Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A visit to IKEA West Chester

Last week, I had the most pleasant blogger experience. Heather from the blog, the Food Hussy, invited me to join her and other local bloggers for an event at IKEA in West Chester.

I've been an IKEA fan since the day it opened its doors locally. I love IKEA, because of the customer experience. I can immerse myself in design possibilities all afternoon while browsing their showroom floor. I know I can find farmhouse chic or ultra modern and everything in between.

I mostly leave with a dolly full of home accents, plants and a few household staples, like their baggies. (An important side note: If you weren't aware that IKEA has the best ziplock baggies in the world, you are missing out. They're so colorful and come in six different sizes. I refuse to buy baggies anywhere else. Yes, it is the small things in life that make me happy.)

Up until this point, the only food items I have sampled is their chocolate. I can't resist taking advantage of their "3 for $2" chocolate bar special at the checkout. The hazelnut chocolate is my favorite!

IKEA has so much more when it comes to food! This event was an eye-opener for me. I had never stopped to have a meal in their cafeteria or even visited their small market up front. Of course, I hear people rave over the meatballs and cinnamon rolls, but when I have a dolly full of furniture and loose household items, food is the last thing on my mind.

At the blogger event, we sampled three of the most delicious drinks made from two of their syrups, followed by a variety of meatball dishes, each catering to different tastes. We mingled to another area where we tried some of their sweet treats and even a greenhouse-inspired station with salmon-topped salad and other garden fresh foods. I was blown away by flavors and freshness of each product.

The IKEA team had several stations set up for us to explore. One of my favorites was a long dinner table featuring countless combinations of dinnerware. 

Another was centered around the idea of endless inspiration for children. IKEA offers a full spectrum of games and art activities for little ones. Did you know they even have kids' costumes? Talk about perfect timing for Halloween. I can only imagine how much money you would save buying your child's costume here versus Pottery Barn.

I've been to several blogger events and this one was so well done. I loved every single minute of my experience. I was in heaven getting a sneak peek of IKEA's latest and greatest while catching up with blogging pals.

To make the evening even better, the IKEA team surprised us with a basket of goodies, including their new catalog, which was released that very day and recipes for the dishes we sampled. Now to get cooking! I'll need to remember to start my next IKEA visit with a meal at the cafeteria and finish up with some shopping in their super market.

A very special thanks to the IKEA marketing, chef and interior design teams for spending the evening with us!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Beyond the obvious, 10 tools for new moms

I admit it. I was the girl at the baby shower who brought the cutesy outfits and monogrammed bib. Then the tables turned. I was expecting my first baby and quickly realized I needed practical items...many of which I didn't even know I needed. Yikes!

I instantly felt like a bad gift-giver, because I had been giving people the things they actually like to spend their own money, not the practical things they needed. Think about it. As a new mom, aren't you excited to buy cute clothes and accessories? But, you're not excited when you realize how many practical things you need, and those things, my friend, aren't fun to spend your money on.

The items above ended up being godsends. They're items that make my life as a mom easier, especially as I try to master the parenting game. Some are unexpected. Some are a little more typical, but the brand or texture truly made a difference to me.
  • Rosie Pope Blankets - We keep two of these in our diaper bag. They're small enough that they don't take up much room, but large enough to throw over the car seat as a protector from the rain, wind, etc. Rosie Pope has the cutest line of baby clothes and accessories. I absolutely adore the blankets we have and have given her flamingo bibs and burp cloths as gifts. (For the record, bibs and burp cloths are practical items. I didn't have nearly enough when our sweet boy was born. Can you ever have enough bibs or burp cloths? I think not.)
  • Fischer-Price Rock-n-play Sleeper - I had no idea I needed this specific model. My friend, (a seasoned mother herself) actually pointed out that I wouldn't be happy with the brand/model I originally selected. She said, "You need to take that back immediately. I promise you'll thank me later." She was right. I purchased the same model she had and have to say this is the most useful piece of gear we own. The difference between this model and others is the fact that this one rocks itself. Most vibrate, but require you to physically rock the sleeper yourself. This one does it all! It rocks, vibrants and plays several different white noise sounds.
  • Baby Saline Spray - Our sweet boy was so stuffed up during his first few months. Listening to him try to breathe was awful. It even affected his eating. We used this spray often.
  • Nose Frieda - My husband still thinks this is gross. Essentially, you use a tube (a sanitary tube) to suck snot out of your child's nose. Crazy, I know, but it works. It's not cheap either, but is worth the investment when clearing your child's nasal buildup.
  • IKEA Kallax Shelving Unit - Seriously, this is the best addition to your child's closet! Depending on the size of the closet, use it horizontal as a side board to create storage and an extra surface space, or use it vertical as a standard bookcase.
  • Babies-R-Us 2-in-1 Activity Walker - We just ordered this during a sale and only ended up paying $25 for it. It's been perfect for our five-month old, who is not content just hanging out in the sleeper anymore. He wants to move. This walker is adjustable, so you can set it at the perfect height for your little one.
  • OXO No-spill Formula Dispenser - I started out breastfeeding and eventually switched to formula. I had no idea this handy container existed. I was just carrying around a full canister until my best friend suggested this small dispenser.
  • IKEA Drawer Storage Organizer Bins - Seriously, get these. Get one set for each of your dresser drawers. You'll thank me later. They're perfect for organizing socks, bibs, pacifiers, clothes by name it! 
Seasoned mommas - What are your go-tos?

(Affiliate links were included in this post.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A LuLaRoe giveaway winner + other beloved styles

A special thanks to all who entered the LuLaRoe giveaway! We had an overwhelming amount of entries. I'm excited to see that others are just as excited about stylish and comfortable clothes as I am.

Kayla W. - You are our winner! Be on the lookout for an email from me.

Now get ready for some more fun! I thought I would share additional snapshots from our LuLaRoe photo shoot. Did you know LuLaRoe carries a girls' line too? (I have to say, the models below are pretty adorable! Two belong to LuLaRoe Rep Danielle, and the other is the daughter of my dear friend Lindsey.)

Also, loving these other sweet styles for little ones!

This is the perfect opportunity for some "mommy and me" fashion! I know several of my friends and their little girls have matching leggings. My friend Shawna said her daughter gets so excited when they wear their LuLaRoe leggings together.

Dresses in similar colors makes the whole family Christmas card coordination photo so much easier. Talk about less stress when it comes to outfit selection!

So who's ready to revamp their wardrobe? In addition to the Amelia and Carly, here are the pieces I'm eyeing:

The Madison Skirt

The Maxi Skirt and Randy Tee

The Monroe Kimono

The Randy and the Mark

My hubby would be all over these! He already loves baseball-style tees and wears them religiously on the weekends.

My friends - Here's to comfy and stylish fashion! May we all look great and feel great.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Discovering the world's best legging, and more comfy and cute clothes

I have a wardrobe secret that is too good to keep. I've discovered the world's BEST legging!!! I mean, I'm all about a $10 pair from Target, but the day I felt LuLaRoe leggings, it was life-changing. To be honest, I missed the boat the first time around. Last summer, my friend Lindsey (below) invited me to a LuLaRoe pop-up party, but I was unable to attend. Then I found myself complimenting friends on their attire only to discover that the pieces I was drawn to were from LuLaRoe. 

This year, Lindsey decided to host an online party and I immediately scooped up my first pair of leggings. I ordered solid black. Altough, they come in a wide range of patterns (as shown in Lindsey's photo below) and other solids. When my pair arrived in the mail, my husband and I marveled over the silky, buttery fabric texture. I was hooked! 

Then it got better. The LuLaRoe rep, Danielle Fowler (in red below), invited me to participate in a photo shoot. I immediately responded with "Will work for leggings!"  At the photo shoot, I was able to try on several different styles from LuLaRoe. Seeing is really believing. Feeling the textures in person and trying on the styles really sold this clothing company for me. Bottom line, this line is cute and comfy, which is a win for me and my new mom bod.

We started the shoot with the Amelia dress. When I first saw this dress online, I thought it would be too long, but wearing it with wedges made it a good length and perfect for work! 

Did I mention pockets in a dress? Aren't they the best!

Get ready to fall in love with the t-shirt side knot all over again. When Danielle suggested this strategy, my mind went back to my 90's days when I used a plastic t-shirt clip to anchor the side knot. No attachment needed for the LuLaRoe side knot though. Many of their shirts are conducive to a quick wrap up.

More about LuLaRoe

LuLaRoe is a "comfortable, affordable, stylish clothing" line started by DeAnne Stidham, a mother of seven, who wanted to be able to stay at home with her children, but also provide for her family. She is one example of "If you can dream it, you can achieve it." This empowering message led to an "I believe in you" and "you can do it" mentality that is the guiding principal at LuLaRoe.

LuLuRoe offers numerous pieces for women: casual to semi-dressy dresses, fashion leggings, workout leggings, t-shirts, baseball tees, maxi skirts, a-line skirts and kimonos. The items are appropriate and flattering for women of all shapes and ages.

They even carry tees and leggings for kids, dresses for girls and casual shirts for men.

You can shop online via a Facebook party or through an in-person pop-up party.
Friends, stay tuned! Lindsey and I will be hosting a pop-up party at my home on August 20.
To shop a Facebook party, you follow the steps below:
  1. Review the sizing charts. Read carefully because sizes differ within the line. In LuLaRoe, I wear an XXS and XS. Normally, I wear a XS or S.
  2. Shop the photo albums of available inventory, organized by product style and size.
  3. Be the first to comment "Sold" on items you would like to purchase.
  4. Complete the Google doc shared on the Facebook party page to wrap up your shopping experience.
  5. An invoice will be delivered to your email inbox, along with a shipping notice.
  6. Your package of clothing will arrive by mail.
And pop-up party is just what it sounds like...A pop-up boutique in your home or location of your choice.

Did I mention how inspiring I found this line? I love how this mom had a vision and turned it into a family affair. Each piece of clothing is named after a family member. I absolutely love this! It makes me think about one day opening a line of Simply Sarah Style products - whatever they may be - and naming each piece after the people in my life who have inspired me to keep on with my creative dreams.

Lastly, I thought I would share the newest piece I'm eyeing: the Carly. I can't wait to try this one on at our pop-up on August 20.

Interested in following along with Danielle's LuLaRoe inventory? Request an invite to her VIP group:

Your Turn to Win

Excited to add comfy and cute pieces to your wardrobe? Danielle is giving away a $100 gift certificate to one Simply Sarah Style reader! Follow the prompts below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Photoshoot images by Lyell Photography

This post was sponsored by LuLaRoe rep, Danielle Fowler.