Mama Naturelle’s Kitchen: The Best Holiday Cookies

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I don’t know about you mamas, but I’m not a big winter gal. I love the magic of the holidays, but as soon as December is over, I’m miserable… I hate the cold and snow!

Although I haven’t been a fan of this cold weather creeping up, I’ve been having a blast making the holidays special for my little guy. We had our first snowfall in New York today, and Liam was mesmerized. I couldn’t get him back inside for a good hour! All he wanted to do was throw snowballs up in the air.Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.58.27 PM.pngWhen we came back inside, we decided to decorate some cookies together. I made my version of Czech gingerbread cookies, and, I have to say, they did not disappoint. I just have to share this simple, vegan, cookie recipe with you guys! It was perfect!

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Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 9.43.44 PM Mix together all the dry ingredients. Add in the maple syrup and oil. Use your hands to knead the dough until you achieve smooth consistency. If it’s too crumbly, add water (but not too much!) Wrap the finished ball of dough in cling film and leave in the refrigerator overnight (I left it in the fridge for 5 hours and it was perfect!)

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When you take it out the next day and find out that the dough is crumbly again, add a tiny bit of water. Roll out the dough to achieve thickness of about 4mm (no thinner, otherwise the cookies may come out too well done and hard) and cut out individual shapes. Put your cookies in a tray lined with baking paper and into a preheated oven. Bake at 375 degrees and for 10-12 minutes. When baked, let the cookies cool down before you decorate them (optional).

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The white decorating mixture is made by mixing lemon juice with confectioners sugar. Determine the ratio yourself so that it is comfortable to work with – remember that the more lemon juice you add, the more sour the icing will be (if you’re not a fan of the lemon taste, you can always do water instead.)

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Holiday Decor: A Rustic Chic Christmas

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Hey Mamas! I have a confession to make…

I’ve been in the holiday spirit for months now.

(As in, before Halloween…)

Isn’t that crazy? And to think I was that girl who didn’t even put up a Christmas tree just two years ago. Oh, how times have changed! Motherhood really does make you a whole new person.

I think this particular year means so much to me because I realize it’s Liam’s last holiday season as an only child. Soon he’ll be sharing all of these special memories with his little brother, which is beautiful, but I still want to make sure this year is special and magical for him. It makes me so happy to see him get excited about the little things!

I wanted to share our holiday decor with you all because I love it. It represents our family and my decorating style pretty well. I like to call it “rustic chic”, although my husband refers to it as “boho rustic chic” because I must’ve used those three words in the same sentence thousands of times while we were planning our wedding three years ago. He’s a bit scarred by it 😉

Like for Liam and Noah’s rooms, I put together a little video of the different accents I incorporated into our dining room for the holidays. You’ll also get a glimpse of our front porch which is still a work in progress. I hope you like it!

If you’re interested in finding a few of these pieces for your own homes, I’ve included the vendors I worked with below.

Happy holiday shopping!

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Are these not the most beautiful stockings you’ve ever seen? Fleece, linen, faux fur, and burlap… the set matches perfectly although each stocking has its own individual style! I was so impressed with the quality of these stockings and highly recommend working with Burlap Babe.
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I totally fell in love with Lisa’s work and shop, Southern Arcadian. She’s so incredibly generous and professional, and the whole process of customizing our “Riehm Family” stocking holder was a pleasure. She offers a wide variety of wooden signs and you just have to check out her beautiful aesthetic.

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If you’re looking for a tree skirt, look no further than The Burlap Cottage. Our linen tassel tree skirt adds such a cozy element to our dining room and I can’t imagine the room without it! It’s exactly what I was hoping for. If you’re a compulsive pillow shopper like me (or if you’re in the market for some holiday pillows), Leanne’s got you covered, too. Check out her beautiful shop!

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I’m saving this beautiful burlap table runner for Christmas Eve dinner (I know my son will get it filthy if I leave it out before then!) but I encourage you to check out Greece-based Etsy shop AJ Rustic Creations for all of your burlap holiday needs. I love their simple, elegant work!

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 5.23.13 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-03 at 8.56.43 PM.pngNow, obviously my two and a half year old wants to destroy our Christmas tree every chance he gets. That’s why I was thrilled to find Woulf’s CreationsSarah’s fun felt creations are perfect for little ones of all ages, making them feel special that they get the chance to decorate their own christmas trees! Mom win!

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Another felt shop that I love is Creativity Customized. Andrea takes her time with each felt piece she creates and you can see the amount of detail in each design. Liam loves his snowman and gingerbread cookie!

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Everything else you see in the video that wasn’t listed above (light up frame, place mats, golden christmas trees, glitter presents, burlap chair bows, wreath) I got at Christmas Tree Shop. Because the holidays aren’t complete without a few CTS knick knacks!

That’s it guys! I tried to keep it simple this year and only buy a few essentials to not go overboard. I actually had a lot of fun doing some DIY projects too, like the reversible porch sign at the beginning of the video (the bucket below it is filled with salt, perfect for snow days!) and pine cone ornaments. The little golden ornaments are made out of salt dough, and were a part of a DIY project I did with Liam last Christmas when he only a year old. Check out the tutorial here!

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If you’re interested in step by step tutorials for the porch sign and pine cone ornaments, please do not hesitate to comment below! I’ll make sure to post them on the blog ASAP 🙂

Matching Brother Sets That Will Make You Smile

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When I found out I was expecting a second boy, many things went through my mind (Oh my god, my poor house! was one of them, yes.) But despite the craziness bound to happen in our home with two rowdy boys under the age of three, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Liam becoming a big brother. For him to have a best friend for life, someone to walk in his footsteps and look up to him. There is nothing sweeter than imagining your toddler caring for your new baby.

When we got home, I instantly started looking up matching brother sets, and I couldn’t believe how many adorable ones I found on Etsy. I cannot wait for my boys to wear their matching sets! Warning: Get ready to smile, they’re super duper cute.

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I’m so obsessed with this set by Piper James Designs. Brianna’s shop started out when friends and family kept asking her to make them the same outfits she was creating for her kiddos. Her shop is a true passion project! She has tons of different styles available for babies, toddlers, and mommies alike. I love my “Tired as a Mother” and “Pregnant AF” t-shirts, too 🙂

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I laughed so hard when I found this set… How amazing is it, honestly? Eat Sleep Drool has the cutest onesies, but also some adorable, slouchy beanies that fit most kids’ heads, from infant to toddler. Liam asks for his “hat” every time we leave the house so it must be super comfy 🙂

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I fell in love with the set we got from Little Fox Nest. Liam’s says “Brother of the Tribe” and Noah’s “New to the Tribe”, and I just can’t handle the cuteness! The socks are super cute too and reach just under the knees – perfect to bundle up during the colder months.

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This tee/onesie set by Lone Star Charm Shop couldn’t be more on theme with Noah’s nursery! I love the simplicity of this set and how easily Liam will wear his as well. Too darn cute!

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How amazing is this set by Brooklyn Baby Shop, you guys? After our superhero-themed birth announcement, I couldn’t believe I’d found such a perfect matching set for the boys. Obsessed!

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As a fellow boy mom, Blake loves focusing on adorable personalized boy clothes, as well as items for moms. She started her shop, All About Southern, because she felt that boys also needed cute clothes! Clearly I have a soft spot for this “Did We Just Become Best Friends/Yep” set… and Liam totally needed a long sleeve one for winter 🙂

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With a firefighter as a daddy, both our boys are bound to be obsessed with fire trucks. I got them this adorable “Fire Chief in the Making” onesie/tee set by In the Making Designs and I’m sure Liam will lose it when I tell him he’s a firefighter just like Daddy. Noah won’t exactly understand what’s going on, but he can just look cute rocking his fire chief onesie 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 4.29.05 PMI love Best is Yet Boutique and how open Stefania is to custom orders! She made us this adorable “Boy Mom” and “Mama’s Boy” onesie/tee set and I can’t wait to take a group photo with my boys. They’re so soft, too!

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One of my girlfriends showed me this adorable onesie/tee set by Jennuine Design Studio and I couldn’t resist getting one for Liam and Noah. The message is so beautiful. We need more love in today’s world for sure, and it all starts with our kiddos.

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The Southern Closet 101 offers the cutest seasonal and holiday sets ever (you just have to see their Christmas outfits…) I love these matching Big Brother/Little Brother outfits, complete with leggings and cozy hats.

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Marie’s background is in behavior therapy and consultation for children with Autism so a clothing business was out of the blue, but she eventually made the leap to full-time after her third son was born. Her shop (and family) is all about giving back. Many of Sugar Moon Kids‘ onesies and shirts are donated throughout the year to babies and children in need, and she also donates a percentage of sales to local inner city youth programs, specifically RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner cities).

I love the message of this “Be Kind, Humble, Honest, Amazing” onesie and can’t wait for Noah to rock it!Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 4.29.57 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.53.36 PM.pngNot a set, but I couldn’t not get this shirt for my crazy toddler 😉 Now that he’s gotten the hang of showing everyone his “Moo Cow”, it’s actually hilarious. Thanks, Bushel a Peck Design Co. for making t-shirts way more fun than I ever thought they could be!Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.54.33 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-11-27 at 2.57.54 PM.pngAnd finally, I thought I’d share the adorable shirt Liam wore for Thanksgiving this year. It says it all… so thankful 🙂 Heads Up Shirt Designs has tons of other holiday designs, as well as family sets. Make sure to check them out before Christmas time!

 

My Favorite Pregnancy Skincare Brands

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Pregnancy should be, in my opinion, a time to detox. A time to pick and choose what you put in and on your body very, very wisely. You’re responsible for not just your health, but also your little one’s, and that should be motivation enough to read labels meticulously and search for clean ingredients.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite skincare products with you guys so you know where to start during pregnancy – some of these I use before and after pregnancy, too!

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Leaf Seed Berry was one of my discoveries during this pregnancy and I swear by their charcoal face wash with tea tree (activated charcoal is highly absorptive, sucking dirt and oil from pores like a powerful sponge, and tea tree essential oil is effective in combating acne), as well as their rose essence exfoliating toner — unlike normal toners, this unique formulation works to clear off dead skin cells that intensify fine dry lines and blocked pores, while using its antimicrobial properties to clear away those pesky blemishes and keep them at bay. I love how refreshed I feel after this combo… and my skin never dries out, which says a lot during pregnancy (with Liam, I had the driest skin and had such a hard time keeping my face moisturized!) Snatch a few of their products while they’re on sale – I promise you’ll fall in love!

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I’ve loved MANDALA ORGANIC since my pregnancy with Liam. Their line is just so diverse and everything smells so delicious. My favorites are their vegan lip balms (even my mom became a huge fan!) and bergamot night cream (you won’t find a more hydrating, soothing night cream with such clean ingredients!) As if their quality products weren’t enough, I love that a portion of every sale is donated to environmental and social justice non-profit organizations.

Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 4.11.07 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-26 at 9.17.21 PM.pngA safe, hydrating belly balm is essential during pregnancy to avoid stretch marks, and I’m so glad I recently discovered Best Nest Wellness! Formulated by an MIT physician using the latest research into women’s health and wellness, all of their products are made from natural and organic foods to ensure effectiveness. You can’t go wrong with 100% organic ingredients and quality essential oils.

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I’ve been using The Little Herbal products for years! From their organic herbal teas (I swore by their Mama’s Makin’ Milk tea blend when I was nursing Liam) to their absolutely amazing skincare products, I cannot recommend this brand more. During and after my first pregnancy, I was so glad to have found their Mama’s Belly Butter, Nipple Saver Salve, and “Repair Down There” spray. Such a great line for Mamas, but for babies too – I still use their Magic Diaper Cream and Be Well Vapor Rub. You have to check all of these goodies out!

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Favorite natural deodorant… hands down! I’ve tried them all: Tom’s, Crystal, Jason, Earth Science, Weleda, Alba… and none of them work effectively throughout the day. Native is aluminum and paraben-free, with an ingredient list you can understand. And the vanilla/coconut scent is delicious!

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The Australian-born brand Milk & Co stems from a yearning to make quality skincare products as easy and accessible as possible. Their women’s face & body line is 95% naturally derived and covers a wide range of products from sunscreens and body lotions to scrubs and face wash.

Their goji fruit extract, ylang ylang oil, and hibiscus flower extract face wash is my absolute go-to during pregnancy, and so is their “Invigorate Me” revitalizing body lotion. I love their baby line as well, along with their amazing room sprays (we swear by the Stinky Winky spray!)

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For months, the two sisters behind Moody Sisters toiled over their stoves and sinks perfecting products that would help their moody skin. As they developed and tested their lotions, toners and deodorants, they suddenly realized that not only did they enjoy these products, but others would too. They were delighted to realize that since the products were completely chemical and paraben-free, they were also safe for their young daughters. The products range from sensitive skin cleansers and moisturizers to blemish and oil control products, from luxurious lip balms to aluminum-free deodorants and scrubs.

My absolute favorite is their Lightweight Aloe Face Moisturizer, a light moisturizing cream that is perfect for daily use without making you feel oily throughout the day. The scent is super refreshing and the aloe soothes my skin like no other product I own. A must have!

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After my pregnancy with Liam, I struggled with some really stubborn cystic acne breakouts. I suspect it had something to do with stopping birth control pills (my hormones went a little crazy!) and I was a little nervous about not being able to use a salicylic acid face wash during pregnancy to keep the breakouts at bay. I was thrilled to find the brand Mumsie, formulated especially for moms concerned about hormonal acne during and after pregnancy. It’s a very light formula, but two pumps is enough to cleanse thoroughly.

 

So there you go, Mamas – I hope these suggestions help you over the course of your pregnancies. Do not hesitate to reach out with questions in the comments!

Why Thanksgiving Has a New Meaning When You Have Kids

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Happy Thanksgiving, Mamas! Hope your bellies are full (mine certainly is) and that you spent the day with those you love. Check out my Thanksgiving post for Westchester County Moms Blog!

Mama’s Renovation Project: Baby Boy #2’s Woodland-Themed Nursery

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Guys… I am so excited to share both our baby’s first name as well as his woodland-themed nursery with you all!

If any you were wondering: picking our baby boy’s name was fairly easy since Joe and I only agreed on two names.

So Liam and Noah it is! 

I’m so glad I was able to reveal both of my boys’ rooms to my family and closest friends this past weekend during my surprise sprinkle. It was the sweetest surprise and I owe my mother in law and sister in law all the credit… They even hacked into my Pinterest account and made a secret Amazon Prime account to be able to purchase everything behind my back! I know I’m not very easy to surprise 🙂

The sprinkle was on theme with Noah’s nursery and exactly what I wanted: a “no fuss” afternoon with my closest girlfriends, hot cocoa, coffee & bagels, in the comfort of my own home. It was perfect!

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 3.35.42 PM.pngI had so much fun with Noah’s woodland theme and handpicking each item to fit the space. For those who remember Liam’s nautical nursery, we used the same bedroom (the smallest one in our house) and moved everything around to give it a new feel. It was quite the process, but I am so happy with how it turned out. The room looks so much bigger this way!

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I can’t emphasize how fabulous the Etsy and Amazon vendors I worked with on this project were throughout the entire process. They were kind, patient, attentive to what I wanted, and their work really shows what true craftsmanship is. I was blown away with each package I received. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

So without any further ado, here is Noah’s rustic/woodland-themed nursery. Enjoy!

(please disregard how distended and wide the image looks in some of the frames… not sure what happened there, but you get the idea…)

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Here are the items we picked for Noah’s nursery in a little more detail:

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I have to start by discussing our big splurge for baby #2: the SNOO Smart Sleeper.

SNOO is the world’s first smart sleeper that boosts a baby’s sleep by imitating the rhythmic sensations babies enjoy while in the womb. It has been named the “safest baby bed ever made”, featuring a new swaddle that securely attaches to the sleeper to prevent rolling over, guaranteeing baby stays on its back.

Built by Dr. Harvey Karp, renowned pediatrician and creator of the 5 S’s, the SNOO Smart Sleeper works by turning on the baby’s calming reflex, as described in his book “Happiest Baby on the Block.” The combination of motion (swinging) and sound (white noise) is engineered to respond the way a parent would, increasing as the baby cries.

SNOO’s goal is to solve the #1 complaint of new parents: sleep deprivation. 50% of parents sleep 6 hours or less which, studies show, causes the same mental impairment as being drunk. SNOO doesn’t replace parents, it fills the gap of all the help they should be getting so they can be healthy, happy and available to their baby. The SNOO also helps infants develop healthier sleep habits and parents learn to read their baby’s cues, recognizing when crying is a sign of hunger versus the need for a bit more soothing, building more trust and confidence in a shorter period of time.

At $1,160, it’s like having a night nurse for under $7 a day for baby’s first six months. Not cheap, but if you break it down to each, individual day, you just can’t put a price tag on a good night’s sleep. That’s one thing I’ve learned from going through the newborn stage once… Sleep is priceless, and it makes you a better mama, too!

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I am so in love with these personalized wooden signs by 48h Monogram. This shop is revolutionizing the personalization industry by making sure their customers receive their orders in 3-5 days! That’s unheard of! I also love that they do NOT use MDF under any circumstances, and only use quality Ply Birch that they get directly from Russia. You can purchase these custom signs painted or unpainted (if you’re going for natural decor.) Noah’s room wouldn’t be complete without this beautiful sign.

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I love the simplicity of Alexes’ wooden signs. My husband and I always joke about our basement being his “man cave”, so it was only fitting for his son to have his own 🙂 Check out more of Farm Rust and Sawdust’s beautiful work here… Alexes has gorgeous pieces for the holidays!

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As you may already know if you read Liam’s Nautical Room post, I love wall decals for children’s rooms. They’re safe, fun, and don’t involve making holes in walls! As you can see in the video tour above, this set came with three tall trees that we chose to spread out on the main wall of the nursery. I love how it all came out! Make sure you take a look at some other Wall Star Graphic  decals and signs… They have such a cool collection!

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I love this magical little decal by Alphabet Garden. My toddler loves to sit and point to all the different animals (but of course, his favorite one to call out is “mushroom!”) It’s perfect for a woodland-themed room and really adds a sweet, dreamy touch to a space.

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The shop might sound familiar, and that’s because we collaborated with Ethel’s Granddaughter on Liam’s room as well! Cindy made the adorable nautical flag signs that read “Captain Riehm” above his closet. So original! I fell in love with the simple, yet rustic, feel of this wood slice for Noah’s nursery. Browse the rest of Cindy’s shop here!

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I love these bear prints by Adorn my Wall. They were actually the first wall accents I got for Noah’s nursery and only ended up using three bears instead of all five, but they really tie the room together. I love how crisp they are against their printed backgrounds. Such a nice touch for a boy’s room! No need to wait for shipping, these prints are ready to download within minutes on Etsy.

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This beautiful ladder by Sweet Home Designs Co. was one of the final pieces we got for Noah’s nursery and I couldn’t be more excited about it! It’s so beautiful and sturdy, and we will definitely use it for different purposes throughout the years. I love having it in Noah’s room during the winter months to hang cozy blankets. It’s such a nice, rustic accent that would work in many different rooms and home styles.

Make sure you browse more of Kimberly’s beautiful wood work!

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How sweet is this poster? I chose to display it in a glass shadow box above Noah’s changing table. It’s so adorable! Carrie’s shop is so dreamy and I love the simplicity of her sketches. Check out more of her work here.

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These bookends are the cutest, and I can’t wait to use them over the years with Liam and Noah. As a bonus, with every product purchased, Wanda donates to Trees for the Future to plant a tree. How cool is that? Check out all of the creative bookends by Maple Shade Kids here!

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I was in awe of this arrow when I received it. So simple, yet so, so beautiful. The video simply doesn’t do it justice… it’s so well-crafted! Check out these Clever Moth arrows, as well as her beautiful floating shelves, here.

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I love our two little pine trees by Rustic Log Decor! They’re so rustic and adorable and may even make their way into our Christmas table decor… This shop is your destination for anything log cabin-inspired. They thought of it all!

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Once again, I can’t thank Jamie and Robert enough for their incredible work on both Liam and Noah’s rooms. These teepee and mountain shelves are so incredibly beautiful and I can’t recommend their shop more. I would buy literally every single item they have listed! Check out their growing shop here!

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This little wooden bear by Mimsy’s Place makes me emotional every time I look at it. I can’t believe our little bear will be here soon… We love him so much already! Linda has a ton of cute wooden ornaments and Christmas decor that you should definitely check out before the holidays as well. Don’t wait too long!

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Lisa’s hand cut wood signs immediately caught my eye. She has options for nurseries, kids rooms, weddings, home, and more. You just need to admire her work!

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Amber, the owner of The New Dawn 323, is quite an impressive young lady. She’s only a senior in high school (!) and manages her shop all on her own. She is so professional in her work and I love how this little sign turned out. It’s perfect right above Noah’s closet!

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When we decided to have a door sign for Liam’s room, we just knew Noah would need his own woodland-themed one as well. This adorable fox sign is always a hit with our friends and family.

Check out more of Stephanie’s unique items here!

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I am obsessed with Up Up and Away Design Co.’s minimalist mobiles. They are so delicate and poetic and I knew the room just wouldn’t be complete without one. Jillian is a true artist, but also a busy mom who works on her orders when her babies are asleep at night. Now that’s commitment!

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This sign trio by Bluff Side Decor is perfect for Noah’s nursery. I love the little messages  and their rustic feel. You should definitely check out more of Brenna’s work for your next decor project – no two signs she makes will be exactly the same. They’re all one of a kind and made with love.

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I have always been mesmerized by dream catchers and wanted to incorporate one somehow into Noah’s nursery. This tribal dream catcher fits in so well! Nursery Decals Store has tons of wall sticker options on Amazon.

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Kids n’ Such has the most adorable baby items and it’s almost impossible to pick my favorites! From car seat covers & nursing accessories to trendy baby bibs, they’ve got you covered. They’re also organizing (with a few other Mom & Baby brands) an awesome New Mom Survival Kit Giveaway. The contest will run from November 24-30th and the winner will be announced December 1st. Make sure to enter here to win $500 worth of goodies!

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How cute is this fox hamper by Twirly Kids? I love it for Noah’s closet and it’s the perfect size for storage. It’s really sturdy and perfect to pack away stuffed animals or outgrown clothing.

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I’ve posted about Land of the Wee before, but I’m obsessed with them! I have never bought anything as soft as their crib sheets/changing pad covers before, and I know my babies will thank me for it 🙂 I love this peace sign/bicycle print!

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This bear/plaid reversible blanket is so soft and perfectly sized for babies. Dear Baby Gear offers a wide array of baby items, from infant carrier covers to cozy blankets. I love that all of their items are reversible, too!

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I love these arrow sheets by Copper Pearl, and I figured that until Liam is ready to transition to a big boy bed (trust me, I’m not rushing him out of that crib!) we can use the bed to put Noah down in his room. I’m sure it’ll turn out to be super convenient!

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The items you don’t see listed above were bought at Amazon or Target. The toddler bed, for example, was a steal on Amazon (so was the glider!), and the light up mountain scenery sign and grey rug are both from Target.

 

So there you go, guys!

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Noah’s nursery and hope you’ll reach out to some of these amazing vendors for your next home decor projects! Trust me, you won’t regret it!