday.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Our Weekend - The One With the Taylor Swift Concert & Bowling

Happy Monday, y’all!  We had a great weekend and it was just what we needed to get our batteries recharged for the new week!

Friday afternoon, B and I dropped the kids at my parents’ house for the night and he and I headed to Atlanta for the Taylor Swift concert!!  She has been on my concert bucket list for the last few years ever since her second to last album came out, and when the Reputation album came out I knew for sure that I had to see her for this tour. 

B is my #ConcertBuddyForLife so he was a good sport and came along for the ride.  But don’t feel sorry for him… he was secretly excited.  And he loved it!  Lol. 

We arrived at Mercedes Benz Stadium in ATL with plenty of time before the opening acts started, so we walked around for a bit (and stopped for a photo opp in the big Falcons helmet!) and then went to find our seats.  Well, after walking around our level and never seeing our section, we finally stopped and asked somebody where our section was, and they pointed to the Harrah’s VIP lounge… WHAT?!  B bought the tickets from StubHub and nowhere on the ticket information did it say that ours were in the VIP lounge.  We knew that they were on the club level, but we didn’t know that they came with all of the VIP perks – our own private lounge, restaurant, full-size bar, bathrooms, and balcony overlooking the show!!!!  #Ballers

Since we had all of these things right at our fingertips, we didn’t even have to go in search of food because it was right there!  We both opted for good ol’ hot dogs (even thought there was a full-service restaurant right there) and craft beers from the bar.  After we had eaten we headed down to our seats!  Not too shabby!!!!

Charli XCX opened first followed by Camila Cabello and I thought they both did great jobs even though I’m not huge fans of theirs.  After they finished their sets, B and I headed back up to the lounge to grab a giant pretzel and two more beers and to take one last bathroom break before Taylor came out.

We made it back to our seats just in time for the show to start.  Upon arriving at the stadium people were handing out plastic bracelets to every single person in the audience and I was really excited to see what they would do.  I had assumed that they would light up for the show, but I had no clue just how flipping awesome they would be.  B and I both pulled the tabs out of our bracelets just minutes before the show started to activate them, but neither of them lit up or did anything.  We were both puzzled and wondering why they weren’t lighting up (I was worried they were broken) and then just when Taylor came out on the stage, every single bracelet in the entire stadium lit up in sync! 

For the rest of the show the bracelets danced in time to the music and they changed to colors of red, pink, orange, green, blue, and white.  They each had sensors to know which section of the stadium you were in, so they knew when to light up as which color.  This allowed some of the sections to be lit up while others weren’t and it also allowed for different sections to be lit up as different colors.  During some parts of the show, the bracelets would light up in a ripple all around the stadium, and it was so neat to watch.  It was pretty much the coolest thing ever!  I think I enjoyed that just as much as I did the actual concert!  Haha.  All of the little colored dots in the audience in my pictures below are people’s bracelets.  And if you want to see videos of it, just head over to my Instagram bio and click on the “Live Music” story highlight.  I took about 20 videos because it was just so dang spectacular!!

Anyway, Taylor put on a phenomenal show.  I mean, I had HIGH expectations, and I was still blown away!  There was fire, tons of fireworks, a light-up stage, huge movie screens, massive snakes that came up out of the floor, and she flew across the audience in a cage to a stage at the other end of the venue.  Then she made her way to another stage on the other side of the venue, and finally flew across the audience in another cage back to the main stage. 

She played a great mix of her new and old songs.  We got to hear most of the songs on the Reputation album, a few from her 1989 album, and several from her older albums as well.   She played her guitar for a couple of the songs and she played her piano for a couple of them as well.  Then it was high energy for the remainder of the show.  I cannot express how awesome this concert was, y’all!!  If she’s coming to a city near you, I HIGHLY recommend that you see her!  It was definitely in my Top 5 of my favorite concerts I’ve ever been to.  And I have been to a LOT of concerts, y’all.

B and I ended up getting home a little before 1 AM so we ended up sleeping until 9:30 the next morning.  Completely unheard of!!  We had a lazy breakfast at home and then once we were ready, we headed to my parents’ house to pick up the babies.  The rest of the afternoon was spent at home.  Our Georgia season tickets arrived in the mail (YAAAASSSS!!!!) and I finally managed to get my purse cleaned out.  I got so much stuff out of there it actually feels a great deal lighter on my shoulder!  #Winning

We headed to 5:30 mass and afterward we saw my friend Jeannine and her sweet boys.  One of them happened to be twinning with Olivia so we snapped a picture!  I also noticed that our family of four had inadvertently color coordinated, so naturally I had to snap a picture of that, too!  :o)

We spent the rest of the evening at my parents’ house having Sunday dinner on a Saturday.  My brother, sis-in-law, and nephew come to visit frequently now, but since they always have to leave Sunday afternoon to get back home, they always miss Sunday dinner, so my Momma decided to do it on Saturday this week so they could partake.  After dinner, my brother, Zach, got out his plane flight simulator and he let the kids take turns playing.  They thought it was a hoot every time they crashed.  Haha.

Sunday, my MIL didn’t cook Sunday lunch and my Momma didn’t cook Sunday dinner, so we had the entire day with absolutely not one thing on the agenda.  We had a pretty lazy morning around the house and then we headed for pizza for lunch.  After lunch we had zero errands to run since I can now run them all during the week, so we took the kids bowling!  They started out using the little prop to roll the ball down the alley, but eventually they graduated to rolling the ball down all on their own.  Everybody beat me because a) I suck at bowling, and b) the kids cheated and used bumpers.  Haha.  

The rest of the evening was spent eating a light dinner at home, getting the kids to bed early, and then binge-watching more Breaking Bad.  #CantStopWontStop

Y’all have a great week!

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*Linking up with B Loved Boston for Weekending and HoHo Runs for Weekly Wrap.