Tuesday, December 24, 2019

OPT FOR OPTISISM THIS HOLIDAY SEASON...





For most of us, the holiday season is about spending time with family and friends, buying and receiving gifts, creating lifelong memories, and giving back. Personally, this time of the year is special to me because I love doing everything I can to help bring smiles to others and have a positive impact. Growing up, my mom taught me how important it is to help those that aren’t as fortunate as us. Regardless, if we barely had enough food for our own table, there’s always something you can give/donate. It doesn’t matter how small or big that contribution is, what matters is that you’re making an effort to help others. I’m very thankful to have teamed up with Frost Bank to help encourage everyone to “Frost It Forward”. Frost goal is to encourage everyone to be kind to others, to donate, to help those in need, and to spread holiday cheer to those outside of your circle. 

With our gift cards from Frost, I knew exactly how I could help others and spread holiday cheer. Recently, Houston’s Food Bank, lost over a million pounds of food due to a leakage. TONS of food was thrown out , which can prevent families from receiving food this holiday season. The boys and I went out to our nearest grocery store to get nonperishable food to donate to Houston’s Food Bank. During this time of the year, most grocery stores have huge cans dedicated for food donations so it’s super easy to contribute. We used our gift card to purchase everything and dropped it off. There was a sweet elderly lady that saw our family donating and told us that we inspired her to do the same. I knew right there and then that my job was done. We gave her a Frost gift card that would help her “Opt for Optimism”. I’m guilty of this but sometimes we see these donation signs, boxes, stands, etc and we walk right past them, not even thinking about it. When we see others doing a good deed, it turns a lightbulb on in our minds and hopefully encourages us to do the same. There are many easy and simple acts of kindness that you can do for others this holiday season; buy someone coffee, gift toys to children at your local children’s hospital, etc.

My mom has inspired me to do as much as I possibly can to help others and do kind things. When I was in high school, our family had 3 vehicles; one for my mom, my brother, and myself. My mom GAVE her car to a family that was a regular customer at her grocery store. My brother and I had to drive my mom 40 minutes every day to and from work. Those months were difficult for my brother and me because it was very inconvenient for us. Looking back, I can see the bigger picture. The cost of us commuting was nothing compared to the difference my mom made in that family’s life. That mom was able to drive their children to school or the grocery store. She didn’t have to walk in the heat with her children just to go to the park.

Frost 's goal is to be generous, encourage people to adopt an optimistic mindset throughout daily acts of optimism, and to be successful in what we do for ourselves and others. 

Visit the Opt For Optimism website to see how you can get involved and help spread generosity.

Thank you so much for reading! 

xo,
Annie


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

PINK AND RED FOR THE HOLIDAYS...




SWEATER: Pink Lily // SCARF: J Crew // JEANS: 7 For All Mankind // SHOES: Goodnight Macaroon 

Being back in New York during Christmas reminds me of mine and Tommy's engagement here in 2015. Tommy surprised me with a trip to New York January 2nd and that night, we got engaged at the Empire State Building. All of the Christmas decorations were still up after the new year. I had all the feelings being back and can't wait to start planning to be back here next year. Margret and I have been craving a winter/Christmas trip for awhile. We were planning to go to Boston originally but Margret said New York City would be perfect. Yall, NYC during the holidays is straight out of every single Christmas movie in NY. It's absolutely beautiful here and I'm working on a post and will be sharing details soon with everyone. 

Now, about this outfit. When I was picking pieces out from Pink Lily, I thought I'd chose a sweater that wasn't red, white, or black. I grabbed this pink one and thought about how I could style it to look "festive". Pink and red look so cute together and this plaid scarf brought some separation and texture between the two colors. The scarf pulls more of the red color to balance it out. 

Thank you so much for stopping by! 

xo,
Annie

Monday, December 16, 2019

OUR WINTER TRIP TO COLORADO...





Oh gosh, I don't even know where to begin when talking about this trip. Tommy, Liam, and I haven't been back in Colorado for over a year and it was so strange to think about how we use to live here! Even though Houston is home, Colorado was our first home as a family. We spent a lot of time in Colorado and wanted to create more memories with all of our children. This was Easton's first trip on a plane and out of Texas! He thought the airport was so cool and was that child that asked ton's of questions; "Is that our plane", "Is that the biggest one", "when do we get on it"? Flights from Houston to Colorado are pretty short, 2 hours. We decided to head to Beaver Creek this year and stay the the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch. This resort was an absolute dream! The resort look right out of a holiday movie. Our family stayed at the resort 80% of the time so I wanted to break down all of details for y'all! 

LOCATION
Bachelor Gulch is an area up in the mountains of Beaver Creek. It's about a 10 minute drive from Beaver Creek Village and 20 minute drive from Vail. The resort has its own land up on the mountains with stunning views. The resort is massive with 

AMENITIES
The amenities are truly endless. Ritz Carlton offers a full 21,00 sqft spa, with sauna, steam rooms, grottos, and pools. On Thursdays, they allow children to visit the spa for a fun night swimming. They take reservations and spots are limited. They also have a huge fitness center, an all you can play game room, nanny services, ski lifts right outside the hotel, shuttle service, several stores, on site ski rentals, heated pool, and hot tubs. The resort also offers meeting rooms!

LOBBY AREA
There were two nights during our stay that sat in the lobby with a glass of wine and caught up on work. The lobby area offers comfortable seating, bars, a fireplace, and even boardgames. There are Christmas trees everywhere which makes it feel like you're at home. There are table everywhere too so you can pick up some breakfast and eat in the lobby versus the bedroom.

OUTDOOR AREA
We spent so much time outside. When you have 3 children, convenience is everything. I can't express what a difference it made to have the ski lift and bunny slopes right outside of our hotel. It was Liam and Easton's first time skiing and they spent a lot of the time learning on the bunny slopes. The resort also has a ski rental store on site so you're able to pick up and drop off right there. When you walk out the lobby, you immediately see the beautiful mountains. There's a huge fireplace to roast s'mores overnight, a walk up bar, tons of seating, the pool area, and tons of snow. The resort is working on building another bar because the first bar has been so popular. The bar and new outdoor seating area is expected to open very very soon. There are limitless outdoor actives. Whether you want to go skiing, build a snowman, or sit by the fire, it's all right there. 

BEDROOM
We stayed in the Executive Suite during our trip and it was very spacious. We had a full size living room, a pull out sofa, work desk, 2 large TV's, fireplace, a guest bathroom, a king size bed, two large walk in closets, a double bathroom, and a spacious balcony area. My favorite spot was the living room. I loved staying up with Tommy and my siblings while the children slept in the other room. We had a few glasses of wine, played games, and stayed warm by the fire. The main bedroom was unreal.  The beds were so comfortable and the closets made it so easy to organize everyone's clothes. The bathroom was all white and had a standup shower and a bathtub for the kids. I'd say that the children's favorite part was the outdoor patio/balcony area. Every morning, they would wake up and ask to see the snow. It was so amazing to slid the back door open and let them play for a bit before getting the day started. It was completely closed in and safe. 

FOOD
We ate at 3 places inside the resort and everything was delicious. Our first morning we actually had a quick bite to eat at their coffee shop which has these huge breakfast burritos. They're so good and quick to grab. We did dinner at Buffalos and OH.MY.GOD. it was one of the best meals that I've ever had. I ordered steak and it was the best I've ever had. The kids had the salmon kids meal and it was so juicy and refreshing from all the chicken nuggets they had been eating. There is a bourbon cream brûlée on their dessert menu that I recommend. On our third day, we ate brunch at WYLD and it was very good. They offer unique dishes created by the chef, your classic brunch entrees like waffles, eggs, ect, and buffets. I love trying out new dishes when I travel and I love that the chef is always change a bit of it up.

12 DAYS OF WONDER
I wanted to share all of the actives the resort will be offering during the Christmas season and it makes me want to plan another trip. From December 21-January 1st, the resort will be having their 12 Days Of Wonder; 12 days of festive events for everyone. There will be s'mores, pop ups, decorating cookies, candle making, hot cocoa, and a day with Santa and his elves. The events are perfect for families and even a fun date night with your significant other. There are still rooms available during Christmas week but they usually book up fast so be sure to plan for your holiday trip soon!

Outside of the resort, there are plenty of other actives as well. We went to Vail to stroll around the town and it was beautiful. Vail was actually the first trip Tommy, Liam, and I ever took. We went to Beaver Creek Village for the first time and there were tons of restaurants, ice skating, gorgeous mountain views, and places to have drinks. They also have firework shows too! There's a shuttle that runs from the resort to the village every 20 minutes so it makes it easier to travel from the resort to the village. 

I hope this guide has helped with your next trip! Thank you so much for reading. 

xo,
Annie 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

HOW TO DRESS LIGHTLY FOR THE SNOW + CHLOE'S FIRST SNOW...


Me: JACKET: Red Dress // SWEATER: Target // JEANS: 7 For All Mankind // SHOES: Sorel // HAT: Abercrombie // Chloe: JACKET: Zara // SWEATER DRESS: Target // LEGGINGS: Gap // SHOES: UGG // HAT: Zara

Currently half awake as I'm writing this because if I don't share these outfits now, I'll probably forget. I've been going through a weird stump where I was only writing blog posts to get a post out. It wasn't exciting anymore and I felt that I was a broken record player when talking about my outfits. Working from home gets old really quick and I felt that this trip to Colorado gave me life in myself and my work. I felt creative and because y'all were asking me questions about what to wear, what to bring, what to do, I felt that I had a purpose again with writing on my blog; to share my insights, life, and connect with y'all. 

One of my most asked questions was "what to pack"? I wrote exactly what we packed in this post. This post is more for people that are going to the mountains but don't plan on skiing, snowboarding, ect. Chloe and I pretty much chilled the entire time. I snagged this coat for her at Zara for only $30! It's super thick and was great for the snow. It isn't water repellant but when snow got on it, most of it just slid off. For baby shoes, I bought these UGGs for her and then this water repellant spray. It worked like a charm. I doubled up on her leggings and if she wore jeans, I'd put a legging underneath.   Chloe is weirdly freaked out by gloves so she didn't wear any. I feel that most babies don't wear gloves or they only end up being on the ground. I pulled her sleeves down to block out the wind/cold. 

For my outfit, it's pretty much the same. I absolutely love this coat. It's not made for negative degree weather nor is it "waterproof" but it was perfect for light snow and normal "snow weather". The elevation is so high that when the sun is out, is feels like you're burning. That's why you see people skiing with light sweaters or half naked sometimes, lol. I decided to invest in these Sorel boots because they're a classic snow boot that comes back every year and you NEED water proof/warm shoes. Forget the gloves, beanie, and thick jacket. If you don't have proper shoes, you will FREEZE. Of course, you'll need jeans, leggings, sweaters, and beanies when packing. 

Tommy, Liam, and I are so use to the snow that we didn't make a big deal out of Chloe's and Easton's first snow. I didn't realize it until maybe a few hours later, lol. Chloe had such a different reaction than Liam. She was super nervous about it and would NOT touch it, lol. She pretty much walked around inches away from me and that's it. I pretty much held her the entire trip but there were moments where she'd run through the snow all excited. She's so much like me, it's crazy. 

We had such an amazing time in Colorado and I know we're going to be back next year. I'm working on a big blog post on our stay and details on what we did, where we ate, eat. So stay tuned! 

Thank you so much for reading! 

xo,
Annie 



Tuesday, December 10, 2019

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN PLANNING FOR YOUR NEXT FAMILY PHOTOSHOOT...





Me: TOP // SKIRT // SHOES // Tommy: TOP // BOTTOMS // SHOES // JACKET // Liam: TOP // BOTTOMS // SHOES // Easton: TOP // BOTTOMS // SHOES // Chloe: DRESS // SHOES // HAIR TIE

We've had our fair share of family photoshoots and to be 100% honest, majority of them have been extremely stressful and not enjoyable. The irony is pretty funny. We want and probably have that perfect happy family photo when in reality, it was probably mom yelling at the kids to smile when all they wanted was to play, and hubby COMPLETELY over it. Our last few family photoshoots have gone extremely well so I thought it was fit to finally share my tips and notes on how to plan your next family photoshoot. Here are 3 easy steps with tips! 

STEP 1: Figure out what everyone is wearing!

Ask yourself these questions; Do you want casual or dressy outfits? Do you want to do a holiday pj shoot? Do you want neutral colors so you can hang the pictures around your home all year round or do you purposely want them to look like a Christmas photoshoot? What is the color scheme? 

For us, we love Christmas photos and wanted to share holiday outfit ideas with y'all so Christmas theme it was. We found all of our pieces at JCPenney (head to toe) for under $400 total. Yes, every single thing, including shoes. While we were shopping, it started out with casual outfits but somehow became a mix of dressy and casual. I knew that if the boys and Tommy wore patterns, Chloe and I had to get solid colored pieces to balance everything out. Our main color for our shoot was red. 

STEP 2: Find a photographer and a location!

How to find a photographer: When I'm shooting outside of Houston, I always go on instagram and look at bloggers from that city and see what photographer is tagged in their photos. For example, these pictures were taken by Divina who is based in Austin. I had seen her work from Austin bloggers that I follow and loved her work. This was actually our first time shooting and I absolutely LOVE the pictures she captured.  Sometimes, I also look up hashtags that are relevant. For example, #austinphotographer #houstonphotographer #dallasphotographer, ect. It's always nice to reach out to multiple photographers to compare rates and turnaround time. 

Finding the right location! Majority of the time, the photographer will you give recommendations. 9 times out of 10, I look up "Instagram spots" or "where to take pictures in (enters city location) on Pinterest. 

STEPS 3: Tips on getting that perfect family picture! 

Plan for a short photoshoot! I'd say that 30 minutes should be the max. Especially when majority of your family members don't want to be there in the first place, lol. An hour long photoshoot is asking for a lot and to be honest the second half always ends up being a wreck with everyone being tired and wanting to leave. Before your shoot, show your photographer any inspiration of family poses or certain picture ideas. That way she/he doesn't miss it. 

Bribe! Not all parents may need to do this or agree with it, but it has definitely worked for my children. If I'm going to put my children through the excruciating pain of taking family pictures, I feel it would be right to reward them. With Chloe, she doesn't take much bribing. For the boys, I may have little bit size candies in my bag and hand them one for every solid smile, lol. 

Get some natural shots! Personally, I love having real life moments captured on camera. The laughing   ones are my favorite because I get the real smiles out of my children. It's also okay to fake a "natural" photo. In reality, when we're playing with our kids, their faces are turned away from the camera and everyone is far away from each other. I like to position everyone together and then Tommy and I will make a silly knock knock joke to tell the boys. 

Taking pictures with multiple children! If you have more than 1 child, always position the oldest children first. They're more likely to listen and smile. Once everyone is in position, then have the last children get ready for a quick 1-5 second shot. 

Don't Stress! I can't express how important this tip is. Moms, because we were the ones who most likely organized everything, we're running the show. If we're stressed out and yelling, everyone will be too. Make the photoshoot a fun thing to do, not something everyone wants to get over with. 
 There is one photoshoot that Tommy, Liam, and I had in Colorado and it wasn't great. I was angry at Tommy for not doing something the way I wanted him to do it, Liam wasn't in a good mood the entire time, and I was desperately wanting everything to go smoothly when in reality, it didn't. We did end up getting a couple of perfect shots but when I look back at those photos, all I remember was how stressful and painful that shoot was. That isn't something I want to think of when I look at those pictures. 

I hope these tips help y'all achieve that perfect family picture! Thank you so much for reading! 

xo,
Annie 

*Pictures by Divina Stennfeld 


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WHAT I PACKED FOR COLORADO...



We’re SO excited to be back in Colorado! We haven’t all been back in about 2 years. It’s crazy to think that Tommy, Liam, and I lived there the first 3 years of our lives. Colorado is beautiful but home will forever be in Houston. We’re going to Vail for some skiing, snow tubing, and to let the kids enjoy the snow. This is also Easton’s first flight EVER! There’s only so much we can learn from books. I believe that one of the best gifts I can give my children is being able to show them the world. 

I received a lot of questions about what to pack for a snow trip so I organized it all based on Adults, Children, and others. 

WHAT I PACKED FOR THE KIDS:

WATERPROOF JACKET:I got these coats for the boys here. They’re going to be using them for skiing and during the nights

REGULAR COAT: I got these coats for under $50 and there super warm and thick

SKI SUIT: I ordered these off of Amazon and they’re really thick

WATERPROOF GLOVES: I ordered these waterproof/snow proof gloves off Amazon. We tried them out yesterday and they boys were able play in the snow for about 2 hours before their hands got a bit cold. 

WATERPROOF SHOES: We aren’t going skiing again for the rest of the season so I didn’t want to spend over $100 on shoes. These have been amazing on the boys so far and have great reviews! 

THICK SOCKS: Normal ankle socks do not cut it in Colorado. We already had a few socks but I ordered more. These are thick and stay on their feet.

THERMAL TOP AND PANTS:I honestly grabbed some thermals and skinny joggers from Old Navy/Gap for the kids to wear underneath their pants. here and here

BEANIE:All of the kids beanies are from Gap. Liam and Easton are skiing so we got some that would cover their ears. here and here.

SWEATERS:Liam is wearing sweaters from last year and Easton got a couple from Gap

JEANS: We’re bringing jeans that they already own and are putting the skinny joggers under for warmth

JOGGERS: These joggers are AMAZING! The entire inside is lined with the faux sherling material. So it’ll keep them so warm

BABY:

BUNTING: If you’re bringing a baby, I highly suggest getting a bunting. Ours isn’t waterproof but we also got Chloe a snow suit from my cousin and a waterproof jacket from Zara. 

SHOES: We’re confident that Chloe isn’t going to want to dive into the snow so we got her baby UGGS. They make this waterproof/snow resistant spray and it works so well! The baby ones aren’t waterproof, so you do need to buy the spray. It’s only $10.

Here's this snowsuit that I found online. 

MISCINELLIOUS:

HAND AND FOOT WARMERSWe bought a couple packs of these because your hands and ears freeze!!!

IBRUPROFEN & ADVIL:For emergencies

LOTION:The air is extremely dry in Colorado so we packed some lotion 

CHAPSTICK:Chapstick is a MUST!! Your lips will literally crack because it easily dries up. 


WHAT I PACKED FOR MYSELF

I’m personally not skiing because I’d much rather go tubing, cozy up in the hotel, and go ice skating. My sister is going skiing and she is using things from friends or Colombia that she got years ago. If you’re looking to see what to pack for yourself if you’re going skiing, it’s everything listed in the kids section + ski pants. 





I hope this helps when you're packing for your next winter adventure! 
 

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