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The Perfect Girl's Trip to Charlotte, NC

The Perfect Girl's Trip to Charlotte, NC

If you follow me on Insta stories, you know that I clocked out of my mama duties (like, tires squealing at pre-school drop off) last Friday morning and hit the highway for a girl's weekend with my long distance best friend, Megan

Megan and I live across the country from each over and have never planned a trip to see each other that wasn't work related - and on top of that, we always have one, some or all of our babies with us when we get together. While we love our babies something fierce, we needed a weekend to play - drink wine, wear white, carry little purses and never once worry about which car could hold all of the car seats. To top it off, we were celebrating Megan turning 30 and the fact that this was her first ever girl's trip. Ever.

So, no pressure for me when it came to planning our getaway, right? 

I wanted our time together to be easy and as unscheduled as possible so I picked a city that I know and love: Charlotte. Meg was able to hop a direct flight from Houston and was in Charlotte by 11am on Friday morning. Charlotte is about an hour and a half drive for me so we had my vehicle on hand and I was able to show off some of my fave Queen City neighborhoods on our way into town. 

After we cried in the airport arrivals area (seriously, it's been so long since we've seen each other that we've each given birth to a baby - the oldest of which is nine months old!) we made a beeline for salads and french fries at Cafe Monte. I knew Meg would need coffee and carbs to get her through the long travel day and Cafe Monte is one of my favorite stops for a girl's lunch. It doesn't hurt that it's right across the street from South Park Mall...which serves as the perfect way to kill time until hotel check in.

We played in the fitting rooms, ordered more coffee and wandered around, catching up.

 My travel day outfit tunic | denim | loafers |

trying on the Mommy Blogger dress to see if it really is as flattering as they say....

After our retail therapy pit stop we made our way downtown to the Omni. I love staying at the Omni because of the perfect Uptown location but was super excited to see that they are currently renovating. We were lucky enough to stay in a renovated room and it was so, so gorgeous. We left the curtains open the entire trip and I loved falling asleep in the skyline. Coffee and cinnamon rolls arrived each morning and we slept like we did pre-babies. It was Heaven.

Friday night we snagged a charcuterie board at City Smoke, a sleek Southern fare restaurant across the street from the Omni and then made our way to the Dilworth neighborhood for dinner at Foxcroft Wine Co

We Ubered all weekend and almost all of our destinations were within walking distance to our hotel, but I really wanted to try Foxcroft Wine Co and I'm so glad that we did. We adored the outdoor seating and thankfully, it was cool enough that we could sit outside in our Basic fall sweaters. I had the beef sliders and they were unreal - I highly recommend them! After a few glasses of wine, a bowl of truffle fries and dinner, we made our way back to the hotel to hop into PJ's, face masks and pass out to the sound of football by 9pm. 

Saturday was reserved for the spa and we used every second of our time to the fullest. The spa at the Ritz Carlton is one of the best I've ever visited - every single detail was thought of and the service was unreal. If you have a chance to visit, plan to spend as much time there as they'll allow! 

We lounged by the pool, napped in the meditation room, had cocktails in the spa, sat as long as we could in the salt room and took showers in what felt like caves. We each got a facial and each loved the service - I may or may not have almost fallen asleep in the facial room. I blame the champagne.

We only rolled ourselves out of the spa because we had a dinner date that we were really excited about. Our sweet friends Elise and Lindsey met us at 5Church for dinner and drinks and it was the perfect example of blogging friends becoming real life friends. We had reservations at 7:15 and didn't move until someone looked at the time and realized it was 11:30pm! We could have blabbed for hours and I am so grateful that the girls made room for us in their weekend schedules (missed you Hope!). 5Church has a funky, feminine vibe and is a great option for a girl's night or a celebration - there were quite a few big groups celebrating around us so the vibe was so much fun. If you're there as long as we were, the music will change to more of a club vibe, which will make a mama feel both old and cool, considering she is still awake when the music starts bumping.

Sunday was special for Megan because she got to catch up with one of her best friends who lives in the area at Amalie's Uptown for brunch - and it was special for me because I got to sleep in! 

I slept until she came home, which is the longest stretch of sleep I've been able to snag since Georgia was born in June. Meg's flight was slated for 1pm and dropping her off was the absolute worst. The only thing that made her leaving better was knowing we scheduled a work trip for me to visit Houston over the holidays! That's right Houston girls, clear your calendars, I'm coming for you!

I cannot recommend this Charlotte girl's weekend itinerary enough! Flights are easy and can be inexpensive, Uptown is clean and safe, everything is walkable if you want it to be, and every meal we ate was perfection. Let me know if you have any questions about any of the places we visited or other options I considered, I'm happy to answer! 
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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
A Coastal Chic, Clean Farmhouse Guest Room

A Coastal Chic, Clean Farmhouse Guest Room

This post was sponsored by Wal-Mart and contains affiliate links. 
All made up design terms are my own. 

Wanna know a secret? 

I decorate entire rooms and spaces in our homes based on one single design element.I know it sounds kind of crazy but I honestly tend to get stuck on one single element in a space - the rug, the lighting, the art - and once I have that one thing figured out, the rest of the room seems to fall into place in my mind. My last decor obsession was the rug in our living room. Once I decided on the perfect stripe, the rest of the space just seemed to make sense to me. The living room has taken on a Modern Coastal vibe and I think the rest of the house is following along with a Coastal Chic/ Modern Farmhouse blend. I say modern farmhouse because I'm not super into designing with a ton of layers - it kinda makes me feel jittery to have stuff lined up on my kitchen counters - so I'd say we're going with a "cleaner" version of Farmhouse, if that makes sense. And for those of you who are design pros, I beg you not to point out that there is no such thing as Coastal Chic/Modern Farmhouse design style, I totally know that I'm making it up, so just roll with it! 

Now that the living room is nailed down, I'm moving on to our guest room. Our guest room is actually the room that Justin and I are living in until the Master Suite is complete so I know it will need some major love once we finally move out. Both my parents and my in-laws love to come visit the babes and I can't wait to design a retreat for them - especially since they always give Justin and I a little break when they visit. If anyone deserves to sleep in a pretty space, it's the people who actually want to watch our kids! 

For our guest room, the design item I'm completely stuck on is ticking stripe bedding. I don't know why, but I have to have it. To me, if the bed is made in soft shades of blue and white ticking stripe with a few fun pops of color, the rest of the decor will just fall into place. Both my mom and mother-in-law love color so I'll add in a fun throw pillow just for them (again, anything for the people who want to watch my wild animal babies!). 

I was shopping around for the perfect ticking stripe set and was not pleased with the prices I was finding online. I want bedding that works for our life so anything that needs to be dry cleaned or costs an arm and a leg is a no for us. Thankfully, I found the Pioneer Woman Ticking Stripe set at Wal-Mart and can't wait to get my hands on it. Her bedding line just launched on October 4th so I'm on standby for the duvet set and shams to land on my doorstep. I tossed in the white Ruffle Sheet Set and Pillowcase set and a ticking stripe throw pillow (or two) and can cross the guest room off of my list! I can't wait to pair the bedding with our wrought iron headboard and our jute rug (an item that has lived in multiple spaces in our various homes!) and finally give our parents a space they can feel comfortable in. 

And Mom, sorry about the last time you were in town and had to sleep on the couch - to say that I owe you a gorgeous room to sleep in is an understatement!

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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
Want to Get Paid to Blog? 5 Things To Ask Yourself First

Want to Get Paid to Blog? 5 Things To Ask Yourself First

Want to Get Paid to Blog? 5 Things To Ask Yourself First

I have a confession: I am a Blogging Dinosaur.
Believe it or not, I remember when Instagram was new and blogging wasn't a paid gig. And if I really want to date myself, I remember where I was when I officially set up my very first Facebook page....yikes.

Anyway, my point is that I've been around a while and I've seen it all, including the rise of social influencer monetization. Truth be told, I love that there is a wild side of blogging that includes turning your passion into a business. Even better, if monetizing is your goal, it can absolutely be achieved by anyone who works hard to hone their craft. But the key word here is "work" - I'm often asked (often as in, daily, sometimes hourly) how to make money as a blogger, how to work with brands or how many followers an influencer needs to start monetizing. To me, the answers are simple and they may be things you haven't yet considered. 

If you want to monetize your blog, you absolutely can, but here are 5 things you need to think about first:

1. What do you have to offer?
Monetizing your blog is a business venture - a brand or company is hiring you to represent their product. For that partnership to be successful, you each have to bring something to the table. The brand will bring their product and, hopefully, their checkbook and you'll need to be prepared to provide them with something marketable in return. And what might that be? Content, content, content. Do you have it? Are you writing and publishing blog posts regularly? Do you have a post log that reflects that you've put thought, time and effort into your site? If not, I suggest spending a month producing high quality posts that reflect the topics you love to write about. With those posts published and promoted on social channels, you'll build page views (bonus!) and an opportunity for a brand to get to know your work and, ultimately, your value. 

2. Stats are important, but not just the ones you think.
I get it: Instagram is the current king of social media. But Kings fall and Instagram is not the platform it once was. Do you have a following on Facebook, drive traffic to your blog via Pinterest or have a strong Twitter presence? You should say yes to all of those! Focusing on one social platform means that, at any given moment, your followers may no longer be reminded to view your site - and without page views, you simply don't bring anything to the table for a paid partnership. I'll be honest and use myself as an example: I have 16,000 Instagram followers, which to some is a lot but to many, is an mediocre following, but my blog averages 80,000 page views a month per Google Analytics. I bring a lot more to the table than my Instagram following, including a super active Pinterest page and strong Facebook community. By building your communities, engaging, sharing and participating on all social platforms, you'll be upping the ante on what you bring to the partnership table.

3. Photography
Brands want their products to be well represented and that includes visual presentation. Are you taking crisp, bright photos? Are you thinking about how you style a product or incorporate it into your imagery to compliment your post? Think about it this way: every photo you publish in a sponsored post should be one that a brand would want to use on their own social media platforms. That doesn't necessarily mean it needs to be a pro photograph but it does mean that it needs to be well lit, clear and sharp. 

4. What sets you apart? 
What makes your blog stand out from the crowd? Do you write in a sassy tone or speak deeply, from the heart? Do you write from the point of view of a stay at home parent or working parent? Do you have littles, multiples, teens, or a husband who acts like one? Are you a single girl out on the town? Or a newlywed couple living on a budget? Your tone, style and content will drive which brands will be a good fit for your blog so develop it and create a space in the blogging world that is uniquely your own. 

5. Your Following
Ultimately, a brand is paying you to share their product in order to create awareness or drive sales with your people. So, who are your people? Do you even have people? Dig into your analytics and figure out who is reading your blog. Reply to their comments and get to know your readers. Find other bloggers who are in your niche and support them, learn from them and strengthen your community. And though it may seem like it, a following isn't necessarily all about numbers. If you have a dedicated following who believes in your content, then you've hit the jackpot. 

If you have the answers to these 5 questions then I have really good news for you: you've officially built your first pitch! By building a content library, knowing who you are as a influencer, what your style, niche and platform are and who makes up your audience, you have everything you need to present your site to a brand. Now go forth and monetize! 

Do you have more questions on the business of blogging? Check out this post on how to work with fellow bloggers! 

Wanna save this post for later? Pin this:

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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
Amazon Faves: For Baby, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Amazon Faves: For Baby, Toddlers and Preschoolers

Ready for another round of Amazon Faves??
This time I'm sharing all of our must have purchases for baby, toddlers and preschoolers. We own each and every item and use them in our home so if you have a question, please leave it in the comments and I'll be happy to help! Don't forget to check out my list of Amazon Faves for the home here.

1. Bubble Machine
Our red fish bubble machine was a gift to Gray on his third birthday and he looooves it. It holds a fair amount of bubble solution, produces a ton of bubbles, is easy for a toddler/preschooler to turn on (if you want them to do it themselves) and has a great battery life.

2. Bathroom Stool
We use this little stool all over the place - originally it was in front of the sink to help with hand washing but now that we no longer use a toddler potty, it helps with a boost onto the big toilet.

3. Baby Pibu
After what felt like an extensive search, Baby Pibu is the only brand of shampoo/body wash that we can use on Gray's skin without irritating his eczema. My mom originally found it at her dermatologists office and we re-stock via Amazon - and thankfully its Prime eligible because we almost always wait until the bottle is completely empty to order!

4. Bath Toys
Twenty six small sized bath toys for $12? I mean, why not?? How cute would these be as stocking stuffers for a toddler?

5. Water Bottle/Contigo Trekker Bottle
I'm not sure who first turned me on to these kid's water bottles but I remember their caption said something like "these water bottle DO NOT leak!". I'm not one to step down from a challenge so I ordered one (despite thinking they are pricey) for Gray's preschool lunch box. I am happy to report that the Trekker Bottle is worth every penny. It honestly does not leak - I even keep one in my purse. This is definitely meant for use for a preschooler as you have to push in the button to drink out of it but my newly minted three year has no trouble with it.

6. Potty
This is the original potty that we used for potty training. I chose it because, as a boy mom, I really liked how high that little piece in the middle rises. It keeps all of the pee pee in the potty and not on my walls and is easy to clean.

7. Mickey Headphones
These were a huge hit for Gray as his first pair of headphones. They are sturdy and can take a little bit of a beating which means they are perfect for travel.

8. Mickey Watch
We gave this to Gray for Christmas and he is obsessed. It's $9 (!) and the band is perfectly soft and sized for tiny wrists. I secretly love it because I think he looks like such a little adult when he wears it.

9. Native Shoes
Once Gray became a true walker, we dropped the mocs and made the move to Natives. They are still our go-to shoe because he has been able to put them on by himself for a while and I'm not rocking that boat. I also think they hold up super well and can handle just about anything. Once it gets too chilly for them, we move to sneakers! 

10. Bouncer
Ok, this is my current Baby product obsession. I actually bought it because it folds flat and I was looking for a bouncy seat to take to Tailgate. Once it arrived, I realized that it sits much more upright than I thought and hoped that position would help Georgia with her reflux/colic/general fussiness. And guys, she loves this thing. She rarely just chills - whether in her swing or on a play mat, so the fact that she'll sit in the bouncer for ten minutes at a time is a huge win for us. Plus, it really does fold flat and is lightweight, making it great for travel or if you live in a small space. Oh and P.S. it vibrates!

11. Noise Canceling Headphones
I snagged this pair of noise canceling headphones for football games and have been pleased with how well my kids have done with them. They are teeny tiny so they fit comfortably and I know their little ears are protected.

12. Car Seat Gate Check Bag
We always gate check our car seats when we fly (because you'll only let an airline lose your car seat one time and then never again) and those jokers get filthy in the travel process. The gate check bags are insanely cheap and take the brunt of the airline wear and tear. Our current bag is ripped which makes me wonder what would have happened to our car seat if it wasn't protected. Plus, the bags will keep your seats protected from the elements and can also hold a few extras if your suitcase is over weight (not that I've ever done that or anything).

13. T Ball Set
We gifted this T Ball set to an out of town friend and it's been a hit (no pun intended!). I have it on Gray's Christmas list for this year and can't wait to see him play with it.

14. Blow Up Pool
If you follow my Insta stories you probably saw this blow up pool a ton over the Summer. Honestly, I am so impressed with the quality of this pool for the price - it handled two big, wild, rough and tumble preschooler boys with no problem and we even left it outside overnight quite a bit. Gray loved the two pools and the ring toss game it comes with!

15. Tummy Time Pillow
Megan told me to snag this for Georgia as she was loving how it was growing with her babe, Isa. Right now we use it as a tummy time pillow and as Georgia grows, I can use it to support her sitting and she can play with the mirrors and shakers for independent play.

16. Extended Baby Gate System 
I had the hardest time finding a baby gate system that was long enough to span the length of our double French door opening. This kit did the job (and I think I even ended up with an extra piece) and was sturdy when mounted. The gate is heavy and tough to open so Gray never escaped. I have a feeling there won't be a gate on earth that can contain Georgia so we'll have to see what the future holds on that one! 
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Stephanie [Olive and Tate]
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