lady in front of blue door with computer and boxes introducing her square online store
Welcome to My New Shop with Square
Several years ago (about 5 years, I think), my children’s school hosted its first-ever Holiday Market. I was asked if I would be interested in having a booth to make and sell something to help raise money for the school. I decided to go for it; even though I didn’t have a product to sell. I then went to work to figure out what I could make. After asking about the Market’s offerings, I realized there weren’t many options in the children’s toy category.

Lady in red shirt and blue jeans holding pan of brownies with square store logo and balloon letters spelling square

I’ve spent a lot of time with kids through the years. Before becoming a mom, I was a babysitter, nanny, second grade teacher, private tutor, and children’s event coordinator- I knew I wanted to offer something that would be fun, creative, educational, and hands-on.

Around that time, I had ordered hand-painted, wooden peg dolls to use as decoration on a table at my daughter’s Lilly Pulitzer birthday party. I didn’t realize the girls (11 and 12 years old at the time) would actually want the dolls to take home with them. I was happily surprised that 12-year-olds still found them interesting and adorable.

That party made me realize the appeal that these little wooden peg dolls had to a range of ages. The peg dolls also reminded me of something my mom would have painted or played with as a child. I was drawn to their tiny size and their vintage feel (with fresh Lilly outfits on, though :)…

I decided to paint my own dolls, enlisting my artistic mom in this little painting adventure. She is retired and often enjoys taking painting classes and so this seemed like a perfect fit for her, too. I thought we would be a good team- I could place the orders for materials and work the booth, and she could do the painting.

When the materials first came in (wooden peg dolls and paint), I couldn’t resist trying to paint one myself. My first one was a funny failure but I kept trying to get it- so that I could contribute to the “making” part of it, too. While I was showing my mom how we could do this, I became hooked on painting these little cuties. The more I painted, the more ideas I had of what I wanted to try to paint. It unleashed a side of me I didn’t know about yet. I learned to start simple and to learn along the way, and suddenly I had painted 100 peg dolls to sell for the Holiday Market.

Those little peg dolls raised a good chunk of change for our school, and I was gifted with a new hobby. The reactions of everyone who saw them also made me realize what a draw they were and that I should consider selling them year-round. The biggest hurdle that was stopping me was being able to organize the actual “selling” part of it- keeping track of orders, costs, profits, shipping, etc. I waited and waited- only selling at the school fund raiser, a few craft markets, and handmade shops- until Square came along.

hand painted dalmatian peg dolls

Originally, I was introduced to Square by asking merchants what they were using when they ran my card through that “little white square”. I was amazed at the simplicity of being able to take credit cards with a mobile phone or tablet. I was intrigued by how it worked and signed up for a Square account so that I could start learning about it.

Then, I began noticing that the system had become a lot more than just a little white reader, – I asked a shop owner about it once, and he showed me all of the things he could do with Square in his brick and mortar shop. I realized then that Square offered a host of operating options and systems. Everywhere I went, it seemed like small businesses were using and loving Square.

Fast forward a couple more years to where we are now, and I am ready to grow and open my own online shop- with the help of Square! The exciting part is that I am also expanding my shop offerings and adding a new line of items for children! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw that my kids and I made sensory boxes in lots of different themes.

We shipped them all over and asked for feedback. You all on Instagram helped tremendously this summer by answering questions and helping us realize what works best with this new product. I am so excited to unveil to you our new additions and our new shop! Here are 2 photos for a quick peek into what’s coming…

dinosaur sensory bin large by the party wagon
medium dinosaur sensory bin by the party wagon

Building my shop with Square has been easy and quick- I have had the best care with the Square platform. I have been so thrilled with their courtesy and patience. The directions have been thorough and the responses to my questions have been timely and helpful. What I have really loved is how encouraging Square has been as they see the shop coming together. We have hopped on calls when needed and emailed as needed to bring the store to life together.

It has been a wish come true to work with Square, and I am extremely grateful that they offered to create a shop for me. Knowing that I have a system in place and the tools I need to stay organized in every aspect of running the business makes me feel at ease about this step into owning my own shop. Square has given me the confidence to go for it with the support to back me up as I run this small, one-person business.

square spelled in gold letter balloons with lady working on computer in front of it

And, so…here we go! Welcome to my new Square Online Store! I hope you love what we have created!

lady in front of blue door with computer and boxes introducing her square online store

Thank you to Square for kindly sponsoring this post. All opinions are 100% honest & completely my own.

football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
Teaming Up with BODYARMOR Sports Drink

It’s funny how things happen sometimes…I created tailgate party ideas for Bulldawg Illustrated and was soon contacted by BODYARMOR asking if they could send drinks my way to try out for tailgate parties. Little did they know, my refrigerator was already stocked with BODYARMOR because my daughter loves it (and, I don’t know about you, but I am so happy to see a sports drink on the market that makes me feel so much better about my kids drinking it). And so, I said yes to BODYARMOR’s offer to send us a box of their drinks. My daughter’s favorite is Peach Mango and so we received lots of that flavor with many others to try, too!

football player holding helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks

My daughter is one of the photographers and trainers for her school’s football team which means she attends every practice and game -which made it a perfect chance to share the BODYARMOR drinks with some of the teammates. These guys were excited about the drinks and the photos which made it all the more fun! One of her friends in the photos is also in her media class- he loves cameras and video…I love how this opportunity was also an opportunity for them to put their media skills to use on the other side of the camera, too!

football player holding a BODYARMOR sports drink in his open palms and smiling
football player tossing bodyarmor sports drink in the air and catching it
football helmet in grass with 2 bodyarmor bottles on each side
football player flexing muscle and drinking bodyarmor sports drink

I had to get the back of that jersey- I love it…

two football players drinking bodyarmor sports drink

football player holding helmet by facemask with body armor sports drink inside helmet
2 football players holding body armor sports drink vertically between their fists

These three are in media class together- based on this photo that just came together on the spot, I can only imagine how much laughing they do when they are all together (just in case you missed it, both of the girls in the photo are the team photographers/videographers and are included as official members of the football team).

3 teenagers like staristeps with bodyarmor sports drinks on their heads

They’re just all naturals…

4 teens posing with bodyarmor sports drink on each others heads
football player holding 2 bottles of bodyarmor sports drink close to his chest
two football players holding body armor sports drinks
football player with big smile drinking bodyarmor sports drink

Maybe you are like I was initially, and you are wondering what all of the hype is about BODYARMOR. Well…the ingredients are more natural such as coconut water and natural food colors. There are 3 different versions and so many different flavors. You can choose Sports Drink, LYTE Sports Drink, and SportWater. For replenishing lost electrolytes when exercising and quenching thirst, I am a BODYARMOR convert. It is a great drink option to put in the cooler for kids’ birthday parties and for tailgates, too. Where do you find BODYARMOR? Locally, I get it at Publix. You can find a store locator on the BODYARMOR website here and you can order directly from Amazon here.

football players and trainers posing with helmet full of bodyarmor sports drinks
football player holding helmet full of BODYARMOR sports drinks

Disclosure: I said yes to receiving free product from BODYARMOR as it is always in our refrigerator- and then we had fun sharing the drinks and taking photos to post as a thank you to BODYARMOR. The product was free and the post and opinions are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which earns this blog a commission at no extra cost to you.

Strolling Nantucket in Draper James

Giving you guys a tour around Nantucket is one of my favorite things to do, and so I combined two more of my favorites and set out around town in Draper James clothes with Rebecca Love Photography. I am happy to have you here with me on Main Street!

Photo by Rebecca Love Photography

Two questions I am asked many times is, “What should I pack to wear when I visit Nantucket?” and “Which shops do you recommend the most?” First of all, I recommend packing a few Draper James pieces in your suitcase. The dresses are my favorites because they are perfect for looking nice and feeling comfortable. For me, they are a perfect mix of stylish, polished, and comfortable. I suggest taking a look at all of the different styles and patterns that they offer and finding what you feel like suits your tastes. Here are the ones I chose for my trip…

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The navy gingham love circle dress was one of my first choices when I was getting ready to head to Nantucket for summer. I especially like how easy it is to layer a sweater over it for the cooler mornings and evenings that are typical to a Nantucket summer. Navy and white always seem like the right feel for anywhere, but especially a coastal town.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The circle dress has a great fit to it and is casual enough to wear around town and dressy enough to go to brunch. I wore it several times and I love how you can add different necklaces, earrings, handbags to the the dress for a different look each time. Here -walking down Main Street- I kept it simple (but I can never resist picking up a bouquet of flowers that are grown on Nantucket). As a side note, when I was in college, I would stop by Flowers on Chestnut and bring home a bundle of their flowers for my house. Back then, the flower shop was simply called “Flowers” and it was on Federal Street. I can’t resist the flower finds on Nantucket- and there are flower trucks that park on Main Street on select days so that you can get your flower fix. I always love the variety of what you can find. And so, I always grab a bouquet when I can! As another interesting side note, so many people smile at you or say hello when you are carrying flowers. I swear by it and the flower trucks and shops are always on my suggestions of shops to visit! 🙂

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Speaking of flowers…there is no shortage of gorgeous flowers growing on Nantucket in the summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw all of the beautiful gardens and hydrangea hedges that I shared. The flowers are part of the charm of the island- they are always so picturesque. Knowing how much I love the hydrangeas spilling over everywhere, Rebecca suggested that we stop and shoot some pics at this pretty little spot in town.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

As I mentioned, Draper James navy blue circle dress definitely transitions easily from shopping for Nantucket treasures to stopping for lunch or brunch. And, a Peter Beaton hat is always on my list of wants when I am on Nantucket- just visiting the hat studio is fun! You can try on the different shapes and sizes and make a list of your favorites on your phone- it took me a while to decide which one to choose. Having photos and notes (and an opinionated daughter) was helpful when I was choosing which one I liked best. I will share more in another post about Peter Beaton Hat Studio.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I decided to go big because, well, I am a little on the fair side and can use all of the help I can get to block the sun. 🙂

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

And, because Rebecca Love is so good at learning about her clients and what they like, we ended up on the cutest street that my daughter loves. One of my very favorite things to do on Nantucket is to wander around and to walk the different lanes. This stone street is a special little gem and I was really excited that Rebecca and I ended up on it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

This dress has a versatile vibe so that we can dress it up with cute shoes or keep it casual with slides- which helps a lot because Nantucket is no joke when it comes to needing shoes that can get you around on the cobblestones. That is another reason that this Draper James dress was one of my go-to dresses for the summer- it looks great dressed up or down! As a side note, it is now on sale! I would scoop it up – it is such a great staple!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Another of my go-to dresses has been this one…it is so perfect for cooler days and nights by the beach- and for spring and fall temperature changes. This shirtdress is such a good one! It is comfortable and can be cinched with the belt or worn more loosely. I love the stripes!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Knowing that the little lanes of Nantucket are, literally, right up my alley Rebecca practically read my mind when we walked over to this street on our little tour around town…

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I walk by it each day on my way to and from Main Street and always think of how perfect it would be for photographs. Especially, because it also has an American flag right in the middle of it all! And, speaking of perfect, did you notice that this cute and comfy dress also has pockets? That is always a plus!! Thank you, Draper James, for getting it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Doesn’t that flag look so pretty right in the middle of this lovely little lane? Nantucket is one of the most patriotic places around which makes me love it even more.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

And more hydrangeas made another not-so-surprising appearance in our stroll around town. Always stop to smell the flowers and photograph them while you’re at it!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The 2 different shades of blue stripes make for a great mix of colors- and it is neutral enough to add any color you like to complement. Pink, green, orange would all look great with this shirtdress if you wanted to add those colors in with accessories. I kept it neutral, but I feel like there are endless ways to wear this dress! Also, it is ON SALE!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

The third dress that I took with me to Nantucket is by far the most versatile. It is a great outfit to have in your closet because I can’t even count how many different ways you can change it up or the number of places it is perfectly suited. It is casual but dressy- comfy but totally pulled together!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

Draper James kindly sent this dress to me as a gift, and I feel like it is a perfect representation of the type of clothing that they make…stylish, comfortable, flattering to all body types, classic, but always on-trend. And…how cute is this customized beach ball by Jennifer at A Party Made Perfect? Jennifer personalized this beach ball just for us, and I love how pretty her calligraphy is (Jennifer has tons of creative party ideas in addition to her fabulous beach balls!)!

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

This is one of those dresses that speaks for itself, but wow- I could see me over-wearing this dress really easily! Ha! It is just so easy and comfortable- and forgiving of any flaws we sometimes think we have. It works for different ages and different body types equally well. I will link it for you so that you can check it out, too! Here is the Chambray Maxi Dress.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

As you can tell, we ended our walk around town by doing what always seems to happen on Nantucket…heading to the beach! We went to Brant Point lighthouse to end our little tour and take the last few photos. Having the maxi dress on at the beach was perfect for the cool breeze- and the dress stood up to the wind! 🙂 The wrap dress wraps well and stays put. I can’t wait to wear this denim maxi into the fall. It would easily pair with a cropped sweater or jacket to take you into the cooler months of the year. It also would be great for SEC tailgating, casual fall get-togethers, and even the holidays. I have loved it, and I appreciate it so much!

Rebecca Love Photography for Draper James and The Party Wagon

Of course, behind the scenes, Ron was helping us along the way to keep up with our things as we walked from place to place. It turns out that he is good at helping put ribbons on hats and he didn’t even know it. 🙂 And Rebecca managed to snap this photo just as the Endeavor sailboat came sailing by us…she’s good y’all.

Rebecca Love Photography for The Party Wagon and Draper James

I hope that this post has given you some ideas for what works well when planning your trip to Nantucket. The best part about the Draper James outfits to me is that they continue to be a perfect choice even when you’re not at the beach or on vacation. The styling adapts to any setting so that you always look and feel well-dressed and comfortable at the same time. Draper James has also expanded their lines to make more sizing options available – they really do listen to their client base and help us all look our best wherever we go!

I will continue this virtual tour of Nantucket and share more shopping with you as we go. If you would like to find Draper James on Nantucket, they have a select group of items at Skinny Dip Nantucket. Of course, wherever you are, you can shop online. The summer sale is going on and so it is a great time to grab some of your favorites at a discount! I would love to know what you wear from Draper James! Feel free to share your finds with me, too! Happy Shopping!

xo,

Lydia

Recipe for Monster Cookies

Mmmm…peanut butter, M&M’s, chocolate chips, and oats combine to make the richest and most satisfying cookies you have ever had! Monster Cookies get their name from the large size of the cookie and the massive amount of deliciousness in each one! I keep this recipe in strong rotation, and I am always asked if I will share the recipe.

You can serve a crowd with this recipe and so I often make these monster cookies for potluck gatherings, tailgate parties, summer get-togethers with friends, and as treat to share with teachers or family and friends. The oatmeal and peanut butter make them a hearty sweet treat- they seem almost like a meal in itself! :). I definitely suggest a glass of milk to go with it! These cookies are fully-loaded and so, so good!

I actually just made these as a “Back to School” treat for my kids- they will be a great pick-me-up to pack in their lunches for school. A special little perk to look forward to and enjoy while they are also trying to get their school groove back in gear. My kids always seem to have a little bit of an adjustment from the summer freedom of eating when you’re hungry to the school year scheduled eating times. My son, especially, eats so much more during the days at home than he can when he’s at school. I am glad this is filling- it will help him get through that first week!

I love being able to share the recipe for these super-popular cookies! My friend, Heather, introduced me to them so long ago~ and they have been a staple in our house ever since. I hope you enjoy them, too!! Here is a quick photo of the ingredients that we gather before we start (my kids love helping me make these- and now can actually make them all on their own).

MONSTER COOKIES

1 CUP BUTTER

3 CUPS PEANUT BUTTER

2 CUPS WHITE SUGAR

1/4 CUP LIGHT KARO SYRUP

4 teaspoons BAKING SODA

1/4 teaspoon SALT

2 teaspoons VANILLA

6 EGGS

CREAM ALL INGREDIENTS AND ADD~

8-10 CUPS OATS (I suggest Quaker Old Fashioned Oats instead of Quick Oats)

12 OZ. CHOCOLATE CHIPS

12 OZ. M &M s

Scoop 1/4 cup for each cookie and drop on cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Depending on your oven, you may need to cook longer. The tops and edges should be golden brown when the cookies are done. Don’t overcook – the cookies will be dry.

Enjoy!

Here are a couple of other photos that I took when I served them- I have these small and really great wicker trays from Society Social that I use when I want to serve the kids something and make it a little more special. Anything works- but I also love these trays because they can bring all of the dishes to the sink and dishwasher at once when it is time to clean up! That way, nothing is “accidentally” forgotten when they put away their dishes. 🙂 I used flowers and lots of colors for my daughter and then used red, blue, and yellow for my son. He probably doesn’t notice that I change it for him, because the cookies are all he really cares about! Ha! I can’t blame him!

You can also see how I used this recipe for a Fourth of July picnic here. It was one of my very first recipes I shared when I started blogging- so beware…it is equal parts funny and cringe -y (as my kids would say) to see the original posts on my blog. I love to see the progress this little blog has made over the years. Lol! Thank you for being here and for helping me grow! I really hope you love what you find here at The Party Wagon!

Also, these cookies freeze well! If you make more than you need, or if you just want to save some for later…you can freeze these for a few months. Just take out to thaw and then enjoy all over again! Cheers, Friends!

XO,

Lydia

Cara Brown Jewelry Designs

Who is Cara Brown? A creative force that you should definitely add to your follow list…a warm, kind Texan who now makes her home in New Jersey…a Vandy Grad whom I had the pleasure of getting to know while I was on Nantucket…the list goes on and I haven’t even begun describing her latest endeavor~! Keep reading to discover the creative treasure that is Cara Brown…

Cara Brown designs the most unique jewelry that expresses her love for historical or vintage objects being given new life. And, I love that about Cara- the stories behind her show-stopping pieces are just as important to her as the new designs that she creates with them as they take center stage in her incredible necklaces. Each necklace is made with the intent of being for every day wear- but don’t expect something subdued or discreet. 🙂 These necklaces are big, bold, and (literally) brassy! They stand out in any crowd and definitely make a statement!

Cara is the original jewelry designer to use horse brass as as a focal piece for necklaces. The large, brass centerpieces in this line of Cara’s jewelry were all once decorations used for horses in England. Horses were prized possessions and their owners would decorate the horses for festivals and parades. The brasses often depicted the lifestyle of the owner- the more decorated or elaborate, the more successful the owner. Cara sources the horse brass for her jewelry from a source in London that verifies the history of each piece. Cara then includes a handwritten synopsis of the brass’s history on each necklace.

And, let’s talk about those beads! How beautiful are the beads that Cara chooses and hand knots for each necklace? She offers such a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, and textures in her beads- each necklace is a stunning example of old and new mixed together to create a fresh look with historical staying power. I, personally, find myself drawn to objects that have meaning or a story behind them- but usually to add to my home. With Cara’s necklaces, I can also incorporate the same idea into what I wear each day.

In addition to the horse brass line of necklaces, Cara also finds unique vintage objects and creates necklaces with those, too. Because she scours vintage markets to find just the right pieces, Cara simply and aptly names this line of her jewelry “Found Objects”. These are so interesting to see because each one is something that was once used in another way and has now been repurposed and made new!

Seeing the necklaces in her “Found Objects” collection is always fun to me- take a look at some of the designs in her latest show at Space – a boutique on Nantucket. The beauty of it is that this collection is always changing based on what Cara finds!

I especially liked the necklace on the far left with the interesting buckle and the beads that Cara chose. And then, there is the 2nd one from the left that also caught my eye- it looks like a barrette that was beaded and given a new life as a necklace. How pretty and creative are all of these?

In the grouping above, I am so drawn to the necklace on the far right. I love how it would go with so many outfits from casual to dressy. What a cool piece to wear and such a conversation starter. I love the other two necklaces, too! There is nothing ordinary about any of Cara’s designs with her finds or with her beading. Cara’s jewelry was even featured in Harper’s Bazaar~ she is quite a style setter!

And so, where do you find Cara Brown Designs? I caught up with Cara at Space Boutique on Nantucket. Space is owned by Elise Gura, and Elise invited Cara to be a part of her curated boutique…soon after, Cara’s necklaces were being sold at Barney’s New York and at Saks Fifth Avenue stores. I have to give props to Elise (show below, left) for her keen eye on discovering Cara’s jewelry! Space continues to carry Cara Brown Designs and you can contact Space at 508-228-8880.

Cara will also come to your town and host a trunkshow with her jewelry at your home. That idea sounds like a fun way to see an array of styles and designs and enjoy shopping with your friends. Cara’s handmade jewelry is also available on her website, of course! Carabrowndesigns.com has many of her latest one-of-a-kind necklaces and be sure to contact her for info if you have questions or would like to host a trunkshow.

I wore my Cara Brown necklace all over Nantucket and would literally get stopped by people on the street, in restaurants, and in shops asking to know more about it. It is a stunning piece of jewelry that looks great by itself or layered with other shorter necklaces. It is my favorite new accessory, and I am thrilled to have a one-of-a-kind necklace from the original horse brass jewelry designer! Thank you for creating such unique pieces for us to wear, Cara! You have a talented eye for design!

Lydia Loves…Amazon Prime Day Edition

Hello, Friends! As many of you know, Amazon hosts “Prime Day” which is a big day for scoring BIG deals! Although I love shopping local and do so as often as possible, I also truly love and appreciate what Amazon can do for me when I need a hard-to-find product or when I need it fast! Sometimes I wonder how I ever made it without Amazon Prime- it is especially nice for those last minute creative ideas that hit me a few days before a party or a shoot! Today, I am gathering my favorites that I have shopped from Amazon and I am sharing them with you! I am an Amazon Associate which means I may receive a small percentage of the price when you buy (at no extra cost to you). Good news is meant to be shared!

  1. Roomba Robot Vacuum – this vacuum has been literally life-changing for us at our house. I am not being dramatic- it has been one of the best things I have ever owned and has dramatically cut-down on the chore of sweeping and Swiffering. My mom-in-law loves electronic gadgets and she also noticed that we were always sweeping with the addition of our new pup- and so she surprised us with a Roomba! My kids programmed it to run twice a day and it picks up the dog hair for us now! It easily learns the map of your home or space and basically just gets to work for you. When it needs to empty the bin, the Roomba heads to its home base at the charging station and self-empties. We have all been so happy to pass off the sweeping and vacuuming chore to our Roomba- I really can’t say enough about how helpful this has been with our Golden Retriever type shedding! It has been such a game-changer that I am considering adding a second one to the upstairs portion of our house because the price break on Prime Day is considerable! I also think they would make a great Christmas gift if you are the type that likes to shop ahead for Christmas! Prime Day is the perfect time to splurge on a Roomba because of the savings you will find on Prime Day.

2. Insta Pot Ultra or Insta Pot Duo

Another amazing game-changer for convenience and efficiency! I have been wanting an Insta Pot for awhile now, and my mom-in-law gifted us one this summer! What I love most is that she bought herself one, too! That’s how awesome it turned out to be! She said that when she cooked chicken in it and wanted to pull off the drumstick to test it, she ended up just holding the bone because it was so tender! Lol! What surprises me the most with an Insta Pot is the variety of recipes that you can make in it and the short amount of time that it takes to cook! You can literally cook meats and full meals and then also use an Insta Pot to make yogurt and to bake cakes. Such a range of uses- and with Prime Day, it makes it a perfect time to purchase an Insta Pot. I am so excited to have it for when school starts back and meal planning times are a little more hectic. What a great invention. Let me know if you try it! I would love to swap ideas and recipes with you!!

I have been waiting and waiting for a good-looking coffee pot to be made and finally, Smeg delivers! The variety of colors is so pretty and unique- you can find red, pastel blue, pastel green, cream, chrome, black, and even pink in some of the Smeg appliances! The original coffee maker needed some tweaks and so I waited some more to see if they would correct some of the little details (like the amount of time the coffee stayed warm) and they have!! I am so happy to find the colors that Smeg offers, too. The coffee maker looks so pretty on the counter, and I don’t feel like I need to put it away everyday like I do with every other coffee maker I have ever had. I also like that it doesn’t completely break the bank to get the appealing aesthetic that it offers. My husband likes the ease of using the coffee maker because he likes to avoid complicated gadgets whenever possible- this coffee maker suits both the attractive factor and the function factor- and so we can agree! I also love their espresso maker and their toaster! Cheers to pretty appliances and thank you, Smeg, for filling that void in the market!

3. SMEG Coffee Maker

4. Apple AirPods

Apple AirPods have been the most convenient use for traveling and staying connected. If you follow my IG Stories, you might remember that I was given a ticket for picking up my phone while I was driving. It was really just a matter of needing to move my phone at the time the police woman saw me touch it, but that is a different story. What I want you to know is that because I had Apple AirPods and the receipt that proved I had them prior to the ticket, I was able to have the ticket converted to a warning. It saved me money and insurance points by having these handy little things. I think they make an excellent gift for those trying to do their best with hands-free driving. I feel like my parents would like them so that they don’t have to rely on speakers in their cars when chatting with us. And, of course, with having a new driver in the house…I am definitely eyeing them for a gift for my daughter’s 16th birthday. Anything to help keep the focus on keeping her eyes on the road! Apple AirPods are easy to use and easy to charge. And, you can share them if needed! I think Prime Day is a good day to choose to buy them! There is a slight discount in the link that I have linked for you!

5. Adaptil Calming Dog Spray for Travel- As many of you know, we have been traveling with our pups this summer. I worked with a trainer before we left to help our anxious boy Blue. Blue has a lot of anxiety and we have wanted to help him overcome it and enjoy the trip. The trainer suggested many products to help him, and I want to share some of those tips with you guys. They have truly helped us! One of these is Adaptil Calming Spray. I would have never believed in this if we hadn’t tried it ourselves. I was also afraid it would have a scent to it that would bother us in an enclosed car…but humans can’t even smell it! It is the scent of pheromones from a dog mother’s milk. The dog smells it and is instantly more relaxed. We spray it on his dog bed before he gets in the car. We also use it in any other circumstance that we feel like would be beneficial to him. I jokingly tell my kids to “prepare Blue’s cabin” before we go on a ride and they can easily take care of that prep for me. I have also been recommended to put on the collar for Blue, but I haven’t tried that yet. We do also spray the spray on Blue’s Thunder Shirt (see below for more on the Thunder Shirt).

6. ThunderShirt-

The Thunder Shirt for dogs is another great product that has helped our dog, Blue, manage his fear and anxiety. He is very afraid of thunder and other loud noises such as trash trucks, motorcycles, horns, airplanes, etc. We have used it to travel in the car and the shirt has a similar effect of swaddling a baby. The shirt adjusts to fit snuggly around your pup and gives them that feeling of a cocoon of safety. It is amazing to watch Blue relax and become calm in situations that typically frighten him. We let him wear it during thunderstorms but also when we know he may be stressed. It has been a big help!

7. Slow Treat, Licking Mats for Dogs

This next dog product is really helpful for us with both of our dogs. They love to stay busy and this mat is perfect for keeping them occupied. Simply spread peanut butter or greek yogurt on the mat and watch your pup work hard to get every lick of it out of the grooves. It is a great distraction for bath time. It sticks better on smooth surfaces if you want to attach it to the wall of a shower. I didn’t realize that licking is soothing for a dog (first time dog owner) and so I was really happy to know about these. It is something else I would have never thought to use without the help of the trainer- and so I wanted to pass it along to you, too!

8. Freedom Harness

Because Blue gets afraid often, he is a puller when we go for walks. Our dog trainer suggested the Freedom Harness to help us all. The harness definitely helps keep him safely in our hands and he can’t “back out of it” like he could with other harnesses. The way it attaches in the back and the front is what separates it from the others. It has been a big help for us and it comes with a great warranty. We ordered it as soon as Blue chewed through his last harness- we won’t go back to the regular harnesses now- this one is very helpful!!

9. Cabana Stripe Tablecloths

These tablecloths are quite possibly my favorite ones to use! I love them in all of the colors that they make! Stripes are the most universal pattern yet always crisp and in style- I guess that is what makes them a true classic! You can search “Shellabration” to see how I used them for a recent party. The uses are endless- no “theme” needed…just a great buy to use over and over again! If you prefer other colors…here is a link to navy blue. I pretty much love all of the colors they come in! I don’t see these on sale for Prime Day, but I still wanted you to know about them if you need them for summer parties!!

10. Gingham Napkins

Gingham napkins go so well with cabana stripes! I love the two patterns together and so I wanted to share this Prime Day deal with you! This is for green gingham, which is so great for spring, summer, fall, and at Christmas. I want to stock up now on the green gingham and have them monogrammed for Christmas. They also make great gifts at Christmas with a monogram!

Okay, friends! These are the things that are giving us the most help lately and that I am loving so much! I hope some of these products will be helpful to you, too! Please let me know what you try and what you love! Is there any topic or are there products you would like for me to research and share? I am happy to take requests!! I enjoy finding products that make life pretty and/or practical! Have a great week!

xo,

Lydia