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Updated: Black Friday Strategy - Deals for the "Need" List


Ok, let's talk Black Friday.

I tend to shop for myself at a fairly low price point - Old Navy and Target, are my jam. Truth be told, even my Nordstrom purchases are in the entry level price point (my Tom's booties are less than $100) and all of my make up junkie friends are usually shocked at how long I go before replacing or replenishing my make up bag.

So, for me, Black Friday/Cyber Monday is where it's at to stock up on things that I've had on my need list for, oh, the entire year.

Side Note: we all know that I have crazy anxiety but I don't know that I've ever told you a story about me panicking in a crowd, dropping everything in my arms and running out of a frenzied Black Friday building. Obviously, I'm more of a Cyber Monday girl myself, but rock out if you can hang in a crowded Best Buy at 2am. 

Anyway, my list this year runs the gamut from boots to furry vests to eye cream and back again (so, you know, the essentials in life). 

And, just in case you rolled your eyes at the "need" implications of this list, take a peek at the bottom of my go-to boots. I tried patching them with duct tape but a decade of wear seems to have won out, two soles and 10 years later and I think it might be time for a new look. 

Behold, the boots I am currently wearing:


Time for an upgrade, no?

And while I'm ensuring my shoes don't have holes, I'm also going to bite the bullet and go for a wide calf option. I want to be one of those girls who has a gap between her leg and the top of the boot and maybe a wide calf will give me that. Maybe.

Bonus: all are under $175

EDITED FOR BLACK FRIDAY SALES:
Ebates is offering 6% back on all sales from Nordstrom



The Naturalizer "Jennings" are on sale for $112 from $198 (no code) 
The Lucky Brand "Helloise" boots are on sale for $104.92 from $208.95 (no code)
The Louise et Cie "Zada" Knee boots are on sale for $134.92 from $268.95 (no code)

 Also on my list, a shearling vest that isn't pricey (because I don't know if the look will be in next season), re-stocking my make-up bag and grabbing pricey Anthro blouses on major sale. You can click on any of the products in that cute little sliding image thing for a direct link or read on for more of my insane pre-Thanksgiving chatter.






I'm into the shearling vest look, but haven't made the move to buy one just yet. I'm not convinced they'll be back next season and don't want to invest more than a few dollars.The most expensive on my list only made the cut because it's reversible - otherwise, it would be a no-go price wise. I'm thinking this version may be the winner with it's $68 price point and sweater texture back but the fuzzy shearling is a concern. Believe it or not, the cheapest option at $62 may be the one that arrives on my doorstep! I'll keep you posted!

I already blabbed about my visit to Anthro and my love for many of their current tops - but I was good and held off on buying all. of. the. blouses. until they hopefully go on sale. My faves are already in my cart, hoping for a major price reduction.

And last but not least, I try to snag my my higher end products on sale either on Black Friday or during post-holiday clearance time. I am a fan of mixing drug store buys into my routine but some products are worth the higher price tag. Top of that list? My Kat Von D foundation. This shiz stays FORever and I love the full coverage -if you're covering acne or acne scaring, you should give this stuff a try.

In the last two days, I've had two people recommend the Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit to me - one a beauty pro and one a complete and total novice (like, I convinced her to try tinted Baby Lips for the first time a year ago) and they are both obsessed. I'm in.

I'll keep you guys posted on all of my scores and deals! Anyone hitting any major sales that I should know about and can access from the comfort of my parent's living room?
Stephanie | Olive and Tate |
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Toddler Gift Guide


toddler christmas

'Tis the season to be asked by family and friends (as well as few fellow boy mamas, hey Cait and Kim!) what Gray has on his list for Santa! I typically say that he doesn't need a single thing but I know good and well that most will get him presents despite my insistence that he has more than enough. With that in mind, I thought I might put together a Gift List of items that are sentimental, will grow with him, are things that we (always) need and a few that we own and highly recommend for wild boy babies. 

Justin and I are keeping things low key (Gray is only 16 months old and will be more interested in boxes and tissue than gifts this year) and have chosen to give Gray one "big" gift (not big in price!) and to fill his stocking with mostly things that he needs and a few very small toys. All of our choices are included below!

As a heads up, I'm super into Melissa and Doug right now. I think they make high quality toys at an amazing price point and their boy/gender neutral toy game is strong. You can skip this post and just shop their website and be the favorite auntie or elf for sure. 

Melissa and Doug Puzzles: Sound, Large Knob and Chunky

The Melissa and Doug wooden puzzles are our current birthday go-to present for all of our friends who are turning two! I love the animal sounds puzzle (we own that one) and am a huge fan of the Vehicle Chunky Puzzle as a present for our best dudes. Melissa and Doug also makes wooden puzzles with large knob pieces (like the farm animal version pictured above) that are perfect for little hands and the price point is insanely reasonable (the Vehicle puzzle is $10!). P.S. puzzles are awesome but wreck a playroom - go ahead and grab one of these to save your sanity.

Schwinn Easy Steer Tricycle

We've done a bit of Tricycle research and have concluded that we are huge fans of the Schwinn Trike. Our good friends gifted their son the trike on his second birthday and we took it for a spin before giving it a thumbs up. I love how it converts from a push bike to a full tricycle as he grows. The basket on the front and bucket on the back will be perfect for filling with boy things (baby boys collect things like crazy - currently, Gray always has a sippy cup and a handful of cars where ever he goes) and I think the price point is reasonable for a piece that should grow with him for a few years. In my opinion, this is a perfect gift from Santa or the grandparents!

Hallmark Recordable Story Books

Ok, these are amazing. My mom bought one for Gray and recorded herself reading it before giving it to him. She also recorded little messages to him like "good job turning the page, Gray!" and "Mamie and Captain Ken love you so much!". The only downside: sometimes it randomly turns on and her voice scares the crap out of me.

The books come in holiday versions like "The Night Before Christmas", baby classics like the tear jerker "I'll Love You Forever" (admission: I hate that book) and tons of Grandparent themed books (clearly, Hallmark knows their audience on this one!). Gray loves to flip the pages and hear Mamie's voice and I love that he's "reading".

Melissa and Doug Wooden Fire Truck Play Set (can be personalized)

Gray has a similar version of the Melissa and Doug wooden Fire Engine and loves it so hard. This particular piece is marked for ages 3+ but I think we would rock it out. Bonus: it can be customized with a child's name, which I think would be the cutest ever. 

IKEA LATT Children's Table and Chairs

The  LATT set is perfect for a rough and tumble play room thanks to the $25 price point (which includes the two chairs). Many times you'll see this set painted to up the cute factor and I would love to spray paint the set red to match our playroom. Side Note: this would be a perfect toddler table for a kitchen as a babe is transitioning from a high chair to a big boy chair. 

In my opinion, buying from IKEA online is kinda stupid, thanks to the shipping prices, so I found a similar (but sadly more expensive) version of the set here

Boon Plates

Non slip toddler plates? Do they also prevent him from picking it up and tossing it across the room? Sold.

Seriously though, we are always in need of more plates, cups, utensils and such so I will def toss a few into his stocking. 

Nuby Sippy

Love this sippy and send it to school often - it doesn't leak and has handled the dishwasher like a champ. Adding more to my stash only means that I have to do dishes less often, so Merry Christmas to me! 

Munchkin Toddler Forks and Spoons

We're working on forks and spoons and these will be adorable peeking out of his stocking.

Nuby Monster Snack Keeper

I stash a Snack Keeper in every possible purse, diaper bag, glove compartment and stroller caddy. The more, the merrier! 

Play Tunnel

We've had a tooooon of rainy days this fall and I so wish we had a play tunnel for our playroom to burn some of that energy. At $15, I don't know why we wouldn't snag one of these in the near future to help prevent cabin fever!

Radio Flyer Off Road Beach Wagon

This little baby is the gift Justin and I are giving Gray. We can't wait to walk him around our neighborhood in it (and word on the street is Daddy may have already purchased so Gray and all of our gear have a sweet ride at this weekend's tailgate).  The off road wheels are a must for our family week at the beach and Tiger Tailgates, so the Beach Wagon is the way to go for us. P.S. it's Prime eligible!

Melissa and Doug Wooden Stacking Train 

Gray was gifted the Wooden Stacking Train by my Brother and Sister In Law when he was a ring bearer in their wedding and he loves it. He's been obsessed with wheels for quite some time and the stacking blocks add a level of boy happiness that can't be beat. If I were buying for a toddler boy, this would be my choice, and if I didn't wait until the last minute, I would go for the personalization (but chances are, I would late til the last minute).

Happy gifting! 




Stephanie | Olive and Tate |
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Instagram: Style Tips and Tricks




As promised yesterday, I'm back on the Instagram How To Wagon to discuss all of my feed secrets. I posted a pic to my feed a few days ago asking if anyone had any burning questions that they would like for me to answer and, while I did offer to pay my friends to comment so I wasn't hanging out there like a total loser, I was super grateful that a ton of you had really great questions! 

So, here are today's topics: 
Apps, Editing and Style, Backgrounds, Hashtags and Selfies
(otherwise known as the answers to all of life's most important questions)

Apps

Editing: The only editing app that I use is Afterlight. 
I think it's user friendly, intuitive and simple. I couldn't ask for more.

Grids: I use Diptic to make any type of grid or side by side shot. I prefer it to other grid or framing apps because it doesn't auto insert the app logo onto your photos. One sure fire way to cheapen the look of your feed is to have something that screams "I used a free app to edit this!" imprinted on your photos. Skip the apps that imprint their logo and you'll be ahead of the game. I also happen to personally think that the thinner the boarder between photos, the sleeker it looks and, more often than not, I eliminate the boarder all together.

Stop Motion Videos/Photo Videos and Editing: I use PartyParty to create flip movies/stop motion videos and to edit video for my feed. I like that you can save the stop motion videos as a .GIF file and upload it to Blogger or send it in an email. PartyParty also has the capability to makes grids and super cute photo booth style strips - and best of all, it's really, really easy to use. You can use an unlimited number of photos to create a video and filter then entire video at once for a cohesive look. 

Text: If I'm adding text to a photo for any reason, I always use Rhonna Designs.
 It's the best for clean, simple fonts. 

Followers: Hey, Insta newbies, did you know there are such thing as follower apps? That's right, I can see who follows and unfollows me! I use Followers+ and most 'grammers that I know are tracking their followers mostly to make sure that major spam accounts or accounts of a questionable nature aren't following them. I do occasionally block an account if it's X rated or clearly not the type of follower that I think should be seeing into my day to day life.

Watermarking: I use Phonto to watermark photos of my son. You can read more about that in this post, including how to use the app step by step. 



Editing and Style

Without a doubt, the number one question I get about Instagram is: "how do you keep your feed so bright and crisp?"

Let me state here and now that I do not use filters. 
I've honestly never found one that worked for me so I just aim to take photos in the style that I love (bright, white, clear) and go from there. As far as I know, there isn't a filter that makes a dark, grainy photo into a bright, crisp one.

I typically shoot with a DSLR (as opposed to my phone) and shoot in natural light only. You simply cannot get a bright, white photo in artificial lighting or in the evening. 

Evidence:



My typical editing process looks like this:

I take a photo with my actual camera and upload it to my phone via my wireless SD card.

I pop it into Afterlight and square crop (or at least look at what it will look like cropped square if I intend to keep it wide with the new Instagram size options).

 I typically need to straighten the photo and then I brighten. And probably brighten again. Afterlight lets you really kick up the brightness and I may even go back for a third time. You have to keep an eye on the quality if you're going to brighten extensively because you can essentially blur the photo if you aren't careful. 

And, that's it. Seriously, that's all that I do. It's less about the editing and more about the actual shot lighting and composition.



With that said, here is my biggest secret to my light, bright feed:

I am very, very mindful of where I shoot my photos. 

You can brighten the hell out of a shot but if you used a dark red brick wall as a background, it's still going to have a dark feel to it.

I shoot in front of white brick walls (my house is painted brick, but many people use their garage door if it's white or light in color), on a white board, on my white granite counter tops, on my marble bathroom counter, on my white bedspread, on a white dresser. I tend to have a very white/bright style of decorating so that helps as well. If I snag a photo that happens to be dark or doesn't brighten well then I simply won't post it.


If I flip through my feed and feel like it's gotten a bit dark, I'll either delete photos that seem out of place to me or use a white board as a background for a shot or two to brighten things up. 
Sometimes, I do both.

Hashtags

I'm only sorta into hashtags but I should do more. I typically hash tag the posts that I would love more people to see, like my Renovation Reveals, so obviously, I think they work! Many people drop them into the first comment of their post, hoping they will get buried in other comments from followers.

Selfies

are hard and rarely look good. 



Sorry, I had to say it. I know that my entire neighborhood must think I'm a total nut case because I can be spotted on my front stoop (it's white painted brick and gets great natural light) trying to take a reasonable selfie of my mom OOTD. My best advice is to always wipe off the face of your phone before you take the shot. Your make up can smudge onto your screen and cloud the selfie camera. Set your camera to square because you are gonna want to get this done as efficiently as possible, hold your camera as high up as you can and angle it down a bit. Snap and hope for a good shot. Trust me, everyone takes a million selfies to get a good one. I'm a big fan of cutting my face out because it's already hard enough to get a reasonable shot of my outfit without having to worry about my multiple chins showing themselves off.

Overall, my best advice is to create a style and aesthetic that you love. Once I stopped trying to emulate other feeds and started taking photos that I honestly loved, my feed really came together. Find a signature aesthetic that rocks your boat and go for it!

Did I miss any of your burning questions? Let me know in the comments and I'll answer!
Stephanie | Olive and Tate |
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