December 2018 | Olive and Tate

Olive and Tate: Best of 2018

I love taking a look back over a full year of Olive and Tate to see what really resonated with each of you. From the most loved clothing items to the most popular recipe or home renovation post, I love seeing how the favorites change year after year. This year, ya'll were shopping for high-waisted jeans and one piece swimwear, wanted to snag Coastal Modern decor for your homes, loved anything geared toward entertaining a preschooler and couldn't resist a glimpse at my before and after bare belly. 

On a personal level, this year was full on change and growth - Justin moved from Greenville to Charlotte on January 1 of 2018 and the kids and I followed (after a brief hiatus in Virginia) in March. We've adapted to a new school, community, friends and home and are just so thrilled with our move to Charlotte. 

I managed to grow my business throughout all of the change - even when there were long periods of time when I had to place it on the back burner. Highlights professionally for me included being named the 2018 Pinterest Living Room of the Year, running on Style Me Pretty twice under two different lead editors, hitting TODAY Parents with one of my most personal pieces and a handful of runs on Apartment Therapy. 

Most Popular Post of 2018:

Hands down the most popular post of 2018 was my review of Faster Way To Fat Loss! After rocking Weight Watchers for so many years, the big switch to FWTFL was worth documenting. I'm still working the program and am about to wrap up my second round and now almost 100 of you have joined me on the plan, which quite honestly astounds me, so thank you for trusting my experience and jumping in head first with me. 

Most Popular Recipe of 2018:

Mama + Mini Egg Cups took the top spot as most popular recipe this year, mostly because they are insanely easy to prep and make ahead and, when it comes to breakfast time with pre-schoolers, we can all use a short cut or two. 

Most Popular Home Decor Post of 2018:

The Best of Coastal Modern Decor on Amazon made the top spot as most viewed home decor post of the year (even beating out the One Room Challenge playroom renovation!). I do love the finds in the round up and for me, nothing beats the clean, fresh hues of a coastal modern scheme.

Most Popular Fashion Post of 2018:

The Fall Capsule Wardrobe post was a labor of love and ya'll loved it right back, so thank you! The Capsule also resulted in one of the most purchased items of the year, the famous sweater wrap

Other Highlights:
Most purchased item
Most clicked item
Most shared Pin on Pinterest

I am so looking forward to what 2019 has in store, although I'll be quick to say that I hope it has less in store for us than 2018 did. We hope to start projects on our house that will turn it into a home while fulfilling our desire to renovate, we'll start Kindergarten, travel and prioritize our family. I think it's going to be a good ride so thank you for tagging along! 

Gifting the Tech Lover with Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi

Attention: if you are my husband, stop reading now....

Ok, now that I've settled that, let's talk about what I'm gifting Justin for the holidays. When we moved into this house about 8 months ago, we decided the time was right to see if we could hack it sans cable. The kids watch the same movies (ahem, Trolls) and shows on repeat, I could live on Big Bang reruns with a side helping of Great British Bake Off but my husband....well, he was a bit of a harder sell. If we cut cable, we lost access to his beloved football games that run on local stations (like the ACC Network) that could only be picked up with a true basic cable package. We did some research, found some ideas and decided to cut the cable cord anyway, hoping for the best.

Now that we're almost through an entire Clemson football season, I can say that we weathered the non-cable storm, but we did have a few dicey moments that required an antenna purchase and some choice words shouted at our wireless router. With all of us trying to share the same WiFi stream via the same router in our ranch style house, there were moments of a lost or delayed game feed that didn't go over so well. 

So, this year, I'm solving all of my husband's woes and snagging him an updated, insanely cool WiFi system that will keep his game crystal clear, no matter how many tablets, TVs and smart devices are trying to steal his life source. 

Meet the Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi, the latest and greatest in ensuring that you have a fully connected smart home and my husband's new best friend. Here's the deal, I leave the tech in our home mostly to him but I do know he's going to geek out a bit over the Samsung SmartThings system because it allows him to control, view and protect every single smart element in our home via one app. 

SmartThings Wi-Fi comes in a single hub or 3 pack option. A single hub covers up to 1,500 square feet while the three pack covers up top 4,500 square feet (way more than our home size!) and provides the fastest internet speed of all time with AI based Wi-Fi. And, because I know he'll want to pre-game each week, the SmartThings system allows you to test your Internet speed whenever and wherever, you know, just to soothe those pregame jitters. 

As a bonus for me, we can also use the SmartThings system to manage internet time for any device we choose, which means I can turn off the Wi-Fi to my kiddo's tablet or set restrictions on Wi-Fi use for any guests (um, hello tech free play dates!). 

All of our smart devices such as our alarm, light bulbs, video doorbell, smoke detectors, wireless baby monitors and home based informations systems will automatically sync to the SmartThings app via the built in Plume system within 30 minutes of pulling those bad boys out of the box, so I know what my husband will be doing on Christmas morning. By syncing all of them to one app, Justin will be able to monitor our entire house, internet usage, Wi-Fi speed and capabilities from one spot on his phone. The Plume app can even be used to set up total home automation so the lights will be on at night when we get home from work, the alarms will be turned off as we pull in the driveway and we can even get the baby's white noise pumping at full blast to ensure an easy car to crib nap transfer if needed. 

If you didn't catch all that, here's the non-techy info: Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi will set up your entire house via the Plume App with raging fast internet speed and the ability to lock it all down if needed. Bonus: you can make your house work for you by syncing all of your Samsung gear, SmartThings and Works With SmartThings devices to the single Plume App, letting you (or your husband) feel like a total tech boss. 

And also: no more lost game feeds. 

Do you hear that? It's happiness and I'm so digging it. 

Last Minute Amazon Gifts For Everyone On Your List

Last Minute Amazon Gifts For Everyone On Your List

The countdown is on, my friends! With less than 10 days til Christmas those gifts need to be under your tree but if you're behind, don't stress. I've hit Amazon to find the best gifts for everyone on your list - and they'll all ship Prime, so whether you've been surprised by an office gift exchange or haven't found the time to shop, you'll be covered and ready to roll by the big day. 

Last Minute Amazon Gifts For Everyone On Your List

For Him:

Perfect for propping up phones or tablets at your desk, bedside or in the kitchen while you cook, this tech stand is under ten bucks! 

Justin won this in our family gift exchange and it's super cool - a soft cooler bag that can be worn over the shoulder or as a backpack, it's perfect for the beach.

This tailgate chair has a built in, wood grain table with in laid cup holder and a side cooler. I mean.....that's a gifting slam dunk if you ask me.

For your bearded guy, comes complete with all he needs to keep that hair growth in check. 

Tailgate snacks anyone? This table top deep fryer will get the job done. 

This looks like something my husband would waste endless time playing so I think your husband (or boss or teen son or handyman) would like it, too. 

I actually ordered this for our kitchen because we have very little usable countertop space - perfect for a guy in an apartment or any man who love his knives, I love this unique in-drawer storage option. 

This little baby can be charged via USB so it's perfect to stash in the glove box or in a stocking. 

Because I can't be the only person who thinks Apple makes crappy charging cords in order to stay in business! 

Classic, utilitarian, masculine and comfortable. 

Mostly, I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want or need this but my husband works in a cube and has to fight for outlet space, so this would be the perfect stocking stuffer for him. 

Justin ordered himself this pair of tech tip gloves for our upcoming mountain trip so I'm guessing they'll be a hit across the husband board. 

Lock and load multiple devices and charging cords in one central location - perfect for a husband like mine who has a work phone, personal phone and tablet.

We cut cable so we're full on streaming - do it with Alexa voice control via a Fire Stick. 

I mostly just love the term "boxerjock" but this pair of Under Armor underwear is supposed to be the best of both worlds! 

Perfect for yard work, hunting or drowning out a colicky baby.

Last Minute Amazon Gifts For Everyone On Your List

For Her:
1. Lip Rescue
I just ordered this for myself and am loving it - I have the clear and it comes out of the tube in a thick consistency but wears easily without causing my lips to peel. I have super dry lips so I'm always on the hunt for winter lip products and this one is on the top of my list.

2. Acrylic Tray
A simple, easy piece that will blend with any decor, this is the perfect present for the hard to gift girl

3. Ring Doorbell
I am dying for a ring doorbell, mostly so I can track my online purchases as they're delivered, but also, you know, for security!

4. JoJo
Any decor loving lady will be all over Joanna Gaine's latest coffee table book

5. Studs
Perfect for every day wear and available in a ton of colors, I own a set of these and love how comfortably they wear.

6. Air Fryer
My beloved air fryer takes frozen dino nuggets and turns them into cooked dino wonders in minutes.

7. Dream Leggings
An unreal dupe for Lululemon leggings, I have this pair in navy and black!

8. Hand Cream
A perfect set to be broken down and used as stocking stuffers, teacher gifts or thank you's for important helpers.

9. Lidded Basket
The best in storage that can also double as a side table or end table if needed!

10. Tortoise Hoops
Classic, easy and under $10! Another gift that can really go anywhere - from a stocking to a teacher gift to a girl's gift exchange.

11. Make Up Brush Cleansing Mat
Another item I would love to find in my stocking, this make up brush cleaning mat is perfect for the beauty lover in your life (or teen girl/babysitter/helper).

12. Acrylic Make Up Storage
This is my personal make up storage system and I love the quality for the price point!

13. Throw
This particular blanket comes in a million colors, perfect for gifting your mother in law, girlfriends or yourself!

14. Pop Socket Phone Mount
I'm obsessed with this car phone mount - it uses any pop socket to mount into the base.

15. Echo Dot
So, I didn't know how much I would love the dot and it's video screen until my parents got one. It's amazing and has the capacity to make video calls from Dot to Dot. It's for sure on my wish list!

16. Tile 
Because my daughter loves to hide my car keys, we're going to need to snag a tile ASAP. You attach one piece to the thing you always need to track and when it's lost, you'll always be able to find it.

Happy gifting! 

4 Ways to Make The Holidays Less About Stuff (with your kids!)

5 Ways to Make The Holidays Less About Stuff (with your kids!)

I'm so excited to finally sit down and write this post! If you follow me on Instagram, you know that it's become my mission to ensure that our holiday season is a mix of tradition, friends, family and giving back for my children. Blame it on my own mother who did the same, the fact that my babes have more than they need or the fact that ultimately, I'm trying to raise good humans, but whatever the driving force may be, making the holidays into something more than a few weeks of stuff has become part of our little family's tradition - and I love it. 

4 Ways to Teach Your Preschooler To Give Back This Holiday Season

1. Read About It
Is there anything like a bedtime story to encourage a new lesson? I put together a list of 7 of books geared toward toddlers and preschoolers that focus on thinking of others first. Be sure to save this one for future use - most of these books are perfect for year-round and not just holiday themed, so you'll get traction out of them! 

7 books that teach preschoolers about giving

How to be thankful during Thanksgiving and all year long
A story about a llama who learns how to give to others
A classic and favorite in our house that teaches compassion and kindness
Teaches how to notice other people's kind actions and to show gratitude 
The Big Red Dog practices selflessness as he goes out of his to do good deeds for others
Introduces toddlers to the concepts of taking turns, sharing and playing with others

For reference, both Sharing Time and How Kind! are geared for ages 2-3 while the rest are perfect for kid's ages 4-5. 

One of the questions I am asked most often is to talk about how and why we use our Santa Sacks! So here's the deal, my children are just incredibly blessed and have a playroom full of toys - most of which they don't play with. We do ask that our families skip the gifting of toys and instead gift experiences, but of course, the stuff piles up (mostly thanks to my Dollar Aisle habit). With that said, I searched for a way to teach our children the value of their things and finally found a Santa Sack that says "Dear Santa, I've outgrown these toys, please share them with other good girls and boys". I made sure to steer clear of sacks that referenced broken or old toys, because I didn't want my son to consider it a throw away process, but a giving one.

Last year, when Gray was 3, we presented the sack on Christmas Eve Day at told him that all children leave toys for Santa to take back to his workshop and share with other little boys and girls. He was thrilled and filled that bag right up. Now that he's a bit older, we've already started talking to him about how some children don't have as many toys as he does and how every Christmas we will choose toys to send to other boys and girls who would love to play with him. He has asked if he can clear out his sister's things but once we cleared that up (she has her own sack to fill!), he was completely on board. 

Our tradition is to fill and leave our Santa Sacks on the fireplace with Santa's cookies on Christmas Eve and Santa picks them up when he visits our home. I take the toys and hide them in our shed until I can sneak off to donate the toys - the sack is left empty on the fireplace with a note from Santa, thanking Gray for having such a giving heart. 

I am often asked if I worry about Gray donating certain toys or how I let him choose and quite honestly, he can donate what he chooses and it's even more special to me if he chooses a toy he's played with quite often because he is choosing to gift something important to him to another child. As long as he is donating his own stuff (and not baby sisters), he has free reign. 

4. List It Carefully 
This may be a bit controversial, but we don't encourage our children to make a list for Santa. We tell them they may ask Santa for 3 things when we visit him in person and we don't sit down to list/write it out. For us, that process makes the focus on what they are getting and not on what they are giving. We don't pull out catalogues or magazine and circle our wish list items and we ensure to remind them that Santa is working hard to surprise them and all of the other children with thoughtful gifts. There really isn't a need for a long wish list, so we skip it!  

5. Make It
Each year, Gray and I work together to make a hand crafted gift for his Teachers. Last year we made stove pot simmering goodness and this year we'll be tapping into his love for Great British Bake Off and whipping up Cinnamon Rolls. As parents, we participate in the class gift to show our appreciation, but nothing compares to Gray's pride as he gives his teachers the gifts he made them. I make sure that we talk about how important it is to give our time to a handmade gift and explain that we are making our gifts with love. He "signs" his name to each gift and truthfully, I love the quality time we get to spend together on our gift making days. 

I love fostering their little hearts in this way and slowly integrating more traditions that focus on the time we spend together and the needs of others for the holiday season - if you have an amazing tradition that you do with your kids to shift the focus away from the stuff, tell me in the comments! 

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)

Holiday Party Season is upon us, my friends! From preschool to the office and everything in between, I set out to brave the horrible fitting room lighting with the hopes of finding us the perfect outfit for each and every occasion. I managed to find 5 gorgeous outfits all at amazing price points!
Wanna see??

Oh, and because I know ya'll love the mirror selfies, I included them for your viewing pleasure!
As a reminder, I'm 5'9", busty and wear a size 29 in jeans.

This post contains affiliate links

The Office Party

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)
pants, wearing size 8 | tee, wearing a medium | shoes, similar 

Appropriate, tailored, classy and festive, I love the bold red pants in this outfit. I prefer the paper bag waist paired with a fitted layer and this tee is one that I wear year round. If the red pant is too strong for your liking, this pair is also available in black. My shoes are from a few years ago but I've found amazing options, like this pair in the same plaid! 

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)

The "Festive Attire" Gathering

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)
Jumpsuit, wearing a 10 | necklace | heels 

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)

Truly, I don't love a vague dress code - I'm a girl who loves specifics, like Black Tie or Pajama Party, so when I see "Festive Attire" I feel a little lost. But attire crisis averted this season thanks to an amazing jumpsuit that covers your arms, isn't too busty (there's a hook and eye closure at to keep it closed!) and feels really chic thanks to the cropped ankle. You can pair this baby with anything - strappy heels, pumps, flats, your fave statement necklace or earring and you're out the door! This is probably my new favorite piece in my wardrobe, and it's my first jumpsuit!

The Preschool Holiday Concert

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)
Sweater, wearing a medium | jeans, wearing a 28 | shoe, similar 

Easy, comfortable and able to endure pulling a four year old out of a sugar cookie filled classroom, this outfit will be on repeat around here. The sweater is cropped with a bit of a boxy fit and is super soft, especially considering the price point! The jeans are an investment pair so I'm linking a pair at a friendlier price point that I also own and love here.

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)

The Girl's Night Out

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)
Sequin Top, wearing an 8 | Jeans, wearing a 28 | shoes, similar 

If you can't wear a sequin tee at the holidays, when else can you wear it?! I love this tee paired with jeans and a fun heel for girl's night (and then again for New Years Eve!). And yes, even we busty girls can wear those sequins!

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)

The Nutcracker

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)
skirt, wearing a 6 thanks to the elastic waist | sweater, wearing a medium | shoes 

This outfit is so feminine and easy thanks the elastic waist skirt that has a tiny bit of sparkle and the cream sweater with pearls. This would be my ideal outfit for the Nutcracker or special holiday brunch with my Mom.

The Ultimate Holiday Party Outfit Guide (For Moms!)