Happy Valentine’s Day!

pear tree greetings valentine's day cards maggie whitley

Just last year we were celebrating Maxwell’s first Valentine’s Day (he was 11 months old), and now we’re celebrating with new baby Natalie? Life, you are crazy awesome. I feel so blessed to be mama to these two children. It’s a real honor to be raising them with Zack. Some of my favorite moments right now are how often Natalie smiles and chit-chats (surprise, surprise?) and the personality Maxwell has developed. I have to keep an eye on him though, he is very determined to “ho chew” (“hold you”).

Pear Tree Greetings, our long-term sponsor and friend, has a really fun selection of Valentine’s Day photo cards. These heart-shaped cards are darling and are such a fun size, but I also love the polka-dot detail on the backside of these cards. In the end I decided to order this textured heart design. Yay!

pear tree greetings valentine's day cards maggie whitley

I remember decorating brown paper bags in Elementary School and taping them to the back of my chair. My goodness, that was over twenty years ago! After lunch my classmates and I would go around the room delivering our Valentines and a little piece of candy. I always loved celebrating holidays at school because they usually involved some sort of craft and snack ;) Pear Tree Greetings even has a fun selection of smaller-sized Valentine’s Day cards for kids to deliver to their classmates or playgroup friends.

Max and Nat aren’t in school yet, but they made a little list of family and friends to mail a Valentine’s card to. Now if only they could hand-address them!

pear tree greetings valentine's day cards maggie whitley

Pear Tree Greetings would like to offer one lucky Maggie Whitley Designs reader a set of 32 Valentine’s Day cards (including envelopes and free shipping), a $50 value. Simply use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. This giveaway will end tomorrow so the winner has time to order and receive their PTG cards in the mail. I’m so glad you’re a part of this community, and I hope you win! :)

PS. I tucked away a card for each of their baby books. Having tangible memories from when our children are little is something I cherish.

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Valentine’s Day bundle giveaway: over $1,000 in prizes

Let’s start the month of February with a sweet giveaway, shall we? We’ve partnered with 27 amazing shops to offer the Maggie Whitley Designs community the chance to win one of three bundles. Each bundle includes over $300 in product, including jewelry, coffee mugs, clothing, accessories, art prints, and more! We’re so excited, these bundles are generous and inspiring. Thanks so much for entering our Valentine’s Day giveaway, and I hope you win! :)valentine's day giveaway | maggie whitley

BUNDLE #1 DETAILS: have a whaley nice day ladies muscle tank from The Printed Palette, $26 value; jumble of charms necklace from Lisa Leonard Designs, $99 value; coffee cozy from The Love, Mich Collection, $21 value; velvet plush heart heartgram from LoveFeast Shop, $44 value; “LOVE” infinity scarf from Daisy Faye Designs, $28 value; Valentine’s Day bib bundle [#1 and #2] from Hemming Birds Boutique, $30 value; Bohtieque label assortment from Bohtieque, $29 value; floral “LOVE” scripture, 8×10 vertical print from Off The Wall Home, $18 value; intentional home daily journal from Intentional Home, $29 value// total bundle value is $324 USD

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valentine's day giveaway | maggie whitley

BUNDLE #2 DETAILShappy place coffee mug from Shop Sew Caroline, $16 value; $100 gift card to Evy’s Tree, $100 value; gemstone feather bracelet from Crave Jewelry Design, $35 value; golden goddess headband from Acute Designs, $22.50 value; Happily Ever After 8×10 art print from Fancy That Design House & Co., $17 value; his & hers calligraphy coffee cups (set of 2) from MEKU, $50 value; $40 gift card to StudioJRU, $40 value; $40 gift card to Rodan + Fields Dermatologists, $40 value; blue heart valentine art print from PageFree, $15 value; purple floral embroidered necklace from Call Her Happy, $20 value // total bundle value is $375.45 USD

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valentine's day giveaway | maggie whitley

BUNDLE #3 DETAILS“Hustle” daily desk planning pad from Feathered Heart Prints, $20 value; “you’re my person” necklace from MinMac, $15 value; custom anniversary date stamped brass key ring from shop MIGUEZ, $20 value; KnotTwisted headbands (set of 2) from MagSoul, $20 value; Valentine paper garland from UrbanAnneDesigns, $15 value; $20 gift card to Julie Ann Art, $20 value; BabyBjörn Baby Carrier One from BabyBjörn, $229.95 value; doily coasters (set of 2) from uncommon handmade, $32 value // total bundle value is $371.95 USD

To enter the giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter entries below. The first entry is required (leave a blog post comment) but the remaining are not, although we’d love for you to share this giveaway with your social media communities. One winner will be selected at random and notified via email. Please note: this giveaway is open to US residents only. Good luck!

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Thank you for supporting the shops that help support me and my family.

SHOP OWNERS: Click here to be notified about our floral/spring themed giveaway for April.

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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, Kohls.com 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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