Southern Belles Girls Trip Monogrammed Tote Bag

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

A few months ago, my mom invited me and my little sister to a girls week in Sea Island, Georgia.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance.

Quality girl time in the most beautiful resort in the South?

Yes, please.

We decided to make it a Southern Belles road trip from North Carolina to Georgia, so naturally I needed to make a little gift for the adventure.

I found this adorable tote bag at Target, and I instantly knew what I was going to create: a Southern Belles Girls Trip Monogrammed Tote Bag.

Southern Belles Girls Trip Monogrammed Tote Bag

This bag was so easy to create, and seriously perfect for the trip.

I bought three of the tote bags from Target, all in the same style since it was the easiest to vinyl.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

I then created three unique phrases for me, my mom, and my little sis:

Me: Salty but Sweet 

I thought this was adorable, not only because it gives a nod to the beach and the Great Salt Lake, but also because it is so. me. 

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Little Sis: Bummin’ Around

My maiden name was Bumgardner, so my little sis goes by “Bum” or “Bummy” a lot. Since we’re staying at a glitzy glam resort, I figured “bummin’ around” would be a cute tongue-in-cheek saying for her bag that she could carry over to D.C. when she went back.

Mom: Special Time

When we were younger, my mom would take us out one at a time for “special time.” Special time could include a movie, a day at the park, tea at the local tea room, or, in this case, a week at the most beautiful resort in the country. Either way, I thought it was an appropriate saying to remind my mom of the special times she’d given us growing up, and all the special times we were going to have together.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

I just made the cut files and the monograms on heat transfer vinyl, used my Cricut machine to print them, and then I ironed them onto the bags. Monogram on the front, saying on the back. Easy peasy! I chose light light pink for mine, and metallic gold for the girls’.

 

We carried these bags everywhere. 

We started in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We used them at South of the Border and Beaufort, South Carolina.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We brought them through Savannah, Georgia.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

And we carried them at Sea Island.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We had them at the beach to carry our shoes.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We carried them to the spa to pack our suits.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We had them at the candy shop on the Savannah River Walk for our sweet treats.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We used them to hold our spoils when we shopped the SCAD store and stopped for tea afterwards at Gryphon Tea Room. (I got the Blackberry Pomegranate Lemonade Spritzer).

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

We used them on our bike rides for our camera gear.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

And we used them to pack our fun little frillies from the Cloister before we headed out.

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

 

They are so practical, and they are so dang cute.

Seriously, if you ever take a road trip, these are a must. So easy and so adorable!

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

Do you have a go-to bag for road trips? Are you a monogram addict like I’ve recently become?

 

Southern Belles Monogrammed Tote Bag - Politics to PlayDoh

xoxo

Cara

 

DIY Golden Chic IKEA Shoe Rack

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

Post contains affiliate links.

You guys, this has to be one of the simplest DIY projects I’ve done to date, and it’s made one of the biggest impacts on my home’s look.

Our mudroom came with custom built-in entryway storage, but, I mean, have you seen how many shoes I have? Even though we have tons more space out here than we did in DC or Annapolis, it still somehow wasn’t enough.

So my husband and I decided to install shoe racks.

(And when I say “install,” I mean it in the loosest sense of the word possible. We wanted to place them, really.)

So we went to the first place any young couple goes when they’re looking for cheap, easy storage: IKEA!

Yes, IKEA is another one of my anti-drugs.

I mean, that place has everything. And if it doesn’t have everything, it has enough that you can DIY the rest of it.

Enter the DIY Golden Chic IKEA Shoe Rack

 

DIY Golden Chic IKEA Shoe Rack

IKEA has a number of options for shoe racks. Some are more expensive than others, and others are classier than the rest.

These days, we always err on the side of cheap.

We chose these white Bissa racks because 1. They fit up to 18 (!!) pairs of shoes, 2. They’re vertical and slim so they don’t take up a ton of room, and 3. They have that little vent at the top so our shoes aren’t marinating in their own odor.

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

Plus, they’re only $39.99!

As the cheapest option, these beauties are surprisingly lovely and super sturdy.

That said, I didn’t want to just plunk these guys down in my mudroom and let them gather dust. (I have a hard time being surrounded by anything that isn’t pretty… It’s a real problem. I’m working on it, but not actually.)

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

 

So I did what any overscheduled young mom would do: I DIYed it to my liking!

Now, this project was seriously almost too easy for words.

I literally bought these beautiful drawer pulls off of Amazon (I’d actually bought them for my kitchen, but that’s a whole other saga), and just affixed them to the front of the rack.

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

No lie, that’s the extent of it.

You just measure and mark equal distances on each rack, drill a hole through each mark, and then screw the pulls in with the accompanying screws.

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

Easy peasy, but oh so lovely!

I feel like this one tiny detail transformed the whole feel of not only just the racks, but the whole mudroom!

It feels so much classier now.

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

DIY Gold Chic IKEA Shoe Rack - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Are you an IKEA DIYer? (Shall we call this DIkeaY?) What’s your favorite IKEA transformation?

 

xoxo

Cara

 

How to Stage an Adorable Airplane Photo Shoot

Style an Airplane Photo Shoot - Politics to PlayDoh

My husband’s father is a pilot.

In fact, he was Director of the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport for 25 years. (Anyone who’s ever traveled to Montana knows exactly where that is, amiright?).

When we decided to move out West from Annapolis, Maryland last year, I decided to get creative. I wanted a beautiful reminder of our time on the East Coast, and a commemoration of our imminent travels.

So, naturally, I needed an airplane photo shoot.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

The finished product, in my opinion, is gorgeous, so I thought I’d share the steps I took to get there:

1. Gather your props

I knew that I wanted my little guy to be dressed like a pilot (since this shoot would be the closest I’d ever let him get to actually piloting a plane…).

I scoured the Internet and local stores, and came up with the following:

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

 

The toy plane that we used was actually hand-made by a vendor at the local Curb Market in Hendersonville, NC. We spend a week in the mountains of North Carolina each summer, and the Curb Market is part of our old stompin’ grounds. This year, the little guy was only 9 months old when we went, so we bought him this painted toy plane for “when he got older.”

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Who knew it would be the perfect prop for this shoot! And it made the photos that much more nostalgic since it contained a piece of a long family tradition, too.

Stage your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

In addition to these props, I wanted postcards of Salt Lake City, since that’s where we were heading. I bought mine off of eBay, but you can find them almost anywhere. I had our photographer, Penny Lane Lifestyle Photography, take some close-ups of that, just for posterity.

I won’t lie to you about the suitcase in these photos, you guys. I’d had this thing with me since college. My mom found it at an antique store and used it as a box for my graduation gifts. It had never served a real purpose until now, and was honestly sitting in my garage for years.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

One day, though, I happened to be rummaging through our storage area, and I stumbled upon it again. It was perfect. I literally could not have conjured up a better suitcase for this photo shoot.

And so it joined the party.

Stage an Airplane Photo Shoot - Politics to PlayDoh

Well, now that we had the props, I needed a location.

2. Find a location (namely, an airport)

When we lived in Annapolis, I had an hour+ commute every day, each way, to work in DC. Most of that commute consisted of highway, as Annapolis is a straight shot out Route 50. On my way home from work each day, I had a lot of time to think because all I saw was trees.

That is, except for the airport.

That’s right. There was this fascinating little airport right on Route 50, up a little sloped hill littered with conservative campaign signs. (Yes, that would stand out in the super Blue DC area).

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

I had noticed this airport frequently, especially leading up to the 2016 election. (Because, you know, the signs.)

So when I thought about which airport I could bother to let me shoot there, I immediately thought of that one.

It would be perfect – Close to home, and quaint!

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

On my next commute home, I scoured the hill for any sign indicating something other than a political candidate. I found it: Freeway Airport

As soon as I got home, I shot them an email. I told them my story of moving across the country, and then asked them if I could use their airport for a photo shoot. I also asked how much they charged for the location.

Well, folks. I could not have asked for better customer service. The man I spoke to happily agreed to my pitch, and mentioned that many a couple have used their airport for photos. (I checked this out, and it’s true! There are some gorgeous photos at this place!)

Best of all, there was zero charge! These kind folks allowed us to use their airport for as long as we wanted for free. They even let us put the little guy in the cockpit!

*Note: Since it’s an active airstrip and planes were taking off and landing while we were there, we were advised not to use the runway. I was hoping to get a photo of us walking away on the runway holding hands. I was told that a couple did that once and almost got hit by a landing airplane. We erred on the side of alive for that one, and nixed that shot.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

3. Book a photographer

I have a few go-to photographers in the DC and Annapolis area:

Elle Meredith Photography (wowzah!)

Abby Grace Photography

Sam Hurd Photography

But I like to help out as many photographers as I can, so I tend to try new photogs for each shoot. (Ask me about the one MAJOR time that backfired. Ugh.)

For this shoot, I went with Lindsay from Penny Lane Lifestyle Photography. (Note: She switched over to doing exclusively maternity and newborn after our shoot, sorry!)

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Lindsay was awesome and got a really great feel for what I wanted out of the shoot when we got there. She captured some amazing moments, and gave really great direction, which is always important from a photographer.

I have two pieces of advice for choosing a photographer:

1.Look at their entire portfolio. Don’t just assume from one photo that you’ll mesh with their entire style. Good photographers can give a client what they want, so one photo might not be an indication of their overall style.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

2. Give direction. Yes, photographers should be able to give you solid direction in terms of posing to the light and accentuating body parts. But if you have a clear idea of what you want from a shoot, you have an obligation to let them know. It’s like going to the hairdresser: You wouldn’t just walk in, sit in the chair, and say, “Go ahead, do your thing!” They would look at you like you were nuts, and probably not make a move until they knew exactly what you wanted. Same goes for photographers. They want to give you the images you imagine — Part of the fun for them is bringing your ideas to life! So don’t be afraid to tell them what you’re thinking. That way, everyone goes home happy!

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

At our shoot, I told Lindsay that I wanted a close-up of the suitcase with the postcard.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

When I saw a random gas pump on the lot, I told her I’d love a family photo of that, too.

Style an Airplane Photo Shoot - Politics to PlayDoh

Finally, as we were leaving I noticed a car with “For Sale” written in its window. It was seriously the perfect car for this kind of shoot, and part of me thought someone had parked it there just for us. I let Lindsay know that it would be a gorgeous prop for us, and we took a moment before we left to pose in front of it.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

She even held the little guy so we could sneak a kiss!

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Turns out these were my favorite photos of the bunch! If I hadn’t pointed them out and semi-insisted on incorporating the car, we wouldn’t have had the beautiful Christmas cards we had last year! I’m so happy with these photos, and so glad I spoke up. (And since the client’s happy, Lindsay is happy, too!).

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Now for some tips on maximizing your airplane photo shoot.

First of all, aim for dusk. There’s nothing like a gorgeous setting sun reflecting off the wing of a Cessna. Your photos will be so much more dynamic if you feature a transitioning sun in the background.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

A sunset enhances the narrative of “change,” not to mention the whole “Sun setting on this chapter of our lives” metaphor. It also helps to reiterate the theme of the airplane shoot, since it draws attention to the sky. Wins all over!

I’ve got a thing for sunsets (more on my wedding photos later), so I think of them as a minor detail that can have a tremendous impact on the quality of a photo shoot.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Second, incorporate “airplane” movement into your poses.

If you have older kids, have them run around with their arms out like an airplane.

If you have a baby or toddler, toss them in the air like an airplane, or play “Airplane” by lying on your back and lifting them in the air on your feet. (Anyone else play this game with their little??)

These poses drive home the airplane theme and give you precious memories of carefree playtime with your little ones.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Finally, and this is especially important for the moms: Be there.

I’m about 75 pounds heavier than I was before I had my son. It’s a struggle every day for me. All of my clothes (and I do mean all of them) are packed away in boxes in the basement, and I’ve worn maternity stretch pants every day for the past two years.

Did I want to be in photos? You bet a flying Piper I did not.

But I knew that years from now, I’d want to look back on memories of me with my son and my husband exactly as we were that day. Love handles and all.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

 

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

And I’m so glad I decided to just jump in because the way he looks at me in these photos is more satisfying than any low number on a scale will ever be.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

And to think I’d have missed it…

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

(Plus, photographers can work magic when it comes to making you look good! Angles, people. Angles.)

 

Well, I think that’s all! I hope you’ve gotten a few good ideas from our experience with our airplane photo shoot. My little guy won’t ever be allowed to go up in an airplane by himself (sorry, Grandpa), but these photos have got us flying high!

As I always say: Terra firma. The firma the betta.

Style your own Airplane Photo Shoot! - Politics to PlayDoh

xoxo

Cara

 

 

 

Show & Tell: What’s On Your Desk?

What's on YOUR desk? Nifty finds to brighten any cubicle.

I like pink.

No, no wait. Like is not strong enough a word.

I am unhealthily obsessed with pink and cannot get enough of it in my life.

As a child, whenever I was asked for my favorite color, I remember being confused because How can anyone really know what their favorite color is? Mine was blue. Obviously. But then the next week it was green. The next is was yellow (Because Maddy Robinson’s was yellow). The next, I’d look around and decide purple had to be my favorite color, right? Right??

It was all very confusing. Because seriously. How can you know. 

Well, folks, like Columbus discovering the Indies, when I discovered pink, I knew. (Bad example.)

For years I tried to deny it like a torrid affair.

I wanted so badly to not be the stereotypical girl (Heaven forbid, right?) by loving pink, so I tried as hard as I could to like blue. I shifted toward sky blue for awhile, which felt more comfortable, and then slipped gradually into mint green…until it was just undeniable: I LOVED PINK AND I DIDN’T CARE WHO KNEW IT. (Think Ron Burgundy, but, you know, not burgundy.)

Since then, I’ve fully embraced the blush, making it the color of my wedding, my house (sorry, hubby), and, yep, my desk.

Flirty finds make any desk space cheerful, whether at home or at the office.

At work, I’m known as the girl with the desk. Having a pinkified cubicle when you work for the federal government certainly makes you stand out. But more importantly for my own sake, it makes me happy. 

I enjoy surrounding myself with beautiful things that cheer me up, and pink definitely cheers me up. I don’t know what chemical voodoo magic goes on in my head when I see the color, but I know I’m immediately in higher spirits after doing so.

Since color has become such an important part of my life, I thought I’d share some of the fun trinkets I keep around my desk in the hopes that they might make some of you happy, too!

 

  1. Cactus keychainH&M, $4.99

Cactus keychain! Details at www.PoliticsToPlayDoh.com

I found this little fella in the checkout line at the H&M in New Orleans while I was buying tee shirts for my son on a vacation last month. It was, admittedly, an impulse buy — but it’s one of the greatest impulse purchases I’ve made to date.

love this thing, not just for its vibrant color and adorable mustache and cowboy boot attachments, but also because it makes finding my keys in my Goliath of a purse that much easier. I know they say idle hands are the Devil’s playground, but dang that playground has some cute stuff sometimes!

 

2. Grapefruit iPhone case, Kate Spade New York, $39.50 (on Amazon)

KSNY Grapefruit iPhone -- Make the right call!

I’m pretty wishy-washy about my phone cases. I love Kate Spade’s designs in general (obviously), but I get A.D.D. with them when they’re on my phone. There always seems to be a better option. I’d been around the block a time or two with cases that were too bulky, too flimsy, not quite the right pattern, or just not up to the task of protecting my phone.

But the moment I laid eyes on this KSNY Grapefruit iPhone case, I knew… I had to get an iPhone.

(No joke, I bought this case in preparation for getting an iPhone. About two months before I actually got one. It was worth it.)

Even though I got the Rose Gold iPhone (Did you hear that?? A pink iPhone!), I haven’t taken this case off once in the year I’ve had it. I love it so much. Every time I look at it, it’s like serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin all come out to party, and I’m invited.

A few of the jewels recently started to fall off, but that hasn’t diminished my love for it. (I simply bought a replacement on Amazon! Shh. Don’t tell.)

I would highly recommend this bedazzled beauty to anyone looking to spice up their text life. Go ahead, make the right call.

 

(Puns!)

 

3. 2017 Agenda, Kate Spade New York, $99

KSNY 2017 Agenda on Politics to PlayDoh

Okay, I’m not gonna lie to you about this one: I have two.

Yep, that’s right. I have this baby in black, as well. I figured I might as well give myself options: Pink and flirty, or black and classy, right?

You know how I told you I have an obsession with pink? Well, it’s even worse with agendas.

I’m not joking, I buy an average of nine agendas a year. I write in about 1/3 of them (Math!), but so many organizers these days are just so darn pretty that I can’t pass ’em up! Plus, who knows what crafty magic you can pull with old planners, amiright?

(No, I’m pretty wrong since years tend to go out of date. Literally.)

My favorite planners are the Sugar Paper line from Target and, of course, KSNY. I like Kate’s because her fillers are replaceable, so you can reuse the planner over and over. (No, that doesn’t stop me from buying more planners each year anyway. Shrug.)

KSNY 2017 Agenda on Politics to PlayDoh

Plus, it comes with To Do, Restaurant, Birthdays, and Phone Number tabs for extra organization. Win!

 

4. Headline Mug, Kate Spade New York, $28

Headline mug from KSNY at www.PoliticsToPlayDoh.com

love these mugs by Kate Spade. How can you not be happy when you look at this? And it comes in a boatload of adorable designs, too, with all different headlines. While I scored this little pretty at Home Goods, you can also find it on Amazon!

I personally find this mug too cute to stain with coffee, so I keep my pens in it instead.

Speaking of…

 

5. EasyTouch Retractable Ballpoint Pens, Pilot, $8.59

The best fine tip pens around! EasyTouch Retractable Ballpoints

I’m a pen snob, you guys. I won’t deny it. That gel pen fad in the 90’s? Didn’t do it for me. That stuff gets everywhere! I need me a fine tip to get the job done — the finer the better.

A few years ago, I found the perfect pen. I don’t remember where it was — probably a polling booth in DC or something — but I was obsessed. It wrote with the finest tip I’d ever seen, and didn’t leave a mark outside of the path I drew. When I left without first finding out what type of pen it was, I was obviously devastated. I spent the next years seeking out that hallowed rollerball, checking Targets and Staples up and down the East Coast, but to no avail. I couldn’t find it anywhere.

Cut to 2017.

On my first day in the new office, my coworkers gave me a tour of the building and then they took me to the supply room to stock up for my new desk.

Take a guess at what happened next.

That’s right: They handed me my dream pen!

You guys, I had found my beloved. My favorite pen. Reunited at last.

To ensure we were never separated again, I stocked up, and if you appreciate fine writing, too, you should, too!

 

6. Rose Salve, C. O. Bigelow, $6

Rose salve for the lips that crave attention!

Another impulse buy, you guys! This time at Nordstrom Rack’s checkout line. This stuff is AMAZING. For those lips that crave extra attention, C.O. Bigelow has you — and your lips –covered. And it’s the perfect size to keep on your desk or toss in your purse — Or both with this two-pack!

 

7. Fuzzy Keychain, Nordstrom Rack, $10

Fuzzy friends for your keys at www.politicstoplaydoh.com

I found this little guy at Nordstrom Rack the day before we left for Utah, and now he keeps me company at my desk. He makes it so easy to find my office keys, especially when they’re at the bottom of that Mary Poppins purse I carry around.

My coworker told me he would get dirty in a day, but I’ve had him for half a year and he doesn’t have a mark on him! What a gem.

 

8. Orchid Magenta Laptop, HP, $275

A pink laptop makes work seem like fun!

Remember that one time I said I liked pink? I don’t lie. 

When I worked for Scribendi, the amazing editing service and employer, I needed a laptop I could use exclusively for my editing. So naturally I needed that laptop to be pink.

And guys, I found it! This thing is fabulous. I mean, as long as it’s pink it’s fabulous, but it works, too!

 

9. Business Card Holder, Kate Spade New York, $50

Business or Pleasure? Why not have both!

Business? Pleasure? Why not have both!

This classy card holder makes business fun! I’m not gonna lie, I have a few of these, and I got them all during the Kate Spade Surprise Sale (which is going on right now, guys! It comes up about twice a month!). Sidenote: I don’t buy any Kate Spade unless it comes from the Surprise Sales, which is why I was so sad to hear that Coach plans to slowly eliminate them since buying Kate Spade. Retail is for the worms, amiright? (See what I did there? Re-tail? Like regeneration? Like…nevermind.)

 

10. Unicorn Phone Charger, Sizzix, $13.99

Do unicorns exist? They do as phone chargers!

I’ve never had an external battery phone charger before, but dagnabbit I’m glad I snagged this little giveaway from Sizzix at SNAP Conference this year! It’s true what they say: These things really are magical! (And external phone chargers work, too.) (Word play!)

I carry this little friend around in my purse, but when I’m at work he sits on my desk and stares. And I don’t even mind.

 

What do you keep on your desk to keep it happy and colorful? Fun ideas at www.politicstoplaydoh.com

What do you have on your desk to keep you happy and motivated at work? Hope you’ve enjoyed this segment of Show & Tell: What’s On Your Desk?

xoxo

Cara

Giftable Children’s Books

Beautiful books that are as giftable as they are readable!

I like to think of myself as a bibliophile, but I’m probably just a book addict. I love collecting books, but I’ve only read about 5% of the ones I own. Shrug. In my house, I have books everywhere. Living room, dining room, study, bedroom, bathroom, and basement. But you’ll find my favorite books in none other than my son’s playroom. It’s here that books seem to jump right off the shelves with their ability to bring our imaginations to life. Children’s books have always held a special place in my heart. I love the stories they weave and the messages they tell …but most of all I love their covers.

That’s right. I often buy books for their covers.

What can I say? I enjoy pretty things, and so many books these days are beautiful. I give illustrators so much credit for their ability to make stories come alive and jump start our imaginations. And sometimes I’ll even find a book whose story I like, too!

One of my favorite ways to share my love of beauty is to give books as gifts, especially to expectant parents. Below are a few of my favorite books — both for their insides and their beautiful covers:

  1. Home, by Carson Ellis

'Home' gives imaginative minds a tour of different types of houses -- and what makes a house a home!

Home might be a house in the country. Or an apartment in the city. Or even a shoe. This loving tribute to the possibilities of home marks the solo debut of Carson Ellis, acclaimed illustrator of the Wildwood series and artist for the band the Decemberists.

I love this book because of its beauty in simplicity. The pictures are breathtaking, but the cover itself sits nicely on any bookshelf, in an unassuming yet intriguing way. It almost begs to be read just by teasing what’s inside.

What makes a home a home? Find out in Carson Ellis' "Home"

Once inside, Ellis’ illustrations are captivating. The detail is gorgeous and intricate, and it really drives home (no pun intended) the message that “It’s the little things, the little investments of love, that make a house a home.”

Can a theatre be a home? Find out in Ellis' "Home"

I also love that even though the artwork is straightforward in its beauty, Ellis includes intricate details to occupy my busy 18-month-old while we read it. There’s always something new to discover in the pages!

What makes a house a home? Carson Ellis depicts the answer in "Home"

Overall, I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good read — or just to adorn their bookshelves with simplistic beauty to fit almost any color scheme. It makes a wonderful gift for friends who are getting ready for a big move, too!

 

2. The 50 States, by Gabrielle Balkan

The 50 States is bright, bold, and chock full of facts for your little learner!

Be inspired by the beauty, diversity, and inventiveness of the United States in this compendium of maps. Explore every state from Alabama to Wyoming, and our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and discover more than 2,000 facts that celebrate the people, cities, nature, and historic events that have helped make America what it is today.

Before my son was born, I decided that he would spend his entire life learning. It didn’t matter if he was in school or at home, I wanted to make sure that he saw every experience as an opportunity to learn. This obviously included reading, but not in the typical “This book will teach you how to do A” way. I wanted him to learn to appreciate beauty, art, and creativity, while learning about science, geography, or world cultures.

Needless to say, when I saw The 50 States for the first time, I knew I’d begun a love affair with a children’s book. This book was — and remains to this day — my favorite giftable book. Its large size and bright, bold illustrations make it the perfect gift for that worldly friend — whether they’ve just had a child or not!

Washington, DC, through the eyes of The 50 States map book

Each state receives a double-spread chock full of factoids and nuggets of info about its history, significant events and people, and traditions. Obscure or common knowledge, each fact contributes to the rich culture of that state.

Factoids in The 50 States

Key Facts about each state in The 50 States!Facts include: State tree, capital, time zone, and bird, as well as unique events or famous names associated with that state. Pennsylvania’s page features Taylor Swift as one of the famous people hailing from the state. As a native Philadelphian and TSwift fan, I take special pride in that!

Learn all there is to learn about states like Utah in The 50 States

For the history buff in your life, this compendium provides a colorful introduction to little known facts and figures about the states we love.

It makes a marvelous travel buddy, as well, and I plan to use my copy to give my son a fun, vibrant lesson before visiting new states. It certainly holds his attention with all the colors, and the detailed illustrations make it a new treasure hunt every time we open it!

State flags in The 50 States

Plus, the back cover of the book contains a special surprise: They’ve laid every state flag out in alphabetical order! What an educational treat!

 

3. Natural World, by Amanda Wood and Mike Jolley

Natural World teaches children all about God's creatures, great and small!

What bird lays the smallest egg? What creatures live in the desert? Why do animals migrate? How do bees make honey? How do plants reproduce?

All of these questions — and so many more — are answered in Wood & Jolley’s Natural World, one of my favorite books to gift. This oversized book brings vibrant illustrations of plants and animals to life.

Vibrant illustrations jump off the page in Wood & Jolley's Natural World!

These three colorful ribbons attached to the spine make this book even more fun. They also make it easy to mark a page of interest and return back to it later. And trust me, you’ll find so many fun facts in this book, you’ll need placeholders!

Colorful ribbons make it easy to hold your place in Wood & Jolley's Natural World!

I also love the dual-page centerfolds throughout the book, which offer even more room for lists and illustrations. The authors gave such attention to this book, and it shows on every page.

 

Before I close the book on this post (pun intended that time), I want to highlight one tidbit I’ve discovered in my hunt for beautiful books. Some publishers are particularly skilled at compiling books made for the classroom (or the addict’s bookshelf). One such publisher is Wide Eyed.

Wide Eyed publishers have some of the best childrens' books around -- and certainly the most giftable!

Sometimes I’ll just do a basic Amazon search for “Wide Eyed” to see if any new additions have come out. They’re just a great resources for bright, bold, colorful hardcover books, which have become my weakness since having my son. (Jk I’ve collected children’s books for years. Our little secret.)

Thanks for reading! I hope some of these were helpful! Come back for the next round, when I reveal more books I love to gift.

Turns out sometimes you really can judge a book by its cover!

xoxo

Cara