9/12/14

HeroMe!

Hi Friends!

I've missed you all.  Taking a break from blogging has been bittersweet.  I've needed and used every second of the spare time a break from Ann Elliott has created, but I miss interacting with and keeping up with you!


I wanted to pop back in today to let you know what I've been working on during my hiatus...HeroMe!  Some of you may remember this post where I first introduced you to the concept of HeroMe.  All I can say is that this company has been a long time coming, and I am thankful for the chance to join Josh in making it a reality.  


As a quick overview for those of you who don't know HeroMe - we are an online toy store where kids can create their own superhero action figures.  Kids can choose one of five heads, five superpower arms, and five superpower legs to create their unique HeroMe.  Each HeroMe comes with a "HeroMe Handbook" that has games and activities that guide kids through the process of writing their own story about their new HeroMe.   Our goal is to inspire creativity in kids, and we want to empower them to create the stories and adventures they want to have with their HeroMe - not just recreate the stories that have already been told by a movie franchise.  


Today I'm so excited to announce that we have launched our Kickstarter campaign, and you can check it out here.  I might be a little biased, but I do think this is a GREAT way to get a jump on holiday shopping for the kids in your life.  So, don't delay.  Back the project today as a way to pre-order for the holidays.  (We'd also appreciate any sharing you want to do with others who might be interested!)

Thanks for checking us out, and thanks in advance for your support.  

Oh, and you can find us on Facebook here or follow us on Twitter @heromelab.

xo,




8/11/14

Farewell For Now

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Today's the day.  It's time for me to say goodbye to blogging.  When I started this blog in 2012, I was looking for a creative outlet to balance out my law school classes and obligations.  It wasn't planned, it wasn't something I'd been dreaming of doing, it was something I just did one night after I finished my Employment Law homework.  I remember pushing "publish" on my first post and then just going on with my life.  And that's how the blog evolved - blogging became part of my routine and a wonderful way to memorialize our time in Chapel Hill, our move to Florida, time with family and friends, and a few attempts at gift guides and fashion finds along the way.  

I've loved working on posts, sharing snippets of life, and connecting with other bloggers.  I am continually amazed by the creativity and talent of the blogging community, and I'm so thankful to have learned so much from other bloggers and mentors.  Most importantly I've been overwhelmed by the support of Ann Elliott's readers.   I'm still giddy every time someone says they read the blog, and to say I'm humbled that anyone would take the time to read Ann Elliott is a massive understatement.  So thank you all for reading, commenting, liking posts, and helping shape Ann Elliott into the space it is today.

This quote couldn't express my decision to step away from blogging more perfectly.  It's time to focus on other things - things that need my full attention and focus right now.  I may be back to blogging one day (and I may even post a holiday gift guide or two), but for now I need to "be all there" on some other projects.  

Words are not something I usually struggle to find, but wrapping up this post has me stumped.  So I'll end it with one more heartfelt thank you, and I'll simply say farewell for now...

xo,

8/8/14

Favorite Things: Under $50


1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7 // 8 // 9

Happy Friday!  To get you in the back to school mode, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite things, sale style!  Everything here in under $50, with most items WELL below that threshold.  There are so great deals to be had, and it's never a bad idea to stock up on classics with prices this good.

To highlight a few of my favorites:

I have two pairs of these white jeans.  I bought my first pair for less than $20, and then I loved them so much I bought a second pair.  They are mostly sold out in stores, so online is the way to go.

I got this maxi dress for less than $15 recently.  It looks much nicer on that it does on this model.  Its super soft, and the length was just right on me.  I'd avoid the patterned options though - I think they look a little cheaper than the solid color in person.  

I don't own this silk top, but anything with plackets is fine by me!  You can wear it now with your new white jeans, or later with a pencil skirt or black skinny pants.  The color selection is amazing too.  

These high boys add the perfect punch to any table setting, bar cart, or even on a desk as a pencil cup.  Buy a set for yourself and a set for someone else - call it early Christmas shopping!

Enjoy the weekend!

xo,

8/7/14

Guest Post: Beyond the Registry, 5 Great Gifts for a New Mom

 I don't know about you all, but I am going to a baby shower (or two) almost every weekend, visiting a new baby in the hospital at least once a month, and taking meals to friends with new babies constantly.  I love every minute of celebrating these new arrivals, but since I don't have kids of my own, the world of baby gifts and post-baby meals is a bit of a mystery to me!  I often find myself thinking there should be a guide for non-mom friends to know what a new mom really wants/needs in those first few months after a baby is born.  

That's why I'm so excited that Annie is guest posting for us today!  Annie is one of my friends from college (she was actually my advisor for Dance Marathon waaaay back in the day), and she is mom to two adorable little girls.  Annie knows first hand what will make new moms feel extra special and loved.  Thanks for guest posting today, Annie.  I learned so much from this post, and I know others will enjoy it too!

Hi!  I am so excited to be a guest on Ann Elliott this week. I'm a full-time working mom of two lovely little girls -  2 1/2 years and 3 months. Since we are still in new baby mode, I am here to help you with a few small items that can be a nice addition to a baby shower gift or a bonus gift for a friend once baby arrives. 


Take Along Tunes


 Baby Einstein Take Along TunesWe are an "on the go" couple so when our first daughter arrived we still wanted to be out and about. This was hands down our favorite toy for the first year since it was easy to bring along and made for a very happy and distracted little one. We often joke that those songs were our family soundtrack for awhile. This handheld music player with lights got us through our daughter's first flight at 4 1/2 months, a road trip to Tennessee at 10 months and many dinners out. It's the perfect size to toss in the diaper bag and has volume control which is a plus those around you. My husband even endorses this baby gift so new dads will love it too.

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 Reuseable "snack" bags from EcoHipThis bag was a great find at the Riverside Arts Market but EcoHip items can easily be purchased on Etsy. It works great in early months to keep pacifers clean in the diaper bag and for us it transitioned as a crayon bag for the toddler stage. I am sure it works great for snacks too! There are tons of great fabric choices and I love that most of the prints don't scream "baby". Another great option is Itzy Ritzy. I hear, through the mommy grapevine, that the larger bag makes a great swimsuit "wet" bag for the summer.

burp cloths

Burps cloths and bibsEvery new mom needs less laundry and extra burp cloths and bibs are a step in the right direction! For cost and function I love these flatfold cloth diapers from Gerber. For function and lovely designs, I love all things Aden + Anais! For bib and burpcloth combined go with these. For bibs that grow with baby check out these.  

nursing tank
Nursing TankEvery mom loves to receive a gift to celebrate their new addition but sometimes it is nice to get something that is really just for mom herself. If you are giving a gift to a mom that plans to breastfeed, this is the best clothing item out there (in my humble opinion). Best of all you can get it at Target.  They are cute, comfy and very convenient. Toss in a new nail polish, lip gloss or pair of comfy socks so she feels extra pampered.


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Gift card: You can't go wrong with a gift card. Here are a few options to bypass the typical Babies R Us or Buy Buy Baby.
  • Restaurant: Mom and dad might be ready to get out with their newest family member.  Or consider a location with convenient take out options.  You can't go wrong with this one!
  • Etsy: It is truly beautiful baby item galore! Maybe she would like to order a personalized nursery d├ęcor item  or pick out her own fabric design for the EcoHop reuseable bag or maybe she will wait and use it for some adorable customized 1st birthday party invites.
  • Target: I loved an indulgent solo trip to Target well before I became a mom but now this getaway is the ultimate treat! Be sure to put a note in the card that she should buy herself something that she doesn't really need while she is there too.
  • Lowe's: New babies mean new projects whether it's hanging pictures in the nursery, organizing closet storage or building a picnic table for family dinners in the back yard. If you know a handy couple this will be a hit! 

Here a few other tips for celebrating a new baby...

Celebrate the sibling too
If the family has welcomed a second (or 3rd or 4th) baby, try to do something special for the sibling(s) as well.  Maybe it is a new hairbow or HotWheels car or if its ok with mom and dad, special treats like mini cupcakes or a gift card for a trip out for ice cream.  The big sister in our house loves to go to Sweet Frog.  It's a great reminder that it is more fun to be a big girl since babies never get to eat ice cream.  :)

Help out with a meal
Bring lunch to mom. She will love the visit and the fact that she doesn't have to load up all her baby gear or even change out of that awesome Target nursing tank that some great friend bought for her!
Bring dinner for the family. If you are more talented in the kitchen than I am, you can actually cook the meal. Maybe it is the Southern girl in me, but I think celebrating with food, home cooked or store bought is always welcome! 

Pick up a few household staples
Call or text when you head out to grocery shop or run errands and see if there are any staples you can grab to save her a trip. Be sure your message is something like, "I'm on my way to insert favorite store here, is there anything I can grab for you?"

Thanks for reading. I hope these tips make new baby gift giving as fun for you as it is for the new mom receiving the gift!

Thank you for guest posting today, Annie!  Annie doesn't have her own blog, but you can leave a comment for her here!

xo,

8/6/14

Mid Week Muse: Savoring Summer

Necklace // Top // Shorts // Bag // Sandals
I'm savoring summer with today's muse.  Even though summer technically continues through September, I always feel like the "back to school" rush of August marks the start of fall.  Here in Florida we will have scorching temps for several more weeks (months?!), but there is a definite shift in my attire post-Labor day.  I love that most of these items feel like summer, but can transition easily into fall in Florida.  A chambray shirt is in my closet year round, this statement necklace can be worn with a tank top or a turtle neck, and these sandals have enough polish to carry me well into October.  So even though my mindset is to savor summer, I've got one eye towards fall and which pieces will stay in rotation.

I'm traveling as this post is going live, so I will have this week's favorite muse up a little later.  In the meantime, head over to Morgan's blog to see who we've chosen as this week's favorite muse!

What's your "muse" this week?  Share your muse by linking up or commenting below.
While you're sharing, be sure to visit some of the other blogs and say hello!
Don't forget - Morgan and I  choose our favorite "muse" from the current week to feature on both of our blogs.  The "winner" will be notified the Tuesday evening before the post goes live on Wednesday.  Get sharing - we can't wait to see your muses!  While you're sharing, be sure to visit some of the other blogs and say hello as well.
  How it works:
Grab the button below and link back to BOTH of the hosting blogs:
Link up starts on Wednesday at 6am EST

*It would also be super nice of you to visit the blog that entered the link up before you and leave a comment.  We're into creating a community here!*

Promotion:
Please help us promote our new link-up!

Use #MidWeekMuse and be sure to tag us on IG:

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Ann Elliott
xo,

8/5/14

Recipe: Korean Beef Lettuce Leaves

If you've gotten past the title of this recipe, you're in for a great treat.  I've flipped past this recipe dozens of times over the past few years, and I've always stopped to look a the picture only to be dissuaded by the title.  Let me be the first to tell you though, this is a great, healthy meal.  The meat is a little sweet, but after the shock of the first bite you'll be hooked.  


Korean Beef in Lettuce Leaves
Original recipe from The Flat Belly Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:
  • 3 Tbs. orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbs. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 8 scallions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 12 boston or bibb lettuce leaves
Directions:
  1. Whisk together the marmalade, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger and garlic in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the beef, scallions, carrots, and peppers for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, or until beef is brown and cooked through.  Add the soy mixture and cook, stirring for 5 minutes or until well blended.  
  3. Spoon the beef mixture into lettuce leaves and serve.  Or roll like a wrap and eat.
Enjoy!

xo,



8/4/14

Reflecting v. 2

Happy Monday, friends.  I hope you enjoyed last week's guest bloggers.  The community of bloggers is an amazing thing, and it's one of the things I most enjoy about blogging.  A special thanks to Becky, Natalie, Ashley, and Allie.  
AND, stay tuned - I have another special guest post coming up later this week.  

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In the meantime, it's been a long time since I've done a "reflecting" post.  My last one was just after Thanksgiving (see it here), so I'm long overdue.  I love these little snapshots of life, and I'm hoping to do this type of post more often going forward.  

Making: a needlepoint belt for Josh.  Not sure what I was thinking taking this one on.
Cooking: recipes with lots of peaches.
Drinking: grapefruit izze.
Reading: Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella.  Taking recommendations for something new!
Wanting: a king size bed.
Looking: for clothing that feels like fall, but is still appropriate for 94 degrees and 80% humidity!
Playing: NY Times Crosswords app.
Sewing: nothing.  Does needlepoint count?  
Wishing: for a little certainty on the career/business front.
Enjoying: early evening swimming sessions with the puppy and Josh.
Waiting: to do some house renovations.
Liking: paper products of all kinds.  I've been obsessed with sugar paper products lately.
Wondering: when I will finally feel like I'm settled in Jacksonville.
Loving: fresh mozzarella cheese.
Hoping: for a successful Kickstarter campaign for HeroMe in a few weeks!
Marveling: at the difference a year can make.  So thankful to have had a summer free from Bar Exam studying!
Needing: Ben and Jerry's coffee toffee crunch ice cream and a new HVAC.
Smelling: St. Tropez self tanner.  It's my new favorite beauty product and my secret to a little Florida glow.
Wearing: white jeans from now until Labor Day.
Noticing: how quiet our house is first thing in the morning.
Knowing: that nothing makes me happier than a quiet night on the couch with Josh. 
Feeling: energized and excited about tackling lots and lots of work in the weeks ahead.
Thinking: about how quickly this year is passing.
Bookmarking: favorite quotes and beautiful interiors.
Wrapping: baby gifts - lots and lots of baby gifts.  
Giggling: at Jimmy Fallon, Pete Nelson's antics on Treehouse Masters (Josh's show, not mine), and every Wednesday for sushi night with Simmons and Russell.  

xo,