Monday, December 18, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy last Monday before Christmas morning! This morning Madeline and I taking it slow before finishing up a few things at home to get ready to host Christmas. This has been such a magical Holiday season with her at the age to really enjoy some of the activities and have a slight clue as to what is actually going on!

I love this photo that her teacher sent me from school. She just looks so mesmerized by the lights and I think it is so sweet.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Holiday Home Tour 2017

Our halls are decked and we are ready to host Christmas in our home in less than two weeks. About a year and a half ago we moved into our current house from a smaller townhome with a completely different layout so I still feel like I am in the process of accumulating decorations but I definitely made some progress this year getting a few things added. So, without further adieu, let's step inside. 

For outside decorations, I am pretty classic. I like wreathes and candles in the windows and that is pretty much it. I was able to use a gift certificate a sweet neighbor gave me to purchase the wreathes and bows we needed this year since we only had three and the front door wreath from our old house. Now, hanging them didn't go quite as smoothly because the tops of the windows were painted shut by the previous owners but I got them up!

In the foyer I totally switched things up from last year and hung a simple wreath from Target's Hearth and Hand collection and then displayed a few of the houses from the Christmas village that used to adorn the mantle for the fireplace in my bedroom as a child.

I mentioned to Corey that I wanted to add a second tree to our home this year. He vetoed the idea but I actually anticipated him saying yes so I already had it in the trunk of my car! Haha! I snagged a very pretty pencil tree on huge sale at Michael's. Its just the right size to tuck into the corner of our dining room to make it a little extra festive and let its lights shine through the front windows.

My table runner is from Homegoods, the mercury glass tress are several years old from Target (similar here or here), and the candlesticks are new and available here (also similar). I made the centerpiece a couple years ago and pull it back out yearly during the Holiday season.

Here's another look at the new tree. Our family always did artificial trees growing up so that is what I do, too. I tried to keep this tree more formal with matching ornaments. 

Next up is our living room. My garland is from At Home and was purchased last year and my mom made the stockings for us. This is my favorite view this time of year. 

Our main tree is in the family room and it is decorated in mixmatched ornaments. This is where all the special ones that mean something to us go and where the ones Madeline will undoubtedly make in school in the coming years will go. I made the bow topper several years ago and finally snagged enough matching ribbon this year to wrap the whole tree. That Clemson ornament is supposed to be in the back but it keeps migrating to the front when the tree is left unattended. Similar tree skirt here or here.  

This is Madeline's Santa picture form the Southern Christmas Show this year. I have a million of these frames from our wedding laying around my house and I still break them out for seasonal decor and parties I host. 

Last year's Santa picture is on the end table. She wasn't quite so skeptical of him then!

I just switch out the lumbar pillow on our couch to add a little something festive there. This one is several years old but still available here. I also love this one.  

Our living room leads straight into the breakfast area and then on into our kitchen. My Mother in Law passed these two pretty wreathes on to me so I hang them in the breakfast area. They didn't photograph well because I didn't have the best lighting during nap time but they are very pretty and I think a nice little touch to the space. 

Madeline has her little felt tree in the breakfast area. I purchased it in an effort to keep her from playing with the real tree but pretty much any time we are in this part of the house she is just moving her felt decorations from her play tree to the real tree and stuffing them in there and then back and forth.

Across from our breakfast table is this little desk. It is the not-so-glamourous office where I run my teachers-pay-teachers business from. I hang the Christmas cards we receive from the cabinets above it.

In our kitchen, I just added this cute little bottlebrush tree from Hobby Lobby and these gingerbread men that I've had forever. It seemed fitting for the gingerbread men to go in the kitchen, right?

We are hosting guests for Christmas and then right after so I tried to make the guest rooms a little festive by switching out my throw pillows and adding a few little tchotchkes.  

Madeline's room has a little table top tree. It is actually the tree that we used in our Hoboken apartment. I decorated it with pink, silver, white, and gold ornaments for her and found the fun little topper at none other than Wal-Mart this year. She uses it as her night light. 

I picked up these little pink bottle brush trees and sign at Target in the dollar section and put them on the vanity in Madeline's bathroom. 

Finally, we are to the bonus room. This is where Madeline and I spend the most of our time and honestly where I do most of my work for my business. It is definitely the most used room in our house. My dad found this little train at an antique store for Madeline. She is really interested in "Choo choos" right now. 

This is the top of the console table. The sign is from Target's dollar spot last year, the mini tree is from the dollar spot this year, and the owl was a Christmas gift to me last year. I like that these Christmas decorations are a little more whimsical since this room is all about fun.

I only wish this was true but all the other mamas with small kids know that we are really morning people every day whether we want to be or not! Haha!

And that's a wrap! I think my holiday decor will be evolving for several years. Next year, I hope to go through some of the special decorations my mom doesn't use anymore and work on adding season knick-knack type things to my built ins. She always went all out for Christmas when I was living at home - full villages on all eight fireplaces, multiple trees, etc. but has toned it down quite a bit now that she is older and has passed that torch of going Christmas - decor crazy on to me and I'd certainly love to start incorporating some of the special decorations I grew up with. 

See last year's holiday home tour here and 2015 (from our old house) here. Linking up with Sarah. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Our 2017 Christmas Card

This year I wasn't sure if a Walen Christmas card would actually come to fruition because we didn't book a family mini session. This has been a busy season for us and it was difficult to find any availabilities around Corey's work schedule and the travel we had planned for several friends' weddings this fall. Luckily, we have a great friend who does photography as a hobby and he so sweetly volunteered to run over and photograph us. We picked up some matching Christmas pajamas from a local mom who owns an online boutique and crossed our fingers for the best. Madeline wasn't super cooperative but I think they turned out so fun for this season of life we are in right now. 

For our cards we went with Minted. I am so pleased with the quality of the cards and there was a fast turn around. I also loved that they would print the addresses right on the envelopes for me so that they would be ready to stick in the mail as soon as the box arrived. I haven't used Minted before but I think I will every year from now on now that our addresses are already saved and they will be ready to go with just a quick edit of friends who have moved and the addition of new contacts.

To display the cards that we have received, I used the same method I did last year. I hung ribbon from the cabinets above our little kitchen desk. To make this easy, I used picture-hanging command hooks (the velcro-like kind) and put one piece on the cabinet and the other on the ribbon. Then, I hot glued little red clothespins. This makes it super easy to put back up year after year and I love having these cards from our favorite people out for me to see every day.

Stay tuned for a Holiday Home Tour later in the week. Happy Monday!

Linking up with Sarah. 

Monday, December 4, 2017

My Christmas List (+ Madeline's too)

The Christmas season is here and it certainly has had us very busy. Our home is decorated and I've switched all of the ornaments on our trees out for shatterproof for Madeline. I was feeling so ahead the game by already wrapping her presents and putting them under the tree but then I caught her unwrapping them! So now, I'm off to do it over again!

Corey and I have started a big construction project at our house and it is already well underway so we are foregoing Christmas gifts to each other this year in favor of some of the fun things we will need to purchase when it is finished but we will still be doing small gifts and I have a little wishlist of things I wouldn't be sad to show up from other family.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! If we were having coffee this chilly morning, we would be chatting about...

The trees are up at the W house. I put them up while Corey was traveling last week and enjoyed a couple evenings with a glass of wine and girly holiday movies. I purchased some cute shatterproof ornaments from Hobby Lobby for the bottom of the tree to hopefully spare my favorite ones from getting broken. I am usually firmly in the no Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving but we aren't hosting this year so I know I'll be happy to come home from Thanksgiving and have the house festive and decorated for Christmas. 

Friday, November 17, 2017


Over the weekend, I enter a new decade and turn 30 so I thought it would be fun to share thirty facts about me, especially since this little blog has been a bit neglected recently.

1. I grew up in a suburb of Charlotte after moving out of the city in second grade and my parents still live in my hometown, which I love since they are only 40 minutes from me now.

2. I knew I wanted to work in education from the time I was really young and would play school with my stuffed animals.

3. I attended college at Furman University, which is a small liberal arts school in South Carolina. Go Paladins!

4. I completed my master's degree in a super busy 13 months while teaching full time. I was engaged and didn't even attend my own master's graduation because I was in the middle of our move to New Jersey.

5. When I resigned my first teaching job to relocate, it was kind of a blind leap of faith because I didn't have a new one yet. I ended up being hired to teach intercity and it was so challenging but also really helped my career in so many ways.

6. I took a transfer after my first year and then taught in an amazing district the rest of my time in New Jersey. I loved it so much that I had a really hard time accepting that we were leaving, even though that meant I was coming home to the Carolinas.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Closet Wishlist (and what I'm wearing recently)

The weather in North Carolina has finally cooperated and it feels like fall at last. I have really enjoyed being able to pull out some favorite fall clothes and try out some new ines.

I have done a lot of shopping in recent months due to doing no shopping for two years when I was pregnant and then nursing. I have quite a few other fun things on my list still. 

The first is this peplum bell-sleeve top. It comes in several colors but I am loving the pink. It has a velvet tie in the back so I think it would look so cute with black leggings and over the knee boots or booties.

I am also loving this little flounce dress. It is much cuter and more flattering in person. I see it paired with cute booties or over the knee boots also. I love the purple and navy. This outfit would be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 10, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy, happy Friday! I am so glad that the weekend is here. The daylight savings transition has really worn us out around here!


This little girl has been having so much fun at preschool. They upload pictures every week and I so enjoy seeing her silly little personality come out in school. 

I made these easy, cheesy spaghetti squash boats this week and they were a hit. Madeline loved them and slurped up the squash noodles just like she does when she has regular pasta. I roasted the squash while simmering some lean chicken sausage, a jar of Thrive Market pasta sauce, and some spinach on the stove. Then stuffed that mixture in the squash, gave it a stir, and topped with 1/4 cup of cheese and popped them back into the oven. I am so, so picky about jarred sauces but I am obsessed with the Thrive Market sauces. No added sugar or crazy ingredients and SO yummy!   Also a lot less expensive than some of the other quality sauces that you might find somewhere like Whole Foods. I love an easy, healthy dinner.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Madeline - 20 months

Time really does fly when you're raising a child.

Our sweet Madeline is twenty months old right now and we are all settled into our two morning a week preschool program. We had a bumpy start to the year when she missed an entire week due to hand, foot, and mouth. But that's another story for another day.

Our schedule was kind of chaotic over the summer as we transitioned from two naps to one, balanced my doctors and physical therapy appointments after my accident, and I just tried to squeeze in work when I could. 

We all thrive on routine around here so I'm happy that we are back into one. Here's a peek at what our days look like right now.

6:30 My alarm goes off. I'm really trying to push that back to 6:00 but it's a work in progress. I make the bed, get dressed in work out clothes, and have a glass of water. I check social media and my work emails.

7:00 Madeline is awake. We have a diaper change then she has a sippy cup of milk and I drink a coffee. We turn on the news (sometimes Daniel Tiger or Peppa Pig) and play for an hour.

Friday, November 3, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy, happy Friday!


Halloween was so fun this year! Holidays just become so much more magical when you can see them through the eyes of a child. Madeline was a pink poodle. We took her trick or treating in our neighborhood, let her enjoy a couple M & M's and looked at everyone's costumes.


Madeline finished up another session of Music Together this week. She first started in January and she loves this weekly class so much. I just cannot recommend this program enough for mamas looking for something fun and developmentally appropriate to do with their little ones. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday! It's been quite a while - we have been super busy over here lately in the best ways so I'm just now settling in to catch my breath.

We have been traveling quite a bit for several weddings. This has been the year of weddings for all of our friends and it has given us such great opportunities to catch up with friends. Each of these were at beautiful venues from the mountains to historic homes to botanical gardens. 

At home we are finally finishing up our landscaping overhaul part 1. I have learned a lot about landscaping but most of all I have learned that I most certainly have a love-hate relationship with it. For most of the summer it definitely was more of a hate relationship but now that this project is nearing the end, I am so happy we did it.

Here's a recap - we removed several trees that were planted too close to the house or otherwise not hoeing properly because of there just being too many, removed some overgrown bushes lining our driveway and replaced with hydrangeas, hostas, and gardenias for a neater more symmetrical look, removed all but the foundation plants in our front landscaping because it was just too overgrown and super high maintenance (we will be adding some plants for color in the spring once those plants have had time to fill in from now having enough space), opened up our back yard by removing some hedges that were planted literally in the middle of it (???), and planted a row of privacy hedges at the true back of our property. It has been SUCH a project but the result is a neater more manicured look, a lot lower maintenance by removing what needed professional trimming 6-8 times a year, and a more open space to allow us to better use all of our property and room to add a swingset for Madeline in the spring. Here are some before pictures, as you can see there was just a whole lot going on. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Coffee + Conversation

Happy Monday, friends. It is a beautiful Monday that feels just like October should in Charlotte today. We are all excited about that over here because I'm such a lover of all things fall. Candles, pumpkin coffee, chunky cardigans, and boots.

I apologize for my little hiatus. It was unintentional but we've been pretty busy around here. Madeline was sick for an entire week, which meant no preschool. This of course coincided with Corey's travels for work so I had very few moments to get anything accomplished.

We celebrated some dear friends who got married in Asheville last weekend after Madeline was sick and then I came home with the worst allergies. It was a beautiful wedding and a fun time with many of our closest friends.

We are also nearing the end of a big months-long landscaping project at our house. I am so excited to share the finished product and even more excited to not speak to a tree removal company or landscaping installer for many, many months.

This week we are looking forward to getting back into our routine post sickness and spending some time outside (in our nearly finished backyard) soaking in the beautiful cooler weather.

Very early this morning I was lying in bed while Corey packed for a work trip watching the coverage of the shooting in Las Vegas and my heart is just broken. I am just so, so sad that these things have gotten to be such a frequent occurrence in recent years. I am sending so many prayers to the families of all of those injured or lost and am so, so thankful to wake up with all of my loved ones safe and sound this morning.

Wishes for a happy and safe Monday for all of you!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Our Struggle is Part of Our Story

It was three long months ago that my mother-in-law came over to watch Madeline so I could run a couple errands and get a mani-pedi. I had planned some much needed mama relaxation time. I was coming off of what had been at the time the biggest month of my business since I began it a year ago. I had two new ladies I was responsible for training and was just feeling good. I felt the healthiest I had since having Madeline and honestly a bit before, too, and was just really content with life.

I was stopped in traffic drinking a Le Croix, having a trivial debate with myself about whether I should get hot pink or coral polish on my toes for that pedicure when I was hit from behind at a speed of 50 mph by a driver using their phone. There were no skid marks or evidence that the driver ever attempted to brake or slow down because they were looking at their phone.

One concussion, severe whiplash, and a fractured clavicle later I found myself staring at 9-12 weeks of physical therapy, countless hours away from my daughter and business, and months of modified workouts ahead of me. I felt so defeated. When fitness is your business, an accident like that can cost your family a lot. Not to mention how I physically felt and the hours upon hours I had to leave Madeline for appointments, x rays, and physical therapy visits.

Friday, September 8, 2017

5 on Friday

Happy Friday Friends! I'm popping in to share five quick thoughts from the week.

one: beach trip

We snuck in a quick little family beach trip for Labor Day weekend. Madeline LOVED the beach. As soon as we got out of the car and she saw it she screamed "whoa" and took off running towards the waves.

Our trip was quick so we are already looking forward to next year, however she did so much better than last summer with being flexible while traveling and she just loved the sand, which we knew she would dive she loves her sandbox at home, too.