Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Building a Budget-Friendly Fall Wardrobe: Little Ladies Edition

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Posted this to IG last week. Fall is coming!

I’m not sure if you’re starting to feel a little chill in the air where you are, but here in Virginia autumn is starting to creep in a little early. I’ve already seen leaves starting to fall! With the kids heading back to school, I think it’s safe to say that summer’s rolling out. And, y’all, the approach of fall has me giddy. I am completely in love with everything autumn—colorful trees, football, all things pumpkin, and of course, the clothes.

It’s time to start trading in Sadie’s sandals and swimsuits for sweaters and scarves. Hooray!  

I’m not going to lie: one of my favorite parts of having a daughter is the shopping. I get an unhealthy high from sauntering around Target. Unfortunately, most of my shopping is of the window variety. While the shopping may be fun, building a wardrobe on a tight budget isn’t easy.

I’ve combined my shopping addiction and budget mama skillz to put together a short list of essentials for a basic fall wardrobe. Sticking to this list will help you build a complete and diverse wardrobe on a budget for your little chick. Start with just the items on this list. If you find that you need more options, add only what you need. If your little one likes to get dirty, you may find that you need more jeans or leggings. If your girl loves dresses, you might want to add a few more. You also may want to add to her wardrobe throughout the season as you get some extra money or find things you love on sale. This list is a great starting point for building a seasonal wardrobe.

I know that starting a wardrobe from scratch can be overwhelming. It’s easy to forget what you have, what you need, and how much you’ve spent. Having a checklist is a great way to simplify shopping and watch your budget. I’ve attached a customizable PDF version of this essentials list, so that you can plan out your shopping and spending.

So, here’s what I think are the essentials for a budget-friendly, varied girl's wardrobe:

3 long-sleeve tees
4 pullovers/sweaters
3 shirts
2 pairs of jeans (one blue, one colored)
2 pairs of leggings (one black, one printed)
3 pairs of tights (one white, one black, one colored)
3 dresses
2 skirts
2 cardigans
2 jackets (one hoodie)
3 pairs of shoes (one sneaker, one flat, one boot)

My favorite spots for picking up cute and budget-friendly pieces are Target, H&M, Carter’s, Old Navy, and Walmart. You can pretty much always find promotions and coupons for Target, H&M, Carter’s, and Old Navy. The Garanimals line at Walmart has lots of great basics for super cheap. I used my essentials list and put together a little fall wardrobe with only things from these five stores:

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Everything I added to this wardrobe is totally cute, but they’re also each well thought out. It’s easy to just grab up the cutest things in the store, but when you’re shopping on a budget, you need to remember that each piece is important. When planning out your little lady’s wardrobe, remember these four things:

1. Mix and match! Pick pieces that can be worn in multiple ways. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if each piece can do double (or triple!) duty.
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2. Layer! Your little one’s fall wardrobe will last from early September all the way through winter if you pick pieces that can be easily layered.
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3. Get a pair of skinny jeans! Skinny jeans can be perfectly practical for an afternoon running around in the leaves, but can also be easily dressed up for a night out with mom and dad.
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4. Include her summer clothes! Don’t pack up all of her summer clothes just yet—use them to expand her fall wardrobe.
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Being a budget mama doesn’t mean that shopping for your sweet girl can’t be fun. If you set a budget and make a plan, you can have tons of fun putting together cute outfits with no guilt or regret!

You can start your guilt-free shopping now with these coupons and deals…

Target: All infant and toddler clothes are BOGO 50% off this week!

H&M: 20% off $50 baby, toddler, and kids’ purchase in store with THIS coupon!

Carter’s: Everything is currently 50% off in stores and online, plus save an additional 25% off $40 online with code CBKC20!

Old Navy: 30% off all regular prices & 15% off all sale online with code ONSAVENOW!

PS: Don’t forget to check out your local consignment shops! I prefer shopping new sale/clearance, but you really can find some great stuff on consignment for next to nothing. Plus, this is a great way to support local business!

PPS: Boy mamas, the little dudes edition is coming next week!

Download your own fall wardrobe planner HERE and get to shoppin'!

Monday, August 25, 2014

C is for Cookie!

Quick note: thank you so much for sending me pictures and updates! I am seriously loving seeing your little ones enjoying the activities.


This week we learned that “C is for Cookie,” and I’m pretty sure that my little Cookie Monster has never been happier.

The resources we used this week were…

Cookie Dance by Chip Chocolate (This song is ridiculous, but Sadie loved dancing to it. It will be stuck in your head all week. I'm sorry.)

ABCMouse 'The Letter C Song'
Storybots 'Crazy for C'
Cookie Monster 'C is for Cookie'

And, here's what we did...


We got three books from the library this week: Cookies: Bite Sized Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, All in Just One Cookie by Susan E Goodman, and Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar by George Shannon. Who Put the Cookies in the Cookie Jar is great – definitely my favorite from the week. The book provides a great opportunity to emphasize with your little ones that the world is a big place, and we’re only a small part of it.

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We also read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie this week. We own all of Laura Numeroff’s books. They’re so cute! 

After a little introduction to our new letter, Sadie made her construction paper mosaic cookie, and added it to her alphabet book.

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After Sadie went to bed Monday night, I got to work making a Cookie Monster game for her. I used construction paper to create a Cookie Monster face and cookies. I wrote the letters we’ve learned so far on the cookies: A, B,  and C. I cut out Cookie Monster’s mouth, and taped a sandwich bag to the back.

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When Sadie woke up we played “Feeding Cookie Monster.” I arranged all of the cookies on the floor, letter side up, and went over the rules: Cookie Monster only likes to eat letter “C” cookies. I told her that he thinks “A” and “B” cookies are yucky, and only wants the yummy, yummy “C” cookies. I opened the sandwich bag and held Cookie Monster up, so that she could “feed” him. I used my best (read: terrible) Cookie Monster impression to remind her that “Cookie Monster no like ‘B’ cookie… yuck!” As she fed Cookie Monster the cookies, they would be collected in the sandwich bag.

Sadie's into all kinds of bags, and loves filling them up with stuff, so this game was a hit. She wanted to play over and over, and even played by herself. She played “Feeding Cookie Monster” every day this week!

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I realize a lot of y’all don’t have the time (or desire!) to try to make a construction paper Cookie Monster, so I put together a super easy printable. Just print and follow the instructions. All you’ll need is some scissors, tape, and a sandwich bag.

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Wednesday’s activity was super simple and quick, but fun. I wrote letters on a piece of construction paper, gave Sadie some mini Oreo’s, and had her use the cookies to cover up only the C’s. I let her eat some of the Oreo’s as we played, because otherwise she would’ve been a hot, whiny mess. We’re working on patience and listening skills—this activity was great practice! I had Sadie practice saying the letter name and sound as we covered up the C’s, and then again as we took the cookies off at the end of the game.

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This week Sadie played with her food by decorating some sugar cookies. To make my life easier, I bought sugar cookies instead of making them. If you’re into baking, feel free to make those bad boys. I used store-bought, bagged decorator's icing to write letter C’s on a few cookies (older kids can totally do this step). Before decorating, I asked her to say the letter and we practiced saying the letter sound and “cookie.” Then, I just let her go to town with the sprinkles. After decorating, she devoured those cookies like a champ (even though she licked them all, I didn't let her eat all four!).

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I created a worksheet to do on Friday, but we didn’t get around to it. The worksheet is a little above Sadie’s skill-level, but with help and guidance it’s totally doable. I had planned to try it with her, but life happened. I would say the worksheet is most appropriate for 24 months and up, but definitely try it with your little ones. You can find it attached to the lesson plan.

Dan was home Friday, so we made some big “C-shaped" chocolate chip cookies. Sadie loves making cookies, so this was a fun activity to do as a family. Our “C-shaped" cookies turned out a little funky, so my advice: spread your dough thin and make sure the open area in the “C” is big! 

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Weekend Fun:

Since Sadie loves making cookies and new friends, I wanted to put her excitement to good use. I planned to let her make cookies for someone who needs a smile, and I decided on our local Ronald McDonald House.

If you’re not familiar with the Ronald McDonald House Charities, they do the amazingly generous work of providing free housing and other comforts to the families of sick children. The beautiful people of the RMHC help to “lessen the burden for nearly nine million families each and every year.”  Read more about RMHC, and find your local chapter here:

For food safety reasons, we had to do our baking at the house, but I'm glad we did. It was lovely to meet some of the wonderful families staying there. I'm so thankful that my beautiful mama could join us, because there were sixteen families staying at the house this week!

Choose a charity or person that is meaningful to you, and do something nice this week! It’s never too early to teach your little one to share kindness and love. Cookies make everyone smile.

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Download the lesson plan HERE and enjoy!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment section below or email me at Send me pictures of your activities this week! I can’t wait to hear from you!

Happy learning to you and your future nerds!

Monday, August 18, 2014

B is for Butterfly!

This week we learned that “B is for Butterfly!” I am excited to say that by the end of the week Sadie had both the letter name and the "b" sound down confidently! I'm so glad that she's not only enjoying our activities, but that they're working.

The resources we used this week were…


ABC Mouse 'The Letter B Song'
Storybots 'B is for Boogie'
Hippothesis 'Metamorphosis'
Elmo's Butterfly Song

And, here's what we did...


We got three books from the library this week: Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert, Little Einsteins: Butterfly Suits by Marcy Kelman, and Fly, Monarch! Fly by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace.

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We already owned The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. It’s one of Sadie’s favorites, and we read it every night this week.

We did our letter introduction after getting home from the library, and worked on her Alphabet Book mosaic after her nap. She chose the colors, ripped the paper, and put the glue on the butterfly. I helped her keep the paper in the lines. 

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Every toddler loves stickers, and Sadie is no exception. When I found large butterfly stickers at the local dollar store, I knew we had to do something with them. We used the stickers to create a “B” butterfly garden! I taped construction paper to the wall to create a scene for Sadie to fill. She shrieked with happiness with every butterfly she added to the sky. After Sadie filled the sky with butterflies, I filled the garden with “flowers.” I allowed Sadie to choose the flower colors, and I drew “B flowers” in the garden. With every upper and lowercase “B” I drew, we yelled the letters name. Older children can get practice writing the letter by taking turns with you writing the “B’s” in the garden. We left the “B” butterfly garden up all week, and used it every day to practice recognizing and saying “B” and “butterfly.”

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We used laminating paper and tissue paper to create a suncatcher on Wednesday. The instructions are detailed in the attached lesson plan, but it was super simple. Sadie loved adding the tissue paper pieces to the sticky laminating paper—it was almost like stickers! We hung her suncatcher on the glass door, and she loved looking at it all week. Whenever we would pass by the front door, we would use our fingers to trace the letter “B” on the suncatcher.

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We had other plans on Thursday, so we didn’t get to play with our food this week. The plan was to create a butterfly with her lunch. I planned to quarter her peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and use the quarters as wings. A stalk of celery (with peanut butter!) would act as the body, a strawberry would be the head, and pretzel sticks would be the antenna. If you try this, please send me a picture! I’d love to see it.


Friday we created butterfly wands. I bent two pipe cleaners into “B’s,” and we practiced saying “B! I then let Sadie glue the “B’s” together to create a butterfly. She glued the butterfly to a wooden skewer (found at the dollar store, of course), and then glued pom-poms of her choice to create a body. These were so quick and simple that we made a few. She liked to make the butterflies fly by running around and waving the wands around. I didn't take any pictures of her doing this project, but I took a few process photos after she went to bed.

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Weekend Fun:

We visited the butterfly garden at the botanical gardens this weekend. Sadie loved seeing all of the real butterflies up close. She was even able to touch a few! We stopped at the garden’s splash pad on the way out, and she was in toddler heaven. If you have one nearby… go!

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Download the lesson plan here!

If you’re starting the project, please let me know! I love to hear from you. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment section below or email me at I’d love to help you make the project work for your little one!

Happy learning to you and your future nerds!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Letter of the Week

I have been so excited for Sadie to turn 18 months, because I knew that’s when I wanted to start introducing some educational activities into our day. I don’t know if it’s my degree in education or that I’m a huge nerd, but I find lesson planning super fun. We have done a few projects and activities over the last few months, but I think that 18 months is the sweet spot for little toddler brains. They turn into little sponges, and it’s so fun to watch them soak up everything.

I have been thinking about what I wanted to do with her that would be stimulating, but fun and low-pressure. I always really enjoyed learning (told you, huge nerd), and I would love for Sadie to get excited about learning too. I wanted to create a loose curriculum that wouldn’t require any sort of evaluation. My goal was to incorporate a fun activity each day that would be informally instructional. And, if you’re at home with your toddler or preschooler for any extended period throughout the day, you know that having a few planned activities can preserve your sanity. Because I mean, y’all, if I have to watch one more episode of Peppa Pig I might lose it.

Sadie’s love for the alphabet song inspired me to start a letter of the week project. We started last week, and it has been an awesome success! She enjoyed all of the activities, and really got into the books we found. I’m so excited to share it with y’all.

Just a note: I think 15 months is the earliest I would start the project, but the age range I suggest would be 18-36 months. The project will act more as an introduction to the alphabet for the younger crowd—that’s where we are. There’s no pressure for Sadie to write the letters or to know their sounds. The goal here is to establish a basic knowledge of the alphabet, and create an excitement for learning. You can encourage your young toddler to say the letter of the week, find it in a group of letters, and use words that start with that letter. With older toddlers and preschoolers, the project can be expanded to introduce writing letters and learning letter sounds. When introducing each letter, allow your older child to practice tracing. Instead of simply saying the letter’s name when doing activities, your older toddler/preschooler can practice making the letter’s sound.

A little perk: this project is an interesting way for your little ones to learn about letters, but it also introduces some fun new things about some of your kids’ favorite stuff. Sadie loves apples, and got to learn all about apple trees, harvesting, and apple foods this week. She was totally into it.

This week was “A is for Apple!” and here's what we did:

While I planned an activity for each day, I also had resources to use throughout the day to reiterate what she was learning. While we were playing with her blocks we might sing a song about apples. When she started turning into Lady Fussypants before bedtime, we watched a couple videos. If you’re opposed to screen time, you don’t have to use the videos, but they’re very short and Sadie really enjoyed them.

I found the apple songs here:
Alphabet Soup
Everything Preschool

These were Sadie’s favorite videos: 'The Letter A Song'
Storybots 'Hooray for A'
Gary Kazoo 'I Like Apples'
Sadie especially liked “I Like Apples” by Gary Kazoo. It made her laugh all 1,000 times we watched it. By the end of the week she was saying “sauuuuuce” right along with him. You might love me or hate me for introducing this to you. 

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We started the week at the library finding some books about apples. We chose Apples A to Z by Margaret McNamara and Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington. Both were really cute and had lots of great information, but Sadie especially loved Apples A to Z. The caterpillar page made her laugh out loud (she’s easy to please). There are thousands of great apple books out there—browse your library’s catalog.

When we got home we read through her books and talked about the letter of the week. I pointed out A’s and a’s. We also spent some time coloring together on the floor. While she doodled, I wrote A’s and talked about them: “This is the letter ‘A’ – it is the first letter of the alphabet. It sounds like ‘a.’ Like apple!” I encouraged her to say the letter’s name. She’s not very verbal, so had a hard time saying “A” on the first day. That’s okay. We’re low pressure here.

I wanted Sadie to have a place where she would be able to regularly see the new letter she is working on, as well as look back through previous weeks’ letters. We made a book out of page protectors that we will add to each week. I did all of the stapling and gluing, but left the decorating to my girl. Sadie only wanted to color her cover page, but your kid can get as funky as he/she wants. If you have a large wall, you could hang the letters up and skip the book.

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On Tuesday we created the first page of Sadie’s alphabet book. Each week we will create a mosaic that fits our theme. Sadie ripped and glued red construction paper to make her mosaic apple. We put the page in her new book.

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We painted with apples on Wednesday. I think everyone has done this at some point. I cut two apples in half, squirted some washable paint on a plate, and let her go to town. She was in heaven. We practiced saying the letter’s name during this activity.

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On Thursday we played with our food. I gave her apple slices, peanut butter, and raisins. I gave her creative control to decorate her apples like she wanted. For other kids, I would definitely include more options for decorating like granola, oats, etc., but my child doesn’t like food.

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I was planning to end the week with a sensory bucket, but Sadie got sick. The plan was to fill a bucket with rice, and bury A’s of different textures for Sadie to find. I think it's something she’d really enjoy, so we’ll try again another week.

Weekend Fun:

Every weekend I want to plan an extra-fun activity that will be an extension of what we were learning about and doing the previous week. Of course, some weekends we will have plans or our extra-fun activity will happen during the week, but I want to try to include it as often as possible. We had plans to go to an apple orchard this weekend, but Sadie had a fever. Life happens. We’ll try that again another time.


Even though it was a short week, and the activities we did were pretty basic, I think the first week was awesome. I haven’t set any sort of expectations or evaluations, but by the end of the week she was able to identify the “A” in a group of letters and she could say the letters name about 50% of the time. Most importantly, it was obvious that Sadie really enjoyed learning this week. I call that a win!

Because I love you and I want your sweet littles to join in on the learning fun, I created a PDF with this week’s lesson plans. It also includes the three documents you’ll need for the week’s activities. The lessons plans are more detailed than what I’ve gone over here and include a list of the supplies you’ll need. I’m making this easy for you!

Click here to download the lesson plan PDF!
If you decide to start the project, please let me know! I’d love to follow along with you. Tag me on Instagram or email pictures to!

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment section below or email me. I’d love to help you make the project work for your little one!

Happy learning to you and your future nerds!

Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm a blogger, y'all!

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Sarah Street Photography

As a notorious over-sharer, I have been wanting to start a blog for a while. But, while I may have a lot to say, I've worried that no one would want to read it. Let’s be honest, I’m not that interesting. There are tons of blogs out there, and many are filled with beautiful people and places that make “normal” seem so boring. What do I have to offer?

In our Instagram culture, it’s easy to find yourself comparing and falling short. That Internet stranger is doing it big. My kitchen will never be as clean, my daughter will never be as well dressed, and heaven knows I'll never be as skinny. How do these moms even get their toddlers to pose so perfectly in those designer clothes? Meanwhile my kid is chasing the dog dressed only in grape jelly and a bow. Our reality is so much different than what we scroll through everyday.

And, y’all… that’s okay.

My girl is funny and sweet, and the absolute apple of my eye, but she isn’t perfect. She throws her food. Her favorite word is no. Our townhouse is small, and most of our furnishings come from the clearance racks of Target. We eat freezer meals and potato chips. We’ll probably never see Europe or drive brand new cars. My life is miles from “perfect,” but whoever said, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” never stepped one foot in my little yard. Our grass is patchy, and sometimes it hurts my feet, but it’s my favorite shade of green.

It’s so easy to find ourselves wishing, dreaming, envious, but I can promise you that the grass you’re standing in is the greenest grass in the world. From that smile your baby saves only for you to that inside joke that makes you laugh until you pee in your pants, there are millions of tiny pieces of your life that add up to make something extraordinary. You are not inadequate and your life is not deficient—your garden is bursting with blessings; you just have to take a little time to smell the roses.

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daydrifterdigital on Etsy

When we stop comparing and start appreciating, the Internet becomes an incredible resource. We can scroll through Pinterest and not feel envious or inadequate, but inspired and encouraged. We can blog to connect, support, and most importantly, laugh with one another.

This little piece of the Internet is a celebration of the imperfect, crazy, beautiful grass God’s given me. I can’t promise it will always be pin-worthy, but there is no expectation for perfection here—just honesty, humility, gratitude, and a whole lot of silliness.