Favorite Memories from 2012


One of my favorite things to do is to go back at the end of the year and look through all of my blog posts. It brings back a lot of good memories and really helps me to reflect on all of our ups and downs. Here are a  few of my favorites from 2012:

January: I came up with a few resolutions for the year. Some I kept (like spend less, grow out my hair, and turn 30 - okay okay so that one was inevitable but I wanted to make sure I had at least one success!) some not so much (namely Keep from looking like a hoarder by putting clean laundry away immediately. If you saw the wash baskets full of clean clothes in my bedroom right now you would be horrified)

February: We started to have potty training success and after a lot of debate I ventured to write a post with some tips from our experience. Little did I know it would become the most viewed post on my blog. That's right - a post about pee and poop is by far the most viewed on this site. Craziness! :)

March: The inevitable happened. I turned 30. Kevin and I wanted to do something special to celebrate without spending too much money or going too far away from the babe, so we decided to take a weekend and go to Philly. I had a blast relaxing in bubble baths at our hotel and eating out at the yummy restaurants and patisseries.

April: We had a lovely Easter surrounded by family and Violet had her first real taste of egg painting and an egg hunt. Oh, and my parents got her a polka-dot chicken that lays eggs while singing probably the most annoying song known to man...and she loved it. The day was a hit and she looked absolutely adorable in her pigtails.

May: We celebrated Violet's second birthday. I can't believe my baby is a two-year-old! I had a lot of fun with the decorations and we went with a Cinco de Mayo theme, complete with sombreros and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey. Oh yeah, and a Cookie Monster pinata (what can I say, the kid loves Sesame Street!) Not the most creative party theme ever but it was darn fun! And to top it off, she got her first bite of cake! Thanks to Duncan Hines I was able to make a dairy-free cake that wasn't disgusting. She loved every. messy. sugary. dairy-free bite.

June: We celebrated Kevin's second Father's Day. I found a bunch of books that featured Daddy's for Violet to read with Kev (is it just me or do a lot of kids' books seem to be missing the dad?!). We had a big homemade breakfast and topped it off with a picnic at the lake. It was a lovely laid back summer day.

July: This month was a busy one, so I couldn't pick just one thing. We celebrated the Fourth of July with cherry snowballs, a barbeque, a sprinkler, a parade and sparklers. Somehow we managed to squeeze in a trip to the zoo before jetting off to Australia to meet our new nephew. The plane trip went surprisingly well thanks to some seriously crazy pre-planning (see tips here, here, and here). We decided to break up the trip by spending the night and following day in L.A., so Violet got to see the Pacific from the American side and later the Aussie end (sadly before ever seeing the Atlantic which is much closer. Shameful.) We spent the trip soaking up our newest little family member, playing outside in the Aussie sunshine, and topped it off with a visit to a friend's farm. I'll admit that I felt a little off my rocker planning such a long trip with a toddler, but it ended up being a lovely holiday that we'll remember always, and I learned that sometimes taking a risk leads to the best experiences in life.

August: We got the most amazing photos from our trip - the lovely Candice Van Moolenbroek snapped these of my beautiful blue-eyed nephew and these of our little family. I couldn't be more in love with any pictures and only wish she lived here in the U.S. We slowly unwound and unpacked and tried to get back on track after our big adventure before starting back to work for the year.

September: It was a rough month. We ran into sleep issues with Violet, were both back at work full-time, and I landed a gig writing for Apartment Therapy. Life got crazy and I didn't post as much as usual, but things gradually got easier. I learned that this too shall pass.

October: The sleep thing didn't get much better, but we fell into a rhythm of taking turns getting up at night. I learned that having a supportive husband is something I am very very thankful for. The holiday season started up and it's so much fun with a toddler. We went to a local farm for some Fall fun, celebrated Halloween with not one but two costumes - one with red sparkly shoes and and one with brown leather boots. We dug through trick-or-treat bags and looked up unlabeled candy for allergen information. And last but certainly not least we announced that we would be adding a new little surprise to our family - a stow away from our trip to Oz...it was a good month.

November: We chowed down on pumpkin pie and Violet had a love affair with candy corn. I made it through the first trimester and started to feel like a somewhat-normal human being again (just in time for the eating holidays, hooray!). Instead of thinking about how nauseous and miserable I felt I started dreaming of a few new things for our new little bean and you awesomely gave me your advice and suggestions. We also welcomed our newest beautiful niece, Braithe to the family (and Violet fell in love with her) and ended the month with an early Christmas tree from our favorite local tree farm. (And yes it lasted through Christmas, although it's starting to look a little brown-tinged more "golden" than green as of today)

December: I wanted this month to be magical for Violet. And it was. Instead of going too crazy buying new decorations we made a lot of our own. I got crafty with the gift wrap and made a different kind of Christmas to-do list for us. (And we (mostly) stuck to it). We saw twinkling lights, visited Santa (with smiles for the first time this year!), and had a perfectly lovely Christmas morning. And to add the cherry on top, we found out that Violet is going to have a little sister

So there you have it - our year in all wrapped up in a single blog post. All I can say is 2013, you have a lot to live up to. Looking forward to meeting the newest member of our family and continuing to make memories with our little family. Happy New Year all - thanks for helping to make this one amazing!  xo, Lauren 

Christmas Magic

A-Lovely-Lark-Christmas-Lights-2012There's nothing quite like the magic of Christmas lights. I remember one of my favorite parts of Christmas as a child was when we'd drive home from my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. Everything was always so quiet and peaceful, and I loved seeing everyone's houses all aglow on the way home. I hope Violet gets some of those same warm fuzzy feelings as we build our own Christmas traditions each year. What was your favorite tradition growing up? I'd love to hear how other people celebrate the season! xo, Lauren

A Very Merry Christmas!

A-Lovely-Lark-Christmas-Morning-2012 This was truly one of the best Christmases I've had in quite a long time. Everything seemed to go just perfectly - we woke up to a blanket of glistening white snow outside, built a roaring fire in the fireplace, and my mom thoughtfully popped a breakfast casserole into the oven to bake while we opened presents. Violet was just thrilled with her haul this year. She woke up around 5:00 AM and we let her come back to bed with us. While she was laying there she whispered to me, "Mommy, I heawr somethin' outside!" I told her maybe it was Santa bringing presents and that she'd better go back to sleep. It was so completely adorable how excited she was.

I expected certain gifts to be favorites, but she was truly and honestly as excited about her new pajamas as she was about her train set. She couldn't get enough of ripping open paper packages and cutting string with her favorite little pair of scissors. And while I didn't expect anything big for myself (the mister and I decided not to get each other presents this year), my family surprised us with a new set of video monitors for Violet and the new baby. I can't tell you how thrilled I am at the prospect of spying on my slumbering angels! Looking forward to the years to come with two little girls ripping open packages, eyes aglow, and singing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus right alongside Jingle Bells. :)

Hope your Christmas was magical.

xo, Lauren 

Lovely Links


I haven't shared any Friday links for quite a while now, so I thought we were due! Here are six lovely links for your weekend:

Six: A whimsical DIY sweater

Merry Christmas everyone!!! xo, Lauren

Food is Love


There's nothing like food to bring people together! Especially the sweet kind, baked with love. Violet and I went to our annual cookie exchange this past week, and I'll admit that I was a little nervous. She is old enough to know that she would be missing out on all of the gorgeous treats that would be spread out on the table, and I felt for her. Of course I brought some special dairy-free cookies along with us, but it's always more fun to eat something new and different and not mama's old standby sugar and gingerbread cookies.

After a lot of thought I decided to ask if the other lovely ladies attending would mind bringing their ingredient lists/recipes along so that I could hunt for a cookie or two that Violet could eat, and I ended up being completely overwhelmed by their generosity. Not only did some people make cookies that were specifically dairy-free for Violet, one even brought boxes of special store-bought (and dairy-free) cookies with (and here's the kicker) BLUE icing. Violet's favorite color. Combined with the fact that some of the cookies were packed in a red plastic bucket (which I promptly emptied and gave to her), she was in HEAVEN.

I couldn't tell those women enough how much it meant to me that they thought of my little girl and took time out of what I'm sure were very busy holiday schedules to make her feel special. So thank you, thank you, and thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.

xo, Lauren

Handmade Mobiles by Freya Art & Design

These handmade mobiles by Freya Art & Design are just so sweet. I want one of each!

Puj Snug Giveaway Winners!


Here are the 10 WINNERS! If you are on this list please email me at alovelylark at gmail.com with your shipping address and color choice:  Aqua, Kiwi, or White. You have 5 days to claim your prize. If you do not, another entrant will be chosen.

1. Goodness Graces
2. marquettemonv15
3. Becca
4. Miranda W.
5. KristinainAustin
6. Brooke
7. Aura
8. Jenna
9. tessarh
10. Lindsey
Thanks all for playing! xo, Lauren

Mama + Baby

A fun graphic pullover for mama + a rad handmade letter coatrack for baby

Supermom: Brandy Mercredi of Heart & Habit

Brandy Mercredi of Heart & Habit

This week's Supermom is Brandy Mercredi of Heart & Habit! Brandy has the two most stylish and adorable kiddos on the block. Her family always looks straight out of a magazine, but I love that Brandy is great at finding deals and coming up with ways to get the most wear out of her little one's outfits. She's also the founder of the Style Mentors - a service to help those of us who are in a bit of a fashion rut freshen up our wardrobe. Read on to learn more about this week's supermom...

Raid-Your-Craft-Stash Gift Wrap

This year I decided to try not to buy any new supplies with which to wrap our gifts (other than some kraft paper) and instead trim down my leftover craft supply stash. Pretty much every present ended up being a little different, but I tried to stick with a general color theme so it didn't get to crazy. I made some yarn pom poms, used up some leftover tissue paper fringe from my DIY 'confetti system' ornaments, and a few extra felted wool balls from the garland I made for our mantel as well.

I also found a few other random things - some dot stickers, printer paper (for snowflakes), ribbon, string, washi tape, doilies, and white paint. Then I went to work while I watched A White Christmas (one of my favorites!) on TV and munched on Christmas cookies. I tried to use  a lot of red and blue for Violet's because whenever anyone asked Violet what she wants for Christmas she says, "Pwesents." And if they ask her what kind of presents she says, "Wed, boo - my fav-it!" (Red and blue - my favorite!) She'll probably like my mom's gift wrap better (red and blue Sesame street gift wrap), but I had fun making ours. :)

P.S. I used these free printable gift tags

Oh Happy Christmas House!


It's so much fun to get to add lights and glitter and COLOR to your house at this time of year! I mean really anything goes - you don't have to stick with traditional reds or greens or whites and I'm loving it.
I wanted our Christmas to be more colorful and fun than it has in years past for me Violet, but I didn't want it to be cheesy. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

I seriously don't know if I'll want to take any of it down this year. Can it be Christmas year-round please?! xo, Lauren

P.S. A big thank you to Katie of Katie's Pencil Box for the awesome glitter banner inspiration and tutorial and to Land's Ends' Christine Bartow for her AMAZING customer service in helping me find a second matching Christmas stocking for the one that I bought from them last year. And randomly and completely unrelated, but to the lady last night who offered to take my cart back to the grocery store corral for me because I had a little one in the car :)

Kiwi Crate - She Loved It!

The lovely folks over at Kiwi Crate were nice enough to send one of their products over for Violet to try out, and it was a definite hit! Kiwi Crate is a monthly subscription service, targeted at kids ages 3-7.  They deliver a box to your child each month that’s designed around a certain theme (think Dinosaurs, Garden, Superheroes, Space.)  In each box are 2-3 fun projects, which cover a range of developmental areas and subjects, including art, science, and imaginative play. The subscription is $19.95 a month with free shipping. I wasn't sure how Violet would do with it since she's only two-and-a-half, but she absolutely loved it! 

We tried out the Antarctic Adventure box, which came with a penguin bowling game, ice experiments, and Aurora Postcards. Violet was completely in love with the penguins and the new art supplies. We've used tempera paint and crayons a lot, but the oil pastels and watercolors were new to her so she was seriously enthralled. She loved that the penguins had two families - a mommy, daddy, and baby in each. She went to town with the markers first, followed by the stickers, and finally the pastels and watercolors. I was allowed to help with one of the daddy penguins :)

I was thrilled with how into the penguin decorating she was, but wasn't sure how the bowling part would go. Would she be upset about knocking down her new friends? And would she even be able to do it? Well apparently that was the best part! We set them up horizontally so it was a little harder for her to miss and she knocked one down on the first try! She loved running back and forth to get the ball and trying to knock all of the penguins over. We bowled four or five rounds before she tired of it, which is seriously a LOT for a two-and-a-half year old! Not many things hold her attention for as long as the Kiwi Crate did. It filled pretty much our entire morning. I would definitely recommend this, and by the look on Violet's face in the last photo you can probably guess that she would too! Thanks Kiwi Crate!

Happy Friday everyone! xo, Lauren

P.S. If you're interested in gifting a Kiwi Crate subscription, the cut off for Christas delivery is Wed. Dec. 19 at 12PM PT

P.P.S. Don't forget to enter to win a Puj Snug. It's super easy to enter and there will be TEN winners from my site alone. Plus they're seriously sooo cute!

I received a free Kiwi Crate for this review, but was not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

An Indoor Picnic

a-lovely-lark-indoor-picnic Violet got an early Christmas gift this year courtesy of Uncommon Goods. I love their products for adults (we actually ordered some whiskey stones from them for my brother-in-law last year), but I was surprised to find out that they have a lot of great kids' products, which you can check out here. As soon as she saw the organic crocheted fruit rattles she decided we were going to have a picnic! The fruit went into her 'Dorothy basket' (usually reserved for Toto) and she went in search of a blanket. The teepee had to come in of course too, because pretty much all of our summer 'picnics' were held within it. We had a great time sharing tea and munching on (and shaking) the fruit, and when we cleaned up she found a special place for it in her play kitchen (so 'no one else get it').

From a mama's perspective, I am pretty smitten with our new toys as well. The fruit rattles are high quality and they meet my two big 'musts' for toys in our home: they look pretty and Violet loves them. Since we have a teeny home her toys have to be out in our main living areas, and while of course number one is that Violet enjoys her toys (otherwise what's the point!?), I also don't want them to be an eyesore. Plus these would make great stocking stuffers! (Which by the way if you're still hunting they also have a ton of great smaller gifts as well, perfect for stockings.) A big thank you to Uncommon Goods for playing Santa for us this year! xo, Lauren

We received a set of organic crochet fruit rattles from Uncommon Goods to review for this post, but were not compensated in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

Lovely Little Lamps

So I apparently have an obsession with lamps that come in animal form. I bought Anthropologie's ceramic squirrel lamp for Violet's room, and now am having trouble restraining myself with these two cuties. Seriously - a hedgehog?! I die.

Baby Wish List No. 005

Sweet knitted little baby things tug at my heart strings every time. There's just something so cozy and soft and sweet about them. Here are three I'm currently coveting for our new little girl:

Hand Knit Pom Pom Blanket (no longer available unfortunately)

xo, Lauren

Baby Wish List posts are generously sponsored by the online baby registryBabyList - put anything on your baby registry from any store. It's as easy to use as Pinterest, because making your baby registry should be fun!

Lovely Little Shop: Safari Living


I'm dying over these metallic paper bags by Uashmama and little lamb pom pom garlands from Safari Living. I can think of about a million different uses for them - holidays, parties, nursery decor - you name it! Pretty please Santa...

Giveaway: Puj Snug

This giveaway is closed.

For this giveaway we've teamed up with Puj Baby, Spearmint Baby, The Little Style File, & Cupcake Mag to give away 40 Puj Snug Spout Covers. Each of the four bloggers involved will choose 10 winners, which means there will be 40 winners total - hurray! The Puj Snug is a new product from the makers of the infamous Puj tub. It's a soft spout cover which keeps your little one safe during bath time. The soft material flexes to fit a variety of faucets, and it's also non-absorbent, so no mildew. Another plus - it's made from recycled materials. And the best part is - it's completely adorable! The spout cover comes in three color choices: aqua, kiwi, and white.

To enter simply post a comment on this blog and:

1. "Like" Puj Baby on Facebook


2. Follow @Pujbaby on Twitter


3. Tweet about this contest and link to it on Twitter and/or Facebook

For more chances to win enter at Spearmint Baby, The Little Style File, and Cupcake Mag!

Contest will be open until Midnight EST on Tuesday, December 18th, 2012. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Entrants must provide a first name and email address in order to enter. Please avoid putting your contact information directly in your comment. After the winner is randomly chosen he or she will be put in contact with the sponsors of the giveaway. Winnings will not be distributed by A Lovely Lark. If the winner does not claim his or her prize within ten days, they forfeit their winnings and another winner will be chosen and contacted via email. All rules and conditions are subject to change without notice.

This giveaway is closed.

Merry + Bright

A-Lovely-Lark-Gender-Reveal-Christmas-Party We had a little Christmas party with our family this past weekend and found out the gender of our new baby together. I had a friend hide the answer in one of our Christmas crackers, so we didn't know until they were all popped open! It was a fun night full of romping kids and yummy food. Definitely close quarters for our little house, but we made do! We also got to snuggle with the newest addition to our family - our sweet little niece. Violet was completely in love with her and had to touch every one of her tiny little fingers and toes. Stay tuned tomorrow to find out if it's a boy or girl... :) xo, Lauren

A Different Kind of Christmas To-Do List


At Christmas time we all have our crazy to-do lists: put up lights, buy gifts, wrap gifts, clean the house for company, etc. It's busy and crazy and no one has a minute to breathe. But despite all of that, I know that this is going to be Violet's first Christmas where she really 'gets it' and I want to make sure it's special. So I decided to come up with a different kind of to-do list. One full of fun and festive things to do with my little girl before the season ends. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1. Bake Christmas cookies
2. Make a gingerbread house
3. Go see a fantastic Christmas light display
4. Take a photo with Santa
5. Watch classic Christmas movies as a family (The Grinch, Charlie Brown, Rudolph)
6. Go to the Winter Festival
7. Take a train ride
8. Make our own gift wrap
9. Leave cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer
10. Hang ornaments together
11. Make a personalized ornament for Violet
12. Make a hand wreath
13. See a fantastic nativity display or a live nativity
14. See Christmas carolers

We're already on our way - we may not be Martha Stewart by any stretch of the imagination, but the cookies (above) that we made together tasted pretty yummy! What fun things do you plan to do with your little one this holiday season? I'd love some ideas! xo, Lauren

Lovely Little Space: Woodsy Girl


Guest posting over on Bungalow Kids today! You can check out more details and sources on this woodsy little girls' room here.

Little Holiday Style: Girl

I'll admit that Target, Gap and Old Navy tend to be my go-to stores for little girl clothing. Easy and relatively inexpensive if you shop when they have sales. But there are also a ton of adorable boutiques and Etsy shops out there that sells gorgeous, gorgeous little girl clothing as well. I just drool over those and then pin them before hurrying away clutching my money. For special occasions though, I'll sometimes splurge a little. Unless Kevin talks me out of it... Anyway, here are my favorite little girl dresses, shoes, and accessories for the holiday season. (Prices high, low, and everywhere in between!):

Clockwise from top left: pink dress, white sweater dress (49.95), big bow headband (12.95), metallic lace dress (9.95), beads (14.50), coral sweater dress (15.00), shimmery flats (59.50), polka dot dress (59.99), crochet crown (9.99), velvet dress (88.00), bauble necklace (16.50), red dress (69.90), faux fur jacket (39.99), pink faux fur shrug (39.99), lace collar dress (32.90)

Clockwise from top left: faux fur boots (44.95), fur-lined ballet flat (34.95), beaded headband (29.50), silver glitter headband (14.50), silver cap-toe flat (58.00), white tights (9.90), velvet mary janes (16.99), turquoise tights (9.90), gold mary janes (29.90), gold sparkle headband (14.50), gold sparkle belt (28.00), mint cardigan (29.95), jade mary janes (14.99), faux fur earmuffs (8.00), silver belt (11.99), suede petal shoes (39.90), pearl headband (11.50)

Clockwise from top left: red and pink stripe tights (14.50), bright pink tights (12.50), coral dot tights (28.00 - 3 pack), light pink tights (9.90), pink polka dot tights (12.90), gold bow tights (8.00 - 2 pack), red patent mary janes (35.90), turquoise tights (12.50), bright red tights (12.50), patent headbands (14.50), fuschia tights (10.50)

Plus find all of these sources and more on my Pinterest board!

Plan Toys on Sale at My Habit


Scoring big time today! Just saw this Plan Toys sale over on My Habit and bought the train set for Violet. And the best part (besides the fact that I saved a TON of money)? The station becomes a storage box!

Gifts for Your Little Reader

Random House is for sale on Zulily today! Just bought a bunch of books for Violet. Check it out here.

Lovely Little Shops: Sew Heart Felt

I stumbled across these adorable felt slippers and handbags the other day and immediately bought a pair of slippers for Violet! Unfortunately I haven't been able to locate the bags in the U.S., but you can buy the slippers here. xo, Lauren

A Visit with the Big Guy

A-Lovely-Lark-Winter-Festival-2012 We went to the local Winter Festival this past weekend and visited the big guy himself. Violet was sooo excited to see Santa. She kept saying, hurry Mommy, hurry! I had my doubts about if she would even sit on his lap - she was pretty clingy after having a shorter-than-usual nap and the past two years with Santa haven't gone so well. This year was special though - Santa magically knew Violet's name (let's just say he was very VERY close friends with Violet's great uncle...) and she got right up there and sat on his knee. She was a little star struck - she wouldn't look at Santa, but she sat there and smiled like a champ. She also told him that she wanted "Pehsents - bue, wed! And a tahr" (Blue and red presents and a car for her dollhouse).

They also had a little train set up for the kids and carolers. She had a blast riding on the train and told us it was "verwy fast!"We didn't get to stay for the big tree lighting -  I think between the cold and lack of sleep she had about reached her limit. Overall I'll mark the night off in the book as a success and I'll bet she's going to get everything on her little wish list... :) xo, Lauren

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