Cyber Monday Anthro Picks!


 It may just look like a pile of poorly folded neutrals but it makes me oh so happy! My mom and I had a girls day yesterday and we spent the afternoon downtown shopping and lunching. It was perfect - and things got even better when I managed to find tons of great new arrivals that were flattering and on crazy sale at Anthro. Their Cyber Monday sale happens to still be awesome - especially on sale items - so I'm sharing my picks and pieces I own that are now on sale! Don't forget to use code STACKS for an extra 30% off sale, 20% off regularly priced merchandise and for free shipping on orders over $150.

As always, I'm wearing a large in all pieces with the exception of the dress, which is a medium - but only because the large is sold out and on back order until January. I won't lie, I like a little wiggle room in my clothes but if it's good, I'll squeeze my ladies into a medium and call it a day! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend - my parents are in town through this evening so I'm still technically enjoying the holiday but I'll be back tomorrow with something not holiday or sale related! 



Black Friday Strategy 2016


Hey all! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are happily posted up at my in-laws recovering from eating too much and planning for the big football weekend ahead. I'm staying up until Midnight to ensure that everything goes smoothly behind the scenes of the Willow Crowns Black Friday sale, so I thought I might as well do a little Black Friday planning to kill time and keep me awake. 



I'm going to go ahead and say that I normally only shop for things I need on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. This year might be a bit different, only because J.Crew has come down off of their high horse and is offering a great sale of 40% off their entire store. I have my eye on a few gifts (I think I have Megan covered!) and a coat for myself - but there are also pieces that I have my eye on that are just for fun. Oops, sorry budget.

This coat (in this shade of blush only) is an insane price at less than $175 (originally $350) and this scarf is going to be on constant rotation this winter.



For those of you who love my gold engraved bangles and necklaces, the shop that every single one comes from is having a 20% off site wide sale starting at midnight Black Friday and lasting through Cyber Monday. The coordinates and roman numerals make amazing gifts (my mom has a rose gold bangle with Gray's birthday and is obsessed with it) and the price point is already amazing, pre-sale. 


 I have yet to jump on the over the knee boot trend but I think Black Friday is a great time to do it. I'm loving this pair that is $143 (down from $240!) and an amazing shade of grey. I hope my calves will shimmy into them!


For those of you who missed out on this pair of booties during the Nordstrom sale, you're in luck because they are back and on sale for $50 off! I actually purchased this pair of booties a few months ago and am obsessed with them. I'm a little bummed to see they are now on sale for $50 seeing as I paid full price, but I'm trying to be a big girl about it. 





What am I missing?? Is there a massive clearance on dry shampoo somewhere that I need to know about?!? 



The Ultimate Toddler Boy Gift Guide

toddler boy holiday gift guide


After I published this post sharing the adorable (if I do say so myself!) custom alphabet book I made for Gray I've received a ton of emails asking what else we're giving him for Christmas! Believe it or not, I'm actually all caught up on shopping, so making this Gift Guide was super fun for me - thanks to those of you who requested it! 

This year, we're trying to avoid gifting him "toys" (translation: junk I have to store) and are making our best effort to get him things that we think he'll love, won't toss aside after a few minutes and are hopefully learning centered. Obviously, playing Santa is more fun than I ever could have imagined so a toy or two may have snuck into the gift pile - and I can't say that I'm sorry about it! I've put everything together in this list, including my suggestion for my parents, the two "big" gifts we've given Gray over the year and gifts my in-laws have given Gray recently that he loves (they love an anytime gift!).

P.S. Our toddler boy stocking stuffer guide is coming soon!

The Ultimate Toddler Boy Gift Guide

This is what my parents are getting Gray for Christmas and I'm not sure who will be more excited to get it out of the box! I read about this desk online and thought Gray would dig the numbers and letters especially but liked the idea of grabbing the expansion packs ($10 each) as he gets bored with the basics. My mom actually found the desk on sale for less than $40 with free store pick up so be sure to watch for Black Friday deals on this one.

My in-laws gave this to Gray a month or so ago and he is obsessed with it. He knows all of the shapes (I had to check with Justin about the Quadrilateral) and we are starting to talk about the minute and hour hands on the clock. He carries the clock all over our house to play with it and I will always recommend Melissa and Doug products because I think they take toddler abuse oh so well.  

Ok, I am so, so excited to give this to Gray! He loves watches (clocks, numbers, see a theme here??) and he always points to my watch, then Justin's and then say's wheres Gray's watch?? He is Mickey obsessed and this rubber watch is going to be such a hit. It's on Amazon Prime for $10 and while it's child size, I'm sure it will be too big. I chose the rubber band so that we could jam the clasp through the band to hopefully make it smaller. For $10 I didn't have high expectations but it comes in a cute Mickey tin watch box and is very vibrant and fun. I know he'll love it.

Gray currently loves the wooden puzzles we have from Melissa and Doug so I'm hoping he'll feel the same way about his first jigsaw puzzle. It's full of cars so I'm hoping it will keep him occupied for at least a few minutes!


Gray is in a Daddy phase and wants to do everything Justin does. He already owns a baby sized rake so a tool box is the obvious next step. And yes, another Melissa and Doug toy!

We gave Gray this exact wagon last year for Christmas and we are so glad that we did. He loves to be pulled around the block and now that he's older he pulls the wagon around the yard, loading it with his toys and moving them form one spot to another. If you're in the market for a wagon that has a more comfy ride, check out this model.

The classic combo of Duplo and trains, this one is a slam dunk. We have a set of Duplo and he loves them - and we're working on our stacking skills. As a side note, I think the Duplo train will probably be my new go-to birthday present for a toddler boy!

What toddler boy doesn't love rain boots? I like this as a grandparent present because they are technically something that falls into the need category. 

Yep, another Melissa and Doug toy, but I am so digging the traffic jam 24 piece puzzle. Jumbo pieces are our speed so hopefully the puzzle thing will be a hit. P.S. I think this would be a great item to open at Grandma's and then leave there!

We gave this to Gray (after much research by Justin) for his second birthday and he really does love it. He does not love wearing his helmet so he doesn't ride it as much as he would like (no helmet, no ride), but when we do get it all together, he is in love with the trike. We highly recommend it! 

What's on your toddler gift list??

The Toddler Bed Adventure


 photo by Danielle Brady Photography

Instead of my typical weekend recap, I thought it might be fun to focus on what was really the goal of this weekend - and how it managed to be the fail of the century - by sharing the story of our transition to the infamous toddler bed. 

I'm not really sure why we decided now was the perfect time to transition from crib to toddler bed but I honestly think my husband got a wild hair about it and I just agreed that it seemed like the next logical step (and sounded much easier than potty training). To be honest, Gray is not a climber and has never even attempted to climb out of his crib, he sleeps around 12 hours a night, we lay him down awake so he puts himself to sleep and he hangs in his crib for about 30 minutes each morning just chatting and playing until we go in and get him. So, yeah, things were pretty good. If you're already wondering why we even thought about switching things up, just hold tight, things are only going downhill from here.

Justin has been working non stop recently and worked all through last weekend so we knew this was the weekend to make the big change (you know, just in time to travel for Thanksgiving, but that's neither here nor there). I started prepping Gray last week, talking about his new Big Boy Bed, taking him on a special shopping trip to Target to pick out new bedding (he chose a stunning combo of sharks and stars) and we talked about how Daddy was going to build him a new Big Boy Bed that weekend. 

On Saturday we got up and hit up our normal donut spot and then made the journey to our storage unit. We cleaned it out, gathered up all of our Christmas decor and located the precious toddler bed rail in the very back corner of our unit. To make the transition easier for Gray, we planned to just add the convertible toddler rail to our crib and keep everything else exactly the same. Literally, the only changes were one crib rail and the new blankets. 

Super easy, right?

When we got home, we made a big deal out of Daddy "building" the new Big Boy Bed, washing the blankets and calling Mamie and showing her how we can get in and out, in and out, in and out of our new bed. It was the best afternoon ever! Everyone was so full of hope and positive energy!  

And then it was bedtime.

Lulled into a false sense of "oh, he was so ready for this", we parents naively headed off to do the bedtime routine with a small twist to make things special: both Justin and I did bedtime together, something that never happens. Maybe we should have taken a breather when we realized that getting him into pajamas was like wrestling a snake or when he screamed during story time. Maybe we should have thought "hmmm, maybe this won't be super smooth" when he started sobbing and saying "Gray is ALL DONE" or when he took his new shark pillow and threw it across the room.  But no, we still thought we were kicking this parenting thing in the ass and the toddler bed was ours to dominate. 

As our bedtime routine progressed, things seemed to get a bit dicier and I started to get a teensy bit nervous. I often marvel at my two year old's strength but when he went full starfish across the opening of the toddler bed rail to prevent us from getting him in there, I was honestly in awe. That kid is strong. Dangerously strong. Anyway, at that point, it became clear we may have overplayed our hand but thought maybe all of this was "transitional" and we just needed to get over the hump. I offered to lay down with Gray in his bed and he.....accepted (reluctantly). I should mention that I am 5'9" and not exactly limber so getting into a baby crib with an opening the size of a toddler took a maneuver that I'm not sure I ever want to try again, but I did it and we laid down to chill out and get our bearings. After many, many back rubs and head scratches, he finally seemed to doze off. I attempted to make my way out of the bed, narrowly avoided splitting my jeans, and somehow managed not to disturb him. I honestly thought we were home free - until I heard the sound of the brand new baby proof door lock click shut.

I'm ashamed to admit that I actually tried to run away from the door, hoping he wouldn't hear me breathing on the other side of it but I turned and caught sight of him busting through the baby proof lock and sprinting out of his room like it was on fire. My poor baby. We tried to lay him back down, tried to sing to him, tried to reason with him but it was all too much (for us, his parents). At some point I looked at Justin begging him to bail us out and he said to me "I Googled it and some kids just aren't ready!". I did the most mature thing I could think of and whisper shouted back to him "just put the damn crib rail back up!".

So, we made it two whole hours with our Big Boy Bed before mom and dad caved and turned it back into a crib. If that doesn't qualify us for Pro Level in Parenting, I don't know what will.

To round out our evening, Gray and I passed out in exhaustion in my bed (something we only do if he's sick) and he slept there, propped up on a pile of king pillows, between me and Justin, happy as can be all night long.

The next morning he woke up early wanting to play and asking for Mickey. When he ventured back into his room for a fresh diaper, he took one look at his now crib, pointed to it, turned to Justin and said, in a disappointed tone:

Hey, where did the hole go?! 

(the hole = the toddler bed rail)

You win kid, you win.

And with that gem of a story, I hope you all had a fabulous weekend full of parenting wins and toddler snuggles! 



The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift

This post was sponsored by Blurb Books. All opinions are my own based on my experience with the company, services and product. 

The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift

Now that it's November, we can talk about holiday gifting, right? I mean, I'm already listening to Christmas music (the Britney Holiday station on Pandora is the best around) so planning, ordering and wrapping gifts seems to be the natural progression around here. And because I went holiday crazy a little early this year, Justin and I have already talked about what Santa will bring for Gray and have decided that our goal is to keep things educational, easy to store and outside of the "toy" category. No stuffed animals, no trendy "must have" toys that will break after one use and nothing that can't be stored in our already full play room. 

And you know what? I'm really, really excited about the gifts we've chosen for him. We thought long and hard about what he's really obsessed with right now and we've come up with some really great ideas - and the best idea of all is his custom Alphabet Book we made with Blurb Books

The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift

Gray is currently all about numbers and letters so I thought a custom ABC book with photos of all of his favorite things (including a number or two!) would be right up his alley. I snagged photos of items from his day to day life and made sure to include all of his favorite things and I just love the way it turned out. I also totally managed to sneak in some of the things we've been trying to teach him for safety purposes - like his full given name, Mommy and Daddy's full names and the name of our town - in between photos of his favorite number (nine!), photos from babyhood (the Kiss photo below will go down in history as one of my all time faves) and memories from his birth state (lobster pots!). 

The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift
The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift

Making the book could not have been easier, thanks to Blurb's easy set up - I just popped into the Photo Book options and chose my size (Large Format Landscape), paper type (Premium Lustre) and cover option (ImageWrap hardcover). After that, I literally just pulled in my photos and hit publish! If you're in the market to write an e-book or to publish a book of your own, Blurb makes it so, so easy. You can actually sell your books through Blurb or upload directly to Amazon and Apple iBooks. All books come with a free PDF download and an option to turn any print book into a high resolution E-Book. I've actually already downloaded the PDF of our ABC Book on my phone to keep as backup entertainment for our Christmas flight home to Virginia - I'm hoping that plus the iPad plus Pirate's Booty will get us through! All in all, the entire process from start to publish took maybe 30 minutes and I am so happy with the results. 

I mean, look at the sweet little detail I was able to add to the book spine for my babe: 

The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift

My wheels are turning and I think a certain toddler I know might just be making a book or two for his grandparents for Christmas gifts - luckily, Blurb has a "gifting" section with tons of inspiration and important order by dates for the holidays, so hop on that! 

I can't wait to see Gray open this on Christmas morning!
Now, where to hide it until then... 


The Perfect Toddler Christmas Gift






thanks for helping me snag these shots, Amanda Louise!


Weekending: Daylight Savings Edition


Ok, what time is it? 
It's pitch black dark out and, like, 6pm. 

I'm not a huge fan of Daylight Savings (I think it's probably a little leftover PTSD from those insanely long Maine nights) but I do love an excuse to get in bed at 7pm, so I really can't complain.

This weekend seemed to fly by - we spent Friday night glued to our favorite show, Treasure Quest on Discovery. Seriously, Justin and I are addicted to that stupid show and they have yet to find any treasure (through all of Season 1, no treasure, and yet we still watched). Also, it's clear that our social life has really plummeted with Justin's insane work schedule when I'm excited to talk about the documentary reality show we watched on our wild Friday night.


On Saturday, Justin went to Clemson to watch the Tigers play and Gray and I held down the fort. We ran errands, played outside and ate Chick-Fil-a (twice). I spent part of the day getting the Willow Crowns site ready for the Holiday Collection launch this Thursday! The Holiday Collection is just so pretty - full of candy reds and fun surprise prints (like a Winter floral!). I'm really excited to see which pieces turn out to be customer faves.







The rest of Saturday was spent prepping for a fun photo shoot that we had at our home on Sunday - and it was for a holiday edition of a local magazine so we had to deck our halls! I typically do not pull out Christmas decor until December 1 but this year, we are full blown Christmas in the main living spaces of our home. Here are a few sneak peeks before the real shots come in! 


and yes, I fixed that one ridiculously crooked candle! 

I hope everyone had an amazing weekend!

How To Take A Toddler Trick-Or-Treating In 23 Easy Steps



How To Take A Toddler Trick-Or-Treating In 23 Easy Steps

1. Wait for parenting partner to come home from work - this is a two man job.

2. Start the pep talk about the costume. We did this for weeks but I really cranked it up on Halloween day. "We love our shark costume! What does a shark say?! Are you so excited to be a shark?!?" is a great place to start. Be sure to say it in your most annoying mom voice so it really sinks in.

3. Attempt to feed toddler a "real" dinner. At least establish a carbohydrate base of Goldfish to hold down all of the oncoming chocolate. 

4. Wrangle toddler into costume - be sure to anticipate items such as shoes or activities such as face painting. You will not want to do that costume twice. If you misjudge your plan of attack, ditch the face paint but not the shoes (from experience). 

5. Practice holding the candy bucket and saying "trick or treat!"

6. Try to take a family photo - give that up immediately.

7. Debate with partner the merits of a bike/wagon/stroller and decide your fate. We went with "I'm sure he'll do fine walking" and regretted it by house two. Learn from our mistakes. 

8. Hit the streets. Steer clear of all scary looking masks, hatchets and lawn decor. 

9. Console toddler as he bursts into very loud tears every single time someone answers their door. 

10. Advise toddler that he is not to run into a stranger's home after they open the door and he scream-cries in their face.

12. Remind toddler not to approach doggies at a run because he is, in fact, dressed like a giant stuffed dog toy.

13. Yell "say trick or treat!" and "say thank you!" one million times.

14. Pick toddler out of the road after he sits to dig through his bucket (see #7)

15. Attempt to subtly steer toddler towards home (but he is on to you).

16. Start making up fibs about Halloween being over in 5 minutes

17. Give up with zig-zag sidewalk walking at snail's pace, go with the shoulder ride.

18. If tantrum ensues, give up on the shoulder rides, move straight into fireman carrying limp toddler body toward your driveway.

19.  Make it into the safety of home, consider putting toddler to bed in his shark costume.

20. Pry candy from toddler's sleepy and shockingly powerful fists. 

21. Turn off all lights and hide from other trick-or-treaters.

22. Eat all of toddler's good candy. 

23. Drink all of the good wine. You've earned it!