BabyBjörn has polka dots! (and a sale)

natalie baby bjorn bouncer maggie whitley

Sometimes I look at Natalie and the next thing I know I’m laughing out loud with happiness. You guys, she makes the best faces (remember this one?). She and Max are both super expressive with their eyebrows and I love it a whole lot, especially on days when I’m tired from a restless night. Which has been often lately — for the past two weeks I’ve had sick babies at home with me. Boo.

Since we’ve been forced to stay home more we’ve been playing with colorful blocks, Natalie’s dolls, and eating homemade cookies after naptime. We’re basically living the good life — minus the empty tissue boxes :) But whatever we’ve got going on I’ve got both kiddos by my side. Usually in the morning we paint (or do another craft), read books and wash a load of laundry. After lunch/naps, we hang out in the nursery and play trains, blocks (again), and hide-and-seek behind the curtains.

Our BabyBjörn bouncer is another one of my favorite baby accessories because allows our family to play together, regardless of everyone’s age or fine motor skill ;)

baby bjorn dots maggie whitley

Side note: did you notice the polka dots on Natalie’s bouncer? Oh yeah, that’d be BabyBjörn’s newest product line, Dots by Karin. This limited edition line features their top three bestsellers and is sold exclusively at Kohl’s. The Dots collection is available for another 5 weeks or so, and as a bonus, is having their annual baby sale making all BabyBjörn products 5%-10% off.

natalie baby bjorn bouncer maggie whitley

When I told Natalie it was time to introduce her to the awesomeness of polka dots, and then placed her in her new seat, she gave me this face. What do you think she’s trying to tell me? I think it’s time she and I have a little chat… :)

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7 tips for meal planning simplicity.

7 tips for meal planning simplicity | maggie whitley designs

Just recently we decided it was time to get serious again about following a budget (translation: stop overspending through impulse purchases). When Zack & I were living in Detroit and unemployed we followed Dave Ramsey’s cash envelope system. We didn’t overspend our already too-tight budget — I can’t believe that was almost seven years ago now! — and it was wildly successful for our family. Since then, our discipline for budgeting and controlling our spending has dwindled despite knowing these principles. We’re both turning thirty this year and we’re ready to change the financial forecast of our future. This is an exciting time!

There are two areas we usually overspend (and I bet they’re the same for you): groceries and entertainment. With Zack’s work schedule, we would often attempt to make up our lost family time by going out to eat. And my goodness that is such a bad decision. Going out to eat with young children is rarely relaxing ;) – we were rushing to eat a $50 meal and failing to realize how little it was actually helping our family. #lessonlearned

So in December we made the family decision to get back on a budget. Not so much because we were having trouble making our dollar stretch but more so because we want our money to work hard for us, not the other way around.

The first category where we knew we could make a big impact was with grocery shopping and meal planning. When you’re trying to free up money to get ahead, Dave says to “eat beans and rice, rice and beans”. While we are getting serious about eating efficiently and inexpensively, we do like to get creative and jazz it up a bit.

I know. I used to roll my eyes at the words “meal planning” but now I see it as a fun challenge to stop wasting: food, time, and our money.

How meal planning has blessed our family far beyond any amount of saved money:

- by removing any stress when we’d sit down to outline our monthly income and expenses

- by providing more family time at home (something I highly value)

- by increasing our communication (Zack may not see that as a blessing? Kidding…)

- by helping me to feel more organized (no more “what’s for dinner?!” scramble at 6pm)

- by stopping me from over-purchasing. We live in a small space and while our pantry should be well-stocked it doesn’t need to be over-stocked. I’m learning there’s a difference.

- by encouraging me to bake more. Homemade chocolate chip cookies will always win over a package of Oreos :) Let’s just say we’re all happier about this one.

meal planning simplicity | maggie whitley designs

My husband is a post-production Producer. I spend most of my day “doing”: playing, creating, singing, cuddling, reading. We have two littles at home under 2 years of age. We also share a family vehicle. All of these things provide happy “challenges”; meal planning is a huge part of our family having successful, happy days.

Meal planning can be a simple task! Here are my best tips:

1. use your crock-pot: cook your meat, make apple sauce, create “one pot meals”, and more!

2. plan your weekly recipes around a theme: soup / salad / sammies, Italian dishes, Tex-Mex dishes, etc. Unique but similar dishes share many ingredients, making your dollar stretch further

3. divide leftovers into individual containers for easy reheating/packing a lunch

4. keep a stock of the ingredients for your favorite quickie lunch. Mine is Chicken Salad: mix a combination of onion, celery, mayonnaise, cooked shredded chicken, cranberries, apples, pears, candied walnuts, and salt & pepper. This can be served over lettuce, with crackers, on bread or eaten plain. So yum!

5. having food that’s ready-to-serve makes lunchtime (and naptime) a breeze! I usually prep a few things over the weekend, like Chicken Salad or Pasta Salad

6. using Pinterest can help you serve delicious & affordable meals — here’s my recipe board if you want to see what I’ve been making. I look for recipes with a reasonable number of ingredients, things I know I’ll use until it’s completely gone. It can be easy for certain ingredients to spoil before they’re used up (like celery, sour cream, or salad dressing), so this is where tip #2 is helpful!

7. double the vegetables and grains in a recipe but stick to the original quantity of meat (this keeps your family full without doubling your grocery costs).

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The first part of meal planning is knowing (and believing) why you’re following a plan each week/month. When you’re aware of your budget you can serve your family nourishing meals without over-spending. Plan out your monthly budget and be encouraged knowing you’re meeting your financial goals.

The second part to meal planning is learning how to put the plan into action. What exactly do you buy? What kind of meals can you make? How do you stop from over-spending? Stay tuned…

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Sunshine, soul-comforting food, sewing & my DIY story.

Our weekend wasn’t anything extraordinary but it sure was a good one. I think those are my favorite :)

Natalie maggie whitley

Zack and I had a mini-date at home during naptime (sushi & thai tea, anyone?), we went on a long walk one afternoon, and I cooked soul-comforting meals. We napped, baked homemade chocolate chip cookies and visited my favorite thrift store in downtown Los Angeles. Maxwell (finally) kicked his cold to the curb and Natalie turned 12 weeks old. Life is blessing me, big time.

LA park maggie whitley

And then the crazy thing? Zack and I got tiny sunburns Sunday afternoon while at the park. It’s been over two years since we moved here and we’re still getting used to California in January.

LA park maggie whitley

Zack had to work a little on Saturday and while he was away I actually sewed something. (I know!) And it was amazing. Maxwell sat next to me at the kitchen table while I made a new zip pouch that serves as my wallet. And you know what else happened? He kicked me the entire time I was sewing. Ha.

Caroline-made zip pouch maggie whitley

I wanted a larger wallet than I had been carrying so my envelopes would fit inside (we’re back on the Dave Ramsey cash-flow plan), and this new zip is perfect! Being able to whip up something like this is a  perk, for sure :) I had been wanting to sew for weeks and had made so many excuses. I finally broke this project into manageable tasks (plan out design, cut & iron, sew) and suddenly it felt super achievable.

As I tucked my babies into bed last night I felt a wave of gratefulness wash over me. The fog is lifting… I’m feeling creative again. I feel more confident raising two young children. I’m thankful for the relationship Zack and I have. Monday, we’re ready for you!

Oh, and before I forget… today is the LAST DAY to purchase The Ultimate DIY Bundle which includes 76 eBooks & eCourses. The price is fantastic — only $34.95 (with over $1,200 of content). It’s been seven years since I learned how to sew and this kind of library is exactly what encouraged me to learn the trade.

76 eBooks for only $34.95 -- hurry, this bundle ends January 26, 2015! (a $1,200+ value) | Maggie Whitley Designs

I know it’s so easy to talk ourselves out of making something because something similar already exists. But really, the truth is we need your perspective and spin and creative process.

There’s room for all of us. There’s room for my technique and there’s room for your technique. There’s room for me to sell my product and there’s room for you to sell your product. Run with your excitement and MAKE what you’ve been wishing to make :)

Remember how I learned how to sew at our kitchen table in Detroit from a pile of library books and many YouTube channels? My DIY story begins with making mistakes and ruining irons (#oops), but I always “tried and tried again”. It’s been a joy-filled journey and I’m so thankful for DIY libraries like this.

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I want to remember…

home maggie whitley

design book maggie whitley

nursery maggie whitley

no bake cookies maggie whitley

candle succulent maggie whitley

I’ve really been into podcasts lately and last week I shared a few of my favorites. But, I have a new favorite on my list: Grace Talks|Inspiration & Encouragement for Women by Edie Wadsworth (her blog is Life in Grace). Because podcasts are strictly audio I’m inspired in a totally deeper way, especially compared to reading a blog post (with photos). This has been a huge welcomed change for me, mostly because it’s so easy to hitch a ride on the Jealous Train when online.

Something I didn’t expect to happen as a podcast listener is for me to change so much as an individual.

I usually listen to podcasts during naptime a few days each week. They’re a really wonderful way for something new to spark inside me, especially if I need a perspective-change. Being at home with two babies is one of the most difficult tasks I’ve ever had, probably because I love our children so much and want the best for them. It takes a lot of intentionality and consistency to raise children well. So, podcasts have quickly become my naptime BFF.

I want to remember this chapter of life I’m in. Like all past chapters, it’s fleeting; it won’t last long, and I’ll often remember it as easier than when in the thick of it. My current chapter of life is one where affirmation for myself as a parent will come to me in the future. My current chapter is one where I get to live out the awesomeness of parenthood. My current chapter is one where I get to nurture, feed, and encourage my children on a daily basis.

For Christmas 2014 I received a red leather journal and it’s one of my favorite gifts. (I’ve gotten smarter as I’ve gotten older, and any gift that helps me refine who I am or better serve my family/friends is what I wish for.) Within this journal I write down my prayers, ideas and daily musings. But I’ve also been taking notes on the podcasts I listen to.

In Edie’s first podcast, A Life of Calling, she describes our calling as “that thing I do when I daydream”, which is such an interesting perspective. How many times do we daydream about X but actually spend our lives doing Y?

It used to be such a struggle for me that I hit pause on my handmade businesses so I could focus on my family — but after I spent some time reflecting on what Edie shared I now think differently.

Isn’t what I daydreamed about exactly what I’m doing with my life? Taking care of my babies, creating things (remember when I shared how I used to paint rocks with nail polish as a kiddo?), and my best friend is my super handsome husband. So what that I’m not designing new product or sewing ruffles. OF COURSE I miss that chapter of my life, but I don’t see it as fully closed. Besides, I’ve happily accepted that creating can happen in the kitchen, in the nursery or in our neighborhood. A bonus, for sure.

I have many struggles and one of them is (has been? could this really be behind me?) wondering what my purpose is. I often thought I had to continue with my handmade shops in order to feel like a creative person, when really I’m still living a creative life I’m just also surrounded by my children.

I want to remember these times as great times. And the next time I need to be inspired in a deeper way you betcha I’m going to find myself a podcast to listen to, because I know I’ll need to be and I know there’s one out there ;)

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