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Domestic Stuff

Cooking Domestic Stuff

Head To Head: Meal Delivery Services

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  • April 12, 2017

If I’ve ever cooked a meal for you, then you already know: I’m not a cook. It’s not something that comes naturally to me – most of the time,  I can find a way to screw up even the simplest recipe. But in an effort to not feed my family #allthefastfood, I try my best to cook meals at home when I can. However, there are only so many times you can have spaghetti, chicken tacos, and hamburgers before you start to lose it a little. So when I got a coupon for Blue Apron in the mail, I decided it might be nice to test the waters of the meal delivery service world. We ended up trying out 3 different options, so I thought I’d compare those 3 head to head for anyone that’s looking to spice up their cooking routine!

Blue Apron

  • Price: $59.94
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

First up is Blue Apron. This is probably the first company that pops to mind when you think about these kinds of services. Also, I should mention that I had a $30 off coupon for our first delivery, so we actually only paid $29.94. When this box got delivered, we were in the middle of a specific fast so we chose the 3 vegetarian meal options. I am by no means a vegetarian, but I actually really enjoy trying to eat vegetarian for at least a couple meals a week, so this was an awesome way to try out some new recipes. The 3 meals we received were: Mushroom & Spinach Stromboli, Fresh Fettucine, and Creamy Ricotta & Lacinato Kale Strata. Sounds fancy, right??

I started with the Stromboli because it was the least intimidating. The instructions were all spelled out on the back:

The estimated time for this recipe was 15 minutes prep and 35-45 minutes cook time. Seeing as I’m #notachef, prep took me more like 25 minutes. Chopping stuff is hard, guys. But other than that, the recipe went fairly smoothly. Except for the dough part. Working with bread dough is not for amateurs and by the time I had all my filling stuffed in there, it looked like a murder scene. Luckily, that didn’t effect the taste.

It was REALLY yummy. Both hubby and I devoured ours, leaving no shred of that delicious ricotta behind. We had similar experiences with the other two recipes as well. Slightly intensive prep, really delicious, flavorful recipe.

So here’s my breakdown for Blue Apron:

  • Price: With the coupon we had it was a great deal, but $60 for 3 meals is a little extravagant for us on a weekly basis.
  • Portion Size: All of our meals were intended for 2 people, but the portion sizes were generous so you could definitely sneak in a small child or have a little bit leftover for the following day.
  • Difficulty: The prep was labor intensive for these, probably partly due to the fact that they were all vegetarian (lots of veggie chopping, duh). We used lots of ingredients that I wouldn’t use on a normal basis, but that was kind of a nice change-up. The instructions were easy to follow, though, so really my only complaint is prep/cook time. On average, these meals took me 50-60 minutes to cook from start to finish.
  • Taste: I’m not an adventurous eater, so the ‘fanciness’ of these recipes kind of made me give them side eye. But all the recipes we tried were really flavorful and delicious. Even Everly went stinkin’ crazy over the beet fettuccine. So, I’m happy that these recipes pushed me a little outside of my comfort zone!
  • Ingredient Quality: All of our ingredients were very fresh on arrival. We got our box on a Tuesday – I cooked the first meal that night, the second meal on Thursday, and the last meal the following Monday. I will say that the ingredients for the meal I cooked on Monday were starting to look a little rough. It would probably be best if you could cook all meals within the first 3-4 days after receiving the box!
  • Kid-Friendly: The fanciness of these recipes was kind of fun for JP and I, but not so much for the kids. Based on looks alone, the kids pretty much turned up their noses. In my opinion, unless you have non-picky kids (which, if so, please tell me your secrets), these meals probably won’t go over super well with them.
  • Overall Impression: We really enjoyed our meals from Blue Apron, and I’m sure the more I got practice, the easier the prep part would become. I think the things that would keep us from doing this on a regular basis would be the price and the fact that the meals aren’t a huge hit with my kids.

Hello Fresh

  • Price: $59.94
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

After Blue Apron, we went to Hello Fresh. Again, I had a coupon code so we ended up paying around $30 for our first shipment. Our first 3 meals from them were: Melty Monterey Jack Burger, Lean Mean Chicken & Greens, and Pork DIY Dumplings.

One thing I really liked about Hello Fresh as compared to Blue Apron was that the ingredients for each meal (aside from the meat) were packaged up in a nice little box that you could easily slide into the fridge. So when it came time to cook, there was no hunting around for the ingredients you needed.

Let’s get right to the breakdown:

  • Price: The pricing was exactly the same as Blue Apron, so no change there.
  • Portion Size: The portion sizing was not as generous as Blue Apron, so don’t count on it serving anymore than 2 people.
  • Difficulty: The directions were easy to follow and, for the most part, prep & cook time were basically what you would expect. The pork dumplings were a bit more labor intensive, but the other two were pretty straight forward. On average, these meals took me 45-50 minutes to cook from start to finish.
  • Taste: The dumplings were really tasty. I had high hopes for the burger, but it just didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped. The chicken meal was pretty bland/basic. 
  • Ingredient Quality: Everything looked pretty good when it arrived. The greens for the chicken meal were a little bit wilted, and by the time I got to cooking that one, there was a large chunk of the greens that I couldn’t use because they had gone bad. I probably should’ve cooked that one first, but I’m a rebel.
  • Kid-Friendly: I would say these were slightly more kid friendly. We were able to get our kids to try the dumplings and some of the chicken/potatoes.
  • Overall Impression: The packaging was convenient and I’m a sucker for good packaging. The recipes were a bit simpler and more straight forward, but I wasn’t as impressed with the taste. And, again, the pricing would keep me from doing this on a regular basis.

Plated

  • Price: $72
  • Number of Meals: 3
  • Serving Size: 2 people

The last meal delivery service we tried was Plated. I feel like this one is lesser known, but I had a friend that passed along a promo code for me so I used that to get a discount for our first delivery. The meals we got from them were: Cheesy Baked Rice, Chicken Bruschetta, and Brown Butter Orecchiette.

The packaging for these ingredients was somewhere in between Blue Apron (where the ingredients are basically loose, for the most part) and Hello Fresh. Each meal’s ingredients (aside from any meat) were sealed in a plastic bag. Here’s my breakdown on this one:

  • Price: This is the most expensive of the 3 we tried.
  • Portion Size: With the pasta meals (cheesy baked rice, and the orecchiette), you could probably carve out a small portion for leftovers. Not so much with the chicken since they only sent two breasts.
  • Difficulty: The prep for all these was very simple, and for the most part, I only had to dirty a couple dishes to get them cooked (huge bonus!). On average, these meals took me 35-40 minutes to cook from start to finish. Definitely the simplest prep/cook time of the 3 we tried.
  • Taste: The orecchiette was super delicious, JP loved the cheesy baked rice (I thought it was alright), and the chicken bruschetta was basically what you would expect, but nothing special.
  • Ingredient Quality: The ingredients were really fresh and stayed that way until I was ready to cook!
  • Kid-Friendly: These recipes were probably the most kid-friendly of the 3 service we tried. Our kids loved the cheesy baked rice (probably because the veggies were hidden under cheese, duh), and we even got them to eat a little of the orecchiette.
  • Overall Impression: As far as cooking goes, these were very simple to prepare, and the taste was decent overall. These are they types of meals I could see myself preparing on a regular basis, however, the price leaves a LOT to be desired.

If we were to choose on service to do on a somewhat-regular basis (maybe once a month or something), it would probably be Blue Apron. If you are single, or don’t have kids, I think these would be a nice thing to do on a more regular basis. In my opinion, though, these kinds of services are not practical for a family of four to do on a regular basis based on the cost alone. BUT! It’s definitely something fun to do every once in a while, and it’s great for pushing yourself outside of your cooking comfort zone – I collected all the recipes that we liked in a binder, so I can go back and make them for us later.

I still have some coupon codes for a couple of these services, so if you’re interested in trying them out, you can leave your e-mail in the comments for a free Blue Apron delivery (I have 5) or use the link below to get a discount on your first Hello Fresh delivery!

Hello Fresh

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Baby/Kids DIY Home Decor/ Interior Design

A Space For The Kiddos

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  • January 25, 2016

Confession, guys: I have been guilty of house-envy. Ya know, it’s that thing where you’re watching Chip & JoJo design a perfectly flawless home, and then you look around your home and suddenly hate everything about it.

I have a wish list of things I would like in our next home, but the truth is, we’re not in our next home, We’re in THIS one. And there is NOTHING WRONG with our house. We have enough space and it’s not ugly or outdated. The one thing that’s always at the top of my list when I think about what I would want is more of a play space for the kids. Other than their rooms, we just don’t one. But instead of wishing for something that’s not happening in this house, I decided to make it a priority to find the space. I’m going to stop thinking about a house we may have in the future, and start focusing on making the one we’re in work for us.

Our house is a very open floor plan, so I decided to dedicate a wall at the back of our living area and in between our entry and kitchen to creating a space for our kiddos to draw, color, read, and create.

A Space For The Kiddos | Lemon Drop Life

The first step in this makeover was painting the lower half of the wall with chalkboard paint. What kid doesn’t love being allowed to draw on the wall?! I then hung a line of picture ledges down the wall separating the chalkboard from the top half of the wall.

A Space For The Kiddos | Lemon Drop Life

I’m nowhere near finished with this makeover, but for now I’ve got a couple of children’s tables from IKEA there, along with the art display station I redid a while back. In the future, I want to add a place for books/reading and some storage for art supplies. And then of course, I will hang some more art above the picture ledges.

A Space For The Kiddos | Lemon Drop Life

Roarke has already taken quite the liking to this update.

A Space For The Kiddos | Lemon Drop Life

So, what do you guys think? Do you have a designated space for your kids in your home?

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Domestic Stuff

2016 Word Of The Year

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  • January 8, 2016

Last year was my first year choosing a word for myself that would be my focus of the year. My word last year was ‘disciplined.’ I made really good strides in the area of my health – as some of you know, I started incorporating essential oils into our daily lives and I have loved the result! I also was more aware of the things I put in my body and that’s something I’m planning to continue even more in 2016. I want to eat healthy and be healthy! I also eventually got the hang of the whole two kiddos circus I’m living in ;). There are still tough days, but I would say I can handle it a lot better now!

In no way would I say that I mastered the art of discipline, but I did make a conscious effort to be more intentional with my actions and having that word in the back of my mind definitely helped!

So, I’ve chosen a new word for 2016: ‘willing.’

It may seem like an odd choice, but I thought about this for a few days, and this is the word that kept echoing in my heart. Willing.

For those who know me, you probably know that I’m an introvert. And, when I say that, I don’t mean that I can’t handle social situations or hate being around people. I simply mean that what recharges my batteries is, often, time alone – or, at the very least, time spent in a smaller group, like 1 or 2 people. I think introverts are often seen as laid back, go-with-the-flow type of people. And I think I am…for the most part.

See, the thing is, I may be an introvert, but when I do decide to do something, I want it to be well planned. I don’t like unknowns; I don’t like flying by the seat of my pants. I doubt I’ll ever be accused of being spontaneous. So, when I’m involved with something – an event, a trip, a project – I tend to want to take control and plan it. And if that can’t happen, it makes me a little grumpy.

But I want to do things a little differently this year. I want to approach my life with a willing attitude. I want to go against my introverted nature and say ‘yes’ a little more often and without hesitation of the consequences. Now, I don’t mean that I’m going to be careless or reckless – I’m a wife and mother of two small children, which is plenty reckless enough for me – but I want to challenge myself to embrace things that I normally wouldn’t. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit.

So here’s a few areas I want to work on:

  • Health. As I mentioned before, my family’s health is still something I want to get a better grip on this year. And I want to be willing to go the extra mile to ensure I’m doing the best I can for them. That means doing more research, spending more time in the kitchen, and investing more time in exercise.
  • Relationships. Being an introvert, I sometimes have a hard time forming and maintaining friendships. I tend to assume that everyone’s friend card is already full, and as a result, I have probably missed out on what could have been great friendships. I want to be willing to put myself out there more often and take chances that would normally seem intimidating.
  • Time. I tend to be kind of stingy with “my” time, and I balk at the idea of doing unscheduled things. But, again, I’m sure I’ve missed out on what could’ve been fabulous memories just because I wasn’t willing to make the time for it. I want to be a little more relaxed about my time schedule and willing to put my ‘yes’ on the table more often.
  • Faith. One of the areas of my life that I’m most convicted over is my Christian walk. Guys, let me just be honest: there is SO much more that I could be and need to be doing to further my relationship with Jesus. I want to be willing to die out to myself more so that I can be used for His purpose, rather than my own.

I love the start of a new year because it brings so much promise and hope. Honestly, I’ve felt more energized with that start of this year than any year I can remember in the past – I’m so excited to see what the coming months bring!

What’s the word you’re focusing on this year? I would love to hear it!

 

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Baby/Kids Wellness

Oil Infused Sleepy Cream

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  • October 22, 2015

Hello, loves! Another week is almost done, and I can’t believe we’re rolling towards the holidays! This time of year is really busy at our church – our ladies group makes between 750-1000 pumpkin rolls to sell as a fundraiser so I’ve been spending a LOT of time in the kitchen!

I shared something recently on IG and FB, however, and got a lot of questions and comments so I thought I’d post here as well!

I’m sure we all appreciate a good night’s rest. But, if you’re anything like me, that’s not always so easy to come by – especially with kiddos. The key to ME sleeping soundly is getting THEM to sleep soundly. And after some experimenting, I found my secret weapon.

Oil Infused Sleep Cream | Lemon Drop Life

It’s a cream I made using some of my favorite essential oils. So here’s the scoop on what you’ll need to make it:

  • 1/2 cup raw shea butter
  • 1 cup unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 15 drops Lavender
  • 15 drops Cedarwood
  • 10 drops Gentle Baby
  • 10 drops Peace & Calming

You’re gonna start by melting your shea butter and coconut oil together, and to do that, you want to use a double boiler method. If you don’t have a proper double boiler, never fear. Fill the bottom of a pot with water and get it boiling. Then get a bowl that’s wider than the pot, put the shea butter and coconut oil in it, and rest the bowl on top of the pot. And make sure the bottom of the boil isn’t actually sitting in the water – there should be a bit of space between the two.

Once they’re melted together, pop that bowl in the fridge until the mixture turns solid again (it will take 45 min-1 hr.). Once it’s solid, put it in a mixer and whip it for a couple minutes. This helps make it nice and fluffy – like a body butter.

While it’s whipping add in your Tbsp. of grapeseed oil. You could also use almond oil, jojoba oil, vitamin E oil – whatever you prefer. This helps emulsify the mixture and keep it smooth.

Mix for another couple minutes, and then it’s time to add in your oils! Once you’ve added those in, let it mix for another minute or so.

As far as application goes, here’s what we do: I apply a dab of the cream (a little goes a long way!) to the bottom of my kiddos’ feet and then rub some on their chest. It doesn’t take very much at all to get good coverage, so I’m predicting this jar will last us a few months! Meanwhile, I’ll be sleeping easy… 🙂

If you want more info on how we use essential oils for our family, shoot me an e-mail! And if you’re looking to jump in and order, follow this link.

 

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Cleaning/Organization Wellness

Bye Bye, Summer Stink

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  • September 2, 2015

Summer is drawing to a close, which means switching out our summer wardrobes for sweaters and boots. But before I pack everything away, I like to make sure everything is freshly washed and clean – and that goes for our shoes, too.

#realtalk: Socks + summer don’t mix in my house. Socks don’t touch these feet so much as once from May-September (except for an occasional workout), and to be honest, my flats kind of suffer because of it. Especially, my canvas/fabric flats. By the end of the summer, they have a serious funk and that means every time I wear them, my feet have a serious funk. So, don’t be surprised if you invite me over and I loiter nervously in your entryway while I decide whether or not to unleash my funkiness on you. Usually, I just end up throwing them out and buying new the next time summer rolls around.

BUT! I think I may have found the answer to saving my shoes from a life of shame!

Bye Bye, Summer Stink | Lemon Drop Life

I’ve been finding more and more uses for my Young Living oils on a daily basis, and I’m really excited about this one!

And, no, I don’t have dwarf feet. Those are Roarke’s shoes. Socks + summer don’t mix for him either. And let me tell you, he might only be 2.5 years old, but he has the foot stench of a full grown man. It’s seriously impressive.

So, I took a couple of cotton balls and put a couple drops of purification and a couple drops of lemon on each one. Then you just stuff it down inside the shoe.

Bye Bye, Summer Stink | Lemon Drop Life

Within 24 hours, the smell should be MUCH better. But let it sit in there for a couple days just for good measure. And that’s it!

Another way I like to use this combo (besides diffusing it in my house ALL. THE. TIME.) is to take a cotton ball with the same ratio mentioned above and put it in the bottom of our trash cans (underneath the bag). It helps cut down on any left behind stinky-garbarge-smell, especially in the kids’ rooms where dirty diapers are playing a role.

If you’re interested in learning more about essential oils, leave me a comment or you can go here to place an order.

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Bloggy Stuff Shopping/Thrifting/Fab Finds

The World’s Longest Yard Sale With Krylon

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  • August 10, 2015

Hello lemon-droppers!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I spent Saturday in Cincinnati at the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Krylon invited me, along with several other awesome bloggers, to come hang out with them.

Krylon - bloggers

We had a blast shopping and checking out all of Krylon’s amazing products – some I didn’t even know about. For example, did you know Krylon has a chalky finish spray paint? If you’ve ever priced chalk paint, you know it can be a little on the expensive side so I am totally *pumped* to try this product out!

Krylon World's Longest Yard Sale

If you’ve never heard of The World’s Longest Yard Sale, it starts in Michigan and stretches all the way down to Alabama and lasts for 4 days – basically, a bargain hunter’s dream! Krylon’s mission was to find and transform 127 things for their first ever Pinterest yard sale, which goes to benefit Charity Wings. And – lucky you – the yard sale is open as of today! Head on over to find some awesome buys that go to benefit an awesome charity!

Krylon - Pinterest Yard Sale

And be sure to check out all the other bloggers I was able to team up with!

Happy shopping!

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Shopping/Thrifting/Fab Finds

Amazon Prime Day

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Using these links results in me receiving a small commission from the purchases you make.

Happy Amazon Prime Day!

If you haven’t heard by now, Amazon is offering some pretty amazing deals for their Prime members today – they’re advertising it as ‘better than Black Friday’! It’s the perfect opportunity to get an early jump on holiday shopping and save some dough in the process. Here’s a few of the things that might be going in my shopping cart today:

I’ve been eyeing a FitBit for a long time, so today might be the day to pull the trigger!

fitbit

A Kreg Jig has been on my list for a while to help me improve my (seriously lacking) woodworking skillz.

kreg jig

I’m in the market for a good double stroller and I think I’ve decided on one of these Joovy styles.

joovy

These magnet tile toys are seriously awesome, but they’re also pretty pricey (we play with them at the doctor’s office). So any little discount helps!

mangetic tiles

And don’t forget about Amazon’s home section! I’m planning a kitchem refresh, and I’m looking at some new dining chairs like these:

dining chairs

And be sure to check out their Lightning Deals page – there are all kinds of goodies on there! Oh, and if you’re not a Prime member, you can sign up for a 30-day free trial just so you can get in on these awesome deals!

 

 

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Baby/Kids Shopping/Thrifting/Fab Finds

Etsy Crush: Winnie Cole

Hi lemon-droppers! Popping in today to share another one of my favorite Etsy shops: Winnie Cole. This particular shop is owned by a gal that’s local to me, and I discovered her through the photographer I use for our family photos. She makes some ADORABLE baby/kid items – seriously guys, Megan is WAY talented. Let’s have a look at some of her past inventory.

winnie cole diaper clutch

I love these stylish diaper clutches – that’s one thing I would NOT be embarassed to carry to the bathroom in a restaurant, amiright?

winnie cole teethers

These sweet little rattles would be the perfect thing to top off a shower present for a new mom!

winnie cole slingsMegan also makes custom fabric ring slings and they’re pretty awesome. I can say that honestly because I own one. In fact, that one pictured above is mine 🙂

winnie cole cowl

Is this cowl not the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen?! Holy cow, I don’t think I could make that if my life depended on it. Megan does lots of hand crocheted items and each one is SO beautiful.

My favorite thing is that Megan is so willing to do custom orders, so you may not see something listed in her Etsy shop, but I can pretty much guarantee that if it’s something she’s able to make, she’ll probably do it for you. And make sure you go like Winnie Cole’s FB page for shop updates and giveaways.

Oh, and for any photographers out there, Megan has also launched a second business, called Olive & Elm (also see the Facebook page here), specifically geared towards photography props, like this sweet floral headpiece she made for me for Everly’s newborns.winnie cole headband

Look at my sweet angel girl 🙂

Go check out Winnie Cole and Olive & Elm today!

 

 

 

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Domestic Stuff

Spa Water: My New Obsession

I have a new obsession, guys: infused water. They started offering at work about a month ago and I have been guzzling it like it’s going out of style ever since. At work they call it ‘spa water’…ooooh, fancy. Not only is it super yummy, but it has great health benefits. Here a few benefits of commonly used ingredients:

-Lemons are the workhorses of infused water (in my opinion) – they contain antioxidants, vitamin C, and citric acid. This trio boosts immune health and increases collagen production for healthy, hydrated looking skin! It also aids in digestion and can be a natural way to fight off hunger. Plus, the smell of lemons is an instant energizer!
-Cucumber is hydrating and flushes out toxins
-Cinnamon is one of the most efficient boosters of metabolism
-Strawberries are jam-packed full of antioxidants
-Limes are an anti-aging secret weapon due to its powerful effect on hair, skin, and nails.
-Pineapple is an anti-inflammatory that helps relieve joint pain and arthritis
-Mint aids in digestion

Pretty awesome, right?! A few of my favorite go-to recipes are: lemon + basil, cucumber + lemon, lime + mint, and strawberry +blueberry. Any citrus + herb combo is pretty much foolproof for me. I have found that the taste is best if you refresh with new fruit each day, so I make a pitcher first thing in the morning (we use one like this) and between my hubby and I, it’s not hard for us to go through a pitcher – we occasionally have to refill with water once or twice a day!

Spa Water | Lemon Drop Life

I can’t believe how much this has upped by water intake. I find myself reaching for this stuff all day long, which is a big deal because a large Coke with extra ice from McDonald’s is one of my guilty pleasures! As in, I would find myself drinking one a day. But since I’ve started drinking my ‘spa water,’ I have been able to cut out the soda almost completely! So, grab yourself a pitcher and some fruit and get started today – it’s seriously a game changer!

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Home Decor/ Interior Design Shopping/Thrifting/Fab Finds Uncategorized

Etsy Crush: United Thread

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  • April 24, 2015

Whoops. I accidentally went almost an entire month without a blog post. My bad. It’s kind of crazy how easily that can happen when life really gets going. Since Roarke’s 2nd birthday (I probably won’t blog about it, but I over-shared a ton of photos on IG so go follow me there: @lemondroplife), we’ve had Easter, my brother’s wedding (which I will share photos of on the blog because it was gorgeous!), and both kiddos getting the stomach flu. Yippee!

I’m going to start doing a new thing on Fridays. Maybe not every Friday, but at least every other Friday. I’m going to share some of my favorite Etsy shops with you!

Today’s shop is one of my favorites – United Thread. I have to wipe the drool off my keyboard while browsing these prints. How fun is this honeybee one? I love this for a kitchen.

bees_unitedthread

This alligator print is one of my favorites. As soon as I can figure out the perfect spot for it in my house, this bad boy will be mine.

alligatorandclematis_unitedthreadScoring one of her original pieces (like the one below) would be pricey, but a total dream.

tigersandthistle_unitedthread

This fiddle lead fig print is a great option for those hopping on board with the botanical prints trend. And this might be the only fiddle leaf fig I could hope to keep alive.

fiddleleaffig_unitedthread

Happy weekend, all!

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