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Along Abbey Road | A Lifestyle And Family Blog : November 2014


Black Friday Sales And A Giveaway!

Hello, hello! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Ours was full of delicious food and time spent with Matt's family. (That is our Thanksgiving picture above. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get everyone smiling and looking at the camera at the same time? Nearly impossible, I tell you!)

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and share the online Black Friday sales happening at my favorite stores. Sometimes it is worth it to stay in your jammies, avoid crowds and get all your shopping done online while eating leftover turkey sandwiches, am I right?

LOFT. Everything is 40% off.
Anthropologie. Take 25% off with code HOLIDAY25.
Old Navy. Everything is 50% off online and in store!
Madewell. Take 25% off your online and in-store purchase with code GIFTON.
J.Crew. Get 30% off full price items and 40% off sale items using code HOLIDAY.
Gap. Take 50% off with code BLKFRIDAY.

Also, there is an amazing new ponchos sweater and a giveaway up on my Instagram shop, Gumption Shop! I will be having a Gump Guest every month to pick out their favorite items, and this month is Destiny! Her Instagram is a must-follow and her baby boy, Truman, is ADORABLE. It is fun to see how different everyone's style is, and the poncho sweater she picked is beautiful. It has a great design and details, and would normally retail for around $50 and up, so be sure to go snag your size since there is a very limited amount. You can see the poncho sweaters here. Make sure you enter the giveaway, too. Since the prices are always at a Black Friday type of deal, we thought it would be fun to celebrate with something fun. You can see what we are giving away here. (I'll give you a hint... it goes on your head and it is one of my favorite things to wear!)

Have a wonderful rest of your holiday weekend and happy shopping!
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Teaching My Boys Gratitude

I remember the first time I ever helped put together packages for families in need. I was about 9 or 10 years old and our church was hosting a holiday food and supplies drive. The gym at our church building was brimming with people, canned goods and non-perishable foods, personal care items and boxes. I was plopped into the canned goods and boxed food section of the assembly line. There were hundreds of cans of green beans and piles of stuffing and cake mix, among various other foods.

There are this many families who would be going without a holiday dinner if it weren't for us, I thought to myself, somewhat alarmed and awestruck. Being the youngest of eight, our resources were somewhat limited at times, but I never went without food and the basic necessities to maintain a happy life. I had no clue what it was like to go without, and a part of my little soul ached for these people. It ached for the other 10-year old girls like me who lived with uncertainty every morning as they awoke if they were going to have food to eat that day. I was very young and that experience brought a whole new perspective to my small, sheltered world.

Gratitude is often said to be the key to to happiness in life. Practiced daily, it can transform life from a cold and resentful place to one of light and joy, even in the most dire of circumstances. Matt and I have experienced our own shifts in our outlooks on life when we have cultivated a grateful attitude. And it truly is life-changing.

Our goal as parents is to teach our boys gratitude. Starting now at this phase in their lives. We are diligent in teaching them to say "thank you" and try to help them understand exactly what it means. Luke is starting to understand. We are also mindfully seeking for opportunities to pair that gratitude with service and have a holiday tradition of helping out families in need.

As we went to hand out fliers for a neighborhood food drive a few days ago, I explained to Luke what we were doing. "You know how your tummy feels when you are hungry? Well, some little boys and girls don't have food to eat, so we are going to find food to give to them so their tummies don't hurt."

I could tell he was trying to process what I was saying as he scooted alongside me. After we finished handing out all the fliers, Luke looked up to me and said, "We find food for boys and guhls, so der tummies feel bettah." I was filled with so much warmth at the sweetness and concern in his eyes. I am not sure if he really understood, but that moment was charged with love.

Gratitude, coupled with service, is the ultimate form of love and charity, and that is what I aim to teach our boys. There will be plenty of faltering and failing as a parent, but I know that if I set those basic, yet profound principles for them, few other things will matter. All of their goodness and kindness will stem from that foundation.

Count all your blessings, tell the people in your life you love them, and enjoy your time with your family and friends this weekend. Happy Thanksgiving!
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Cute Holiday Card Ideas

Have you ordered your Christmas cards yet? I always feel like I am pushing the envelope (ha!) on getting our cards out by an acceptable time. (Which means at least by Christmas Day.) In fact, this last year we didn't even get a real one out! It was an e-card, but it's the thought that counts right? I blamed it on having a newborn. (Always an excellent excuse for pretty much anything, so if you have a newborn, you better take advantage before your time runs out! I suggest adding nightly foot massages to your list.)

Well, this year I am acting like a bonafide adult and getting our cards done professionally AND out on time! I have always loved the designs from Minted, and I am absolutely thrilled we get to team up with them to order our cards this year. Their charm and colors are right up my alley and I love all of the hand lettered details and illustrations. They don't miss out on the details — even the envelopes are cute!

Above I've selected my favorites. Now the problem is choosing one! What is your vote? I think I have it narrowed down to middle left, bottom left, and bottom right. But I can't be too sure. I really like bottom middle, top right, and top middle as well... so, basically all of them ;) Help!

Be sure to check out Minted if you are looking to order cute holiday cards this year, too! They have some great Cyber Monday sales coming up. Also, I'll be back in a couple weeks to reveal the Christmas card we selected. Happy holiday card shopping!

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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

The Quaintrelle Tee c/o Corilynn & Co
LOFT Ruffled Collar Trench Coat (similar)
H&M Imitation Leather Pants (similar)
Merona Bow Cloche Hat (updated style)
Mossimo Gail Ankle Strap Open Pump
Bella France Lip Pencil in Red

1. Let's talk about this tee. It's one you end up wearing with everything. It's comfy like a shirt I would sleep in, but chic enough to pair with some pumps and red lips, or dress it down with some jeans, flats and a baseball cap. (The latter is what I wear 95% of the time.) I am sure you have heard of Corilynn & Co from their beautiful skirts and dresses, yes? If no, you have to go look at them, stat. Also, they just launched a tee line and I am obsessed. FYI, "quaintrelle" means "a woman who emphasizes a life of passion, expressed through personal style, leisurely pastimes, charm, and cultivation of life's pleasures." Ummm, yeeeesssss to all of that! I will happily make that my life's motto. Also, let's talk about cloche hats for a quick sec! I have had this cute hat for almost two years and this is the first time I have worn it! Either my hair was too long or too short, so I have decided that the perfect length of hair for cloche hats is shoulder length. In case you have a problem wearing your cloche hat too. :)

2. Fact: Approximately 270 million turkeys are sold annually every Thanksgiving. That is about 7 billion pounds of turkey, which is about $3 billion in sales (source). That's A LOT of tryptophan pumping through people's bodies. No wonder everyone is so crazy on Black Friday! We are all just a bunch of tired chumps still trying to digest our billions of dollars of turkey.

3. So there is this girl at the local Old Navy who looks like me. Well, I guess I should say from the eyes up we look identical, although her eyebrows are shaped differently than mine, but they are the same color and texture and whatever. Anyway, the first time I saw her I was like, "Whoa! That girl looks like me! But her teeth and mouth are different... and her nose is a little more pointed... and her face shape is a little more square than mine." The next time I went in she was working at the register again, when another girl said to me, "You look a lot like our employee over there! Like, you guys could be sisters!" K, so now here is the kicker. I told Matt about this girl, so on Saturday we went in specifically to see if this look-alike was working. Within 10 seconds of entering the store, the greeter stares at me with a quizzical brow and says, "Wow, you look REALLY familiar. Wait a minute — you look like a girl who works here!" At this point I am absolutely gobsmacked and Matt starts laughing at loud. I tried to politely ask the girl, "No way! Where is she?!" so I could see her, but I already KNEW who she was and it was terribly awkward exchange between us after that. Neither of us knew what to say and she stealthily backed away into a rack of clothes within five seconds. Matt finally saw the girl and he was like, "Hmmm, I don't know. I could see how maybe she could be your little sister?" All I know is that every time I see her, I have what I would imagine a Parent Trap moment to feel like. What if?! (Could you imagine finding out you had a lost twin or a half sister?) Anyway, have you seen your own look-alike in person before? It's a bizarre feeling.

4. Look at what these dogs do when they are placed in a photo booth! So flippin' cute.

5. Would you rather eat your weight in fruit snacks or marshmallows?

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NUK USA Bottle And Pacifier Giveaway

Our boys are definitely what you would call "binky" babies. Luke would probably have taken a pacifier until his sophomore year in high school if we would have let him. The day he stopped using it was a very tearful and sorrowful one (mostly on my end), but Luke trusted all eight of them were in good hands as we waved goodbye to them in the moving truck. (Which was already almost a year ago! Sheesh! That went by quickly.)

Nowadays, it is Wes who takes a binky or a "dinky" (as we call them), and Luke is ever-so-diligent at making sure Wes has his when it falls from the crib. Wes just kind of sucks and chews on his for a minute, and doesn't depend on it nearly as much. But the bottle! Oh, the bottle is a different story.

NUK USA reached out to us about reviewing their orthodontic bottle and pacifiers, and we were thrilled since it has always been the choice of paci in our house. I was really excited to try out the bottle since milk is an incredibly precious commodity to Wes.

We've been using both the bottle and the pacifiers for over a month now. We already knew we loved the pacifiers, but I truly do like this bottle. It is easy to hold and the nipple was an easy transition from breastfeeding. Wes didn't even particularly like the Medela bottles and was always finicky with them, but he took immediately to the NUK Orthodontic Bottle.  It also has an anti-colic system which lets in less air and helps prevent excess air and gas, resulting in a happier baby! Hooray!

Does your baby love their pacifier or do you need a good bottle? Then it is your lucky day! I teamed up with NUK USA to give away one NUK Orthodontic Bottle, two Design Shield Pacifiers, and two of the regular pacifiers (pictured above). They are all BPA free and are designed to fit with the natural palate of a baby's mouth for proper growth and development. The set will come in either a boy or girl design, depending on the sex of your baby. It would make for the perfect gift for a new baby in your life this holiday season, whether it's your own baby or a new niece, nephew, or friend's baby.

Simply enter in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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5 Ultimate 90's Chick Flicks To Watch This Weekend

I've been stuck on the Alanis Morissette Pandora station for the past three weeks. I just can't stop. I have an inner connection with that bizarre, screechy crooner thing the indie girls do in their music, a la "Zombie" by The Cranberries. (The message and lyrics of that song are hauntingly incredible, by the way.) I attribute it to being raised in the Seattle area in the 90's. It's quite literally in my blood. All that rain, guys. It seeped its way into my personality and I will always be a little grungy, a little granola, and a little angsty, no matter how hard I try to make it appear otherwise.

All that being said, I feel it my duty to present to you a fabulous list of the five ultimate 90's chick flicks to watch this weekend on Netflix. (My mother raised me on all of these, and I will forever be grateful to her for her excellent taste in movies... except one of them. I'll let you guess which one!) I won't judge you if you watch all of them in a row — I'll be doing it with you! I am a serious movie junky, but that is no surprise if you've been reading here for awhile. I probably sound like a broken record saying this, but I REALLY need a job in the film industry, preferably as a casting agent because I have an on-screen chemistry matchmaking gift — I swear!

I digress.

Here is the wonderful list that will have you belting out 90's girl power jams in no time!

1. Sleepless in Seattle. Because, duh. Everything I mentioned above is in this movie, minus the whole grunge thing, which is the goal. (I'm trying to be a responsible grownup, k? It's not easy!) And Nora Ephron was a contemporary of Nancy Meyers, who is my spiritual guide via her movies and doesn't even know it! Anyway, this movie is like... magic. ;)

2. While You Were Sleeping. This is one of those movies which takes place during Christmas but isn't technically a Christmas movie, so it is obviously the perfect choice to watch right now because Christmas is coming up but since it isn't technically a Christmas movie you don't have to feel guilty watching it if you are a firm "NO CHRISTMAS UNTIL AFTER THANKSGIVING!" rule follower. (Best run-on sentence of my life.)

3. Bed of Roses. First things first, whatever happened to Christian Slater? He was such a 90's babe! Also, what gal doesn't love a young Christian Slater as a florist? Sure, the movie doesn't have rave reviews and they are both a couple of sad sacks, but in my opinion, the cheesier the better! And speaking of 90's music, this soundtrack is spot on with the Sarah McLachlan selection. "Youuurrr love is better than ice creeaamm..." But then that reminds me of Jim Gaffigan's Mr. Universe, "I love that animal rescue commercial with Sarah McLachlan.  Even the dogs in that commercial are like,  ‘that’s a little heavy-handed, Sarah.  We are just dogs, after all.  There’s still kids starving in Africa, right?'"(I am having a really hard time staying on task tonight! Sorry, guys!)

4. She's All That. Laney Boggs! Easily one of my most favorite characters in movie history. And let's not forget Freddie Prinze Junior! Where is he at as well? Can we have a "Where In The World Are The 90's Heartthrobs?" post next? Supply me a list and I will seriously do it. Also, I just bought Josie and the Pussycats a few weeks ago and am hell-bent on finding some Tony & Tina glitter to start wearing as eyeliner again.

5. You've Got Mail. I saved the best for last. It really doesn't need any explanation, and I am truly rejoicing it is finally on Netflix after four long and sad years of getting my hopes up every time I searched for it, only to find it was available to rent on DVD. I share Kathleen Kelly's exact sentiments for hearing those "three little words" when finding that one of my favorite movies is finally on Netflix. My monologue goes something like this: "I go to stream, and my breath catches in my chest until I see _____ little words: (insert favorite movie here)."

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I Have Some Exciting News!

I have some REALLY exciting news I've been waiting to share! And, no, I am not pregnant ;) Remember how I started "The Steal" last year, about a week before Wes was born? I have a knack for doing crazy things when I am pregnant (and I promise I really am not this time around), and it didn't really carry on because life happened and I had two babies to take care of. Well, I am feeling a lot more settled now and I am soooo incredibly excited to breathe life into this idea again, but with a new updated shop!

Allow me to introduce you to Gumption Shop! It is an Instagram shop where I will be selling adorable pieces of clothing at the wholesale price. I will be hand-selecting a couple of items per week that I love and it will be like a flash sale in that they will be listed in very limited amounts and sizes are go quickly. All you do is leave your PayPal email and the size you want in the comments. Once all payments are made within 24 hours, I order the item and ship it out within 48 hours of receiving it. The shipping is a flat rate of $6, which is only within the United States right now (APO included) unless it is a large or bulky item. If the invoice isn't paid within 24 hours, it goes to the next buyer, and if the item is not available from my distributor by the time I go to order, I will let you know.

After briefly opening up my online boutique a couple of years ago, I realized how marked up amazing, must-have clothing really is, and I am obsessed with finding the best deal for quality, cute items. Well, it doesn't really get better than this and I am thrilled to you get to take part in the deals through Gumption Shop!

Please follow along with Gumption Shop on Instagram (@gumptionshop) and tag your friends, sister, mom, grandma and anyone you know who loves a good deal! Also, this is a fabulous time to grab something for the holidays, whether you are treating yourself or the gals in your life. Check out the first sweater up for sale here and an amazing pair of jogger pants here!

Thanks for sharing this new adventure with me and happy shopping, friends!

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Spiced Chocolate Bundt Cake

This spiced chocolate bundt cake does not fool around when it comes to big flavor. Basically, it is a heavy hitter for chocolate lovers, and there is some extra pizazz with the use of some Mexican cocoa. I feel like this is a wonderful holiday cake. It is rich, decadent and has a cozy winter feel to it.

Here are the directions to whipping up your own cake from scratch!

Spiced Chocolate Bundt Cake
Prep time: 30 minutes
Bake time: 35 minutes


1 3/4 cups of flour, plus some for dusting
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1/2 cup Mexican cocoa
1/4 regular cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (regular milk plus 1 tablespoon of vinegar is a good substitute)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

1 can of store-bought white frosting
1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and dust your bundt pan with flour, being sure to tap out any excess flour in the pan.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium mixing bowl. Mix until they are thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk your buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla extract together. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until they are completely mixed.

3. Pour your batter into the bundt pan and bake on 350° for 35-40 minutes.

4. Now comes the delicious frosting! While the cake is baking, melt the chocolate chips on the stove by placing a heat-safe glass bowl on top of a small pot of boiling water. Occasionally stir until all the chocolate chips are melted. Combine the melted chocolate with the white frosting into a small bowl and mix well. Allow it to cool to room temperature.

5. Once the cake is done baking, place it onto a serving plate. Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes and then frost your cake. The sweetness of the frosting is key to balancing out the strong chocolate flavor, so apply it generously! Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy a huge, crumbly slice of spiced chocolate bundt cake!

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Best Cold & Flu Medicines For Babies And Toddlers

We've been hunkered down for the past few weeks battling snot, coughing and fevers. No matter how hard we try to wash hands and sanitize, it seems there is no escaping the dreaded cold and flu season. And I am guessing there is a good chance you are in the same boat, so I am sharing our favorite cold and flu medicines for babies and toddlers!

The following is basically a survival kit that every mom needs to combat any type of sickness — no more and no less. I have easily bought over fifty different products since Luke was born and I have finally weeded out all the unnecessary stuff down to these nine things.

Zarbee's Naturals Baby Cough Syrup + Mucus Reducer. Kids under the age of four are absolutely not supposed to have the regular OTC cold and cough medicine, and if you have dealt with a baby hacking and coughing all night long, you know the heartbreak of not being able to give them anything. I started using this stuff in the last month and it is a lifesaver. Both Luke and Wes haven't had any coughing attacks in the middle of the night since taking it, and it is safe and natural. Totally recommend it for your babies and toddlers.

Children's Tylenol Meltaways. We are big fans of Tylenol (acetaminophen). Yes, we will do the whole alternating between Motrin and Tylenol every four hours when fevers strike, but I have found Tylenol to work best at decreasing fevers in my boys. These meltaways are fantastic for toddlers. Luke thinks taking medicine is as great as getting a "treat" because they are yummy and easy to get down.

Infants Liquid Tylenol Drops. Since we are devoted Tylenol users, we love the infant liquid drops and always get the grape flavor. Like Luke, Wes gulps this stuff down, and it keeps him happy and comfortable.

Warm Steam Vaporizer. This is an absolute essential for congested little ones. We prefer the warm steam to keep the mucus loose and airways clear while they sleep. Yes, it can begin to feel like a sauna, but we make sure everything stays ventilated and comfortable. The barking cough from being in a dry room when babies are sick is always terrifying to me, and this keeps that from happening! You can also add in a couple drops of your favorite calming or healing essential oils for an extra boost.

Pedialyte Powder Packs. The only thing I can get my boys to keep down when they are really ill is juice of some sort. Since they often get diarrhea along with colds and all that junk, it is incredibly important to keep them hydrated and replenish their electrolytes. I hate buying that gigantic thing of Pedialyte and seeing it go to waste since it is supposed to be used within 48 hours or something ridiculous like that. These powder packs are good for pouring into a sippy cup, and you can stock up on them when the next sickness strikes.

Little Remedies Saline Nose Spray. This stuff is a miracle worker for clearing stuffy, little noses. I know how miserable it is to be all plugged up as an adult who knows how to cope with it, so I can't even begin how miserable a helpless baby or toddler feels! You simply spray it up their nose and suction it out with the bulb listed below. (Word of caution: they will cry and scream at you, but it is worth it to keep their sinuses clear.)

Suction Bulb. Important to have on hand with sick babies to clear out the snot and gunk. I LOVE the ones they send home with you from the hospital, and have found they are the ones that work best.

Digital Thermometer. I prefer this specific type of digital thermometer. It works for taking your little one's temperature under their armpit, in their mouth, or rectally. We pretty much always do it rectally with babies since it is the most accurate. If you opt to do it this way, make sure it has been cleaned and disinfected and apply petroleum jelly to lubricate the end. You only need to insert the thermometer about three-quarters of an inch or an inch into the rectum. I like to sing a song to distract Wes so he doesn't even notice. Make sure you wash and disinfect it thoroughly after using it. Luke is now old enough to have his temperature taken in his mouth under his tongue, and always feels like he is one of the stuffies on Doc McStuffins. :)

Maty's All Natural Baby Chest Rub. This chest rub is absolutely wonderful. I have been using it on Luke since he was one and we now use it on both of them when they are coughing and congested. I rub it onto their chests and their feet (covered in socks) right before bed. It contains natural oils, which helps them relax and sleep more peacefully. It's a wonderful remedy for coughs, along with the natural syrup listed above!

I hope you and your little ones don't get too sick this winter, but in the off-chance you do (because little kids are walking germ pools), I hope this list is helpful. Wishing you a healthy cold and flu season!
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A Random Thing Or Two-sday

Lapis Quilted Jacket (similar)
LOFT Striped Tee (similar) — see DIY instruction below for pom detail!
Kiind Of Track Jogg Pants
Steve Madden Jazie Oxfords (similar)
Cents of Style 'Serena' Over-sized Beanie c/o

1. I am in a closet-purging mode again and almost tossed this pink tee into the give away pile. But then I had some pink pom trim sitting around and the lightbulbs went off. I could embellish this boring, old sucker! The bottom was the part that drove me nuts anyway. Adding a pom edge is possibly the easiest refashion to spice up your tired and old tees. Simply use fabric glue to adhere the pom trim to the bottom of your shirt, sleeves or wherever you need some flounce. (Isn't that a lovely word?) Ta-da! Brand spanking new tee!

2. Fact: Justin Bobby used to be Adam Levine's hairstylist (source). Could you imagine working at that salon? Heart eyes for years. (Also the most pointless fact I've listed yet, but every time I watch The Voice and see Adam's perfectly tousled hair, I can't help but think of Justin Bobby styling it and mumbling some drunken philosophical crap. Speaking of...)

3. JOHNNY DEPP. Guys, I am still dying over his slurred introduction at the Hollywood Documentary Awards. "That's the weirdest microphooone I've ever seen in my life!" It still makes me laugh so hard. Usually I suffer from major secondhand embarrassment at such a thing, but he is a quirky oddball as it is, and I think I might even like him more now.

4. Wes is standing now! It's only a matter of days before we have a walker on our hands. I cannot believe it! Luke says, "I wuv you, mama" whenever we have conversations now, and it gives me butterflies and the warm fuzzies. I wuv my little fellows :)

5. Would you rather shave your eyebrows (no drawing them back in!) or dye your teeth blue for a week month?

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