Valentine's Gifts for Him: Mr. + Muse

Luke and I typically enjoy low-key celebrations for smaller holidays. Our plans for Valentine's Day usually consist of revving up our fondue pot or treating ourselves to take-out, which is completely fine by me! Since getting dressed up for a fancy dinner out isn't really our style, it can sometimes feel like the holidays pass us by without a second thought, so it's nice to make more of an effort to show my appreciation for him through small gifts, even if it feels cliché!

When I was approached by Mr. + Muse to share about their product, I was a bit hesitant at first. Who really wants to read about men's underwear, right? But as soon as I looked into their brand, I was sold. Their product is well-made, their packaging is witty and wonderful, all of their boxer briefs are made in the USA with eco-friendly bamboo fabric, and as an added bonus, these boxer briefs are seriously the softest ever!

I mentioned before that Luke is not easy to buy gifts for, mainly because he loves saving money and never wants for anything. Practicality is key for surprising him with something, so these were right up his alley! 

Along with being a practical gift item, another thing I love about Mr. + Muse is that while their products appeal to men, the vision behind their brand is focused largely on women, AKA the "Muses." You know how the saying goes: Behind every great new pair of boxer briefs is a great woman forcing her husband to get rid of his old, worn-out underwear! 

If you decide to gift your guy with Mr. + Muse, you can customize a gift box with boxers and a note of your choice (I went with a classic "Happy Valentine's" message, but if you want to spice it up a bit, there are plenty of scandalous options, too)!

As a special Valentine's treat for you, enter promo code MUSE20 at checkout for 20% off your order! 

New Year, New Word.

I've been absent from this space for far too long, but it's not for lack of topics to write about. A lot of things fell into place for me professionally at the start of 2017, which has been amazing, stressful, and empowering all at the same time. I'm adjusting to my new routine while trying to stay afloat of my other responsibilities – maintaining a somewhat-clean house, being the world's okay-est wife, and that minor detail of keeping our children alive. 

With a few more balls added into my juggling act, I've decided upon a word for 2017. Not a resolution, not a specific goal, but rather a way to keep myself in-check as we venture through these next 355 days. For 2017, I want to be INTENTIONAL. 

Intentional with my purchases. This past weekend, we sorted through every cupboard, closet, and drawer in our home and came up with upwards of 12 garbage bags to donate or throw away. It was a slap in the face to both Luke and I that we have too much stuff. I recently watched the documentary "Minimalists" on Netflix and it was a real eye-opener for me. Not that I could ever see myself living in a tiny house or getting rid of all but two outfits, but a realization that more things means more to clean and tidy up on a daily basis, and thus less time to do other more important things. More things also means more money spent more often. Fixing things. Replacing things. Relying much too heavily on things. I want to be intentional on making purchases that really matter – like taking a family vacation or going out to a fancy dinner with my husband – and less on miscellaneous impulse buys while browsing the aisles of Target. 

Intentional with my relationships. This includes both business and professional relationships. I want to put more effort into building my relationships with my husband and my kids. Be more willing to meet up with girlfriends on a whim for a night out. Put in the hard work to nurture and grow my existing business relationships while branching out to network myself more often. Be a better daughter, sister, friend, mother, and wife in every way possible. And that leads me to the next, perhaps most important aspect of being intentional.

Intentional with my time. I've decided that I am going to give myself normal business hours this year, starting work at 9AM and not checking my email after 5:00, whenever possible. I realize this will be difficult to get used to since I'm answering client emails or "putting out fires" and replying to followers on social media at 10:00 most nights, but I also realize that this habit is not healthy for me or my family. I need to be more intentional with the time I have. Put my phone down to get down on the floor and play with my kids more often. Spend more time in quality conversation with Luke instead of immersing ourselves in The Office every night. Take time for myself, because "an empty cup cannot fill others." Going to more barre classes. Getting a massage every once in a while. Grabbing a good book and relaxing in a hot bubble bath more often. Being really there for my family when we're together. 


I know that these changes are going to take time, but I'm feeling really committed and anxious to see how I grow through being more intentional. Did you set resolutions for yourself for 2017 or is there a word that sums up what you hope to achieve this year? I'd love to encourage you as you work towards your goals! Drop a comment below! 

Living Room Transformation

Let me just start off by saying that my husband is the best. He has taken this sad little ranch house with its dated rooms and turned it into the home of my dreams!

When we first looked at the house while we were on the hunt, I immediately pictured two things for the living room: a big fat Christmas tree sitting in front of the large window and a built in shelf / fireplace feature wall.

While we both agreed on the vision, it took a little while to jump in on the project. Since I apparently avoided taking "Before" photos of the wall like the plague, here is what we had for the last two years: fresh paint on the walls, a mantle that Luke built from our old house, and a faux-fireplace entertainment center. Not terrible, but not exactly what we knew the room could be. 

Jump to the "after." Custom built-in shelves, Timberwall feature behind the TV that is now mounted on the wall, a vent-free gas fireplace insert with brick face surround, and a beautiful rustic mantle – all built by my very talented husband!

Please also note the beautiful florals upping my shelfie game c/o BloomsyBox

To say I am obsessed with the end product is the understatement of the century. It makes our house feel so much more like a home and truly brings the room together. My dream was to be able to cozy up near the warm fireplace with a mug of cocoa (or glass of Baileys, if we're being honest) and the glimmer of the lights on the tree this Christmas, and – like always – my man delivered! 

Special thanks to Timberwall for supplying us with the materials for the TV feature wall! We used the Landscape collection in Arctic for this project, and you can see how we used Timberwall to build a platform bed for our bedroom here!

Catching Up

Whew! Life has been crazy busy these last two weeks. I picked up three new clients for my marketing business, Write On (shameless plug), Luke finished our biggest home improvement project since the kitchen renovation, and we've been scrambling to order and make gifts for Christmas since our first family gathering is this Saturday! 

While I've been pretty quiet on this little space lately, it feels like I've actually been spending more time than ever on my computer. 


You can find one of my favorite "cheat" DIY methods with a fun Christmas decor craft over on the Valu Home Centers blog here.

Here is a post I wrote for the Collective Bias blog on the importance of storytelling for influencer marketing.

And, in a matter of a few days, I'll have our full recap and reveal of our fireplace project and custom built-in shelves featuring Timberwall!

On top of that, we've been spending time as a family playing in the snow having winter bonfires, snowball fights, and building snowmen, and we've even squeezed in a couple meet and greets with the big guy in red! 

It has been a wonderful December so far, and I can't wait for it to get even better when we get to experience the magic of Christmas morning through these cuties again in a couple weeks! Check back soon!

Feeling Festive

I'm back and breaking the radio silence here with a quick glimpse of life lately! It always seems that when it rains, it pours in terms of full calendars and busy schedules, and I'm forcing myself to take a minute to breathe and have some "me time" which usually translates to sitting down at the computer editing photos, taking some time at my sewing machine, or – more accurately for this week – binge watching Gilmore Girls. 

Anyway, back to it. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We filled our bellies with delicious food and filled our hearts with great memories with our families all weekend long. This was our first married holiday where we had to split days between houses, and while it was chaotic, it made for a fun-filled family day (especially since the kids took solid car naps in-between!). We ended up spending the night at my parents' house Thursday night in order to have more time with everyone, and because you're never too old for a slumber party! 

Friday morning, we woke up and went with my parents to get their Christmas tree and came back to help them decorate for a bit before we ventured home for naps and a somewhat normal day, and Saturday we started the festivities all over again with lunch and more Christmas tree hunting in the afternoon! 

While I am firm on waiting until after Thanksgiving to pick out our tree, bringing it home and decorating it with the kids is one of my very favorite nights of the year. I love seeing their little faces lit up by the glow of the twinkle lights, and even managed to keep my ornament OCD at bay (a little bit) by letting Huck hang the majority of the Christmas bulb ornaments on the same three bottom branches. 

Our calendars are quickly filling up with holiday festivities and every day is a beautiful reminder that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year! I'll be back here soon sharing a fun DIY for Christmas gifts, and we have some fun news to share about our house (you can see the unfinished product in that last photo) that I'm excited to show you, too! Stay tuned!

Toddler Trail Mix - Recipe

If your kids are anything like mine, they ask for snacks approximately 1,958,918 times per day. We have a few favorites around here: Yogurt bites, lil' crunchies, and lil' beanies. The only downfall I can think of with our favorite Gerber snacks is that the kids devour the entire contents of the can in less than 10 minutes, which is equal parts disgusting and impressive! 

To help stretch the lifespan of our beloved lil' Beanies container, I decided to switch things up a bit the other day with a Toddler Trail Mix. 

What you'll need:

  • Goldfish or similar snack
  • Pretzels
  • Honey Nut Cheerios or similar cereal
  • Gerber Lil' Beanies (we chose the original flavor, but they also come in Cheddar Broccoli)

Mix a handful of each ingredient together in a small bowl and serve to grabby toddler hands! I actually stole a few bites of the trail mix to sample and it is the perfect blend of salty, sweet, and savory! The Original Lil' Beanies bring a unique texture to the snack and we even had enough left in the container to make seconds! 

FYI – We typically buy our Gerber snacks at Walmart. (Pro tip: Buy a can of Lil' Beanies or Lil' Crunchies as soon as you get to the store to ensure happy shoppers as you cruise the aisles.) Get your hands on Lil' Beanies at Walmart and save with this special offer

Own Your Tomorrow

As I near the 6-month mark of my full-time freelancing career, I thought it would be fitting to share how my professional life came to be by deciding to "Own my Tomorrow."

Let's rewind a bit to 2010. I landed a full time job in advertising the day after I graduated college. For three years, I was able to express my creativity every day working on concept development, advertising campaigns, social media campaigns, and public relations work. I spent time at recording studios for radio spots, wrote scripts for announcements at professional sporting events, and saw my words come to life on television commercials. It seemed like the perfect place for me.

Until it wasn't anymore. 

Two years into my career, Luke and I welcomed Marleigh into the world and when I returned to the office after taking an extended 10 weeks off for my maternity leave, the job that once made me feel so fulfilled was now holding me back from my true "dream job" of being a mother. I started to dread my alarm clock going off each morning, feeling guilty every time I had to buckle our baby girl into her car seat for my hour long commute, and even more guilty when I had to leave her for nine hours at a time five days a week. I started feeling like I never got to spend time with her while she was awake. The mom guilt quickly consumed my every thought. 

I knew that something had to give. I had to "Own my Tomorrow."

Two months after being back at work, after a lot of sleepless nights spent praying and soul-searching, I walked into my boss' office with tears in my eyes and butterflies in my stomach to put in my notice that I was leaving. My boss wasn't surprised at all with my decision, and he even offered to have me help with some PR work on a freelance basis to get me started, which I graciously accepted. 

With nothing else but a part-time retail job and a few hours of marketing work at a gift shop lined up to take the place of my full-time salary, leaving the agency was a total leap of faith – but the end goal was worth it to me, and I was determined to land on my feet.

Now, almost four whole years later, December will mark my 1/2-year anniversary of becoming a full-time, self-employed business owner. Don't get me wrong. Deciding to quit something stable to fulfill my dreams was not something that came easy. I still have setbacks along the way, but owning my tomorrows and being able to look forward to each work day is something that I will never take for granted. 

Moral of the story? Don't settle for anything that isn't fulfilling you on all levels. Your "dream job" DOES exist. You just might have to work a bit harder to create it for yourself. For inspiration, head here to see how other people are working to "Owning their Tomorrows" courtesy of Charles Schwab. 

Bedroom Redo Phase 1: Timberwall

Ever since we've been married, our master bedroom has taken the back seat to other house projects. In our first home (a rental), we didn't have a whole lot of liberty to revamp the space, and since we moved into our current home a little less than two years ago, we've had so many other projects to work on that our bedroom, as per usual, has been basically forgotten. 


I'm almost embarrassed to show you this "before" picture of our room. I didn't realize it until now that it's on its way to being redone, but oh my gosh. It was SO bad. Taupe walls (which seemed like a good idea at the time), an unfinished bed, a comforter that didn't even fit the mattress, no headboard, and random wall decor just to make the room feel a bit more "lived in." 


Enter Timberwall. These rustic little planks (and a couple fresh coats of dark gray paint on the walls) have really helped to bring some more character to the space. Luke, once again, made all of my Pinterest dreams a reality by building us a new platform bed, complete with this beautiful Timberwall headboard and Timberwall-wrapped frame. I am obsessed with how it turned out, and I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but I have actually even been sleeping better at night since our little room revamp! 

We used the Landscape collection for this project in "Desert." The Timberwall planks are packaged 30 per box in three different widths to add dimension to your project, and each box covers approximately 12 square feet. (For reference, we used almost all of three boxes for this project.) You can find Timberwall products to purchase at Lowes and view their entire catalog online here

We still have some work to do in our bedroom: painting our dressers (or ordering new?), installing a new light fixture/ceiling fan, and hanging an eclectic gallery wall; not to mention installing some sort of new flooring to all of the bedrooms in the house eventually. But having this cozy new bed to crawl into every night sure has helped make the space feel more like home.

Stay up-to-date with all of our home projects on Instagram at #GillsEdenEstate! (Spoiler alert: we have another project in the works with the Arctic colorway for the living room that I am seriously giddy about!)

Special thanks to Timberwall, who graciously supplied us with the materials for this project. You can find Timberwall on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram and search their hashtag #mytimberwallproject for even more inspiration!

5-Step Dino Shirt Tutorial

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser, Walmart Family Mobile. All opinions are mine alone. #CatchMoreData #Ghostbusters #CollectiveBias

This year, we're celebrating Halloween with not one, not two, but THREE different Halloween festivities. Since I know my kids and their impeccable ability to get dirty and stained, I decided to plan ahead with a backup costume option for them.

Last month, I made "Dragon tails" for Marleigh's 4th birthday party and they made for the perfect jump off point for this tutorial – a simple, 5-step method for crafting your very own Dinosaur Hoodie and/or Shirt! All you need are a few basic materials, a beginner's knowledge of sewing, and a way to peruse Pinterest for the best techniques!

(I used the Samsung Galaxy On5 from Walmart Family Mobile, shown here, for my crafting afternoon.) A hot cup of coffee is optional. ...Or is it?

Let's get this party started!
Scroll through the photos below for a full step-by-step tutorial.

These costumes are not only simple to make, they're also comfortable for the kids to roar around in for Halloween parties, while playing dress up, or – our favorite – family movie night! Not to mention, they're super inexpensive to make (around $20 each), which is a huge plus.

Speaking of inexpensive – I scored the Samsung Galaxy On5 I mentioned above at just $119.99 using Walmart Family Mobile Plus. All I had to do was purchase my phone and the Nano Starter Kit on rollback for $19.88 (usually $25).

As an added perk, Walmart Family Mobile Plus is celebrating the release of the new "Ghostbusters" movie on Blu-Ray by giving all customers who activate new lines a code for a free download of the Ghostbuster Virtual Reality Experience from now through October 31st!

With a Walmart Family Mobile Plus plan, you get unlimited talk, text, and data, up to 10GB of 4G LTE each month, plus a free movie rental ($7 value) on VUDU! Family Mobile Plus is just $49.88 per line each month, and since Family Mobile bills you later, you only have to pay the starter kit price of $19.88 when you sign up... which will leave you plenty in the budget to splurge on more Halloween treats and no need to worry about "who you're gunna call"! We're all looking forward to turning on the Roku to enjoy our free New Release Rental on VUDU for our next family movie night! 

Be sure to check out your local Walmart for more details on the Family Mobile Plus plans, and don't forget that the EXTENDED "Ghostbusters" movie is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD at Walmart, with 15 minutes of film not seen in theaters and over 3 hours of extras – just in time for the holiday!

To enjoy the Sony Ghostbusters Virtual Reality Experience:
1. Get a code from your Walmart Store from a user demo or purchase of Walmart Family Mobile product
2. visit GhostbustersVR.com
3. Register and redeem code
4. Download the app from the Apple Store or Google Play to access content

Head to the Walmart Family Mobile page to find an event in your area for a brochure with details on the Family Mobile plan, Virtual Reality experience, and a plastic 3D hologram!

What are your little ones dressing up as for Halloween this year? Did you opt for store-bought or DIY? Drop a comment below! 

All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change. Please refer to http://cbi.as/5jo2h or your local Walmart for current pricing.