Monday, September 28

weekend awesomeness + a review & giveaway



I had such a great weekend, but as usual it has come and gone entirely too fast. As you can see in the photo above, I'm having a giveaway! I am so excited to introduce you to Jill and share with you my amazing new planner, but first I must briefly tell you about some of our weekend awesomeness.

Since Little L is starting to take steps on his own and walks like a pro with a baby walker, I thought it was time to buy his first real pair of shoes. Am I the only one that thinks baby shoes are the most adorable thing ever? I even think the box is cute. And yes, he is a year old and has never really worn a pair of shoes. Gasp!


The weekend was a rainy one, so that meant my farmer had some rare downtime. We went crazy and watched a movie on Friday night. He didn't quite make it all the way through Pitch Perfect 2, but I understood. At least he tried, right? Although it was funny, I didn't think it was as good as the first one.

On Saturday, we braved dining with two children 4 and under and consumed some amazing Chili's food. We always pig out on chips & salsa, and then I unashamedly stuffed my face with the cajun pasta with shrimp. On Sunday, we had Soup and Sandwich Sunday after the morning church service. I'm pretty proud of the Chicken and Tuna Salad sandwiches that I put together - believe it or not, this is creative for me.

  
We tried to see the blood moon, but it just wasn't meant to be. Way too cloudy here. Did any of you get to see it?

Now, enough of the weekend. Let's get to the most exciting part of this post - the giveaway!!

I am admittedly quite picky when it comes to finding a planner that looks good and is functional. After my birthday banner success, I decided to do some perusing for planners on Etsy. I came across Jill's shop and was immediately smitten with her Everyday Planners.  

The Everyday Planner has so much functionality inside AND I loved the styles that are available. I seriously had the hardest time choosing between the Small Chevron and the Dots.

After much deliberation, I finally went with the Small Chevron. Checkout was super easy and if you desire customization on your planner, just mention what you'd like in the notes to the shop owner section during checkout.

I felt like shipping was prompt and when the little white box arrived, I was giddy to get inside. Once I opened the box, I was greeted with pretty pink paper held together with the EYCStudio logo.


I carefully parted the paper (because it looked too good to just rip into), and there sat my beautiful planner.


I loved the creative use of the headband as a way to keep it secure on the side that opens.

Now, let's take a look inside. The Everyday Planner is a binder planner. When you first open the binder, you're greeted with a simple yet classy cover page. You can easily see the individual months on the right side - this makes navigating to the month and page you want super easy.


 

Flip the page and you'll see an information page (I love the colors and the simplicity of using pictures) and a page for important dates. 

   
Moving right along, the next section is a fold out that lists each month and the number of days in the month. I'm thinking I can use this for birthdays. I can just pencil in the person's name on the month/day their birthday occurs, and my birthday list will all be in one place.


Next is more prettiness.


Then, there are the individual months. Each month has a two page spread. These two pages are a heavier weight paper, like card stock. The great thing about a binder planner is that you can move the months around to start with the month you desire. In my case, I will move October through December and place those ahead of January through September so that I can start using it now. I'm impatient.


Next, you have space to write down your monthly goals, any notes you need to capture, or to do lists that you may have.


Then, for each month you'll see ten pages of Jill's customized weekly planning - a two page spread for five weeks. For each week, there is a column of Weekly Goals & To Do followed by seven columns separating the various areas in your life: Top Three, Meals, Vitamins/Fitness/Water, Cleaning, Agenda, To Do List, and finally, what I like to call the Free Box.






















At the close of each month, you have more Notes space for anything additional you might want to jot down.


Isn't it beautifully made? Even better, it's simple and functional. 

I sometimes find planners that I really like but am just not willing to shell out the $100 price tag for. The handmade Everyday Planners from the EYCStudio are only $40. They're great quality and incredibly classy! I'm looking so forward to showing this off to friends and co-workers.

Jill has been so gracious to sponsor a giveaway in which one blessed winner will get to select the planner of their choice!!

Bonus - from now until October 9th, Jill is offering a 10% discount to The Classy Chaos readers. Just use this code at checkout: theclassychaos.

Be sure to enter the giveaway, and I hope you have an awesome week!

~Trista~

Friday, September 25

happy friday: let's chat about family, fashion, and fun



Happy Friday, Lovelies! I hope your week has been just as amazing as mine. I have lots I want to share from this week, so I'll get to it and do my best to keep it short and sweet. 

{ONE}
Last Friday afternoon, Little L had his one year check-up. He's not the best patient. They pricked his finger first, and I was surprised at how well he handled it. He didn't even cry. The band aid, however, was a different story. It was driving him crazy. He eventually managed to pull it off, and we both ended up with blood all over us. He fought the doctor looking in his ears, listening to his heart and lungs, etc. I had to practically put him a complete body hug for the nurse to give him his shots. Once we got to the car, he totally crashed and was fine the rest of the evening. Shew! 

{TWO}
I had some Gap Cash to spend last weekend, so I did a little online shopping. I always load my cart up and then compare and contrast the items to get to the total I actually want to spend. Once I had finished browsing and checked out my cart, I had way more in there than my limit. Gulp. Since I wasn't spending anywhere near that amount, I had to make some serious decisions. Thankfully, the Gap Cash helped a bunch! Here are a few of my favorites from my shopping spree. 

Heathered True Straight Pants

Roll-sleeve Tunic
1969 A-line Denim Skirt
On Monday, I chose to celebrate my first blogging milestone with a post on How to Start a Blog. I am breaking it up into two parts: getting started and the little things. I have some non-blogger friends asking questions and wanted to share what I focused on in my first month. Fellow bloggers, what were some of your main focal points in the first 30 days of your blog's life?

{FOUR}
I finished the Serial podcast earlier in the week. I just had to know what had transpired since the last episode aired in December. I learned two things when I started searching for the info: 1) There is a follow-up podcast called Undisclosed that continues to share new information and updates on the status of the case. I have not yet listened to any of these yet. Have you? and 2) I found a news article that was posted at the beginning of this month reporting on the current status. I'm still on edge. Did he or didn't he?


I also happened to see online that Serial Season 2 is not far from airing.

{FIVE}
On Wednesday, I shared all the things I'm loving about Fall. From the cooler temps to being able to blow dry my hair without getting too hot. I included some of my Gap Cash buys that I mentioned earlier too. Be sure to check them out.  

Oh, and this was also the same evening that Little L decided to take his first steps without any assistance!! We were all there to see it, so it was absolutely amazing. He walked right into Daddy's arms and Big Brother even got to record it on video - he loved being a part of the excitement. God is good.

{SIX}
Both my favorite shows aired this week. Is anyone else a Scorpion fan? I am such a hopeless romantic. I am definitely rooting for Walter and Paige. Even though, if and when they do become a couple, they'll inevitably have to have a falling out in the interest of creating more drama.

http://www.cbs.com/shows/scorpion/news/sme/202/8-biggest-uh-oh-moments-from-the-scorpion-season-2-premiere/

NCIS has been my number one show for years. I love all of the characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing what unfolds this season. As long as no one leaves or dies, I can handle the team drama.

http://www.cbs.com/shows/ncis/photos/1004602/10-words-that-have-a-different-meaning-to-ncis-fans/

{SEVEN}
Little J took this picture with Daddy's phone while they were working in the hay. We didn't even realize it was there. It's such a great picture that I just had to share.


That about sums it up for me. How has your week been? I hope it's been fabulous. Have great weekends!

~Trista~

I'm linking up with April|Five on Friday, Erika|Friday Favorites, and Amy|Oh Hey Friday.

Wednesday, September 23

fall favorites and a milestone


blog button

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall. For real this time. The first time didn't quite count since it wasn't official yet. In honor of the first day of Fall, I'm linking up with Pink Persistence & Katie Elizabeth. We're sharing all things we love about Fall! Fall, Fall, Fall. I just thought you needed to hear me say that word one more time.

There are things I love about each of the seasons, but Fall is hands down my favorite. For reasons I can't explain, the transition to this time of year always puts a little extra spring in my step. Maybe a few of the things below are an explanation as to why.

I love the cooler temps in the morning and warm sunshine in the afternoon. One of my favorite things to do in the Fall is bask in the warmth of the sun without getting too hot. I find it therapeutic, good for the soul. 

local park

I favor long sleeves - I feel like they are more flattering on me, so I have more self-confidence. I also find long sleeve clothing more cozy and comfortable. The onset of Fall makes it seasonally acceptable to begin wearing sweaters, sweatshirts, and other long sleeve tops. I did some Gap shopping over the weekend and I cannot wait for some of my new items to come. Do you like any of these?

Flannel Plaid Relaxed Boyfriend Shirt

Slub Crew Cardigan





Jacquard Bomber Jacket

Classic Logo Zip Hoodie

I am a huge fan of rubber boots. I think I'm so cool when I wear them. On rainy or snowy days, I'll wear them into the office and just carry my shoes. I'm pretty sure most people probably think I'm being ridiculous, but I think I'm stylish. I've had my eye on these for a couple of weeks now.


Another reason I love Fall is that my hair behaves better. I'm not kidding. I use hot rollers almost every day. I find them low maintenance and they are great for giving my locks volume. For reasons I cannot explain, the crisper air allows my hair to actually keep the volume past the walk to the car. Without the crisper air and with any humidity at all, the volume goes kaput. My hair is even more awesome in the winter months.

I'm also a fan of Tim Horton's Hot Chocolate, blowing my hair dry without getting too hot, sleeping in a cooler bedroom with lots of covers, not having to cut the grass, bonfires, and watching the leaves fall.

What are some of your Fall Favorites?

Oh, on an unrelated note, Little L took his first steps tonight WITHOUT any assistance. Let the fun begin!

Happy Fall!

~Trista~

Monday, September 21

how to start a blog: the first 30 days, getting started



It's official. As of Saturday, this blog has been in existence for one month. One month. Wow. I personally feel as though I've accomplished a lot over the past 30 days - no doubt thanks in part to my past blogging experience. Because of that experience, from the get-go I had a clear vision of what I wanted this blog to become, an idea of how to get started, and what to expect realistically of myself and of my time.

I have had a few of my non-blogger friends ask about blogging - how easy it is to get started, whether or not you can blog privately or publicly, the time commitment required, etc. 

As such, and in honor of my one month blogoversary, I thought I would share the things I focused on in the first 30 days of blogging (while it is still fresh in my mind). I plan to post my thoughts in two parts: getting started and the little things. Today, I will focus on getting started. 

1)  Decide the general theme of your blog. What do you plan to write about and can write about often? The Classy Chaos is a lifestyle blog. I share the everyday happenings of life ranging from the precious moments of motherhood I experience to what I'm wearing to work or what yummy dish I ate this week. There are thousands of blogs on the web - some focus on parenting, reviews, saving money, faith, losing weight, personal journeys, a combination of a few or all of the above, and more. The options are truly limitless. Simply choose the niche that best suits you.

2. Choose a name for your blog. For inspiration, take a look at what other bloggers have named their space on the web. Some use their name, some their occupation, others something completely clever and catchy that I wish I'd thought of first. Regardless, make sure that your name represents you, the theme of your blog, and is unique and simple. The most important thing to remember is that you really cannot go wrong when choosing a name, but it is something you will hopefully keep for a long time. Once you have an idea, Google the names your considering. I never would have dreamed there were so many variations of chaos and class that already existed. I had to come up with an alternative from my original thought - I really liked Chaos and Class, but it was taken. 

3. Create an email address for your blog. I highly recommend setting up a separate email address apart from your personal email. Maintaining a stand-alone email account for your blog helps keep things organized and fosters balance. It is easy to become constantly wrapped up in making your blog better, checking for new comments, and looking at status updates. By keeping a separate account, it's easier for me to set aside certain times for my blogging to-dos. Not to mention, keeping separate email addresses provides added security to your personal email and information. I just do not like mixing the two. 

4. Choose a blog platform. I have read tons of information on this subject, and most things I have read recommend using Wordpress along with a private hosting service. I have always used Blogger and thus far am completely satisfied with what it has to offer. I personally feel as though Blogger is user friendly - it's easy to navigate and if you want do do more complicated things with it, you can. (I have played with a little bit of HTML code since starting this adventure.) I have no intentions of this blog being a source of income (although I wouldn't say no if someone wanted to pay me for my chaos). I am doing it for the pure joy of writing, sharing our life happenings with friends and family, and meeting others who I can relate to and be encouraged by. In my mind, it doesn't make sense for me to pay for anything. Not yet anyway. 

5. Decide who your audience will be. Consider whether you want your blog to be visible by the public or only to those you grant access. Blogger allows you to choose. If your choice is public, then you must decide the level of specifics you intend to share. My personal preference is to only share details and photos of myself - the rest of my family information will be vague. I know many bloggers who share specifics for every individual in their family, and there are others who go as far as blogging under an alias. Your level of openness depends solely on what you are comfortable with. 

6. Design your blog template. When you initially set up your blog, you'll be able to choose from several Blogger offered templates. If you're wanting something more, you can search for free Blogger templates or you can pay for a design or have one custom made. For this blog, I didn't spend a lot of time combing through the hundreds of free templates. I knew that I needed to hone in on a small selection and choose, for my own sanity. I stumbled upon Blogaholic Designs on Pinterest and went shopping. I was completely okay with shelling out $15 for a template that I really liked and knew I would keep for awhile. The template you choose and how you choose to acquire it are your preference. Search Blogger templates on Pinterest and you'll find tons of great designers, some free and some not.

7. Adjust the layout. The layout is the aspect where gadgets are seated on your page. For example, my photo and about me gadget is aligned at the top right hand column. I can move it anywhere though, just drag and drop. Gadgets are easy to manipulate on Blogger and initial blog templates come with the basics already positioned. You can add, remove, customize, etc. in just about any fashion. I personally like to keep my gadgets simple. I make a concerted effort to refrain from cluttering my page which, in my opinion, ultimately distracts readers from the content. 

8. Set your goals. Consider how often you want to post content and marry that with what you can realistically expect with your schedule. I would love to post every day. I have an ongoing list of topics I want to cover, but it will be some time before I am able to actually write them. My schedule and my sanity have agreed that two, maybe three posts a week is realistically what I can expect, and that's with the disclaimer that some weeks may be even less. There is no set minimum or maximum in the blogosphere - just remember, quality drastically trumps quantity.

9. Share who you are. Most blogs have a section or page on their blog that tells a little bit about themselves and their purpose for blogging. When people visit your blog, they like learning about the basis of who you are. Readers can identify and connect with you, and understand where you're coming from. For example, if you're blogging about being a parent, your credibility is built by sharing that you have children. In addition to giving a glimpse of who you are in words, post a picture of yourself. Even if it's vague, share a photo so that others can put a face to a blog. Photos always make people and things more memorable.

10. Start posting content. Some suggest before launching your blog that you have 5 to 10 posts already written to help relieve some of the stress or pressure that can accompany getting started. Honestly, I have never done that and this is my third blog. It probably would be helpful to have posts in waiting, but I'm just not that patient. Plus, I like to write what I feel at that moment in time. Otherwise, I'm really not motivated to write. I do keep an ongoing list of the topics I eventually want to write about when I'm moved to do so. Another thing I have learned is that visuals are a must. Be sure to include photos with your posts, even if it's simply a picture of your lunch or a link to a movie you're mentioning.

Those are my thoughts on getting set up. I will share some of the other little things I have focused on in my first 30 days soon. Fellow bloggers, what advice would you give to someone thinking of embarking on a blog adventure?

Friday, September 18

happy friday to you, and you, and you...

Happy Friday Lovelies! It has been an absolutely beautiful week in our neck of the woods. Cool, crisp mornings with temps reaching high 70s / low 80s by afternoon. In my opinion, it really cannot get any better than that!

Sleep has been a bit elusive for me this week - I've stayed up entirely too late every night and then one child or the other didn't sleep through. So, in the interest of getting into bed early, this week's Friday Fun will be short and sweet. Without further ado, let's get to it. 

{ONE}
I finished a salad. This is not normal for me, as I almost always leave a majority of the lettuce. My new favorite Panera meal is the Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken. I had it twice this week. The half size portion is only 7 WW Points. Pair it with a bag of Panera Baked Lays and you have an incredibly tasty 10 Point meal.

Doesn't this look yummy?

Believe me, this never happens.

{TWO}
In case you missed it, we celebrated Little L's first birthday last weekend. I am not a creative person, so I am incredibly proud of the fact that I made this birthday banner. Thank you, EasyInvites for the print. I suppose all I did was assemble, but still, I count it a success. 


{THREE}
Brittany at The Lady Lawyer chatted about Podcasts on Wednesday. Am I the only one that has been living under a rock and didn't know what a podcast was? She kindly educated me, and now I'm addicted. I listened to a podcast on mosquitoes since they seem to be my nemesis and then I started Serial. I'm completely hooked. 

    

{FOUR}
I've already mentioned how much I'm loving the cooler temperatures. I have had my heat on in the car every morning this week. And by lunchtime, I'm running the air conditioner! Anyway, my favorite part of this kind of weather is the clothing. In case you missed it, I wore a sweatshirt to the office and managed to make it look classy!  

{FIVE}
A friend of mine shared this on Facebook. It made me laugh out loud because I can totally identify with the statement. We attempt to do a load of laundry everyday in our house, but Saturday is the designated day in which I try to have it all completely washed, dried, folded, and put away before bedtime. The struggle is real.


Well, I hope you each have lovely weekends and stay classy through all the chaos!

~Trista~

Follow along: Bloglovin', Facebook, Google Friend Connect, Email Updates

I'm linking up with April|Five on Friday, Erika|Friday Favorites, and Amy|Oh Hey Friday.

Wednesday, September 16

what to wear: casual style

Well, it just so happens that casual style clothing is acceptable at my place of employment. In the interest of maintaining a professional image among my peers, I try to limit the number of days I wear jeans to only two per week. I will not lie, some weeks it's more like three...

When I do wear jeans, I attempt to dress them up a bit with casual but dressy tops. I have found that Gap has a great selection that works for me. 

I love this Quilted Sweatshirt in Willow Pink - it is one of my absolute favorites. I like to add a bit of contrast by wearing a white tank underneath. With the arrival of cooler temperatures, I am excited to put this ensemble back into the rotation. I love the color, and it has such a cozy fit.



Unfortunately the Quilted Sweatshirt is no longer available, but here's one that's similar. I picked up the Liz Claiborne Classic Fit Straight jeans at JCPenney, and the shoes are the Classic Ballet Flats from the Gap.  

Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Monday, September 14

i can be creative

Oh, hey there Monday. I am not entirely certain where the weekend went to, but it has come and gone once again. I imagine it had something to do with Little L's 1st birthday celebration!

I took a 1/2 day vacation on Friday to party plan. My oldest wanted Little L's birthday party to be Winnie the Pooh, and I agreed that sounded perfect. I managed to find a bakery that was able to make the Pooh cake on short notice, but decorations were impossible. I spent the entire afternoon driving all over town looking for Pooh party supplies, and while driving from place to place, I was calling everyone else. Finally, a party planning place informed me that Winnie the Pooh birthday decorations had been discontinued. I had found some earlier on Amazon but overnight shipping was going to be $100!! I eventually threw in the towel and decided to improvise.

A friend of mine suggested I check Etsy to see if I could find anything to download instantly and print at home or Walmart. I ended up finding this really awesome Happy Birthday Banner by EasyInvites. I am so proud of how well it turned out. I printed the PDF on card stock and cut out each one. I put two hole punches in each and then thread the string through. Little J kept saying, "You're a good cutter, Mommy." It's clear I've missed my true calling (enter sarcasm here). But seriously, doesn't it look great?


I grabbed a few stuffed animals to use as decorations, and purchased red and yellow party supplies from Walmart. Ignore the green tablecloth. I had only planned to use red, but the red alone didn't cover the table. Oops. I happened to have the green on hand, so I used them both. Improvisation at its best.

 

I was so happy with the cakes too. Not only did they look awesome, they tasted amazing.



Little L had so much fun with his smash cake. He really enjoyed the icing. At one point, we thought for sure he was going to stick his face in the whole thing. Here's the aftermath of his t-shirt. 

  
Like the shirt? I made this for Little J's first birthday over four years ago! I picked up the shirt and the iron on letters and print from Hobby Lobby. I chose "Today I Eat Cake" because both boys did not have anything sweet until their 1st birthdays.

Present opening was as you would expect. After opening the first one, he was pretty much smitten. Little J, however, enjoyed opening all of L's toys and then playing with them too. He tried to show L how to use each one. It was really quite precious. I'm certain he was more excited about this party than anyone.

The toy that stole L's heart... the Fisher-Price Go Baby Go Poppity Pop Musical Dino. He absolutely loved the different colored balls. He has carried around one in each hand since it was first opened.
http://amzn.to/1EWV8DH
That's my story. How was your weekend?

I am linking up with Biana, Meg, and Ashley

~Trista~

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