hello erin »

last week we shared with all you lovely people of blog world the busy boxes we received in the mail a la secret exchange.

This week we’re really ramping things up and taking you behind the scenes into making these awesome busy boxes. I really can’t admit to any riveting process here– my busy bag making went a little something like this:

receive email about busy box exchange.

Immediately Pinterest search “wtf is a busy box”.

Come up with a trillion and three ideas to put in busy box.

And here’s what I came up with:
Popsicle color matching game. Popsicle stick shape maker. With pool noodle counting thrown in for good measure.

We love love love reusable produce bags around here– mostly for puzzles or anything with tiny pieces- so that was an obvious choice for the “container” / box.

Felt is pretty much da bomb dot com. And super super easy to find at the local michaels (we aren’t lucky enough to have a hobby lobby within 60 miles). A little cutting, sewing, and gluing and we had perfectly (if you don’t look closely) Constructed Popsicles.

The same michaels had pre cut pool noodles–I sharpie’d those bad boys up. Grabbed a rope, and boom. Counting game.

Next up is the Popsicle stick shape makers. Paint some Popsicle sticks, throw some velcro on, and boom. Shape makers!

i know I’ve impressed you guys like woah with my craftiness. But if you want some really really really awesome ideas check out these lovely ladies who are super duper sure to wow your socks off.

erinn at strawberry swing and other things

colleen at meet the sullivans

emily at dear owen

julia at my life in transition

natalie at nat your average gal

julie at girl in the red shoes

michelle at ten june

vanessa at sunflower state of mind

sara at running from the law

natasha at schue love


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  • Tiffany Kuehl - I love this! I have seen a couple of these on posts, and they are so clever!

  • Sara - I dare say you sewed those Popsicles?! Either way, it’s totally adorable!! Well done!!

  • EHayes - Seriously though, you don’t need a Masters in Felt to make a bomb busy box. Yours probably keeps toddlers no doubt as entertained as the fancy shmancy pinterest ones.

  • Courtney B - These are seriously genius ideas!! I need to make some for Mia to keep her busy come winter time. All the snow will keep us inside for months and it will surely send us both to the looney bin if I don’t have fun activities like these to keep her busy!

  • Colleen Sullivan - we looooove our busy bag! Thank you :)

  • Vanessa - Don’t you pretend you’re not crafty with your sewn popsicles!! ;) Love it all!

  • Elizabeth - Can I just tell you that I love your tutorial… especially the beginning. Receive email about busy box exchange and immediately search for wtf is a busy box. LOL. Love it! Oh, and what is it about SoCal that they don’t like to have Hobby Lobby’s anywhere near anything?? We didn’t have one anyone near us until like a year ago when they opened one in Aliso Viejo (like 20ish min away). I have yet to go but am dying to see what the hoopla is all about!

  • Sara McCarty - Love your busy box! The pool noodles are genius! I’m totally stealing that one to make for Mac. Also, I had to Google was a busy box was too! :)

I have tswifts newest creation in my head… But a certain toddler listens to it on repeat and her newest catchphrase is “this sick beat”. Flava-flav and I are SO proud.

It’s holiday card photo shoot season. We have our shoot scheduled in a few short weeks (before my bump and my butt get so big that they take over every single frame) and I’m attempting to pretend there’s some sort of fall/winter weather going on by adorning the family in boots and flannel. But in reality we should all just be ditching the dresses and tights and sporting fluffy vests and boots.

As usual lex has the right idea.

Anyone else discovered the amazingness of flash tattoos? Because I know of a certain tropical vacay that could have used a gold bangle or three painted on. Instead I’ll pretend I’m on the bachelor in paradise with my flash tattoos and white nails.

Shoot for the stars folks.

Dearest jcrew. I’d like to extend a warm and sincere thank you to you for making my beloved pixie pants in maternity. They shall be amazing once the temps cool down enough for me to last more than three minutes without sweating buckets of water.

Here’s hoping a polar vortex reaches the California coast in the very very near future.Or we plan a trip to my hometown where it’s currently SNOWING. Because the weather here? NOT SNOW.

I’m so happy lex inherited the one eyebrow raise from me. . .it’ll serve her as well in life as it has served me. Hello fancy party trick.

I’m triple cheersing the weekend right about now. We’re heading to my parents house (where it’s even hotter than our beachside temps) to celebrate my sisters birthday. If you need us I’m sure we’ll be poolside ordering grandma to fetch us another round of Popsicles.


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  • Sara - These pictures are the cutest!!! I love Lex’s smiling face!! I’m looking forward to cooler temps and pixie pants too!!!

  • Jess - Ummmm….that eye brow raise – amazing. I wish I inherited that from you! And, I had no clue that JCrew did maternity clothes! What else are your faves? I stuck to GAP last time, but may invest in some better/different pieces next time around.

    Have a fun weekend!! I”ll send some cold vibes your way…

  • julie - I need those tattoos! And boo for it being hot there….I might melt next week! It is a nice and cool 50-60 degree day today!

  • Kelley - Love love love my Pixie pants although they are fitting a bit too tight lately…thanks too many pastries! Oooh, can’t wait to see your holiday pictures- always adorable. I need to get on that- know any photographers over here? :)

  • Courtney B - Enjoy your weekend! I’m dying for a pool day, so soak it up for me ;)
    Also, I’m dying over the weather these days! 100 degrees in some parts of the country and SNOW?! in others?! I know most of it is in Canada, but a friend posted a picture last night in Wyoming of snow, yikes!

  • Colleen Sullivan - Oh my she is so cute! You are the hippest person, Erin, because I have never heard of those tattoos! Seriously, I look to you to keep me in the loop.

  • EHayes - I barely put on real pants with K’s pregnancy since it was summer and by the time it was late fall I was over anything not stretchy, but man I could have used cute JCrew pants when I was preg w A and working! Love Lex’s look and that video was too much!

  • Ashley - Haha, I am sure your pictures will be PERFECT!!!! Can’t wait to see your bump (I am sure it is adorable!). As are these pics of Lex! XO

  • Elizabeth - Girlfriend, it is supposed to be 100 (!!!!!) degrees here on Sunday. That is approximately 40 degrees too hot for fall weather. I hope that Grandma brings you many, many popsicles and you can stay cool!

  • Kristin - Kenley is OBSESSED with shake it off, we listen to it at least 800 times a day. As soon as it’s over she does sign language for more…how can I say no to that? Also, Lex’s style is my fave.

  • michelle - Her outfit is the cutest!

    Also – yay for maternity pixie pants. My fave!

  • Chrissy - Seriously….Lex is too cute! Love the eyebrow raise! That is a nice trick!

every once in awhile I’m lucky enough to participate in a super secret blogger exchange with a whole long list of bloggers who are amazing and adorable.

erinn is pretty much one of those girls who comes up with bestest ideas ever and this idea totally falls into that category.

because who doesn’t strive to keep their toddlers busy. and happy. and happily busy?

so we did a secret elfster exchange because we love mail. and because its way better to make someone else’s tot a busy box than your own. no really, i was way more motivated to make one for owen than I’ve ever been to make one for lex.

go figure.

when lex’s busy box came in the mail i was excited just looking at the return label. because everything erinn touches turns to amazing. and now i bring you lex’s new busy box.

its the cutest (pink!) pencil box filled with goodness.

goodness = poms that lex can sort, count, and place on the cards in shapes.


i think there was an audible gasp when i opened the box and lex immediately dumped and started sorting. and i swear to you it worked like a charm. it kept her busy.

and happy.

And happily busy.

yes. thats my lens cap making an appearance. oops.


erinn, ashlynn & kenley. THANK YOU for the busiest piece of mail we’ve gotten in a long time. its perfection i tell you. perfection.

and now for the fun part. the part where all of you lovely people with toddlers get involved. this week we challenge you to make your own tot a busy box (if you need ideas hit up pinterest or any of the lovely party people who participated in our swap. because i’m sure there are some kick ass idea lurking out there). next tuesday we’ll share the DIY behind our boxes and we want to see yours too!

now. go and click on these lovely people and see what their busy boxes looked like.

erinn at strawberry swing and other things

colleen at meet the sullivans

emily at dear owen

julia at my life in transition

natalie at nat your average gal

julie at girl in the red shoes

michelle at ten june

vanessa at sunflower state of mind

sara at running from the law

natasha at schue love





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  • Sara - …because Lex is the cutest AND THE SMARTEST… duh. She gets it from her mama!!

  • Jess - So fun!! I might have to create my own! :)

  • Courtney B - Cutest secret exchange ever!! I LOVE that idea!

  • EHayes - Looks like I should have glued down some of the A’s fancy stickers on the box, lol. Hope Lex has fun with the pom poms, I know Ashlynn gets mesmerized by them… girls! Oh and you know, work on those numbers and counting skills ;)

  • julie - Too cute! Hudson would love this box!

  • Ashley - Love the busy bag idea, this is too much fun!!! :)

  • Sara McCarty - LOVE this idea! And I especially love the pink decorated box! I’m sure Lex was thrilled with getting this in the mail! Such a fun swap!

  • Katie - New follower b/c of this great idea! Can’t wait to get going on some busy boxes for my 2 year old!

  • Carolyn @ life, love & puppy prints - I love this box! So genius! This whole blog swap idea is so cute!

  • Natalie - this is so cute and i love how easy it is to take anywhere! blair has been sorting poms into cupcake tins lately…this would be right up her alley!

  • Elizabeth - Love this idea! I’d love to participate (and to keep Mason busy for more than 5 seconds)…however I am so uncreative! Better get to checking out the other participants goodies as well as Pinterest!

  • julia - Adorable and so simple! Love pencil boxes and pons in general, great activity!

  • Colleen - What a great idea! I think Owen would gasp at the looks of the colorful pompoms too!

  • Vanessa - Getting mail is kind of the best thing ever! Especially cute little games like this one…so fun!

  • Vivian - That does look like a box of goodness! I need to get on one of these secret exchanges, because you’re right. Much more motivating to do something for someone else. Guess I need to head over to Pinterest ASAP for some ideas like this!

    xx Viv at JoieDeViv

  • Kelley - This is GENUS! I had never heard of busy boxes and suddenly I’m pretty sure I need to make one for M asap. Love love love this and I cannot wait to read all of the posts on how to make them!

  • Courtney - haha love it! Love that it worked! I just tried some poms with Aria and she was mostly like meh..let’s just throw them everywhere instead.

school is officially back in session.

i’m dubbing this year pre-pre-school. as opposed to last years pre-pre-pre-school. but really, i feel like when i’m talking to people about lex being in “school” i catch myself using air quotes around school. she has way too much fun and zero homework.

pretty sure i never found myself begging my mom to send me to real school more.

which brings me to lex’s new schedule. three times a week. which she seems totally ready for. . . me, not so much.

i’m afraid i’ll miss her too much. which officially makes me lame, but i’m pregnant so i can blame having emotions on hormones. but alas, i’m only going to get even more pregnant, and then there’s the whole newborn thing. so i’m checking those pesky emotions at the door and rolling with the three days (for now).

to get lex set up for school this year we got her a new lunchbox. . . it also meant we had to re-label everything– because letsbehonest these teachers have enough to keep track of besides keeping track of everyones bits and pieces.

we got labels compliments of kidecals and i must admit that i’m a huge fan. they’ve held up in the dishwasher, hand washing, are the perfect size for just about anything from shoes to spoons, and are pretty damn adorable. clearly i didn’t get her whole name on them. . . there arent any other lex’s in her class, and the school thinks her name is “alexandra” anyways (which i’m sure will be something she’ll live with forever. we HAD to be fancy and add that extra letter making it “alexandria”).

lex’s planetbox is probably my hands down favorite lunch box. i love the bento style and i swear her lunch comes home more eaten versus when i packed it in individual containers. i feel like the compartments are the perfect size for random snacks and i don’t get stuck overpacking. i also try to be more creative than the pasta, pasta, pasta i used to send homegirl with (her request).

now her lunches look more like this:

fear not. there are raisins in that little metal container. lex loves herself some dried grapes.

we’re really into our “gear” over here if you can’t tell.

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  • Colleen - I love this! I feel like I’m going to miss O a lot too. Just comes with the territory, I guess? And how perfect is that lunch box!?

  • Rebecca - Where do you get the cute PlanetBox Rover carry cases? I don’t see it on their website.

  • Rebecca - Of course now that I look closer…I see it’s from PBK’s :)

  • karra - AH. 3 days!! Rae is starting in Oct at just one day but once new babe comes I think we’re bumping her up to two days because I’m sure I will need to recoup my energy. Love her lunch box!!

  • Courtney - I’m loving the seahorse fob!

  • EHayes - We won’t switch A to 3 days, but I’m pretty sure she wishes we would. Granted, she’s only been to school one week (two days), but she pretty much wakes up every day if she’s going, which makes me really proud considering her stage 5 clinger status.

    I really like the planetboxes, but they just seem so huge. Maybe I’ll invest next year when hopefully she grows and isn’t the size of a large infant.

    And totally looking into labels because I’ve been writing her name on washi tape. Mom of the Year.

  • sara - i love that homegirl is still rocking her bracelets from vacay!! i love her labels… and her lunch looks tasty. will you make mine every day too????

  • Vanessa - I would eat that lunch in a heartbeat…plus it looks pretty!!! Arden is loving school too and I just feel WEIRD. But you’re right, once the babes are born it will be great for everyone :)

  • Jenny - I LOVE that lunchbox! I saw it in the PBK catalog and almost got it just for the running around we do! It’s adorable! I agree they seem to eat more when things are just laid out in smaller portions vs. containers. Yay for pre-pre-school!

  • Kristin - Those are awesome! I want to find a pre-pre-pre-school for Kenley but it is proving pretty darn difficult to find one with the location, schedule and price point that we need. :(

  • Elizabeth - Lex’s lunches look so similar to Mason’s. He LOVES cantaloupe. I substitute sometimes for grapes (cut in half) or blueberries. Then, are those veggie chips?? We’ve been buying veggie straws but saw those the other day and Mason can’t shove them in his mouth fast enough.

  • Kelley - I love the lunchbox and this is being added to my list of items to buy next time I am in the States! I sure miss PBK! M won’t be starting school until April as that is the soonest I could get her in here. I’m not gonna lie- I’m gonna be a mess!

  • Chrissy - Love those stickers! So cute! I wish there was a little school around here that did pre pre school. There is not a lot in my area that offer that.


raise your hand if you’ve read goldfinch…


Anyone at all?

Because if you have youre crazy. You also need to send me your phone number so I can text you during my next book club meeting and you can text me all the answers. Because I can’t. I just can’t.

I feel like I’ve been reading for days and haven’t even made a dent in the 850ish page book. I cheated and wikipedia’d the synopsis of the book in the hopes that I would be riveted beyond belief, pick it up and churn it out.

I couldn’t even get through the 5 paragraph wikipedia article.

I always grind it out and make it to the end of books. ALWAYS. Well except that time a few months ago i attempted to read the maze runner only to have the most horrifying vivid dreams that out of necessity for my sanity (and my husbands) I had to step away.

So two books given up in two months is some sort of new failure record. And I’m almost ashamed… Almost.

My kindle loves getting used and abused and I’m always looking for a new read (as long as it’s not 850 pages about a boy and a painting).

If anyone has something to save me from my goldfinch torture nows the time to speak up. Because I read FIVE book while in Hawaii– all of them re-reads and I’m itching for something new and fabulous.


and yes. the chicken photos have absolutely nothing to do with goldfinch. NOT A THING. but it was lex & chickens or a picture of my kindle adorned with a few toddler stick-on-earrings.

trust me. you win with the kissing chickens.

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  • Courtney - haha, we do win with the chicken pictures! I hate giving up a book, but sometimes you just gotta. I’ve been in a book slump though, so I’m not help. I think Selection is on my to read list. Have you tried that one?

  • melissa - I read it. I cannot say I enjoyed the LONG and arduous road it was through it. I just don’t even know what to say about that book. If I was at that book club meeting, I’d probably just shove an appetizer in my mouth if anyone looked to me for an answer. ;)

    I just finished Delicious! by Ruth Reichl – her first novel. (Love her nonfiction, especially Garlic and Sapphires.) It was great. Also really liked Bellweather Rhapsody. If you haven’t read This Is Where I Leave You, I loved that one too.

  • Jess - I hate books like this!! There are a few that I SO want to read, but I just can’t!!! And, I just love Lex….seriously. She’s going to be a heartbreaker someday. :)

  • Sara - 850 page book?! Are you reading textbooks?! I loved Hope in the Unseen and Zeitoun. Zeitoun is the better choice as far as reading like fiction, but both are good. :)

  • karra - girl! Send me some of your fav books for reals– I’m in a reading slump and NEED literature (so nerdy).

  • Colleen - Oh gosh I do that all the time. I am terrible at finishing a book… unless it’s really good from the start. I just can’t make myself waster precious time if the book is no good, you know? I love the chickens picture — I always love to see adorable Lex! And I though maybe you knew something I didn’t about chickens and finches being related.

  • Courtney - Your braid skills are rockin!!! I’ve just read, Sparkly Green Earrings, The Antelope In The Living Room, Orphan Train, and I just downloaded A Million Little Ways. Oh! And The Nesting Place! (all super fast reads. Like, in a day kind of read)

  • Lindsay - Do you like Jodi Picoult? She’s my faaaaaaaavorite. Her newest book, The Storyteller, is beyond amazing.

  • Elizabeth - Girl, I would love to give you some recommendations, but I do not have any time to read! Seriously, teach me your ways. When do you have time to read? If I can get a read in of a few blogs during a weeknight, I consider it a success. BUT on that note, in my prior life (aka non mom life) I LOVED Emily Giffin. I would highly recommend all her books!