Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!

And happy happy first day of SUMMER!

Linking up with A. Liz Adventures, Carolina Charm, Hello! Happiness and The Good Life Blog for another 5 on Friday!


So excited to see some emails come through with pictures for the Bella Carta giveaway! Don't forget to email me your pictures by July 1st to be entered!


New words! I've mentioned before that A's speech is something we've struggled with, but ever since his birthday in April, he's been talking non stop. Just this week he's learned 9 new words! Nothing makes my momma heart swell like hearing him say new words & phrases!

This week's he's learned: push, pull, green, more, please, baby, bus, baseball and hockey!


We are having family pictures taken this weekend, with our very favorite photographer, Bryan! He not only photographed our wedding, but has done A's newborn, 6-month and 1-year pictures! So thankful for a good weather forecast for tomorrow, and fingers crossed for A to be easy going for a few hours!

Can you believe this picture was taken almost a year ago!? Where does the time go?


We had such a wonderful Father's Day last weekend. I have yet to upload my "real" pictures, but here's one of my favorites from last Sunday.

Yes, he thinks he's a dog sometimes. Okay, more than sometimes.


A bloggy-break. That's what I'm giving myself next week. Some time away from the computer to catch up on life and enjoy playing outside with my favorite little guy. I'll be back soon, I promise!

Have a wonderful weekend!


What's Not Working: Our Mail!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Doesn't this already feel like the longest week ever?!

Back today with another installment of What's Not Working!

Our mail pile seriously drives me crazy. One of my pet peeves is coming home to a messy house. and while the mail doesn't necessarily make my house messy... it definitely contributes to the clutter.

The biggest reason our mail always ended up here...

... was because this little "drop spot" to the right of the door couldn't hold  a week's worth of mail.

In an ideal world, I'd go through the mail everyday. But I don't, so it sits until I go through it on Saturday mornings while I drink my coffee. In order to get the mail off the entertainment center, this mail drop spot had to work harder.

As soon as I saw these baskets from World Market, I knew I had found my solution!

I ordered a small & medium with a free shipping code, and couldn't wait to get them up as soon as they arrived!

And here's what it looks like now...
 The top basket is for mail, and the bottom is for Otto's "stuff". Leashes, harnesses, etc.

Yes, that's a rogue dinosaur on the trunk. Just keeping it real.

I'm thinking of replacing the light with a wall-mount swing arm sconce. It would free up some space on the floor, and I'm always worried about it falling over on A when he plays with his cars.

We're already loving the change of having more space for the mail on the wall, and that in the last 2 weeks absolutely no mail has found its way to the entertainment center! Hooray for cheap & easy solutions to the things that bother us the most.


I Want Your Pictures! + a Bella Carta Giveaway

While Christmas may still be 6 months away, June is the time I start preparing for my Holiday Card designs. Since our new site will be live by the end of the summer {and now that it's in writing, it has to be live!}, I need to get started on some new designs!

This year I'm doing something a little special for my readers: asking you to submit your pictures for use in my designs! If you've had professional pictures (or even your own, personal high-quality pictures) taken this year, and own the rights to the photographs, I'd love for you to send them my way! Engagement, wedding, baby or family pictures... anything goes! (please know that I reach out personally to each and every photographer, just to triple-check they are OK with me using their work in my designs).

What's in it for you?

Each reader who submits a photo/photos will be entered to win a set of 50 FREE Holiday Cards this year. F-R-E-E. You will be able to choose any design from our site, even if your photo was not used in that specific design.

Here are some of my favorite designs from last year!

To be entered, send your photos to bellacartaboutique {at} gmail {dot} com, before July 1st. A winner will be notified by email by July 30th.

I can't wait to see your pictures!!


Five on Friday

Linking up with these lovely ladies again today!


I'm so excited to receive this KidCraft chair I ordered for A this week! I think it will be perfect for our family vacation this summer.... assuming that he actually sits for more than a hot second while we're outside. A momma can dream, right?


H&M for Kids. My dear friend Sarah bought A the most adorable shirt for his birthday, from H&M. It was my first introduction to their children's line, and now I'm hooked. On Monday we're heading over there at lunch to do a little more shopping, mainly for my little man.

Here are some of the things I have my eye on!


I'm having a hard time choosing a new rug for our living room. And this is the one I keep coming back to...
I can't decide if I love it or it. I'm not really a chevron girl, but think this would add some great texture to our space. Oh, and it can be hosed down with soap & water! Hello, perfect rug for my two wild toddlers (I totally include Otto in my child-count... especially when it comes to making a mess).


I've been doing some major purging, and here's what I have to show for it. This gigantic box is being dropped off tomorrow morning at the Goodwill. I'm so not sad to say goodbye to these clothes, and I'm loving all the extra space in my closet!


These two. Celebrating my amazing dad this weekend, along with the best baby-daddy a girl could ask for.

Happy Friday, friends!


{Project Playroom} Even More Progress

The playroom is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house. Each time we make an update, it gets a little more personality and function. If you've been following along since the beginning, you already know that this room needs to work super hard for us: it's a play space, a guest room, and my new office.

Here's how the space is looking now...
(please note I had just gone on a huge toy purge and put a lot of the baby toys in the attic... and wiped down the chalkboard... the room looked like this for about 10 minutes until A woke up from his nap!)


I recently changed out the bedding for this adorable black & white polka dot sheet from Target. The old comforter was always a mess, and was hiding the pallet day-bed that C made a few years ago. Now that we have just a sheet on there, the room seems so much more open (and of course, it made way for more matchbox cars!)

The art wall is still a big hit, and gets used almost every day. I think what A loves most about this wall is that there are 'no rules' - he can draw anywhere, and pretty much do anything. Hey - that's important when you're 2!

The stairway art was C's birthday gift back in February. I had secretly stolen his collection of tickets (sporting events & concerts) that he had been collecting since his toddler years, and made them into collages. We also added C's grandfather's fire helmet to the room, which is a deeply sentimental item for my husband, and something he looks forward to sharing with A as he gets older.

I haven't made much progress in the toy area, other then adding another basket on the bottom. Still looking for the perfect sized baskets for the second shelf that will withstand my wild child, and won't damage the shelves from being pulled on & off everyday.

Here was my 'wish list' when we started this room back in January...

find a new, plush (kid-friendly) rug
add an additional large basket for toy storage
• replace blue bins on 2nd shelf
• child proof TV with anti-tip brackets
create an art area (maybe a chalkboard & a rotating gallery for A's artwork)
add a gate at the top of the stairs
• find a way to keep toys organized, and easy-to-find

create/build a two-person desk in the dormer
add shelving for storage
make a functional/fun message station for reminders & invitations
find 2 desk chairs
• create a functional filing system for household paperwork

Guest Space:
• add wall-mounted sconces near the bed
update bedding
• add throw pillows along wall

add/make window treatments
• build a closet door for small storage space
• add a closet rod to small space for off-season jackets
add artwork to stairway

Still a bit more work to do, but we've made so much progress!

You can see the other Project Playroom posts, here:
Current Playroom
The New Rug
DIY Fabric Covered Cork Board
Progress + New Desk
Art Wall
New Chair + Progress


New Kitchen Pictures

Just a quick post today with some updated pictures of the kitchen. Last weekend was perfect weather for some new pictures, showing the true color of both the door and the walls.

I love that all we did was paint a small 6x3 space, and now the whole room seems new. It added the perfect pop of color, and a little bit of drama in the space.


On My Heart

After reading Michelle's post last Saturday, I was moved to write about some things that have been on my heart lately. This might be all over the place, because that's how I am most days... all over the place.

I'm guilty, just as everyone else is, of assuming that what you read on a blog is all "real". Not to say that anyone is lying, just that their lives seem perfect. Their homes are clean and their children are well dressed and smiling, and they seem to have it so easy. Some of my favorite blogs actually, are the ones show us their lives aren't perfect. Despite the pretty pictures in this little space, real life happens in every room of our home. Most days I'm a mess - honestly... my house is covered in dog hair, and I feel like all I say lately is 'no', and 'don't make me count to three'. There is always a pile of laundry in my bedroom that needs to be put away, and some weeks it will sit there for 7 straight days before I get to it. Some days we don't get out of our jammies until after nap time, and that's ok by me. I can never leave the house with white pants on, because it is Murphy's Law that A will get something on them before I've even hit the first porch step... and anytime the temperature is above 60, I find an excuse to not blow-dry my hair and instead rock the mommy bun. What I'm trying to say is... please don't ever think of me that way - I don't have it all together, and probably never will.

Something that has been on my heart lately is the working-mommy debate. I grew up in a home where my mom worked (her tooshy off), and set a phenomenal example of how to have a work-life balance. Our relationship 100% defies the theory that working moms are not as close to their children as stay-at-home moms. What bothers me the most about being a working mom, is the assumption that somehow I'm not also a full-time mom. I'm well aware there are many hours of the day I'm not actually with my child, but, I am always his mom. Even when I'm at work, I'm a full-time mom, too. Racing home to get to the doctor or ordering diapers at lunch, or calling to hear his sweet voice tell me "yay!!!" because he just tee--teed on potty... I'm still mom. It's a difficult balance, but I'm doing the very best I can.

A few people I'm close with, mainly those who don't have children of their own, over simplify our arrangement and make it seem like it's all very simple: "Just tell your husband to figure it out - that you don't want to work anymore". What?!?! That is not how it works in our family. No one is left to figure it out on their own. We are a team, partners, both doing our very best to raise a little family in a big world. I'm proud that we make those decisions together, and that we are blessed beyond words to have family care for A while we are at work. My decision to go back was never easy, but it was right for our family.

I work to help support my family and to help pay the bills, to let us not worry about unexpected expenses and go on nice vacations and renovate our home and buy organic food.  Me working does not mean I love A any less. I hope one day, he looks back on his childhood, and is proud of his working momma, for setting the same phenomenal example that my mother did, 30-some-odd years ago. When he asks me why I worked, I will tell him it was for him, for our family, and what what worked for us.

In this season of my life, I feel so overwhelmingly blessed. And content. And just so happy. We have an amazing little boy, who is happy and healthy and hysterical. Our marriage is strong - stronger than its ever been - and I still look forward to coming home to C every night. We have wonderful families, supportive friends, great jobs and a future that we're excited about. We are looking forward to welcoming another baby one day, but right now, we're so in love with A and our life with him, that I never feel like anything is missing. I love the new friendships I've made from blogging - there is a wonderful, encouraging group of other woman out there, that I never would have known before starting this online journal. I'm thankful for a job that supports working moms (and dads!), and lets us come and go without question for doctor's appointments, 103-degree fevers and preschool orientation. I adore our little home, and how it has come to represent all the things we love. I often dream about our next house, but for today, we are able to enjoy our hard work while we're relaxing at night with a glass of wine in hand.

Life is good. Even when life is hard, it is still good.


Five on Friday

Linking up with Darci, for 5 on Friday!


(You'll have to listen closely because I'm going to tell you a secret...)

This little guy is potty-trained. And I'm scared to say it out-loud, because I think I may jinx it.

For reals though, he is. We've now had 7 consecutive days of no accidents, in big-boy undies all the time (except naps and at night, for which he wakes up dry 98% of the time and asks to potty right away!). I'm shocked, honestly. But clearly he was ready, and we are so SO proud of him!


Loving this bathroom reveal from Emily Clark. Aside from being totally adorable and perfect for her two little boys, she used the same vanity & lights that we did in our bathroom, and a contrasting wood mirror. I've never felt so validated in my design choices, ever! 


This little boy gave his mom & dad (our best friends) a HUGE scare on Wednesday night, when he managed to get out of their fenced-in backyard, then got hit by a car and ran away. So many people were praying & looking for Quigs, and my stomach was in knots all night worried about him.

The next morning, a long 12 hours later, they found him wandering around, perfectly healthy except for a few cuts. 
Needless to say everyone was relieved! SO happy he's home!


The new Erin Condren Planners are here! I've talked about how much I love my planner here and here, and I can't wait to purchase another! Erin listened to all of her customer feedback, and made some small tweaks to make this edition even better than the last! My current planner runs through December, so I have plenty of time to decide. Plus I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I win the super-duper Erin Condren giveaway!


Real Housewives of New Jersey & Keeping up with the Kardashian's are back. My two summer guilty-pleasures. LOVE these shows.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!


What's Not Working: DVD Collection

Thank you all for your sweet comments & emails about this new series! I kind of felt like a dork for a little bit - thinking no one would fun this as fun as I do... but clearly I was wrong ;)

We have an itty-bitty portion of our entertainment console dedicated to DVDs. My problem with the space was not that the DVDs didn't fit, but more that I could never find what I was looking for. Here's what it looked like before:

Every time I had to look for one of A's videos, I had to tear apart the whole lower shelf. It was a waist of time, and frankly, we didn't even know what movies we owned.

So I bought 2 mini binders from Target, and some CD/DVD sleeves from Amazon, and a solution was born. One binder is for A's videos, and the other is for grown-up movies. I'm on the lookout for 1 more mini-binder, but my Target seems to be out of stock.

Here's what the shelf looks like now. So much better!.... I wonder if C will notice if I sell all his video games? (Hi babe!)

So much more organized. We can quickly find what we're looking for, and we even made space for some of A's crayons and coloring books!

Next organization project is tackling our mail piles, which somehow almost end up on the entertainment center and not in the designated mail basket.

Happy Thursday, friends!


What's Not Working Series

I think it was the missing $400 train pass that sent me over the edge. C and I looked for hours, trying to find the little orange card that gets me to and from work everyday. We finally gave up around midnight, and I admitted it was gone. As I crawled into bed, I prayed to St. Anthony, and something caught my eye... my pile of magazines. It was a long shot, but at this point, what did I have to lose? And there it was - between the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog. I woke C up and literally did a little jig in the bedroom.. he was not amused.

Every house has  them... the spots where mail piles up, or laundry goes for days not being put away. The time suckers. Simple chores that are taking too long because there’s no good way to do them.

I’ve become a big fan of Emily Ley lately (I know, I’m late to the game). If you read her blog or follow her on Instagram, she always talks about “what matters most” - focusing on the big, important things in our lives. Emily’s business is founded on this that entire concept...  in order to focus on our families, or our work, or ourselves, we need systems, plans & organization in place. Things need to work well, so you can spend less time DOING and more time PLAYING.

The train pass was my wake-up call.... and so, I set out on a mission to find the things that aren’t working for us. Identifying them, and coming up with a solution is the first step in solving the never-ending to-do list. Everything needs a place, or a system, to work well. If everything is well organized, cleaning will be easier. I won’t have to actually put stuff away in order to clean. That means less time doing chores... and more time to do the stuff I love.

Introducing, the "What's Not Working" Series - my quest to make our lives a little bit simpler.

Disclaimer: I’ll be sharing pictures I never thought I’d share on this blog. But in the interest of always being honest, these are  places where I hide all the stuff when I take the pretty pictures. The closet I need to purge every few months so that a falling binder doesn’t kill me when I open the door; or the top of the washer & dryer were I quickly stash stuff before guests arrive. My dream, as unrealistic as it may sound, is that I’m never fearful of someone stopping by because my house is a mess. I’m not looking for my house to be perfect - just good enough. Good enough for an impromptu BBQ, or good enough that I can sit on the couch and watch a movie on a Friday night and not feel that I have so much to do. Things need to work better, so I don’t have to work as hard.

Every other week (or so), I’ll be posting about how I’m fixing each of these problems, and maybe my suggestions can help or inspire you, too. They aren’t going to be expensive fixes, just everyday things we can all do to make our lives a little easier.  So that we have more time for what matters most.

Check back tomorrow for the very first post in the series!


A Few Dining Room Updates

Hi, friends! How is it Monday?! Hope you all had a great weekend! We definitely did. Even after a horrid Friday (because I decided to bring A to work with me... BAD idea).... but the weekend quickly turned around and ended up being great!

One of my very first "Home Tour" posts (almost a year ago) was about our dining room (part one & part two). In fact, our dining room was the first room we renovated in our home.

This spring when I started moving some things around, I decided to move the large mirror from the dining room into our bedroom. Leaving this big wall completely blank.

Then I started "shopping our house" and decided these big frames, previously in our bedroom and living room, would look great down there.


 And here's how the dining room looks now, with some "new" frames and pictures from A's 6 month photo shoot.

I think they fill the wall so much better than the mirror... and who doesn't want to see semi-nekkid baby pictures while they eat?!

I'd say this room is pretty much done - for now. I'm still thinking a big jute rug would look great under the table, and would help brighten up the space. This room is on our lowest level, and doesn't get a lot of light (and also tends to be pretty cold in the winter), so a big rug could solve both those problems.

I'll be sharing how we changed up the bedroom, soon! Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest difference.