The Ultimate Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot

If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, then you know setting up styled shoots and throwing parties is one of my favorite ways to unleash my creativity. Valentine’s Day is my second favorite holiday, after Halloween, and I love everything about love month. Give me all the pink and red hearts! Luckily throughout the years I have acquired tons of props, pillows, cake stands, etc. so when it comes to setting up a shoot or throwing a party, the only things I really need to get are balloons, flowers and food!

I knew I wanted to fill the floor with balloons because they are an inexpensive way to decorate, but the thought of blowing them all up made me want to pass out (literally). I headed to old faithful aka Amazon and bought everything I needed included a balloon pump. It’s only $20 and had 1,282 FIVE star reviews. It’s lightweight, portable and does a great job. Even if it goes out soon, I will happily buy another because the convenience and time saving capabilities is a game changer. I just found out about this balloon tying tool to save fingers. It’s been ordered so I will come back and update as soon as I test it out!

There are a ton of Valentine’s Day balloon bundles on Amazon and they’re cheaper then when you buy balloons separately. I ended up choosing this Love Bundle because of all the latex balloons that were included. I also loved the different shades of pink and various balloon shapes. Getting balloons filled with helium can get pretty pricey if you go to a party store, so I always take mine to Publix or Kroger and have them inflated. They charge a fraction of what Party City charges, especially since you are bringing balloons in that you already purchased. You can also visit any dollar store and purchase the red heart mylar balloons already inflated for only ONE DOLLAR. I bought those last year when I set up this adorable photo shoot with Evelyn. Mylar balloons usually last me at least a week or more so you can really get a lot of use out of them with various shoots.

My travel partner in crime Katie and I love working together and really are creative soul mates. You can see more of our collective work and shots on Instagram under the #chanelandkatiecreate hashtag. For this Galentine’s shoot we worked with the lingerie brand Lively who provided us all the adorable bralettes we are wearing. We love working with brands that are women owned and encourage body positivity. To add a special touch to the photoshoot, I ordered cookies with the Lively logo from Atlanta cookie artist Santini Mini Sweets. They were the prefect prop and also tasted delicious!

The table was the main centerpiece of the shoot and consisted of 3 pallets painted in white, light pink and dark pink. You can get pallets from anywhere, usually free, because most times businesses are dying to get rid of them. Save money on paint by going to your local hardware store and asking if there are any paint colors that were mixed incorrectly. They are usually very cheap and if you aren’t looking to match a color 100% they are perfect for paint projects. There are TONS of ways to reuse pallets on Pinterest if you’re looking for a fun DIY activity.

What is your favorite way to celebrate love month? Have you ever done a Galetine’s Day photoshoot? Let me know in the comments! I would love to see them! And if you need a fun brunch idea, check out my Babe Brunch!

Getting a Good Nights Sleep When You’re Not at Home

Last weekend we had our first out of town guest of the year. This was her first trip away from her family and kids in almost 7 years and I really wanted to make her feel at home. Hosting company and overnight guests is something I really look forward to. I love catering the room to whoever is coming and getting all their favorite snacks, magazines and movies all set up. And it’s always fun to enlist helpers like kids and pets to make sure things are moving along at an extra slow pace, haha!

Studies show your best night’s sleep starts with soothing colors and a comfortable, quiet, calming room.  I knew that new, soft sheets were a must when having company and my go-to for ultra soft sheets for a fraction of the price is Tuesday Morning. They have close-out deals from great brands including Peacock Alley, Charisma and Linea Casa by Sferra. It’s been cold in Atlanta and since we’re still in winter, I was looking for a lightweight flannel that didn’t get too hot but could also be warm enough to last until Spring. I narrowed it down to two sets: gray Peacock Alley Upcycled Eco Flannel sheets and white Charisma sheets with a swiss dot design. The Charisma sheets wound up on our master bed and we have been sleeping the best we have been in weeks. I don’t know what it is about fresh clean sheets but I always sleep like a baby once I put them on my bed. Sheets can be ridiculously over priced but with Tuesday Morning I’m able to purchase several sheet sets to keep on hand and not only rely on 1-2 sets which wind up getting old and worn.

In addition to the new sheets from Tuesday Morning, I also purchased a stonewashed coverlet just in case it got cold at night. I like having extra blanket options because they’re easy to store and easy to clean. There are a few other items which are a must for me when it comes to sleeping comfortably through the night!

Sound Machine – We have a white noise machine in every room of our house and I cannot fall asleep without it. Even if your guest prefers quiet, the option of having a sound machine is great to drown out any noise.

Diffuser – Sleeping in a new space and bed that isn’t your own can be a little uneasy since it’s not what you’re used to. I keep lavender essential oil next to the diffuser so guests can use it at will. Lavender is used for a majority of things but I like its properties that ease insomnia and restlessness. It’s the perfect oil to keep in your guest room!

Plush Robe – If you’ve visited a Tuesday Morning than you know that they sell much more than just amazing sheets. I found a Linea Casa by Sferra white robe for just under $40 (compared to the $125 retail value!) which I knew would be the perfect addition to our guest bedroom. It’s so soft and thick and I love the clean look of the bright white. I also couldn’t resist the savings.

Salt Lamp – To add to the overall ambiance and tranquility of the room, I have a salt lamp on the nightstand table which helps clean the air in your home, soothe allergies, boost your mood and of course help you sleep!

Snacks – No one likes to go to bed hungry, so stocking the guest room with snacks is essential for a comfortable stay and a good night’s sleep. I try and stick with easy to eat foods like nuts, popcorn, granola bars and dried fruit. And don’t forget to keep plenty of water and liquids so your guests don’t feel uncomfortable asking you for a glass of water at midnight.

 

Do you have any tried and true methods for getting a good nights sleep? Have you checked out the sheets at your local Tuesday Morning?

Where to Stay in Philadelphia

Last month a girlfriend and I met up in Philadelphia for a quick girls weekend! It was the first time for both of us and we were so excited to have some time together and explore the city of brotherly love. The Windsor Suites is centrally located and near so many amazing spots. It’s within walking distance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the famous Rocky Steps), The Rodin Museum, and The Reading Terminal. Given that my friend and I are both bloggers and love exploring and taking photos, the hotel location was perfect. You can read more our girlfriends guide to Philly over on her blog!

The rooms are incredibly spacious and the first thing I thought was how nice it would be for a family staying there. I always love having a kitchen to make traveling feel more like home! In addition to valet there is also a parking garage right next door to the hotel so you don’t have to worry about finding street parking. The weekend we were there it rained a lot but luckily the Windsor Suites has complimentary umbrellas which were a life saver. We also used Uber a lot and the drivers were so friendly and there wasn’t much traffic going anywhere so the cost wasn’t insanely high. Had the weather cooperated a bit more we would have walked everywhere. Philadelphia has some amazing restaurants and photo opts which you can read about here!

The views from our balcony were so beautiful and there is also a rooftop pool! I’m dying to come back just to swim because it looked like such a fun spot to spend an afternoon or early morning! There are two restaurants in the main lobby, a pub and an Asian restaurant which we totally ordered from at 10pm one night and it was SO good.  I also ordered food from the Irish pub when I first checked in. They brought it to my room while I was getting ready which was a huge time saver for me. I rarely eat before and during a flight so I’m always staving by the time I arrive at my destination. Not having food readily available makes me super hangry so it’s important for me to point out the room service, haha!

JeeYoung and I felt incredibly safe during our stay at The Windsor Suites and there was always someone at the bell hop stand. Your room key is required to use the elevators as well. Hotel safety is extremely important to me especially when I’m traveling alone or with a girlfriend so it’s always good to know how hotels operate before booking.

Have you ever been to Philadelphia before? Did you love it? Where did you stay and what did you do? Tell me all about your trip in the comments! A huge thank you to The Windsor Suites for hosting us and making us fall in love with Philly!

A Botanical Birthday

It’s hard to believe that my last baby is already 4 years old! We celebrated last Sunday with a Botanical Birthday filled with tons of beautiful plants! This one definitely one of my favorite parties I’ve ever planned!

Ever since seeing a succulent & cactus cake on Pinterest a few months ago I knew I wanted to have a botanical party! I love florals but with this one I wanted more succulents, green plants, and cactus. My incredible friend Raven who owns Botanicals by Raven let me rent several of her cactus and large plants because let’s face it, it’s not worth investing money in a ton of plants that I can’t keep alive! Renting the plants saved money and made more sense. The wonderful people at 1800Flowers sent the gorgeous succulent center pieces for the kids tables and the cactus gardens that were placed in the party room.

We really lucked out with the weather and it was beautiful in the mid 60’s which was perfect since I rented a bounce house for the entertainment. It was set up right outside our sunroom (where the party was) so the girls were never too far from their mama’s! Kids really enjoy having these huge inflatable play areas, like US manufactured bounce houses by JungleJumps. They keep them occupied for a very long time! This is the third year in a row where I keep Evelyn’s birthday girls only. It’s always so much fun to celebrate with just the girls!

It was easy to fill the house with fresh flowers and some artificial plants I’ve already acquired throughout the years. The kids table and chairs were rented from The Rental Place who I have been using for 6 years. As far as food goes, we had plenty of sweets but I also had some pastries and carbs set up in addition to a coffee & tea bar. I also made some really yummy champagne punch which everyone loved (except maybe the pregnant mama’s)!

Like I’ve said numerous times before, investing in a photographer and videographer is so worth it for me. All these amazing pictures were taken by my friend Chelsea so I could enjoy the day and not worry about picking up my phone or camera! She has shot the past 3 birthdays of Evelyn’s and has become a dear friend. I love getting a film made too and if you’re in the Atlanta area and need a videographer for your event, then Leila Yavari is your girl! I’ve linked everything below but if you have any questions about where something was sourced, shoot me an email!

Cake // Cake Envy

Cupcakes // Minis by Maria

Cookies// Santini Mini Sweets

Cactus & Large Plants // Botanicals by Raven

Succulent Center Pieces // 1800 Flowers

Cactus Garden // 1800 Flowers

Evelyn’s Dress // Kainku Handmade

My Dress // Asos

Photography // Poppy La Rue

Videography // Leila Yavari

Kids Tables & Chairs // The Rental Place

Floral Painting // Hannah Joiner Crosby

Guest Room Ready in Under 30 Minutes

This post is sponsored by Febreze but the content and opinions expressed here are my own

If you’ve been following along for a while than you know that I love hosting. Whether it be a girls night, throwing a party, or having guests stay with us, I love prepping for friends and family. With two kids, two dogs, and two cats, our house definitely gets hit with different odors on a daily basis. That means I am doing laundry or cleaning every single day and when we have guests come to visit, I go into overdrive. Luckily throughout the years I have found some tried and true methods that help me be guest ready in under 30 minutes! Here is what I do every time before we have guests come stay with us! It’s helps me tremendously and I hope it’ll help you too!

Enlist your kids to help you! My kids are still young, but that doesn’t mean they can’t start helping with light chores around the house. Picking up odds and ends or practicing folding towels for a guests arrival is a great starter chore. Children don’t need to do any heavy lifting or cleaning with household products that aren’t safe, so try and enlist there help other ways. It’ll not only help you but teach them hospitality and responsibility!  My kids love putting on fresh clean sheets the most!

Smells Be Gone! Our guest room isn’t used on a daily basis, so sometimes the air can get a little stale. The day before a guest arrives, I always open all the windows to let in some fresh air. After cleaning and prepping the bed, I add one of my favorite scents! Febreze Plugs Mediterranean Lavender and Linen & Sky scents smell like a dream. They are pleasant without being too over the top. I picked mine up at Sam’s Club for such a great deal ($14.98, 4 refills + 2 warmers). While the others* fade fast, these last 1200 hours on the low setting and don’t just mask, but truly clean away odors! I plug one into the guest bedroom, living room and foyer to make sure the house smells clean and cozy!

Accessories! I have new toiletries, medicine, snacks, and even a coffee station with different coffee pods and tea. I want my guests to feel as at home as possible, so I try and think of things I wish I had when traveling and never want them to feel embarrassed by having to ask for something.

Entertainment– We have a mounted TV in the guest room equipped with a Roku which has Amazon, Netflix, and several sports channels. In addition to plenty of movies and shows, I always stock the room with new magazines depending on the guests interests. There are some books, a sound machine and a bluetooth speaker. Like I mentioned above, I want guests to feel like they are in their home when they stay at mine!

Do you have any guest tips you use to make clothes and sheets smell good? Let me know in the comments below! Be sure to visit a Sam’s Club to purchase the Febreze Plugs so you can create your perfect home ambiance and keep it smelling lovely & odor-free for up to 45 days!

*Leading pluggable’s top scents, Nielsen sales 2017

 

5 Most Instagrammable Spots in Philadelphia

A few weeks ago a girlfriend and I headed to Philly for a short weekend getaway. Neither one of us had been before and we thought it was the perfect meeting spot for some girl time! We both love exploring and taking photos so here are the best spots in Philadelphia to get that perfect Instagram pic!

Elfreth’s Alley – It’s no surprise that this street is one of the most popular tourist spots in all of Philadelphia. And it’s not just for the Instagrammer either. Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in the United States, making it enjoyable for the history buff, too. Because of that, my advice for getting the best photo when no one else is around is to go during “off” times. We went before our flight on Sunday morning around 10am and were the only ones there. It was slightly drizzling and overcast outside but that didn’t hinder the photos or our experience! We were so lucky to come during Christmas time because the alley was all decked out for Christmas. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966. 124-126 Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Louie Louie – Not only is this bohemian restaurant decorated like an old school movie set, but the food is to die for. My mouth is watering just thinking about the Belgian waffles and avocado toast. JeeYoung and I got there just after they opened on a Saturday and there were plenty of cute tables and places for pictures. If getting a good shot with zero to minimal people in the background is on your agenda, than I highly recommend getting to places when they open or during off hours/days. 3611 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA

LOVE Sign – We were lucky enough that our wonderful hotel, The Windsor Suites, was only a short walk to John F. Kennedy Plaza where the LOVE sign lives. Actually, The Windsor Suites is also within walking distance to the Art Museum, Rocky Steps and Statue as well. The LOVE Sign isn’t as large as the one in NYC, but still a great installation! John F. Kennedy Plaza, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19102

EAT ME/UR HOT Heart – Located inside Mission Taqueria,   We happened upon this fabulous spot by accident. We came for the food (which was amazing by the way) and were able to watch the tail end of this incredible art installation by the uber talented street artist, Amberella. If you happen to be in Philadelphia in the next few months, this installation will still be there. If not, then you can follow Amberella on Instagram to see where her other pieces are throughout the city! 1516 Sansom Street – 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 

Rocky Steps/Statue – No trip to the city of Brotherly Love is complete without a trip to the famous Rocky Steps. It is definitely one of the most popular attractions in the city and is usually packed with people taking photos or hanging out with friends on the steps. When we went on a nice afternoon on Saturday it was slammed with people. We tried again Sunday morning before our flight and we were some of the only ones there. Granted it happened to be overcast and raining off and on, but we still made it work! Spring Garden St, Philadelphia, PA 19130

Have you been to Philly? What were some of your favorite spots? Let me know in the comments!

Christmas Traditions & The Best Classic Toy for Toddlers

This post is sponsored by Mattel, but all opinions are my own

One tradition that I started right before Evelyn was born was taking Henry to pick out a gift for her. Then, once she arrived and was old enough, I started taking Evelyn to pick out a gift for Henry. It’s a sweet little tradition we do each Christmas spend some one on one time together and also teach them to think about others. I have always been a gifter and love picking out items that match someone’s personality. It’s important to me to teach my children that life isn’t always about receiving, but more importantly, giving and thinking about others.

I love watching my kids’ imaginations grow and letting them explore their creativity.  I try to choose toys that help them be their best self. Henry got the building gene from his grandfather, who was a geotechnical engineer. Since before he could walk, he started building with blocks. Being a typical little sister, Evelyn would play with anything Henry had. From cars and blocks to superhero toys. However, her favorite toy that has stood the test of time have been Mattel Mega Bloks. Henry first received a set on his first birthday, and they haven’t left our house since. They’re a great, inexpensive gift that makes a significant impact. Mega Bloks come in a vast assortment of colors and are great for little hands and babies who are learning fine motor skills (ages 1-5 are ideal for Mega Bloks). Their jumbo size and rounded edges make them perfect starter Building Blocks. They’re also BPA-free!

Mega Bloks Sesame Street Let’s Build Sesame Street set is the cutest, and Evelyn loves Abby Cadabby. It comes with stickers to place on the block so children can learn to spell out names of their favorite Sesame Street character. This set comes with 70 colorful blocks with character-themed decoration! There is also the Mega Bloks Building Basics Take-along Builder which is perfect for on the go. Take it to grandmas, on an airplane, road trip; you name it! There’s an easy-to-grip handle which opens up to reveal a set of building blocks and a removable building plate inside the case.

You can grab Mattel Mega Bloks in the Toys and Collectibles Aisle at your local Walmart, or order online! Do you have any unique traditions that you carry on each year? I would love to hear them in the comments!

 

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