Link Love (The Yes, it's Another Gift Guide! Edition)


Today marks two weeks until Christmas. I repeat: two weeks, people! I'm sure you've all realized by now that bloggers everywhere love to share 8,000 gift guides for even the most unassuming holiday. Obviously you know we get money when you click on the links we share, and in my case that means literal cents. Seeing as how I made a special trip back to the grocery store to return a $3 bottle of chocolate syrup we didn't need (because I found an unopened one hidden in the pantry), I take even the smallest change seriously! So thank you for indulging me in the following list of gifts that I've either already bought or have on my list this year. Maybe you will find something you love too!

*If you do not already have a charity to support through Amazon Smile, please consider Dare to Serve, which is the nonprofit my dad runs that serves primarily underprivileged high schoolers in North Texas.

For the Kids

I bought these for the kids as their main present, and I'm so excited. Someone shared them on a Facebook group I'm in, and I knew immediately that R would love them. She has started lining her books up to hop from one to the other, which is problematic for a few reasons, one of which is obviously that she's not allowed to step on her books! These river stones seem super fun and have some great reviews. I will say, though, that I'm confused about the price. I originally was going to get these for $60, but then I found these for $30, so I bought them instead. But when I was finding links for this post, it looks like the ones I bought are not that cheap now, so I don't know if I found them on sale or what. So, in conclusion, these now appear to be cheaper, though they are not the exact ones I bought. Sorry if that was way more information than you wanted.

I think this would be a really fun outside toy! We were over at a friend's house, and their daughter had a jump rope, and R loved played with it. I love the Green Toys brand also. Fun stocking stuffer!

I friend recommended these, and I had never heard of them! But they look fun.

R loves these no-mess coloring books. I got a few for her and think they will be good to save for car rides to Texas.

I bought this for R! You can get full seasons of the original Veggie Tales episodes on DVD. She loves Veggie Tales, and let's be honest, I do too ;)

R has a smaller set of these Melissa & Doug stamps and loves them, and I've put more stamps/stickers/painting supplies on her list this year.

I have been eyeing this sparkly, natural play dough for a while. I love that it's non-toxic and think it looks like a fun stocking stuffer.

R has a water bottle just like this, and J is always trying to steal it, so I'm going to get J one for his stocking this year.

R has been asking to play games lately, so I bought her a set of Go Fish for her stocking. Love this set too!

For Me

This cookbook from America's Test Kitchen in on my list! I love making cookies!

I've had my iPhone for almost 4 years, and my case is finally starting to fall apart, so I asked for a new one of the same brand as I currently have since it's seemed to hold up well for a long time and kept my phone in tact when I've dropped it. No cracked screens over here!

Picture Frames
I asked for some pictures frames of various sizes so I can hang/display the cute pics I've been taking of the kids.

I'd like to get a few of these Willow Tree nativity figures to display during Christmastime, so that's on my list.

I guess these are really for the kids... or maybe they are for me ;) I saw these recommended (again on a Facebook group) for a way to keep kid's art projects and things organized. I love that these can be personalized! Or maybe something simple like this.

I put comfy sweatpants on my list this year. All of the sweatpants I own are super old, and it would be nice to get a new pair! These look comfy and are currently buy one, get one 50% off!

What's on your Christmas list this year? What's one present you got your kids that you're excited about?

p.s. If you have a book-loving friend or family member, Melissa reached out to me to share a code for 20% off anything in her shop. Use THELADYOKIE20 for 20% off at Literary Book Gifts.

Stitch Fix #4: The One with All the Tops


I think this is actually my 5th Stitch Fix box, since I'm pretty sure I didn't blog about the last one. I have gotten one box every quarter this year, which has felt like a fun splurge every few months but isn't tempting me with new clothes constantly.

The note I left my stylist for this box requested warm, dressy/casual tops, preferably tunic-length so I could wear them with leggings and cover my butt. I still can't get on board with leggings as actual pants without a top that is long enough to provide full coverage. And I didn't mind if they sent pants, but I specifically mentioned no jeans. I counted recently, and I have 16 pairs of jeans! Who needs that many? I was horrified after I counted and promptly tried them all on and put 6 pairs in the donation pile. So that's a step in the right direction. 

Are capsule wardrobes still a thing? They were huge in the blog world a few years ago, and while I love the idea, at the end of the day I just can't commit to one specific jean cut and wash. Some days are dark-wash denim days, and a girl needs options, you know?

Okay anyway, the point is that this box contained all tops! I loved it! Maybe I've just gotten lucky with a good stylist, but every single box so far as felt perfectly my style, taste, and color palette, which makes it super fun to try on. I normally just keep 1 item, but this time I kept 2! The prices didn't terrify me this time either, and everything was between $38 and $48. 

If you'd like to try Stitch Fix for free, I would love it if you used my referral link here. You get $25, which will cover your styling fee so you will only pay for clothes you keep, and I will get some money to put toward my next box!

Here's what came in this box:

1. Alexander Jordan - Radha One Pocket Plaid Top

This was the first shirt I tried on, and I figured if I hated everything else, at least I could keep this and not lose my styling fee. Loved the lighter plaid, the fit, and the cut. It was soft, and it was the cheapest of the bunch! Ultimately I ended up loving two of the other tops better, so this was a return.

2. Tinsel - Floid Chambray Top

I did like the fit and the fact that it was longer, but I have an almost identical shirt just in a lighter wash. And I know I mentioned wanting options when it comes to denim, but in this case I felt like I could find a similar top for cheaper if I really wanted to. Also this shirt was super wrinkly, and I just don't have time in my life for a high-maintenance top that needs to be ironed every time I want to wash it. Return.

3. Pink Clover - Valencia Curved Hem Pullover

I knew immediately when I tried this on that I wanted to keep it. It was super soft and felt like it fit really well. The sleeves are a tad long, and when I wore this earlier in the week I rolled them up once, but otherwise it fits well and is comfortable but looks dressy with the right necklace/earring combo. Also I looooooove the color. Keep!

4. Staccato - Shenaya Knit Top

This is a lovely dark purple, which is hard to see in the picture. I thought the tie neck was fun, and the material of the top was suuuuper soft. Also, it had pockets! When I texted my friend all the pics, she said she liked this one the best on me. However, I just didn't love it for some reason. It felt a bit thin in the front and hung on me weird. Also J loves to pull on strings, so I figured that might be an issue if I ever wanted to hold him while wearing this. He already chews on all the strings of my sweatshirts! Return.

5. Pink Clover - Fulton Turtleneck Pullover Tunic

I actually wore this yesterday! Spoiler alert: I kept it. This was my favorite thing in the box and the only top truly long enough to cover my butt in leggings. It's a very pretty grayish purple, is super warm and comfortable, and overall a love for me! Keep.

What do you think about my box? What would you have kept?
Get $25 to try Stitch Fix for free using my referral code!

Travel Log: London


And so we come to the end of my Europe travel recaps (although someone asked me if I was going to write a post about our budgeting and spending on this trip, which I might do!). This is kinda long, so I'm going to put a link to our London travel video here at the top. It's also embedded at the bottom of this post!

We left Cambridge on Thursday and took the train to London, where we stayed at a hotel very near the Paddington underground station (for anyone reading who knows where that is). The above photo was taken on the street outside our hotel on our last morning. There was a whole thing I'll have to mention if I do our budgeting post. I originally booked an Air BnB with what I now realize was a really bad cancellation policy. Lesson learned! After doing a bit more research, we realized that we didn't want to stay in that location because it would be too far and annoying to commute into central London each day. So we cancelled that (losing 50% of our payment super bummer!), and I was able to get one of the last rooms at a hotel that was a bit more expensive than the Air BnB but so much better location-wise. And it really wasn't even that expensive... right around $100 per night.
Anyway, enough about that. We spent the rest of Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday, and the morning on Sunday in London. Our flight back to Boston left in the late afternoon, and we ended up just going to the airport super early because we didn't want to carry our bags around and we had to check out of the hotel.

Our schedule for Friday and Saturday looked pretty much the same: set alarms for 8:00, leave the hotel by 9:00, stop at the bakery next door and get muffins for "take away" (to go in British speak), walk through Hyde Park into central London, and spend the day walking around. We  didn't get back to our hotel until 6:30 or 7:00 or so and estimate that we walked at least 10 miles each day!
After spending 4.5 days in three smaller towns, London was definitely quite the experience. It was louder and busier and more expensive, and I think if we had to choose, we preferred our time in Liverpool and York the best. However, we thought London was super neat and had such a great time wandering around! It was fun to be somewhere that was so international. I mean there's just nowhere quite like it.

November in 5 Things


Thing 1: Broccoli

In case any of you read my previous post and doubted how much my kids love broccoli, R literally named it as a leaf on her Thanksgiving thankful tree that she made in Sunday school. You will also note that BBQ Chicken made an appearance, giving food just about one third of the thankfulness in my gluttonous 3-year-old's heart. My favorite daycare craft ever is still the one where they took a picture of her and put it on a paper plate that said Favorite Food: Food. I still laugh every time I look at it.
Thing 2: Dishes

This is the sink situation I came home to after our weekend in Pawhuska. I am totally not trying to throw Jordan under the bus here. He really does a lot to help out, and in his defense he did unload the dishwasher. Basically I'm just saying dishes just are dumb, and I can never stay on top of them never ever. If my sink isn't full to the top with dishes, I feel accomplished in life, and that is a fact.