Holiday | Gift Guide for Him

I can't believe Christmas is just two weeks away!  I'm enjoying some stillness, as I've finished most of my elf duties.  If you're still looking for a perfect gift for the men in your life, I have some great suggestions, brought to you by the men in my life.  I'm basically sharing my Father's Day Gift Guide (that they helped me to create), because it's all still very applicable!

The Traveler / Tech Lover  |  My brother-in-law is a traveler and lover of all things techy.  He's been all over the world, and he had some awesome suggestions that I think most guys would like: adapter for international travelnoise cancelling headphoneselectronics organizerlaptop backpack, and luggage organizers.

The Musician  |  My husband is a musician, and he knows his stuff!  I can't speak to his suggestions because I am not a musician.  To give you a little background, he is formally trained in classical guitar and can play several other instruments, so he knows what a musician would like!  This is what he suggested: his favorite guitar stringsa variety pack of guitar picks he uses and lovesa speaker for a lover of music (musician or not!)a tuner, and his favorite guitar cables.

The Intellect  |  My dad is the hardest to shop for.  He doesn't value things as much as he does learning and experiences.  Check out my suggestions for these gift recipients here.  I also have a few ideas, inspired by what I found on his bookshelf: my dad's all time favoritefor the history bufffor a reader braver than me, and a new(ish) release.

The New Dad  |  My cousin has an infant, and he had some great suggestions.  I'll start with my favorite, this Papa + Baby Bear shirt set.  Adorable!  He also suggested a good whiskey (for obvious reasons), a manly cookbook, and a chess set (since he's now spending a lot more time at home -- and let's be honest, little babies don't do a whole lot, so why not learn a new hobby?!).  Last is a book full of great information that he found especially helpful as a dad who was as clueless as they come.  #heknowsitstrue

Holiday | Experience Gift Guide

There are so many people who have what they need and want, but still, it's fun to give gifts for the holidays.  I love choosing gifts for my family members.  Sometimes, though, the gifts aren't gifts in the traditional sense.  Sometimes they are the gift of time and experience.

My sisters and I almost always give my dad a gift that involves us doing something together, just the four of us.  We all treasure our uninterrupted time together, something that feels sparse these days with six grandchildren usually fighting for the attention.  We often do cooking classes because our love of cooking is a gift that our dad has given us.  Today I'm sharing some ideas for giving time and experiences.

Hike + Bug Repelling Hiking Socks

Cooking Class + Apron

Ski Resort Passes + Ski Hat

Theater Tickets + Gourmet Candy

Art Class or Art Museum + Adult Coloring Set

Spa Treatment + Stress Fix Lotion

Lecture (offered at most colleges, universities, and libraries) + Related Book

Concert + T-Shirt

Bartending Class + Shaker

Ice Skating Passes + Gloves

Wine Tasting + Glasses

Yoga Class + Mat

You might be surprised by all that's available in your area!

Holiday | Gift Guide for Her

In writing this blog, I always try to portray the most transparent image of myself and the lifestyle and fashion items that I use and love (or in this case, want!).  In alignment with that, I'm sharing items on my own Christmas wishlist for my Gift Guide for Her.  If there's anything you like, send this along to your significant other.  As always, I hope you find a little inspiration!  Almost everything here is on major sale and ships free for Cyber Monday!  Check each site for the codes.

Leather Goods |  Leather goods like bags and boots can be expensive.  Christmas is a good time to get a nice piece that you may not otherwise buy for yourself.  I'm loving these boots and this bag.  I still can't decide which colors I love the most!  (Just as an aside, the dark cabernet color has a reddish purple tint to it in person.)  

Jewelry | I'm loving this necklace and ring.  Delicate gold jewelry is what I'm wearing the most these days. 

Clothes  |  I have some really versatile pieces on my wishlist that I know I could wear for many different occasions and for years to come.  I love Ann Taylor's blouses, and this one is just gorgeous.  It's perfect for holiday, date nights, events, and even for work with a blazer on top.  How beautiful is this sweater dress?!  It's perfect for a casual holiday.  I also love this button front skirt.  Wear it now with tights, boots, and a sweater or later with a tank and sandals.  Year-round wardrobe pieces are a win, for sure!  Lastly, I have and love this sweater blazer in black.  I'm dying for the camel color.  It's an investment piece, but one that I find myself wearing constantly.

Warm Weather Accessories  |  I could use some new gloves and just love these.  Also, I'm dying for a pair of really warm leggings because, let's be honest, during the week I live in them.  I've got my eye on this pair.

Self Care  |  I've never met an Aveda product I didn't like.  These are some items I'm hoping to add to my self care arsenal this year: composition oilhair brush, and my favorite hairspray ever.

Home  |  Anthropologie has the loveliest home decor, like these beautiful taper holders.

Holiday + Style | Black Friday Shopping Guide

The best sales have arrived, friends!  If you'd rather shop from the comfort of your own home, I have all the sales from my favorite retailers rounded up here.  I'll try to keep them updated as they change from now through Cyber Monday.  I've been a Black Friday shopper all my life.  My mom, sisters, aunts, cousin, and I head for the crowds every year and have for as long as I can remember!  Do you go out shopping or do it online?

Ann Taylor has so many beautiful pieces, especially for occasions and work.  Use code BLACKFRIDAY for 50% off.  This lace trim top is my favorite piece this year!

Loft is my go to place for sweaters.  I also love their budget friendly denim.  When I was teaching, I had a lot of work wear from Loft, too.  As a stay at home mom, I can't get enough of the Lou & Grey line.  This sweater is my number one choice from Loft this year.  Today you get 50% off your purchase with code FRIYAY.

J.Crew has a ton of gorgeous pieces this year (heck, that's every year!).  They are doing 50% off with code TGIFThis is the first year J.Crew has done 50% off site wide!!  I don't think I can possibly choose one favorite (I love it all!), but this button front skirt is right at the top of my list.

Madewell is doing 25% off of your entire purchase with code DEALWITHIT
There are tons of nice pieces, and I'm especially loving their leather goods like boots and bags like these beauties.

Gap is doing 50% off + 10% off with codes BLKFRIDAY and TREAT.  I love their clothes for the kiddos.  They're great quality and known for being some of the softest pieces.  I think my little guy might need this monster robe added to his pajama drawer this Christmas!

Happy shopping!

Holiday | Gift Guide for Kids

Shopping for toys can be overwhelming.  There are so many, many of which aren't great quality.  Over the years, we've found some really awesome toy brands.  All of the items I'm sharing today are items that we either have and love or items that my little guys are hoping to find under the tree this year.    I hope you find this guide helpful.  If you're looking for a quicker option, check out my gift bundles at the bottom of this page.

Legos  |  My kids LOVE legos.  They are, hands down, the most played with toy in our house.  They're not inexpensive, but I feel as though my kiddos use them enough to make them worth their price.  Here are a few of my six year old's favorites: Harry Potter, Ninjago, and Minecraft.  My three year old also loves legos but can't really follow the steps yet, so for him, the classic sets are perfect. I love Sleeping Beauty's Lego Castle and Ariel's Boat.

Other Building Toys  |  My boys like to build.  They have or have asked for Tinker ToysBristle Blocks, and Knex.  I think these Squigz are the coolest.  They will likely find their way under our tree this year!  Right up there with legos in our home are Magna-Tiles.  My aunt got these for my boys as a joint birthday gift one year (they're pricey).  They use these nearly every single day.

Books  |  Books are a great gift for any child, but especially for those who have enough toys.  My nephews have a lot of toys, so my sister loves for us to buy books as gifts.  I love to choose them!  There are too many great books to share here, so I'll share those that we chose for my nephews this year.  For her two year old I got But Not the ArmadilloAt the SupermarketWe're Going on a Bear Hunt, and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.  For my four year old nephew, we chose Iggy Peck, ArchitectPartsGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, and The Day the Crayons Quit.  These are all favorites in our house!

Art & Crafts  |  My kids love to make artwork and projects.  Santa always leaves some special items like scented markers and glitter glue.  This year, my oldest requested a spin art kitThese mosaics are fun and keep kiddos busy for a while.  Here is a version for your youngest.

Learning Toys  |  Map puzzles (world, U.S., Canada) are such a great way to learn geography.  Sum Swamp is a fun addition and subtraction board game that we started playing when my oldest was in Pre-K.  Color sorting for little ones doubles as play food for their play kitchens.  Honestly, as a mom and former elementary school teacher, I can't say enough about all of the Learning Resources products.  We have so many, and they are affordable and excellent quality (not sponsored -- just my honest opinion!).  Last, my little guy loves these Alpha Bots.

Games  |  Game nights are so much fun with little kids!  We love Sorry (Mommy's favorite), Monopoly Junior, Uno, and Guess Who.  We're soon going to try Don't Let the Bugs Fall!Poppa's Pizza Topple, and Twister.

Play Sets  |  Play sets of all kinds are available.  I like to get sets that reflect what we do as a family.  We love to camp, so Santa might bring this camping lodge this year.  This school bus is fun, too!  My boys enjoy the superhero Imaginext sets like this.  All of these promote imaginative play, and that's a win in my book!

Religious Toys  |  We love this Nativity Set.  It's a great way to introduce the Christmas story at an early age.  It comes out every year for the season of Advent.  This book is a great one to go along with the Nativity.  A Noah's Ark play set and book would make a nice gift paired together, as well.  A few more great books are Berenstain Bears and the Joy of GivingWho Is Coming to Our House?No Room at the Inn, and The Stable Where Jesus Was Born.

Themed Gift Bundles 
All items within the sets are from the same retailer for easier ordering and (mostly) free shipping!

Dinosaurs // book + puzzle set + toy

Harry Potter // book set + wand + legos

Animals // book + activity set + toy

Princesses // book + jewelry box + tea set

Food // book + play food + shopping cart

Construction // bookcrane + play magnets

Geography // book + compass + puzzle globe

Holiday | Nostalgic Cooking with Applehood & Motherpie

Sharing meals during the holiday season is a tradition that evokes nostalgia for most people.  No matter your background or how your family celebrates the holidays, it's likely the memories involve cooking, baking, and/or eating.  For me, it's all three!

I love to prepare food for my family, a trait I get from my dad.  When our extended family is gathered, we share meals and make memories.  Often, I'm assigned the job of bringing dessert to our gatherings.  When the Junior League of Rochester asked me to feature their 25 year old cookbook, Applehood & Motherpie, I was so excited!  The cookbook has so many recipes that families have been enjoying and making memories over for years.  In addition, I love the idea of working together with a group of amazing women who make our community a better place.

We loved these delicious little cinnamon sugar doughnuts!  I used a muffin tin, but I now have a donut pan on my Christmas wishlist!  Giving this nostalgic cookbook, along with one of the pans or a festive dishtowel (this one's darling!) would be a great gift this season for teachers, in-laws, aunts, or anyone else you know who likes cooking or baking.  Applehood & Motherpie is available on the Junior League of Rochester website here.  Use code kristenathome for $5 off your order!


Happiest of holidays to you and yours!  
Thank you to my sister for sharing her beautiful kitchen for these photos.

My cookbook was gifted by the Junior League of Rochester.  All opinions and images are my own.

Style | Holiday Footwear

Happy November, friends!  I hope your next two months are filled with family, friends, and lots of laughs and good food.  Holiday gatherings are something I look forward to the most this time of year.  Our gatherings are almost always casual and at someone's home, so there isn't a need for super fancy holiday outfits.  If you're anything like me, though, you like to don your holiday duds!  A great way to add some pizazz to what would otherwise be an everyday outfit is with fun shoes.

I rounded up fancy footwear that I love, broken down by category.  You can add any of these shoes to a black tee and skinny jeans, a sweater and leggings, or a simple, cozy dress.  They'll make your outfits holiday ready in an instant!

my shoes (old but still available in a few sizes)

 | Mules |

| Boots |

| Pumps |

| Flats |

Life | Children's Books

Some people start holiday prep in September (or earlier!), while others are rolling their eyes at my mention of the word "holiday."  I'm somewhere in the middle.  After Halloween, I'll admit, I'm in full holiday mode.  If you're like me, it's not too early to begin looking for gifts, and books make perfect gifts for the little loves in your life.  Today I'm sharing some more of our family favorites.  These are all books that my children love to hear and that I love to read, again and again.  Check out my previous recommendations here and here.

Parts, by Ted Arnold, is on my personal list of best children's books ever!  It's a hilarious story about a little boy who thinks he's falling apart, like when he finds belly button fuzz and thinks it's his stuffing coming out.  It's sweet and innocent  (but a little gross, which of course, they love).  It's a fairly quick read -- perfect for bedtime.  Anyone else's kiddos pick the longest books they can at bedtime?!  Hello, Berenstain Bears, I'm talking about you!  I digress.  Parts is a favorite, for sure.  My little ones laugh and laugh.

Similar in length and silliness is Mommy Doesn't Know My Name, by Suzanne Williams.  After being called by terms of endearment, a little girl is shocked and worried by her mom's apparent inability to recall her name.  Of course, she finds relief in the end when mommy finally calls her Hannah.

Miss Nelson Is Missing, by Harry G. Allard, is a favorite from my own childhood.  It's perfect for school age kids.  Even preschoolers can understand and enjoy the story.  When teacher, Miss Nelson, is absent for an extended period of time and the substitute is mean, old Miss Viola Swamp, the students set out to find Miss Nelson and bring her back.  It's a great story for making predictions and for having conversations about what's happening as you read.

Another great discussion starter is The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, by Jon Scieszka.  I used it in my classroom to teach point of view.  At home, it's just fun!  The story of The Three Little Pigs is told from the wolf's perspective, and he's convincing!

Last, one more to make your kiddos think, is Dr. DeSoto, by William Steig.  This is a must have for any child's bookshelf.  Dr. DeSoto is a mouse and a dentist.  When a fox comes into his office seeking treatment, Dr. DeSoto and his wife have a difficult decision to make.  Can they outsmart the fox?  It's a great story, which is no surprise from William Steig, whose books are all fantastic.

Style | Leopard Print

My closet is full of neutrals and solids, and that's just how I like it.  There is one print, however, that I've always loved.  It's leopard, and it's back in a BIG way!  Leopard print never went out of style, but it has had big moments, and this is one of them.  If you aren't comfortable styling prints, leopard is a great one to try, because you can pair it as you would a neutral.  In other words, it goes with pretty much anything!  When in doubt, play it safe and pair it with black.  That always works well.  I also love to pair it with fall hues such as this camel sweaterthis scarlet dress, or this pinot noir jumpsuit.  

I have several leopard print pieces, all of which are no longer available because I've had them for a long time (most for years because I invested in higher quality pieces).  I have a skirt (similar), which I love to wear with my black tissue turtleneck, black tights, and pumps for cold weather occasions.  I also have a clutch (similar here) which I use constantly for going out.  (That wasn't to indicate that we go out constantly.  Let's be real, we have two young kids and #momlife.  More accurately, when we go out, I constantly carry my leopard clutch!)  I love my leopard bag (similar here), but perhaps my most favorite are my leopard flats (similar here and here).  They instantly take any outfit up a notch.  Just make sure to always choose only one piece to wear at a time.

I've shared some pictures of my own items and then some beautiful, similar leopard print pieces that are available now.  What's your favorite way to wear this trend?  I'd love to know!


Life + Style | The Closet Clean Out

Today I'm focusing on how Emily Ley's second chapter of A Simplified Life, Simplified Style, inspired me in my closet clean out.  I'm revealing how I incorporated a tiny piece of what is presented in the book into my life, along with some of my own thoughts and ideas on the topic.  I highly recommend checking out her book for the full scoop on simplifying.  It's wonderful!

I've read the funniest things over the years about how to clean out your closet.  Some say, if you haven't worn it in a year, get rid of it.  One article I read suggested that if you wouldn't want to run into an old boyfriend wearing the piece, then you should donate it -- I love it!  I recently heard a blogger say, "If it's not a hell yes, then it's a hell no!"  In A Simplified Life, Emily Ley sums up these suggestions with straightforward guidelines.  An item must fit be of good quality, and be your favorite.  Determining fit and quality is factual (simple yes or no).  Whether or not an item is your favorite is something you need to feel/your opinion, and it involves a little thought.

First, take everything out of your closet.  It forces you to give each piece your full attention.  My advice is to NOT invite a girlfriend over to help.  Here's why.  When you're deciding if an item fits into the "your favorite" category, only you can make that decision.  There are tons of pieces that might look great on you (and your girlfriend will tell you so!), but if something isn't your favorite, it doesn't belong in your closet!  You may end up only putting half of your wardrobe back into your closet.  That's okay for two reasons.  One, you probably rarely wore the pieces that didn't make the cut anyway.  Two, the pieces that are left for you to wear are pieces that make you feel confident, and those are the clothes you should be wearing on repeat!

Now what do you do with all those clothes you aren't putting back into your closet?  You should have three piles: trash, donate, sell.   If items are damaged, trash them.  If items are really old, outdated, or cheap, donate them.  If you have pieces that you purchased recently, are designer, or high quality expensive items, it can be harder to part.  I suggest one of two things.  Either give them to your sister/friend or sell them.  It's a lot easier to part with these items if you're giving them to someone you love who will use them or selling them and putting the earnings toward the purchase of something else.

Earlier this year I bought a top that wasn't inexpensive.  I loved how it looked on someone else, but it wasn't exactly my style.  I wore it once.  Every time I looked at it, I felt guilty for buying it.  My sister loves it, so rather than donating it, I gave it to her.  It was much easier to part with knowing that my sister will wear it and love it!  If you're interested in selling your clothes, check out my post on second hand shopping (selling applies, too!).

Find a day when you can have alone time for at least a few hours to clean out.  You will be so happy you did!  It much easier without little buddies "helping."  Clearing clutter and keeping only clothes, shoes, and accessories that make you feel good is so freeing.  I also find that whenever I do this, it helps me to be really thoughtful about future purchases.  I actually make a list of things I need and want, and try to stick with that, avoiding impulse buys.  The process not only declutters your space, but also your mind.  I highly recommend checking out A Simplified Life by Emily Ley if simplifying is something that interests you.  I'm loving the book and the journey on which it's taking me!

Here I'm sharing some basic pieces that create a base in any woman's closet.  You may have some or all, or maybe you need to slowly create a base after your clean out.  Focus on quality over quantity!

 I hang clothes by category (sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved, dresses, jackets, coats).

 Wooden hangers (or velvet for slippery pieces) help keep your clothes in great shape!

 Folding sweaters in half then crossing the arms over the chest keeps them wrinkle free and displayed nicely.

 Make sure you can see all of your shoes, if possible.  If you want them in boxes, take photos of the shoes and tape them to the fronts of boxes so you can always see what's in front of you.

Style | Dressing For Fall

Fall weather has arrived in Upstate New York, and I'm loving it!  It's been chilly in the evenings, and the breeze blowing through the windows is marvelous!  During the day, we've gotten into the 70s.  I love hot summers, but when September rolls around, I'm ready for exactly what Mother Nature has in store.

Fall fashion can be a little tricky, since the temperatures fluctuate so drastically from morning to midday.  Mostly, you'll find me in jeans with layers on top.  Back in August, I was on the hunt for the perfect straight denim to wear this fall.  While I love a good skinny jean, I wear them constantly and wanted an alternative.  When I found these, it was love at first sight.  The fit is so good, and they are just so darn pretty (Can denim be pretty?  I think so!).  They have a 10" rise, which is quite high, but it's extremely comfortable and flattering.  Not long after, I stumbled upon this less expensive pair.  They fit well, too, but the rise is lower.  High waisted straight leg denim is perfect for transitioning to fall because they look great with flats (spendsave) or mules (spend, save) for warm fall days.  You can layer or bundle on top as needed but leave those ankles exposed before winter comes!  These gorgeous mules are on my wish list (less expensive here).  They look awesome with this style of denim.

I also love a cozy, lightweight sweater.  It's just warm enough for these days.  This one looks very similar but with a little extra warmth for when the temps drop.  I like to wear a tee underneath, because by about noon, the sweater is usually coming off this time of the year.  When you're wearing neutrals that are close to your skin tone, like this sweater is for me, add accessories in rich hues and/or pattern to balance the neutrals and add depth to your outfit.  My bag is old, but I love this one and this less expensive option.

Happy fall!

sweaterjeans, shoes are old (similar spendsave), bag is old (similar)

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Holiday | Gift Guide for Him

I can't believe Christmas is just two weeks away!  I'm enjoying some stillness, as I've finished most of my elf duties.  If yo...