Back from the Beach & into the Blog

Hello, lovelies. I’ve missed you and am excited to be back on the blog.

I had a fantastic trip with the family (many weeks ago) and had to jump right back into the real world the moment we got home. School, soccer and work all came calling…at once.

Coming to this space and writing on the blog gives me a lot of joy. So, I’m happy to carve out this moment to sit in front of the computer – and not for a work assignment!

As we dive back in, I thought I’d share a few things we’ve been up to in the Andersen house these past few weeks:

{ONE} Creating fresh starts

My twin girls are in middle school this year, which completely blows my mind. Top that off with my son starting 9th grade, and I plunge into denial. They’re still babies, right?! Just a little taller and several shoe sizes bigger than me. >>

{Um…he’s not even standing on anything – other than his own two feet!}

In my effort to slow time, I decided to spend more of it focused on my kids…getting ready for new schools, different experiences and deeper friendships.

For my girls, it also meant getting ready for a locker. (Another “first” for the books.) As you can imagine, we had a blast cruising the aisles of Hob Lob looking for everything and anything to glue to magnets.

Here are a few of our favorite projects >>

Project 1: We decorated a round mirror with folds of ribbon. Upper left shows the finished product. Upper right shows the supplies: mirror, ribbon, magnets (not pictured are glue gun and felt). Lower left shows how I looped and glued the ribbon. Lower right shows the back. I used felt to soften the edges of the ribbon.

Project 2: We found small aluminum letters and just glued magnets to the back. A super simple way to personalize a locker!

Project 3: Another easy one. We found these darling metal flowers in the jewelry section of Hob Lob and just hot-glued small magnets to the backs. We went back for more of these little pretties.

Project 4: This is a small craft supply tin with a clear lid. We took a magnet sheet (available at Hob Lob) and cut it to fit the entire bottom of the container. Then the girls filled them with mints so they can freshen their breath between classes!

Project 5: We found these clothespins already decorated, but we decided we could also make more using washi tape. Then we glued magnet strips to the back to make them locker ready!

This magnet (and the one below) were purchased “as is”. We found them on our way back from the beach. There was this darling pecan farm that also had a gift shop and deli. We stopped for treats and couldn’t pass these up.

Aren’t these great messages to greet the girls every time they open their lockers?

Yes they are!!

{TWO} Spreading kindness through rocks

Speaking of rocking, kindness rocks are still on my agenda of life. The girls and I recently made a new batch and plan to keep making more this fall. Yay!

I painted all of the rocks a base color (using acrylic paint) and the girls decorated with designs and messages (using fine tip paint pens). I loved how this one turned out.

Avery had fun turning a few of them into critters.

Clara worked on this one. I love her twin popsicles.

PS. I love that this trend continues to grow across the country. I hope you’ll give it a try, if you haven’t already!

{THREE} Making not-to-do lists


I was inspired by my Day Designer to create a list of things NOT to do. How liberating is that?

We’re encouraged to fill this list with things we would be better off eliminating from our daily routine. Things that have turned to habits that prevent us from accomplishing our to-dos and deplete our time and energy and affect our happiness and success. Not-to-do lists help us be more productive because…

“What you don’t do determines what you can do.”

For example, my not-to-do list includes:

  • Check email before coffee in the morning
  • Sit for longer than 30 min at a time (this is a thing, y’all!)
  • Focus on my mistakes

What would yours include?

{FOUR} Chillin’ with my furry babies

Even through all of the busyness, I still make time to hang out with our pets. It’s so amazing how calming they are.

Rosie is our resident chubby bunny. We’ve had her for about five years now.

Leo is our two-yr-old mini Goldendoodle who looks like a forever puppy, because he’s a mini. He’s full of kisses – and energy!

{FIVE} Decorating for fall

Today is the first official day of fall! While I haven’t gone into full pumpkin mode just yet, I’ve started the transition into fall around the house.

Like on the front door. I pulled out my chalkboard sign, which is the perfect way to handle in-between seasons. The style doesn’t have to change, just update your message! >>

I’m excited to have some time next week to decorate the inside of the house – and maybe even get it smelling like the season.

I’m a fan of this cranberry woods candle because it’s not too sweet. I’m taking suggestions for a new fall fragrance this year. What’s your favorite?!

I hope you have a fantastic fall weekend. Excited to see you back next week.





Friday Wrap: Catching Up

Yes. Hello, glorious weekend. I’m so happy to see you again!

We survived the first week of school, which included soccer practices and tons of projects at work. Thank goodness National Pinot Noir day was squeezed in there.

Brandon and I felt like it was our duty to oblige, and we had a nice evening catching up and sipping on a glass of Pinot from Oregon. We also had fun reminiscing about our trip this past fall. #wannagoback

oregon wineAnd speaking of catching up, I thought I’d share a few updates with you this week.

{ONE} The Olympics

Remember when I mentioned that my niece’s boyfriend was diving in the Olympics? Well, he jammed it out. He advanced all the way to finals. (In fact, he placed third in the preliminaries.)

When it was all said and done, he placed 5th. It was so exciting and we are all so proud of him!


This was a screen shot I took during finals.

Ipsen rankings

This shows his rankings from the prelims. See him there at third? BTW, the diver from China ended up winning gold.

This has been a great Olympics all around. We have so many amazing athletes representing our country. I hope you’ve had a chance to watch at least some of the inspiring races and performances.

{TWO} Front Door Decor

With the Olympics winding down and back-to-school gearing up, I decided to change up the front door. Here’s a little snapshot of what it looks like these days.

front door decoration

You may remember this chalkboard from the girls’ birthday? I thought it would be fun to pull it back out. I mean, it’s a chalkboard! 😉

{THREE} Buddy Bracelets

Last week I talked about surprising the girls with mom/daughter bracelets. Here’s what they look like. So far we’ve worn them every day!


The set only had one bracelet that said “daughter”, but Avery really wanted the one that said “love” anyway. Thank goodness it all worked out. #twinproblems

{FOUR} Fresh Flowers

When we got back from our trip to South Dakota, all of the flowers in our hanging baskets had dried up like raisins. I tried to strategically place them near our sprinklers, but the heat was just too much. I dumped the plants and have been staring at empty coco liners for weeks.


I finally filled them with some heather, which should be perfect this time of year. They can stand the heat and have delicate purple flowers that look so pretty on the back porch. I recommend them if you need to fill in a few spots in your garden.

{FIVE} Food & Fitness

Back in June I started a little health kick, which has been more of a shuffle at times than a true “kick.” As an update, I still like the 7-min workout, and have tossed in a bit of walking and jogging when I can. But I haven’t been as committed as I’d like, so I’ve been toying with the idea of challenging myself in the kitchen – my favorite room in the house.

I’m curious if changing my diet can really make an impact on my energy levels, skin, and love handles (which I don’t love).

Fast forward to this week…


I had one of those serendipitous moments when my friend, Allie, asked me to join her in trying Whole30. Initially, the sound of it scared me, because I have to give up cheese, chocolate and wine. But now that I’ve been reading the book, I’m excited to give this a shot.

We’re in the planning phase now, and are going to officially start on Aug. 29. If you’ve gone through this, please tell me how it went and if you have any tips for me. I have a feeling I’m gonna need some support! 😉

That’s a wrap, my friends. What have you been up to? Give me a shout as you enjoy this awesome weekend.




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Back to School Pep Talk: We Did It

Yesterday was the first day back to school for my 13-yr old and 10-yr old twins, which means I have an 8th grader and two 5th graders in my house. How did we get here so fast?!

back to school

All smiles – so far!! We had to do separate pics because of different start times at school. Also, Evan’s pic was taken after school. Long story, which I’m about to divulge.

For our first morning of school, I had visions of waking up super early (which already makes me laugh), getting dressed, braiding the girls’ hair, and then making a solid breakfast of sausage, eggs and toast before proceeding outside for our traditional family first-day-of-school portrait. Then Brandon and I would both escort our children to their schools and lovingly say our goodbyes and collectively pray for smooth sailing on this awesome first day of school.

Are you laughing with me, yet?

Here’s how it went down…

Brandon gets up super early to help get Evan ready for school. He’s in cross country this year, which means he needs to report to school at 6:30 am. SIX THIRTY. That’s way too early for this mama bird.

When the girls get up, they’re not very hungry. Too early to eat. Protein shakes in the blender it is. They want to do their own hair and don’t feel like braids. Clara leaves it down and “flowy” and Avery, my little sporty spice, throws it up in a pony and calls it good.

Meanwhile, Brandon is back from taking Evan to school. I ask how it went, and he explains Evan didn’t want to take in his school supplies. No one else seemed to be walking in with large shopping bags, so he ditched them in the car and walked into school. When Brandon rolled down the window to see if he at least had a notebook and pencil, Evan shot him a desperate “OMG, please don’t talk to me in front of all of these kids” look. So Brandon rolls on – chuckling and wondering if he’ll EVER get those supplies to school.

I make lunches and nearly forget to toss in a love note. The girls are busy making a game time decision on their outfits. They both change shoes, and Clara swaps out her shirt before jetting out the door – with their dad.

After all of the commotion, I wasn’t ready for work, yet. I give my hugs and kisses at the door, feed our zoo of animals, microwave a frozen breakfast sandwich and shove it in my mouth on my way out the door.


Now that I’m sitting still, scrolling through all of the back-to-school Facebook posts, and texting my close friends to see how they’re holding up, I’m able to reflect on my own morning. It was super hectic, and certainly didn’t go as planned.

But, we did it.

And all five of us – plus a dog, rabbit and fish were all surviving just fine. I decided to look back at last year’s post to remind myself of how the first week of school went that time. It was pretty much the same, but with a teething, potty training puppy. What were we thinking?!

I guess the lesson in all of this (for me) is to keep embracing this messy, imperfect, and lovely life.The journey is far more interesting when I allow myself to laugh, cry and wonder along the way.

I’m also reminding myself of this golden gem…


{source} And boy do I love those monkeys.

And this is especially important for all of us mommas to remember this school year…

Here’s to a great school year – for all of us. #letsdothis




Friday Wrap: Back to School Time

Happy Friday! It’s already back-to-school time in our house. Yikes. We had our orientation/ice cream social on Thursday and now we’re making final preps for the big day on Monday.

you got this

I am totally digging these pencils. I don’t know if they’re more appropriate for the kids or me!!

Speaking of supplies…have you seen the new Walmart commercial with the Whitesnake song? It’s darling!! I’m also pretty positive it’s how my kids feel about getting back in the saddle. They want to own that first day armed with awesome supplies, a stylish outfit and an enviable homemade lunch.

I don’t blame them. In fact, I love that first-day feeling. Part jittery, part pumped. So I’ve done my best to help make this whole back-to-school season go as smooth as I can.

Here are five things up my mom-sleeve.

{And note, these are more for my girls than for my 13-yr. old son. He has assured me that he’s “got this, mom” and I believe him 100%. No fancy pencils needed for that kid.}

{ONE} The Outfit

iron on tees

My girls wanted something special to wear for their first day, and we found a few cute things from a mix of Old Navy, Target, Justice and Academy (for PE days). But when it came to “the outfit” for the first day, they decided to make something! Those two apples didn’t fall far from the tree.

We ended up getting some iron on transfers and made cute tees like the one above. I’ll post the official first-day pic on Monday!

{TWO} Fun Backpacks

backpacks full

We searched high and low for a backpack that had all of the pockets, zippers and space needed, PLUS the option to personalize so I don’t have to figure out how and where to label the darn thing. Pottery Barn Teen for the win. I really love how these turned out.

backpacks personalized

PB may have personalized with their names, but the girls made sure to personalize with charms, as well! 😉

Oh, and we found Converse tennies to match Clara’s pack. (She’s obsessed with Converse.) Bonus!

matching shoes

{THREE} Lunchbox Hacks

There are plenty of ideas on Pinterest, but this is one of my favorite compilations if you want a slew of smart ideas in one simple post.

bananas-secret-writingThere’s everything from writing a secret message on a banana with a tooth pick to the more essential hacks of wrapping a pre-sliced apple with saran wrap so it doesn’t get brown.


Another trick I was super excited to find – and will promptly try this year is a snack-contraption that’s made with a Mason jar and empty fruit cup container.

Mason jar lunch box trick

Pretty slick. And you can find some fun recipe combinations here.

{FOUR} Buddy Bracelets

Even though my girls have officially entered the double-digits, they still get a tad nervous about school. I thought this mother-daughter bracelet idea was so sweet.


It reminded me about the worry stones we did last year. Oh, and the Kissing Hands we would do when they were little. The girls decided these bracelets would be a fun twist this year. So…

I’m going to surprise them with matching bracelets on the first day of school for the three of us to wear. They’ll be a gentle reminder that we have love and support around us – even on the toughest days.

{FIVE} Important Notes

I’m a big fan of communication, which means I’m big on notes. Here are some notes for teachers, kids and even mommas and daddies out there sending their hearts out the door to school. <3

For Your Teachers

Student Information Sheet

Most teachers ask for this kind of info on the first day of school, but just in case, you could send this along to make things easy. I also like to jot down a few things about the kids – like what their favorite activities, books, and subjects are. Basically things I’d like to know if I were a teacher! 🙂

For Your Kids


Lunchbox love notes are awesome, but sometimes a silly joke is just what your day needs. Download this and more lunchbox notes here.

first day of school poem

This would be a great way to get kids talking about how they feel about school – and specifically their first day!

For You!

parent love note

Okay, as a mom, I think this would be THE sweetest thing to receive from a teacher on the first day of school.

holding hands

A little something to remember as we bravely let go a little bit each day to make room for our babies to grow.

My friends, here’s to a successful back-to-school season for everyone. And in the meantime, I have a very important question…

what type of wine




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Back-to-School Worry Stones

Heading back to school was always full of mixed emotions for me. On one hand I was super excited to see friends whom I didn’t get to see over the summer, and on the other I was nervous about new teachers and harder classes. My kids are the same way. We start to have upset tummies and canker sores this time of year. Not fun.

I decided to look for some helpful tools.

I discovered the concept of worry stones, which gives kids something small and tangible to hold onto when they feel stressed. They can simply reach in their backpack, lunchbox, or pocket to pull out their stone and allow it to absorb their worries and help them feel grounded. Especially when it’s paired with a reassuring phrase they can say to themselves, like, “I am safe and calm.”

The idea reminds me of the Kissing Hand.

In this classic children’s book, a momma raccoon places as kiss in her baby’s hand before he goes away to school. He’s able to keep her kiss with him all day – or in this case all night, since raccoons are nocturnal.

In the spirit of Kissing Hand, I used to draw a heart in the palm of my kids’ hands and kiss the center before sending them off to Kindergarten. It worked wonders, and is definitely something to try if you have little ones. Now that my babies are entering 4th and 7th grades, they may have outgrown this tradition. For the girls, it would just depend on the day.

We’re giving worry stones a try.

We scouted the garden for pretty rocks, then my husband and I kissed each rock before slipping them into little travel bags for school.


Hopefully these will help ease the stress a little. At the very least, the kids have some cool stones to show their friends.

Here’s to a stress-free, back-to-school week all around!


PS. Email me if you’d like to purchase a special worry stone harvested from a natural river bank here in beautiful Northwest Arkansas. It will arrive in a little organza bag and have instructions on how to work the stone. Only $3 plus shipping. Email: katejandersen{at}gmail{dot}com