Our new holiday card with Mixbook

Holiday Cards with Mixbook

First up, I designed our holiday spirited holiday card for all you floral lovers out there who want that perfect mix of glam (gold leaf!) and traditional Christmas (that deep green!). Personally, I love selecting a color scheme that’s a bit off from traditional green and red (think lots of pinks and golds and such!), but this year I’m feeling particularly traditional and glitzy.

COVID greetings

One of the best features of Mixbook is the ability to change up and customize any part of the card. The default phrase to our card currently says, “Merry Everything” but honestly, it felt a little too chipper for how things have gone this year. Ha! I wanted something a little more reflective of the year in general and you know what, besides some notable victories (we bought a house! We’re having a baby! And some other big ones 😉 SO, we did some brainstorming for some new phrases. Here are some of our favorites:

  • (COVID) 19 Cheers for 2020!
  • “Coronavirus is coming to town”
  • COVID knows when you are sleeping, COVID knows when you’re awake…”
  • “So wear a mask for goodness sake”
  • “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, coughing all the way”
  • Corona Cheer!
  • The best gift this year is to maintain 6 feet distance!

Or, of course, there’s just being honest, right? Here were a couple I considered:

  • Could it get any worse?
  • And I went with “What a terrible year!” because that’s how I feel (mostly!)

I’d love to hear yours! 

Jepsen Family Photos 2020

While I wanted to take a more traditional route to our card, I wanted to spruce it up with lots of colors in our photos. I had some beautiful sweaters in mind for Jasper’s outfit and it kind of went from there. There are so many adorable fair isle sweaters for boys right now and couldn’t decide! Turns out, most didn’t arrive in time for our shoot so we went with the white button down sweater, but we also considered these ones:

Which one would you have gone with? (from left to right)

  1. Navy Blue Fair Isle
  2. Red and white checkers
  3. White fair isle

And I was dead set on wearing this red dress from a collaboration between Pencil and Paper and Dondolo. It actually fits around my 8 month pregnant body and the smocking is delicious. Then Paul added his own yellow touch and we were good to go!

Because I planned everything around our card collection, it was MUCH easier to go from there. Here’s what I started with. And clearly, I didn’t get too far with Paul’s ensemble.

Jasper’s a bit of a performer and this photo session was no exception. I mean, look how it went. He LOVES a family sandwich:

But the rest of the shoot was more like this:

Lars for Mixbook travel album and Year in Review

Along with our Holiday card, we have our exclusive travel album and year in review books with Mixbook. I made one for 2018 and one for our trip to Denmark last year, and decided to continue the tradition with a year in review book for 2019 (I’ll be getting to 2020 when it’s over…and probably a number of months tacked onto that!). It’s PACKED with photos of my son, because yes, I think he’s the cutest and smartest and funniest kid in the world.

Here’s a page from some of the places we had visited in 2019.

Other team members made some of our books too.

Jane, our photographer, made a Mixbook from her trip to NYC and Washington, DC last year. She used our Year in Review book and turned it into a travel book.

And lastly, my cousin, Clare, who lives with us, made a travel book for her senior trip to Italy with her mom and aunt. It’s always so interesting to see how people make each Mixbook their own and give me so many ideas on how to do it myself!

Mixbook Discount

Lars readers get 50% off your book and card order with code: HLARS50, expires 12/21/2020, 50% off book and card order.

Would love to see your choices! Tag us with#houselarsbuiltxmixbook so we can see them! 

Head on over to Mixbook for your 50% off!

This post is sponsored by Mixbook. We love our sponsors who allow us to make original content for you! 

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We’re moving!

We’re Moving Studios!

In our house looking we intentionally looked at houses where we could potentially put Lars in the basement. It’s very common here in Utah to have a basement and to put renters in the basement. A majority of our neighborhood does that. In fact, our previous apartment was one such arrangement. So when our dream house showed the potential to be for sale (it wasn’t for sale when I knocked on the door!), the large basement was definitely a plus. With three floors at about 1500 square feet each-ish, it would have been WAY too large for just the three almost four of us.

Here’s how the basement was when we first looked at it and basically still is now:

And yes, doors still haven’t gone up! You probably can’t tell with all the blockades, but there is about 1500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, one larger work room and a storage room along with two bathrooms. One bathroom, in fact, that gave us a sewage flood when we first moved in. How welcoming. I’d share a pic but I don’t want to make you barf. We finally got new walls done there (they had to take them out because the poop hit all the walls) and now we’re working on the flooring.

Pros and Cons to working from home

Of course there are pros and cons to having your work place in your house, but overall, I am STOKED! Especially since I’ll be with a newborn soon and wouldn’t be able to get to the studio much. Our current studio, we were all commuting from the same city to about 20 minutes away, which is fine, but it didn’t make any sense.

Plus, this blog is such a part of my personal life and it was oftentimes SO tricky to work between the two. Sometimes we’d need to shoot at my house and sometimes here at the studio. Being in the same spot will alleviate so much confusion.

Another plus is that all my materials are here at the studio and so I was finding that I wasn’t making anything in my spare time because it was so much planning and execution to bring what I needed home. I’m so stoked to have it all in one place.

I’ve worked from home in the past but that’s when I didn’t really have a designated space for it so it was ALWAYS a mess. Now, the mess will hopefully be contained!

Flooring for our basement

Speaking of flooring, I’ve looked into all types of flooring options for basement apartments that are prone to flooding. We know the sewage flood we had was not the only flood this house has had–we’re hoping it’s the last though. With that in mind, we are wanting a flooring that is waterproof and/or easy to maintain in case of water damage.

We looked at LVP, waterproof tiles, painting concrete, and epoxy. I had looked into epoxy when we first moved in because my friend, Eva, has it on her concrete floors and it’s amazing (you can see it here). It came out this wonderfully shiny texture that I LOVE! But her guy quoted me a crazy high price and I was determined to find something else. THEN, I got a hold of another guy who was MUCH less expensive. He comes on Saturday so I can’t comment on his services yet. We’ll see.

What color should we paint our floor? 

That leaves the question…what COLOR do we do for the epoxy?! And that’s the beauty of it. You can pretty much customize your epoxy to ANY color you’d like. Most epoxy installers do garage floors and that typically means any variation of grey, but I shared a couple of images with him and he said he could do it. I asked him about MINT/SAGE:

And about a blush pink:

So…what would YOU do???

Green OR Pink?

You’ll have to wait and see what we chose!

Investing into a rental

As for the rest of the basement studio, the idea of it being in my permanent house is SUCH a relief and bonus for many reasons. One, I’m realizing that I have a REALLY hard time with permanence. For example, I had a hard time investing time and money in both studios I’ve rented. I know that your environment plays a crucial role in the overall vibe and well-being, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get behind fixing our current one. We painted a couple of rooms white because we needed them for shooting and changed out some lighting fixtures, but besides that, not much.

SO, I’m excited to DIG in and get the vibe for our studio that it finally deserves! And I’m wanting to go CRAZY on it. LOTS of color and experimenting. I’m talking color on floors and maybe carpeting up the staircase. Maybe something fun with walls and definitely furniture!

Inspiration for the new studio

You can see the inspiration for the new studio up in the first two photos, but I’ll expound here.

I LOVE this restaurant in Moscow by Studio Shoo. I think it’s an incredible blend of playful, patterns, vintage, and color. Check out more of the restaurant here. It’s so good! Love the green drinking fountain. Could you imagine?!

2LG Studio in London is another major inspiration source. They have SO MUCH FUN with their interiors. I love the way they use pattern and color together while adding unexpected details here and there.

This one, below, is a study in careful placement of color for big impact. That staircase is just paint! It’s the studio of @ZilverblauW in The Netherlands. You should check out her account. It’s so good!

And lastly, this one. I found it here, but don’t know who the designer is. Anyone know? Such a great palette and play on shapes and color.

With these inspiration images in mind, here’s what I have in mind:

  • COLOR everywhere in unexpected places
  • Clever use of paint to create frames and shapes
  • Mix of vintage and new
  • Functional but also aesthetically pleasing
  • A place to shoot and video easily
  • An inspirational place to work

Some places will have to be WAY more functional, like the stock room and storage room, but that means we can really play wit the playful rooms.

Anywhoo, I and we are SO excited about the move. The lame thing is that it’s RIGHT in the middle of our busiest time of the year so we’re going a bit nuts. That sounds par for course this year, no? Wish us luck!

And let me know what flooring you’d choose. Would love to hear why!

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Virtual Workshop + Giveaway With Hello!Lucky

Since our big move, all of our schedules have been thrown off a little. It doesn’t help that I am still losing everything (thanks pregnancy brain!) Jasper has been the most affected by the move though. It’s a big change for my little boo! It has helped to get back our sense of normalcy by taking any chance I can to spend some time with Jasper, doing something he is familiar with.

One of Jasper’s favorite activities is reading and, of course, that makes me so happy. Recently I shared “What Children’s Books I am Reading to my Toddler Right Now” and I am happy to share our latest find with you today! It is the perfect addition to your kid’s book collection just in time for Thanksgiving.

My friends at Hello!Lucky – a women-owned and fun shop in San Francisco – offer the most amazing letterpress cards, stationery, and more recently, children’s books! I have read many of them with Jasper and he LOVES them.

With their bold style and side-splitting humor, Hello!Lucky is excited to introduce their latest picture book that’s all about gratitude. Thanks A Ton! 

Thanks a Ton! Is a pun-derful picture book celebrating gratitude! Offering tons of ideas for how to say “thanks” when words just aren’t enough. Written and illustrated by Eunice and Sabrina Moyle from Hello!Lucky. Eunice and Sabrina have created over 15 children’s books selling more than 1 million copies. Their books support children’s social and emotional development, and let them (and their parents) know that they are amazing exactly as they are. Their titles include My Mom is Magical! (my personal favorite ;), a book celebrating moms,  Kindness Rules!, a book about kindness, Thanks a Ton!, a book about gratitude, and I Believe in You, a book about unconditional love. A full list of their amazing books can be found here.

And! Hello!Lucky will donate $5 for every copy of Thanks a Ton! purchased on raredevice.com to Love For Our Elders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring joy into the lives of the elderly and you guessed it, writing letters to them is one of those ways!

Enter to Win a Copy of Our Picture Hope Coloring Book + A Copy of Thanks A Ton!

We are jumping on board with Hello!Lucky in the name of gratitude and hope this season. So, we are excited to announce we now offer hardcopies of our Picture Hope Coloring Book!

Picture Hope: The Social Distancing Coloring Book, is a compilation of coloring pages designed by 64 of your favorite artists from around the world. It is meant to lift spirits and calm anxious minds with its bold message of hope. Each artist has contributed a drawing of what hope means to them along with a few of their own words. The pages are designed for all skill levels and ages, kids and adults. It’s a perfect activity for staying at home and practicing mindfulness and meditation while filling in your hope through color. The profits of the book go to seasonal charities, which are announced here. Through downloads of Picture Hope, over $8000 has already donated!

The idea is that the artists provide the blank canvas and YOU add the hope through color. And you know what? It works! I can’t even tell you the goose bumps I got while I was working on it! COVID-19 has indeed changed so much of our routine, yet in the confusion and uncertainty we’ve also witnessed countless moments of compassion and the strength of the human spirit.

I’ve spent my career developing The House That Lars Built, whose mission is to encourage people to make things with their hands. We believe that the act of making has the power to heal and improve your well-being. The goal of this book is the same and it’s needed now more than ever. Coloring is a simple yet profound act that allows for meditation and mindfulness and this coloring book is even more profound because of the many voices of support behind it.

A new version of Picture Hope is available now!

Up until now, Picture Hope has only been available for download to be printed at home. We have been working hard (read: months!) to create this physical copy, so that you can order it totally ready to color! This version is also ideal to gift to others this season. Click here to order your hardcopy of Picture Hope!

This high-quality coloring book includes varying levels of intricacy keeping you inspired to color! There are plenty of beautiful motifs to choose from: including botanicals, flowers, animals, cities, people, decorative, quotes. We designed this book for every skill level and age to enjoy! Each page is it’s own unique art piece from one of the 64 contributing artists. 

For the next month, ALL proceeds from the Picture Hope Coloring Book go to the nonprofit Love For Our Elders. This comforting nonprofit fights loneliness with love in senior communities and has spread to over 70 countries, all 50 states, and hundreds of schools. Keep reading for more info about the impact of this nonprofit! 

How to Enter Our Giveaway

Enter to win your own copy of Picture Hope + Hello!Lucky’s best-selling latest picture book, Thanks A Ton!

To enter, head to our Instagram post here to let us know what you’re grateful for in the comments below, and join the virtual THANKS A TON launch event on November 14th. The winner will be announced live. Click here to RSVP for the virtual event!

Write Gratitude Letters With Us At Our Virtual Party With Hello!Lucky

I (Brittany!) will be hosting this event along with Eunice & Sabrina Moyle founders of Hello!Lucky, Jacob Cramer founder of Love For Our Elders, and Giselle Gyalzen owner of Rare Device.

Letters are especially wonderful during times when physical barriers are keeping us apart. A hand-written and a handmade card is a thoughtful, personal expression of care and kindness and can keep us connected to those we love, and to help everyone feel like they matter. During this event we want to share ways your family can help more people receive hand-written letters and cards during the Thanksgiving season.

Our virtual event will take place on Saturday November 14th at 11 am PST. During this event you will have access to these exclusive free printables created by Hello!Lucky and The House That Lars Built – including printable gratitude cards and a template for a fun DIY card! Download the free printables here and print them out to get ready for the event!

What will happen during the virtual event?

I will be leading a DIY craft tutorial that your whole family can recreate this Thanksgiving season. Plus I will share some of my top tips for holiday card making!

During this event you will also learn more about Love For Our Elders, the charity that proceeds from Picture Hope and Thanks a Ton! will be donated to. The founder of this nonprofit, Jacob Kramer, will be joining the event to share stories of the people your gratitude letters and donations can affect. He will also share tips on how your family can write to people who need it this season!

There will also be a live reading of Thanks a Ton! so this is a virtual event the entire family can log on for. RSVP here and make it a family activity.

At this time we will also announce the winner of our giveaway! (Details above.) 

RSVP here for a creative afternoon full of conversation and crafts on Saturday November 14th at 11 am PST.  All ages welcome! 

 

Becoming: Nadia Cates

Meet: Nadia Aguilar Cates  

Nadia is the Founder of Casa Palomí and Ella Rises and a proud mother of 6. Nadia’s passion for her home country has shaped her professional pursuits. With Casa Palomi and her culinary background, Nadia shares her love for Mexican cuisine (especially tamales!) through virtual cooking lessons. After relocating to Mexico for several years, she found a deep connection with her heritage, which has inspired her to empower Latina youth to connect with their roots through Ella Rises. In honor of Día de Los Meurtos, we are excited to have Nadia share how her rich culture has influenced who she has and continues to become. Because we all come from somewhere and somebody.

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, activist, etc.

  1. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I also consider myself a creative. I love to take concepts and bring them to life. For example, Casa Palomí’s pan de muerto class – an amazing Mexican sweet bread – that I did last week. I’ve never done that before but it’s live now and a success with those who have taken it!

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

My childhood has very much influenced who I am. I was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. I became a U.S. citizen in grade school. For a long time, I carried shame around my story because people made fun of me and others with similar backgrounds.

I am no longer ashamed of where I come from, and I can honestly say that my story and heritage empower me. I’ve reclaimed a call to uplift and empower those with a similar story.

There’s a quote by Gloria Anzaldua about this that resonates with me. In her words, “I am from the land of the North and the land of the South. Indigenous blood runs through my veins. It calls me, and I honor it. What I once saw as disadvantages, clearly defines me, strengthens, and empowers me.”

What aspects of your Mexican culture have most inspired your work? 

Mexico has such a deep, rich, and consistent cultural heritage. I’m inspired by all of it, but especially the music, food, and textiles. When I can, I meet and work with artisans. I learn about the history of the places I visit and return to them or remain in contact with the people as often as possible because that connection is what inspires me the most.

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur?

I think the reality of many entrepreneurs is that you ‘fail into success.’ I’ve tried and continue to try different things. When learning opportunities have appeared, I have taken them – most recently, with successful entrepreneurs and women, who I admire, offering mentoring classes!

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

There’s so many, but closest to my heart have been my parents, sisters, my husband, and each of my children.

What is a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

I’ve always had different guiding statements that have inspired me. They’ve evolved and changed over time, but they’ve helped empower me. A couple I like right now are  “There has to be discomfort to change” and “If we don’t heal the wounds of the past, we cannot expand to our full potential; we can learn from it and be empowered by it.”

What sets your work apart from other brands? 

My work is designed to connect you with the beauty of Mexican heritage and reflected in that you will hopefully see your beauty and strength at the same time.

Was starting your own business or taking on entrepreneurial projects always your ultimate plan? Did you always know that you wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into your work?

Such great questions. I’m a mother of 6, and that’s the most important work in my life right now. But deep within me, there was always a desire to create, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was … until I moved to Mexico. It was then that I knew whatever I did, it would be to preserve our heritage.

What does your daily routine look like? 

Routine? What’s that?

My oldest is 12, and my youngest is 10 months. You could say I’m a slave to my kids’ schedules. I work during nap times and at night. When we have big projects with Ella Rises or Casa Palomí, I always find help. My husband is pretty good at loading up the kids and taking them somewhere when necessary.

What is inspiring you lately?

The Ella Rises girls and the challenges they face. And the female leaders and artists who are participating with Ella Rises. See the second to last question.

Tell us about your current project(s).

At Casa Palomí, we share our heritage with the community through food. We’re currently offering a virtual pan de muerto class for Day of the Dead, and friends from all over the world have signed up for our class! Follow @casa_palomi for more details.

Ella Rises is an initiative to empower Latinas in high school through virtual art and mentoring classes taught by Latinas. This historic project has never been done before, and 125 girls registered for Ella Rises 2020! We meet every Monday and Thursday in October. For more details, check out EllaRises.org

You’ve done culinary school, tamales, catering, all sorts of things. Tell us about your journey!

You know, it is all rooted in my continued journey to discover where I came from and the culture around all of that. Check out @casa_palomi on Instagram –  it’s visually captured there. I think you could say I’ve been on a journey to becoming for a few years now. And, I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet.

What designers/creatives/entrepreneurs do you look up to from the past or present?

Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, came to my mind. I love his work! I often turn to it for inspiration, and I love his use of color and thoughtfully-curated spaces.

My culinary school maestros, Yuri de Gortari and Edmundo Escamilla, still inspire me today. They ignited a spark of love and reverence for my heritage, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

I am also inspired by Mexican artisans. I’ve been building relationships with weavers and embroiderers. Their names may never go down in history, but I know them and love them.

What is on the horizon for you and your work in the remainder of 2020?

Casa Palomí and Ella Rises are thriving, and I hope we continue to do so through the end of the year. We’re connecting and reaching individuals who seek a space of love, respect, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds. Follow @casa_palomi or @ellarises and join our journey.

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business? 

I turn to a higher power for direction. If seeking divine direction resonates with you, I’d recommend praying, meditating, going out in nature, and reconnecting with our creator. Then, create a statement of what you want to be, look like, and do. Rewrite it in the present tense, start repeating it daily, and keep seeking divine guidance.

What is the best advice you’d give to a businesswoman on determining her brand’s mission? 

When someone asks me for advice, I try (not perfect at it) to just listen to what they have to say. I believe that we often have or already know the answers to our questions.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Katie Richardson, the creator of the Puj Tub, once told me “You’re right where you need to be.” I’ve taken that and ran with it. So, to answer your question, “I’m right where I need to be.”

Is there anything more you’d like to “become?”

Definitely! I embrace myself fully with where I am, but my journey of growth and progress continues. A millionaire would be nice too since I would love to invest more in my wildest ideas to help people. 🙂

Day of the Dead

For this feature, we worked with Nadia on creating this portrait, honoring both her, this unique time of year with the face mask, and the catrina in honor of Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday typically involves friends and family coming together to pray and remember those who have passed on. It is seen as a festival of celebration rather than mourning. Ofrendas, or offerings, are often set out with pictures of ancestors and tokens that represent them. Thank you, Nadia.

You can find Nadia

Casa Palomi
Ella Rises

The House That Lars Bought: Interview with Paul and Brittany

Working with Meta

Meta and I met when I first moved here almost 8 years ago. We were basically wearing the same type of dress and crown braids and it was like looking at a mirror. Over the years, we’ve bonded over our shared love of design. Somehow our styles are super similar. But whereas I focus on Lars with all the crafts and such (even though I studied and practiced interior design in the past), she is OBSESSED with interiors and spends every waking hour thinking about it. I’ve never seen anyone so passionate about it.

Here we are in the Bahamas where we were teaching some styling classes on a cruise ship. Ha! Just typing that makes me LOLZ.

Why are we working with a designer?

This is precisely why we’re working with her. She knows the current designers, processes, local artisans and contractors, trends, classics, lingo, vocabulary, history. It really is the perfect marriage.

Before we get started designing, like her other clients, she sent us her questionnaire and here’s how it went:

I can’t wait to share more with you this week. We’ve already got our eyes on the first room. Stay tuned!

You can learn more about Meta Coleman:

@MetaColeman_ on Instagram
Meta Coleman Portfolio

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Printable Birthday Party Decor

Part of why I enjoy birthdays so much is because they’re an opportunity to do what you really want to do. If that means skydiving, go for it! It’s your birthday. If that means staying inside and watching The Holiday, 10 Things I Hate About You, or Roman Holiday on repeat, go for it! If that means eating a decadent cake that is not diet-friendly, by all means, go for it! Diets and I are have never been friendly anyways… 

At the moment, a huge bash might have to wait. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate!! Now more than ever we all deserve a chance to party. These printable birthday suites are the perfect solution when you want fun decoration without too much fuss. Since releasing our original printable birthday party decor, we have been dreaming up even more unique themes. Whether you are planning your own party, a dinner for your quarantine buddy, or baby’s first birthday, pick out the perfect printable suite below!

Rainbow Birthday Party

Printable Birthday Party Decor

Of course we started with a rainbow theme, and this one works for all ages! This rainbow birthday theme can go as many directions as there are colors in the rainbow. Planning for your miracle child? Plan a rainbow baby party! Your mom is turning 50? Ditch the dark “over the hill” cards and plan an “over the rainbow” party instead! We can

This Rainbow Party Decor Suite includes an invitation, bracelets for party favors, a birthday crown, and more! Check out the full printable suite here.

Lemon Birthday Party

Printable Birthday Party Decor

The fun colors of the birthday suite printables make for the perfect theme, whether your birthday feels sweet or sour! The rest of the decor comes easily once you’ve got a theme down! In fact, we have a few other DIY projects from days past that would be darling with the birthday suite. This lemon wreath is one that stands out in my mind. Or, plop some freshly sliced citrus in the middle of the table for a citrusy centerpiece like we did here! And the colors of our original balloon kit have the perfect fruity feel!

This Lemon Party Decor Suite includes a banner, straw toppers, party hats, and more! Check out the full printable suite here.

Garden Party Decor

Printable Birthday Party Decor

Another thing that comes much easier when your party has a theme is planning the menu. Thanks, theme! When paired with this printable garden party decor, fruity desserts are always a hit. I went through a popsicle phase a few years back and wrote about three I loved: lemon creme, pineapple pink lemonade, and berry lemonade! These are perfect for when you want a treat but don’t want to turn the oven on. Who said every birthday party HAS to have a cake? 

We designed these themed set for a dreamy summer outdoor party (it doesn’t even have to be a birthday party, an excuse for a party is good excuse.) However, as we head into winter I am starting to daydream up an indoor garden party. Hear me out — paper flower garlands and greenery turning the living room into a summery dream. Sounds like just the thing for seasonal depression, right??

This Garden Party Decor Suite includes an invitation, name tags, cake toppers, and more! Check out the full printable suite here.

Animal Menagerie Party

Printable Birthday Party Decor

This is our most classic birthday set, a colorful circus of animals! I cannot wait to use this one for a first birthday party for baby boy #2. For this party we also added some DIY felt pennants that can be customized for the birthday kid. Pssst, level up your party EVEN MORE with a simple balloon installation kit.

This Animal Menagerie Party Decor Suite includes party hats, bunting, an invitation, and more! Check out the full printable suite here.

Whether or not you love your birthdays, make this one special! Take time to decorate extravagantly (and easily) with a little help from your friend, Lars. Then do exactly what you want to do. Go to the grocery store and just buy snacks and flowers. Dance obnoxiously to Motown classics. Dress up in a formal gown and don’t bother styling your hair. Plan a fabulous meal for yourself and make someone else cook it/buy it. Eat ice cream straight out of the carton. I won’t tell. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Head to our Shop for even more printable birthday party decor and gift ideas! And you can find all of our Birthday DIY projects here

The House That Lars Bought: Bathroom tile is in!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Floor & Decor. All opinions are 100% mine.

Floor & Decor

In addition to all the projects we’ve been doing here on Lars, Paul and I have been getting our new house in order. We’ve been busy to say the least. We bought the house with literally nothing inside. The previous owners had torn everything out on their way to renovating it to sell. We stopped them mid-reno and bought it which means we had A LOT of work to do to get it into move-in conditions. Mind you, that’s coming from two people who are not very…how do we say…handy.

THANKFULLY, we partnered up with Floor & Decor to give us the kick in the pants we needed to get something in speedy and something within our budget.

Bathroom Tile

Our goal was to get something in ASAP so we could move in ASAP. We bought the house in June and ended up moving in mid September. It was a slightly longer timeline than we were hoping for, but turns out, there’s quite the construction boom right now and getting contractors in has been tough! Anyone else renovating and experiencing the same thing?

Requirements for our Bathroom Flooring

I looked far and wide for bathroom flooring options with the following requirements: 1) couldn’t have a long lead time 2) had to be within our smaller budget 3) had to be nice and functional. I went back and forth on what to do and in my google searching I organically came across Floor & Decor. Turns out, they have stores across the country, one probably by you! I took many trips to go visit them in person (it’s nice to see everything not just online, you know?!) to get a sense of what I wanted.

What I was Looking for in a Tiled Bathroom

At first, I was really into the idea of doing a black and white checkerboard bathroom because I LOVE the look and feel of it. But after lots of feeling it out, I decided to do something less contrasty so I could take my time in designing out each bathroom and not have to feel married to the one look.

What We Went With

After another trip, I decided to go with a classic white–glossy white herringbone ceramic tile in two of the bathrooms upstairs and a white and grey basketweave in the main floor bathroom. They are both classic yet contemporary enough to feel modern yet historical.

Always in Stock!

Both had a lot in stock (and seemed to be a popular choice!) so when I realized that I had measured the rooms wrong (math is not my strong suit!) when the tile guys were installing it, I drove straight to the store and bought more on the spot. So handy! For 3 bathrooms, I spent I think about $300 in product, which I was pretty stoked about!

Sealing the Tile

Once the tile was installed, my beloved former landlord, Richard of 1900 North Carpet and Tile Cleaning, came over and sealed the tile, which adds another layer of protection to the surface, which gets a lot of water and dirt, as you might imagine coming from a toddler. He’s the best in the business and I will recommend him day in and day out.

Anywho, I had such a great experience with Floor & Decor that I really am glad to talk about them. It’s such a great resource! The quick timeline allowed us to get into our house and start enjoying our time together. I mean, look how much fun bathtime is?! Ha! And I’m LOVING how much light this bathroom gets.

This post is sponsored by Floor & Decor. Thank you to our sponsors who allow us to make beautiful, original content!

Voting Resources and New Vote Stickers!

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Register to Vote

First things first: you need to register to vote! Despite all the confusion and misinformation swirling around, it’s actually a pretty straightforward process, even if you just moved to a new state and you don’t have a license in that state. There are tons of voter resources in this post that should help, plus don’t forget our new vote stickers!

Registering to vote varies by state, so go ahead and google “voter registration,” followed by your state. For all states’ voter information and other valuable resources, check out Vote.Gov. Here you can choose which state you’re in from a drop-down menu, plus find out how you will vote if you’re already registered. If you moved recently, go to your new state’s voter website to find out the steps you need to take to register. It’s pretty easy!

To Vote By Mail, or In Person? That is the Question!

If you live in a vote-by-mail state (check this nifty resource to see if your state is on the list), you may have already received a ballot, or you will soon. Registered voters will receive official ballots a few weeks before the election.

The other option is good old fashioned waiting in line at the polls! Although this one takes a little bit more time, something about showing up to a polling place to cast my vote really makes my heart swell. Plus, you get the cool sticker. You can find your nearest polling place here.

Remember, there is no voting online, so don’t wait until the last second thinking you can do it with the click of a mouse. You will need to mail in a ballot or go to a polling place. 

Voting Resources for Americans Living Abroad

If you’re an American expat living abroad, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to vote. That doesn’t mean you should sit out though (please don’t sit out!!). Even the astronauts in the International Space Station are voting!

Here are some great resources for absentee voters: from the US Department of State, VoteFromAbroad.org, and The New York Times.

It’s OK to Brag (With Vote Stickers!)

Once you’ve voted, you need to show off that “I Voted” Sticker! But what if you voted by mail like so many are doing? Not to worry. We have a printable for an I Voted! Pin, an Embroidery Patch Pattern (tutorial here), and of course our new Vote Stickers.

The Importance of Voting

Thomas Jefferson said, “We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” So please use your right to vote and participate! Sources are already speculating the 2020 election may have the biggest voter turnout in history.

Use our voting resources and don’t forget to use our vote stickers for afterwardyou can throw them on your water bottle, laptop, or anywhere you want to proudly display them.

Becoming Interview: Stacey Fraser from Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser of Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser is the founder and creative director of Pink Chicken and worked in the fashion industry for 15 years before taking a break to be with her kids. In the meantime, she started sewing the most adorable clothes for her girls and herself, and before long, people were asking her where she got them. Thus, Pink Chicken was born! 

Psst…we dare you to look at the amazing textiles on their website without wanting to buy them all!

Here’s Stacey:

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, etc.?

I think mostly a designer.  That is how I started Pink Chicken, my love for designing textiles and kids clothes… the business side I have grown along the way.

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

Well, both of my grandmothers were in the fashion business.  Mimmers was a wedding dress designer, but growing up I would go to her sewing cabin in NC and help her with anything she was working on.  And Mimi, had a women’s clothing store in OH.  I would spend a few weeks there every summer.  I loved to be in the store, sit in on buying appointments in the back and see the customers!

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur? Did you go to business school?

I started my career working for big corporations in designRalph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap… it was the best training ground for me. In all of those places, I learned the business side of fashion and how to build a brand.

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

All of the women in my lifemy grandmothers, my mom and my sisters.

What sets Pink Chicken apart from other brands?

We like to think of ourselves as a joyful brand!  Our clothes are no-fuss, always stylish and our dresses put a pep in your step.  We design all of our own fabrics and/or work with artists… so we have original patterns in joyful colors. We care so much about what we do here and I think our community can feel it.  We also pride ourselves in great quality so the dresses can start as a dress, end up as a tunic, and get passed down to little sis.

Was starting your own business always your ultimate plan?

No, not at all. I was taking a year off of work after my second daughter was born and started making dresses for them during their nap times. People used to stop me on the street and ask where they were from. I thought then maybe I was onto something.

What does your daily routine look like?

Well, that has definitely shifted because of Covid. When I open my eyes in the morning, the very first thing I think about is my iced coffee.  Once I’ve downed that, I make breakfast for my daughter and husband.  Not having to rush to the office every day does have it’s silver linings.  We have started going back one day a week to collaborate on our fabrics and designs in person.  It has been so great to get back.  And for dinner lately, we have been going out most nights to support our neighborhood restaurants. In NYC right now all restaurants have outdoor dining permits and it’s been really great. 

What is inspiring you lately?

So much really. My girls, their resiliency during this crazy time.  My oldest daughter was a senior when Covid hit… she missed a lot, including graduation.  Of course, she was disappointed but had a great attitude about it… also my team! Our little Pink Chicken team is like a family. I am so proud at how everyone has transitioned to working from home and still has the dedication and passion to their work every day.  I’m grateful for both.

What is on the horizon for you and Pink Chicken in the remainder of 2020?

We have our Holiday Collection that launches mid October!  We are so excited about it. The Holiday dresses have become a flock favorite!  We LOVE seeing holiday pics of families in our dresses.  Ultimately, the very best part of what we do!  And we are bringing our favorite gifts that we have in store online to our website for a killer Holiday gift guide!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business?

It has to come from the heart, from your passion.  That will get you through the ups and downs.  I think being your authentic self gives you the ability to connect with people in a meaningful way and that goes for your brand too.  And then also—think about what are you doing that is different from what is already in the market?  What is your point of difference?  It could be your product, your giving back mission, how you run your company and the people you employ.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Yes. I always dreamt of living in NYC, being a clothing designer and having a family. I am a hard worker and hustle every day, but I am living the life I always dreamed of and am so grateful. 

Thank you, Stacey!

You can find Stacey and Pink Chicken here:

Pink Chicken website
Pink Chicken on Instagram

Look out for a giveaway with Pink Chicken later this week on our Instagram!

Introducing…the interior designer for our new house!

Finding our dream designer

It’s rare that your friend is ALSO your dream designer–it’s a serious dream come true. And Meta has always been on board to do it, even when we discussed my theoretical house one day years ago while we were living in a basement apartment. Knowing that she was just as excited about our new house as I was, was such a relief. Meta lives and breaths interior design. It’s truly her passion and calling.

Meta has been designing the home of Hannah Carpenter and I’m all about it! See more here. Photo by Hannah Carpenter.

FAQ

You may be asking WHY I’m working with another interior designer when I studied and practiced it. Simple! And other designers might be able to speak to this too–when you do something for yourself, it TAKES AGES. It’s so hard to design for yourself because I definitely suffer from decision fatigue. PLUS, I haven’t truly practiced it in many many years. I know what I like, but here’s the thing: Meta knows how to push you into new territory and she’s not afraid of risks. I’m not either, so I cannot wait for this ride!

Meta’s philosophy

And here’s the thing–I’m not talking just coping a picture you see on Pinterest and putting it into your house. That’s easy. The magic of Meta is that she takes you and whoever else lives in the house, and uses some sort of design alchemy to produce something new. It all of a sudden becomes an art. She has a number of projects that she’s working on behind the scenes and it’s been so interesting to see her process and her drive to do something new and refreshing. I couldn’t imagine doing this without her.

This is Meta’s beautiful home, which is a beautiful refuge for her and her family. Photo by Meta Coleman.

We haven’t begun the process yet. In fact, she has a thorough questionnaire that she’s having us fill out, and I think we’re going to turn it into a video, so stay tuned! So, we are truly in the beginning stages, but I have a few things in mind already and I know she does too so we’ll see how they align.

Progess of our house

Admittedly, we moved into our house prematurely, but we thought we’d get in with the basics and then move on up from there. So, as soon as the faucet and bathrooms were in, we were too! And now it’s little things like doors…door knobs…things that you don’t realize make a difference but truly do. We’re still a ways away from comfort levels, but all in good time I suppose.

I love this sweet bathroom she designed. Photo by Meta Coleman.

Finally designing the house!

As we continue to wait upon the small things, I’ve found myself sneaking in some “dream” moments, aka moments that get my excited for the next stage because heavens knows I haven’t entered back into that head space since the moment I laid eyes on this house years ago. We got a vanity for our main bedroom that I’m VERY excited about. It’s even better in person (and the quality is superb!) but I’ll be talking more about that later and with such a statement piece as that, it’s lead me down the rabbit hole of…you guessed it, WALLPAPERS! So, yes, you’ll be seeing a lot more soon.

I’ve spent much time in her home office here. Photo by Meta Coleman.

Another thing to note is that her style of designing a home is one that is more organic where we can find out how we live in the space and then enhance its use and function all combined with aesthetics. It’s not FAST fashion, errr: design, but a style that is intentional and thoughtful, which aligns perfectly with my beliefs too.

She worked on the home of our other dear friend, Eva Jorgensen and her husband Kirk. I LOVE this moody room! 

I can’t wait to share the full process with you. Like I mentioned, I don’t promise speed, but I don’t promise beautiful results and I know that will be the case because I have Meta on board. Stay tuned for more! And let me know if you have any questions along the way!

You can find Meta here:

Meta Coleman Portfolio
Meta Coleman Instagram
You can read more about Meta Coleman here in this interview

Our Favorite Women-Owned Businesses

Today we’re paying special attention to some of our very favorite women-owned businesses, from fashion to home goods and more. Explore the list below and click any of the photos to discover ways to support these boss babes! I know this is far from being an extensive list, but here are just a few.

This National holiday – American Business Women Day fell on an extra special time as we have spent this week remembering the wisdom, boldness, and amazing example of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I was a college intern at The National Museum of Women in the Arts when I attended a lecture with the indomitable RBG and fell in love with many things about her. Her work affected women in so many ways and it is an honor to learn from her life.

Women Owned Brands: Fashion

Doen

Shop Doen was founded by two sisters who saw a need for more women-owned businesses. Their why: “Study after study has shown that when women-identifying individuals have positions of power and leadership in companies, there is more focus on equality policies and practices…” The ethereal dresses, flowy blouses, and billowy-sleeved sweaters at Doen have a cult following. These timeless pieces are heirloom-quality and oh so beautifulsee for yourself!

Nicole Saldana 

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Not to be dramatic or anything, but I would die for these shoes. Made by hand in Portugal, this shoe brand has only grown in popularity since Rihanna was spotted wearing them at New York Fashion Week in 2017.

Nikki Chasin

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Whenever I discover a brand like Nikki Chasin, I can almost hear my wallet saying “Noooo!” Sorry. Can’t help it. Can you even handle these prints though? These clothes have a mid-century modern feel I can’t stay away from.

KkCo

Take a quick scroll-stroll through KkCo Studio’s website and you’ll get a major 90s vibe. Don’t forget your mask! KkCo’s collection includes this darling seersucker number that will add a cheerful pop of yellow to any dreary day this winter. You can also check out our other favorite face masks here

Shop Peche

The women-owned business Shop Pêche is based in Brooklyn, NY. The word “pêche” translates to peach, and wouldn’t you know it, but in French, “peach” is a feminine noun. The beautiful staples in their collection can round out any wardrobe. Would you look at that vest? I’m swooning. 

Roam

Roam’s founder, Kay Sides, created her brand when she recognized a need for cool and comfortable shoes that were versatile enough for active lifestyles and everything in between. She says, “I wanted a far reachsomething I could rock in NY, LA, Hawaii, Tokyo, Africa, Paris….around the world…socks in the winter, with sweats or a dress…couldn’t find one for years…so decided to create them!” As the queen of comfort disguised as fashion, I am in full support of this. 

Susan Alexandra

I have to admit, when I first saw these bags, I gasped out loud! They’ve got that trendy 70s look, and honestly who wouldn’t want to carry one of these around? 

 

Tamara Malas

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Tamara Malas is a beautiful clothing brand founded by and for plus size women. This brand strives to offer high-quality, unique pieces ethically made that “you won’t find at any other plus size label.”

I love what owner and founder Tamara says about self-love: “One morning I asked myself, “What if I were to love myself exactly the way that I am today?” No longer allowing cultural conditioning to dictate the standards of beauty in my life, I poured that energy into creating something which manifested itself in my brand, TAMARA MALAS. I create from a place of inspiration and design with plus size bodies (including my own) in mind.”

Our Second Nature

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The colorful abstract prints reminiscent of terrazzo tile make this an “instant add to cart” brand for me. In fact it was so hard to choose just 3 dresses to feature, so run don’t walk and check them out now!

Oh, and they have kids clothes, too, so you can live out all your matching dreams! 

Truss

These Oaxacan-made handbags showcase their origin city’s amazing color scheme. Tote  your Oaxacan chocolate as you hunt for colorful walls!

Women Owned Brands: Home Decor

All of the artists featured in our Print Shop are amazing women! I love being able to help spread the work of women I know and love personally, or have gotten to know through their work! Find a piece to hang in your home here.

Heather Taylor Home

Nothing we love more than a women-owned business collab! These gorgeous, high-quality tablecloths and napkins would elevate any Thanksgiving table from good to great.

Jungalow

The Bohemian brand Jungalow, founded by Justina Blakeney, covers all your decor needs, from the most beautiful pillows to woven baskets, plant holders, and more. Every item is dripping with color and artistic thought. The Jungalow even features limited edition art prints from women artists around the world! I’ve been a big fan of Justina for years and even interviewed her here! Her work has also been featured on Lars here and here.

Otherland

I’ll put it this way—Otherland candles are otherworldly. They sell five core scents, plus a rotating Limited Edition collection when you want to try something new. Otherland’s founder, Abigail Cook Stone, used to be an art buyer for Ralph Lauren, and she used her artistic background to create heavenly candles.

The Yo! Store

One look at the Yo! Store website, and you’ll fall in love. Based out of Portland, OR, the Yo! Store is a women and children brand offering a smorgasbord of both vintage and contemporary pieces, including clothing, beauty products, and art.

Mimi Ceramics

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Mimi Ceramics hand-makes their amazing mugs, cups, and planters to order. The dreamy technicolor designs are so popular, you have to sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss a new drop!

Women Owned Brands: Craft Supplies

Recently, almost all of our energy has been directed towards releasing our Great Artists! kids course. This course was created to be a resource for parents who have suddenly found themselves trying to work from home, run at home school, and/or a million other things – many of whom are women! Being able to provide resources to help working women in this way is a passion of our entire team.

The women-owned businesses below offer quality craft and art supplies that can make your creative projects even better!

Natural Earth Paint

Need a good boredom-buster? Who am I kidding, right now if you’re not bored you’re crazy busy…there is no in-between. For those of you homebound and needing an activity to do with the kids, I love these Natural Earth Paint kits. They even sell natural face paints—perfect for a certain upcoming holiday…

Ann Williams

The Ann Williams Group brand was founded by a mom, and the name actually comes from her two kids (Amelia Ann and Owen William)! It started with award-winning ideas like the Loopdeloo and Craft-tastic, and the rest is history. For every kids item you buy from Ann Williams, they donate one to The Toy Bank, which gives toys to children in need.

Women Owned Brands: Kids 

Masionette

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Founded by two Vogue veterans, the children’s brand Masionette is filled with endless dreamy options for clothes, toys, and kid’s room decor. We reference them often in our roundups of favorite places to buy kid’s clothing, rainbow toys, and more. And you better believe I’ll be shopping there for boy #2!

Doddle & Co.

One of my favorite women-owned businesses is Doodle & Co. Doddle & Co makes cute and innovative pacifiers and teethers for your little ones. The Pop® pacifier pops into a protective shell when your baby drops it on the floor. No more frantically washing it off and wondering how many germs are still lingering on it! 

Women Owned Brands: Beauty

Olen

Olen Skincare makes high-quality, safe skincare products for you and your children. The kids sunblock and tinted sunscreen for mom are my personal faves.

EighteenB 

Remember EighteenB? This woman-founded skincare brand has been featured on the blog before. I adore their science-based skincare products, created by founder Lindsay Wray (a scientist with a PhD in Biomedical Engineering!) EighteenB is one of our all-time favorite beauty brands, and it has been a joy to work with them!

Other ways to support women

Take the time today to celebrate and support women by shopping from one of these women-owned businesses, including our own! Check out our Women Who Work Series by Libby VanderPloeg in the House That Lars Built Print Shop! In addition, you can also check out our series of interviews with working women – here.

With Halloween coming up, consider dressing up in one of our influential woman costumes! I even dressed up as RBG one year, and maybe I need to bring that costume back this October.

Please share any women-owned businesses you love to support below! We would love to continue to add to our list. Happy American Business Women Day!

We’re having a ….

Ha ha ha! Yes, I’m very thrilled to have another boy–I love my first one so much and he brings me so much joy, how could I not?! I mean, am I disappointed that I won’t do smocked dresses or be able to actually shop in baby boutiques (let’s be honest, they’re not made for boys)?! Of course! But I love the idea of two little rascals.

I have this feeling that this new boy will be the complete opposite of Jasper–dark haired, solemn, shy, obedient…hahhaha! We shall see!

How’s the pregnancy going?

Well, thank you for asking! I had a terrific pregnancy with Jasper so I expected the same, but it has been different. Thankfully, I’m not super sick (except the typical first trimester nausea), but this time around, I have the weirdest symptoms.

For one, I didn’t want sugar until like last month. What a blessing! No treats. I wish it would have lasted. But the desire is back and I’ve since made up for lost time.

Second, and for those of you not interested in female anatomy and systems, tune out, my pelvic floor is not being nice to me. I’ve had problems since Jasper was born. I couldn’t walk and certainly couldn’t run. I tried to do a race in October and the day of the race I could hardly walk. Every time I mention it to my doctor I’m told the same thing (do you kegels) but that hasn’t worked and I have a hunch there’s something more to it.

Then all of a sudden two weeks ago I could hardly walk again. I’m definitely a stereotypical waddler who looks very pregnant, but again, I have a hunch is treatable. Anyone know of an awesome pelvic floor doctor? TMI????? I know.

Lastly, NOSE BLEEDS. What the heck? I’ve never had them before but I have had them nearly every night for like three weeks. So stinking weird.

Other than that, this pregnancy has flown by but mostly because work is insane–especially the the Great Artists! course–renovating a house, and trying to move in tomorrow. Am I going insane? Yes. Most definitely. Send help.

Gender reveal balloon arch

On another note, because of the upcoming baby boy, we made a new balloon arch kit in shades of blues for your own gender reveals (nothing is worth detonating fire over!) and you can find it in the shop now!

Love to you all!