Seersucker and Monograms

May 25, 2016

On me: bikini: J.Crew (old, similar) scalloped dress: J.Crew (old) necklace: J.Crew (old) 
espadrilles: J.Crew Factory (old, similar and here
On Jack: seersucker bloomers: Bee Sweet Baby green shirt: Zara chambray hat: H&M 
seersucker Jon Jon: Bee Sweet Baby white collared shirt (under Jon Jon): Gap

I'm a Southern girl through and through, and if given the opportunity I will monogram anything...especially if it's seersucker.  There are so many cute outfits options for baby girls but in my opinion it's hard to top a sweet baby boy in a seersucker Jon Jon or a pair of bloomers.  I'd had my eye on the Beaufort Bonnet Company Jack Keene Jon Jon for months but couldn't stomach the $67 price tag (including monogram).  I also loved the seersucker diaper covers but that was $40 (including monogram) and even though both were ridiculously cute I just couldn't convince myself that it was worth the money.  I told my mom about my dilemma and she mentioned a teacher friend of hers who has a small business making baby clothes.  Bee Sweet Baby is owned by Laurie and she is the most amazing seamstress.  My mom told her what I was looking for and she quickly made me the sweet bloomers and Jon Jon Jack is wearing in the photos above.  She's able to work with you on what you want, so you can easily customize anything!  

She also made these white monogrammed bloomers for Jack.  I needed a white pair for a series of photos we are going to have taken that will match some photos my mom, my brother and I all had taken at 6 months too.

Isn't Jack adorable in these handmade pieces??  I could just eat him up.  Anyway, the cost was half the price of the "fancy" items, and the quality is amazing!  Jack is all set for a Southern summer down in South Carolina now!  

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Gee, I Wish I was Back in the Army

May 23, 2016

*If you're a White Christmas nerd like I am you'll know where that title is from.*

Well y'all, I finally did it.  I've had an internal debate going on inside my brain (and heart) for a while now, and I recently bit the bullet and switched from the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) to the U.S. Army Reserve.  As most of you know, I graduated from West Point in 2009 and served as an Active Duty Army Officer for just over 5 years.  Commissioned Officers owe 8 years at a minimum, so I've been in the IRR for the past year and a half (which doesn't require you to do anything and you're not paid, but you maintain your commission and you are at risk of being called up if the Army needs you).  I announced this on Instagram a month ago but realized I had not mentioned it here.

I was very ready to leave the Army life behind me but over the past few months I've had a bit of a change of heart.  My last assignment was at the Pentagon where I worked on expanding positions, units, schools and occupations to women.  It was an eye opening job and I learned just how much work it requires to make substantial changes in the Army.  At the end of 2015 all of our hard work paid off and the Army opened up everything to women.  We have even had 3 women graduate from Ranger School, and I must admit that I cried happy tears when I found out that they made it through.  I have never wanted to attend Ranger School or be an Infantry Officer but I have served with many strong, smart and talented women that I know could totally do it, and I sincerely believe that women should at least have the opportunity to try (as long as standards are not lowered).  After seeing all of these changes occur, and after an impromptu visit to the Women's Army Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia, I had a renewed sense of pride in my service and the service of all the women who paved the way before me.  I want to continue to be a full time mom to Jack so Active Duty is not appealing to me anymore, but I think I can handle one weekend a month and 2 weeks a year (the requirement for drilling Reservists).  There is the potential for a mobilization, but I'll cross that bridge when/if I get there.  So far, I have had two weekends of drill as a Reservist and it felt weird yet comfortable to wear the uniform again.  I have no clue where this journey will take me or how long I will stay in, but for now I am happy and excited to serve our nation in this new capacity.

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On My Mind...Lately

May 20, 2016
Happy Friday y'all!  I haven't done a Friday post in FOREVER because I can't seem to get my act together, but I'm back!  At least for this Friday anyway :)

My desk area...with a beautiful view of a massive construction zone.  I sure won't miss this when we move!

Lots of moving pieces going on in my life right now...we are getting packed up to move next week and even though I've moved about a dozen times in the past 7 years I'm still a bit anxious, especially because we have a baby now which I know will make things more difficult.  Even though I'm a little stressed we have some fun plans this weekend!  If you're in the DMV area I have 2 really fun recommendations for you:

Luckett's Spring Market.  I've shared my love for Luckett's on the blog before (here and here) so I must share this news: Luckett's has a spring market once a year where they have tons and tons of flea market vendors, great food and music...and it's this weekend!  I don't need a thing and should probably spend the weekend prepping for our move but I think we are going to go to Luckett's on Saturday.  It's $10 to get in and it's totally worth it.  Get there early because this place gets packed!  It's open today, Saturday and Sunday.

Wine in the Woods.  Wine in the Woods is held at Symphony Woods (next to Merriweather Post Pavilion) in Columbia, MD and they bring in lots of vineyards, food stands, artisans, and bands!  We live within walking distance of this place and have never made it to Wine in the Woods (which is held twice a year, I think).  Last year I was pregnant so I wasn't interested in going at all, but this weekend we are finally going to make it!   I'm pretty excited.

As for other things that have been on my mind/caught my eye lately, here they are:

Scalloped Swimsuit.  I jumped on the scalloped swimsuit bandwagon this week and bought this black scalloped one piece from Old Navy.  It is definitely not for busty gals because there is no shelf bra or support at all, but for those of us who aren't quite so blessed it's adorable!  Shows a little side boob but for about $20 (sale price plus military discount) I figured I'd give it a shot.

The Prettiest Apple Pie Ever.  I had some frozen pie crust to use before we move so I made an apple pie yesterday.  It did NOT look like this pie, by Monica Hibbs.  I wish it did though, but then I probably wouldn't have eaten it because it this pie is seriously too pretty to eat.

Round Tassel Towel.  My friend Laurel from A Bubbly Life shared her summer wish list a few days ago and this towel was on it.  It's so stinking cute and looks like it would be perfect for the beach.  Especially with a baby who likes to grab sand (here's looking at you, baby Jack).  Maybe I can put Jack in the middle of it and he won't get so sandy?  I really think I need one of these!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Need some more Life with a Dash of Whimsy in your life?  I'd love for you to join me on InstagramPinterestFacebook and Twitter!

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Seaside Kid

May 18, 2016

On Jack: T Shirt: H&M Shorts: Gap (similar) Sweater: H&M (similar) Shoes: Gap (similar)
On me: Sweater: Tory Burch Shorts: J.Crew (old, similar) T Shirt: J.Crew Shoes: J.Crew Sunglasses: Ray-Ban (old, similar)
On Tom: Sweatshirt: J.Crew (old, similar)

I'm such a sucker for the nautical look.  Give me some stripes, classic navy and white and a little pop of red and gold and I'm a happy girl.  And if you give me a cute baby that I get to coordinate with then I'm even happier :)  I bought Jack's little "Seaside Kid" shirt at H&M a while ago and I'm so glad it finally fits him!  And a note about my sweater: I've had this navy cotton Tory Burch sweater for almost 5 years and it is probably the most worn item in my closet.  It's an investment piece but it seriously goes with everything.  

We took these photos one evening while we were in Destin.  To be honest, Jack took too long of a nap because he was exhausted from the pool so we lost our opportunity to go out to eat, so instead we went and took some pictures on the beach and then went back to the hotel.  I fed Jack and put him to bed and then Tom and I had some hotel restaurant food, a glass of wine and we played Scrabble on his iPhone.  Not the most exciting night but it was the perfect way to wind down after a long day outside in the sun.

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Homemade Granola

May 16, 2016

I rarely do food posts because I don't like taking food photos, I'm not great at taking food photos, and I like "winging it" more than I like I actually do a food post its because I really want to share it with you.

Does anyone have a favorite granola?  I do...and it's on the pricier side so I only buy it every few months.  Have you tried Michele's Granola?  It's sooooooo good.  As in, I could eat the entire bag in one sitting, good.  I've only found it at Whole Foods and it's made in Maryland so I'm not sure if it's just a local offering or not.  If you haven't had it and you're able to find it then you should definitely try it out!  The Pumpkin Spice is my favorite even when it's not the fall.  The Cherry Chocolate and Ginger Hemp mixes are really yummy too.  Anyway, a few weeks ago I decided to try my hand at making my own granola.  We are moving soon and I needed to clear out our pantry, so I figured this was a good way to start.  The first thing I did was look up "granola" on Pinterest.  I found this great guide from RecipeTin Eats.  I like "guidelines" more than "recipes," so this little graphic was right up my alley.

Image via RecipeTin Eats.
Here is what I ended up using for my granola:

4 cups oats
1 tbsp spices (mixture of cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice)
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries
1 cup shredded coconut
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp chia seeds

I mixed it all together and baked it at 300F for a little over 30 minutes (like the directions say).  Let me tell ya, my little combo tastes very similar to the pricy Pumpkin Spice granola!  It didn't quite have the chunkiness of the pricy granola but I think next time if I only stir it once (or not at all) it will be chunkier.  

So far, I've used the granola on yogurt, on smoothie bowls, with milk and fruit, and on frozen yogurt.  There really is no wrong way to eat granola.  If you've never made granola yourself I really recommend it because it's so easy yet extremely gratifying.  

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Trip to Destin

May 12, 2016

On Jack: Striped Swimsuit: Carter's | Chambray Romper: Carter's | Blue Sandals: Old Navy
On me: Striped Swimsuit: J.Crew (old) | Wrap: Solly Baby | Polka Dot Shorts: J.Crew Factory (old) Monogrammed Sandals: Jack Rogers | Polka Dot Dress: J.Crew Factory (old)

Last week Tom had to go to Destin, Forida for work so I jumped on the opportunity and used some SkyMiles to get a ticket so that Jack and I could tag along.  Tom had to work every day but Jack and I spent lots of time at the beach and the pool.  To be honest, I really had no idea how difficult it would be to take a baby to the beach.  The sand, the sun, the wind, the waves, the blowout that was all MUCH harder than I had anticipated.  The two of us went to the beach by ourselves the first day but we stuck to the pool the other days until Tom could finally join us.  Thankfully Jack loved the pool!  He was crazy about splashing with his hands and kicking his little feet under the water.

We stayed at the Embassy Suites right across from the beach and it couldn't have been a more perfect set up (considering that Jack and I were car-less while Tom was working).  Plus it's hard to say no to free breakfast and free happy hour, right?  They renovated the entire hotel since our last visit and the inside looks really pretty!

I'm a bit biased when it comes to beaches because of the time I lived in Hawaii, but Destin really does have some of the most gorgeous sand and water around.  And all the blooming oleander and the fragrant magnolias blossoms made it even more beautiful.

For dinner, if I could only make one recommendation, it would be to go to Vin'tij.  Their food is amazing and they have a fantastic wine list.  We went at 5 PM and were the only people there...which was good because Jack was a little wild that evening.  It gets full quickly though so make sure you make reservations if you go.  It's in a strip mall across the street from the outlet mall, so it's in a really convenient location and even though it looks unassuming it really is fantastic!

A quick note about the monogrammed sandals that I'm wearing with the polka dot dress and then again in the last photo.  These are Jack Rogers that I got monogrammed before my wedding.  I wore heels for our wedding ceremony but switched into these for the reception.  I love how personalized and Southern they are, and they go with everything!

Even though traveling with a baby makes things much harder we had a fantastic time.  I can't wait until Jack is a little older so that he can truly enjoy the beach and everything that comes along with it.

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DIY Wooden Baby Gym Hack

May 9, 2016

If you're a mom you've likely realized that most baby toys are not the easiest on the eyes. They're overly colorful and pretty tacky (which is why kids love them!) and you can either steer into the skid and embrace them, or you can try your best to make sure your house doesn't look like a daycare.  (And then give in eventually once your babies are toddlers.)  I'm still fighting the good fight and trying to delay the inevitable.  That doesn't mean my son doesn't have toys though!  Jack is 6 months old now and the thing he has played with daily for about 4 months is a simple wooden baby gym from Ikea.  It was only $29.99 and it was such a great alternative to the pricy one from The Land of Nod.  

Ikea Leka Baby Gym, $29.99.

The Land of Nod Wee Workout Baby Gym, $123.00 (including toys).

Even though the Ikea baby gym is way less gaudy than most baby gyms, it's still a little colorful for my taste.  I didn't want to paint it because I knew that Jack would end up licking it or chewing on it, so I had to get creative.

I had some leftover contact paper that I used to line the drawers of the campaign dresser in his room, so I decided I'd try to wrap the base pieces with it.  It worked!  Contact paper is slightly stretchy and completely adhesive on the back side, so it was the perfect solution.  The rounded ends were a little tricky and I had to trim the contact paper a bit, but overall it was really easy.

 I made sure it was centered and cut to size before revealing the adhesive layer.

 Make sure you wrap it so that the seam will be on the inside of the base piece.  Wrap it slowly and tightly to avoid bubbles!

 Once it's wrapped you'll have to trim and wrap the sides.

 I cut a notch out of the contact paper so that I could fold over just one side.

Much better, right?

I decided to not use the hanging toys because they were really colorful.  Instead, I used some of the leftover Hello Maypole felt balls that I used when I made Jack's driftwood and felt ball mobile.  I strung them on some baking twine, popped them through the slot on the gym, and was done!  

I considered removing the spinning toys on the side but they are attached very well and I didn't want to go to that much effort.  In retrospect, I'm really glad I kept them on because Jack played with those first before he realized there was something hanging above him that he could grab.  He loooooves spinning and slapping them.  He used to just hit them accidentally when his arms would flail, but now he rolls over onto his side and just goes to town playing with them.  If you decide to modify this gym I would highly recommend keeping them on.  They aren't the prettiest but your baby sure will love them.  

He started grabbing at the felt balls when he was around 3 months old (I think), and now he loves tugging on them and he even tries to grab them with his feet.  Babies are so funny! 

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