Hope Planner

Ya’ll. When I first read about the Hope Planner, I legitimately had tears in my eyes. Now, granted, it doesn’t take much to bring out the tears these days (hello Publix commercials!) but wow… have you ever read something and just thought to yourself YES! This is me! They get me!

Heather Vreeland, the creator of the brand new Hope Planner (read her blog post here introducing it) is a wife, mother, founder of Occasions Media Group and the creator of The Celebration Society, St. Augustine Social and Littleature Children’s Books.  In 2016, a simple desire to make an intentional habit of reading the Bible every day inspired her to design her own daily agenda that helped to re-organize her priorities and make room in her schedule to read God’s Word every day. That simple goal sparked new life and greater perspective in her normally stressed out days and became an agent of change in her life.

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Hopefuel’s ministry is to create tools that help people find themselves, success, peace, forgiveness, happiness and ultimately find unshakeable trust in God through the ups and downs of life using both Biblical and common sense principles.

The Hope Planner is an all-in-one daily planner and prayer journal designed to help Christian women make room in her schedule to spend time with God, among all the other things that compete for her time and attention.

Every day features a place for devotional time and to-dos. It has a semi-annual 6 month layout to reduce bulk and excess “stuff” that we don’t need to carry around for a year. This is new for me, as I’ve never used a 6 month planner, but so far I really like it! The pages are just the right thickness (if you care about that kind of thing, like me) and I love the room for creativity that the simple, white pages present.

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I love the space at the top of each day to focus on scripture and the layout of the week (there’s an extra page on Sundays for sermon notes). There’s also a place to track your water intake which is something I’m working on improving and a space to meal plan. Every detail is just so well thought out and accessible, I think it may be my most favorite planner I’ve ever used. And I’ve use a lot of planners in my day (planner nerds unite!).

It can be started at any time, because it comes with monthly tab labels and you apply the decals and fill in the monthly numbers yourself. So, if you’re still looking for a wonderful planner to use this year or the one you’re currently using just isn’t working for you, I can’t recommend the Hope Planner enough. Lastly, if my review hasn’t convinced you to bite the bullet and give it a try, just watch this video and if it speaks to your heart like it did mine, you’ll know this is the planner for you!

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Thank you to Heather, founder of Hope Fuel for providing the planner featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Her Story Clothing Co.

Her Story Clothing Co. is an online boutique based out of Sacramento, California and when I first discovered them on instagram, I had no idea what a sweet story I would find behind the name. Ya’ll know that I’m really passionate about not only sharing adorable clothes and cool baby products, but also the stories behind each brand I have the pleasure of working with because I truly believe that when you support a small business, you’re supporting a dream and in turn, someone’s family.

Rachael, the founder of Her Story Clothing Co., worked in the mental health field as a licensed marriage family therapist with women and teenage girls struggling with eating disorders for over ten years and says, “it became overwhelmingly clear that we have an epidemic of women obsessed with the idea of being ‘thin’ and diet obsession.  We know the importance of feeling good in your own skin-and in your own clothes. Our mission is to carry sizes beyond the standard S, M, L that just don’t work for many of us. You will also notice that our models are typically not ‘models’ but real women showing off their Her Story Clothing Co favorites! They will vary in height, weight, shape and age-just like our shoppers do!”

They also have a blog where they share stories of women who have overcome eating disorders and mindsets of body shaming to encourage and empower women of all shapes and sizes.

Ya’ll, I love this. What a cool company! Am I right or am I right?!

As if their prices aren’t already good enough, if you subscribe to their mailing list, you’ll find promo codes frequently sent your way and stay up to date with all the newest arrivals.

A few pieces currently on the website that I loooove:

My Hallmark Christmas Movie Shirt is going to be a favorite every year, I can already tell. Nap time is sacred around here, and anytime I get the chance to make a latte, curl up on my couch with a blanket by the tree, and watch a cheesy Hallmark movie… ya better believe I’m going for it. It doesn’t take much to make this Mama happy these days! It’s also available with red sleeves!

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Use code HOLIDAY15 for 15% off now through December 24th!

Thanks so much to Rachael from Her Story Clothing Co. for providing the shirt featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Heyward House

This year, I went to the Southern Christmas Show with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law and it was so much fun! Because we went on Veteran’s Day, a day that many people have off work, it was exceptionally crowded and pretty difficult to navigate with two strollers. I didn’t get to see every vendor (although I’m pretty sure that even if you went on days when it wasn’t as crowded, it could still take five full days to see each and every one). If you’ve never been, it is huge (and kind of overwhelming) but so festive and a wonderful showcase of unique, beautiful items that make great Christmas gifts.

In the hustle and bustle of bumper car stroller pushing that day, I saw something a few booths ahead that stopped me in my tracks.

Is that?

No… it can’t be?

Oh my goodness, it is.

Hot air balloon baby pajamas! Ahhhh!

And that, my friends, was my first exposure to Heyward House. I maneuvered my way over to their booth and was greeted by a sweet smile by Heyward, herself. I took a card and kept in touch and now, I’m thrilled to work with them and introduce all of you to these beautiful, timeless pieces that can be passed down and loved again and again.

Heyward House products are 100% pima cotton, a decision Heyward and her husband, Blair made after lots of research-  both with their own son’s items and in comparison to other products on the market. Pima cotton is a special type of cotton, mostly produced in Peru and made from extra long staple fibers. These extra long fibers make this particular kind of cotton extremely gentle and soft on your little one’s skin. Not only is this one of the softest products, pima cotton is known for its durability- it truly softens with each wash and has a longer lasting life than most infant wear and bedding.

The story behind the name Heyward House is the sweetest. From the owner herself:

“We chose the name Heyward House because my grandfather, James Heyward White, whom I’m named after, owned a business in the 1960’s called Heyward House, which manufactured high-end decorative lamps sold worldwide. Hence, we chose a lamp as our logo to honor his legacy. The lamp is also representative of Psalm 119:105- ‘Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path’. Without God’s guidance and never ending grace in our lives, we would never be where we are today.  The lamp is surrounded by Camellia flowers, which is our family favorite- as Blair’s father loved Camellia’s Blair’s entire life. Blair’s father passed 2 years ago and we wanted a to honor his influence on our lives. You may notice that we featured the Camellia on many of our little girl pajamas, making this a design that is very close to our hearts.”

The two-piece camellia pajamas are adorable and also come in a darling style with ruffles on the neckline and in gown form. I love that each pattern is available in various styles and there are matching bibs and burb cloths, too!

I could tell after meeting Heyward for the first time even just for those few minutes that day at the Christmas Show that she was a believer – something in her spirit just exuded a love for the Lord – and sure enough, after hearing her explanation of the lamp in their logo, I understood and appreciated this thoughtful detail so much more.

I love the way Blair and Heyward have worked together to make their dream a reality. Blair is a professional artist and graphic designer here in the Charlotte area who has designed cycling apparel for companies throughout the US but when they had their first son in 2017, they made the choice for him to stay at home with him and that’s when Heyward House was born. Heyward says that “Though professionally, Blair has mostly been a graphic designer, he is truly a studio artist at heart! I have always had a love of home design, textiles, fabrics. We decided to combine our interests and strengths to create timeless nursery decor and custom infant/toddler clothing that people can afford. Blair started by creating delicate nursery prints, which we soon realized translated beautifully onto textiles. All of the patterns featured on our bedding and clothing products, as well as our custom nursery prints are all original designs created by Blair- each design unique and carrying special meaning for us.

Heyward House is offering 10% off for my readers now through January 1st, 2019 with code “MERRY.”

Christmas Collection: I love the reindeer pattern of the unisex pajamas that Harper is wearing and that Landon is wearing. There’s also a cute bib in this same reindeer print.

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Thanks so much to the owners of Heyward House for providing the pajamas featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Reagan and Kate // Paci Clips + Other Adorable Baby Products

Reagan & Kate’s Etsy shop is full of adorable baby items that are hard to resist for your own little ones and also make the perfect gift for a friend who’s expecting or who just had a baby. From flower crown headbands, to pigtail bows, to teethers, paci clips, bow holders, baby bracelets, wooden bow ties, and more – there’s an array of beautiful, unique items at wonderful price points.

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How cool are these different braid options?!

A few of my favorite items:

Reagan and Kate (see their instagram profile here) is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah (a place I’ve always wanted to visit) and started back in 2015. Kate, the owner of this sweet little shop, started making the bows for her daughter, Reagan, because she wanted a high quality, yet low cost bow option for her. After having her second baby (a boy), she decided to quit her marketing job, embrace life as a stay-at-home-mom, and focus on her business that continues to grow and thrive.

I talk about supporting small shops a lot around here, but ya’ll… do you realize that every time you buy from a small business, you’re helping support someone’s family?!

Many of you who have been around for a while may remember the small business that I had a few years ago, Punkindoodle Paci Clips, which was lovingly named after my grandmother who passed away back in 2014. Because I have made them myself, I know what excellent quality these clips are, and how much craftsmanship and care has gone into making them. They are not only beautiful, but also durable and made to hold up for the long haul. Keep in mind that you can use them for teethers and small toys, too!

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Reagan & Kate is kindly offering my readers a coupon code for 25% off your purchase: just use code COFFEEDATEKATE now through January 18th, 2019.

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Thanks so much to Reagan & Kate for providing the pacifier clips featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

More Than Food?

It’s no secret that food is a big part of our lives. Not only do we love to eat, but we also love going to new places – whether it be a little hole-in-the-wall we’ve been dying to try or a fancy restaurant that we have to save up for – and one of our favorite pastimes is cooking or baking together. We love grocery shopping together, meal planning, taking food to friends, and baking for our neighbors. It’s just a big part of who we are and there’s something so special about our time in the kitchen together – both gathered around the table lost in conversation and stirring or flipping or sifting or mixing, up to our elbows in ingredients.

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Natalie Broulette is a writer, wife, and mom. She lives in Savannah, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and dog. Her first children’s book More Than Food? is about two of her favorite things: food, and her little boy. In More Than Food?, a young boy questions how much his mother loves him, and she expresses her feelings through strawberries, potatoes, ice cream, chicken tikka masala, coconut cake, and more. A picture book full of charming illustrations and playful rhymes, More Than Food? explores the joy of food and language through the imagination of a child.

I love the darling story this book tells and the references to foods that Landon loves, like strawberries, ice cream cones, spaghetti with meatballs, and pancakes. The illustrations are adorable and as I read through, I always ask him to point out different items, which makes it so interactive and fun. This book is relatable and just flat out precious. It is sure to become one of the most reached for stories in your home and can be passed down for generations to come.

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You can find her darling tote bags here (she so thoughtfully sent me the “I love you more than coffee” tote, which couldn’t be more fitting).

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This book has quickly become a favorite in our household and Landon asks me to read it to him just about every day. He won’t reach up for me with his “bink” (favorite blanket) in one hand and a book in the other forever, so each and every time he does, I stop what I’m doing (if at all possible) and read my sweet boy a story. I hope he grows to love books as much as I do. Just as author Janette Oke (one of my grandmother’s favorites) writes in Love Comes Softly (which was later turned into a wonderful Hallmark movie), “When you read, you can have every adventure. In the pages of a book you can be anyone you ever dreamed of being… They can never tell you you’re too young to slay the dragon — because it all happens right here, where it’s safe.”

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Thanks so much to Natalie Broulette for the book and tote bag featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Christmas Traditions

Today, I thought it would be fun to share some of the little things we do each year to make Christmas an extra special time in our home. There is so much hustle and bustle around the holidays, but I think oftentimes the little moments are the things our children look back on and remember most fondly.

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Sure, there are special, bigger things we do sometimes that we won’t do every year (like last year, we went to The Polar Express train ride at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC) that are fun and memorable, but I truly believe that it’s the smaller, seemingly insignificant things that shape a child’s love for Christmastime and value of traditions.

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Pick out our Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving in the mountains – you can read more about this tradition here, but this is really the event that kicks off the Christmas season in our home.

Go see Santa – this one can be tricky with little kids, because I feel like long lines and overstimulated children is just a disaster waiting to happen, but if you can find a special place to go see Santa that’s calmer and where more individual attention is given to each child, it makes this tradition so much more special.

Make Christmas cookies – my Mama usually makes her homemade sugar cookie dough and it’s so fun rolling out the dough, dusting the cookie cutters with flour, and sprinkling the tops with colored sugar.

Go on a little drive (almost) every night after supper to look at Christmas lights – we live about a mile from Christmastown USA (McAdenville, NC) so there’s no shortage of lights where we live. It’s so fun to just hop in the truck, oftentimes in our pajamas, and look at lights each night.

Make homemade fudge – this tradition goes way back and is a something I used to look so forward to doing with my grandmother each Christmas. I can still hear her say, “get ready, Punkindoodle, tomorrow we’re gonna make us some candy!”

Deliver doughnuts to friends on Christmas Eve Eve – this is a special tradition from Grayson’s childhood that we adopted the first year after we got married and have since loved sharing with Landon.

Watch Christmas moviesThe Grinch, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause, Elf, Home Alone, Christmas Vacation, and A Christmas Story are just a few of our family’s favorites.

Read Christmas books – Obviously, the real Christmas story found in Luke 2 is the most special, but we have several illustrated children’s books that are also beloved in our home year after year.

Make Christmas crafts or homemade ornamentsthis post shows the ornaments we made last year, but this can be as simple as breaking out the Christmas coloring books.

Sing lots of Christmas carols – anytime we’re in the car from Thanksgiving until Christmas, it’s pretty much a given that the only thing we listen to is Christmas music and I usually have Christmas pandora playing while I cook dinner, fold clothes, or play with the kids. It just adds so much joy and it’s important to me that they know and love the Christmas songs from my childhood (and from my Mama’s childhood, too).

The Giving Manger – this is a new tradition this year (see this post for more information) but it’s already been a highlight of our entire year and I can’t wait to see how much more fun it gets as Landon and Harper get older.

Go to church on Christmas Eve – this is extra special to me and something I have looked forward to every year since I was a little girl. There are a thousand places you can be with your family the night before Christmas, but making the choice to go to church and hear the Christmas story and sing “Silent Night, Holy Night” with candles flickering all around is sacred.

I’d love to hear some of your family’s Christmas traditions so comment below and tell me what helps get you in the Christmas Spirit!

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You can find Landon’s outfit here and Harper’s dress here. These matching Christmas outfits are so soft and sweet, and the quality is just amazing. Eyelet & Ivy has beautiful children’s clothing all year long, but this year’s Christmas collection is really special.

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Thanks so much to Eyelet & Ivy for the matching Christmas outfits featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

Mikarose

It can be so hard to find modest, beautiful dresses that are not only good quality but great prices, as well. Mikarose dresses are all that and more, and there’s a dress for every occasion!

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The dress I’m wearing here, the Lydia dress, has beautiful boho lace detail on the sleeves and hem and I love that it just slips right on with no buttons or zippers. It runs a bit small, so if you’re in between sizes, I’d definitely size up one. I love the timeless black, but it also comes in a pretty muted blue color. I love how it’s dressed down a bit with a hat and booties on the website, but can also be taken to a whole new level with pumps and pearls.

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A few other styles I love from Mikarose:

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Mikarose is offering a 20% discount for ya’ll with code “COFFEEDATEWITHKATE” now through January 31st, 2019. 

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Thanks so much to Mikarose for the dress featured in this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Christmas Card Inspiration with Smocked by StellyBelly

You’d never know that the day we took these photos, we had to wake both babies up from their (much needed) naps and they were very, very fussy. My friend Meredith works her magic year after year and captures my family in a special way that only she can, and I’m forever grateful.

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This year, I’m sharing our Christmas card photos a little earlier than usual because I’ve teamed up with Smocked by StellyBelly to share a little family photo inspiration! I’ve loved StellyBelly clothing for many, many years, so it’s a joy to feature a few pieces from this year’s Christmas collection on our Christmas cards!

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StellyBelly was founded in 2012 and their goal is to “dress children in classic children’s clothing with playful charm, at an affordable price,” which is pretty much my goal in life, too. Ya’ll know I love traditional baby clothes, and StellyBelly’s selection and prices are just right.

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Other favorites from this year’s Christmas collection that would be perfect for your little ones this season:

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Thank you so much to StellyBelly for providing the matching outfits that are featured in this post and to M.Lanier Photography for the photos. As always, all opinions are my own.

Thanksgiving Week Festivities

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! We always eat lunch with Grayson’s family at his parent’s house in Hickory and then have dinner with my family in the mountains, so needless to say, we are always very, very full. The older I get, the more I love the traditional Thanksgiving meal (and the more thankful I am that I didn’t marry into a family that runs a 5k on Thanksgiving haha).

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We have turkey, ham, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, green beans, broccoli casserole, congealed salad, slaw, rolls, creamed corn, and all kinds of desserts. I miss my grandparents all the time, but around the holidays, sometimes it just feels unbearable. Have you ever missed someone so much that it physically hurts? It’s been eight years since my Paw went to be with Jesus and four years since my Baba, and time hasn’t eased the ache at all.

I know so many people who have lost loved ones this year and this was their first Thanksgiving and will be their first Christmas without them and my heart breaks for them. Holidays can be so hard, because while we have so, so much to be thankful for, we can’t help but miss those who aren’t with us anymore.

My family celebrates Thanksgiving in my grandparent’s house, which is nestled in the mountains and is just kind of frozen in time. It almost feels like they’re still there. We fill their house with laughter and babies and sink baths and messes and board games and conversations over coffee and pie because that’s exactly what they’d want.

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We picked out our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving at Elk River Evergreens (this post from last year tells all about it) and it was freezing. I think Harper was the warmest person there, all bundled up in her snowman suit, but the rest of us just about froze to death. The wind was whipping around and it was just bone chilling cold, but another sweet memory, nonetheless.

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We went to visit Santa and Landon ran right up and jumped on his lap, as usual. That boy isn’t afraid of anything, Lord help us! He asked Santa for a play kitchen, because he loves playing with the one in his Sunday School class at church and at my grandparent’s house. It was Harper’s first time sitting on Santa’s lap and she didn’t cry but wasn’t quite sure what to think. He’s the best Santa ever and after asking each child what they want for Christmas, always makes sure to tell them that Jesus is the reason we celebrate Christmas and it’s just so personal and special.

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Landon went to the App vs. Troy game with his Daddy and Papa on Saturday and had a blast, of course. That boy loves football! He yells “GO APP!” and “TOUCHDOWN!” and it’s just about the cutest thing ever. He’s looking so grown up these days!

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On Sunday, Grayson had the honor of singing with the Holiday Singers at Halton Theater for the 7th annual Christmas Extravaganza with the Charlotte Civic Orchestra and combined Butler and South Mecklenburg High School choirs, Charlotte City Ballet, and Encore Dancers. It was such an amazing production and I enjoyed it so much! It really helped get us all in the Christmas spirit!

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Hope you guys have a great week! We have to put up our tree one night this week, I have my Bible Study Christmas party, and we’re going to a parade! So much to look forward to this time of year!

A Thanksgiving Confession: When Brokenness & Unspeakable Joy Coexist

Can I be completely honest for a minute? Thanksgiving is a hard one for me. On one hand, death and broken relationships have stolen from my babies what are some of the most cherished parts of my own childhood and my tradition-loving heart aches for what they’ll never know. On the other hand, I am unspeakably grateful for the new traditions we’re building with them and for the relationships I’ve seen restored.

Jesus has been speaking and stirring gently in my heart this year that brokenness and unspeakable joy can coexist.

It’s okay to hurt for what should have been or what could have been or what used to be. It’s okay to think of the Thanksgiving from my childhood spent running around my great aunt’s farm with my cousins and chopping slaw with my grandma and picking out our Christmas tree in my great uncle’s tree patch and both mourn the loss of those times and joyfully remember those memories that truly shaped my life.

The question then becomes, what do I do with these conflicted emotions? And, I share all this because I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

What I’m learning – and trust me, Jesus is still doing a big work in my heart here – is that you have to:

  • embrace the season you’re in now
  • be thankful for the sweet seasons that have passed
  • learn from the hard seasons
  • look forward to the seasons that will come, because change is inevitable

Romans 8:18 promises us that joy is coming. And it is. What’s broken now may be restored, and we hold on to that hope because we serve a God of restoration. But we also have to remember that there’s a time for everything and His perfect plan and purpose will prevail.

I’ve spent a lot of time with this tear-stained passage in my Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11):

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil?I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race.He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

I don’t have all the answers, but I encourage you today friends, if you too feel the game of tug-of-war in your heart between complete gratitude and deep sorrow, let’s choose joy today. The One who holds your heart cares about every detail and is working on your behalf in ways that you can’t even yet comprehend.

Happy Thanksgiving, from my family to yours!